≡ Menu

In the modern era, there are 32 teams playing 16 games each, so 512 total team games. In 1970, there were 364 team games. Consider that in 2015, the 512th-best receiving game produced 72 receiving yards; in 1970, the 364th-best receiving game produced 55 receiving yards.

One thing I like to do is to give receivers credit for yards above a certain baseline: this removes “junk” seasons or, in this case, games. Of course, the devil is in the details: i.e., how you define junk. And if you want to adjust for era, you need some baseline to measure against. One way to do it is to use the number of team games, as I explained above. For example, let’s look at Justin Blackmon’s 2012 season.

Receiving
G# Date Age Tm Opp Result Rec Yds Y/R TD
1 2012-09-09 22-244 JAX @ MIN L 23-26 3 24 8.00 0
2 2012-09-16 22-251 JAX HOU L 7-27 0 0 0
3 2012-09-23 22-258 JAX @ IND W 22-17 1 7 7.00 0
4 2012-09-30 22-265 JAX CIN L 10-27 6 48 8.00 0
5 2012-10-07 22-272 JAX CHI L 3-41 3 40 13.33 0
6 2012-10-21 22-286 JAX @ OAK L 23-26 1 7 7.00 0
7 2012-10-28 22-293 JAX @ GNB L 15-24 4 67 16.75 0
8 2012-11-04 22-300 JAX DET L 14-31 5 32 6.40 1
9 2012-11-08 22-304 JAX IND L 10-27 3 25 8.33 0
10 2012-11-18 22-314 JAX @ HOU L 37-43 7 236 33.71 1
11 2012-11-25 22-321 JAX TEN W 24-19 5 62 12.40 1
12 2012-12-02 22-328 JAX @ BUF L 18-34 1 9 9.00 0
13 2012-12-09 22-335 JAX NYJ L 10-17 6 57 9.50 0
14 2012-12-16 22-342 JAX @ MIA L 3-24 6 93 15.50 0
15 2012-12-23 22-349 JAX NWE L 16-23 7 79 11.29 1
16 2012-12-30 22-356 JAX @ TEN L 20-38 6 79 13.17 1
16 Games 2-14-0 64 865 13.52 5

Now, in 2012, the 512th-best receiving game produced 68 receiving yards. Let’s call that using 1X of the number of team games in a season. If we want to use 2X, the 1024th-best receiving game of 2012 produced 46 receiving yards. What about 2.5X? That drops us to 38 receiving yards; 3X? That lowers the baseline to 31 receiving yards.

If we want to give receivers credit for yards above 1X — a very high baseline — Blackmon’s season would translate to 215 yards above the baseline.  Drop it to 2X, and he gets credit for 353 yards; at 2.5X, it rises to 419, and at 3X, it’s 483 yards.  Here’s how:

G#Yds1X2X2.5X3x
1240000
200000
370000
448021017
5400029
670000
7670212936
8320001
9250000
10236168190198205
11620162431
1290000
13570111926
149325475562
157911334148
167911334148
Total865215353419483

Which baseline do you like best? You might find the inclusion of a 2.5X line as a bit odd, and there’s a reason for that: I think that’s my preferred baseline. But I’d like to hear your thoughts.

You may also wonder how this baseline has changed throughout history. The graph below shows that since 1960:

wr 1960 2015 min thresholds

And here’s that same information in table form. As you can see, the 2015 was a record season in basically all respects when it comes to receiving yards:

YearG1X2X2.5X3X
196026867382821
196130868413123
196230869403124
196330868413226
196430870403124
196530864403224
196633664403124
196735062382924
196836460352821
196936463382923
197036455332621
197136453332721
197236451332620
197336450302318
197436452322621
197536456352822
197639253322620
197739250302419
197844854342721
197944858362923
198044860393226
198144866403327
198225264393227
198344863413529
198444864413428
198544864423428
198644865413428
198742066423428
198844863403327
198944865413327
199044860393226
199144862393226
199244860383125
199344863403226
199444865423529
199548067433529
199648063403327
199748062403327
199848066403226
199949664413427
200049664413226
200149665413226
200251265403327
200351260393126
200451266403226
200551264403226
200651264403226
200751265423428
200851265413427
200951267433528
201051267433630
201151270453730
201251268463831
201351270463932
201451270463831
201551272474032

Which baseline do you prefer?

  • I hate the 1x baseline a lot. Jarvis Landry had 110 catches for 1,157 yards last season. By 1x, he scores +208, with about half of that from a single game that his team lost.

    I’m sure I’d prefer 2.5 or 3, probably 3.

    • I’m not a fan of 1X, either. Before I started I was thinking 40 yards in today’s era is a good number for a baseline, so I was pleased 2.5X landed there. That baseline is what we use in VBD sometimes for WRs – using WR30 for a 12-team league – so I was also giving that some thought before I started, too.

      Once I ran the numbers for 2.5x it was easy to run it for 1x, 2x, and 3x, so I figured I would present just got historical context. It’s still interesting data just to see the change over time.

      I’m not surprised, of course, that you prefer 3x to 2.5x :). I doubt it will make much of a difference but maybe I’ll use both just for you. After all, that is why I start with these sorts of posts before generating the lists!

      • Yeah, we’re clearly on the same page as far as 1X, and you’re right that it’s interesting to see the league data. But to me, the default for these standards should be replacement level, which in modern offense is probably something like 4X, granted that the differences get pretty small after 3X or so. But I would encourage you to include something reasonable like replacement level before including a standard like 1X, which is so high that the results for individual players are random and useless.

        • Josh Sanford

          I agree that 40 yards for right now passes the eye test. So I’d guess I vote for 2.5x if you wanted votes.

  • Do you plan on doing this with rushing and passing as well?

    • With just yards?

      • Maybe yards for RBs and net yards for QBs. Seems like a decent analog for this post. Any more detailed and we’re getting into ACY, ARY, ANY/A territory.