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Regular readers know that I like measuring wide receivers using some nontraditional methods. One metric I like to track is the comparison of how good a team’s passing offense is and what percentage of the team’s receiving pie went to the top receiver. Do you remember Gary Clark in 1991? That season was remarkable because he had 36% of all Redskins receiving yards and a third of the Washington passing touchdowns while playing for one of the best passing attacks of that era.

This year, Antonio Brown, Adam Thielen, and Julio Jones stand out as the best receivers by these metrics. Brown has picked up a whopping 39.5% of all Steelers receiving yards, the highest ratio of any player in the league. Pittsburgh also ranks 12th in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt, so Brown gets a lot of credit for being an enormous part of an above-average passing offense.

Thielen has 34.3% of all Vikings receiving yards, the third highest share of a team’s receiving game so far this season. And, as surprising as this may be, Minnesota ranks 5th in ANY/A. So Thielen is playing for a top-5 passing attack while being in the top 5 in percentage of his team’s passing attack. That’s a great season. Jones is in a similar position: he has 34.2% of Falcons receiving yards and Atlanta ranks 8th in ANY/A.

The graph below shows each team’s leader in receiving yards. For most teams, this is a wide receiver; for the Browns, it’s a running back, which says a lot about the Browns; the Titans, Raideres, Giants, and Bills are all led by a tight end. The Y-Axis shows that team’s Relative ANY/A, or ANY/A above/below average. The X-Axis shows the percentage of team receiving yards by that player. You want to be up and to the right on this graph, like Brown, Jones, and Thielen.

We can also quantify this using a Z-Score. The table below shows how many standard deviations above/below average each of the 32 leading receivers are in both percentage of team receiving yards and team ANY/A. I added the two Z-Scores to get a total grade: as you can see, Brown, Thielen, and Jones are the top three.

RkReceiverTeamPosRec YdsTm Rec YdsWR %Tm RANY/APerc Z-ScoreRANY/A Z-ScoreTotalWR Share RkTm ANY/A Rk
1Antonio BrownPITWR1296328239.5%0.662.460.543.00112
2Adam ThielenMINWR1057308534.3%1.451.521.192.7035
3Julio JonesATLWR1063310834.2%1.281.501.052.5548
4Keenan AllenSDGWR1032332531%1.420.931.162.0967
5A.J. GreenCINWR886260634%0.251.470.201.67516
6Tyreek HillKANWR911323928.1%1.500.411.221.6394
7Michael ThomasNORWR875329826.5%1.810.121.481.60142
8DeAndre HopkinsHTXWR1084304835.6%-0.211.75-0.181.57218
9Brandin CooksNWEWR886366824.2%2.20-0.311.801.50201
10Robby AndersonNYJWR821284428.9%0.310.540.250.79815
11Robert WoodsRAMWR703323521.7%1.71-0.741.400.66273
12Alshon JefferyPHIWR680306122.2%1.42-0.651.160.51246
13Marvin JonesDETWR821331724.8%0.78-0.200.640.441810
14Doug BaldwinSEAWR782325224%0.72-0.320.590.272111
15T.Y. HiltonCLTWR791267029.6%-0.970.68-0.80-0.12725
16Larry FitzgeraldCRDWR878323427.1%-0.500.23-0.41-0.171220
17Dez BryantDALWR639241126.5%-0.400.12-0.33-0.211519
18Mike EvansTAMWR735329322.3%0.45-0.640.37-0.272314
19Devin FunchessCARWR703260027%-0.610.21-0.50-0.291321
20Marqise LeeJAXWR637257824.7%-0.15-0.21-0.12-0.331917
21Davante AdamsGNBWR744265428%-0.960.39-0.79-0.391023
22Jamison CrowderWASWR628328919.1%0.79-1.220.64-0.57289
23Delanie WalkerOTITE676258526.2%-0.970.05-0.79-0.741624
24Kenny StillsMIAWR733269827.2%-1.440.24-1.18-0.941129
25Jared CookRAITE545299618.2%0.45-1.380.37-1.012913
26Evan EngramNYGTE569261121.8%-0.84-0.73-0.69-1.422622
27Marquise GoodwinSFOWR677298622.7%-1.27-0.57-1.04-1.612228
28Demaryius ThomasDENWR678272424.9%-1.92-0.17-1.57-1.741731
29Mike WallaceRAVWR487223421.8%-1.73-0.73-1.41-2.142530
30Kendall WrightCHIWR370212717.4%-1.25-1.52-1.02-2.553027
31Charles ClayBUFTE378228516.5%-1.17-1.68-0.96-2.633226
32Duke JohnsonCLERB456265917.1%-2.52-1.57-2.06-3.633132

What stands out to you?  If it isn’t Thielen, the most surprising name in the top 10 has to be Robby Anderson.  I’m not quite sure what’s more surprising: that the 2nd-year undrafted free agent ranks 8th in WR share or that the Jets rank 15th in ANY/A.

  • sacramento gold miners

    As great as Brown is, the Steelers have a tendency of playing down to the level of competition, meaning the starters often have to expend more energy just to escape with the win. The wear and tear of a long season matters when the playoffs arrive.

  • He doesn’t show very well by Z-score because of the first five games with Rodgers spreading the ball around, but Davante Adams has been the workhorse of the Packers mostly dreadful passing attack with Brett Hundley. Adams has 36.2% of the yards and 28.8% of the receptions since Hundley took over. He also has 3 of Hundley’s 5 touchdown passes. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are making over $20 million combined and they have fewer yards with Hundley (415) than Adams and his $1.2 million salary has alone (459). With Adams being a free agent and Cobb and Nelson being so ineffective without Rodgers, the Packers have some really tough choices to make. Jordy Nelson is one of my favorite players ever, but he has only 15 more yards receiving with Hundley playing than rookie RB Jamal Williams has. It’s been ugly.

  • Richie

    Something to watch : can Josh Gordon take the lead in receiving yards for the Browns in just 5 games?

    • Justin Corsello

      definitely possible

  • Mark Growcott

    What is somewhat surprising is that Jared Cook (TE) who is in his first year with the Raiders is their leading Receiver in both Receptions and Yards despite the presence of Crabtree and Cooper who both had over 1,000 Yds last season. Cooper has missed 1 game due to injury this season and Crabtree 2 which includes his 1 game suspension but both have underwhelmed this season mirroring the team as a whole.

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