Empty Receiving Calories with Jaylen Waddle and Jalen Reagor

Miami Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle
Miami Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

If you have watched all of the Philadelphia Eagles games this season, my condolences you may have noticed an offensive pattern emerging. It was a bold choice for Nick Sirianni and his staff to build their offense out of solely RPOs and screen passes, but it seems to be working, if your standard for "working" is the 21st-ranked pass offense in the league. Jalen Hurts is currently sitting at a 30.0% failed completion rate. A failed completion is defined as any completed pass that fails to gain 45% of needed yards on first down, 60% on second down, or 100% on third or fourth down, so a hefty diet of screens and dumpoffs are a great way to pump those numbers up.

But 30.0% isn't all that large, in the grand scheme of things. It doesn't lead the league this season—Mac Jones is in first place at 32.0%. And we have seen players top 40.0% in recent years, including Nick Foles for the 2018 Eagles. Hurts is having a dinky-and-dunky sort of year, but nothing groundbreaking. I'm sure he'll be featured in the end-of-year failed completions article, but there's no reason for a Failed Completion Watch or anything of that nature.

But Jalen Hurts isn't the only Ja(y)len in the league, of course. And Jaylen be failin' this year.

With the target line for wide receivers going up to three this year in the Loser League, finding players who go without receptions has been hard. The dream for receivers is finding those 0-point days, but to get three targets and no receptions? That's a tall ask. Since 2018, there have only been 92 days where a wide receiver went 0-for-3 or more; there have been 147 0-for-2 days which would have scored in previous years, but this year are worthless. So the balance of the value at the receiver position has shifted from those players who can't catch to those who can, but don't do anything once they have had the ball. It has become a hunt for the failed reception kings.

Here are your current wide receiver leaders in failed receptions:

2021 WR Failed Receptions, Weeks 1-6
Player Team Rec Failures DVOA
Jaylen Waddle MIA 37 13 -19.6%
Keenan Allen LAC 39 12 -18.8%
K.J. Osborn MIN 26 11 0.4%
Diontae Johnson PIT 34 11 0.4%
Davante Adams GB 46 11 14.3%
Jakobi Meyers NE 36 10 -19.1%
Sterling Shepard NYG 28 9 3.0%
Hunter Renfrow LV 31 9 4.0%
Adam Thielen MIN 37 9 -1.0%
Brandin Cooks HOU 40 9 1.3%

Waddle is on pace for 37 failed receptions, which would be the new all-time record. That's partly true thanks to the 17-game schedule, for sure, but Waddle's season is impressive with or without that caveat. The 30-failed reception club is an elite group; seven seasons from six men with some of the highest volume in recent NFL history. No one has joined the club in the last three years, but Waddle is poised to blow by that mark with room to spare.

Wide Receivers With 30+ Failed Receptions
Year Player Team Rec Failures DVOA
2018 Stefon Diggs MIN 102 36 -12.0%
2015 Jarvis Landry MIA 110 35 -7.1%
2017 Jarvis Landry MIA 112 31 -4.9%
2009 Brandon Marshall DEN 101 31 2.9%
2017 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 109 30 -1.3%
2015 Antonio Brown PIT 136 30 19.7%
1994 Cris Carter MIN 122 30 -14.0%

Let's just stop for one moment and look at Cris Carter and admire his 30 failed receptions in 1994. He's the only player from the 20th century to come close to sniffing the top 10, because the failed completion really wasn't a thing until the very modern era. The leader in 1985, Vance Johnson, had just 14. Although we only have play-by-play data through 1983, I'm very confident that this is the all-time leaderboard, and that there's not some Dayton Triangles end from 1925 lurking out there waiting to be discovered. I also want to highlight Jarvis Landry appearing not once, but twice, once with Bill Lazor calling the shots, the second time with Adam Gase calling plays. So the Dolphins have made a history out of trying to create an offense solely out of screen plays; it took Landry breaking out of Miami's orbit to have any sort of real football value whatsoever.

You'll notice something else about these leaderboards: most of these players would be very bad choices in the Loser League! The way you set a high mark in failed receptions is to get a high volume of passes thrown your way. Yes, Davante Adams has 11 failed receptions, which is a lot, but that's because he's Aaron Rodgers' first, second, and third target on most plays, especially when things start to go wrong. He has 57% of Green Bay's wide receiver targets; of course some of them will fail occasionally.

That being said, it's not all volume. It also helps to have a quarterback with, shall we say, less than a stellar arm. Stefon Diggs' failed reception numbers dropped dramatically after going from Kirk Cousins to Josh Allen, and the other quarterbacks represented on the all-time leaderboard include Kyle Orton and Blaine Gabbert. It's no surprise that top targets for Mac Jones, Davis Mills, the ghost of Ben Roethlisberger, and, yes, Kirk Cousins are well-represented on the 2021 table. Play design helps, too. Landry feasted for years in Miami on screen passes that went nowhere 75% of the time.

Waddle hits all three categories quite nicely, setting him up for a real run at the record. He doesn't quite reach Adams' level of dependence, but he does have a healthy 41% of Miami's targets to wide receivers. It's safe to say that neither Tua Tagovailoa nor Jacoby Brissett have set the world on fire this season, giving Waddle the questionable quarterback play needed to make a run. And his 3.6-yard average depth of target on completed passes is third-lowest in the league among receivers, meaning he's getting a lot of short dumpoffs and is asked to make miracles happen—which, with just 4.5 YAC per reception, he's not doing.

Can Waddle really challenge the totals of a classic Diggs or Landry season? It's too early to say; cold streaks can happen at any time. Waddle could stop catching passes; Waddle could start running deeper routes; Waddle could get hurt. In addition, Preston Williams, DeVante Parker, and Will Fuller will all probably come back at some point and eat into that target share. We'll check back in on Waddle come Thanksgiving time, but 25 failed receptions feels like a floor for a fully healthy Waddle at this point, and there's plenty of time to make a run at the greats.

Ah, but this table is filled with far too many respectable players for a Loser League column. You don't want a Davante Adams or a Keenan Allen on your team, unless you're trying to lose. We want people whose resume is filled with failed receptions, not just with a bunch of them on the side. That brings us to this year's failed reception rate leaderboard, and our third Ja(y)len of the day.

2021 WR Failed Reception Rate, Weeks 1-6
Player Team Rec Failures Pct DVOA
Jalen Reagor PHI 17 8 47.1% -16.7%
Adam Humphries WAS 15 7 46.7% -24.5%
Terrace Marshall CAR 14 6 42.9% -35.1%
K.J. Osborn MIN 26 11 42.3% 0.4%
Braxton Berrios NYJ 16 6 37.5% -25.2%
Elijah Moore NYJ 8 3 37.5% -53.4%
Dyami Brown WAS 8 3 37.5% -38.8%
Jaylen Waddle MIA 37 13 35.1% -19.6%
Rondale Moore ARI 24 8 33.3% 2.5%
Zach Pascal IND 18 6 33.3% -10.8%
Minimum 20 targets

Now, this is more like it. Waddle still appears in the top 10 in failed reception rate, but it's Jalen Reagor who ends up holding the lead catch-for-catch. While Reagor can't touch Waddle's target volume, he has the questionable quarterback situation to match, and has an even better aDOT on his completions—just 2.9 yards, second-worst in the league for a wideout. It's not like the Eagles aren't trying to get Reagor involved—and, in fact, he drew a pair of 45-plus-yard DPIs against the Buccaneers—but so far, so little for the second-year receiver.

It would be one thing if these short passes to Reagor were producing big plays, but they're really not. Reagor has 10 targets within 2 yards of the line of scrimmage. One broke for a 23-yard touchdown; two more were modest successes, gaining 6 to 10 yards without picking up the first down; and the rest were failed completions. By comparison, Waddle has two touchdowns and four first downs on his 16 screens. And Rondale Moore, who is last in the league with a 1.8-yard aDOT on his completions, has picked up seven first downs on his 20 screens with a success rate of 60.0%, giving at least an occasional return on investment for what is typically a low-percentage play. Wide receiver screens are typically low-risk, low-reward sorts of plays, but Reagor and the Eagles are exploring new depths to the concept of "low reward."

This list of 10 looks like the ballot sheet for the Loser League Pro Bowl; all 10 guys have been and look to continue to be solid picks week-in and week-out. You have two receivers each from the floundering Jets and Football Team offenses, as well as the third-favorite receiver for Kirk Cousins, Sam Darnold, and Carson Wentz. These guys can be counted on to regularly put up low-scoring days; involved enough to avoid the penalty, yet not particularly likely to hurt you with a big gain. They have combined for 33 single-digit Loser League-point days so far, with the occasional touchdown or injury being more likely to hurt you than sheer volume of success.

Reagor, Humphries, Marshall, and Osborn (and throw in Freddie Swain, at 50% on 18 targets) are currently on pace for the all-time leaderboards, though the sample size is small enough that it's far from a guarantee that they'll hang out in this rarified air all season long. There have only been 12 wide receivers in NFL history to top a 40% failed reception rate with at least 20 receptions.

Wide Receiver Failed Reception Rate
Year Player Team Rec Failures Pct DVOA
2015 Eddie Royal CHI 37 19 51.4% -34.0%
2003 Dante Hall KC 40 19 47.5% -15.0%
2019 Steven Sims WAS 34 16 47.1% -24.6%
2018 Bruce Ellington 2TM 31 14 45.2% -30.3%
2014 Damaris Johnson HOU 31 14 45.2% -23.5%
2013 Ace Sanders JAX 51 23 45.1% -28.0%
2016 Tavon Austin LAR 58 25 43.1% -39.1%
2012 Dexter McCluster KC 52 22 42.3% -21.1%
2009 Josh Morgan SF 52 22 42.3% -18.5%
2016 Albert Wilson KC 31 13 41.9% -22.1%
2015 Tavon Austin STL 53 22 41.5% -30.6%
2000 Kevin Johnson CLE 57 23 40.4% -19.5%
Minimum 20 receptions

"Hey, Guy X is a great return man. What if we throw him a zillion screens and get him to run in open space with some blockers ahead of him! That's bound to work." Sure. You keep telling yourself that, offensive coaches of the recent past. Especially those coaches who had Tavon Austin to work with; he's the rate version of Miami-era Jarvis Landry's volume numbers.

Somehow, Eddie Royal's 51.4% failed reception rate went unmentioned in the writeup for 2015. I blame the article only being on its third year at that point, and it being unclear just how historic that sort of number actually was. To be fair, Royal missed half the year with injuries and was working in Jay Cutler's offense, but how could you possibly put up numbers that bad? We'll have to ask his offensive coordinator, one "Adam Gase." Anyone know what happened to that guy?

I'm sure Gase loves the rest of this week's top losers, at any rate.

Week 6's Biggest Losers


Worst of the Worst
We didn't want to mock Daniel Jones (4) last week for putting up low points while getting hurt. Well, he stayed healthy this week and was still the worst passer of the day, so we'll make up for that mockery here. With pretty much his entire supporting cast injured, it was no surprise that Jones was going to have trouble, but the Rams also read him like a book, intercepting him three times on passes that looked far more intended for someone wearing Los Angeles colors than for anyone in a New York jersey. Quite honestly, Jones was fortunate to get away with just the three picks, as the Rams deflected a number of his passes and came close to a few more. Jones dragged his score up to four points with some garbage-time numbers, though it's worth wondering if he should have been in there at all, considering how hurt he looked two weeks ago. I'm sure Joe Judge knows what he's doing, however.

Other Loser Leaders
Davis Mills (8) came back down to an expected level of performance after his eye-popping New England game last week. Throwing just two interceptions does count for an improvement on Mills' initial starts, but his day is mostly filled with empty calories; short passes against soft Colts defenses, as they realized quite early on they were going to cruise in this one.

More notable for loser purposes is Jared Goff (8), who has become a regular highlight in this section—rarely the worst in a week, but always in the conversation. Just one interception isn't the world's worst day, but 202 yards on 40-plus attempts is Osweilerian. Dan Campbell skipped right past the dreaded Vote of Confidence phase, saying that Goff "needs to step up more than he has." Detroit has never had the ball with the lead this season (!), so there has been plenty of opportunities for Goff to produce, but he has just been inaccurate and indecisive. David Blough, the backup, is not likely to be much better, but at some point, you have to at least find out, right?

Loser Flop
The Broncos challenged Derek Carr (25) with man coverage. Carr responded by shredding the Denver secondary to the tune of 341 yards and a pair of long touchdown bombs. Should we have been expecting this? Maybe; Carr now has four 340-plus-yard passing days to his name this season. But coming off of two terrible days, and with the cloud of Jon Gruden surrounding the Las Vegas team this week, no one would have blamed the Raiders too badly for laying an egg in this one. It says something about Carr and the Raiders' professionalism and preparation that they could have come out, in an important game against a division rival, and looked as good as they did considering everything that was going on.


Worst of the Worst
Antonio Gibson (2) continues to be hobbled with a shin injury and probably needs to sit down for a week or two to get right. Gibson had 44 yards on 10 carries, and spent much of the game on the sidelines, clearly struggling. He underwent an MRI earlier this week, and a worsening injury would explain his lack of explosiveness and cut ability. It doesn't explain his fumble, however, which is what bumped him from the "other" category into the worst of the week.

Other Loser Leaders
Only three running backs at five points or lower this week; there weren't a lot of disasters to speak of. One was Sony Michel (4), who essentially had Gibson's day without the fumble. Michel only got past the penalty in garbage time with Darrell Henderson on the bench, so don't run out to roster him from here on out. The second was Zack Moss (3), who just barely hit the eight-carry threshold to avoid the penalty himself on Monday night.

The other was AJ Dillon (5), as his 59 yards round down to five points. Dillon's total is more noteworthy than Michel's, however, as he has seen his rushing attempts climb fairly steadily—from four to five to six to 15 to eight to 11. He's now getting enough of a workload where he might well avoid the penalty, but not enough to displace Aaron Jones from the bulk of Green Bay's value. That would make him a great Loser League pick, though I'd wait a few more weeks to see how everything shakes out.

Loser Flop
Khalil Herbert (16) was supposed to be in that Dillon role this week—dependable backup who nevertheless isn't on the field for the most valuable plays. But then Damien Williams tested positive for COVID on Thursday, forcing Herbert into the starting lineup. Still, he's just a RB3; how much damage could he do? It's a good strategy to start backups forced into the lineup in Loser League, generally speaking. Not this week, though! Herbert ran for 97 yards with a touchdown and is now averaging double-digit points over the last couple ofweeks. Who needs to spend more than a sixth-round pick on a running back, anyway?


Worst of the Worst
This week's essay was brought to you by Jalen Reagor and his third zero-point day of the season. He's joined by another pair of Goose Eggers—Josh Palmer and Tyler Boyd. Palmer just got into the action with Mike Williams ailing, but Boyd was someone you may have drafted in actual fantasy. He's third on Cincinnati's totem pole behind Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins at the moment, so it's becoming time to panic if you have Boyd on your standard rosters.

Other Loser Leaders
Palmer wasn't the only Chargers wideout to flop this week. Jalen Guyton (another Ja(y)len!) scored just one point himself. If you had Chargers in your lineup, first of all, what the hell are you doing?, and second of all, congratulations. Chase Claypool got more work now that JuJu Smith-Schuster is out for the year but caught just two of his seven targets for 17 yards, which is very promising for his Loser prospects going forward. But five incompletions leaves room to grow; not so much for Chris Moore, who caught four of his five targets … for 14 yards. Yeesh.

Van Jefferson and Dede Westbrook round out your 1-point scorers.

Loser Flop
The essay was inspired by Jalen Reagor, and then when I saw that two Ja(y)lens were atop the leaderboards, I expanded it out some. But it's your failed completion leader, Jaylen Waddle (19), who had the most surprisingly good day in Week 6. Waddle was targeted 13 times, catching 10 of them, and it's hard for any 10-catch day to be a bad one! I mean, Waddle has done it before—his 12-catch day against the Raiders picked up just 58 yards and was worth only 5 points—but against Jacksonville, he found the end zone twice. It turns out that the end zone is usually more than 6 yards away from the line of scrimmage, so don't panic too much about his Loser prospects, but credit where credit is due!


Worst of the Worst
Tristan Vizcaino (-5) technically improved from last week's effort, when he had -7 points. At some point, though, you gotta start making extra points. Didn't Vizcaino get the memo that Week 5 was the week everyone was going to screw up? He has now missed five extra points on the season. The only other player to miss five extra points in the first six games of a year since they moved the goalposts back was Fred Cox in 1974.

Other Loser Leaders
Kickers mostly improved after last week's disaster. Jake Elliott (0) had a missed field goal, but that's it for your zero-and-worse scorers. Good job, kickers.

Loser Flop
The only kicker in the league to out-kick the penalty this week was Matt Prater (13), with three field goals and four extra points. He became the 24th player to hit 1,500 career points, and he wasn't asked to try to kick one from midfield at State Farm Stadium. Yes, I'm aware the game was in Cleveland.

Week 6 Contest Results

We have our first repeat winner this year, and it's … Aaron Schatz Has a Posse?

That's right, for the second time in six weeks, our guru of all things Loserdom has come out on top with a score of 18 points. He had plenty of our highlighted players in his starting lineup—Davis Mills, Jalen Reagor, and Tristan Vizcaino highlight his Week 6 roster, with perennial Schatz binkies Amon-Ra St. Brown, Miles Sanders, and Mark Ingram all having very solid days in their own right.

But we can't give Aaron the prize due to rules, regulations, and an ongoing urge to see the FO Staff go down to random people on the message boards. So instead, our winner for this week is the second-place Brett Gissel, coming in with a very strong 19 points of his own. Brett had both Daniel Jones and Antonio Gibson in his lineup, and whenever you have the top quarterback and top running back in a week, you are going to be very hard to beat. Devontae Booker, Nelson Agholor, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Ka'imi Fairbairn rounded out his roster, with not a bogey in the bunch. His performance vaults him into the top 100 as well, helping him climb back up the ranks after he was one of many victims of the Davis Mills disaster from two weeks ago. Brett has won himself a Football Outsiders shirt and an annual subscription to FO+—congratulations!

Your top five for Week 5:

1. Aaron Schatz Has a Posse (18)
2. BrettGissel (19)
3. TheFriar (20)
4. Stormy1114 (23)
T5. Simon2 (24)
T5. BigRichie (24)
T5. I Punt on 4th and Inches (24)
T5. Tyler S (24)

I also must point out that "How To Lose a Game in 10 Plays" came in with 25 points, and made me laugh out loud.

As for our overall standings, Aaron Schatz Has a Posse was leading last week, and it turns out that having the lowest weekly score tends to boost your lead significantly. Now at 160 points for the season, Aaron has opened a 22-point lead on the field; it's up for the rest of us to start reeling him back in. The Mojo Momenteers remain in second, with a respectable 34-point day; they balanced out poor luck from Justin Fields at quarterback with single-digit scores everywhere else, including the by-now nearly mandatory inclusion of Tristan Vizcaino.

AlecV and StMedard each rose a spot in our top five and closed the gap on the Momenteers for the top non-staff slot and the grand prize, posting 30- and 28-point days, respectively. But we have a new face in our top five, with Maxentric scoring just 27 points despite having the injured Kenny Golladay in their roster; they ran with position leaders Antonio Gibson and Tyler Boyd as well as Davis Mills to make their climb. This is still anybody's contest, though someone's got to catch Aaron!

Your top five to this point:

1. Aaron Schatz Has a Posse (160)
2. Mojo Momenteers (182)
3. AlecV (186)
4. StMedard (187)
5. Maxentric (193)

You can check your results and the rest of the Loserboard here!

Plays for Week 7

Remember to set your roster for Week 7!


Welcome back, Zach Wilson; I hope you're well rested from your bye week. Wilson is tied with Patrick Mahomes for the longest active streak of games with at least one interception at five. And this week, he gets his rematch against Bill Belichick and the Patriots—you know, the defense that picked Wilson off four times a few weeks ago? Wilson has looked better since then, but I can't not recommend starting a guy who was flirting with Loser League history for a while in the inevitable rematch.

I'm also still on my Justin Fields kick, despite the fact that he finally hit double-digit points last week against the Packers. There hasn't been much fantasy upside to Fields all season—he still has just two touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown on the season, and he has yet to hit 210 yards passing in any game this year. As an actual football player, he has looked … decent enough for a rookie, though with plenty of things that need to be improved. As a fantasy player, he's nothing right now, which makes him a solid Loser League selection. Plus, I had to give poor Davis Mills a break for one week.

Other promising picks: Davis Mills (@ ARI), Mac Jones (v. NYJ)


Khalil Herbert was a loser flop this week, but the key to being a loser flop is that you're someone we expect to lose. And now the RB3 goes up against Vita Vea and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is giving up just 13.1 points per game to running backs in standard fantasy formats, second-best in the league behind the Carolina Panthers. Because of a combination of their powerful offense and questionable secondary, opponents have only rushed 75 times against Tampa Bay, with just one touchdown to their name. As much as Bill Lazor wants to pound the rock, I don't see Herbert being the one to finally figure out the Buccaneers' run D.

I'm sticking with Mark Ingram as nearly any solid roster needs to include at least one Texans player at this point in time. Ingram had an above-average week against the Colts, with a 24-yard run bumping him from 4 points to 7. Even 7 points isn't a terrible outcome from a running back, and that represents Ingram's high-water mark in terms of non-penalty weeks to this point. Watch out for Phillip Lindsay, however; he's creeping closer and closer to avoiding the penalty and would be my pick if I had to choose the less effective of the two backs.

I'm also going with Latavius Murray, because the Ravens' three-headed backfield really is three-headed at this point, with Murray, Le'Veon Bell, and Devonta Freeman are all getting nearly equal work; they ran the ball nine, nine, and eight times against the Chargers, each one ending up with a touchdown. I don't like the touchdown, not one bit, but I do like getting just one-third of a team's rushing value on a team that runs enough that even RB3 misses the penalty. I'm playing it a little safe by taking Murray, who had the most yards from scrimmage of the Baltimore Trio, because I don't want to have a seven-carry penalty day, but committees can be very useful in this format.

Other promising picks: Michael Carter (@ NE), Damien Harris (v. NYJ), James Conner (v. HOU)


Once again, if I'm riding Justin Fields and the less-than-dynamic Bears passing offense, I'm plugging both Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney into my lineup. It's a best-ball format (worst-ball?), and I trust at least one of them to be bottled up, even by a banged-up Buccaneers secondary. If Fields keeps throwing for less than 200 yards, there's just not enough value there to go to his receivers—Robinson's 5-point day against the Packers was a great day by his standards this season! Things will eventually get better here, but I don't expect it to be this week.

Aaron Schatz, your Loser League Leader, has been playing up Amon-Ra St. Brown all season long. St. Brown is currently the Lions' top receiver with Quintez Cephus out. Cephus shouldn't be the top receiver on an NFL team, so his replacement definitely shouldn't. And with so many injuries in the Detroit receiver corps, St. Brown is almost a lock to avoid the penalty without causing too much damage to your score.

Other promising picks: Jakobi Meyers (v. NYJ), Jalen Reagor (@LV), Russell Gage (@ MIA)


With no Vizcaino to pick this time, I'm sticking with Ka'imi Fairbairn as my week-in, week-out pick. If it wasn't for that bizarre outlier against New England, the Texans would have the lowest offensive DVOA in football, and picking the kicker on a terrible offense is already a good plan even before penciling in Fairbairn's struggles to this point in the season.

Dustin Hopkins is my other pick. On the whole, he hasn't been terrible this year, but his misses have been high-profile enough that Washington worked out Lirim Hajrullahu, the former CFL All-Star, this week. I, for one, hope Hopkins keeps his job, so I don't have to remember how to spell Hajrullahu every week. At least Fairbairn goes by the short version of his name, and not the full Ka'iminoeauloameka'ikeokekumupa'a spelling.

Other promising picks: Matt Ammendola (@NE), Michael Badgley (@SF)


7 comments, Last at 21 Oct 2021, 8:30pm

1 I'm enjoying loser league…

I'm enjoying loser league this season. One player who has helped me is Nelson Agholor,  who has scored 3 points or less in 4 games this season. 


2 Not sure which was more frustrating:

1. Parris Campbell with 1 catch for 51 yards + TD, which also meant taking the penalty; or

2. Adam Humphries with 2 catches for -4 yards, and needing Heinecke just to fling one more pass his way.


Head's up -- WFT cut Hopkins this morning for Chris Blewitt. Pretty sure he's a must-start in Loser League based on his name alone.