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Antonio Brown, after hearing he leads the league in ACY/TmAtt

Antonio Brown, after hearing he leads the league in ACY/TmAtt

Last year, Antonio Brown edged Jordy Nelson in Adjusted Catch Yards per Team Attempt by a few thousands of a yard. Brown beat Nelson for the True Receiving Yards crown in 2014, too, repeating as champion after a great 2013 campaign. Antonio Brown is awesome, so seeing him lead the league in a metric isn’t very surprising anymore. But let’s run through the process for new readers.

  • We begin with each player’s number of receiving yards. Then, we add 20 yards for every touchdown catch, and 9 yards (here’s why) for every first down gained (other than first downs that resulted in touchdowns). For Brown, this gives him exactly 1,900 Adjusted Catch Yards, as he has totaled 1,310 receiving yards, 57 first downs (including touchdowns), and 7 touchdowns this season.
  • Next, we divide that number by the number of team pass attempts, excluding sacks,1 by that player’s offense in the games he played. Now Brown hasn’t missed a game this season, so it’s pretty simple: Pittsburgh has thrown 426 passes so far in 2015, which means Brown is averaging 4.46 ACY/TmAtt. By comparison, Julio Jones — who leads all players in Adjusted Catch Yards with 2,016 (1,338 receiving yards, 68 (!) first downs, 6 touchdowns) — is averaging “only” 4.21 ACY/TmAtt, because the Falcons have thrown 479 passes. Think of it this way: Jones has essentially played in one more, super high-volume passing game than Brown, yet has “only” 116 more Adjusted Catch Yards than him (and Brown is averaging 158 ACY/G). As a result, after adjusting for pass attempts, Brown is number one in this metric.
  • One player who really stands out by looking at Adjusted Catch Yards per Attempt but excluding games that player missed is Alshon Jeffery. The Bears wide receiver has had a somewhat quiet season: after all, he’s scored just two touchdowns and has missed five games. But the Bears have been pretty run-heavy this year, and Jeffery has been a first down machine. He has 47 catches for 690 yards and 37 first downs, good enough for 1,045 Adjusted Catch Yards in seven games. Chicago has thrown only 236 pass attempts in those games, giving Jeffery a remarkable 4.43 ACY/TmAtt average this year. Thought of another (perhaps simpler) way, Jeffery ranks 3rd in the NFL in receiving yards per game. In fact, the Bears have totaled just 49% of the pass attempts in Jeffery games as the Falcons have in Jones games, while Jeffery has 52% as many ACY. As a result, he slides past Jones into the number two slot.

The table below shows the leaders in ACY/TmAtt, among the 60 players with the most Adjusted Catch Yards this year. Note that this was created prior to the Monday Night Football game in week 13 between Washington and Dallas, but otherwise includes all week 13 results.

RkPlayerGPosTmRecYdsTDFDACYTmAttACY/TmAtt
1Antonio Brown12WRPIT93131075719004264.5
2Alshon Jeffery7WRCHI4769023710452364.4
3Julio Jones12WRATL102133866820164794.2
4A.J. Green12WRCIN70103775015643854.1
5Larry Fitzgerald12WRARI91104775716374243.9
6DeAndre Hopkins12WRHOU861169106919005003.8
7Mike Evans11WRTAM5485034512883443.7
8Brandon Marshall12WRNYJ831062105716854513.7
9Odell Beckham12WRNYG781154105317414693.7
10Greg Olsen12TECAR6291764313703743.7
11Sammy Watkins9WRBUF346356259262543.6
12Jeremy Maclin11WRKAN6686753612463463.6
13Allen Robinson12WRJAX651080114916424723.5
14Steve Smith7WRBAL466703289552893.3
15Demaryius Thomas12WRDEN7897234914464413.3
16Eric Decker11WRNYJ5980184412853933.3
17Doug Baldwin12WRSEA5577883111453533.2
18Delanie Walker11TETEN6780043711773633.2
19Stefon Diggs9WRMIN426262268822803.2
20John Brown11WRARI5181743912123863.1
21Calvin Johnson12WRDET7096575315194853.1
22Martavis Bryant7WRPIT316236208692793.1
23Rob Gronkowski11TENWE5793194013904513.1
24Keenan Allen8WRSDG6772543410753553.0
25Julian Edelman9WRNWE6169273911203703.0
26Vincent Jackson9WRTAM325383288232733.0
27Anquan Boldin10WRSFO495952298783042.9
28Jarvis Landry12WRMIA7982344412634382.9
29Amari Cooper12WROAK6292043913154582.9
30Travis Kelce12TEKAN5673143410813782.9
31Jordan Reed9TEWAS555416318863172.8
32Emmanuel Sanders11WRDEN5577143611394142.8
33Jimmy Graham11TESEA486052298883252.7
34Gary Barnidge12TECLE6081773912454682.7
35Allen Hurns11WRJAX4875873611594362.7
36Tyler Eifert11TECIN4652212339513632.6
37Michael Crabtree12WROAK6676073811794582.6
38T.Y. Hilton12WRIND5485553512254772.6
39Travis Benjamin12WRCLE5482653111604682.5
40Brandin Cooks12WRNOR6184073212054952.4
41Randall Cobb12WRGNB5765663310194262.4
42Rishard Matthews11WRMIA436624319854192.4
43Ted Ginn12WRCAR355256288433742.3
44Willie Snead11WRNOR456763329974532.2
45Marvin Jones12WRCIN475954238463852.2
46Jordan Matthews12WRPHI616614299664502.1
47Michael Floyd11WRARI355505268393932.1
48James Jones12WRGNB316117249044262.1
49Pierre Garcon11WRWAS495083328293932.1
50Donte Moncrief12WRIND536175359874772.1
51Steve Johnson10WRSDG454973297913922.0
52Golden Tate12WRDET676152359524852.0
53Ben Watson12TENOR546424319654951.9
54Kamar Aiken12WRBAL495844379614931.9
55Nate Washington10WRHOU395433278194231.9
56Danny Amendola11WRNWE565823318944661.9
57Danny Woodhead12RBSDG565943288795051.7
58Jacob Tamme11TEATL475411267864521.7
59Rueben Randle12WRNYG425334258024691.7
60Theo Riddick12RBDET605343247834851.6
  • What a difference a year makes! Last year, the Houston Texans had the 3rd fewest pass attempts in the NFL, which depressed the raw stats of receivers like DeAndre Hopkins. This year, the Texans have the third most attempts, which has helped Hopkins have a “breakout” year. I put that term in quotes, because Hopkins ranked 7th in this metric last year, and 6th this season. Score one for using ACY/TmAtt to measure receivers, as it helps isolate wild swings in team tendencies.
  • Who is the best wide receiver in New York? Well, the eye test certainly says Odell Beckham, but the stats say this one is a toss up. Brandon Marshall has the same number of touchdowns and four more first downs than Beckham, although the Giants star has about 100 more yards. Of course, the Jets are slightly less pass-happy: as a result, Marshall inches just ahead of Beckham in ACY/TmAtt.
  • Among tight ends, Greg Olsen is first with an impressive 3.7 ACY/TmAtt average. And Delanie Walker is actually ahead of Rob Gronkowski, too. While Gronk’s touchdown numbers are always impressive, he has “only” 40 first downs this year, and that’s despite being on the pass-happy Patriots. Olsen has produced 43 first downs on a team that passes significantly less often. Gronk is still the best tight end in the league, of course, but Olsen may be the most valuable, at least in 2015.
  • Doug Baldwin ranks 24th in receiving yards, but that drops to 33rd on a per-game basis. But he’s playing on the Seahawks, the least pass-happy team in the NFL (again). He ranks a very respectable 17th in ACY/TmAtt: he’s not a star, but he’s proven to be more than capable as a top wide receiver on a run-happy team.
  • The same goes for Jeremy Maclin, who has some “unimpressive” raw numbers this year. But after adjusting for attempts (and his one missed game), Maclin ranks 12th in ACY/TmAtt.
  • On the other side, T.Y. Hilton had good numbers last year that looked great because the Colts were so pass-happy. Indianapolis has been less pass-happy (and less- a lot of things this year, to be fair), and Hilton’s numbers have dropped significantly.

What stands out to you?

  1. Why am I excluding sacks? Just to save time. In the offseason, I will re-run these numbers and include sack data. []
  • Nice showing by Sammy Watkins, especially for a receiver who gets no targets.

  • AgronomyBrad

    I suppose this would be hard to do, but would it be possible to isolate the team attempts where the receiver was on/off the field? Probably wouldn’t change things too much, other than if a guy got hurt early in a game or something.

    • Yeah, that is not possible without getting data from other sources. PFF used to have that, and used it in their Yards per Route Run stat.

  • Some other tidbits:

    Vincent Jackson (87.5%) and Mike Evans (83.3%) lead the way in receptions that have been converted into first downs.

    Alshon Jeffery has gained a first down on 6.4 percent of all Bears pass attempts (in games he’s played). That’s incredible: Julio Jones is second at 7.0.

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