NFL

NFL Wide Receiver Expected Catch Totals

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One of the neat features on the individual stat pages are some receiver stats you don't typically see. There's targets, target percentage, yards per target, catch rate, and deep percentage. Occasionally you'll find target stats on conventional stat sites, but I think target percentage is more interesting--the percentage of team targets each receiver gets.

The other day I was sorting the WR stats page by Catch Rate (CR), which is simply receptions per target. I wanted to see which guys had the better hands. To no surprise, catch rate is closely related to how often a receiver is thrown deep balls. Deep% is the proportion of targets thrown in the air deeper than 15 yds past the line of scrimmage. The relationship between CR and Deep% for receivers with at least 40 targets in 2009 is plotted below. The relationship in 2010 shows virtually the same pattern, but is slightly more scattered because of the smaller sample.

 

I thought it might be interesting to calculate the expected CR of each receiver based on his Deep%, then calculate the difference between his expected and actual CR. Graphically, the difference between expected and actual CR is the vertical distance between each receiver's data point and the trend line. This might give us an idea of who the receivers are who can reliably pull in the most passes. Obviously, there are more factors in play than just the receiver's performance, including the QB, offensive line, other team receivers, game situations and opponents, among other factors. But the correlation is considerable at 0.47, and at the very least, it's one piece of the puzzle.

For the 2010 season (through week 6), here are the leaders in Catch Rate Above Expected. There seems to be some sort of connection between having a hyphen in your surname and dropping passes.

 

 

Rank
Player
Team
%Deep
CR(%)
ExpCR
Difference

1
A.Collie
IND
24.1
81.5
59.8
21.7

2
K.Walter
HST
21.4
78.6
60.9
17.7  

3
J.Maclin
PHI
41.7
69.4
53.2
16.2

4
J.Shipley
CIN
15.8
78.9
63.0
15.9

5
M.Thomas
JAX
29.3
70.7
57.9
12.8

6
J.Avant
PHI
16.7
75.0
62.7
12.3

7
R.Wayne
IND
30.8
69.2
57.3
11.9

8
M.Manningham
NYG
42.9
64.3
52.7
11.6

9
D.Driver
GB
23.1
71.8
60.2
11.6

10
R.Moss
MIN
62.5
56.3
45.3
11.1

11
R.Williams
DAL
32.3
67.7
56.7
11.0

12
M.Austin
DAL
21.7
71.7
60.8
10.9

13
S.Breaston
ARZ
25.0
70.0
59.5
10.5

14
D.Branch
NE
16.7
72.2
62.7
9.5

15
S.Moss
WAS
29.1
67.3
57.9
9.4

16
A.Boldin
BLT
29.2
66.7
57.9
8.8

17
M.Williams
TB
59.5
54.8
46.4
8.4

18
D.Bess
MIA
5.6
75.0
66.9
8.1

19
H.Ward
PIT
30.8
65.4
57.3
8.1

20
J.Gaffney
DEN
18.9
69.8
61.8
8.0

21
M.Floyd
SD
56.8
54.5
47.4
7.1

22
W.Welker
NE
6.7
73.3
66.5
6.8

23
R.Parrish
BUF
31.8
63.6
56.9
6.7

24
D.Bryant
DAL
28.6
64.3
58.1
6.2

25
S.Smith
NYG
31.5
63.0
57.0
6.0

26
E.Royal
DEN
17.0
68.1
62.5
5.6

27
M.Colston
NO
20.0
66.7
61.4
5.3

28
C.Stuckey
CLV
14.3
67.9
63.6
4.3

29
E.Bennett
CHI
8.7
69.6
65.7
3.9

30
H.Nicks
NYG
24.6
63.2
59.7
3.5

31
R.White
ATL
24.6
62.3
59.7
2.6

32
A.Johnson
HST
34.5
58.2
55.9
2.3

33
A.Randle El
PIT
33.3
58.3
56.3
2.0

34
J.Nelson
GB
23.8
61.9
60.0
1.9

35
J.Knox
CHI
47.1
52.9
51.1
1.8

36
K.Britt
TEN
29.6
59.3
57.8
1.5

37
L.Moore
NO
18.5
63.0
62.0
1.0

38
C.Johnson
DET
45.5
52.7
51.7
1.0

39
D.Mason
BLT
37.2
55.8
54.9
0.9

40
J.Jones
GB
37.0
55.6
54.9
0.7

41
D.Nelson
BUF
18.8
62.5
61.9
0.6

42
B.Marshall
MIA
28.6
58.7
58.1
0.6

43
J.Jones
HST
7.4
66.7
66.2
0.5

44
D.Butler
SEA
25.0
60.0
59.5
0.5

45
N.Washington
TEN
50.0
50.0
50.0
0.0

46
B.Edwards
NYJ
34.2
55.3
56.0
-0.7

47
D.Henderson
NO
24.1
58.6
59.8
-1.2

48
L.Evans
BUF
41.4
51.7
53.3
-1.6

49
M.Williams
SEA
14.7
61.8
63.4
-1.6

50
D.Amendola
SL
3.6
65.5
67.6
-2.1

51
B.Lloyd
DEN
35.9
53.1
55.4
-2.3

52
G.Jennings
GB
36.8
52.6
55.0
-2.4

53
M.Wallace
PIT
48.0
48.0
50.8
-2.8

54
D.Bowe
KC
50.0
46.9
50.0
-3.1

55
D.Jackson
PHI
35.1
51.4
55.7
-4.3

56
C.Ochocinco
CIN
17.8
57.8
62.2
-4.4

57
B.Hartline
MIA
41.9
48.4
53.1
-4.7

58
D.Hester
CHI
32.0
52.0
56.8
-4.8

59
P.Harvin
MIN
22.2
55.6
60.6
-5.0

60
L.Murphy
OAK
38.5
48.7
54.4
-5.7

61
J.Cribbs
CLV
28.0
52.0
58.4
-6.4

62
C.Davis
SD
27.6
51.7
58.5
-6.8

63
M.Clayton
SL
19.0
54.8
61.8
-7.0

64
J.Morgan
SF
23.5
52.9
60.1
-7.2

65
J.Cotchery
NYJ
23.7
52.6
60.0
-7.4

66
T.Owens
CIN
25.0
51.7
59.5
-7.8

67
L.Fitzgerald
ARZ
33.3
48.1
56.3
-8.2

68
S.Smith
CAR
20.0
52.0
61.4
-9.4

69
M.Crabtree
SF
15.6
53.3
63.1
-9.8

70
St.Johnson
BUF
9.7
54.8
65.3
-10.5

71
M.Sims-Walker
JAX
22.2
50.0
60.6
-10.6

72
H.Douglas
ATL
28.1
46.9
58.3
-11.4

73
S.Stroughter
TB
16.7
50.0
62.7
-12.7

74
D.Gettis
CAR
22.7
45.5
60.4
-14.9

75
D.Heyward-Bey
OAK
40.5
37.8
53.6
-15.8