Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Oct 2016

Week 4 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

The most interesting statistical stories of Week 4 involved the NFL's best and worst wide receivers this past Sunday. The best was outstanding, but probably not as great as you'd think. The worst wasn't especially bad, but it was the latest in a string of very bad games in what is quickly becoming a very, very bad career.

Let's start with the biggest star of the weekend. Atlanta's Julio Jones ripped the Carolina Panthers to shreds this weekend for 300 yards receiving, just the sixth time in NFL history a wideout has gone for three bills in a single game. Only three of those games have come in the DVOA era (which goes back to 1989). Jones averaged 25.0 yards per catch and had an 80 percent catch rate, so surely he must have threatened to break some all-time single-game DYAR, right?

Well, no. Jones did not set a record for most DYAR in a game by a wide receiver. He was not in the top three. Or top five. Or ten, or 15, or 20. Surprisingly, Jones' effort against Atlanta was just the 25th-best regular-season game we have on record. Now, that's an outstanding game. We're going on 27 years of DYAR data now, so simple averages tell us this will quite likely be the best game any receiver has in all of 2016. And it would have been the best game in any of 12 other years in our database, including all games played from 2002 to 2005. So no, games like this don't come down the line every month, or even every year.

That said, it's still hard to believe that there have been 24 regular-season games better than this in less than three decades. How can that be? He wasn't perfect. He did have those three incompletions, two of which were failed third-down plays. He scored just one touchdown, which isn't a lot when you're talking about the greatest games on record. And though none of his catches were failed completions, he did have four catches that failed to gain first downs: a 5-yard gain on first-and-10, a pair of 9-yard gains on second-and-10, and an 18-yard gain on first-and-20. That's 14 percent of his yardage total on catches that still left the offense needing to convert another play to pick up a first down. Meanwhile, only eight of his catches gained first downs, which isn't an unusually high number at all. Tampa Bay's Mike Evans topped that with nine first-down catches in Week 3. Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown have also hit eight first downs in a game early in this season, and at least three other receivers have gone for seven. So while it seemed that Jones was an unstoppable force for all 60 minutes on Sunday, there were brief stretches where he was… "silent" is too strong a word, so let's say he was quiet. Now, when he was loud, he was very loud. His eight first downs averaged 32.4 yards apiece, nearly double the average gain (16.5 yards) of all first down receptions this season.

The other factor to take into consideration is opponent adjustments. The Panthers haven't been very good on defense this year, and Jones' day gets dinged accordingly. Take everyone's adjustments away, and Jones jumps from 25th to 16th.

The following table lists all 100-DYAR games for wide receivers since 1989. Calvin Johnson, Chad Johnson, and Jerry Rice have three each; Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Amani Toomer, and Jimmy Smith each appear twice. Besides Jones, active players on the list include Kenny Britt, Antonio Brown, Eric Decker, Josh Gordon (sorta), T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson and Marvin Jones.


All 100-plus-DYAR Games, Wide Receivers, Regular Season, 1989-2016
Rank Year Player Team Total DYAR Rec DYAR Rush DYAR Pass Rec Yds TD Runs Yds TD Wk Def
1 1989 Flipper Anderson LARM 160 160 0 20 15 336 1 0 0 0 12 NO
2 2000 Jimmy Smith JAC 141 141 0 21 15 291 3 0 0 0 2 BAL
3 1995 Jerry Rice SF 136 124 12 16 14 289 3 1 10 0 16 MIN
4 2006 Chad Johnson CIN 133 137 -4 12 11 260 2 1 0 0 10 SD
5 2000 Terrell Owens SF 131 133 -2 22 20 283 1 1 5 0 16 CHI
6 1989 Henry Ellard LARM 130 130 0 15 12 230 3 0 0 0 2 IND
7 2001 Randy Moss MIN 129 112 16 13 10 171 3 1 18 0 10 NYG
8 2010 Kenny Britt TEN 127 127 0 10 7 225 3 0 0 0 7 PHI
9 1994 Andre Reed BUF 122 114 8 19 15 191 2 1 4 0 12 GB
10 1995 Kevin Williams DAL 122 104 18 11 9 203 2 3 21 0 17 ARI
11 2011 Calvin Johnson DET 118 118 0 17 11 244 1 0 0 0 17 GB
12 2013 Josh Gordon CLE 117 117 0 17 14 237 1 0 0 0 12 PIT
13 2006 Reggie Wayne IND 116 116 0 11 10 138 3 0 0 0 8 DEN
14 2013 Eric Decker DEN 115 115 0 12 8 174 4 0 0 0 13 KC
15 2001 David Patten NE 115* 47 25 5 4 117 2 1 29 1 6 IND
16 2015 Antonio Brown PIT 115 115 0 18 16 189 2 0 0 0 15 DEN
17 2007 Terrell Owens DAL 114 114 0 11 8 173 4 0 0 0 11 WAS
18 2013 Andre Johnson HOU 112 112 0 13 9 229 3 0 0 0 9 IND
19 2011 Wes Welker NE 112 100 12 20 16 217 2 1 19 0 3 BUF
20 1998 Derrick Alexander KC 111 111 0 8 5 173 1 0 0 0 12 SD
21 2013 Calvin Johnson DET 111 111 0 17 14 329 1 0 0 0 8 DAL
22 2009 Marques Colston NO 110 110 0 8 8 166 1 0 0 0 6 NYG
23 1990 Jerry Rice SF 110 110 0 20 13 225 5 0 0 0 6 ATL
Rank Year Player Team Total DYAR Rec DYAR Rush DYAR Pass Rec Yds TD Runs Yds TD Wk Def
24 1999 Isaac Bruce STL 109 109 0 6 5 134 4 0 0 0 5 SF
25 2016 Julio Jones ATL 107** 107 0 15 12 300 1 0 0 0 4 CAR
26 1994 Irving Fryar MIA 107 107 0 8 5 211 3 0 0 0 1 NE
27 2013 T.Y. Hilton IND 107 107 0 6 5 140 2 0 0 0 5 SEA
28 2009 Roddy White ATL 105 105 0 10 8 210 2 0 0 0 5 SF
29 2002 Amani Toomer NYG 104 104 0 12 10 204 3 0 0 0 16 IND
30 2002 Plaxico Burress PIT 104 104 0 13 9 253 2 0 0 0 10 ATL
31 2009 Wes Welker NE 104 94 10 17 15 192 0 1 11 0 11 NYJ
32 2011 Calvin Johnson DET 104 104 0 14 9 214 2 0 0 0 15 OAK
33 1993 Jerry Rice SF 104 104 0 11 8 172 4 0 0 0 11 TB
34 1998 Randy Moss MIN 104 104 0 6 5 190 2 0 0 0 5 GB
35 2013 Marvin Jones CIN 103 103 0 8 8 122 4 0 0 0 8 NYJ
36 2008 Antonio Bryant TB 103 103 0 10 9 200 2 0 0 0 14 CAR
37 2004 Chad Johnson CIN 103 103 0 12 10 161 2 0 0 0 13 BAL
38 1989 John Taylor SF 102 102 0 13 11 286 2 0 0 0 14 LARM
39 2001 Marvin Harrison IND 102 102 0 12 9 174 3 0 0 0 9 MIA
40 2003 Derrick Mason TEN 101 101 0 7 6 177 3 0 0 0 6 HOU
41 1993 Michael Irvin DAL 101 101 0 8 7 155 1 0 0 0 5 GB
42 1990 Eddie Brown CIN 101 101 0 13 10 178 2 0 0 0 2 SD
43 2007 Chad Johnson CIN 101 101 0 16 11 209 2 0 0 0 2 CLE
44 2010 Malcom Floyd SD 101 101 0 10 8 213 1 0 0 0 5 OAK
45 2000 Amani Toomer NYG 101 101 0 8 8 193 1 0 0 0 17 JAC
46 1999 Jimmy Smith JAC 101 101 0 11 9 220 1 0 0 0 11 NO
* Includes 43 DYAR for one pass attempt, a 60-yard touchdown to Troy Brown.
** Accurate as of Week 4. Will change throughout season as opponent adjustment and league-wide baselines fluctuate.

Last August, the Falcons signed Jones to a five-year, $71 million extension, and so far the wide receiver has lived up to his price tag. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, almost a year to the day after Jones signed his deal with Atlanta, the Rams inked their own young wideout to a big money deal, getting Tavon Austin's name on a four-year, $42 million deal -- about 25 percent less than Jones got, per season, but still a healthy hunk of change.

"Tavon has been an integral part of our offense and special teams since we drafted him in 2013," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said in a statement at the time. "It is important to our organization to retain players we've drafted and invested in, and Tavon is an example of that. We're excited for him to continue his career with the Rams."

How has Austin rewarded his coach and his team for making that investment?

  • In Week 1 against San Francisco, he caught four of 12 targets for 13 yards. He was the lowest-ranked wide receiver in Quick Reads.
  • In Week 2 against Seattle, he caught five of nine targets for 50 yards. He was among the bottom 20 wide receivers in DYAR.
  • In Week 3 against Tampa Bay, Austin had his best day of the season, catching five of eight targets for 82 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown. He finished in the top 10 receivers in DYAR and was originally listed in our top receivers in Quick Reads, though that was due to a glitch in our compiling system. Once we fixed the glitch, Austin fell out of the top five.
  • In Week 4 against Arizona, Austin followed up on his big day by catching two of six targets for just 14 yards. As you can see below, he had the worst DYAR of any wideout in the league for the second time in just four weeks.

Put it all together and Austin currently has minus-93 DYAR on the year. This is worst among wide receivers by a good margin. Kevin White, the second-lowest ranked receiver, is closer to sixth-worst Torrey Smith than he is to Austin. In fact, over 16 games, Austin's total projects to minus-371 DYAR, which would shatter the record of minus-297 set by Chris Chambers in 2006.

As a receiver, Austin has combined an abysmal catch rate of 46 percent with an anemic 9.9 yards per catch -- both in the bottom ten out of 81 qualifying wideouts this season. Only three wide receivers in DVOA history have qualified for our end-of-season tables with a catch rate so low and less than 10 yards per catch: Az-Zahir Hakim with the Lions in 2003, David Patten with the Redskins in 2005, and Eddie Royal with the Broncos in 2011. Hakim and Patten finished last in both DVOA and DYAR in those seasons. Royal was last in DVOA, and third-to-last in DYAR.

Regular Quick Reads readers (Quick Readers?) will recognize that Austin's name at the bottom of our rankings is nothing new -- he was last in receiving DYAR last year too, and he just missed the bottom 10 in 2013. In between, he had positive DYAR in 2014, though he didn't see enough targets to qualify for our main tables. That's a three-year total of minus-134 DYAR, and that's very bad -- 27th-worst from 1989 to 2015, if we don't use a minimum number of targets.

But that was before 2016 began. Four games into this season, Austin has been so bad that he has passed twenty-three of the worst wide receivers of the past quarter-century. At this exact moment, Austin has minus-227 DYAR, a total matched by only three other wideouts: Bryan Gilmore (minus-232), Greg Little (minus-235), and Dez White (minus-312). If he can't get things turned around quickly, Austin could fall behind White and claim the title of Worst Wide Receiver of the DVOA Era by Halloween.

It's quite possible, though, that Austin will turn things around. His numbers would almost certainly go up if the Rams ever give up on Case Keenum and turn to Jared Goff, who just a few months ago they drafted ahead of Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Jacoby Brissett, Cody Kessler, or any other player in the 2016 class. And we know that with the ball in his hands, Austin can change games on one play -- witness his 8.1-yard average on 103 career runs, and his three punt return touchdowns. That talent makes him a valuable asset even if he's not catching passes. Even this week, when he was the worst wide receiver in the league, his 47-yard punt return (and a 15-yard facemask penalty on Arizona) set the Rams up in the red zone. Five plays later, Los Angeles scored what proved to be the winning touchdown.

Every team in the league could use a lightning-in-a-bottle threat like Austin on their roster. But if the Rams are going to get value out of their $42 million investment, they need to find a way to make him a consistent threat in the passing game, not a "secret" weapon only to be used a few times a game.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
22/27
300
5
0
2
195
195
0
KC
Roethlisberger's first pass was a 47-yard completion to Sammie Coates, but then he went into a funk. His next five dropbacks resulted in two completions, no first downs, one sack, and 5 total yards. And then his next three throws all went for touchdowns, of 31, 4, and 38 yards. He completed all six of his third-down throws, gaining a total of 104 yards and five first downs, including two scores, though a seventh third-down play did end in a sack. A Chiefs defense that intercepted six passes one week ago was powerless to stop Roethlisberger's deep ball -- he went 6-of-7 for 183 yards and three touchdowns on passes that traveled more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage.
2.
Matt Ryan ATL
28/37
503
4
1
3
192
185
7
CAR
Only ten of Ryan's completions failed to gain first downs, and only five were failed plays. On third downs, he went 7-of-9 for 122 yards and six conversions, including a touchdown. He completed each of his first nine passes for a total of 139 yards and seven first downs, including a touchdown. His tenth pass also went for a touchdown, but it was Carolina's, not Atlanta's.
3.
Sam Bradford MIN
26/36
262
1
0
0
113
114
-1
NYG
Bradford played well when the Vikings were able to keep him in manageable yardage. With 7 yards or less to go, he went 10-of-13 for 90 yards and nine first downs, with a DPI for 6 yards and another first down. Only six of his other 16 completions went for first downs.
4.
Russell Wilson SEA
23/32
309
3
0
2
112
121
-9
NYJ
Not counting an end-of-half kneeldown, the Seahawks had two drives in the second quarter. On those two drives, Wilson went 8-of-8 for 165 yards. One of those completions was a 4-yard gain on first-and-10. Each of the other seven picked up a first down, including two touchdowns. He threw five passes that traveled more than 20 yards past the line of scrimmage and completed them all, for 158 total yards.
5.
Brian Hoyer CHI
28/36
302
2
0
2
109
109
0
DET
Hoyer set a career high by completing 78 percent of his passes against the Lions. He was most effective up the middle, going 7-of-8 for 134 yards and six first downs. Even with opponent adjustments only at 40 percent, they had a huge effect on Hoyer's DYAR, because Detroit's pass defense has been a complete dumpster fire thus far, giving up 12 touchdowns with only one interception.
6.
Dak Prescott DAL
23/32
245
2
0
2
108
109
-1
SF
Prescott, like Bradford, played best in short yardage. With 6 yards or less to go for a first down, he went 7-of-12 for 59 yards and two sacks, with every completion going for a first down. Only four of his other 16 completions resulted in first downs.
7.
Derek Carr OAK
25/35
199
4
0
0
99
99
0
BAL
Carr has always had a knack for finishing drives. Since he was drafted in 2014, he is one of 23 quarterbacks with at least 100 passes in the red zone. None of those quarterbacks can match Carr's touchdown rate of 36.2 percent. Carr got a chance to flex his red zone muscles against Baltimore, completing all four of his passes inside the 20 for 25 yards and three scores. He also had a 23-yard touchdown.
8.
Kirk Cousins WAS
21/27
183
3
1
3
64
64
0
CLE
Technically, Cousins did not complete a pass that traveled more than 10 yards downfield, but that does not mean the deep pass was not effective for Washington -- Cousins' two deepest passes resulted in DPIs of 50 and 21 yards.
9.
Tyrod Taylor BUF
27/39
246
1
0
2
64
63
1
NE
10.
Case Keenum LARM
18/30
266
2
0
2
57
52
6
ARI
Whatever success Keenum had against Arizona, it did not come when throwing to his left. To that side of the field, he went 4-of-10 for 17 yards, with nary a first down to be found.
11.
Andy Dalton CIN
22/31
296
1
0
1
51
78
-28
MIA
Dalton only threw five passes that went more than 10 yards downfield, but he completed all of them for 157 total yards.
12.
Paxton Lynch DEN
14/24
170
1
0
1
46
46
0
TB
Lynch took over for Trevor Siemian, who had 12 DYAR on 5-of-7 passing for 68 yards and a touchdown, with three sacks and two DPIs for 14 more yards, before getting injured.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Blaine Gabbert SF
16/23
196
1
1
1
35
45
-10
DAL
First quarter: 7-of-9, 109 yards, five first downs. Rest of game: 9-of-14, 87 yards, three first downs, one interception, one sack.
14.
Blake Bortles JAC
19/33
207
2
0
3
31
19
12
IND
Add Bortles to the list of passers who functioned best in short yardage. 5 yards or less to go: 6-of-9 for 57 yards, with every completion going for a first down, plus a seventh first down on a 12-yard DPI. Anything longer than that, he only gained six first downs in 13 completions.
15.
Carson Palmer ARI
23/36
288
1
1
3
30
30
0
LARM
Palmer struggled throwing to his right (6-of-12, 85 yards, three first downs, one interception) and up the middle (6-of-8, 64 yards, only two first downs), but he had a great day throwing to his left (11-of-15 for 139 yards, 10 first downs).
16.
Philip Rivers SD
28/43
321
2
1
3
17
17
0
NO
It wasn't all his fault, but Rivers' last six dropbacks were a total disaster: sack-fumble, completion-fumble, sack, fumbled snap, incompletion, interception on fourth-and-22. And somewhere in there Melvin Gordon lost a fumble too.
17.
Cody Kessler CLE
28/39
223
1
1
1
16
19
-3
WAS
18.
Cam Newton CAR
14/25
165
1
0
1
14
9
4
ATL
Note to everyone: attack the middle of Atlanta's defense. Newton went 4-for-4 for 69 yards and four first downs up the middle. And Derek Anderson went 2-for-2 for 20 yards and another first down.
19.
Eli Manning NYG
25/45
261
0
1
0
11
11
0
MIN
Third and fourth downs: 5-of-12, 34 yards, one interception, only one first down.
20.
Brock Osweiler HOU
26/37
254
2
2
1
10
2
8
TEN
21.
Drew Brees NO
23/36
207
2
2
2
9
9
0
SD
Yet another short-yardage specialist. 5 yards or less to go: 10-of-12, 101 yards, 10 first downs, including two scores. He had only five first downs on his other 13 completions.
22.
Derek Anderson CAR
17/23
172
2
2
0
7
7
0
ATL
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Jacoby Brissett NE
17/27
205
0
0
3
-1
24
-26
BUF
Brissett did not have a single pass in the red zone. On Buffalo's half of the field, he went 6-of-12 for 37 yards with two first downs and a sack. On third and fourth downs, he went 3-of-7 for 21 yards with two first downs and a sack.
24.
Marcus Mariota TEN
12/28
192
0
1
1
-4
-6
2
HOU
25.
Joe Flacco BAL
32/51
298
1
0
2
-11
-18
8
OAK
Throwing to his left, Flacco went 4-of-14 for 16 yards and no first downs. Seriously.
26.
Alex Smith KC
30/50
287
2
1
4
-31
-28
-3
PIT
27.
Andrew Luck IND
27/41
237
2
1
6
-45
-50
5
JAC
28.
Drew Stanton ARI
4/10
37
0
2
0
-54
-54
0
LARM
29.
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ
23/41
261
1
3
4
-91
-91
0
SEA
30.
Matthew Stafford DET
23/36
213
0
2
2
-101
-105
4
CHI
Third downs: 4-of-10, 42 yards, three first downs, one interception.
31.
Jameis Winston TB
17/35
179
0
2
5
-126
-140
15
DEN
Third downs: 6-of-12, 63 yards, five conversions, but also three sacks and two interceptions.
32.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
15/25
189
1
1
5
-131
-131
0
CIN
Tannehill only threw for five first downs against the Bengals, and none of them came on Cincinnati's side of the field. In fact, Tannehill only had three plays across the 50: a 6-yard completion, a sack, and an interception. On third and fourth downs, he went 4-of-9 for 48 yards and two conversions, with two sacks and a fumble.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Matt Jones WAS
22
117
1
2/2
21
0
50
40
10
CLE
Some weird splits here. In the first half, Jones had 11 carries for 38 yards and three third downs, and his longest carry gained only 7 yards. Then he didn't get a single carry in the third quarter. But in the fourth quarter, he had 11 carries for 79 yards and six first downs, including gains of 25, 16, 15, and 11 yards. He had three more first downs another first down as a receiver.
2.
Isaiah Crowell CLE
15
112
1
3/4
22
0
50
41
9
WAS
Eight first downs in only 15 carries, including five runs for 10 yards or more, with only one stuff for a loss.
3.
Ezekiel Elliott DAL
23
138
1
1/1
19
0
37
31
6
SF
Eight first downs on the ground, including gains of 10, 17, 23, and 26 yards, with only two stuffs for no gain or a loss.
4.
Christine Michael SEA
18
58
0
5/6
32
1
32
17
15
NYJ
Five stuffs for no gain or a loss and only four rushing first downs, but he gets extra credit for conversions on second-and-1, third-and-1, and third-and-2. He also had a short-yardage conversion as a receiver, with a 9-yard gain on second-and-3.
5.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
18
144
0
5/6
34
0
32
24
8
KC
Bell had four 10-plus-yard runs, but only two of them went for first downs -- he had a 14-yard gain on third-and-29, and a 12-yard gain on third-and-17. He was stuffed for no gain or a loss three times.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Isaiah Crowell CLE
15
112
1
3/4
22
0
50
41
9
WAS
2.
Matt Jones WAS
22
117
1
2/2
21
0
50
40
10
CLE
3.
Jerick McKinnon MIN
18
85
1
3/5
10
0
26
35
-8
NYG
First downs on gains of 25 and 10, plus a 10-yard gain on second-and-11, with three stuffs for no gain or a loss.
4.
Ezekiel Elliott DAL
23
138
1
1/1
19
0
37
31
6
SF
5.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
18
144
0
5/6
34
0
32
24
8
KC


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Charles Sims TB
15
28
0
2/3
7
0
-64
-58
-6
DEN
Sims had no first downs, a long gain of just 6 yards, two stuffs, and a fumble. None of his completions gained a first down either.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Charles Sims TB
15
28
0
2/3
7
0
-64
-58
-6
DEN


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Julio Jones ATL
12
15
300
25.0
1
108
CAR
Jones' four longest catches gained more than 200 yards. Marvin Jones is the only other receiver this year with even 200 yards in a game.
2.
A.J. Green CIN
10
12
173
17.3
1
68
MIA
Six first downs, including gains of 51, 43, and 21 yards.
3.
Antonio Brown PIT
4
5
64
16.0
2
52
KC
All four of Brown's catches went for first downs, including two third-down conversions.
4.
Demaryius Thomas DEN
6
7
94
15.7
1
50
TB
Five of Thomas' completions resulted in first downs. The other was a 9-yard gain on first-and-10.
5.
Eddie Royal CHI
7
7
111
15.9
1
44
DET
Royal had five first downs, includng two third-down conversions.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Tavon Austin LARM
2
6
14
7.0
0
-39
ARI
Austin had minus-30 DYAR receiving, minus-9 DYAR rushing for his one carry, a 6-yard loss. His two catches were a 6-yard gain on second-and-7 and an 8-yard gain on third-and-9.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 03 Oct 2016

52 comments, Last at 01 Oct 2017, 10:17pm by haiwon45

Comments

1
by Jerry :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 4:00am

Proofreading:

"be the best gamy any receiver has"
"and so far the wide receiver has listed his price tag" ?
Matt Ryan: "but is was Carolina's, not Atlanta's."
In Hoyer's comment, is the Detroit defense a "dumpster fire" or just a "dumpster"?
"Lynch took over for Trevor Siemian, had 12 DYAR" who had
Bortles: "with every completiong"

2
by TimK :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 5:23am

Sam Bradford comment also needs tidying up.

3
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 5:29am

"Prescott" for Bradford in the Bradford explanation.

6
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 6:53am

I noticed a couple typos, but I love when they get this out quickly and I'll happily live with the typos.

8
by ammek :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 8:25am

Seconded. The write-up is always interesting too.

This week's topsy-turvy data note:

Average pass DYAR of the 15 QBs not drafted in 1st round: 41

Average pass DYAR of the 17 QBs drafted in the 1st round: 11

Average pass DYAR of the 8 QBs drafted with the 1st pick: -20

24
by RoninX :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 12:27pm

Its almost like teams drafting at the very top of the draft don't have the best talent evaluators on staff. Who'da thunk it?

4
by TimK :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 5:30am

How much does Eddie Royal appearing on the 'worst seasons ever' list in 2011 and on the top WR list this week say about both the Lions pass defence, and Tim Tebow's quarterback skills?

5
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 5:34am

What happens to Manning's DYAR if Linval Joseph arrives a millisecond earlier at the running back catching a screen pass, and what was a 67 yard gain becomes a two yard gain?

18
by Temo :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 10:55am

This is a good argument for why scouting-based observation can help compliment purely statistical methods.

21
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 11:35am

It's essential, especially when working with the tiny sample of a single game, or even a few games. You need a very large sample before you can have some confidence that factors not related to what you are trying to measure are evening out.

37
by jmaron :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 3:59pm

as well as the defence played, holding a team to 10 pts is really good, they missed a ton of tackles last night. I don't think the play you mentioned was a missed tackle, but there were a bunch. They also dropped a likely pick six late in the game.

They really are so talented at every level of defence. I've read people saying they don't have a good secondary. I don't know why anyone would say that. Smith and Rhodes have been excellent players for a while now. Newman and Munnerlyn are certainly solid and Waynes is showing he has some real talent, if a little rough around the edges.

39
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 4:26pm

Waynes' rough edges are being smoothed out with time, and he is going to eventually be really, really, good. If that happens by the end of the year, they are going to be very deep in the defensive backfield (I actually think Alexander is further along than where Waynes was at the same point last year), and if they stay healthy at the other levels of defense (especially if Floyd gets back), come January they will be formidable.

7
by bobrulz :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 8:08am

Under Sam Bradford's description, it refers to him as "Prescott".

38
by jmaron :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 4:01pm

He kind of looks like a Prescott - Prescott Bradford....fits I think.

9
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 8:41am

"Only three wide receivers in DVOA history have qualified for our end-of-season tables with a catch rate so low and less than 10 yards per catch: Az-Zahir Hakim with the Lions in 2003, David Patten with the Redskins in 2005, and Eddie Royal with the Broncos in 2011. Hakim and Patten finished last in both DVOA and DYAR in those seasons. Royal was last in DVOA, and third-to-last in DYAR."

The moral of the story is that it sucks to be a slot receiver for a bad QB. The 2003 Lions simply couldn't play offense. They couldn't run, couldn't pass, couldn't block, and couldn't catch. Their best RB had 600 yards and their best WR didn't break 500. Hakim was just the most voluminous option for a putrid receiving core. Bryson, their RB, was the only guy who could actually catch the ball.

The 2005 Skins actually had a decent QB (Brunell). The offense was 40% Portis, 40% Moss, and 20% Cooley. Patten wasn't good, but he was the most frequent option of a sea of fungi RB/TE/WRs.

The 2011 Broncos were Orton or the Tebow Express. Yes, Royal's catch rate sucks. But so did the catch rates for D. Thomas, J. Thomas, Lloyd, and Decker. DVOA tends to regard those guys as pretty solid receivers in standard offenses. With Rivers, Royal was one of the most efficient WRs in the league.

Also consider the efficacy of Welker in NE or DEN vs MIA. The takeaway is that slot or YAC receivers are extremely affected by QB play, especially QB accuracy. Your criticism of Austin is mostly an indictment of Keenum. If you switched Jones and Austin, we'd be talking about what's wrong with Julio Jones and what's gotten into Tavin Austin (although to a lesser extent, given the QB effect above).

14
by Eleutheria :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 10:22am

I'm willing to bet the abysmal catch rate by Royal in 2011 was more on Tebow then him.

and while receiving dyar seems dependent on the QB it does work both ways, eg. how much of Big Ben's DYAR is because of Antonio Brown?

The problem is we haven't figured out a way to isolate QB play from WR play from OL play.

16
by lokiwi :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 10:33am

Big outside targets like Jones seem to be more capable of producing with bad QB play than smaller slot receivers. For instance, Hopkins finished 13th in DYAR last year even with the turd salad Houston put together behind center all year. Which makes some logical sense; even a terrible QB can throw the ball high and let them win a jump ball.

And that also speaks to the lower (market) value of slot receivers. If their play is so dependent on QB accuracy, it is difficult to isolate WR talent, and it is not as valuable. So even on a team with a good QB, it is unlikely Austin would be playing to his contract.

20
by jtr :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 11:23am

I think that simply analyzing Austin as a slot receiver is a bit misleading. His skillset is particularly geared toward having the ball in his hands from screens and end-arounds rather than running good routes from the slot and catching the ball beyond the line of scrimmage. I think the most similar players to him are Percy Harvin and Cordarrelle Patterson, and both Harvin and Patterson have posted negative DYAR over the 2013-2015 period. That style of wideout just doesn't seem to work that well in the NFL.

23
by coremill :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 12:22pm

One of the issues with Austin is that he's evaluated using WR baselines, but those baselines are derived from WR usage that is very different from how Austin is used. I've wondered here in the past what Austin's DYAR would looko like if he were compared to high-reception RBs instead of WRs. Austin has a lot more in common with someone like Darren Sproles than he does with Julio Jones.

26
by lokiwi :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 12:35pm

Harvin consistently posted positive DYAR from 2009-20012, when he was a far more productive receiver than Austin has ever been in his career. He only played in 19 games over the 3 years you selected, and was never really healthy or effective in that time frame. Patterson can barely get on the field in a mediocre Vikings receiving core. If Austin was a good as a healthy Harvin (or Randall Cobb), he would be producing positive DYAR as a receiver. If he is as bad as Patterson, his contract is insane.

29
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 12:56pm

In a stunning development last night, Patterson was targeted a fair number of times, and had a good game. Maybe he'll save his career yet.

30
by jtr :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 12:59pm

I picked the last three years just because those are the ones the FO website pulls when you search for someone, not that I'm specifically trying to cherry pick. Good point though.
I also think that this type of player gets pulled into a bit of a trap. Since these guys are best on plays that don't really involve the QB (screens, end arounds, kick returns, etc), they end up being especially attractive to teams with bad QBs, and they end up shouldering a big part of the load on a bad offense. Harvin's best season was on an offense focused around Favre and Peterson, while his worst was on an offense focused around....uh....Geno Smith. Austin has been in an awkward situation his whole career: he's a screens-and-end-arounds guy on an offense that seems to mostly consist of screens and end-arounds. It's easy for the opposing defense to tee up on that stuff because they're not particularly worried about anything else.

31
by coremill :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 1:13pm

Over-relying on these guys is not just a talent problem, it's a sign that an offensive coordinator doesn't really understand what he's doing. Screens and end-arounds and so on are constraint plays. They are plays you use to keep the defense honest once they start cheating to overreact to your base plays. But you can't build a whole offense out of constraint plays, because constraint plays won't work if you haven't forced the defense to defend your base plays first.

As usual, Chris Brown put it better than I could: http://smartfootball.com/offense/why-every-team-should-apply-the-constra...

34
by lokiwi :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 2:20pm

I didn't think you were intentionally cherry picking. It's just that I'm a Vikings fan, so I am very familiar with his career and knew right away those years weren't a fair representation of his talent. I still think real talent can overcome QB deficiencies in a way that Austin hasn't demonstrated. Harvin had very productive years with washed up Favre (he was terrible in '10 after being brilliant in '09), washed up McNabb, Ponder, and Joe Webb throwing him the ball. Some of it is scheme, but some of it is just demonstrating the ability to be successful in a wider array of plays.

35
by TomC :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 2:40pm

Oddly enough, Royal's big day Sunday was courtesy of the primary turd in last year's Houston salad.

10
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 9:00am

Can someone remind me what Andy Dalton did to get -28 rushing DYAR? Did he fumble?

Nothing immediately comes to mind on that one.

17
by Craigo :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 10:38am

He fumbled twice, one of which went down as an 8 yard loss on the same play. The other four carries should have been minimized, as they were all kneels.

Edited - I read the play by play wrong.

11
by RickD :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 9:51am

" and an 18-yard gain on first-and-20"

You know, sometimes 2nd and short is better than a 1st down. And to gain 18 yards to get there isn't bad, either.

15
by Eleutheria :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 10:29am

The EPA is actually higher for getting 9 yards on 1st and 10 then 11 yards.

And coaches in my experience under-utilize 2nd and 1, as they almost always call run plays. 2nd and one is the perfect time to go play-action, since the short-yardage situation makes defenses expect the run. And if it fails, no worries, you've got two more downs to get that final yard.

12
by lokiwi :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 10:05am

Which version of DVOA does DYAR use for opponent adjustments this early in the year? The non-opponent adjusted VOA? Or the DAVE version with pre-season estimates worked in?

22
by Eleutheria :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 12:04pm

DYAR doesn't do opponent adjustments for the first three weeks of the season.

13
by Eleutheria :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 10:16am

On the topic of Austin, are you ever going to include special teams (kick and punt returns) in DYAR?

19
by ammek :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 11:15am

Four 100+ DYAR games by receivers against the Packers. Only one of them finished on the losing side – versus Matt Flynn and the no-names, moreover.

Oh Lions!

25
by Sixknots :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 12:33pm

I didn't watch the Denver game. Did Trevor Siemian not play enough snaps to be listed in Quick Reads?

28
by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 12:42pm

Likely. He left in the second quarter.

27
by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 12:41pm

Anyone know where Randy Moss's epic Thanksgiving Day game against Dallas would rank overall? He had 3 catches for 163 yards and 3 TDs. I know DYAR is a counting stat and not an efficiency stat, but 3 for 3 in TDs! And 54 yds per catch!

Apropos of nothing, I dig the matte purple helmets the Vikings are rocking this year.

32
by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 1:16pm

Lower than other 3-TD, 163-yard games (and there have been 47 of these since 1989), considering he was targeted 8 times and failed to catch the other 5.

33
by Badfinger :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 1:41pm

I'm curious where Kevin Curtis' 2007 Week 3 11/14 221yd 3TD game ranks in DYAR. I didn't expect to see him at the top of that list, but I was a bit surprised it wasn't on there at all.

36
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 3:29pm

Thank you all for pointing out the typos.

Which version of DVOA does DYAR use for opponent adjustments this early in the year? The non-opponent adjusted VOA? Or the DAVE version with pre-season estimates worked in?

Preseason projections are not used for opponent adjustments at all. Opponent adjustments are set to 40 percent, based on 2016 performance only.

On the topic of Austin, are you ever going to include special teams (kick and punt returns) in DYAR?

We keep track of points added and lost on kick and punt returns and reference them in Football Outsiders Almanac. You can also check out the data on our special teams page.

I didn't watch the Denver game. Did Trevor Siemian not play enough snaps to be listed in Quick Reads?

See Paxton Lynch's comment.

I'm curious where Kevin Curtis' 2007 Week 3 11/14 221yd 3TD game ranks in DYAR. I didn't expect to see him at the top of that list, but I was a bit surprised it wasn't on there at all.

89 DYAR. Skimming over the play-by-play, it looks like he is hurt most by incomplete passes on third-and-2 and third-and-5. Detroit also had the worst defense in the league that year, and was next to last in pass defense.

One of the issues with Austin is that he's evaluated using WR baselines, but those baselines are derived from WR usage that is very different from how Austin is used. I've wondered here in the past what Austin's DYAR would looko like if he were compared to high-reception RBs instead of WRs. Austin has a lot more in common with someone like Darren Sproles than he does with Julio Jones.

Austin's DYAR would go up, because baselines for TEs and RBs are lower than for WRs, but that 46 percent catch rate/10 yards per catch combo still means he would suck regardless. Only four running backs have done it on at least 25 passes, and only 11 tight ends.

For his career, by the way, Austin has a 59 percent catch rate, but only 9.3 yards per catch.

40
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 5:40pm

So checking the updated wide receiver page.

In case anyone is wondering, a healthy Alshon Jeffery is really good. Also, Eddie Royal is tearing it up. They're 4th and 3rd in DVOA respectively.

Kevin White is living up to his playmaker projection.

Edit: Just checked TEs. Martellus Bennett is 3rd in DVOA because of course he is.

48
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 10/05/2016 - 6:14pm

The problem is that a healthy Alshon Jeffery tends to exist for a handful of games at a time.

Now that Kevin White is on IR, I think it's safe to say that whatever he turns out to be, he is a bust as the Bears' first round pick last year. If nothing else they have wasted 2 years of his rookie contract, and that ignores the very real question of whether he is ever going to live up to a 7th overall pick even healthy.

Eddie Royal is going to have to keep putting up great numbers (and stay healthy himself), because otherwise teams will be able to triple-cover Jeffery for the rest of the year.

41
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 5:47pm

How did Matt Jones get three receiving first downs on only two completions?

Sort of the "Big, if true" dept.

42
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 5:51pm

I don't know the particulars here, but receivers are credited for drawing DPI, and perhaps holding.

43
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 6:49pm

Filtering error. I was crediting him with first downs by Detroit's MARVIN Jones. It has been fixed.

44
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/04/2016 - 7:14pm

Hey,Vince, I know it is a pain in the neck to back it out, and it can be done endlessly, but when about 25% of a qbs nominal yardage came on a screen pass, I really am curious what the DYAR would be reduced to absent that play. If you have a moment to look at Mannings data, Id appreciate it.

46
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 10/05/2016 - 4:16am

Short answer but all I have time for right now: That one play was worth 32 DYAR.

47
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/05/2016 - 7:46am

Thanks

45
by MC2 :: Wed, 10/05/2016 - 1:47am

One more typo: 3rd paragraph, "...Jones' effort against Atlanta..."

Of course, if it was against Atlanta, that would probably drop his all-time ranking even lower, once opponent adjustments come into play, as the Falcons' D couldn't stop a Pop Warner attack.

52
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