by Scott Kacsmar
Last week we looked at receiving plus-minus, which estimates how many passes a receiver caught above average adjusted for where the pass was thrown. Since that stat is based on the point of the catch, we found that the quality of the quarterback was significant in the results. It's no surprise that the leading wide receivers in 2014 were receiving passes from the likes of Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers while the bottom were stuck with Blake Bortles, Josh McCown, and Zach Mettenberger.
Today we are looking at a similar stat in YAC+, which adjusts a receiver's yards after the catch based on where he catches the ball. If you catch a pass at the line of scrimmage in the right flat on third-and-15, you're expected to get some YAC because the defense usually plays with a cushion in those situations to prevent big gains. But receivers who pick up considerable YAC after catching a pass near the first-down marker are likely to get a much better YAC+ credit.
Here is the description of YAC+ from Football Outsiders Almanac 2015:
YAC+ is similar to plus-minus; it estimates how much YAC a receiver gained compared to what we would have expected from an average receiver catching passes of similar length in similar down-and-distance situations. This is imperfect—we don't specifically mark what route a player runs, and obviously a go route will have more YAC than a comeback—but it does a fairly good job of telling you if this receiver gets more or less YAC than other receivers with similar usage patterns.
Every player with his own table in FOA 2015 has his plus-minus and YAC+ listed for the past three seasons.
As you are about to see, this stat is based more on a receiver's skill and less on the ability of his quarterback. ESPN recently released an updated version of Total QBR. One of the changes they made (frankly, I thought this was already included since the beginning of QBR) is to credit a quarterback with expected YAC based on the type of throw instead of what the receiver actually did. Whether a bubble screen goes for 3 yards or 60, on average the execution on that pass is going to be very similar for all quarterbacks. If the goal of the metric is to measure a quarterback's performance, then it's certainly worthwhile to limit the statistical impact of what happens after the ball releases his hand. YAC should be predominantly viewed as a receiver-driven stat.
YAC+ Leaders (2006-2014)
In the following tables, the "Passes" totals for each receiver will look different from the usual numbers in our data. That's because we have removed plays out of the receiver's control like passes thrown away or tipped at the line.
Here are the top and bottom 10 in YAC+ since 2006 among the three positions. Included are the average air yards (measured as yards beyond the line of scrimmage) on their targets and average YAC gained on catches. Players needed at least 100 receptions to qualify.
|Top 10 YAC+ for Wide Receivers, 2006-2014||Bottom 10 YAC+ for Wide Receivers, 2006-2014|
|1||Josh Gordon||161||57.5%||-4.9||13.2||6.7||2.2||150||Torry Holt||301||58.6%||-3.9||12.8||2.3||-1.4|
|2||Patrick Crayton||213||66.6%||12.4||10.2||5.8||1.8||151||Mike Thomas||177||63.4%||-9.0||8.7||4.1||-1.4|
|3||Demaryius Thomas||351||63.7%||9.1||10.8||6.1||1.5||152||Shaun McDonald||127||65.5%||4.9||10.7||2.6||-1.4|
|4||Donte' Stallworth||126||56.8%||-7.2||12.4||5.6||1.4||153||Andre Caldwell||146||60.8%||-11.3||9.1||3.2||-1.4|
|5||Miles Austin||348||62.9%||-0.1||10.6||5.7||1.3||154||Chaz Schilens||100||62.1%||3.1||12.3||2.4||-1.5|
|6||Randall Cobb||227||76.2%||28.5||8.5||6.2||1.2||155||Malcom Floyd||288||62.1%||35.5||16.5||2.5||-1.5|
|7||Andrew Hawkins||150||65.5%||-6.7||7.4||6.9||1.1||156||Steve Smith (NYG)||245||69.8%||23.7||11.0||2.4||-1.5|
|8||Golden Tate||272||69.6%||17.8||9.9||6.5||1.0||157||Robert Woods||105||59.0%||-6.3||11.3||3.0||-1.6|
|9||Julio Jones||278||66.0%||18.9||12.3||5.9||1.0||158||Brandon Lloyd||295||52.4%||-15.3||15.5||2.4||-1.7|
|10||Devery Henderson||223||59.6%||14.4||16.0||5.4||1.0||159||Derek Hagan||149||60.1%||-0.5||12.0||1.9||-1.9|
|Top 10 YAC+ for Tight Ends, 2006-2014||Bottom 10 YAC+ for Tight Ends, 2006-2014|
|1||Rob Gronkowski||309||70.1%||26.2||9.8||5.8||1.7||51||Leonard Pope||105||70.9%||2.3||6.4||4.0||-0.6|
|2||Aaron Hernandez||175||70.0%||4.3||6.8||5.8||1.4||52||Tony Scheffler||259||64.6%||6.2||10.6||3.8||-0.6|
|3||Julius Thomas||109||73.2%||8.9||7.3||5.2||1.1||53||Jordan Cameron||130||66.0%||4.1||9.4||4.1||-0.6|
|4||Kevin Boss||150||64.4%||-2.9||8.7||5.4||1.0||54||Jeremy Shockey||299||67.3%||5.8||8.5||3.5||-0.7|
|5||Fred Davis||162||68.9%||4.8||8.0||5.8||1.0||55||Alex Smith||122||68.5%||-1.4||6.3||4.1||-0.7|
|6||Alge Crumpler||155||64.0%||-7.2||8.0||4.9||1.0||56||Jacob Tamme||178||68.2%||1.4||7.5||3.9||-0.7|
|7||Brent Celek||344||68.0%||1.7||7.7||6.0||0.9||57||Tony Gonzalez||677||69.7%||42.9||8.6||2.9||-0.8|
|8||Daniel Fells||107||69.9%||4.0||7.6||5.7||0.9||58||Dennis Pitta||138||68.7%||4.1||7.8||3.9||-0.9|
|9||Coby Fleener||129||60.0%||-9.4||9.5||5.1||0.8||59||Jeff King||156||68.4%||-3.7||6.1||3.2||-1.2|
|10||Jermichael Finley||223||70.6%||18.9||9.3||5.1||0.6||60||Brandon Myers||180||73.2%||10.8||6.8||3.5||-1.3|
|Top 10 YAC+ for Running Backs, 2006-2014||Bottom 10 YAC+ for Running Backs, 2006-2014|
|1||Le'Veon Bell||127||79.4%||0.2||1.2||9.9||2.6||55||Cedric Benson||119||80.4%||-2.0||-0.1||7.3||-0.2|
|2||Joique Bell||139||79.4%||-1.4||0.7||9.4||2.4||56||Jacquizz Rodgers||156||88.1%||14.4||0.3||7.2||-0.2|
|3||DeAngelo Williams||179||78.2%||-6.7||-0.3||9.8||2.0||57||Cadillac Williams||129||77.7%||-1.7||1.2||6.6||-0.2|
|4||Correll Buckhalter||121||79.6%||-1.0||0.4||9.1||1.8||58||Chris Johnson||297||80.3%||-0.6||0.4||7.3||-0.3|
|5||Mike Tolbert||175||81.0%||4.1||0.5||8.9||1.8||59||Tim Hightower||128||75.7%||-7.0||0.3||7.0||-0.3|
|6||Michael Bush||105||82.0%||3.6||1.1||9.1||1.8||60||Willis McGahee||161||83.0%||4.4||-0.8||7.5||-0.5|
|7||Darren Sproles||416||81.7%||13.6||0.7||9.0||1.7||61||Earnest Graham||129||78.2%||0.4||1.9||5.7||-0.5|
|8||Clinton Portis||106||81.5%||0.1||-0.8||9.6||1.6||62||Brian Leonard||143||81.3%||6.7||1.6||6.1||-0.5|
|9||Kevin Smith||123||76.4%||-4.5||0.7||8.4||1.5||63||Warrick Dunn||106||76.8%||-4.2||0.7||6.4||-0.6|
|10||Donald Brown||114||80.9%||1.2||0.3||9.1||1.4||64||Thomas Jones||129||85.4%||6.1||-0.7||7.2||-0.6|
|Minimum 100 receptions.