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03 Aug 2010

Introducing YAC+

by Bill Barnwell

Last week, I finished up a series on improving catch rate by introducing a statistic which compares a player's actual catch rate to a league-average figure, given the pass distance, relative location, and game situation.

However, catching the ball is just one aspect of a receiver's job. Once they have the ball in their hands, receivers are expected to pick up yards after the catch (YAC). Much like catch rate, though, YAC can be dependent on a receiver's usage pattern or subject to the whims of a quarterback's accuracy. With that in mind, I'm going to analyze YAC in the same way I did catch rate; I'm going to identify what the "expected" YAC should be for a pass, measure how players actually performed versus those expectations, and answer some questions about YAC and the skills of certain players and teams after the catch.

Welcome YAC+.

First, let's provide an example of how YAC+ calculates its baselines and compares expected YAC to actual YAC. We're trying to measure a player's ability when he actually catches the ball, not how much value he's providing the team on a per-attempt basis, so unlike our plus-minus statistic, YAC only considers completed passes.

Our sample uses four years of data (2006-09) from the Game Charting Project here at FO. The NFL does include both "Air Yards" and YAC with each pass play nowadays, but it's occasionally inaccurate; usually, there will be one set of downs every three or so halves I chart where the yards in the air and yards after catch are flipped, or mis-aligned, or just totally off. We instruct our charters to correct these mistakes where they're noticeable. Also note that air yards are the yards a pass travels in the air from the line of scrimmage, so a pass thrown three yards behind the line of scrimmage has the same distance in the air as one thrown six yards behind the line. Finally, all passes thrown into the end zone are marked with a maximum distance of (line of scrimmage - distance to end zone).

We construct the baseline for expected YAC as an average of two different measures; as our example play, we'll use an eight-yard pass to the left side of the field on second-and-10.

First, we find the expected YAC for an eight-yard pass to the left side of the field, regardless of the down and distance. That's 3.0 yards. Then, we find the expected YAC for a pass thrown to the left side of the field that's two yards short of the sticks on second down. The average YAC on such a completion is 3.4 yards. The average of these two figures is 3.2 yards. In reality, the 38 such completions over the past four years have yielded an average of 3.5 yards after catch, with most coming thanks to a 49-yard romp from Greg Jennings on a pass from Brett Favre in 2007. We calculate that Jennings produced 45.8 YAC+ on the play. Only one other receiver hit double digits on such a pass: Antonio Chatman.

For situations where the sample size is too small, we fill in expectation data from neighboring situations. Although the historical expected YAC for passes thrown 44 yards up the middle and 45 yards up the middle might be very different based on a small sample, I'm willing to guess that the historical expected YAC for all passes between 42-47 yards is a smoother, more accurate sample for the "true" expected YAC of those passes.

The tables below offer up some basic insight into how expected YAC changes through each of our modes of analysis. Figures that have an asterisk next to them mean that the number in question involves some estimating from neighboring cells.

Table 1: Expected YAC Per Completion
Air Yards Left Center Right
-10 13.8 12.7 10.8
-5 11 11.5 10.7
0 6.2 7.1 6.0
5 3.5 3.7 3.4
10 3.0 4.0 2.8
15 3.1 3.3 2.7
20 5.4 4.7 2.9
25 5.4 3.1 7.3
30 8.1 6.4* 5.9
35 7.5 6.4* 7.6

Table 2: Expected YAC To Left Side By Down, Distance
Relative Yards 1st Down 2nd Down 3rd Down
-15 10.3 9.7 7.6
-10 6.2 7.5 7.8
-5 3.9 4.1 4.1
0 2.6 2.0 3.3
5 2.5 3.7 3.6
10 5.7 4.6 4.4
15 7.8 6.0 6.6
20 7.8* 6.0* 6.6*
30 8.8* 5.8* 5.8*

This is going to be more subtle than our work on catch rate, and the differences between YAC and YAC+ are going to be less pronounced than catch rate and plus-minus. In general, it's going to be hard for a player that picks up 40 yards after a catch to look bad in YAC+. There are some interesting findings, though, that we'll cover. Unless noted, all stats and rankings below are for players with a minimum of 30 targets for the year(s) in question.

One thing YAC+ does do is attempt to allow for comparisons between YAC gained by running backs and YAC gained by wide receivers. Last year, the top ten spots on the YAC charts were all occupied by running backs. On the YAC+ charts, four of the ten players are wideouts. It makes sense when we think about the players in question; was LeSean McCoy really more effective after the catch than Miles Austin? Table 3 compares our raw YAC leaders to YAC leaders.

Table 3: Comparing YAC Top Tens
Top Ten, Raw YAC YAC per Catch Top Ten, YAC+ YAC+ per Catch
Darren Sproles 11.6 Darren Sproles 4.5
Chris Johnson 10.8 Hakeem Nicks 3.6
Julius Jones 9.9 Chris Johnson 3.3
Adrian Peterson 9.9 Adrian Peterson 3.2
Pierre Thomas 9.9 Patrick Crayton 3.0
Steve Slaton 9.9 Miles Austin 2.9
Justin Forsett 9.9 Kevin Smith 2.8
LeSean McCoy 9.9 Steve Slaton 2.6
Steve Slaton 9.3 Greg Jennings 2.4
Ray Rice 9.3 Justin Forsett 2.3

It's not a surprise to see Sproles at the top of the list. He wouldn't have qualified for the 2008 list, as he only had 29 catches, but at 5.1 YAC+, he also would have led qualifying players in that category a season ago. Just behind him was Devery Henderson, at 4.1 YAC+.

Working our way to the other side of the rankings, only five of the 26 qualifying backs in 2009 put up negative YAC; perhaps I need to put an adjustment for the position of the player in question. Among those five backs -- and ahead of just Jamaal Charles -- is one Reggie Bush, whose 6.1 raw YAC per catch belies a YAC+ of -0.5 yards per catch. That's nothing new for Bush -- he had 1.2 YAC+ per catch as a rookie, -0.9 as a sophomore, and 1.2 YAC+ again in his third-year campaign. He is yet to have a season where he exhibits anything resembling significant production after the catch as a receiver.

The ten worst YAC per catch figures in 2010 all belonged to wide receivers; the YAC+ list introduces a couple of different wideouts, but only one player at a different position: tight end, where Donald Lee of the Packers wasn't contributing very much after he got the ball in his mitts.

Table 4: Comparing YAC Bottom Tens
Bottom Ten, Raw YAC YAC per Catch Bottom Ten, YAC+ YAC+ per Catch
Malcom Floyd 2.5 Andre Caldwell -1.6
Michael Jenkins 2.4 Bobby Wade -1.7
Mark Clayton 2.4 Malcom Floyd -1.8
Torry Holt 2.3 Steve Smith (NYG) -1.8
Steve Smith (NYG) 2.3 Michael Jenkins -1.9
Lee Evans 2.2 Donald Lee -1.9
Kevin Walter 2.2 Greg Camarillo -1.9
Greg Camarillo 2.0 Lee Evans -2.0
Nate Washington 1.9 Nate Washington -2.0
Ted Ginn 1.2 Ted Ginn -2.8

By either metric, Ted Ginn was the worst receiver after the catch in football last year, which is downright remarkable for a player who was supposed to be a threat downfield and with the ball in his hands. Ginn was also below-average in 2008 (YAC+ of -1.3) and just slightly above-average in 2007 (0.2). He remains the focal point of what is shaping up to be the worst draft in NFL history, the 2007 Dolphins draft run by Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller.

Also note the presence of Steve Smith on that list. Remember that Smith had the most catches above expectation of any player in the league in 2009, and the highest total of the past four years; simultaneously, he left more YAC on the field -- a cumulative total of -194.9 YAC -- than any player in the past four seasons. What a sublimely weird season, and one that seems unlikely to recur.

In Part II, I'll take a look at some more strange players and myths about YAC, and we'll examine whether quarterbacks have any control over the YAC gained by their receivers.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 03 Aug 2010

47 comments, Last at 13 Aug 2010, 8:21pm by Tim Wilson

Comments

1
by Temo :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 10:49am

Interesting to see both Crayton and Austin on the YAC+ per catch list. Without thinking about it too hard, I'd say for Austin it's skill and for Crayton it's a product of small sample size and his role in the scheme (he only gets thrown the ball when there's a mismatch to be exploited, and ignored otherwise).

2
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:03am

Crayton's ranked in the top ten in raw YAC each of the past three seasons. He was fourth on the WR YAC+ leaderboard in 2008 and sixth in 2007.

12
by Temo :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:19pm

Good to know, like I said I didn't think about it too hard, it was just first impression.

You can throw the small sample size out the window, but I'll maintain he does always seem to catch the ball with a ton of room around him. I've seen Austin break tackles (weak as they were), I can't say that I see Crayton do the same. I've definitely seen him rack up the YAC though, so I'm no surprised to see him on the list.

15
by Temo :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:31pm

Examples:

Sammy Picatelli (sp?) gets burned by pump fake, tons of YAC for Crayton: http://www.nfl.com/videos/dallas-cowboys/09000d5d81291c33/Tony-Romo-80-y...

Miles Austin highlights-- so many of them are of him making stuff happen after the catch, not necessarily the defender making the mistake: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d8169cf25/2009-Best...

28
by Tim Wilson :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 3:51pm

Right, but it's probably not fair to expect all WRs to be beast-men like Miles and manually shake off a defender who is clinging to them at the start of each catch-and-run. YAC does not have to look like that, just as Yards After Contact for running backs does not have to look like Adrian Peterson taking a defender and literally throwing him out of bounds with one arm before proceeding down the field. It's more impressive if it does, but the yards are no more valuable.

Again, I fall back to Crayton's punt return average. I think he's just good in the open field. The fact that he's been on the list a few years in a row seems to support that.

11
by Tim Wilson :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:19pm

Yeah, I'd disagree with the small sample size on Crayton. He's an excellent open field runner, despite lacking elite speed. Check out his punt return averages by season, he's always near the top of the league.

I think he's simply a talented YAC guy, albeit in a different way than Austin, who gets a lot of his yardage by breaking tackles.

14
by Temo :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:30pm

yea, I'll take back the SSS argument, but guess all I'm saying is that although the numbers (both DVOA and his YAC numbers) say that Crayton is an under-appreciated receiver, visually speaking I can't say that I agree.

Sometimes a person's perception of a player is warped and numbers provide a perspective, and sometimes the numbers need a context. I do suspect that he's not as good as the numbers indicate, but hey that's what the statistical analysis is for.

21
by Tim Wilson :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 1:59pm

Well, he's traditionally been a slot WR, and I would imagine slot WRs are in a better position to accrue YAC (although YAC+ may compensate for that). And he's probably facing the other team's 2nd or 3rd CB most of the time, so that may help also (although I would imagine YAC is less directly affected by CB talent than something like Catch Rate is, since other "help" players come into the equation on YAC...safeties, LBs, etc.).

Again though, his punt return averages speak to him being a talented open field runner. So I think he really is a legitimately talented YAC guy. However, that fact is not mutually exclusive with your statement that he is not a tremendously talented wide receiver, since there is obviously a lot more to being a wideout than just YAC (getting open, catch rate, beating talented CBs not just average ones, etc.).

3
by billsfan :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:24am

Instinctively, I'd say that QBs do have some control over their WRs' YAC. They do, after all, choose whom to throw to, and probably have some grasp of whether the guy has room to run with it, is already in the end zone, or will just scoot out of bounds to avoid contact (i.e. T.O.).

What I'm more interested to see is if QBYAC+ can reveal any "system quarterbacks" in the NFL, e.g. a guy who throws a ton of screens and compiles absurd statistics or the guy whose team performs similarly when A.J. Feely is under center.

(I also like the Eagles)

4
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:38am

I like the QBYAC+ concept. That could be revealing.

7
by JuridianSantaal... :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:43am

I'd like to see this too.

I also think a lot of the YAC+ stats above might reveal more about QBs than their receivers. I know McNabb for instance on the surface has a lot of big play receiving threats, but his erratic midrange accuracy causes a lot of diving catches instead of giving the receivers room to go.

8
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:44am

Related to this, I'd love to see Marvin Harrison's YAC+ and whether it reflects his tactic of avoiding a tackle whenever possible.

30
by Purds :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 4:03pm

It absolutely would, and as a Colt fan, I was happy to see him not go for YAC. He was a little guy -- he would not have lasted as long.

29
by Purds :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 4:02pm

I agree that QB's have some control over YAC potential, but I think it will be hard to see which QB's are best at it through stats. For example, some might argue that a team like NE runs screens well (or used to do them very well), and so those YACs are really the team's, not Brady's. But, it seems to me that Brady is very good at leading receivers and should have a high QBYAC+ rating for almost all of his passes, and shouldn't be penalized for having a team that runs the screen well.

Perhaps QBYAC+ needs to be split into passes behind the LOS and beyond the LOS?

32
by billsfan :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 5:19pm

It's rare you get an opportunity like this, and QBYAC+ may be the way to do it. Can't wait for the next column in this series.

With Brady, there's a full season of Cassel with basically the same supporting cast.

With McNabb, you have a couple of games each season lost to injury, and Garcia, Feely, Kolb, etc. filling in with the exact same personnel and playbook.

A good analogy from the NHL is when Martin Brodeur (often criticized as a system goalie) missed a chunk of the 2008-2009 season, and the Devils continued winning with Scott Clemmensen in net. Conventional stats indicated a negligible difference between the two in SV% and GAA, but advanced stats such as Quality Starts (http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=54) indicated that Clemmensen led the league in games in which his offense bailed him out of a sub-par performance.

(I also like the Eagles)

33
by tuluse :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 5:20pm

Well just like DVOA it would be heavily context dependent. It would tell you that QB X in his offensive system, with his o-line and receivers throws passes that his receivers are able to get so much YAC from.

5
by idembsky :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:39am

Do you think Crayton and Austin being up there are more of a reflection of their talent for running with the ball, or possibly a reflection of Tony Romo having great ability to lead a receiver on a pass instead of just getting him a completion? I would think that QB accuracy would play a huge role in the ability of a receiver to run after the catch.

16
by Temo :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:36pm

At least for Austin, I can't say that's the case. So much of his YAC last year came from just running through tackles.

Crayton's weird. I could swear I've seen him duck out of bounds on countless plays, and yet here he is-- evidently one of the best WR YACs for years now. Which doesn't surprise me in itself, as I've certainly seen him take stuff to the house and rack up the YAC during games. I just don't know how someone who seems so in-elusive and has probably average speed gets these random 50 yard catch-and-runs.

6
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:42am

I'm trying to work out if this filters out some of the "unskilled" YAC that can massively boost a players numbers - player catches a streak behind the D, gets 30 YAC for avoiding falling over in an open field. I know its skill to get the ball, but its not really skill to just keep running when you get it.

I don't think this does filter that out. Does it need to, in a way similar to RB numbers starting to filter out yardage way down the field? Or am I looking at something other than you are?

10
by dmb :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:11pm

Controlling for distance is something of a proxy for this, albeit a very imperfect one. You're probably not going to be behind the defense unless you're 25-30 yards downfield (at a minimum), and once you start comparing a play to catches that far down the field, I would guess that a relatively high portion of those "similar" plays would also feature some of that "unskilled" YAC.

The other thing I'd mention is that even though it might not take much (other than passable straight-line speed) in the situation you described, the receiver may have contributed something during the route to allow for the high YAC. That is, superior speed, etc. could be (at least partially) responsible for putting him behind the defense in the first place. Since YAC+ is (presumably) intended to capture the portion of a receiver's ability that isn't reflecting in catch rates (Receiver +/-), it seems reasonably to let those effects show here. That is, I think the goal of this statistic is to be a reasonably accurate, if not precise, measure of a receiver's non-catching skills.

9
by mrh :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:53am

I think a big factor are the routes used in an offense by certain players. My thought being that you get more YAC not just from how shallow or deep you run a route, your agility and speed, and your QBs accuracy but also from whether you are headed downfield already by the nature of the route vs. back towards or parallel to the line of scrimmage.

Some of Crayton's and Austin's YAC+ is probably their ability. Some of it is Romo's. And some of it may be that they are asked to run slants, posts, corners, and fly routes while Witten and other wrs are given more hitches, outs, curls, and drag routes. Now the routes they are given may depend on their ability, but also whether they are the X, Y, or Z receiver - or a TE lined up tight or spread.

I can't prove this of course, but it would make an interesting study if we had the film to analyze.

13
by dmb :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:21pm

I think your hypothesis is probably true, but it's really just a specific application of the more general issue that individual stats in football are often dependent on scheme.

17
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:38pm

I would not be surprised if route also had an impact.

39
by fyo :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 3:16am

Hooks / hitches / comebacks would at least need to be accounted for. That is CLEARLY the reason why Camerillo put up bad YAC. The vast majority of his catches were hooks.

18
by dmb :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:39pm

Call me crazy, but I’m really curious about the left/right distinction. I would think that the most relevant “horizontal” information would be “middle” or “sideline,” (or, if it were charted, a third category – “seam” – for that area inside the numbers but well outside the hash marks); I would not expect the direction to be terribly relevant. And looking at the table of averages, it seems as though they are not … with the glaring exception of passes with 20-30 air yards. This leads me to a few questions:

(1) Were t-tests performed to test for statistically significance between left and right? Without knowledge of the sample size for each group (or the variance); it’s a little difficult to know how meaningfully different the means are. (Get it? Meaningful?)

(2) Weirdly, the magnitude of the left-right difference remains reasonably close for those passes with 20-30 air yards (the difference is between 2 and 2.5), but the direction flip-flops: for 20 air yards, L>R; 25 air yards, R>L; and 30 air yards, L>R again. I could see this arising from random variation if the sample sizes are small (this goes back to my interest to find out if the differences are statistically significant for each of these categories), but otherwise ... well, it’s just weird. Does anybody have any guesses for what could be driving this?

26
by S :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 3:29pm

I think random variation from small sample sizes is probably a good guess. What may be more meaningful than left-right would be side of the formation (strong side vs. weak side, side with 3 trips receivers vs. side where only one receiver is standing, etc.) The idea being fewer defenders close to the receiver => greater opportunity for YAC.
Then again, you probably don't get formation information from straight play-by-play data, you would probably only be able to determine that from game charting.

31
by dmb :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 4:30pm

I had the same thought that strongside/weakside, etc. would really be the relevant variables ... so I thought maybe teams had stronger formation tendencies (i.e. strong side usually on the right) than I had realized. But that wouldn't explain why the L/R side where more YAC can be found changes.

As for the data, this is using the game charting data, so it would be interesting to see some other "positional variables" rather than (or in addition to?) left/right.

34
by tuluse :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 5:32pm

I wonder if the dominant hand of the quarterback had an effect.

36
by dmb :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 9:48pm

That's an interesting idea!

The other thought I had was that many teams prefer to keep their top corner on the same side of the field for much of the game ... but is there a particular side (right or left) that most teams choose? Also, I think most teams choose their "top" corner more on the basis of their coverage abilities, not their open-field tackling...

37
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:09pm

That's correct, the PBP doesn't say that IIRC, and even if it did, it would be another thing to check ... but on top of that, it's not nearly as easy to categorize as left-of-hash/between/right-of-hash. Some formations don't have an easily-identifiable strong side; in others, you may have to decide whether there is a meaningful distinction between a TE and a physical WR, or between a WR and a quick TE.

And on top of that, it isn't even really the offensive formation that you are getting at, is it? It's really the defense, and that may or may not be related. Even in man coverage against, say, quads, if there are three to one side, there may be a lone defender covering the other WR, but when he catches the pass, he may catch it to the three-WR side of the formation. Where are the other WRs: close enough that other defenders can fall off their men?

I agree that this information is likely meaningful, but I think it is not currently available to the degree it would need to be compiled to be readily usable. It's hard enough in some cases simply to see what exactly happened on a play, even in HD ... we've got the yard lines for vertical distance, but virtually nothing for horizontal or distance-to-ball or -receiver measurements. For that, I think you'd need the NFL-level systems that could calculate mean distance to receiver and things like that. (I assume the systems they use that categorize plays can also plot players on the field and distances between them; I could be wrong.)

40
by dmb :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 11:20am

It’s true that coding sideline / seam / middle is a much more difficult task than simply differentiating between left / middle (inside hashes) / right , and there might occasionally be situations where a strong-side / weak-side distinction would be trivial or even artificial. I guess what I was trying to get at is that there’s no clear mechanism behind the difference in left / right means, so I was trying to hash out how left and right might be serving as instruments for other variable(s). If they’re not serving as a clear proxy for anything else, and the differences aren’t statistically significant (and without a clear mechanism, I would use a relatively high threshold for this – maybe even p=0.01), I would suggest combining the left and right categories to increase sample size and smooth out the means.

44
by Bill Barnwell :: Sat, 08/07/2010 - 12:03am

Testing the null hypothesis that passes thrown to the left and the right were of no difference yielded a t-statistic of 1.72, which is enough to reject the null hypothesis with σ = .05.

46
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 08/12/2010 - 10:09am

I want to keep posting here. I will not be mean or sarcastic about other posters. I will be nice and untroll like. I will be careful that when I refute the dogma associated with this cite that I do it in the nicest most pleasant way possible.

19
by spenczar :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 1:52pm

First, we find the expected YAC for an eight-yard pass to the left side of the field, regardless of the down and distance. That's 3.0 yards. Then, we find the expected YAC for a pass thrown to the left side of the field that's two yards short of the sticks on second down. The average YAC on such a completion is 3.4 yards. The average of these two figures is 3.2 yards.

You might want to make this a weighted average. It goes like this of course:
YAC1 = mean YAC of an 8-yard pass to left
YAC2 = mean YAC of a 2nd down 2 yard pass to left
weight1 = 1 / (stddev(8-yard pass to left))^2
weight2 = 1 / (stddev(2nd down 2yd pass to left))^2

Expected YAC is then:
YAC_baseline = [(YAC1*weight1) + (YAC2*weight2)] / (weight1 + weight2)

This would help mitigate the effect of outliers like Greg Jennings' huge run and account for small sample size, since each of those cases give large standard deviations which translates to small weights.

20
by Joseph :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 1:57pm

I think we can all agree--some QB's seem to be better at leading their receiver than others. However, the place where I think this would be MOST noticeable is on long passes. How many times have you screamed at the TV when your favorite team's receiver seems to be slowing down, waiting for the bomb to get there, while the burned CB or out-of-position S has a chance to catch up, either batting the ball away (not measured by this stat) or making an immediate tackle, depriving your team of a "sure" TD?
[Nice thing for this Saints' fan: the couple of times I have seen it from Brees, I seem to remember it being in the end zone--and 3 or 4 that stick out in my mind were caught for TD's anyway.]

22
by Tim Wilson :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 2:04pm

Hmmm...I initially thought the QB factor would be most important on slants, where there is the potential for a great deal of YAC, or none at all if the QB throws the ball behind the receiver. The majority of the yardage on a slant play can come from YAC, if a QB throws the ball correctly. On long passes, much of the yardage is the ball traveling through the air.

Although there are certainly cases, as you mention, where the receiver catches the ball behind the secondary and still gets to accrue another 20 or so yards of YAC as he runs untouched downfield. That seems less common to me, though, just based on my viewing of Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton (I'm taking them as representative since they're in the top 10 of wideouts in YAC+), who do not run many pure "bomb" routes of the type you're referring to. Instead, they're getting most of their YAC on slants or sideline hitches with a slipped tackle.

The Chiefs/Cowboys game in Week 5 or the Bucs/Cowboys game in Week 1 are good examples. Lotta long scoring passes on balls that traveled less than 15 yards in the air.

24
by drobviousso :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 3:02pm

I believe this is exactly why Mike Wallace has such low YAC numbers last year. He was fast enough to run past almost anyone, but Ben couldn't get the ball far enough out for him to stay at full speed.

I think this has more to do with Wallace's speed than Ben's arm. The same problem didn't seem to exist years before when Washington or Holmes were the deep threats.

25
by dbostedo :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 3:14pm

Or perhaps Wallace wasn't Ben's first read on those plays and by the time he got to him in his progression, he was too deep to reach? If so, I'd expect that to change this year with Holmes gone.

23
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 3:00pm

How does Welker rank in past year's? I would imagine this would be the primary force behind his value. So many of his catches are inside 5 yards from the LOS.

27
by S :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 3:42pm

perhaps I need to put an adjustment for the position of the player in question.

Maybe not. In looking out that top ten group, it would seem that YAC+ would tend to favor players with one or two "outlier" plays, in which they caught a screen or other short pass and made a really long run. Running backs who don't ever line up as WR's (i.e. Sproles, Johnson, Peterson, etc.) might be more likely to make these kinds of catches.

Two pieces of information that might help interpretation of YAC+: 1. a measure of variability (Variance, standard deviation, etc.) and the longest YAC+ being counted for each player.

35
by BigDerf :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 9:16pm

I knew Hakeem Nicks would be near the top of the YAC+ list. He had some huge YAC catches this year and Eli is notorious for his shaky accuracy. He does hit the open guy though and if Nicks performs near this years YAC+ next year he's due for a monster season.

38
by Misfit74 :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 12:48am

I can't wait to see what Golden Tate does to these lists in the future. I think he's going to be a YAC/YAC+ monster.

41
by Noah of Arkadia :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 12:07pm

As far as the 2007 Dolphin draft being the worst draft ever, what a stretch. It may not even be the worst Dolphin draft in a 2-year period.

  • http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/mia/2006_draft.htm
  • After all, Brandon Fields is a good starting punter and Soliai has developed into a good player albeit with conditioning issues. Satele has started 44 games in 3 years and yes, even Ginn has done some memorable stuff. He caught a bomb to beat the Jets in the final minutes of game #1 last year and he returned 2 kickoffs for TD to beat the Jets in game #2.

    Meanwhile, Jason Allen has done nothing except play special teams and the rest of those players I've no idea if they're still even in the league. As far as I know, none of them has ever done anything at all to distinguish themselves.

    This was the Saban draft, by the way.

    42
    by BigDerf :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 9:45pm

    Hard to get on a team missing its 2 4 5 and 6 picks in a draft. They came out with Hagan who started for them and is currently a Giant and Aromoshadu who is a trendy sleeper this year as a bear.

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    by Noah of Arkadia :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 10:16am

    You have a point there. Except for Hagan. He's been a bust from day 1.

    How about this one then (only looking at Dolphin drafts right now):

  • http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/mia/1987_draft.htm
  • That's a 13 player draft including 2 #2s with 12 busts and only 1 decent player: 8th round pick T Mark Dennis, who wasn't the big shakes, but he was a solid guy.

    RB Troy Stradford had a 200-yard game (or close) as a rookie. Graf hung around for a few seasons but he never did anything. #1 pick Bosa had 7 career sacks. And that's it.

    This is another good candidate:

  • http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/mia/1984_draft.htm
  • 12 player draft with 12 busts. Can't beat that. #1 pick Jackie Shipp showed promise for a while, but he was out of the league after 6 seasons, starting 44 games. Bud Brown was a forgetable player who actually managed to start in 2 of his 5 pro seasons.

    I'd take 2007 over either of those drafts in a heartbeat.

    45
    by Mr Shush :: Thu, 08/12/2010 - 6:54am

    That is indeed some impressive fail, but while the 2005 Texans draft may not be able to compete on volume, there is something deeply tragic about a draft class in which AV thinks the best player is CC Brown . . .

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    by Tim Wilson :: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 8:21pm

    How about their initial expansion draft? Tony Boselli. Jermaine Lewis. Etc. Not a great way to start off the Houston Texans era.