Antonio Brown is the Steelers leader in touchdown celebrations

Is Antonio Brown already the best wide receiver in Steelers history? That depends on how you define “best”, of course. But from at least one statistical standpoint, Brown already stands out as the most dominant.

One of my favorite simple methods to measure dominance is to measure receiving yards above the worst starter. For example, the 32nd-ranked player in receiving yards last year gained 922 receiving yards. Brown, meanwhile, had 1,834. As a result, he had 912 receiving yards above the “worst starter” last year.

In 2014, the 32nd-ranked receiving yards leader gained 916 yards; Brown had 1,698, so that’s +782. In 2013, Brown’s 1,499 yards were 603 yards above the baseline of 896, i.e., the amount of yards gained by the 32nd-ranked receiver.

In 2012, the baseline was 855 receiving yards; Brown, with 787 in 13 games, did not rank in the top 32 in receiving yards. Therefore, he gets a 0 for 2012. Finally, in 2011, Browns’ 1,108 receiving yards were 221 receiving yards above the threshold of 887 yards.

As a result, Brown’s six-year career looks like this: +912, +782, +603, 0, +221, 0. That sums to 2,518 yards above worst starter.

Last year, I looked at the leaders in Adjusted Catch Yards over worst starter using the same formula. I re-ran that methodology using receiving yards and pro-rating non-16 games to come up with a career list. The table below shows the top 200 players in football history using this methodology; Brown checks in at #31: [click to continue…]

## Antonio Brown Led All Receivers in 2015 in Adjusted Catch Yards/Team Attempt

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. [click to continue…]

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. []

## New York Times, Post Week-15 (2015): Antonio Brown

This week at the New York Times, a look at Pittsburgh’s wide receiver extraordinaire, Antonio Brown:

Third down, 5 yards to go.

The Steelers led the Denver Broncos by 7 points with 1 minute 30 seconds remaining and the ball at the Pittsburgh 46-yard line.

Denver had just used its final timeout. Most teams, in this situation, would run the ball. That’s because a conservative run, followed by a punt, would most likely give the Broncos the ball inside their 20-yard line with about 40 seconds remaining.

But unlike all other teams, the Steelers have Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh called for a pass and Ben Roethlisberger found Brown for an 8-yard gain, allowing the Steelers to kneel out the clock. It was the final reception in another marvelous game for Brown, who caught 16 of the 18 passes thrown his way for 189 yards and two touchdowns. When a receiver can convert 89 percent of his targets into catches while averaging 11.8 yards per catch, conventional coaching methods go out the window. Put simply, a pass to Brown is one of the surest plays in football.

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## Antonio Brown leads NFL in Adjusted Catch Yards per Team Pass Attempt, Again

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.
1. Why am I excluding sacks? Just to save time. In the offseason, I will re-run these numbers and include sack data. []

## Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams, Set Duo Yards From Scrimmage Record

Antonio Brown caught caught 17 passes (on 23 targets) for an incredible 284 yards today against the Raiders. He also had two carries for 22 yards. But while 306 yards from scrimmage is insane, Brown wasn’t a one-man show: DeAngelo Williams rushed 27 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns, while catching two passes for 55 yards. Together, the duo combined for an insane 531 yards from scrimmage. That’s the most in the NFL by any duo since at least 1960… by a whopping 50 yards!

TeamOppYearDuo YFSPlayer 1YFSPlayer 2YFSBoxscore
PITOAK2015531Antonio Brown306DeAngelo Williams225Boxscore
OAKHOU1963481Art Powell247Clem Daniels234Boxscore
DETDAL2013451Calvin Johnson329Reggie Bush122Boxscore
PHIDET2007442Kevin Curtis221Brian Westbrook221Boxscore
BUFMIA1991422Thurman Thomas268Andre Reed154Boxscore
PITATL2002421Plaxico Burress253Hines Ward168Boxscore
INDBAL1998420Marshall Faulk267Torrance Small153Boxscore
CLENYG1965414Ernie Green222Jim Brown192Boxscore
PHISTL1962411Timmy Brown249Tommy McDonald162Boxscore
RAMMIA1976410Ron Jessie220Lawrence McCutcheon190Boxscore
WASDEN1987402Timmy Smith213Ricky Sanders189Boxscore
NYJBAL1972401Rich Caster204Eddie Bell197Boxscore
CHIMIN2013400Alshon Jeffery249Matt Forte151Boxscore
STLWAS2006400Steven Jackson252Isaac Bruce148Boxscore

But hey, Cleveland fans: the Steelers duo still wasn’t quite as good as Jerome Harrison and Josh Cribbs.