Football Outsiders

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2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Scott Kacsmar

Earlier this week we looked at passing plus-minus for quarterbacks in 2017. The same methodology goes into creating receiving plus-minus, with the difference being that we are looking at things from the perspective of receivers.

Receiving plus-minus estimates how many catches a receiver caught compared to how many an average receiver would have caught, given the location of those targets. It does not consider targets listed as "Thrown Away," "Tipped at Line," or "Quarterback Hit in Motion." Player performance is compared to a historical baseline of how often passes were completed based on the pass distance, the distance required for a first down, and whether they were on the left, middle, or right side of the field. Note that plus-minus is not scaled to a player's target total.

Wide receivers require at least 50 targets to qualify for season rankings. Running backs and tight ends require 25 targets. In addition to the plus-minus stat (expressed with a "+" for above average or "-" for below average), we have included the player's catch rate (C%) and the adjusted rate (C%+), which expresses +/- in terms of efficiency.

2017 Wide Receivers

A total of 82 wide receivers qualified this season, but we'll just show the top and bottom rankings to save space here. Each receiver's plus-minus can be found later this summer in Football Outsiders Almanac 2018.

2017 Wide Receivers: Top 20 in Receiving Plus-Minus 2017 Wide Receivers: Bottom 20 in Receiving Plus-Minus
Rk Player Team Passes C% REC +/- C%+ Rk Player Team Passes C% REC +/- C%+
1 Michael Thomas NO 139 74.8% +14.9 +10.7% 63 Michael Crabtree OAK 98 59.2% -2.7 -2.8%
2 Antonio Brown PIT 152 66.4% +12.0 +7.9% 64 Pierre Garcon SF 65 61.5% -2.9 -4.4%
3 Ted Ginn NO 68 77.9% +10.0 +14.8% 65 Ricardo Louis CLE 54 50.0% -3.4 -6.3%
4 Tyreek Hill KC 103 73.8% +10.0 +9.7% 66 Robby Anderson NYJ 113 57.5% -3.4 -3.0%
5 Golden Tate DET 116 79.3% +8.6 +7.5% 67 Torrey Smith PHI 66 56.1% -3.9 -5.9%
6 Keenan Allen LAC 146 69.9% +8.3 +5.7% 68 Bruce Ellington HOU 50 58.0% -4.2 -8.3%
7 JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT 77 75.3% +8.1 +10.6% 69 Jaron Brown ARI 64 48.4% -4.4 -6.9%
8 Adam Thielen MIN 133 68.4% +8.1 +6.1% 70 Corey Davis TEN 64 53.1% -4.8 -7.5%
9 Doug Baldwin SEA 114 67.5% +7.7 +6.8% 71 Bennie Fowler DEN 53 54.7% -5.3 -10.1%
10 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 153 71.2% +7.1 +4.6% 72 Jeremy Maclin BAL 71 56.3% -5.4 -7.6%
11 Danny Amendola NE 81 75.3% +6.9 +8.5% 73 Brandon LaFell CIN 86 60.5% -5.9 -6.8%
12 Stefon Diggs MIN 93 68.8% +6.8 +7.3% 74 Corey Coleman CLE 52 44.2% -6.0 -11.6%
13 Allen Hurns JAX 52 75.0% +5.5 +10.7% 75 John Brown ARI 51 41.2% -6.4 -12.6%
14 Davante Adams GB 108 68.5% +4.7 +4.4% 76 Josh Doctson WAS 72 48.6% -6.7 -9.3%
15 Adam Humphries TB 81 75.3% +4.7 +5.8% 77 Roger Lewis NYG 69 52.2% -6.8 -9.9%
16 Sterling Shepard NYG 83 71.1% +4.5 +5.4% 78 Emmanuel Sanders DEN 87 52.9% -7.1 -8.2%
17 Robert Woods LAR 82 68.3% +4.4 +5.4% 79 Dez Bryant DAL 126 54.8% -7.4 -5.8%
18 Mohamed Sanu ATL 94 71.3% +4.3 +4.5% 80 Amari Cooper OAK 90 53.3% -7.6 -8.5%
19 Randall Cobb GB 87 77.0% +4.1 +4.8% 81 Alshon Jeffery PHI 112 50.9% -7.6 -6.8%
20 Ryan Grant WAS 63 71.4% +4.1 +6.4% 82 Zay Jones BUF 67 40.3% -11.8 -17.6%

Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, Adam Thielen, Doug Baldwin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Stefon Diggs all ranked in the top 12 for the second year in a row. That's pretty good for Fitzgerald given that Jaron Brown and John Brown both ranked in the bottom 15, and that Arizona's quarterback situation last year featured some passes thrown by Blaine Gabbert.

Playing for New Orleans means passes from Drew Brees, the king of passing plus-minus. Thomas' +14.9 ranks as the eighth-highest season since 2006; he is the third different receiver Brees has helped to that level, joining Marques Colston (+16.3 in 2011) and Kenny Stills (+15.5 in 2014). Perhaps Brees' most impressive feat here was helping Ted Ginn Jr. to a No. 3 finish with +10.0 and a league-high 14.8 C%+. Ginn always had questionable hands and shoddy catch rates, but he was a pillar of efficiency in that New Orleans offense last year. Prior to 2017, Ginn's career plus-minus was -18.1, and his best season was in 2008 (+4.0 with Chad Pennington in Miami). The Steelers (Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster), Vikings (Thielen and Diggs), and Packers (Davante Adams and Randall Cobb) were the only other offenses with duos in the top 20.

Adam Humphries (+4.7) is the only Tampa Bay receiver listed, but it is worth pointing this out in regards to Jameis Winston's surprisingly high ranking of fifth in passing plus-minus. The most common response I have seen to any high placement of Winston in a stat is that Mike Evans deserves the credit for it. Sure, Evans is an impressive athlete with a nice catch radius, but other quarterbacks have played with receivers comparable or better. In 2017, Evans actually ranked 62nd in plus-minus at -2.6, well behind that of teammates Humphries, Chris Godwin (No. 30, +2.4), and DeSean Jackson (No. 31, +2.2). Now some of that was due to a -3.3 with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, but oddly enough, Evans had his best plus-minus season as a rookie without Winston in 2014 when he was +3.8. We'll get into more Tampa Bay stats as time goes by, but for passing plus-minus, Evans has actually been a -3.1 for Winston.

While the top of the table is loaded with undisputable No. 1 wideouts, fans do tend to overrate that role. For instance, the only Atlanta receiver in the top 20 was Mohamed Sanu (+4.3). That's because Julio Jones (No. 26, +3.1) had his lowest season in plus-minus since he was a rookie in 2011 (+1.4).

"I don't know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver," said Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott in May. For the second year in a row, Prescott struggled to connect with Dez Bryant (-7.4), who had the fourth-lowest plus-minus and remains a free agent. Bryant tied for the league lead with 10 drops. Allen Hurns (+5.5) managed a solid number in Jacksonville last year with Blake Bortles. Prescott will be hoping to click well with him in Dallas this season.

How about the Super Bowl champion Eagles? We said a year ago that Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith might not give Carson Wentz the efficiency boost he needed since both are traditionally low-percentage receivers. As it turns out, Smith (-3.9) and Jeffery (-7.6) both had bottom-20 seasons, with Jeffery actually having the second-lowest number in the league. That's not all on Wentz though -- he was +1.2 to Smith and -4.8 to Jeffery. Nick Foles finished the season after Wentz's torn ACL, and it is hard to argue with the way things ended there with the Super Bowl win, but the last three regular-season games were not good. Jeffery also had an impressive postseason, and we'll see if he can develop a stronger connection with Wentz in 2018.

Buffalo rookie Zay Jones had a rough start to his career, to say the very least. His -11.8 would rank as the 18th-lowest season since 2006. No one ahead of him really rebounded afterwards except for Larry Fitzgerald (2012). Along with being a lock for the Hall of Fame, an improvement in quarterback really helped Fitzgerald out. Jones is now stuck with AJ McCarron or rookie Josh Allen, so improvement there may not be an option. Allen already enters the league with plenty of red flags about his accuracy. Jones had a really rough year, but if we can find some positives, it would be that he only had three drops and was overthrown 16 times. He also had 17 incompletions that were defensed, a fairly high number given his 67 targets. Houston's DeAndre Hopkins led the way with 30 defensed incompletions, but we know he is used to winning contested battles for catches. Jones still has a lot to prove for Buffalo. His -17.6 C%+ was the worst in the league by five percentage points.

2017 Tight Ends

Out of 48 qualified players, we looked at a dozen of the top and bottom tight ends for a 2017 season that was not stellar for the position.

2017 Tight Ends: Top 12 in Receiving Plus-Minus 2017 Tight Ends: Bottom 12 in Receiving Plus-Minus
Rk Player Team Passes C% REC +/- C%+ Rk Player Team Passes C% REC +/- C%+
1 Rob Gronkowski NE 100 69.0% +7.9 +7.9% 37 Tyler Higbee LAR 43 58.1% -2.6 -6.0%
2 Travis Kelce KC 116 71.6% +7.4 +6.4% 38 Zach Miller CHI 34 58.8% -3.0 -8.9%
3 Delanie Walker TEN 103 71.8% +6.7 +6.5% 39 Gerald Everett LAR 30 53.3% -3.3 -11.0%
4 Jason Witten DAL 82 76.8% +6.5 +7.9% 40 A.J. Derby 2TM 38 55.3% -3.4 -9.0%
5 Hunter Henry LAC 61 73.8% +5.8 +9.6% 41 Jimmy Graham SEA 91 62.6% -3.8 -4.2%
6 Austin Hooper ATL 61 80.3% +5.8 +9.5% 42 Demetrius Harris KC 33 54.5% -4.0 -12.0%
7 Kyle Rudolph MIN 77 74.0% +5.3 +6.9% 43 Greg Olsen CAR 34 50.0% -4.0 -11.8%
8 Benjamin Watson BAL 78 78.2% +4.4 +5.7% 44 David Njoku CLE 57 56.1% -4.1 -7.2%
9 Trey Burton PHI 29 79.3% +4.3 +14.7% 45 Ricky Seals-Jones ARI 28 42.9% -4.8 -17.1%
10 Zach Ertz PHI 103 71.8% +4.0 +3.9% 46 Marcedes Lewis JAX 45 53.3% -5.9 -13.2%
11 Jack Doyle IND 103 77.7% +4.0 +3.9% 47 Stephen Anderson HOU 50 50.0% -6.8 -13.7%
12 O.J. Howard TB 36 72.2% +4.0 +11.1% 48 Evan Engram NYG 108 59.3% -7.1 -6.6%

Injuries to Greg Olsen (rare) and Jordan Reed (common) did not help the status of tight ends last year, but the two best in the game, Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, finished on top in plus-minus. What more can be said about Gronkowski at this point? He has been used vertically more in the last two years than at any point in his career, and his C%+ is 9.2 in that time, almost doubling the 4.7 C%+ he had in his first six seasons.

The 2018 season will be without two players in the top five. Jason Witten retired after 15 seasons with Dallas. Age definitely slowed his ability to produce yards, but he was still a reliable receiver, and his departure leaves another hole in the Dallas offense. The Chargers remain snake-bitten with injuries after Hunter Henry tore his ACL in May OTAs. He is one of the most promising young tight ends in the league, and the Chargers may have to resort to bringing 38-year-old Antonio Gates back. Gates was just +0.1 in 2017 and is -2.0 since 2015. Speaking of old tight ends, Benjamin Watson could see another strong year in 2018 after returning to New Orleans with Brees. He had the highest plus-minus (+4.2) of any tight end or wide receiver to play with Joe Flacco last season in Baltimore.

The tight ends were good for the Eagles last year. Beyond the Philly Special in the Super Bowl with Trey Burton, Zach Ertz (+4.0) again ranked in the top 10 after finishing 2016 as the No. 1 tight end. Burton only had 29 targets, but his 14.7 C%+ was the highest in the league. This comes after a year where he was one of the least effective tight ends. The Bears had to like what they saw in 2017 after adding Burton in free agency; he should be able to help a limited passing offense in Mitchell Trubisky's second year.

Tampa Bay also had a good tight end duo that should only get better in 2018. Rookie O.J. Howard (No. 12, +4.0) actually finished ahead of Cameron Brate (No. 17, +2.4) on half as many targets. Defenses tended to forget Howard existed on four of his six touchdowns last year, but this could be the NFL's premiere tight end duo this year if he gets more involved.

Sean McVay did a lot of great things to fix the Rams' offense last season. One area that was still a weakness was tight end, where the Rams didn't have a player ranked in the top 35 in DYAR or DVOA. Tyler Higbee (-2.6) and rookie Gerald Everett (-3.3) both ranked in the bottom 12 in plus-minus as well. In the way that quarterback Jared Goff made huge leaps over his 2016 rookie year, Higbee tried to do the same. His -27.8 C%+ was the worst on record since 2006, but he improved that to -6.0 C%+ in 2017. Still, it's a weak area for the team unless Everett makes a big leap in his second year.

The Packers added two tight ends in the bottom eight in Jimmy Graham (-3.8) and Marcedes Lewis (-5.9). One would figure that Lewis will serve more of a blocking role with Graham and Lance Kendricks in the mix. Graham's last season in Seattle featured a lot of short touchdown catches, but he was also plagued with injuries on his way to a career-low 9.1 yards per reception. We'll see if Aaron Rodgers can get more out of him with better health for both players in 2018.

Finally, there is the case of Giants rookie Evan Engram (-7.1), who finished last in plus-minus. Depending on the availability of Sterling Shepard, Engram had to become the team's de facto No. 1 option after injuries to Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. He struggled with eight drops, which were only surpassed among tight ends by Ertz's nine. However, there were problems with Eli Manning last year as well, so we may not see a good number from Engram here until the quarterback situation improves in New York.

2017 Running Backs

There were 61 qualified running backs, but we are listing only 32 here.

2017 Running Backs: Top 16 in Receiving Plus-Minus 2017 Running Backs: Bottom 16 in Receiving Plus-Minus
Rk Player Team Passes C% REC +/- C%+ Rk Player Team Passes C% REC +/- C%+
1 Alvin Kamara NO 96 84.4% +6.5 +6.8% 46 Jordan Howard CHI 30 76.7% -2.3 -7.7%
2 Danny Woodhead BAL 36 91.7% +5.3 +14.7% 47 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 34 76.5% -2.4 -7.0%
3 Kareem Hunt KC 61 86.9% +4.3 +7.1% 48 Orleans Darkwa NYG 26 73.1% -2.4 -9.2%
4 Duke Johnson CLE 90 83.3% +4.2 +4.7% 49 Elijah McGuire NYJ 26 65.4% -2.8 -10.7%
5 Dion Lewis NE 34 94.1% +4.2 +12.3% 50 Andre Ellington 2TM 56 69.6% -2.8 -5.0%
6 Mark Ingram NO 65 89.2% +4.0 +6.1% 51 Kenyan Drake MIA 43 74.4% -2.9 -6.8%
7 Devonta Freeman ATL 41 87.8% +3.8 +9.3% 52 Theo Riddick DET 70 75.7% -3.0 -4.4%
8 Lamar Miller HOU 41 87.8% +3.7 +8.9% 53 Jay Ajayi 2TM 33 72.7% -3.6 -10.8%
9 LeSean McCoy BUF 72 83.3% +3.5 +4.8% 54 Isaiah Crowell CLE 40 72.5% -3.6 -9.0%
10 Kyle Juszczyk SF 39 84.6% +3.2 +8.1% 55 Melvin Gordon LAC 74 78.4% -3.6 -4.9%
11 James White NE 68 82.4% +3.1 +4.6% 56 Alex Collins BAL 33 69.7% -3.8 -11.5%
12 Matt Forte NYJ 43 86.0% +2.7 +6.4% 57 Wayne Gallman NYG 46 73.9% -3.8 -8.3%
13 DeMarco Murray TEN 45 86.7% +2.3 +5.0% 58 Marshawn Lynch OAK 29 69.0% -4.0 -13.9%
14 Le'Veon Bell PIT 102 83.3% +2.1 +2.0% 59 Marlon Mack IND 30 70.0% -5.1 -16.9%
15 Rex Burkhead NE 36 83.3% +2.0 +5.6% 60 Matt Breida SF 34 64.7% -5.6 -16.5%
16 Leonard Fournette JAX 41 87.8% +1.9 +4.6% 61 Carlos Hyde SF 84 71.4% -6.5 -7.8%

Some of you will no doubt be curious about the absence of two of 2017's most prolific receiving backs: MVP runner-up Todd Gurley and Carolina rookie Christian McCaffrey. Gurley will be featured prominently when we do YAC+, but his plus-minus was only +1.7, good for 22nd in the league. True to form with Cam Newton's poor season in plus-minus, McCaffrey's -2.2 ranked 45th in 2017.

It comes as no surprise that Alvin Kamara was the leader in plus-minus (+6.5) after a stellar rookie season that saw him finish on top in receiving DYAR. Kamara's season could have been even greater if he didn't have six drops, the third-highest total among backs in 2017. It also doesn't hurt to have Drew Brees as your quarterback, as teammate Mark Ingram (+4.0) ranked sixth.

What really stood out here were some of the differences in other teammates, which may or may not have been due to quarterbacks. Let's start with San Francisco. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk (+3.2) ranked in the top 10 in plus-minus for the second year in a row, which is pretty impressive when he's done it with Joe Flacco in Baltimore and the trio of San Francisco quarterbacks last year. He was able to sneak free on a couple of deep shots from Jimmy Garoppolo. However, his teammates Matt Breida (-5.6) and Carlos Hyde (-6.5) were last and next-to-last in the league in plus-minus. This comes a year after Kyle Shanahan received a lot of praise for how he used his running backs in the passing game for the prolific 2016 Falcons. You can see that Atlanta's Devonta Freeman (+3.8) still finished seventh without Shanahan. So what happened to the 49ers? Well, they came down with a case of butterfingers. Hyde (eight) and Breida (seven) were credited with the most drops among running backs. In Breida's case, he did not click well with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard, posting a -5.6 with those quarterbacks and a neutral +0.0 with Garoppolo. For Hyde, he was No. 10 in 2016 (+1.6), but last year was not a successful one for him. He was even -1.5 with Garoppolo, though most of the damage came from Beathard (-5.3). That was not so much due to poor passing as it was the fact that six of Hyde's eight drops were on passes from Beathard. Regardless, with Hyde in Cleveland now, the best receiving back there will continue to be Duke Johnson (+4.2), who finished fourth in plus-minus.

In Chicago, Jordan Howard ranked dead last in these stats in 2016, but improved slightly in 2017. Still, Howard and Tarik Cohen had the worst receiving metrics by any running back duo for DVOA and DYAR last year. It will be interesting to see if new coach Matt Nagy can get more out of them in the receiving game, a staple of Andy Reid's brand of West Coast offense. Kansas City rookie Kareem Hunt (+4.3) finished third in plus-minus for Nagy last year.

The Patriots had three running backs in the top 15 in plus-minus, though Dion Lewis is off to Tennessee this year. Lewis' 12.3 C%+ was only topped by another former Patriot in Danny Woodhead (14.7%). Woodhead was injured last season so Baltimore fans didn't get to see the full effect of him with Flacco, but he caught 33-of-36 passes. He would be a much better receiving option than Alex Collins, who ranked dead last in DYAR and DVOA and had the sixth-lowest plus-minus (-3.8). Collins only had one target that was thrown more than 4 yards down the field, but he did at least catch that one for 15 yards.

If you are wondering how Woodhead can score such a high ranking in plus-minus and C%+ while finishing 50th in DYAR and DVOA, then check back next week when we look at YAC+ for 2017 receivers.

Comments

19 comments, Last at 20 Jun 2018, 8:04pm

1 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Jun 07, 2018 - 3:45pm

There seems to be a Lake Woebegone effect here.

+/- is partially based on ball placement, yes?

My understanding of passing +/- was that it answered who was responsible for completion percentage. Brees placed the ball about 7% better than expected for a starting QB. However, now I see that his receivers (and RBs) simply catch passes at a 6-14% higher rate than expected. Which suggests that his completion numbers are inflated by the talent of his receiving core.

I thought +/- was answering who was responsible for success, but perhaps that's not the case.

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2 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by mehllageman56 // Jun 07, 2018 - 4:32pm

I would think it's just measuring the percentage of completions at different spots on the field, as in someone who completes a bunch of 20-30 passes (counting air-yards, not YAC) ends up with a stronger +/- than a quarterback who completes mostly 5-10 yard passes. It's still not determining who is most deserving of credit for the completion, the quarterback or the receiver. This would explain why Tom Brady doesn't end up with the best +/- minus every year, or even get close; most of his completions are shorter, but because of his accuracy on those passes, the yard after catch for those is huge. This past year was an exception, because throwing deep to Brandon Cooks is a great idea.
I'm surprised Robbie Anderson is on the bottom 20 of this list; I assumed him and Jermaine Kearse kept McCown high up on the +/- quarterback list. I'm wondering where Bilal Powell and Kearse ended up on these lists.

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4 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Scott Kacsmar // Jun 07, 2018 - 6:34pm

Kearse (+3.8) had a nice season after struggling in 2016 with Seattle. He would have been the next WR listed at No. 21.

And about the YAC thing, Brady actually gets league average YAC on throws under 10 yards since 2007. He's at 5.60 YAC/completion compared to 5.50 for the NFL according to ESPN's database.

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8 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by mehllageman56 // Jun 08, 2018 - 9:07pm

Thanks for posting Kearse's plus/minus. Also, very surprised about Brady's YAC. Never would have thought that.

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3 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Vincent Verhei // Jun 07, 2018 - 6:00pm

No that's not the case. It's exactly the opposite -- if a pass is completed, both passer and receiver will get equal credit for that, based on the length of the pass and the yards to go for a first down. If it's incomplete, they will get equal blame. A team's passing plus-minus will equal its receiving plus-minus.

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16 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jun 11, 2018 - 2:47pm

Hold on - so if Brees throws a shitty off target pass, and the WR goes out of his way to get it, and does - Brees gets a big positive? That makes no sense.

It just seems like a proxy for passing game effectiveness at this point, and not at all useful for looking at individual players, or separating QBs from their receivers. .

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17 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Vincent Verhei // Jun 12, 2018 - 3:41am

We never said the intent was to separate quarterbacks from receivers. The intent was to look at completion percentage and/or catch rate in the context of pass distance. Deep passes are harder to complete, so players get more credit for completing them. Short passes are easy to complete, so players get a bigger penalty for failing to complete them.

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5 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by CincySaint // Jun 07, 2018 - 9:17pm

I see it the other way around...

Numerous receivers in NOLA have been near the top of the +- list -- Colston, Stills, now Thomas, and Ginn. Note that Ginn in particular and Stills as well didn't have numbers like that with other QBs.

I'd say Brees is the consistent performer and the reason for their success.

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6 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by coboney // Jun 08, 2018 - 1:17pm

It's more useful to look at what stands out different. So if you saw a NO WR at a negative because that is so different from the rest it is clearly on the WR there. Likewise - we can look at Larry Fitzgerald and see the QBs did poorly, the other WRs did poorly and he still did better than others on the same are of passes and isolate that it is his ability.

+/- works for figuring out the situation by looking at all the information for a team essentially in it

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7 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by The Ninjalectual // Jun 08, 2018 - 3:37pm

I'd add "Larry Fitzgerald's ability + the context of the passes." And now we're all the way back to relying on subjective analysis of objective numbers to find meaning in this confusing and chaotic world. :)

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9 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by ChicagoRaider // Jun 09, 2018 - 9:03am

With Carr, Cooper, Crabtree and Lynch all in the minus column, the Raider offense really did not have a chance last year, did it?

Also, it looks like the Raiders needed to start a running back with a last name starting with C last year.

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10 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Theo // Jun 09, 2018 - 11:38am

Could you please tell us what Josh Gordon's +/- is at 42 targets?
He seems determined to break out this season. (again, after breaking out in 2013, but failing to play a lot afterwards)
Thanks in advance.

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11 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Vincent Verhei // Jun 10, 2018 - 4:51am

-2.5. It was not a good year for the Cleveland offense.

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12 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Theo // Jun 10, 2018 - 12:08pm

The text says that receivers are compared to the average and taking into account the location of the target.
So you are telling me he had the worst qb throwing to him (Kizer) and with those poor passes he did even worse than average?
Or is the bad qb dragging his receivers down.

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13 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Vincent Verhei // Jun 10, 2018 - 6:23pm

Probably the latter. This is not comparing Gordon to what an average receiver would have done with Kizer. It's comparing Gordon to what an average receiver would have done with an average quarterback (and an average offensive line, average coaching staff, etc.)

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14 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Scott Kacsmar // Jun 11, 2018 - 2:05am

I'll add this about Gordon's 2017 season. His ALEX was +8.5 on 39 targets. Out of 94 WRs with at least 39 targets, that ranks as the second highest, trailing only Will Fuller (+8.8). So Gordon was getting some deep shots from a bad rookie QB, and his YAC+ was still an impressive +2.2. So when you put all the numbers together, you feel good about his potential in 2018.

We have to run these articles separately so that it's not a huge data dump, and to space offseason content out better. But when you look at the full picture of ALEX, aDOT, receiving plus-minus, YAC+, you can get a pretty good idea of how the receiver's season went.

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15 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by Theo // Jun 11, 2018 - 3:27am

Thanks, I understand entering a season in week 13 will not benefit your scores. And given that he joined a dysfunctional offense with Kizer, without Kizer, with Kizer at QB will hurt your numbers even more. So if Kizer was the worst, then scoring -2.5 +- doesn't seem so bad.
If I see these numbers, take into account that not-Hue is now the offensive coordinator and that they have a real NFL QB on offense now, I think Gordon could make an impact this season.

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18 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by jtr // Jun 12, 2018 - 8:26am

I wonder if jump-ball guys like Evans and Jeffery are a victim of their own skillset. It's only natural that guys who excel at contested catches end up seeing a lot of lower-percentage balls than players who succeed with separation. I bet that those players offer enough value in other ways to make up for the inefficiency of their game.

Those guys offer an option for the QB when nobody is open and the pocket is collapsing. A contested reception attempt in that situation is like an off balance shot at the end of the shot clock in basketball; it can add value to the team as a bail-out option even if it works at a below-average efficiency. They're going to get dinged on their plus-minus for it--just like a basketball player's field goal percentage suffers for desperation heave--but it can still be a useful play to the offense since any chance of a positive play is better than a sure negative one.

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19 Re: 2017 Receiving Plus-Minus

by The Ninjalectual // Jun 20, 2018 - 8:04pm

As always, stats are only useful in addition to actually watching the games :D

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