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On Target – 2011 WR Target Wrap-up


At the end of each year, one of the stats that I look to look to begin preparation for the following year, is that of total targets at the wide receiver position.

Through a quick evaluation of targets, I can see very clearly the role receivers play within their respective offense.  Taking the evaluation one step further, I then calculate the reception percentage to total targets and Yards per Reception (YPR).  Why is this important?  Because fantasy production stems from the point of reception, not the target.

By uncovering receivers that are converting at a lesser rate, you uncover greater potential for the following year should a variable in the offense change.  Upgrades at quarterback, offensive line or a productive receiver acquisition all can help boost productivity.  Obviously, too, any of these variables could also reduce the number of targets and corresponding receptions.  It isn’t an exact science and the results aren’t always dramatic.  But in the world of fantasy football, especially in PPR leagues, any number of extra points can equate to extra wins.

There hasn’t been a time yet that this exercise hasn’t uncovered a player or two that has surprised me in the number of targets, reception efficiency or YPR.  Realize that every coaching staff in the NFL understands the efficiency of their passing game with respect to their receiver sets.  What we’re looking for primarily are players who likely will receive an upgrade in productivity due to a corresponding upgrade in any offensive variable, usually at quarterback or offensive line play.

The YPR statistic is important as it helps to identify those receivers that are a down-field threat for their team.  I typically like to identify receivers that have a high YPR. along with a high number of targets, but with a lower reception percentage.  Remember, we are trying to identify upside potential, not verify that Calvin Johnson is a stud (unless that is what you are trying to verify).

Note that I only evaluate up through week 16.

Let’s take a look at the top 40 receivers ranked by Targets:

# Name Targets Receptions Rec. % Yards YPR.
1 White, Roddy ATL WR 170 96 56.5% 1,227 12.8
2 Welker, Wes NEP WR 162 116 71.6% 1,518 13.1
3 Johnson, Calvin DET WR 141 85 60.3% 1,437 16.9
4 Lloyd, Brandon STL WR 139 64 46.0% 866 13.5
5 Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR 136 71 52.2% 1,262 17.8
6 Bowe, Dwayne KCC WR 135 75 55.6% 1,066 14.2
7 Marshall, Brandon MIA WR 133 77 57.9% 1,177 15.3
8 Garcon, Pierre IND WR 129 68 52.7% 925 13.6
9 Johnson, Steve BUF WR 127 72 56.7% 964 13.4
10 Nicks, Hakeem NYG WR 126 70 55.6% 1,093 15.6
11 Smith, Steve CAR WR 122 73 59.8% 1,308 17.9
12 Williams, Mike TBB WR 122 64 52.5% 740 11.6
13 Wayne, Reggie IND WR 121 67 55.4% 887 13.2
14 Cruz, Victor NYG WR 120 76 63.3% 1,358 17.9
15 Little, Greg CLE WR (R)  115 61 53.0% 709 11.6
16 Brown, Antonio PIT WR 114 63 55.3% 1,018 16.2
17 Washington, Nate TEN WR 112 70 62.5% 931 13.3
18 Jackson, Vincent SDC WR 110 58 52.7% 1,077 18.6
19 Wallace, Mike PIT WR 109 71 65.1% 1,182 16.6
20 Boldin, Anquan BAL WR 106 57 53.8% 887 15.6
21 Green, A.J. CIN WR (R)  106 63 59.4% 1,031 16.4
22 Crabtree, Michael SFO WR 104 64 61.5% 788 12.3
23 Gaffney, Jabar WAS WR 104 64 61.5% 919 14.4
24 Harvin, Percy MIN WR 104 77 74.0% 852 11.1
25 Holmes, Santonio NYJ WR 100 51 51.0% 654 12.8
26 Burleson, Nate DET WR 99 67 67.7% 712 10.6
27 Jennings, Greg GBP WR 99 67 67.7% 949 14.2
28 Colston, Marques NOS WR 97 73 75.3% 998 13.7
29 Jackson, DeSean PHI WR 97 54 55.7% 875 16.2
30 Bryant, Dez DAL WR 95 57 60.0% 858 15.1
31 Simpson, Jerome CIN WR 95 45 47.4% 671 14.9
32 Doucet, Early ARI WR 94 53 56.4% 682 12.9
33 Heyward-Bey, D. OAK WR 94 55 58.5% 845 15.4
34 Breaston, Steve KCC WR 93 60 64.5% 776 12.9
35 Nelson, David BUF WR 93 59 63.4% 635 10.8
36 Decker, Eric DEN WR 92 43 46.7% 607 14.1
37 Williams, Damian TEN WR 92 43 46.7% 571 13.3
38 Burress, Plaxico NYJ WR 91 41 45.1% 555 13.5
39 Branch, Deion NEP WR 90 51 56.7% 702 13.8
40 Jones, Julio ATL WR (R)  90 50 55.6% 883 17.7
Avg. Reception % 57.8%

And now by reception %:

# Name Targets Receptions Rec. % Yards YPR.
1 Colston, Marques NOS WR 97 73 75.3% 998 13.7
2 Harvin, Percy MIN WR 104 77 74.0% 852 11.1
3 Welker, Wes NEP WR 162 116 71.6% 1,518 13.1
4 Burleson, Nate DET WR 99 67 67.7% 712 10.6
5 Jennings, Greg GBP WR 99 67 67.7% 949 14.2
6 Wallace, Mike PIT WR 109 71 65.1% 1,182 16.6
7 Breaston, Steve KCC WR 93 60 64.5% 776 12.9
8 Nelson, David BUF WR 93 59 63.4% 635 10.8
9 Cruz, Victor NYG WR 120 76 63.3% 1,358 17.9
10 Washington, Nate TEN WR 112 70 62.5% 931 13.3
11 Crabtree, Michael SFO WR 104 64 61.5% 788 12.3
12 Gaffney, Jabar WAS WR 104 64 61.5% 919 14.4
13 Johnson, Calvin DET WR 141 85 60.3% 1,437 16.9
14 Bryant, Dez DAL WR 95 57 60.0% 858 15.1
15 Smith, Steve CAR WR 122 73 59.8% 1,308 17.9
16 Green, A.J. CIN WR (R) 106 63 59.4% 1,031 16.4
17 Heyward-Bey, D. OAK WR 94 55 58.5% 845 15.4
18 Marshall, Brandon MIA WR 133 77 57.9% 1,177 15.3
19 Johnson, Steve BUF WR 127 72 56.7% 964 13.4
20 Branch, Deion NEP WR 90 51 56.7% 702 13.8
21 White, Roddy ATL WR 170 96 56.5% 1,227 12.8
22 Doucet, Early ARI WR 94 53 56.4% 682 12.9
23 Jackson, DeSean PHI WR 97 54 55.7% 875 16.2
24 Bowe, Dwayne KCC WR 135 75 55.6% 1,066 14.2
25 Nicks, Hakeem NYG WR 126 70 55.6% 1,093 15.6
26 Jones, Julio ATL WR (R) 90 50 55.6% 883 17.7
27 Wayne, Reggie IND WR 121 67 55.4% 887 13.2
28 Brown, Antonio PIT WR 114 63 55.3% 1,018 16.2
29 Boldin, Anquan BAL WR 106 57 53.8% 887 15.6
30 Little, Greg CLE WR (R)  115 61 53.0% 709 11.6
31 Jackson, Vincent SDC WR 110 58 52.7% 1,077 18.6
32 Garcon, Pierre IND WR 129 68 52.7% 925 13.6
33 Williams, Mike TBB WR 122 64 52.5% 740 11.6
34 Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR 136 71 52.2% 1,262 17.8
35 Holmes, Santonio NYJ WR 100 51 51.0% 654 12.8
36 Simpson, Jerome CIN WR 95 45 47.4% 671 14.9
37 Decker, Eric DEN WR 92 43 46.7% 607 14.1
38 Williams, Damian TEN WR 92 43 46.7% 571 13.3
39 Lloyd, Brandon STL WR 139 64 46.0% 866 13.5
40 Burress, Plaxico NYJ WR 91 41 45.1% 555 13.5

And lastly by YPR:

# Name Targets Receptions Rec. % Yards YPR.
1 Jackson, Vincent SDC WR 110 58 52.7% 1,077 18.6
2 Smith, Steve CAR WR 122 73 59.8% 1,308 17.9
3 Cruz, Victor NYG WR 120 76 63.3% 1,358 17.9
4 Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR 136 71 52.2% 1,262 17.8
5 Jones, Julio ATL WR (R) 90 50 55.6% 883 17.7
6 Johnson, Calvin DET WR 141 85 60.3% 1,437 16.9
7 Wallace, Mike PIT WR 109 71 65.1% 1,182 16.6
8 Green, A.J. CIN WR (R) 106 63 59.4% 1,031 16.4
9 Jackson, DeSean PHI WR 97 54 55.7% 875 16.2
10 Brown, Antonio PIT WR 114 63 55.3% 1,018 16.2
11 Nicks, Hakeem NYG WR 126 70 55.6% 1,093 15.6
12 Boldin, Anquan BAL WR 106 57 53.8% 887 15.6
13 Heyward-Bey, D. OAK WR 94 55 58.5% 845 15.4
14 Marshall, Brandon MIA WR 133 77 57.9% 1,177 15.3
15 Bryant, Dez DAL WR 95 57 60.0% 858 15.1
16 Simpson, Jerome CIN WR 95 45 47.4% 671 14.9
17 Gaffney, Jabar WAS WR 104 64 61.5% 919 14.4
18 Bowe, Dwayne KCC WR 135 75 55.6% 1,066 14.2
19 Jennings, Greg GBP WR 99 67 67.7% 949 14.2
20 Decker, Eric DEN WR 92 43 46.7% 607 14.1
21 Branch, Deion NEP WR 90 51 56.7% 702 13.8
22 Colston, Marques NOS WR 97 73 75.3% 998 13.7
23 Garcon, Pierre IND WR 129 68 52.7% 925 13.6
24 Burress, Plaxico NYJ WR 91 41 45.1% 555 13.5
25 Lloyd, Brandon STL WR 139 64 46.0% 866 13.5
26 Johnson, Steve BUF WR 127 72 56.7% 964 13.4
27 Washington, Nate TEN WR 112 70 62.5% 931 13.3
28 Williams, Damian TEN WR 92 43 46.7% 571 13.3
29 Wayne, Reggie IND WR 121 67 55.4% 887 13.2
30 Welker, Wes NEP WR 162 116 71.6% 1,518 13.1
31 Breaston, Steve KCC WR 93 60 64.5% 776 12.9
32 Doucet, Early ARI WR 94 53 56.4% 682 12.9
33 Holmes, Santonio NYJ WR 100 51 51.0% 654 12.8
34 White, Roddy ATL WR 170 96 56.5% 1,227 12.8
35 Crabtree, Michael SFO WR 104 64 61.5% 788 12.3
36 Little, Greg CLE WR (R) 115 61 53.0% 709 11.6
37 Williams, Mike TBB WR 122 64 52.5% 740 11.6
38 Harvin, Percy MIN WR 104 77 74.0% 852 11.1
39 Nelson, David BUF WR 93 59 63.4% 635 10.8
40 Burleson, Nate DET WR 99 67 67.7% 712 10.6

So what do we do from here?  Again, I am trying to locate a few receivers that have under-performed in production compared to their number of targets, while also referencing respective YPR.  An offensive upgrade can play a significant role in upgraded production.

Looking at the first table, first note that the average reception percentage is 57.8%.  I’m setting my sites on those receivers that are close to 5% below this average along with higher target numbers and then continuing my evaluation.  Those falling 10% below receive even greater focus.  Considering the last table, I’m looking for high YPR receivers with a correspondingly low reception percentage with a higher target number.

Who stands out from above:

Brandon Lloyd and Larry Fitzgerald.  But we know a lot about them already.  It’s not likely that you will be acquiring Fitzgerald in a buy-low situation, even though his reception percentage is low.  What this does tell you is that, obviously, Fitzgerald’s efficiency is suffering due to poor quarterback play, constant double teams, a poor offensive line or a combination of all of these.  Fitzgerald’s numbers would likely increase with better quarterback play, but not enough to capitalize on considering his value.  Moving on.

Brandon Lloyd’s situation is noteworthy.  A very low 46% reception efficiency combined with a low-average YPR.  An increase to the norm in reception percentage would be material.  But with Lloyd, being a product of a, likely-departing, Josh McDaniels system puts his situation in doubt.  Should McDaniels depart and reacquire Lloyd, who is a 2012 free agent, he would be a very nice sleeper play in 2012.  With a new team not coached by McDaniels, however, too many variables are in play to make him noteworthy from this exercise in my opinion.

Greg Little was a surprise to me and I didn’t realize he had as many targets as he did.  Certainly if Cleveland upgrades their quarterback situation or run-game, Hill is likely to benefit.  It’s obvious he’s the go-to receiver in that offense.  He did convert at a 53% rate, but in being a rookie, those numbers are noteworthy to me.  Similarly, Mike Williams obviously is the focus in Tampa Bay but had a dismal year.  Projecting a bounce-back year is difficult but there is certainly room for improvement in both reception efficiency and his 37th ranked  YPR number.  An increase in both of these next year would produce material increases in production that make him a relatively attractive buy-low candidate if you can.

Burress’ name comes up often from these tables but I am removing him from my list due to age.

The final three, save one last notation, are Jerome Simpson, Eric Decker and Damian Williams.  All have noteworthy targets but poor reception efficiency.  Difficult to project higher numbers for any of these players considering their situations, but an increase to the average would be material.  As such, they will go on my list as good risk-reward or sleeper plays.  For Jerome Simpson, a free agent in 2012, should he stay in Cincinnati or move to a system with a quality quarterback, I will give him a sleeper status as well.

One final notation.  Vincent Jackson is an interesting case with poor reception efficiency but on the top of the list for YPR.  Jackson is obviously a down-field threat with upside should he move to, or exceed, the reception efficiency average in 2012.  As a free agent, should he move to a team with a quality quarterback, it’s safe to call him an up-side target for 2012.  We can’t call a receiver like Jackson a sleeper due to his status.

The thing I like most about this exercise is that it’s easy to look at these three tables a number of different ways.   Each fantasy coach can see something different and forecast different results.  While I perform this evaluation annually, often times twice, to locate under-performing receivers with upside, I also use it to ensure that my top names aren’t beginning what could be a noteworthy slide due to change of circumstance.

I hope you will find value in this exercise as well.

 

 

Jeff Haverlack

Jeff Haverlack

Senior Partner / COO at Dynasty League Football
Husband and father who devotes far too much time to Fantasy Football, research, statistics and content development.We created DLF to ultimately assemble the largest fantasy football community on the planet and want YOU to be a part of it.

You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff
Jeff Haverlack

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Bigcsr67

    December 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Nice work Jeff, as always.

  2. voiceofunreason

    December 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I’d be interested to see previous years. Another way to look at the numbers for a guy like Mike Williams is that he doesn’t get much seperation and doesn’t have good enough ball skills to make tough catches. So the team needs to get a better wr and throw less to him.

    I could see the case more for Little, as he does have more talent and (hopefully) improved qb play next year could benefit him as would another year of experience.

  3. Tosnsprx

    December 31, 2011 at 5:14 am

    I’m going to try and acquire Little in my league.keep up the great work! This is my favorite time off the year in in dynasty.

    • Jeff Haverlack

      December 31, 2011 at 11:12 am

      We do a lot of work in the off-season so stay tuned.

      • Dirty

        January 2, 2012 at 7:57 am

        Agree with you both. If the Browns can improve their running game hopefully the passing game opens up for Little, but the schedule during the FF play-offs for him will always be tough in that division.

  4. bigd

    January 2, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    your statline sucks. you left out one of the best wrs regardless of targets and receptions….jordy nelson

  5. bigd

    January 2, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    nelson had 95 targets-68 recpt-1263 yds.-15tds. if he was 2nd intotal points between calvin and welker in our league. if your stats has some obscure reason to keep him out of your figuring….keep it….i’ll use my own stats. i won our championship and picked jordy in the 7th round. i’m ok with that. and i’d be more concerned over his numbers then say jerome simpson?

    • Jacob

      January 3, 2012 at 7:01 am

      If you read the intro, only numbers through week 16 were used. Jordy Nelson wasn’t in the top 40 WRs by targets at that point. If you are complaining that he isn’t on the list, then you missed the whole point. Targets normally equate to production. Someone with targets but low production will probably change. Someone with low targets, but high production (like Jordy Nelson), will probably regress back to the norm. If you follow this logic and agree with it, Jordy Nelson is the prime sell high canidate.

    • DLF_Jeff

      January 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      As pointed out by Jacob below, the stats I used were target based and through week 16. Nelson had 79 targets and did not make the list based on the target list above, which was generated using targets. Additionally, even if he had made the list … Nelson isn’t the type of receiver that I’m looking for in 2012. He’s very well known based on his 2011 performance and will be a high selection in 2012 in all likelihood.

      I got him in the early 2nd round of a rooke/FA draft this past year and was happy to get him. I highlighted him multiple times for his upside prior to the 2011 season due to the high powered offense that he was in combine with the expected retirement of Driver soon. At the time, I had James Jones ranked a notch above Nelson as we waited to see who emerged from either Jones/Nelson.

      Nelson also had a superior ~75% reception rate through those 16 weeks which isn’t likely to be repeated. His receptions though should increase in 2012.

      But again, a receiver like Nelson isn’t what we are trying to identify through this exercise.

      Congrats on your ring!

  6. bigd

    January 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    i appologize for not understanding the exercise of this article, but i do pay very close attention to targets/to receptions= production. i’m a packer fan and visit camp anually. this year i could see it in practice that nelson would be the #1 wr for the pack with his repore with rodgers. he will be by far the best wr over jennings next year as well. when i scout for a wr in the draft or FA i look to those measurables always. i just was very confused for the omission of nelson regardless of targets/receptions when you look at his over all production even before week 16.

    • DLF_Jeff

      January 5, 2012 at 10:51 am

      thanks for the comment BigD … it’s all good.

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