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In December, I noted that Antonio Brown was leading the NFL in Adjusted Catch Yards per Team Attempt. Now that the season is over, I wanted to update that post. Based on the end-of-year numbers, Brown once again led the NFL in that metric, just slightly edging Julio Jones.

ACY/TmAtt is pretty simple to calculate. Let’s use Brown as an example. He gained 1,834 yards, caught 10 touchdowns, and picked up 84 first downs. If we give 20 yards for each touchdown and 9 yards for each first down (excluding the ones that were touchdowns), you can see that Brown gained 2,700 Adjusted Catch Yards. By contrast, Julio Jones gained 1,871 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns, and had 93 first downs. That’s slightly more impressive — mostly based on the first downs total — and translates to 2,796 Adjusted Catch Yards.

But Jones played for the Falcons, who had 653 pass plays in 2015; Brown’s Steelers had only 623, which means Jones had more opportunities to pick up targets, receptions, first downs, and yards. On a per-team pass attempt basis, Brown gained 4.33 ACY/TPA, while Jones averaged 4.28. In other words, slight edge to Brown.

Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery had a sneaky good year. He was only on the field for 502 offensive snaps, which is about half that of the average star receiver (and about half of Chicago’s team snaps total). If you were to double his numbers, he’d have a 1600-yard, 86-first down season, which is even more impressive when you consider that the Bears were a run-heavy team.1 When calculating the ACY/TPA for players who played in fewer than 16 games, I used a straight line multiplier based on games played. For example, Jeffery had 1,238 Adjusted Catch Yards, and the Bears had 556 team pass attempts. That would give Jeffery 2.23 ACY/TPA, but we multiply that by 16/9 (since Jeffery only played in 9 games) to get at a 3.96 ACY/TPA number found in the table. Since Jeffery only played in about half of the games in St. Louis and in Minnesota, even that may understate things: if we used 8 games in the denominator instead of 9, he’d vault to number one on the list.

The table below shows the leaders in ACY/TPA this season.2 You can see the 2014 results here, although note that in that article, I labeled the pro-rated number as Adjusted Catch Yards per Estimated Team Attempts.

RkPlayerGPosTmRecYdsTDFDAdj Catch YdsTeam PAACY/TPA
1Antonio Brown*16WRPIT1361834108427006234.33
2Julio Jones*16WRATL136187189327966534.28
3Alshon Jeffery9wrCHI5480744312385563.96
4Brandon Marshall*16WRNYJ1091502147623406263.74
5Sammy Watkins13WRBUF60104794115155073.68
6A.J. Green*16WRCIN861297106319745373.68
7DeAndre Hopkins*16WRHOU1111521118323896553.65
8Odell Beckham*15WRNYG961450136721966503.60
9Mike Evans15WRTAM74120636318065623.43
10Jeremy Maclin15WRKAN87108884916175193.32
11Larry Fitzgerald*16WRARI109121596518995893.22
12Allen Robinson*16WRJAX801400146121036583.20
13Steve Smith7wrBAL466703289557003.12
14Greg Olsen*16TECAR77110475216495353.08
15Doug Baldwin16WRSEA781069144716465353.08
16Jordan Reed14teWAS87952115415595823.06
17Keenan Allen8wrSDG6772543410757073.04
18Demaryius Thomas16WRDEN105130466319376453.00
19Julian Edelman9wrNWE6169273711026672.94
20Eric Decker15WRNYJ801027126016996262.89
21Delanie Walker*15TETEN94108865216226052.86
22Rob Gronkowski*15TENWE721176115217656672.82
23Calvin Johnson*16WRDET88121496518986762.81
24John Brown15WRARI65100374915215892.75
25Jarvis Landry*16WRMIA110115746017416332.75
26Emmanuel Sanders15WRDEN76113565116606452.75
27Stefon Diggs13wrMIN5272043110434992.57
28Allen Hurns15WRJAX641031104815736582.55
29Tyler Eifert*13TECIN52615133811005372.52
30Travis Kelce*16TEKAN7287554012905192.49
31T.Y. Hilton*16WRIND69112454916206562.47
32Martavis Bryant11wrPIT5076562510566232.47
33Gary Barnidge*16TECLE79104395216106622.43
34Jimmy Graham11TESEA486052298885352.41
35Amari Cooper*16WROAK72107064515416392.41
36Vincent Jackson10wrTAM335433288285622.36
37Brandin Cooks16WRNOR84113894516426992.35
38Ted Ginn15WRCAR44739103611735352.34
39Michael Floyd15wrARI5284964012755892.31
40Anquan Boldin14WRSFO6978943511485792.27
41Rishard Matthews11WRMIA436624319856332.26
42Jordan Matthews16WRPHI8599784414816602.24
43Michael Crabtree16WROAK8592294514266392.23
44Willie Snead15wrNOR6998434414136992.16
45Marvin Jones16WRCIN6581643311575372.15
46James Jones16WRGNB5089083913296202.14
47Terrance Williams16WRDAL5284033611975622.13
48Pierre Garcon16WRWAS7277764312305822.11
49Kamar Aiken16WRBAL7594455314767002.11
50Travis Benjamin16WRCLE6896653913726622.07
51Randall Cobb16WRGNB7982964212736202.05
52Antonio Gates11teSDG566305339827072.02
53Kenny Britt16WRSTL366813299754911.99
54Zach Ertz15tePHI7585323912266601.98
55Golden Tate16WRDET9081365013296761.97
56DeSean Jackson10wrWAS305284157075821.94
57Charles Clay13TEBUF515283267955071.93
58Jermaine Kearse16WRSEA4968553210285351.92
59Jason Witten16TEDAL7771333610705621.90
60Tyler Lockett*16wrSEA5166463110095351.89
61Robert Woods14wrBUF475523278285071.87
62Rueben Randle16WRNYG5779783512006501.85
63Ben Watson16TENOR7482564212696991.82
64Martellus Bennett11TECHI534393246885561.80
65Steve Johnson10wrSDG454973297917071.79
66Donte Moncrief16WRIND6473364011596561.77
67Markus Wheaton16wrPIT4474953210926231.75
68Nate Washington14WRHOU476584339996551.74
69Marquess Wilson11wrCHI284641206555561.71
70Cecil Shorts11wrHOU424842277496551.66
71Danny Amendola14wrNWE656483329696671.66
72Danny Woodhead16rbSDG8075563911727071.66
73Brian Hartline12wrCLE465232308156621.64
74Jerricho Cotchery14wrCAR394853267525351.61
75Jamison Crowder16wrWAS596042349325821.60

Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments.

  1. Jeffery had monster games in Detroit and San Diego, though, so it’s unlikely that he would have kept up this pace over a full season. []
  2. Two notes to keep in mind. One is that sacks are included in team pass attempts. The other is that for players that missed games, we are not discounting his team’s pass attempts in those particular missed games, but just using the straight line proration method described above. []
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  • Richie

    I’m surprised Gronkowski is all the way down there at 22.

    • Funny, that stood out to me too. Gronk did lead all TEs in both receiving yards and Adjusted Catch Yards, but not by as much as you’d expect. In terms of first downs, Reed had 54, and Olsen/Walker/Gronk all had 52. Gronk had 11 TDs, but so did Reed. The big adjustment, of course, is in team pass attempts. Gronk plays on a team that had 667 pass attempts; Walker plays on one that had 605, while Olsen’s had only 535.

      For reference, Gronk had “only” 24.4% of Patriots receiving yards. By contrast, Walker was at 27.9%, while Olsen was at 28.5%. Reed was a little bit lower, but his TD/FD numbers carry the day.

      It’s weird seeing Gronk 4th, but: (1) this ignores his blocking, so this doesn’t mean he was the 4th most valuable TE in the NFL, and (2) I think I generally agree with the results/methodology here. Gronk put up great numbers on a pass-happy offense, and some context is important there.

      The other counter for Olsen (and to a lesser extent, Walker) would be that their numbers are artificially inflated by scrambles. Obviously Cam (and to a lesser extent, Mariota) scrambled more than Brady this year, and those scrambles are not being included in the denominator here (but arguably should be). The other pro-Gronk argument would be that volume matters, and he should get more credit for being far above average on a larger number of plays.

      But in the end, the real takeaway is that Olsen, Walker, and Reed were really, really good this year, and arguably just as good in the receiving game as Gronk.

      • Richie

        It drove me crazy in the lead up to the Super Bowl when people would say “who is Cam Newton throwing to?” I know sometimes it can be easy to forget about tight ends, but Greg Olsen was an awesome weapon for the Panthers this year. I think he was an underrated reason they got to the Super Bowl.

        It seemed like he caught at least one key pass late in any of the close games the Panthers played in.

        His PFR page is interesting. If you look at the Yards and AV columns, almost every year of his career is better than the previous one. Dude is peaking at age 30 at a position where players usually vanish at that age. Only 9 times has a tight end age 30+ had 1,000 receiving yards in a season. 3 of them were in 2015! http://pfref.com/tiny/ZmHoY (I had no idea Delanie Walker was already 30.)

  • Brandin Cooks checks in at #37 on this list despite ranking 14th overall in receiving yards. He’s a good example of the need for a stat like this.

    For starters, Cooks played all 16 games, so he drops to 21st overall on a per-game basis minimum 8 games (if you make the minimum 13 games, he would only vault up to 18th once we eliminate Jeffery, Edelman, and Keenan Allen; by using 8 games, you also leave out Steve Smith).

    Next, Cooks did not get nearly as many first downs as you would expect from a player with 1,138 receiving yards. For example, only 1 in every 25 of his receiving yards went for a first down; that’s pretty bad (although Martavis Bryant is really bad, at 1 per 30.6 yards), so he doesn’t do so well when we move from receiving yards to ACY (he drops from 14th to 18th, even with a decent TD total).

    But obviously the big issue is the number of pass attempts. The Saints had 699 pass plays; as a result, Cooks gets a big downward adjustment. Thought of another way, he had only 22% of all Saints receiving yards this year!

  • Nuclear Badger

    If you were going to adjust by defenses played, how do you think you would do it? Start with adjusted catch yards given up?

  • Anders

    This also shows that guys like Watkins and Maclin was much better than their raw numbers because they played for low volume passing teams. Last year Maclin had 2.96 and this year it was actually better at 3.32.

    The big difference is 519 PA against 653