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Quick Reads Decade in Review: WR Totals

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Welcome back to Quick Reads' Decade in Review. Today we're going to look at the best wide receiver totals of the 2010s to show who helped (or hurt) their teams the most. We're also going to separate rushing from receiving info to see who was most effective moving the ball on the ground, through the air, or both.

Prior pieces in this series:


Decade Totals

Best Total DYAR, Wide Receivers, 2010-2019

Name G Tgt Rec Yards TD C% Y/C Rec
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Total
DYAR
DYAR/
Game
Julio Jones 126 1,254 797 12,125 57 63.6% 15.2 2,719 58 0 2,777 22.0
Antonio Brown 131 1,283 843 11,217 74 65.7% 13.3 2,701 70 -50 2,721 20.8
Jordy Nelson 122 840 558 7,901 68 66.4% 14.2 2,346 -5 0 2,341 19.2
Calvin Johnson 90 932 539 8,549 62 57.8% 15.9 2,175 26 0 2,202 24.5
A.J. Green 111 1,025 602 8,915 63 58.7% 14.8 1,761 10 0 1,771 16.0
Michael Thomas 63 602 470 5,514 32 78.1% 11.7 1,742 -10 0 1,731 27.5
DeSean Jackson 124 831 475 8,354 44 57.2% 17.6 1,563 130 0 1,692 13.6
DeAndre Hopkins 110 1,048 632 8,599 54 60.3% 13.6 1,732 3 -47 1,689 15.4
Doug Baldwin 123 730 499 6,566 49 68.4% 13.2 1,623 -4 25 1,644 13.4
Demaryius Thomas 143 1,184 724 9,774 63 61.1% 13.5 1,659 -26 -7 1,626 11.4
Mike Evans 90 836 462 7,268 48 55.3% 15.7 1,590 0 0 1,590 17.7
Randall Cobb 120 759 526 6,347 44 69.3% 12.1 1,417 171 -4 1,584 13.2
T.Y. Hilton 118 947 554 8,607 45 58.5% 15.5 1,539 23 -7 1,555 13.2
Marques Colston 89 645 426 5,685 39 66.0% 13.3 1,537 -1 0 1,536 17.3
Keenan Allen 86 766 525 6,436 34 68.5% 12.3 1,521 43 -48 1,516 17.6
Marvin Jones 96 579 348 5,049 42 60.1% 14.5 1,398 56 0 1,454 15.1
Dez Bryant 113 911 531 7,480 73 58.3% 14.1 1,465 -37 22 1,450 12.8
Eric Decker 111 716 440 5,824 53 61.5% 13.2 1,388 0 -11 1,377 12.4
Brandin Cooks 88 620 404 5,733 34 65.2% 14.2 1,189 164 0 1,353 15.4
Emmanuel Sanders 144 982 602 7,910 42 61.3% 13.1 1,172 97 63 1,333 9.3

Sometimes, trading up works. The Atlanta Falcons traded two first-round draft picks, a second-rounder, and two fourth-rounders to Cleveland for the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft, which they used to select Alabama wide receiver Quintorris Lopez Jones. Jones proceeded to rack up 12,125 receiving yards, 96.2 yards per game, and 55 100-yard games over the rest of the decade, all the best marks in the NFL. And these are regular-season numbers only -- they don't include the 834 yards Jones collected in eight playoff games. Jones has made the top 10 in receiving DYAR seven times in the last eight seasons, including each of the last six years.

In second place we have Antonio Brown, who once upon a time was a Hall of Fame-caliber wideout before apparently losing his mind. Brown was a different type of receiver than Jones, not as explosive but with a higher catch rate and a big edge in touchdowns.

Jordy Nelson finishes in third place. He doesn't get as much credit as his quarterback for Green Bay's offensive success, but he had some dominant seasons, making the top three in receiving DYAR four times. Outside those four years, he had only one season in the top 30.

Putting together 10-year tables as opposed to five-year tables is unfair to players like Calvin Johnson, whose career began in 2007 and ended in 2015 and thus is split between the 2000s and the 2010s. But he still ranked in the top 10 in DYAR five times this decade, leading the league in 2011 and 2012. His rate of 11.0 touchdowns per 16 games is the best of any player in this table.

If we're talking per-game numbers, though, the real star here is Michael Thomas, whose 27.5 DYAR per game is most of anyone in this table. Thomas is certainly the best possession receiver of the decade -- his 11.7 yards per catch is the worst among these 20 players, but he has caught nearly 80% of his targets in his career. That's a good catch rate for a given week, let alone five dozen games. Thomas' opposite figure would be DeSean Jackson, who had the lowest catch rate but highest yards per catch numbers here.

Worst Total DYAR, Wide Receivers, 2010-2019

Name G Tgt Rec Yards TD C% Y/C Rec
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Total
DYAR
DYAR/
Game
Zay Jones 46 221 110 1,184 9 49.8% 10.8 -244 0 -8 -252 -5.5
Early Doucet 38 209 108 1,187 6 51.7% 11.0 -211 3 0 -208 -5.5
Greg Little 54 325 163 1,874 8 50.2% 11.5 -235 35 0 -200 -3.7
Devin Aromashodu 45 130 47 799 1 36.2% 17.0 -174 0 0 -174 -3.9
Jonathan Baldwin 33 109 44 607 2 40.4% 13.8 -169 0 0 -169 -5.1
Bernard Berrian 19 77 35 343 0 45.5% 9.8 -133 -12 0 -145 -7.6
Donald Jones 35 153 82 887 6 53.6% 10.8 -127 -11 0 -137 -3.9
Lee Evans 22 110 41 652 4 37.3% 15.9 -136 0 0 -136 -6.2
Ricardo Louis 32 97 45 562 0 46.4% 12.5 -132 0 0 -132 -4.1
Braxton Miller 21 57 34 261 2 59.6% 7.7 -110 -11 0 -121 -5.8
Kenbrell Thompkins 33 150 70 893 4 46.7% 12.8 -120 -1 0 -121 -3.7
Chad Williams 17 54 20 202 1 37.0% 10.1 -141 22 0 -119 -7.0
Rashad Greene 25 51 30 185 2 58.8% 6.2 -118 0 0 -118 -4.7
KeeSean Johnson 10 42 21 187 1 50.0% 8.9 -105 -1 0 -107 -10.7
Bryant Johnson 30 62 25 301 1 40.3% 12.0 -106 0 0 -106 -3.5
Quinton Patton 40 133 73 880 1 54.9% 12.1 -120 15 0 -105 -2.6
Keith Mumphery 27 44 24 198 0 54.5% 8.3 -104 0 0 -104 -3.8
Nelson Agholor 71 375 225 2,530 18 60.0% 11.2 -142 28 13 -100 -1.4
Trey Quinn 15 57 35 273 2 61.4% 7.8 -96 -2 0 -98 -6.5
John Ross 24 116 49 716 10 42.2% 14.6 -75 -23 0 -97 -4.1

Sometimes, trading up fails. Granted, the Bills paid a much lower price for Zay Jones than the Falcons paid for Julio Jones. (Buffalo shipped the 44th and 91st picks in the 2017 draft to the Rams in exchange for the 37th pick, which they used to select Jones, as well as the 149th pick.) But you're supposed to get more from an early second-rounder than The Worst Wide Receiver of the Decade. Jones played 36 games over two and a half years for the Bills before they gave up and traded him to the Raiders for a 2021 fifth-rounder last October; he proceeded to catch 20 passes for all of 147 yards in 10 games with Oakland. He has never gained 100 yards in a game, half the targets thrown his way have fallen incomplete, and his career average of 10.76 yards per catch is slightly lower than the 10.83-yard average of Charles Clay, the fullback/tight end who was Jones' teammate in Buffalo. Oh, and those two picks the Bills gave up to get Jones? The Rams used them to select Gerald Everett, a situational tight end who has been a more effective receiver than Jones, and starting safety John Johnson.

The second-worst wideout of the last ten years is Early Doucet, but this is somewhat unfair to him. In his first two years in Arizona, Doucet had a 76% catch rate and 69 combined DYAR, but that was in 2008 and 2009 and so those years do him no good here. The bottom fell out for Doucet starting in 2010. In his last three seasons, he never ranked higher than 66th among wide receivers in either DYAR or DVOA. Doucet's an extreme example, but several other names in this table --Devin Aromashadu, Bernard Berrian, Lee Evans, Bryant Johnson -- were productive players in the 2000s who suffered from an extremely poor season or two in the 2010s.

Greg Little, the third-worst wideout of the last decade, is a Cleveland Browns draft bust -- hardly an exclusive club. What's notable about Little is that he was selected with one of the picks Atlanta shipped to Cleveland in the Julio Jones trade. So was Jonathan Baldwin, the fifth-worst receiver of the decade, though that wasn't Cleveland's mistake -- they shipped that pick and another to Kansas City to move up and take Phil Taylor. The good news for the Chiefs is that the other pick was used to take Justin Houston. Anyway, the point of all this is to show how great the Julio Jones trade worked out for the Falcons.

As we saw when we looked at the decade's worst running backs, most of the worst wide receivers by total value didn't play that much. Only four players here -- Jones, Doucet, Little, and Nelson Agholor -- had enough targets to qualify for our DVOA leaderboards. Unlike the worst running backs, however, several of these players are still active. Jones, Agholor, Chad Williams, KeeSean Johnson, Trey Quinn, and John Ross each still has a chance to turn his career around.


Receiving

As you'd expect, the leaderboards for receiving DYAR are virtually the same for total DYAR. Brandin Cooks and Emmanuel Sanders fall out of the top 20 without their rushing value, replaced by Anquan Boldin (in his years with the Ravens, 49ers, and Lions) and Alshon Jeffery, but the other names are the same with only minor shuffles. That said, you should sort this column by first down rate and look at the gap between Michael Thomas and the other best receivers of the decade. Good gravy. Marques Colston, another Saints receiver, is in second place in this category because Drew Brees is good.

Best Receiving DYAR, Wide Receivers, 2010-2019

Name G Tgt Rec Yds TD 1D Fum C% 1D% Avg Fum/C Rec
DYAR
DYAR/
Game
Julio Jones 126 1,254 797 12,125 57 574 11 63.6% 45.8% 15.2 1.4% 2,719 21.6
Antonio Brown 131 1,283 843 11,217 74 551 8 65.7% 42.9% 13.3 0.9% 2,701 20.6
Jordy Nelson 122 840 558 7,901 68 375 2 66.4% 44.6% 14.2 0.4% 2,346 19.2
Calvin Johnson 90 932 539 8,549 62 416 7 57.8% 44.6% 15.9 1.3% 2,175 24.2
A.J. Green 111 1,025 602 8,915 63 409 10 58.7% 39.9% 14.8 1.7% 1,761 15.9
Michael Thomas 63 602 470 5,514 32 306 5 78.1% 50.8% 11.7 1.1% 1,742 27.6
DeAndre Hopkins 110 1,048 632 8,599 54 457 7 60.3% 43.6% 13.6 1.1% 1,732 15.7
Demaryius Thomas 143 1,184 724 9,774 63 459 9 61.1% 38.8% 13.5 1.2% 1,659 11.6
Doug Baldwin 123 730 499 6,566 49 317 2 68.4% 43.4% 13.2 0.4% 1,623 13.2
Mike Evans 90 836 462 7,268 48 368 1 55.3% 44.0% 15.7 0.2% 1,590 17.7
DeSean Jackson 124 831 475 8,354 44 322 4 57.2% 38.7% 17.6 0.8% 1,563 12.6
T.Y. Hilton 118 947 554 8,607 45 380 6 58.5% 40.1% 15.5 1.1% 1,539 13.0
Marques Colston 89 645 426 5,685 39 302 6 66.0% 46.8% 13.3 1.4% 1,537 17.3
Keenan Allen 86 766 525 6,436 34 338 4 68.5% 44.1% 12.3 0.8% 1,521 17.7
Dez Bryant 113 911 531 7,480 73 353 8 58.3% 38.7% 14.1 1.5% 1,465 13.0
Randall Cobb 120 759 526 6,347 44 318 5 69.3% 41.9% 12.1 1.0% 1,417 11.8
Marvin Jones 96 579 348 5,049 42 234 0 60.1% 40.4% 14.5 0.0% 1,398 14.6
Eric Decker 111 716 440 5,824 53 297 5 61.5% 41.5% 13.2 1.1% 1,388 12.5
Anquan Boldin 107 793 490 6,259 38 327 2 61.8% 41.2% 12.8 0.4% 1,281 12.0
Alshon Jeffery 102 816 469 6,668 46 360 5 57.5% 44.1% 14.2 1.1% 1,266 12.4

However, removing rushing DYAR from the list of the worst wideouts causes some major changes.

Worst Receiving DYAR, Wide Receivers, 2010-2019

Name G Tgt Rec Yds TD 1D Fum C% 1D% Avg Fum/C Rec
DYAR
DYAR/
Game
Tavon Austin 96 368 218 2,028 15 91 3 59.2% 24.7% 9.3 1.4% -432 -4.5
Zay Jones 46 221 110 1,184 9 62 1 49.8% 28.1% 10.8 0.9% -244 -5.3
Greg Little 54 325 163 1,874 8 95 0 50.2% 29.2% 11.5 0.0% -235 -4.4
Early Doucet 38 209 108 1,187 6 56 1 51.7% 26.8% 11.0 0.9% -211 -5.6
Devin Aromashodu 45 130 47 799 1 39 1 36.2% 30.0% 17.0 2.1% -174 -3.9
Jonathan Baldwin 33 109 44 607 2 29 0 40.4% 26.6% 13.8 0.0% -169 -5.1
Andre Roberts 148 484 257 3,015 15 148 4 53.1% 30.6% 11.7 1.6% -159 -1.1
Nelson Agholor 71 375 225 2,530 18 109 4 60.0% 29.1% 11.2 1.8% -142 -2.0
Chad Williams 17 54 20 202 1 10 0 37.0% 18.5% 10.1 0.0% -141 -8.3
Lee Evans 22 110 41 652 4 30 2 37.3% 27.3% 15.9 4.9% -136 -6.2
Bernard Berrian 19 77 35 343 0 17 0 45.5% 22.1% 9.8 0.0% -133 -7.0
Ricardo Louis 32 97 45 562 0 25 1 46.4% 25.8% 12.5 2.2% -132 -4.1
Dede Westbrook 38 254 160 1,716 9 86 3 63.0% 33.9% 10.7 1.9% -132 -3.5
Cecil Shorts 70 453 229 2,979 14 142 3 50.6% 31.3% 13.0 1.3% -130 -1.9
Donald Jones 35 153 82 887 6 42 1 53.6% 27.5% 10.8 1.2% -127 -3.6
Bruce Ellington 44 130 79 768 5 38 2 60.8% 29.2% 9.7 2.5% -125 -2.8
Kenbrell Thompkins 33 150 70 893 4 28 0 46.7% 18.7% 12.8 0.0% -120 -3.6
Quinton Patton 40 133 73 880 1 39 1 54.9% 29.3% 12.1 1.4% -120 -3.0
Rashad Greene 25 51 30 185 2 13 2 58.8% 25.5% 6.2 6.7% -118 -4.7
Braxton Miller 21 57 34 261 2 14 0 59.6% 24.6% 7.7 0.0% -110 -5.2

Tavon Austin had, by miles and miles and miles, the worst receiving DYAR of the decade. Zay Jones, the second-worst wideout in this category, is closer to Pharoh Cooper in 61st-to-last place than he is to Austin. Yet Austin was completely absent from the total DYAR because his rushing stats (which we shall get to later) were so astronomically high. Austin's receiving numbers are so low partly because DYAR is a counting stat, and only three players in this table had more targets than him. Only two players, however, averaged fewer yards per catch.

Austin's struggles as a receiver and successes as a runner have caused some readers to ask if he should be listed as a running back instead of a wideout, but the numbers don't really bear that out. Compare Austin's numbers to those of the running backs with the worst receiving DYAR of the decade and he doesn't fit in at all -- his catch rate is lower than any of them while he averaged nearly a yard and a half more per catch. Also, though the numbers aren't listed here, Austin's average reception has been caught 3.6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, 2.5 yards deeper than any of those running backs. That 3.6-yard average is terribly low for a wide receiver, but not unique -- Rashad Greene, who put up -118 receiving DYAR in 25 games for the Jaguars in the middle of the decade, averaged 3.3 air yards per reception. Austin's an odd player who is difficult to put into a bucket, but he is closer to being a wideout than he is to being a running back.

Austin is not the only player who sinks to the bottom when we remove his rushing numbers -- Andre Roberts, Dede Westbrook, Cecil Shorts, and Bruce Ellington also debut after not making the bottom 20 in total value.

Best Receiving DVOA, Wide Receivers, 2010-2019

Name G Tgt Rec Yds TD 1D Fum C% 1D% Avg Fum/C Rec
DVOA
Tyler Lockett 79 388 278 3,853 27 171 2 71.6% 44.1% 13.9 0.7% 25.5%
Malcom Floyd 70 402 224 3,953 25 184 2 55.7% 45.8% 17.6 0.9% 23.2%
Michael Thomas 63 602 470 5,514 32 306 5 78.1% 50.8% 11.7 1.1% 23.0%
Jordy Nelson 122 840 558 7,901 68 375 2 66.4% 44.6% 14.2 0.4% 21.8%
Lance Moore 86 394 263 3,426 30 187 2 66.8% 47.5% 13.0 0.8% 20.5%
Chris Godwin 46 271 179 2,700 17 138 4 66.1% 50.9% 15.1 2.2% 19.3%
Tyreek Hill 59 415 282 4,130 32 176 1 68.0% 42.4% 14.6 0.4% 18.8%
Marques Colston 89 645 426 5,685 39 302 6 66.0% 46.8% 13.3 1.4% 17.6%
Marvin Jones 96 579 348 5,049 42 234 0 60.1% 40.4% 14.5 0.0% 17.4%
Kenny Golladay 42 283 163 2,730 19 125 2 57.6% 44.2% 16.7 1.2% 16.7%
Calvin Johnson 90 932 539 8,549 62 416 7 57.8% 44.6% 15.9 1.3% 16.4%
Cooper Kupp 39 281 194 2,596 21 118 4 69.0% 42.0% 13.4 2.1% 16.2%
Doug Baldwin 123 730 499 6,566 49 317 2 68.4% 43.4% 13.2 0.4% 15.8%
Adam Thielen 90 466 323 4,315 25 207 5 69.3% 44.4% 13.4 1.5% 15.4%
Robert Meachem 73 208 121 1,903 15 80 0 58.2% 38.5% 15.7 0.0% 14.9%
Tyrell Williams 69 322 196 3,154 23 144 3 60.9% 44.7% 16.1 1.5% 14.9%
Julio Jones 126 1254 797 12,125 57 574 11 63.6% 45.8% 15.2 1.4% 14.4%
Antonio Brown 131 1283 843 11,217 74 551 8 65.7% 42.9% 13.3 0.9% 13.7%
Kenny Stills 107 503 300 4,709 36 209 5 59.6% 41.6% 15.7 1.7% 12.5%
Keenan Allen 86 766 525 6,436 34 338 4 68.5% 44.1% 12.3 0.8% 12.3%
Minimum 200 targets

The Seattle Seahawks certainly had some star power this decade, with the quarterback and running back with the most rushing DYAR, and now the wide receiver with the best DVOA. Tyler Lockett's efficiency stats are ridiculous: a catch rate over 70%, nearly 10 yards per throw, 27 touchdowns, only four interceptions, and an NFL passer rating of 122.1, on close to 400 passes (only two of which were not thrown by Russell Wilson). Lockett missed half the decade -- he was only drafted in 2015 -- yet he still barely missed the top 20 in total DYAR and receiving DYAR. He has averaged 14.9 receiving DYAR per game, which would have been right in the middle among the players in the top 20 for total receiving DYAR.

The second-ranked receiver here also had a career that started mid-decade, but it was the middle of the previous decade. Malcom Floyd joined the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2004. He retired in 2015 with some modest receiving totals (321-5,550-34) and a mediocre catch rate, but oh, that yards-per-catch figure -- his 17.6-yard average in the 2010s is nearly equal to his career average of 17.3.

Lockett and Floyd are followed by Michael Thomas, who joins Lance Moore, Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, and Kenny Stills as Saints receivers with great DVOA numbers. We have mentioned that Drew Brees is good, right? In fact, when you step back and look at this, a handful of teams dominate this table: the Saints, Seahawks, Chargers, and the Lions. Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, and Matthew Stafford are also good.

Finally, let's appreciate Chris Godwin for a moment. He can't touch Michael Thomas in catch rate, but his first down rate is even better, if only by a few decimal points.

Worst Receiving DVOA, Wide Receivers, 2010-2019

Name G Tgt Rec Yds TD 1D Fum C% 1D% Avg Fum/C Rec
DVOA
Tavon Austin 96 368 218 2,028 15 91 3 59.2% 24.7% 9.3 1.4% -27.9%
Zay Jones 46 221 110 1,184 9 62 1 49.8% 28.1% 10.8 0.9% -26.8%
Early Doucet 38 209 108 1,187 6 56 1 51.7% 26.8% 11.0 0.9% -26.2%
Greg Little 54 325 163 1,874 8 95 0 50.2% 29.2% 11.5 0.0% -21.7%
Dede Westbrook 38 254 160 1,716 9 86 3 63.0% 33.9% 10.7 1.9% -19.3%
Quincy Enunwa 41 222 119 1,629 5 69 2 53.6% 31.1% 13.7 1.7% -18.2%
Mike Thomas 47 234 129 1,344 6 58 0 55.1% 24.8% 10.4 0.0% -18.0%
Louis Murphy 79 277 137 1,925 7 83 5 49.5% 30.0% 14.1 3.6% -17.8%
Nelson Agholor 71 375 225 2,530 18 109 4 60.0% 29.1% 11.2 1.8% -17.2%
Andre Roberts 148 484 257 3,015 15 148 4 53.1% 30.6% 11.7 1.6% -17.0%
Cecil Shorts 70 453 229 2,979 14 142 3 50.6% 31.3% 13.0 1.3% -16.3%
Chris Givens 60 237 107 1,780 5 57 1 45.1% 24.1% 16.6 0.9% -15.9%
Devin Hester 96 228 127 1,588 8 71 2 55.7% 31.1% 12.5 1.6% -14.3%
Cordarrelle Patterson 111 303 195 1,951 10 92 0 64.4% 30.4% 10.0 0.0% -13.6%
Davone Bess 59 403 234 2,499 11 129 3 58.1% 32.0% 10.7 1.3% -13.4%
Donnie Avery 46 234 118 1,598 6 73 3 50.4% 31.2% 13.5 2.5% -13.1%
Jeremy Kerley 99 463 271 3,129 13 155 3 58.5% 33.5% 11.5 1.1% -11.6%
Andrew Hawkins 74 342 210 2,424 9 119 2 61.4% 34.8% 11.5 1.0% -11.0%
Kamar Aiken 71 260 149 1,725 9 97 1 57.3% 37.3% 11.6 0.7% -10.9%
Darrius Heyward-Bey 133 391 193 2,777 15 121 2 49.4% 30.9% 14.4 1.0% -10.7%
Minimum 200 targets

Tavon Austin's efficiency stats, like Lockett's, are ridiculous, but not for good reasons: a catch rate below 60%, less than 5 and a half yards per throw, 15 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and an NFL passer rating of 75.6. In his defense, he has never played with Russell Wilson -- his quarterbacks, by descending number of passes, have been Case Keenum, Nick Foles, Dak Prescott, Kellen Clemens, Jared Goff, Sam Bradford, Austin Davis, Shaun Hill, Sean Mannion, and, for one play, Cooper Kupp.

We should note that the Mike Thomas in this table is not the Michael Thomas who stars for the Saints. Nor is it the Mike Thomas who has caught 10 passes for the Rams in the past four years. This Mike Thomas played four years for the Jaguars and Lions from 2009 to 2012.

We also find Devin Hester, the NFL's all-time leader in punt return touchdowns, and Cordarrelle Patterson, in the top three for kickoff return touchdowns. Because special teams brilliance doesn't always translate to offensive success.

Larry Fitzgerald finished the decade with a DVOA of -4.0% on 1,402 targets, the most by any wideout who finished with a negative DVOA. Andre Roberts had -159 DYAR on 484 targets, the most for any wideout who finished with a negative DYAR.


Rushing

Best Rushing DYAR, Wide Receivers, 2010-2019

Name G Runs Yds TD 1D Fum Avg 1D% Fum% Rush
DYAR
DYAR/
Game
Tavon Austin 96 195 1,333 10 91 2 6.84 46.7% 1.0% 700 7.3
Percy Harvin 60 130 801 5 32 2 6.16 24.6% 1.5% 469 7.8
Cordarrelle Patterson 111 103 785 7 36 0 7.62 35.0% 0.0% 418 3.8
Julian Edelman 120 54 386 0 29 2 7.15 53.7% 3.7% 238 2.0
Tyreek Hill 59 69 494 4 23 0 7.16 33.3% 0.0% 211 3.6
Curtis Samuel 38 31 278 3 13 0 8.97 41.9% 0.0% 199 5.2
Ted Ginn 139 52 362 0 21 0 6.96 40.4% 0.0% 193 1.4
Mohamed Sanu 118 42 231 2 17 0 5.50 40.5% 0.0% 187 1.6
Robert Woods 100 42 306 2 16 0 7.29 38.1% 0.0% 184 1.8
Randall Cobb 120 61 369 0 17 0 6.05 27.9% 0.0% 171 1.4
Brandin Cooks 88 44 279 2 18 0 6.34 40.9% 0.0% 164 1.9
DeSean Jackson 124 41 212 2 11 0 5.17 26.8% 0.0% 130 1.0
Travis Benjamin 101 35 261 0 15 0 7.46 42.9% 0.0% 126 1.3
Taylor Gabriel 83 25 179 1 12 0 7.16 48.0% 0.0% 126 1.5
Jacoby Ford 38 19 201 2 8 0 10.58 42.1% 0.0% 121 3.2
De'Anthony Thomas 69 29 181 1 8 0 6.24 27.6% 0.0% 120 1.7
Nate Burleson 45 28 206 0 12 0 7.36 42.9% 0.0% 116 2.6
Jarvis Landry 96 29 187 2 12 0 6.45 41.4% 0.0% 112 1.2
Deebo Samuel 15 14 159 3 5 0 11.36 35.7% 0.0% 111 7.4
Adam Thielen 90 16 151 1 8 0 9.44 50.0% 0.0% 110 1.2

Remember when we said Tavon Austin's rushing numbers were astronomically high? He had so much value as a runner that he ended up with positive DYAR overall despite having the worst receiving DYAR on record. To put some of Austin's numbers into perspective, let's look back at the leader in rushing DVOA amongst running backs this decade: Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints, who averaged a hair under 5.0 yards per carry and picked up a first down 27% of the time. Austin has him beat by nearly 2 yards per rush, and picked up a first down about 20% more often. This is freakish rushing ability. But he's only 5-foot-8 and 179 pounds, and he has only hit 10 carries in a game one time. The Cowboys only gave him a dozen carries in the last two years, but he turned those 12 carries into 102 yards and a touchdown. Austin is an unsigned free agent, and it's hard to believe he wouldn't be a good fit in somebody's running game.

That said, on a per-game basis, he's not the best runner here; he trails both Percy Harvin and Deebo Samuel in DYAR per game. Samuel makes this table for total DYAR despite playing in only 15 games this decade. That will happen when four of your 14 runs gain 20 yards or more.

The wide receivers with the worst rushing DYAR are like the quarterbacks with the worst rushing DYAR -- they don't run very often, so one fumble or loss of yardage can basically turf their stats. But, like we did for quarterbacks, we collected the numbers, so we may as well do a data dump.

Worst Rushing DYAR, Wide Receivers, 2010-2019

Name G Runs Yds TD 1D Fum Avg 1D% Fum% Rush
DYAR
DYAR/
Game
Dez Bryant 113 6 -3 0 0 1 -0.50 0.0% 16.7% -37 -0.3
Anthony Miller 31 7 27 0 0 2 3.86 0.0% 28.6% -33 -1.1
A.J. Jenkins 28 4 -11 0 0 1 -2.75 0.0% 25.0% -30 -1.1
Harry Douglas 102 6 -4 0 1 0 -0.67 16.7% 0.0% -28 -0.3
Demaryius Thomas 143 3 6 0 0 1 2.00 0.0% 33.3% -26 -0.2
John Ross 24 8 25 0 0 1 3.13 0.0% 12.5% -23 -0.9
Laurent Robinson 35 2 -14 0 0 0 -7.00 0.0% 0.0% -19 -0.6
Demarcus Ayers 2 2 -12 0 0 0 -6.00 0.0% 0.0% -18 -9.2
Kalif Raymond 20 2 -6 0 0 0 -3.00 0.0% 0.0% -16 -0.8
Charles Johnson 39 1 -11 0 0 0 -11.00 0.0% 0.0% -15 -0.4
Santonio Holmes 52 5 44 0 1 2 8.80 20.0% 40.0% -14 -0.3
Richie James 29 3 -1 0 0 1 -0.33 0.0% 33.3% -14 -0.5
Deonte Thompson 66 2 -5 0 0 0 -2.50 0.0% 0.0% -14 -0.2
Chris Moore 58 11 27 0 2 0 2.45 18.2% 0.0% -14 -0.2
Brandon Lloyd 61 1 -18 0 0 0 -18.00 0.0% 0.0% -13 -0.2
Josh Cribbs 59 40 147 0 9 1 3.68 22.5% 2.5% -12 -0.2
Josh Doctson 34 1 -14 0 0 0 -14.00 0.0% 0.0% -12 -0.4
Stephen Burton 19 1 -9 0 0 0 -9.00 0.0% 0.0% -12 -0.6
Ryan Switzer 41 10 26 0 0 0 2.60 0.0% 0.0% -12 -0.3
Bernard Berrian 19 1 -8 0 0 0 -8.00 0.0% 0.0% -12 -0.6

Note that this does not include Harry Douglas' rookie year of 2009, when he averaged 5.8 yards on 12 carries, including four first downs. Nor does it include Josh Cribbs' first five years, when he averaged 6.5 yards on 95 carries, including 37 first downs; nor the first six years of Bernard Berrian's career, when he averaged 5.6 yards on 16 runs, including four first downs.

In the 2010s, Cribbs had a -14.7% DVOA and -12 DYAR on 40 rushes, most for any wideout with a negative DVOA or DYAR.


Passing

Mohamed Sanu picked up 159 DYAR on nine pass plays, both the highest marks for any wide receiver this decade. He completed 7-of-8 passes for 233 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. That's an 88% completion rate, 29.1 yards per pass, and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He also took one sack.

Brad Smith, who was sort of like Rex Ryan's version of Taysom Hill with the Jets, had the worst passing DYAR of any wide receiver at -60. He completed 2-of-6 passes for a total of 6 yards with one touchdown, one sack, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 42.4.


Notable Seasons

We're not going to go in-depth on the best and worst seasons of the decade because A) we just wrote about that for ESPN+ in December, and B) all that information is freely available elsewhere on the site for anyone who wants to compile it. But a few bullet points:

  • Calvin Johnson's 565 receiving DYAR and 575 total DYAR in 2011 were both the best for any wideout in any given year. Tavon Austin's 253 rushing DYAR in 2015 were the best in that category.
  • The worst marks were Cecil Shorts' -183 total DYAR in 2014, Austin's -219 receiving DYAR in 2016, and Golden Tate's -32 rushing DYAR, also in 2016.
  • DeSean Jackson and Demaryius Thomas both had positive total DYAR in all 10 years of the decade, the only wideouts to achieve that feat.
  • Andre Roberts somehow had eight years that each had negative DYAR. He kept finding work because he has been excellent on special teams, with three touchdowns on punt returns and two more on kickoff returns, but again, special teams brilliance doesn't always translate to offensive success.

Comments

23 comments, Last at 28 Jun 2020, 12:00pm

1 Tavon Austin's rushing…

Tavon Austin's rushing prowess is only his second best ability. Its his talent for hoodwinking the rams into drafting him high and then giving him a big second contract that should define his career.

22 You know, I watched a lot of…

You know, I watched a lot of terrible Rams football in my day (not to brag or anything), and I have to say, Austin honest to goodness was probably their second-best or third-best offensive player around the time of the extension (behind Gurley and, er, Kenny Britt - did I mention they were terrible? They were terrible, just terrible). That doesn't make it a good investment, but I understood the logic, as it were.

Fisher clearly loved him but never had any idea what to do with him beyond taking the "put the football in his hands and let him make a football play" cliche to its extreme. There was no particular thought, much less creativity, put into his touches: a few ordinary handoffs, a few short passes or screens (often lacking the "screen" part), some end-arounds, once in a blue moon a deep bomb on a go or post route. It was all just "here, you're fast and shifty, take the ball and go try to do something".

I will say, he was quite good at those end-arounds, which fit his his particular blend of speed, agility, and small size like a glove. I'd be curious to see his stats on those vs. the rest of his plays; he never really struck me as a good rusher exactly, but he was really good at that one particular kind of play.

2 We also find Devin Hester,…

We also find Devin Hester, the NFL's all-time leader in punt return touchdowns, and Cordarrelle Patterson, in the top three for kickoff return touchdowns. Because special teams brilliance doesn't always translate to offensive success.

I think the moral is that some STers are so good you need to stash them on offense to keep them around.

Patterson is another gadget guy who is out of his depth at WR, but is too effective as a runner and STer to not keep on the roster. I look at guys like him and Hester and think about what Andy Reid could get out of them.

3 or Cordarrelle Patterson on the 2018 Patriots...

+29 DYAR receiving, +115 DYAR rushing, a good blocker, and he did decently on kickoff returns too (23 returns for 663 yards and 1 TD).  Not the greatest year, even for Patterson, but not bad.

Agreed, though-- Andy Reid is another coach noteworthy for getting the most out of those players who don't neatly fit a single position.

4 Fitzgerald.

"We have mentioned that Drew Brees is good, right?" 

 Initially I was somewhat surprised that Larry didn't show up in the tables, then I remembered he only had 3-4 seasons where he had a decent QB this decade.  So that context his -4% DVOA can be interpreted as a testament to how good he is.

5 Maybe not stylistically, but…

In reply to by serutan

Maybe not stylistically, but Larry Fitzgerald is another version of Steve Smith. Often times the only thing separating a bad offense from a moribund one, save for a few outlier years. 

7 He had 963 receiving DYAR,…

He had 963 receiving DYAR, 996 total DYAR. If we had done a top 40 instead of a top 20 he would have made it. 

But I think it's pretty clear that the top receivers list here says at least as much about the players throwing passes this decade as it does catching them, probably more. 

8 QBs

Yes, we're pretty up front about the fact that DVOA/DYAR do not separate the receivers from their quarterbacks, so obviously receivers with poor quarterbacks will suffer. And that's the story of Fitzgerald's career.

9 Curious observation

I am sure that Gronk will dominate the TE tables--but I did not see any WR with Patriot ties on these tables. Not knocking Brady--just kind of surprised. He is the only QB that merits HOF discussion without a WR on these tables. (Again, he is an inner-circle HOFer--but other guys that will be discussed, but might not make it, have a player or two here.)

11 Welker shows up in the best…

Welker shows up in the best games list, but his career straddled the decades.

Brandin Cooks might be on the 20-40 list, and he's one of the best rushers. It's interesting, really. The 2010s Brady Pats had receivers who ran really well and rushers who caught really well, and that matches the eye-test. There are a lot of gadget guys in that offense, especially when there's not a Moss or a Welker or two all-pro TEs.

12 Cooks is mentioned a few…

Cooks is mentioned a few times here. Wes Welker and Julian Edelman were in the 20s and 30s. Even ignoring his years in Denver and St. Louis, Welker led all Patriots receivers in DYAR, followed by Edelman, Amendola, and Hogan. 

As for Gronk ... dude, spoilers.

13 Pats receivers

Thanks for the info. Like I said, I was kind of surprised--I figured I would see Welker and/or Edelman. Obviously they didn't "miss" the tables by too much.

Considering that Cooks is going to what, his 4th team in 5 years, I wouldn't call him a Brady receiver. I wouldn't count Tavon Austin against Prescott, either. 

Re: Gronk, yeah, we know where he's going to be in the next article in this series. :)

14 Gronk is sort of the reverse…

In reply to by Joseph

Gronk is sort of the reverse-Calvin Johnson. Unlike his peak competition, he played his entire career in one decade. His best comps are going to be 5-year guys.

10 “In fact, when you step back…

“In fact, when you step back and look at this, a handful of teams dominate this table: the Saints, Seahawks, Chargers, and the Lions. Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, and Matthew Stafford are also good.”

Further evidence to back up my assertion that fans and analysts (like Cian Fahey) who think Stafford is the holding the Lions back, and not the other way around, have no idea what they’re talking about.

16 One of many reasons Cian…

One of many reasons Cian Fahey doesn't know what he's talking about. I never viewed Stafford as the problem, moreso that when the team had good offensive weapons, they couldn't stop anyone.

Also, have we reached the point where their failures at RB become a Barry Sanders curse?

15 Decade boundaries

"Putting together 10-year tables as opposed to five-year tables is unfair to players like Calvin Johnson, whose career began in 2007 and ended in 2015 and thus is split between the 2000s and the 2010s."

Ever think about doing it a bit differently, and including any 10 year stretch, at least 5 of which are in the decade in question? (I.e. for this decade go back as far as 2005, to get the most recent 10 years for a player)

17 Greatness of Michael Thomas

Yes, playing with Drew Brees helps.

However, look at the first table in the article. In 4 years worth of games, he is 6th overall. All 5 guys above him will be considered for the HOF, and 4 played at least 3 years more this decade (except Megatron, who only played 1.5 seasons more). His catch rate dwarfs them, as does his first down rate. He almost has the record for catches in a player's first 5 years--he needs 12 catches to pass Jarvis Landry, and he has 16 games to do it. My guess is he will need about 6 quarters.

19 I'm not sure what your point…

I'm not sure what your point is. No one is saying that Thomas isn't good. Saying "Drew Brees has an effect on Thomas' stats" is not the same as saying "Thomas wouldn't be any good without Brees". (I guess it's more saying, "Thomas would likely not appear as good if he had a crappy QB".)

Every receiver is affected by their QB to some extent. That's just football. 

20 Agholor

Has to have the weirdest career of the players on the worst DVOA list. He's essentially been one of the worst starting wide receivers in the league for 4 of the 5 years of his career, but smack dab in the middle of that is his 2017 season where he's an above-average slot receiver who was a key part of a Super Bowl winning team, after which he goes back to being one of the worst starting receivers in the league again. Good luck figuring that out, I certainly can't.