We want to give receivers credit for receptions because, all else being equal, a receiver with more receptions is providing more value because he’s likely generating more first downs.
For the last 15 years, we have data on the number of first downs a receiver produces. But this summer, we added a bit of crucial information: we now know that the value of a first down is about 9 yards. As a result, Adjusted Catch Yards can be modified to be:
Receiving Yards + 9 * First Downs + 11 * Touchdowns
Why is the variable on touchdowns changed to 11? Because a touchdown is a first down; mathematically, this is the same as keeping the value of a touchdown at 20 but changing the first downs variable to be “first downs that did not result in a touchdown.”
This year, Jordy Nelson has caught 33 passes for 459 yards and 3 touchdowns, with 24 of those catches going for first downs (and, of course, 21 going for first downs and not being a touchdown). As a result, Nelson has produced 708 Adjusted Catch Yards this year. But we don’t want to just rank receivers by Adjusted Catch Yards. One thing we can do is rank them on a per-attempt basis; while not as advanced as True Receiving Yards, this provides a relatively simple metric that everyone can understand. We start with receiving yards; then we add bonuses for first downs and touchdowns, and finally we divide the level of production by team pass opportunities.
Nelson, as it turns out, leads the league in both ACY and ACY per team pass attempt; of course, the Packers have not been very pass-happy this year, so that isn’t a big surprise. What may be a surprise is the wide gap between Nelson and every other receiver in the league:
In addition to Nelson, who else stands out?
- Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins checks in at #7 on this list, despite ranking tied with three others at 20th in receiving yards per game. That’s because the Texans have been extremely run-happy this year, and Hopkins also has three touchdowns to go along with his 291 receiving yards (along the same lines, Andre Johnson jumps from just outside the top 25 in receiving yards per game to 10th in ACT/TmAtt). The same can be said for Dez Bryant, who ranks 9th here but is tied with Hopkins at 20th on the receiving yards per game list.
- The other player tied with Hopkins and Bryant with 291 receiving yards is T.Y. Hilton. However, since Hilton’s Colts have thrown 50 more pass plays than either the Texans or Cowboys, he’s down at #36 on the list.
- Andrew Hawkins has picked up a first down on 14% of Browns pass attempts; only Nelson (17.1%) has a higher ratio. Cleveland has been pretty run-heavy this year and the Browns have only played three games; as a result, it’s easy to overlook Hawkins and his 244 yards and 0 touchdowns. But you shouldn’t: he ranks 6th in ACY/TmAtt.
What do you think of this new version of Adjusted Catch Yards? And what stands out to you on the ACY/TmAtt list?