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Better Than Average - Wide Receivers
David M. Dorey
2004
Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers  |  Tight Ends

This sort of analysis is interesting to show who is truly the top receivers but there are few surprises. Considering that each team typically uses three receivers and only one can turn in the best performance against an opponent defense for the year, that means that gaining a Top 1 performance is realistically beating out 48 others against that defense (3 x 16 games). Even Top 8 performances are impressive given the sheer volume of receivers and games that each defense goes against in a full season.

Remember - Consistency rankings view a player from the offensive perspective - how many times did he have a big game? BTA rankings show the same players from a defensive perspective - how many times did he do better than most other players when they faced the same defense?

There are three measurements with BTA analysis and to the right you can see an example of how it was derived considering all WR performances against the Texans last season.

Better Than Average Sample (HOU defense)

Wk Tm QB's against OAK - 2003 FF
Pts
RCV
Yards
RCV
TD's
Rush
Yards
Rush
TDs
Top
8
Top
3
Top
1
6 TEN Mason D 36 177 3          
1 MIA Chambers C 25 118 2 12        
8 IND Wayne R 22 96 2          
4 JAX Edwards T 17 111 1          
7 NYJ Moss S 17 111 1          
9 CAR Smith S 15 88 1 6        
16 TEN Bennett, D 14 84 1          
17 IND Stokley B 13 67 1          
12 NE Johnson B 13 65 1          
14 JAX Smith J 12 58 1          
2 NO Horn J 11 111   2        
2 NO Stallworth D 11 46 1          
3 KC Kennison E 10 44 1          
15 TB Lee C 10 95   6        
8 IND Harrison M 10 100            
11 BUF Shaw B 9 92            
6 TEN Calico T 9 92            

1. BTA Top 8 - Shows how many times a WR faced a defense last year and produced a top 8 performance allowed by that defense for that position. To the right in yellow are the Top 8 performances against the Texans by a WR using standard performance scoring. Mason, Chambers, Wayne, Edwards, S. Moss, S. Smith, Bennett and Stokley are all credited with a Top 8 game here.

2. BTA Top 3 - Shows how many times a player faced a defense last year and produced a top 3 performance allowed by that defense for that position. Considering only HOU, Mason, Chambers and Wayne are credited with a Top 3 game.

3. BTA Top 1 - Shows how many times an RB faced a defense last year that produced the BEST performance allowed by that defense for that position. Considering only the Houston defense, only Mason is credited with a Top 1 game. Realize as well that the best possible score here would be 13 games since each WR would face three teams twice and only one game against a team could be best.

Taking that methodology and applying it to the most inconsistent of the highest scoring positions yields interesting results.

Top 8 performances allowed by defenses faced in 2003 Top 8% Top 8 Gms Gms
Played
Top 3 performances allowed by defenses faced in 2003 Top 3% Top 3 Gms Gms
Played
MIN Randy Moss 69% 11 16 MIN Randy Moss 56% 9 16
STL Tory Holt 56% 9 16 STL Tory Holt 38% 6 16
CIN Chad Johnson 56% 9 16 IND Marvin Harrison 27% 4 15
CAR Steve Smith 56% 9 16 CIN Chad Johnson 25% 4 16
SF Terrell Owens 47% 7 15 ARI Anquan Boldin 25% 4 16
TEN Derrick Mason 44% 7 16 NYJ Santana Moss 25% 4 16
IND Marvin Harrison 40% 6 15 PIT Hines Ward 25% 4 16
ARI Anquan Boldin 38% 6 16 SF Terrell Owens 20% 3 15
MIA Chris Chambers 38% 6 16 MIA Chris Chambers 19% 3 16
WAS Lavernues Coles 38% 6 16 WAS Lavernues Coles 19% 3 16
NYJ Santana Moss 38% 6 16 SEA Darrell Jackson 19% 3 16
PIT Hines Ward 38% 6 16 NYG Amani Toomer 19% 3 16
NO Joe Horn 33% 5 15 TEN Drew Bennett 17% 2 12
SEA Koren Robinson 33% 5 15 NYG Ike Hilliard 15% 2 13
SEA Darrell Jackson 31% 5 16 SD David Boston 14% 2 14
TB Keenan McCardell 31% 5 16 NO Joe Horn 13% 2 15
TEN Justin McCareins 31% 5 16 HOU Corey Bradford 13% 2 15
GB Javon Walker 31% 5 16 CAR Steve Smith 13% 2 16
IND Reggie Wayne 31% 5 16 TEN Derrick Mason 13% 2 16
NYG Ike Hilliard 31% 4 13 TB Keenan McCardell 13% 2 16
TB Keyshawn Johnson 30% 3 10 GB Javon Walker 13% 2 16
SD David Boston 29% 4 14 IND Reggie Wayne 13% 2 16
NE David Givens 27% 3 11 DAL Terry Glenn 13% 2 16
TEN Drew Bennett 25% 3 12 HOU Andre Johnson 13% 2 16
NE Troy Brown 25% 3 12 NE David Givens 9% 1 11
DAL Terry Glenn 25% 4 16 NE Troy Brown 8% 1 12
NYG Amani Toomer 25% 4 16 CHI Marty Booker 8% 1 13
CHI Marty Booker 23% 3 13 NE Deion Branch 7% 1 15
DET Az Zahir Hakim 21% 3 14 CAR M. Muhammad 7% 1 15
HOU Corey Bradford 20% 3 15 BUF Bobby Shaw 7% 1 15
NE Deion Branch 20% 3 15 CIN Peter Warrick 7% 1 15
CAR M. Muhammad 20% 3 15 KC Eddie Kennison 6% 1 16
BUF Bobby Shaw 20% 3 15 DEN Ashley Lelie 6% 1 16
DEN Rod Smith 20% 3 15 ATL Peerless Price 6% 1 16
CIN Peter Warrick 20% 3 15 SEA Koren Robinson 0%   15
PIT Plaxico Burress 19% 3 16 TEN Justin McCareins 0%   16
SEA Bobby Engram 19% 3 16 TB Keyshawn Johnson 0%   10
HOU Andre Johnson 19% 3 16 DET Az Zahir Hakim 0%   14
KC Eddie Kennison 19% 3 16 DEN Rod Smith 0%   15
DEN Ashley Lelie 19% 3 16 PIT Plaxico Burress 0%   16
CLE Quincy Morgan 19% 3 16 SEA Bobby Engram 0%   16
KC Johnnie Morton 19% 3 16 CLE Quincy Morgan 0%   16
ATL Peerless Price 19% 3 16 KC Johnnie Morton 0%   16
SF Tai Streets 19% 3 16 SF Tai Streets 0%   16

Some of the notable facts that came from this was that Marvin Harrison only turned in Top 8 performances 40% of the time unlike the 69% managed by Randy Moss or the 56% by Tory Holt. Only four receivers had over 50% of their games produce Top 8 performances allowed by opposing defenses and Steve Smith is perhaps the biggest surprise. The above table indicates how inconsistent that receivers truly are with the lengthy list of receivers that had at least three Top 3 performances allowed by a defense.

Santana Moss rose on the list considering Top 3 performances thanks to his consecutive touchdown run last year and Anquan Boldin's magic season seems no less impressive viewing his feat from a defensive perspective. Several players were seemingly disappointments last year but actually had a decent showing with this criteria. Players like Koren Robinson, Reggie Wayne, David Boston and Keyshawn Johnson. Where they lacked was in consistency which is always hard to find in this position.

That notion carries through to the listing for players turning in Top 1 games against opposing defenses.

Top 1 performances allowed by defenses faced in 2003 Top 1% Top 1 Gms Gms
Played
IND Marvin Harrison 20% 3 15
MIN Randy Moss 19% 3 16
SEA Darrell Jackson 19% 3 16
NO Joe Horn 13% 2 15
STL Tory Holt 13% 2 16
ARI Anquan Boldin 13% 2 16
MIA Chris Chambers 13% 2 16
NE Troy Brown 8% 1 12
SD David Boston 7% 1 14
NE Deion Branch 7% 1 15
CAR M. Muhammad 7% 1 15
CIN Chad Johnson 6% 1 16
CAR Steve Smith 6% 1 16
TEN Derrick Mason 6% 1 16
WAS Lavernues Coles 6% 1 16
NYJ Santana Moss 6% 1 16
TB Keenan McCardell 6% 1 16
GB Javon Walker 6% 1 16
NYG Amani Toomer 6% 1 16
ATL Peerless Price 6% 1 16

Marvin Harrison may not turn in as many good games as you think, but he is tops at turning in the biggest games. Surprisingly, Darrell Jackson matched Randy Moss with three of the best games all season against opposing defenses and the others - Horn, Holt, Boldin and Chambers - only had two each. The rest are more attributed to the one freak high game each season sees from a wide range of receivers.

Receiver consistency is a coveted, valuable asset and there is very little when you consider how many receivers there are to take into account. This report is useful really only with the highest ranked players that are able to show more than once or twice that they truly are the ones that defenses fear.

As with most such analysis, of all positions it is receivers that are hardest to forecast and even their previous numbers are not terribly revealing nor all that predictive outside the top players.

Next up - tight ends!