Has DeVonta Smith Topped Ja'Marr Chase as Top Rookie WR?

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeVonta Smith
Philadelphia Eagles WR DeVonta Smith
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 9 - We begin this week at the end—the end of our Quick Reads tables, that is. Scroll down to the very bottom of this article and you'll find that our least valuable wide receiver of Week 9 was Cincinnati Bengals rookie Ja'Marr Chase, who had six catches for 49 yards and a fumble against Cleveland. Meanwhile, if you scroll up a little higher you'll see that the top receiver of the week was another rookie, Philadelphia's DeVonta Smith, who put up a 5-116-1 statline against the Chargers. With Smith and Chase bookending the week's receiving tables, we thought it would be a good idea to check in on this season's most notable first-year wide receivers, as we did last week for quarterbacks.

There are six rookies who have gained at least 300 receiving yards so far in 2021. Five were taken in the first round, the other in the second. Here they are, in the order they were drafted … which means we aren't starting with a wide receiver at all.

Kyle Pitts, Weeks 1-9, 2021
Pick G Tgt Rec Yds TD DVOA DYAR Proj.
DYAR
4 8 57 36 546 1 15.8% 91 193

Technically, Pitts is a tight end, not a wideout, although the line between those two designations gets blurrier all the time. Pitts' size—6-foot-6 and 248 pounds—makes it especially difficult to label him as one or the other. That's much larger than the average wide receiver last year (6-foot-1, 202 pounds) and more in line with the average tight end (6-foot-5, 252 pounds). However, Pitts is fairly skinny for his height, with a BMI of 28.7. Only a handful of tight ends (such as Logan Thomas, Dalton Schultz, and Robert Tonyan) saw meaningful playing time with a BMI that low. Meanwhile, several notable wideouts (Terry McLaurin, Juju Smith-Schuster, Allen Robinson, and Davante Adams, to name a few) had BMIs of 28.0 or higher.

Regardless, we're counting Pitts as a tight end, and he's a fine one. Going into Monday Night Football this week, he is eighth at the position in receptions and third in yards. Our advanced stats like him too—he's fifth among tight ends in DYAR. (In first place: Dallas' Dalton Schultz, Pitts' beanpole peer.)

There's no doubt that Pitts is the top rookie tight end this season; the only question is whether he can threaten any all-time records. Pitts is already tied with Rob Gronkowski for 25th on the rookie tight end yardage list. He's over halfway to the rookie record of 1,076 yards set by Mike Ditka in 1961, the only time a first-year tight end has ever hit quadruple-digits. He would need to average 58.9 yards in each of Atlanta's nine remaining games to match Ditka. Pitts' current average? 68.3 yards per game. Yes, the 17-game season certainly helps—Ditka averaged 76.9 yards in 14 games in his first year.

Pitts is also chasing Gronkowski for the rookie tight end DYAR record. Gronk had 243 DYAR with the Patriots in 2010; Ken Dilger (205 DYAR with the Colts in 1995) is the only other player at the position to top 200 DYAR in his first season. The biggest difference between Gronkowski and Pitts right now is touchdowns—Gronk had 10 as a freshman, while Pitts has just one in his first eight games. That probably says more about the 2010 Patriots and 2021 Falcons than it does about Gronkowski and Pitts, but we're pretty sure that everyone in Atlanta would be happy to see Pitts in the end zone more often.

Speaking of DYAR, we should also point out that Pitts has gained 11 DYAR this year due to opponent adjustments. That's not a ton, but it does make his raw stats more impressive, because it means Pitts has been putting up big numbers against defenses that are slightly better than average in coverage against tight ends. 

Ja'Marr Chase, Weeks 1-9, 2021
Pick G Tgt Rec Yds TD DVOA DYAR Proj.
DYAR
5 9 73 44 835 7 5.6% 106 201

Oh, how things have turned around for Chase. Two weeks ago he was among the top 20 wide receivers in DYAR and threatening to join Michael Thomas (431 DYAR in 2016) and Randy Moss (428 in 1998) as the only rookie wideouts to clear the 400-DYAR threshold. Then Chase caught three of nine targets for 32 yards in the upset loss to the Jets, followed by a six-of-13-for-49-yard performance in a blowout against the Browns. That drops Chase all the way down to … 22nd among wide receivers in DYAR and still first by a wide margin among rookies. He's doing just fine, in other words—finishing with 200 or so DYAR and a DVOA around 5.0% would put him in rookie company with Bill Brooks and Ernest Givins in 1986, or Andre Johnson and Anquan Boldin in 2003.

That's an impressive list of names, but it's also only four names spread out over nearly four decades, and none in the past 18 years. It's not common to see a rookie post a DYAR as good as Chase's with a DVOA that is so mundane. It means that Chase is getting gobs of volume—he's on pace for 138 targets, more than any rookie since Kelvin Benjamin in 2014. More importantly, he's on pace for 1,577 yards. That would shatter the all-time rookie pro football record, which is either 1,473 by Bill Groman with the Oilers in 1960 (if you count the first year of the AFL as pro football) or 1,400 on the nose by Justin Jefferson last year (if you don't).

So no, the sky is not falling, and there's no reason to think Chase won't be a star for years to come. Even the best rookies have bad games once in a while.

Jaylen Waddle, Weeks 1-9, 2021
Pick G Tgt Rec Yds TD DVOA DYAR Proj.
DYAR
6 9 78 56 496 3 -12.2% 3 6

Waddle's numbers are disappointing on the surface and look even worse when you consider that the Dolphins traded up for him while the Eagles came out of the deal with better draft capital as well as DeVonta Smith, who so far looks like the superior former Crimson Tide wide receiver. (The Eagles also probably have the superior former Crimson Tide quarterback, but that's an essay for another day.) Waddle was the nation's most dangerous player after the catch at Tuscaloosa, but he has learned that NFL defenders are much faster than those in college football (yes, even in the SEC). He is averaging only 4.1 yards after the catch, less than the 4.4-yard average of NFL wide receivers this year, and has 15 failed receptions, second among wideouts to the 19 of the Chargers' Keenan Allen. That includes this play against the Raiders, which is about as big a failure of a failed reception you'll ever see:

Waddle is currently averaging more than 6.0 catches per game but less than 9.0 yards per catch. Per Stathead, only four other wide receivers have ever gained so little real estate with so much opportunity. (It's a list that also includes Cole Beasley this year and JuJu Smith-Schuster last year—the death-by-a-thousand-checkdowns offense is a new and unwelcome development in the game of football.)

Only 11 wideouts have ever finished their first seasons with 50-plus targets and single-digit DYAR. The last to do it was Marquez Valdes-Scandling in 2018, and he turned out alright. Robert Woods did it too, in 2013. In between those two, you find the Carolina duo of Devin Funchess in 2015 and Kelvin Benjamin in 2014, plus Arizona's John Brown also in 2014. That … is an eclectic mix of receivers with very little in common. But it offers at least some hope that the best for Waddle is yet to come.

DeVonta Smith, Weeks 1-9, 2021
Pick G Tgt Rec Yds TD DVOA DYAR Proj.
DYAR
10 9 62 38 537 2 5.3% 87 164

Smith is flying under the radar somewhat because his best games have come in losses. He had seven catches for 122 yards in defeat against the Chiefs and five for 116 in Sunday's loss to the Chargers. Unfortunately that's nearly 45% of his output on the season—he has averaged just 42.7 yards in his other seven games. Put it all together, however, and Smith has performed like a quality veteran starter. In the DYAR rankings, he's a little below Deebo Samuel and Mike Williams, and a little above Stefon Diggs and Julio Jones—not bad company, even if some of those vets aren't having their best years.

Smith is on pace to finish with 164 DYAR and a 5.3% DVOA. Those almost exactly match the numbers Andre Johnson (169 DYAR, 5.4% DVOA) had as a rookie in 2003. Otherwise, as we discussed with Chase, it's difficult to find historical comparisons to this year's rookies. Again, it's the workload that sets them apart. Smith is on pace for 117 targets. That's less than the 125 that Justin Jefferson had last year, but more than any other rookie since 2016.

Kadarius Toney, Weeks 1-9, 2021
Pick G Tgt Rec Yds TD DVOA DYAR Proj.
DYAR
20 8 36 28 352 0 10.4% 66 131

Speaking of flying under the radar, how many of you realized that Toney had a better DVOA than either Chase or Smith? (Put your hand down, Daniel Jones.) Mind you, Toney has been playing in drastically different circumstances than his peers. While Chase and Smith have been the unquestioned top wideouts for the Bengals and Eagles, Toney has mostly been a third receiver for the Giants behind Sterling Shepard and Kenny Golladay, when they have been healthy. He has also been very much a one-game wonder, with 10 catches for 189 yards (18.9 yards per reception) in a blowout loss to the Cowboys, 18 catches for 163 yards (9.1 yards per reception) in his other seven games.

Toney has been very good, however, at getting the Giants to midfield. Inside his own 40-yard line, he has 75 DYAR (11th-best among all wideouts) with a 41.2% DVOA. He hasn't been nearly so dangerous beyond that point (-9 DYAR, -18.7% DVOA), but at least the Giants have one player they can rely on after forcing a punt.

Our metrics really likes Toney's efficiency, even at a lighter workload. Recent rookies who finished with DVOA and DYAR similar to Toney's projections include Deebo Samuel in 2019, Brandin Cooks in 2014, and DeAndre Hopkins in 2013. He's one to watch, that's for sure.

Rondale Moore, Weeks 1-9, 2021
Pick G Tgt Rec Yds TD DVOA DYAR Proj.
DYAR
49 9 40 34 352 1 0.8% 41 78

Kliff Kingsbury has turned Moore into the player the Dolphins wanted Waddle to be: a gadget weapon who can put a scare into defenses with only the faintest hint of a downfield passing game. His average depth of target this year is a miniscule 2.4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, less than half that of any other wideout. And that number is skewed by the five deep balls he has seen—his median depth of target is 1.5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. But he leads all players at the position with 9.5 yards after the catch per reception, and in total YAC he trails only Deebo Samuel, Cooper Kupp, and Chris Godwin. Oh, and his total production on those five deep balls: 139 yards and a touchdown.

If there's a downside to Moore, it's that he's no longer catching opponents off-guard—he had 11 catches for 182 yards (16.6 yards per catch) in Weeks 1 and 2, 23 catches for 170 yards (7.4 yards per catch)—and exactly zero DYAR—in seven games since. And if you thought Toney benefitted from being the third receiver in New York, consider that Moore has been the fifth weapon (behind DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, A.J. Green, and the tight end, whether it be Maxx Williams or the newly acquired Zach Ertz) in Arizona.

Though he's trending downwards, for the time being Moore projects to finish with about 80 DYAR and a DVOA close to average. Those are numbers that also describe the rookie seasons of CeeDee Lamb in 2020, Tyreek Hill in 2016, Sammy Watkins in 2014, Emmanuel Sanders in 2010, and Calvin Johnson in 2007. Few players have ever lasted in the NFL with such a limited route tree, but then there are a lot of things going on in the desert this year that we have rarely seen before.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Matt Ryan ATL
23/30
343
2
0
2
173
160
13
NO
From his last dropback in the second quarter to his first dropback in the fourth, Ryan picked up a first down every time he threw the ball. Granted, that was only five plays, but they gained a total of 93 yards and a touchdown. He led the NFL in DYAR on passes to the outside, going 17-of-23 for 277 yards and two touchdowns.
2.
Justin Herbert LAC
32/37
356
2
0
0
159
149
10
PHI
Herbert threw a league-high 11 failed completions against Philadelphia, but that didn't stop him from being the best passer on throws to tight ends. He completed each of his 11 throws to players at that position for a total of 126 yards and two touchdowns.
3.
Carson Wentz IND
22/30
272
3
0
1
147
142
5
NYJ
Wentz was successful on 65% of his dropbacks against the Jets, the best rate of any qualifier this week.
4.
Jimmy Garoppolo SF
28/40
326
2
1
5
133
134
-1
ARI
Garoppolo gains 40 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. Thanks in part to those boosts, he finished first in DYAR on throws down the middle of the field (13-of-17 for 170 yards and a touchdown) and in the second quarter (7-of-7 for 90 yards and a touchdown, plus a DPI for 16 yards, with one sack).
5.
Colt McCoy ARI
22/26
249
1
0
2
99
84
16
SF
And now, three related facts about Colt McCoy: 1) His average pass this week traveled a league-low 2.0 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. 2) His average completion gained a league-best 8.8 yards after the catch. 3) He had the best DYAR on throws to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage, going 13-of-14 for 106 yards and a touchdown.
6.
Kirk Cousins MIN
17/28
187
2
0
0
80
73
7
BAL
Cousins had the best DYAR this week in the first quarter, when he completed all five of his passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.
7.
Baker Mayfield CLE
14/21
218
2
0
2
69
69
0
CIN
The bully of the week was Baker Mayfield The Browns already had a 34-10 lead going into the fourth quarter ... and that was BEFORE Mayfield amassed the most DYAR in the game's final frame, going 3-of-5 for 65 yards and a touchdown. He was also the NFL's best passer on deep balls (5-of-7 for 148 yards and two touchdowns).
8.
Jalen Hurts PHI
11/17
162
1
0
1
63
57
6
LAC
Remember early in the year when it seemed like the Eagles' offense consisted entirely of RPOs and screens? Yeah, never mind—Hurts' average pass traveled a league-high 12.1 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He threw seven deep balls against the Chargers. The first two were incomplete, but the next five were all completed, for 116 yards and a touchdown. The incompletions were thrown to Dallas Goedert and Quez Watkins; the five completions were all thrown to DeVonta Smith.
9.
Teddy Bridgewater DEN
19/28
249
1
0
4
53
45
7
DAL
Bridgewater led all quarterbacks in DYAR on throws to wide receivers, going 12-of-16 for 203 yards and a touchdown. A 17th throw resulted in a DPI for 8 more yards.
10.
Mike White NYJ
7/11
95
1
0
0
43
43
0
IND
White's last throw came late in the first quarter. He was just starting to warm up, too. His last four passes were all completed: a 12-yard gain on third-and-10; a 15-yard gain on second-and-5; a 26-yard gain on second-and-12; and a 19-yard touchdown. But he banged his arm on a defender's helmet on that scoring play and left the game, being replaced by...
11.
Josh Johnson NYJ
27/41
317
3
1
2
34
27
7
IND
Johnson loses 39 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. (Mike White lost 11.) He came into the game with the Jets down by seven, a deficit that grew to 32 points midway through the third quarter. From that point forward, in roughly 20 minutes of game time, Johnson went 23-of-31 for 248 yards with three touchdowns, one interception (his last pass of the game), and one sack. He led all passers in DYAR on third downs, going 8-of-11 for 109 yards. Only five of those completions moved the sticks, but two of those were touchdowns. Finally, I'd just like to say that I can't believe I just wrote 100 words about Josh Johnson in 2021.
12.
Lamar Jackson BAL
27/41
266
3
2
3
34
30
4
MIN
Jackson was the best passer this week in the red zone, going 6-of-7 for 28 yards with three touchdowns. He was also first in throws to the right, going 12-of-16 for 147 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 42-yard DPI.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Justin Fields CHI
17/29
291
1
1
3
31
18
14
PIT
14.
Trevor Siemian NO
25/41
249
2
0
1
13
13
0
ATL
Siemian loses 56 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. From the point Atlanta went up 24-6 in the fourth quarter till the end of the game, Siemian went 11-of-15 for 111 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 27-yard DPI.
15.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
21/29
205
2
0
4
11
18
-7
CHI
16.
Trevor Lawrence JAX
15/26
118
0
0
2
5
4
2
BUF
Only five of Lawrence's completions against Buffalo gained first downs, and he was successful on a league-worst 31% of his dropbacks. He had five dropbacks with 2 or 3 yards to go for a first down and only converted one of them (a 23-yard completion to Jamal Agnew on fourth-and-2). So why does he rank this high instead of near the bottom? Mostly because he gains a league-high 52 DYAR due to opponent adjustments.
17.
Mac Jones NE
12/18
139
1
1
2
-10
-16
6
CAR
The Patriots won this game by three scores, and it could have been more if Jones had fared better in Panthers territory. On Carolina's side of the 50, Jones went 3-of-7 for 9 yards (seriously) with one touchdown, a 13-yard DPI, and a sack-fumble.
18.
Daniel Jones NYG
15/20
110
1
0
2
-23
-26
3
LV
Jones only threw four passes to his wide receivers this week. Every other qualifier threw at least seven, and that includes Mike White, who only played one quarter. Every OTHER qualifier threw at least nine. Taysom Hill threw two in a part-time Wildcat role. Anyway, Jones' four attempts to his wideouts resulted in three completions for 37 yards.
19.
Ryan Tannehill TEN
19/27
143
1
1
3
-25
-33
8
LAR
Tannehill gains 31 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. His magic passing range came on throws to receivers 8 to 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He completed five of his eight throws of that distance for a total of 68 yards. That's almost half his yardage on only 30% of his passes.
20.
Patrick Mahomes KC
20/37
166
1
0
1
-27
-27
0
GB
Mahomes struggled in short yardage. He only picked up two conversions on 9 throws with 3 yards or less to go for a first down, going 5-of-9 for 13 yards (10 of them on one play) and a touchdown.
21.
Dak Prescott DAL
19/39
232
2
1
2
-51
-53
2
DEN
I triple-checked this, and it's true: Prescott had the league's best DYAR on throws to his left, going 13-of-20 for 162 yards and a touchdown. However, he was worst on throws to his right, going 3-of-12 for 25 yards with an interception. He had a stretch from the second quarter to the fourth where he went nearly 30 minutes of game time without throwing for a first down, going 4-of-13 for 31 yards with an interception and two sacks.
22.
Derek Carr LV
30/46
296
1
2
1
-61
-59
-2
NYG
Carr's average pass came with a league-low 7.8 yards to go for a first down. He only had two dropbacks with more than 10 yards to go for a first down ... and he converted both of them, with a pair of 20-yard gains on first-and-15.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Jordan Love GB
19/34
190
1
1
1
-65
-52
-13
KC
On third and fourth downs, Love went 5-of-12 for 45 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and one sack. Only three of those completions picked up first downs. All three of them (and 39 of the 45 yards) came in the fourth quarter, but then so did the interception.
24.
Joe Burrow CIN
28/40
282
0
2
5
-107
-92
-15
CLE
Burrow was the NFL's worst passer on third downs, going 6-of-11 for 60 yards with a sack and two interceptions, including a pick-six. Only three of those completions picked up first downs, and none of those conversions came in the second half.
25.
Matthew Stafford LAR
31/48
294
1
2
5
-107
-109
3
TEN
Stafford was the week's worst passer in the second quarter, when he went 4-of-7 for 24 yards, with more sacks (two) and interceptions (also two, including a pick-six) than first downs (one). Neither of those interceptions came on no-huddle plays, but he was still the worst passer without a huddle, going 9-of-16 for 75 yards with two sacks.
26.
Jacoby Brissett MIA
26/43
244
1
2
4
-107
-111
3
HOU
Brissett's average completion gained a league-worst 3.0 yards after the catch.
27.
Sam Darnold CAR
17/33
172
0
3
1
-167
-161
-7
NE
Darnold was the week's worst passer in lots of categories—throws to wide receivers, throws to tight ends, throws to the outside, throws in the fourth quarter. But he was best on throws to running backs, going 9-of-12 for 117 yards ... and yet somehow he was also worst on throws to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage, going 1-of-9 for -3 yards (not a typo) with an interception.
28.
Tyrod Taylor HOU
24/42
240
0
3
5
-203
-200
-3
MIA
Taylor was the week's worst passer on deep balls, going 0-for-8 with an interception. His deepest completion only traveled 11 yards downfield ... where Brandin Cooks proceeded to lose 2 yards after the catch.
29.
Josh Allen BUF
31/47
264
0
2
4
-210
-204
-6
JAX
This is now the worst game for any quarterback this season. Allen finishes in last place in part because he loses 71 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, 15 more than any other quarterback. Without those adjustments, he would have been ... third-worst. With the heavy burden of those adjustments, he finished worst in DYAR on throws to running backs (9-of-12 for 61 yards with an interception), throws down the middle (8-of-13 for 77 yards with an interception), and in the third quarter (6-of-10 for 64 yards with two interceptions and a sack).

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
James Conner ARI
21
96
2
5/5
77
1
63
10
53
SF
Conner ranks first this week despite a 4-yard gain and a fumble on first-and-24. But he was stuffed just twice while rushing for five first downs, including a 13-yard touchdown and a gain of 35. Three of his catches also produced first downs, including a 21-yard gain on third-and-18 and a 45-yard touchdown on second-and-8.
2.
Joe Mixon CIN
13
64
2
5/5
46
0
61
42
18
CLE
Each of Mixon's 13 carries gained at least 1 yard. Four gained first downs, including an 11-yard touchdown and a 21-yard gain. Three of his catches also gained first downs, and another was a 9-yard gain on first-and-10.
3.
Nick Chubb CLE
14
137
2
2/2
26
0
57
45
12
CIN
The Bengals stuffed Chubb twice and he also had a fumble. but he ran for a half-dozen first downs, five of them on runs of 10 yards or more, including a 22-yard gain on second-and-7 and a 70-yard touchdown on second-and-10. His best catch was a 23-yard gain on second-and-7.
4.
Rhamondre Stevenson NE
10
62
0
2/2
44
0
47
21
26
CAR
All of Stevenson's runs against Carolina gained at least a yard. Three produced first downs, and he also had a 12-yard gain on second-and-19 that counted as a successful play. His best catch was a 41-yard gain on second-and-11.
5.
Devontae Booker NYG
21
99
0
3/3
23
0
38
26
13
LV
The Raiders only stuffed Booker twice while allowing him to run for five first downs, including gains of 16 and 20 yards. He gained two more first downs as a receiver: a 6-yard gain on second-and-5 and a 12-yard gain on second-and-8.

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Nick Chubb CLE
14
137
2
2/2
26
0
57
45
12
CIN
2.
Joe Mixon CIN
13
64
2
5/5
46
0
61
42
18
CLE
3.
Jonathan Taylor IND
19
172
2
2/2
28
0
27
36
-9
NYJ
Taylor ran for five first downs against the Jets, and they came on gains of 10, 12, and 13 yards, plus 21- and 78-yard touchdowns. He was only stuffed three times, and two of them came with the Colts up by multiple scores in the second half. He has negative receiving DYAR because he fumbled at the end of a 20-yard gain.
4.
Devontae Booker NYG
21
99
0
3/3
23
0
38
26
13
LV
5.
Nyheim Hines IND
6
74
1
4/6
34
0
25
24
1
NYJ
Hines' six carries, in order: 34-yard touchdown; 3-yard gain on second-and-8; 11-yard gain on third-and-1; 25-yard gain on first-and-10; 1-yard gain on first-and-10; no gain on second-and-9 while up 42-16 with less than three minutes to go.

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Myles Gaskin MIA
20
34
1
6/6
23
0
-41
-47
6
HOU
Yup, he's back. Gaskin's longest run against Houston gained only 6 yards and he had only three first downs while being stuffed eight times. He also lost a fumble in Miami territory. He did get two more first downs as a receiver, but he didn't have a catch longer than 6 yards either.

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Myles Gaskin MIA
20
34
1
6/6
23
0
-41
-47
6
HOU

 

Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
DeVonta Smith PHI
5
6
116
23.2
1
63
LAC
All of Smith's catches gained at least 19 yards, the longest his 28-yard touchdown. Ironically, he caught all of the deep balls thrown his way, while his only incomplete target came on a throw to the sticks on third-and-6 in the second quarter.
2.
Christian Kirk ARI
6
6
91
15.2
0
59
SF
Kirk's totals include 21 passing DYAR for his 33-yard completion to Antoine Wesley. Four of his receptions gained first downs, the longest a gain of 50; the other was a 5-yard gain on second-and-7.
3.
Justin Jefferson MIN
3
5
69
23.0
1
50
BAL
Jefferson's totals include 9 DYAR for his one carry for 11 yards. He only had three catches, but they were all big plays: 50-yard touchdown on third-and-7; 7-yard gain on third-and-6; 12-yard gain on fourth-and-9.
4.
Olamide Zaccheaus ATL
3
3
58
19.3
2
48
NO
Zaccheaus only had three catches, but they were all big plays: 3-yard touchdown; 49-yard gain on second-and-8; 6-yard touchdown. (Yes, Olamide Zaccheaus had more touchdown catches in this game than Kyle Pitts has had all season.)
5.
Tim Patrick DEN
4
5
85
21.2
1
44
DAL
Patrick only had four catches, but they were all big plays: 11-yard gain on third-and-10; 44-yard touchdown; 19-yard gain on third-and-8; 11-yard gain on third-and-8.

 

Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Ja'Marr Chase CIN
6
13
49
8.2
0
-71
CLE
This is now the worst game for any wide receiver this season. Chase's totals include -6 DYAR rushing for his two carries, both of which went for no gain on first down. His first catch was a 15-yard gain on first-and-10, but that was his longest catch of the day. He only had one other first down, and that came on a 9-yard gain on second-and-9 with Cincinnati down by 24 points in the fourth quarter. In addition to his fumble, Chase was the target on two of Joe Burrow's interceptions, though for the purposes of Chase's DYAR those count as regular incompletions.

Comments

55 comments, Last at 10 Nov 2021, 9:06am

2 DYAR says that Kirk Cousins…

DYAR says that Kirk Cousins outplayed Lamar Jackson.  Normally I would think "opponent adjustments", but the Vikings defense entered the week as the #4 ranked defense per DVOA.   The Ravens had a large edge in number of plays but DYAR is a counting stat and even with that...

Watching that game I don't think anyone could conclude Cousins was the better quarterback that day.   I don't know what else you can tweek, but I find myself wanting to find a way to quantify what it is he doesn't do....   I know Cousins managed to tick a lot of statistical boxes, no huge sacks, fumbles, interceptions, heck he even had a clutch drive to tie the game. 

Just curious, what are the splits for Cousins having a lead or tied vs with him trailing?   Want to know for the game but would be curious overall as well.   

14 It's worth pointing out that…

It's worth pointing out that Cousins had zero sacks, to Lamar 3 for 13 yards lost, as well as Cousins having zero picks to Lamar's 2. Lamar did a great job to come back, but his defence gave him a lot more opportunities than most QBs would get.

Those are 5 huge negatives on Lamar's play, so even if he had more total positive DYAR, those are some big negative DYAR plays counting against his total.

17 Defence gets you…

Defence gets you opportunities through stops and turnovers. The Ravens D didn't create any turnovers, but gave up just 7 points in the second half/OT, vs 4 punts, including one stop after Lamar's potential game losing fumble.

20 I suppose.

In reply to by HitchikersPie

But the Ravens didnt get any turnovers (or sacks as already mentioned)? They were 22nd/28 in epa/play because the first half still counts. 

54 I dont understand

In reply to by HitchikersPie

I'm not so much commenting on Lamar but the Ravens defense that allowed 31 (more than the Ravens ppg and oppg) at home, somehow being good despite the numbers saying not so much and giving Kirk a field day.

33 I am really, really happy…

I am really, really happy you asked this question about Cousins, because this is fascinating.

On Sunday: 

Losing/tied: 77 DYAR

Winning: -4 DYAR

All year:

Losing/tied: 564 DYAR (third behind Brady and Stafford)

Winning: -38 DYAR

That's bizarre. Why is Cousins so good when losing but so terrible when playing with a lead?

42 Bizarre Jackson splits

Coming into this year the big criticism of Jackson was his inability to lead a comeback, this year he is the best, with 3 comebacks of 11 points or more in the second half.

I can not answer why he is so good when losing but so terrible when winning.

Now I will ask some questions:

1.  Why is 2018 Joe Flacco better than 2018 Lamar Jackson according to DYAR/DVOA?  Please do Ravens 2018 rushing splits with Flacco vs Jackson if possible.  

2.  Why is 2020-2021 Teddy Bridgewater better than Lamar Jackson according to DYAR/DVOA?

3.  What was special in 2019 when DYAR/DVOA of Jackson lines up with my and most fans, perceived reality of Jackson?

4.   I know based upon Josh Allen comments by Aaron before this year, that 2020 was weighted substantially more than his prior seasons by FO.  Looking at Jackson's career, and weighing 2020 and 2021 more heavily Jackson is a mediocre QB, a one year wonder by DYAR/DVOA.  Is FO saying that in 2018, 2020, 2021 that Lamar Jackson is a mediocre QB, and thus, is simply a mediocre QB?

 

44 Wait, this is important: to…

Wait, this is important: to be clear, those are ***KIRK COUSINS'*** splits when losing/winning, NOT Lamar Jackson's. I will edit the original post to explain that better

49 Laughing at myself for misunderstanding, I see your edit

Jackson's splits will also be interesting, as he must be great when losing, having led the team to massive comebacks 3 times.  The only way this is not so, is that when the team starts to lose, he plays poorly to be trailing even more, then goes to the bathroom or to that special place that he went to in Cleveland last year and puts on the Superman cape.  To be losing by so much, he must play poorly when the game is even to start. 

46 OC/HC

Some combination of Zimmer and his OC go into super conservative mode whenever the Vikings have more than a field goal lead.  The creative play calls go away, there is less play action, fewer roll-outs, etc. This then results in a lot of third-and-longs and paired with a still not-great OL, negative-ALEX Kirk comes out.  

I think this is on Zimmer primarily because the team has been that way through several OCs now.  

48 Playcalling?

This is where I think it comes back to Zimmer (via Klint), Vikings fans have absolutely hated their uber-conservative playcalling approach with leads.  It seems they don't try to push or take any chances downfield at all if in the lead, believing (like the DC he is) that leads are held by defenses and blown by offenses or something like that.    Then, when they have to, they suddenly by way of desperation actually try to advance the ball and their skill players have a chance to come through.   

As you note its not just this game.   Vs Detroit, they had a small lead, and did nothing with it for an entire half.   Then once Detroit took that lead (enabled by this approach), they got desperate and zipped down the field for the winning FG.   Carolina, same thing, they were happy to do nothing with a lead, the defense eventually wore down and they gave up the tying score, then instant offense.  I know a lot of this is anecdotal, but happy to see some data back this up....

Offhand I'd guess most teams would be better with a lead, where the defense has to take chances.   

This is a big part of why so many of us have turned on Zimmer.  I still like the guy, just not as HC or in any position to influence what the offense does.

 

3 Ah, yes, Josh Allen, right…

Ah, yes, Josh Allen, right where I expected him. At least he was honest about his game in the post-game pressers.

 

That whole chart is kinda upside-down day-ish, though. The only top-tier passing offense that doesn't seem to be at least somewhat broken is Tampa.

4 Interesting stuff as always

And while the Love discussion has been buried to death ultimately he had the bad day common to any qb whatever their skill or history.  

15 I only watched a small part…

I only watched a small part of the game, but I'm surprised Love's DYAR looked this good. What I saw from him was frankly horrible -and yeah, I did see the discussion in Audibles, no argument those special teams are a mess.

Also in Love's favor, I guess, is that Fields also looked horrible early, although by some accounts here he got much better later in the game. Still, you'd expect to see much more polished play from Love at this point.

5 For a guy who has had his share of early struggles

Fields played pretty well especially later in the game.  And the Steelers were not playing bland defenses.

 

The Chicago O-line also was holding up pretty well in pass pro which obviously helped.  

6 And Tony Corrente throwing a flag

based on his interpretation of a player's posture has to be immediately placed in the pantheon of 'WTH?!' officiating explanations.  Give him credit for originality and owning it in the post-game.  

 

But then Corrente is the guy who threw all the early flags on pretty much form tackles on quarterbacks when the qb tackling rules were  a point of emphasis.  Tony does Tony like nobody's business

10 Corrente should legitimately…

Corrente should legitimately be ejected from the league for the rest of the season. He robbed LAC of a win vs DAL earlier in the year, robbed MIN of a win vs CLE, and now robbed CHI of a win vs PIT. Not to mention last year's NE/KC shitshow where his crew stole a fumble recovery from the Pats.

8 Yeah, that game's the start…

Yeah, that game's the start of what I was looking for - noticeably faster decision-making from Fields (still slow, though, but looking a lot more like just an NFL rookie). It'll be interesting to see where he ends up - if he can average replacement level-ish, that's... well, bad, but not "abandon all hope" bad. And rookies are always bad, so that's not a big deal.

I think the "OL improvement" is mostly from Fields, though. They still look pretty bad. I almost can't watch Peters anymore, it's too depressing. The OL communication looks a ton better, though, but it looks more like Fields is just more confident in what he's seeing.

19 Watched the ending and loved…

Watched the ending and loved what I saw from him.  He'll still take a bunch of sacks, but he looks like he'll hit on big plays a lot to make up for it.  I think Chicago has got their guy; not sure about the GM or coach though.

25 Yeah I posted in the Open…

Yeah I posted in the Open Discussion that the outcome last night might have been the best possible for the long-term health of the franchise. Fields shows improvement almost in real time, but management doesn't get a cheap reason not to fire Nagy (and hopefully Pace too).

40 If Fields is even remotely…

If Fields is even remotely promising by the end of the season, I'd bet a ton that Pace still has his job next year. Which is wacko-bad. I don't think there's a GM in the league who's come close to damaging his team more than Pace has (and I really, really have a low opinion of Howie Roseman, so this is a very strong statement).

50 I think Fields is always…

I think Fields is always going to take a lot of sacks. He did at Ohio State, he has so far in the NFL.  He loves to go deep, and has the arm talent and accuracy to do so.  Eleven Warriors recently did a write up comparing this season's Ohio State offense versus the two with Justin Fields. The Justin Fields Ohio State offense was largely predicated on running and deep balls off of play action, and Justin Fields delivered spectacularly.  I think we saw that last night as the Bears may be adjusting their routes to accommodate Fields' particular skills.

55 I don't think the Bears are…

I don't think the Bears are changing things to accomodate Fields's skills as much as what he's able to actually do now. And Fields just getting better.

Even in his first game as a starter, a huge number of those plays were straight out of Ohio State's playbook. They weren't running option plays with Andy Dalton in there! The problem was that, well, it's the NFL, and those wide windows from college are tighter, and those quick easy tells from linebackers aren't there - you'd read a linebacker that starts to crash, and literally the instant you pull the ball, suddenly the linebacker's stopped his motion and is right back in coverage.

Just gonna take time, that's all.

9 I think

If Smith went to Miami he'd look about the same as Waddle. Miami's offense schemes don't allow much success. It's a disaster.

11 That Waddle video should be…

That Waddle video should be a caution on thinking these numbers represent ability, talent, or even performance. They're strictly about production. 

 

That play was a dolphins problem. Bad play call, bad decision, bad throw. And a receiver who probably should have just let the ball sail out of bounds. Just a complete failure.

 

12 Yup. It's fair to think the…

Yup. It's fair to think the Dolphins picked Waddle to be a gadget player, as Vince says, because that's the way they used him at first, but in recent weeks they've been letting him run intermediate routes and he's been doing fine. For example, on Sunday his line was 8/10 for 83 with a long of 17.

I only saw film of Waddle after he was drafted, so I may be biased, but he was far from a one-trick pony. He was an excellent all-around receiver who ran excellent routes, super quick out of his cuts. The fact he was bunched up with Pitts, Chase and Smith pre-draft was well-earned, not a product an Al-Davis-like fantasy.

If and when he plays for a functional offense, that will open up the deep routes, which in turn will create YAC opportunities underneath. Along with Gesicki, Waddle is the only player in that offensive roster I have no doubts about.

22 I think their is some talent on the offensive roster

The oline is a real mystery. Every single lineman has regressed to the point it's impossible to see how they were ever drafted. It has to be something to do with the blocking scheme matching player's core strengths because it feels impossible that all their players could get worse. I mean, some of them under Gailey appeared to be on track to becoming long term functioning linemen. The oline makes it impossible to evaluate the rest of the team. It's obvious cutting most of the veteran linemen this offseason/end of camp was a huge mistake. Not building the coaching staff (Flores fires a set number of people every season from his staff like he's a dot.com company) and the future cap saving from cutting vets means nothing if your young coaches can't allow you to evaluate how to best spend it. More to the point, how many good 53 man rosters in this league have tons of salary cap space every year? I seems like good teams, try to build the best 53 man roster they can with the resources available to them. In 2020 they were good, and spent that offseason getting players, not getting future cap space. This offseason they went 2019 again, cutting for future space, and their 53 man roster is short players. Not a surprise. They weren't a super bowl team in 2020, but they were at least watchable.  There probably is some talent on this offensive roster, but I have no idea how to evaluate it because there just isn't enough good tape to evaluate it. I very much doubt Smith would be doing any better in Miami than Waddle is. No one else on the roster is. Just look at Gaskin, he wasn't the second coming of Kalen Ballage just a year ago. What happened?

13 I don't think Hurts is a…

I don't think Hurts is a franchise QB, but I'm glad Sirianni has finally started coaching for the QB he has instead of trying to make him into Phillip Rivers with better knees and fewer children. Of course, it took two months to get to this point, which doesn't say great things about him as a coach. Now let's talk about Gannon and his "Not in the face!" defense.

24 You should just stop calculating Run DYAR for QBs

Another week, another example that Rushing DYAR for QBs is nonsensical.

Lamar had 21 carries for 120 yards and 7 First Downs with no fumbles. 11 QBs ranked higher. Hurts had 10 carries for 62 yards and 6 First Downs. He and Lamar both ranked behind Cousins whose 1 run went for 1 yard - but a touchdown - so he is counted as having brought more value in the run game

DVOA is not much better, where Lamar - the #6 rusher in the NFL - has a negative DVOA at -2.0% and is the 19th ranked running QB

35 So to be clear, rushing DVOA…

So to be clear, rushing DVOA for QBs is goofy. DVOA for individual players usually is, whenever you get a player that's like, halfway between positions. This has existed forever, all the way back to the beginnings of FO when people were like "if Dallas Clark lines up like a WR every play, puts up stats like a WR every play, is he really a tight end?" And it matters, because tight ends (especially at the time) ran different routes so they had different baselines.

Lamar, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts (well, at least up until now) aren't actually playing the same positions as Kirk Cousins. It's not even really close anymore. But there's just no way to differentiate them, at least not automatically. 

Personally I think there's an argument to be made to scrap splitting pass/runs entirely for QBs. What's the point? Just calculate it entirely as one total combined number. That has some advantage, at least from a visibility standpoint.

36 Actually, in this case, the…

Actually, in this case, the biggest factor is opponent adjustments. Jackson had 25 rushing DYAR pre-adjustments, most of any QB this week. This is the same Vikings defense that allowed Sam Darnold to gain 49 yards on only three carries.

He also had a few short runs that didn't go anywhere. In particular, he loses about 20 total DYAR for three carries that failed to convert on second-and-6, third-and-2, and second-and-goal from the 4. 

 

 

41 Thanks

I appreciate the insight! And I did forget about opponent adjustments, as the Vikings' run D really is bad 

39 Lamar's runs

Here are his runs on the day. I'd be interested to see what kind of DYAR that produces for an RB because it seems like a highly productive day for a primary ball carrier. I know QB runs are scored differently

Productive Carries

2nd and 5: 6 yards (FD)
2nd and 6: 6 yds (FD)
3rd and 3: 11 yds (FD)
1st and 10: 12 yds (FD)
4th and 1: 1 yd (FD)
3rd and 2: 6 yds (FD)
1st and 10: 10 yds (FD)
1st and 10: 9 yds
2nd and 10: 8 yards
1st and 10: 7 yds
1st and 10: 5 yards
2nd and 9: 7 yds
2nd and 10: 5 yds

Non-Productive Carries

2nd and 6: 2 yds
1st and 10: 3 yds
2nd and 15: 6 yds
1st and 20: 4 yds
2nd and 20: 6 yds
2nd and goal: No gain
3rd and 2: 1 yd

26 How is Passing DVOA calculated? Jalen Hurts

Does anyone know how this works?

Jalen Hurts in QB passing has 0.3% DVOA

the Eagles passing DVOA is 17%

Is the Eagles passing DVOA including Hurts' rushing DVOA of 13.4% in there?

47 It would be really, really…

It would be really, really cool to have a position-independent stat as well for players who break position molds. I mean, in some sense, who cares if every QB is "better" than almost every RB? DVOA's just a number. Looking at them between positions is always goofy.

DYAR's the tougher version, though. How, exactly, do you calculate how far Lamar Jackson is above replacement when, uh, there aren't replacement players available?

30 Prescott had the league's…

Prescott had the league's best DYAR on throws to his left, going 13-of-20 for 162 yards and a touchdown.

Prescott's stats going to the left before the knee injury to Pat Surtain II: 2-of-7 for 37 yards and no touchdowns, and one of those completions was a 5 yard gain on 3rd-and-6.

52 Justin Fields

If you look at Field's stats, you'd conclude he's almost certainly a bust. But watching him play last night he looked really good. Yet his DYAR was barely positive.

I know in basketball, good players often take a quarter to half a season to get going (i.e. Trae Young). Is there a similar effect in football?