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2010 Primary Wide Receivers Report
David Dorey
August 23, 2010
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The RBBC review is always popular and has prompted calls for a similar review of wide receivers. The position is always the least consistent so learning how teams use their primary wideout can help make important decisions on valuing players. A primary wideout is a receiver who gets the most amount of pass targets thrown to him in a game. So in a similar vein to the running backs, I did some crunching to see which players were the primary wideout in each of their games. WIth some teams it was a constantly changing job. For others, it was always the same. For most, about a split between the starting split end and flanker.

Arizona Cardinals Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Larry Fitzgerald 9 11.9 45% 85 41% 7.3 0.8
Anquan Boldin 7 9.6 39% 76 38% 6.6 0

This will be changing this year. The fact that Boldin and Fitzgerald almost split games as the primary wideout shows just how many passes are likely to go Fitz's way. The offense will be more balanced and throw fewer passes (and probably not as well) but now Fitzgerald stands pretty much alone. Steve Breaston has talent, but in a more traditional attack, Fitzgerald should end up with 16 games of being the primary wideout.

Atlanta Falcons Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Roddy White 15 10.5 55% 75 56% 5.4 0.7
Michael Jenkins 1 8 36% 78 55% 5 0

No confusion who the top dog is in Atlanta. White gets nearly 11 passes per game with over five catches. Nice stats considering the injuries to Atlanta last year. A full season of an experienced Matt Ryan is sure to net even more fantasy points with no other receiver to challenge White for the ball.

Baltimore Ravens Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Derrick Mason 12 9.8 54% 79 59% 5.3 0.5
Mark Clayton 2 7 58% 26 43% 2 0
Kelley Washington 2 5 37% 58 49% 4 0.5

Mason has been the primary in Baltimore for several seasons but Anquan Boldin is expected to take that role for 2010. It will be interesting to see if that actually happens or if Mason and Boldin split games as the primary. Mason has been good for over half the throws so far and he's still playing. Boldin may not take as big of a chunk as first look might suggest.

Buffalo Bills Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Terrell Owens 10 7.9 49% 63 54% 4 0.4
Lee Evans 4 8 51% 52 50% 3.5 0.5
Josh Reed 2 7 40% 62 56% 5 0

New offense this year will change the rations and more importantly, Terrell Owens is gone. That has to translate into a bigger year for Lee Evans who had 63 catches for 1017 yards in 2008. The Bills are opting to start Steve Johnson who has almost zero NFL experience so Evans should be a very clear primary target for 2010. And the Bills are going to need to throw.

Carolina Panthers Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Steve Smith 11 9.5 57% 69 55% 4.5 0.4
Muhsin Muhammad 5 8.8 57% 59 46% 5.4 0

The interesting part of the above stats is that three of the five times that Muhammad was the primary wideout was during the five times that Matt Moore took the start for the Panthers. Muhammad is gone and that should spark more looks for Smith unless one of the rookies really exceeds expectations. It is slightly bothersome that Moore would use Muhammad more than Smith in most of his starts and that's not encouraging for Smith who needs to have a bounce back sort of season.

Chicago Bears Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Devin Hester 7 10 47% 72 44% 6.1 0.3
Devin Aromashodu 4 9.8 46% 71 41% 5.5 1
Earl Bennett 3 7.3 48% 51 35% 4 0.3
Johnny Knox 2 8.5 56% 51 50% 5.5 0.5

With the new offensive coordinator of Mike Martz, the above spread might happen again. His offenses are typically predicated on using multiple receiver sets and not honing in on a single player. Johnny Knox has been the darling of the preseason but his strength has been speed and separation, not possession-style catches over the middle where most primary wideouts ply their trade. This offense will all but guaranteed have shifting primary wideouts and not have any exceed 50% of the wideout pass targets in a game.

Cincinnati Bengals Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Chad Ochocinco 9 9.2 49% 64 44% 5 0.9
Andre Caldwell 4 7.8 39% 42 23% 5 0
Laveranues Coles 3 9 43% 54 41% 4.3 0

The above is mildly surprising given that Carson Palmer was healthy all year and neither Andre Caldwell nor Laveranues Coles were contributors of any note. Now this mix has added Terrell Owens and drafted an elite pass catching tight end in Jermaine Gresham. That suggests less work for Ochocinco because there are only so many passes that will be thrown. Palmer spreads the ball around pretty well and now has more viable targets. Owens in particular has been a pass magnet on all his previous teams.

Cleveland Browns Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Mohamed Massaquoi 10 7.4 52% 55 71% 2.9 0.3
Mike Furrey 3 7.3 41% 33 43% 4.7 0
Chansi Stuckey 2 6.5 41% 43 74% 4.5 0
Braylon Edwards 1 7 35% 92 79% 6 0

This team will remain with meager numbers if only because of the quarterback and offensive line situations. Mohamed Massaquoi is a clear primary target but even then he had less than three catches in those games. Being the primary wideout in Cleveland is sort of like having the best mullet at the tractor pull. Sure, people smile and nod but they are not saying nice things in private.

Dallas Cowboys Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Miles Austin 11 9.8 51% 103 59% 6.5 0.7
Roy Williams 4 7.5 48% 78 42% 4 0.3
Patrick Crayton 1 7 50% 4 8% 1 0

Austin was almost invisible for the first four games so once he got into gear he was definitely the main target. He averaged 103 yards in those games but that 51% of the pass targets that he commanded is going to dip. The addition of Dez Bryant is destined to have at least some effect on Austin's numbers but barring a dramatic showing by the rookie, Austin remains a very safe fantasy pick if only because he has such good yards per catch.

Denver Broncos Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Brandon Marshall 12 10.7 50% 83 55% 7.3 0.7
Jabar Gaffney 2 14 43% 134 55% 8.5 0
Eddie Royal 2 12 38% 55 26% 6.5 0

The departure of Brandon Marshall puts a huge spin on this year and so far Demaryius Thomas has not spawned optimism that he'll just step in and replace Marshall 1:1. The offense remains the same and Eddie Royal gets a chance to redeem himself from a very poor sophomore season. But the above stats more suggest that Gaffney stands in line to become the new primary wideout. But the loss of a perpetual 100-catch machine like Marshall makes it very hard to forecast.

Detroit Lions Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Calvin Johnson 11 11.1 58% 82 64% 5.3 0.5
Bryant Johnson 3 9 50% 42 55% 2.7 0.3
Dennis Northcutt 2 7.5 41% 60 53% 5.5 0.5

The split on primary receivers is mostly because Johnson missed two games last year and was still injured in a couple of others. There is no confusion where the ball needs to go and Johnson had 58% of the wide receiver throws when healthy. The Lions brought in Nate Burleson to replace the ineffective Bryant Johnson but that won't change the fact that the passing game is all about getting "the freak" as many passes as they can.

Green Bay Packers Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Greg Jennings 10 8.4 42% 83 51% 5 0.4
Donald Driver 6 7.7 40% 94 48% 5.7 0.5

Aaron Rodgers was prolific last year and as a good sign (for him anyway), he did not rely much on any one player. Even Greg Jennings never had more than 42% of the wideout passes and that's even less considering the emergence of Jermichael Finley. There is no true primary receiver here by design and that's not likely to change.

Houston Texans Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Andre Johnson 15 10.9 50% 99 51% 6.5 0.6
Kevin Walter 1 7 33% 96 44% 7 1

Andre Johnson not only was the lead wideout, he averaged almost 100 yards in each of 15 games. He and Roddy White were the only receivers with 15 games as the primary wideout.

Indianapolis Colts Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Reggie Wayne 11 10.4 47% 96 53% 7.3 0.7
Pierre Garcon 3 8.7 40% 79 47% 4.3 0.3
Austin Collie 2 8 43% 96 62% 7 1

Reggie Wayne is the main wideout but still doesn't get 50% of the wideout passes and remember Dallas Clark is also taking a big share of Manning's throws. The bigger surprise here was that Austin Collie had two games where he averaged 96 yards and seven catches as the primary wideout and he'll remain in the slot this year. Wayne will always be the main receiver, but others do get their share of work.

Jacksonville Jaguars Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Mike Sims-Walker 9 8.9 45% 62 40% 5 0.6
Torry Holt 4 9 51% 61 46% 5 0
Mike Thomas 3 7.3 46% 59 57% 5.7 0

Mike Sims-Walker was the main primary and Torry Holt is gone. But Mike Thomas is an up-and-comer this year who was impressive as a rookie. And in the end even the primary wide receiver usually only had five receptions. WIth Thomas expected to "take another step", Sims-Walker may see fewer passes.

Kansas City Chiefs Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Dwayne Bowe 5 11.4 49% 78 49% 6 0.2
Chris Chambers 4 7.8 40% 80 56% 5 0.3
Bobby Wade 3 9.7 45% 58 55% 4.7 0
Mark Bradley 2 5.5 45% 51 56% 4 0.5
Lance Long 1 11 38% 74 32% 8 0
Bobby Engram 1 5 26% 30 44% 2 0

This is scary. Not only did the Chiefs constantly feature a different primary wideout in most games, none of them ever had more than 49% of the passes. And now, Chris Chambers is in the system from the start and the Chiefs are using Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator. The same Weis that spent years in New England never having any primary receiver. The only consistency of Weis wideouts was that they never had a big game two weeks in a row. Chances are best that 2010 will see the ball spread around just as much as last year. His five seasons in New England had four different players as the lead wideout and only Troy Brown doubled up.

Miami Dolphins Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Davone Bess 9 8.7 44% 63 51% 6 0.2
Greg Camarillo 4 6.3 36% 58 40% 4.8 0
Ted Ginn Jr. 2 12 48% 62 36% 6.5 0
Brian Hartline 1 7 37% 31 37% 3 1

Same offense this year but this time there will be a wide receiver that you have heard of before. Brandon Marshall comes over from Denver after stringing three years of 100 catches and the Fins are not expecting him to just neatly fold into the committee from 2009. Marshall puts an entirely new slant on this offense and what should be a 16-game primary wideout.

Minnesota Vikings Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Sidney Rice 8 9.9 44% 107 51% 6.5 0.5
Bernard Berrian 5 7.2 41% 48 31% 4.4 0.2
Percy Harvin 3 7 43% 60 48% 5 0.7

Brett Favre has signed on for another year but he spent 2009 spreading the love around. Sidney Rice enjoyed a breakout season and was the most common primary wideout but Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin combined for eight games as well. When Rice led the way, he averaged 107 yards and nearly seven catches. That was almost twice the yards and a couple of catches more than the other two. No reason to expect any change this year.

New England Patriots Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Wes Welker 9 12.7 55% 115 55% 9.6 0.4
Randy Moss 4 14.8 50% 146 64% 9.3 0.8
Julian Edelman 2 15.5 49% 101 54% 9 0
Sam Aiken 1 10 36% 90 48% 7 0

No matter what - you want to be a primary receiver for the Patriots. They always had 90 yards or more and caught nine passes in almost every case. The injury to Wes Welker seemed to give Randy Moss more targets this year but Welker has shown up apparently no worse for wear a short eight months later. This offense passes a lot and while the primary receiver changes, it's like dividing up a treasure chest each week.

New Orleans Saints Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Marques Colston 10 7.8 46% 81 52% 5.7 0.6
Robert Meachem 4 7.8 45% 80 39% 5 0.8
Devery Henderson 2 7 54% 88 54% 4.5 0.5

Another big passing attack but unlike the Patriots who really focused on just Welker and Moss, the Saints would only have less than eight passes thrown to a primary receiver and just five catches by them. This is a more diverse attack and the busiest wideout each week really isn't that busy compared to the rest of the league.

New York Giants Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Steve Smith 12 10.5 48% 74 43% 7.2 0.5
Mario Manningham 3 10.7 37% 109 38% 6.7 0.7
Hakeem Nicks 1 6 43% 49 30% 4 1

This is another diverse passing attack though we never saw it coming. Smith had a big breakout in 2010 with 107 catches which was more than Manningham and Nicks combined. After mid-season, Smith was the primary wideout in all but one game. With Nicks sure to see his role expanded, Smith may have a decline from last year but this remains a diverse passing attack with three viable alternatives.

New York Jets Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Braylon Edwards 7 7 51% 54 51% 3.6 0.4
Jerricho Cotchery 6 8.8 52% 74 69% 5 0.5
Chansi Stuckey 2 7.5 50% 51 36% 4 0.5
David Clowney 1 5 56% 79 69% 4 1

Mark Sanchez commandeered the least productive passing attack of 2009 but there are reasons to expect that to change. Not only does Sanchez have a year of the NFL under his belt, but the Jets added Santonio Holmes. Braylon Edwards also gets his first training camp with Sanchez. So while the primary receiver here always changed and never accounted for more than five receptions in a game, things are due to change. How Holmes fits in remains to be seen but this unit has no where to go but up.

Oakland Raiders Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Louis Murphy 7 6.6 50% 33 64% 2.3 0.1
Chaz Schilens 4 8.5 40% 58 46% 4.8 0.3
Johnnie Lee Higgins 4 5.5 39% 36 41% 3 0
Darrius Heyward-Bey 1 6 40% 7 9% 1 0

Okay. So someone had to make the Jets passing look good. Erase the chalkboard since JaMarcus "Baby Huey" Russell is gone and Jason Campbell offers the Raiders a chance to see what an actual NFL quarterback can do. The wide receivers are all untested in the NFL because this year they will receive catchable passes.

Philadelphia Eagles Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
DeSean Jackson 9 9.4 46% 105 57% 5.4 0.7
Jeremy Maclin 7 7.9 49% 76 52% 4.7 0.3

Donovan McNabb may be with the Redskins now but the system and receivers remain in place. Kevin Kolb takes the reins and should keep the chains moving. The same ratios should continue in this two man receiver attack. About half the time it is Jackson with more targets and the other Maclin. With very low sharing outside the two, both are fantasy relevant despite being the primary about half the time for each.

Pittsburgh Steelers Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Santonio Holmes 8 11 49% 95 56% 6 0.5
Hines Ward 7 10.9 50% 102 44% 7.9 0.7
Mike Wallace 1 8 40% 102 49% 7 0

The departure of Santonio Holmes will put a new slant on this offense but Mike Wallace is expected to step in and step up for no real change. Using Byron Leftwich for the first four weeks could change the primary wideout but Hines Ward should be the most common target unless Wallace can improve from the start. The primary here has usually done pretty will with games around 100 yards. The stats could even go up this year with a tough schedule and Wallace becomes the split end instead of siphoning off catches as the slot receiver.

San Diego Chargers Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Vincent Jackson 10 7.7 53% 79 54% 4.7 0.4
Malcom Floyd 4 8.3 45% 69 44% 4.5 0
Chris Chambers 2 9 44% 35 24% 3 0.5

The suspension and apparently looming holdout by Vincent Jackson means that Malcolm Floyd is at least in line for a major increase in workload if not taking over the primary job for the rest of the season. Chris Chambers is gone and Vincent Jackson is trying to be as well. Legedu Naanee may also be far busier but Floyd appears to be in line for the primary role that's been worth about five catches for 80 yards per week.

Seattle Seahawks Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Nate Burleson 8 9.6 45% 81 52% 6.3 0.4
T.J. Houshmandzadeh 5 10 39% 74 43% 5.4 0
Deion Branch 3 9 40% 53 39% 4.3 0

This could be an ever-changing depth chart for the entire season. Burleson is gone and both Houshmandzadeh and Branch are coming off injuries. Deon Butler and the rookie Golden Tate are looking sharp and will challenge for playing time if not actual starting roles. This USC-style offense is being imported in by HC Pete Carroll and OC Jeremy Bates and has to wade through receivers for a while before they can be sure about settling down. The changing roles will produce numerous primary wideouts along the way.

San Francisco 49ers Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Michael Crabtree 9 8.2 49% 59 55% 4.4 0.2
Josh Morgan 4 7 48% 50 60% 4.3 0.5
Isaac Bruce 3 7 66% 49 66% 3.3 0

Michael Crabtree was holding out for the first five weeks of 2009 so it was immediately apparent where Alex Smith was trying to force the ball when he looked at the wide receivers. It's very likely that Crabtree will have most if not all the games of being the primary wideout. He has plenty of room to grow of course and Smith will see to it to feed the second-year receiver. Vernon Davis is probably the only reason not to expect Crabtree to double last season's totals.

St. Louis Rams Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Brandon Gibson 4 11 47% 54 43% 5.3 0
Donnie Avery 4 6.3 41% 30 42% 3.3 0
Keenan Burton 3 7 39% 44 45% 5 0
Danny Amendola 3 8 35% 44 32% 6 0
Laurent Robinson 2 9.5 47% 71 60% 5.5 0.5

A rookie quarterback in Sam Bradford and a shaky offensive line is enough to make forecasting the wideouts here to be a study in futility. Last year saw the receivers decimated by injury but those left behind did not fare much better or worse. As a shining example of how little fantasy value there is here, only Laurent Robinson actually scored a touchdown in a game where he was the primary wideout and he only had one. Chances are this remains a mess regardless if they stay healthy or not.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Antonio Bryant 7 7.4 54% 46 48% 3.1 0.4
Sammie Stroughter 3 5.7 42% 43 42% 3.3 0
Maurice Stovall 3 6 39% 58 64% 3.3 0.3
Michael Clayton 2 10 38% 59 38% 4 0
Brian Clark 1 7 41% 20 39% 3 0

The primary wideout for the Buccaneers never had more than four catches in a game - pretty sad. Antonio Bryant is gone and the shelves with stocked with youthful upsiders of Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn who will likely end up as the starters and Sammie Stroughter heads to the slot. Tilling the soil was a good idea judging by the results from 2009. With any luck, the Bucs will just stick with Benn and Williams for the bulk of work and allow one of them to be a meaningful primary wideout.

Tennessee Titans Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Nate Washington 6 7.8 47% 53 40% 4.2 0.5
Justin Gage 5 8.2 52% 52 44% 3.8 0.2
Kenny Britt 5 6 47% 48 43% 2.8 0.4

While the newest iteration of Vince Young is much improved, the wideouts have only seen a marginal increase in workload and nearly split the games perfectly between the three main wideouts. But only catching four or less passes in a game means minimal fantasy value just like the first time Young was the starter.

Washington Redskins Gms Targets Target % Yards % of Yards Catches TDs
Santana Moss 13 8.1 45% 66 51% 4.8 0.2
Antwaan Randle El 2 6.5 45% 72 65% 5 0
Malcolm Kelly 1 6 30% 41 36% 4 0

Bringing in Donovan McNabb should help this unit but the same wideouts remain other than aged Joey Galloway who may be a starter because neither Devin Thomas nor Malcolm Kelly has shown enough to merit a starting gig. The new "Denver-style" offense ushered in by Shanahan & Shanahan should be a bit more productive and make heavier use of the starting wideouts but there is limited expectations that these are the guys that are going to ignite the Redskins offense.


As much as we think certain players are the primary wide receiver, none managed to go sixteen full games always getting the most amount of passing targets. It's also interesting to see the teams that only rely on two wideouts compared to others that have multiple primary wideouts seemingly with a new one each week. Below are the wideouts at the top of the categories.

In Games where they were the Primary Wide Receiver...
Most Games Most Targets Highest % Targets among WRs Most Catches
Roddy White 15 Randy Moss 14.8 Calvin Johnson 58% Wes Welker 9.6
Andre Johnson 15 Wes Welker 12.7 Steve Smith CAR 57% Randy Moss 9.3
Santana Moss 13 Larry Fitzgerald 11.9 Muhsin Muhammad 57% Hines Ward 7.9
Derrick Mason 12 Dwayne Bowe 11.4 Wes Welker 55% Larry Fitzgerald 7.3
Brandon Marshall 12 Calvin Johnson 11.1 Roddy White 55% Reggie Wayne 7.3
Steve Smith NYG 12 Santonio Holmes 11.0 Derrick Mason 54% Brandon Marshall 7.3
Calvin Johnson 11 Andre Johnson 10.9 Antonio Bryant 54% Steve Smith NYG 7.2
Steve Smith CAR 11 Hines Ward 10.9 Vincent Jackson 53% Anquan Boldin 6.6
Miles Austin 11 Brandon Marshall 10.7 Mohamed Massaquoi 52% Miles Austin 6.5
Reggie Wayne 11 Roddy White 10.5 Jerricho Cotchery 52% Sidney Rice 6.5
    Steve Smith NYG 10.5 Justin Gage 52% Andre Johnson 6.5

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