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.
|Rk||Receiver||Team||Pos||Rec Yds||Tm Rec Yds||WR %||Tm RANY/A||Perc Z-Score||RANY/A Z-Score||Total||WR Share Rk||Tm ANY/A Rk|
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.