Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

This column is an updated version of what I wrote about Chris Chambers in the pre-draft AFC East Four Downs. Hint: He's not that good.

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35 comments, Last at 16 Oct 2007, 5:47pm

1 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Chambers's numbers for 2005 seem, uh, screwed up. At least the DVOA is violently wrong, although the others seem a little off as well.

3 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Oops! The numbers ARE slightly off due to DVOA adjustments for previous seasons. My bad. I think "violently wrong" is a little strange for .3% of DVOA...

4 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

This probably won't work but here are the updated numbers. They are very slightly different but the point is exactly the same.

Chris Chambers’ FO Stats, 2001-2005
Year DPAR Rank DVOA Rank Catch %
2001 22.9 17 23.7% 9 53%
2002 7.5 57 -3.8% 59 52%
2003 15.1 23 8.9% 32 49%
2004 5.0 57 -9.2% 63 50%
2005 4.2 62 -11.3% 73 49%

5 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Wouldn't another way to see if Harrington is the problem be to look at Welker and Booker? Both of those Miami receivers are solidly in the middle of the NFL pack and Welker has caught 70% of passes thrown his way, Booker 61%. That would seem to confirm that, yes, Carter, is the problem, not Harrington. Unless you could show that teams are really focusing on Carter and making life especially difficult for him.

6 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers


Chambers's 2005 DVOA is listed as -183.33 in the table. It's actually -11.3. I think something went wrong there.

I think that does qualify as "violently wrong" :)

7 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Man, a DVOA of -183.33?

So he took the field, caught the ball, ran backwards to the 1, handed the ball to an opponent, and then shot his quarterback in the face. 4 or 5 times.

8 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers


Is that kind of thing frowned upon? Does DVOA have a QB homicide adjustment?

9 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Great article, but the shot at Brett Favre seems unwarranted. He's 13th and 18th by DPAR And DVOA, and has a 57% completion rate this year. Of course, he does have the advantage of not throwing the ball to Chris Chambers.

10 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Well, there is an adjustment, but it depends. For example, taking out Rex Grossman is actually a +3.0 DVOA bonus.

12 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Chambers is one of those players that rocks in Madden, but his measurables paint a picture that his true ability can't match. He's fast, can leap, and looks athletic every time he drops the ball or runs the wrong route.

13 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Can we have a DVOA fantasy football league next year, where you get points based on the player's DVOA for that week? I'm sure it has been suggested before, but I would love to play.

14 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Another longtime Dolphin fan here who agrees. Every season Chambers is supposedly going to emerge as an elite WR, yet all he ever does is put up one or two big games a year, if that. Much had been made re: their notoriously poor running backs through the years but the WR's have been particularly bad for a while now.

15 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers


I was talking with a co-worker about that exact thing yesterday. He looked at me with a 'whatever' stare, but I avoid drafting a fantasy team of my own specifically due to incidents like the Marcel Shipp travesty this last Sunday.

16 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Another way to look at this is in terms of strategy. Chambers has been the target of over 120 passes, while Booker and Welker are at around 80 and 70 respectively, and they both have much better DVOAs. Spread the ball around more and you should see a bigger rise in Chambers' DVOA than the drop you'll see in Welker/Booker's.

18 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

We actually have an experimental PAR fantasy league this year. We're still working out the kinks, but if there is interest it is possible that we will expand on this concept for next year.

19 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Besides the 2005 DVOA mistake, this was an excellent article. Thanks.

21 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Well-done. I have a theory that Randy Moss has ruined wide receiver talent evaluation in the NFL. He came out of the draft in 1998 and immediately became an unstoppable threat. He was too tall and too fast and too good at jumping to be coverable, or so went conventional wisdom.

So now people go nuts over guys like Plaxico Burress, Chris Chambers, Donte Stallworth, and Matt Jones, because they're tall and fast and good at jumping. But they're missing another skill Moss had, that is too often overlooked these days in wideouts. I'm talking about actually catching the football. Moss was really good at that, too. And people like Chris Chambers aren't.

The obsession with the height and speed prototype is the reason why Matt Jones and Donte' Stallworth go in the first round, while Anquan Boldin and Chad Johnson fall to the second.

22 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

I agree, but Johnson and Boldin are both talled than Stallworth, He's only 6-0

23 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

I thought Stallworth was a little bit taller than that. But height wasn't the issue with Johnson and Boldin. They were downgraded for being slow, not for being short. Steve Smith is an example of a guy who was obviously awesome but downgraded for his height.

Ideally you want a receiver with height, speed, and the ability to catch the football. You usually can't have all three, and I think that scouting today has lost sight of the fact that third item on the list is the most important.

If you settle for height and hands, you get Anquan Boldin. If you settle for speed and hands, you get Steve Smith. If you settle for height and speed, you get Chris Chambers. I'd take either of the first two in a heartbeat.

24 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

a little of that must go on, sure, but I think the people picking the drafts know a little more than we're giving them credit for. You can't catch a ball if you're too slow or small to get open.

25 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

but I think the people picking the drafts know a little more than we’re giving them credit for.

I think you'd be surprised: David Lewin's projection system kindof implies that a large number of the scouts make really, really basic mistakes in finding starting quarterbacks - like believing in players who you only have, say, a year's worth of information on.

26 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Well, I think it's a fair criticism, since WR seems to be one of the worst-scouted positions in football. Just taking a draft at random, look the 2003 draft, for example. The top five safeties in the draft were Troy Polamalu, Eugene Wilson, Ken Hamlin, Bryan Scott, and Mike Doss. Not too shabby. None of the safeties picked beyond Doss have been valuable. The top five receivers: Charles Rogers, Andre Johnson, Bryant Johnson, Taylor Jacobs, Bethel Johnson. Yuck. And they passed on guys like Anquan Boldin, Nate Burleson, and Kevin Curtis.

In defense of the scouts, it's much harder to evaluate someone's hands than it is to measure their height and running speed.

27 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

The top five receivers: Charles Rogers, Andre Johnson, Bryant Johnson, Taylor Jacobs, Bethel Johnson.

Apparently having Johnson as a last name also increases your draft prospects.

28 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Another misconception about Chris Chambers: that he's tall. He's listed at 5-11 on the website. It's always been his amazing leaping ability that gives the illusion of height.

Also, it's not just SportsCenter and Madden that give him his rep -- it's fantasy football. He has huge performances late in seasons when leagues are being decided.

29 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

THANKYOU!! I'm a Dolphins fan. When I tell my friends that Chris Chambers sucks, they go absolutely apecrap. When I explain to them that they aren't watching him as much as I am, they still go apecrap. He drops more catches than Randy McMichaels (which is hard to imagine - I really wish you'd do an analysis on his stat, another overrated bum playing for my team). And then he makes a circus catch and people forget that he just dropped a perfect pass on 3rd down or blew an obvious touchdown bomb, etc.


30 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Worst receiver in football? No. Most overrated? Absolutely. One reason the Dolphins haven't given up on him is his locker room presence, which is absolutely neutral. As WRs go, that pretty much makes him Bishop Desmond Tutu.

31 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Man, before the season I was talking with a lot of fantasy football people about how Chambers was wildly overrated and really just a mediocre-at-best WR, and almost every single one of them just rolled their eyes and told me I *obviously* never watched a dolphins game in my life (I live in Florida, and all my best friends are Dolphin fans, so I promise I've seen him play plenty).

Anyway, it seems you can't discuss Chambers' poor catch percentage and poor hands with a fantasy football player. They always blame it on Chambers' QB. When you tell them that Welker posts a superior catch% with the same QB, or that Battle and Evans both caught 55% of their passes with Smith/Losman at QB last year, they blame it on the coverages Chambers faces. So then you tell them that Holt, Moss, and Chad Johnson have all caught at least 55% of the balls thrown to them by Fitzpatrick, Frerotte, and Kitna, and they blame it on the fact that Chambers runs deep routes. Then you point out that Chambers has under 12 yards per catch right now, and they tell you again that you've obviously never watched a game. Then you talk about how bad Chambers' hands are, and invariably someone mentions that he only has 3 or 4 official drops on the season.

I swear, I have never, ever, heard so many people make so many excuses for the brutally poor play of a player before. I mean, if they gave Jake Plummer this treatment, they'd be claiming he was better than Elway.

32 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Is FO being paid on a per-use basis for using the word "shambolic"? It seems to have replaced "fungible" as a catch phrase.

33 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

18: Dave, where were all of these people when you were actually organizing the league? I wonder if they'd be any better about submitting score results...

34 Re: FO on BSMW: Ch-Ch-Chambers

Dolphins fan since the 70's here, wearing my authentic Chambers jersey, purchased his rookie season. It seems to me that Chambers was on his way to fulfilling or even surpassing his potential until Kenoy Kennedy decapitated him.

Never the same player, after that.