On October 1st, I looked at the leaders in Adjusted Catch Yards per Team Pass Attempt; at the time, Jordy Nelson had a big lead on the rest of the NFL, although Brown was in second place. You can read the fine details of the system in that post, but the short version is:
- Begin with each player’s number of receiving yards. Add 9 yards for every first down gained, other than first downs that resulted in touchdowns, to which we add 20 yards. For Brown, this gives him 2,624 Adjusted Catch Yards (1,698 receiving yards, 87 first downs, 13 touchdowns).
- Divide that number by the number of team pass attempts, including sacks, by that player’s offense. Pittsburgh recorded 645 dropbacks in 2014, which means Brown averaged 4.07 ACY/TmAtt. Jordy Nelson (1519/71/13) had 2,301 Adjusted Catch Yards and the Packers had 566 team pass attempts. That translates to .. 4.07 ACY/TmAtt, too. But go to three decimal places, and Brown (4.068 to 4.065) becomes your winner.
- I have also included a column for Adjusted Catch Yards per Estimated Team Dropback; here, we use the same formula, but multiply the numerator by 16, and the denominator by the number of games played by the receiver. Let’s use Odell Beckham as an example. The Giants wide receiver finished with 1,959 ACY (1305/58/12) and New York had 637 dropbacks, giving Beckham 3.08 ACY/TmAtt. But if we adjust for the fact that Beckham missed four games, he gets credited with 4.10 ACY/EstTmAtt, which is the highest rate in the NFL.
The table below shows the top 50 receivers in ACY/TmAtt:
- Dez Bryant really stands out in this metric, coming in third place and not too far behind Brown and Nelson.
- Eric Decker had 962 yards, 47 first downs, and 5 touchdowns for 1,440 ACY. The Jets had 545 attempts, which means Decker averaged 2.82 ACY/EstTmAtt (given that Decker missed one full game (and parts of more than one full game), I think it makes more sense to grade him on ACY/EstTmAtt). In 2013, Decker had 1,288 yards, 63 first downs, and 11 touchdowns. That gave him 1,976 ACY; given that the Broncos had 695 dropbacks, Decker averaged … 2.84 ACY/EstTmAtt. That’s pretty interesting, given the dropoff from Peyton Manning to Geno Smith.
- Compared to the True Receiving Yards list, DeAndre Hopkins moves up a bit, from 10th to 7th; of course, we give a “full” adjustment to players on run-heavy offenses here, compared to just 50% of that adjustment in True Receiving Yards. Similarly, Doug Baldwin jumps from 36th on Monday to 26th today.
- Antonio Brown caught a first down on 13.5% of Pittsburgh’s dropbacks, or one out of every 7.4 times the Steelers went back to pass. Wow.
- Calvin Johnson fared well in this category (11.2% of estimated team dropbacks), while Golden Tate (9.4%) struggled. That’s kind of interesting, given how Tate edged Johnson in most other metrics.
- Among the top receivers, Jeremy Maclin had by far the worst percentage of first downs per estimated team pass attempt. For whatever reason, just 8.6% of Eagles pass attempts wound up being a first down to Maclin. The rest of the top 12 receivers in ACY/TmAtt converted first downs on 11.6% of their team’s estimated number of pass attempts. Unsurprisingly, another big outlier in this metric was DeSean Jackson, who had a pitiful 6.5% rate.
- Players who did better than you might think (based on their ACY/EstTmAtt) at converting first downs: Roddy White (9.5%), Jason Witten (9.5%), and Julian Edelman (9.0%).
What do you think of this metric as a way to analyze wide receiver production?