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Repeatability - Wide Receivers
David Dorey
August 15, 2006
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Kickers

Wide receivers are commonly considered to be among the least likely to repeat and for a good reason - every NFL team uses at least two or three in their scheme if not more. From a sheer volume of players standpoint, repeating would be challenging. As the analysis will show - that's pretty correct for the most part.

All player listings to follow were created using the standard performance scoring as seen on The Huddle statistics. Receivers were scored at 1/10 yardage and six point touchdowns.

  2001 Pts 2002 Pts 2003 Pts 2004 Pts 2004 Pts
1 M Harrison 233 M Harrison 234 R Moss 261 M Muhammad 229 S Smith 236
2 T Owens 233 H Ward 218 T Holt 237 J Horn 203 L Fitzgerald 203
3 D Boston 205 T Owens 217 C Johnson 187 J Walker 203 S Moss 202
4 R Smith 199 E Moulds 182 A Boldin 182 T Owens 198 C Johnson 198
5 R Moss 179 R Moss 177 M Harrison 181 M Harrison 194 J Galloway 188
6 J Smith 178 A Toomer 176 H Ward 176 T Holt 192 T Holt 187
 
7 J Horn 174 P Price 172 S Moss 172 D Bennett 188 C Chambers 186
8 T Holt 170 J Horn 169 D Mason 169 R Wayne 185 M Harrison 186
9 T Brown 166 P Burress 169 D Jackson 161 C Johnson 177 A Boldin 185
10 D Mason 162 D Driver 161 C Chambers 159 D Driver 170 P Burress 163
11 J Rice 160 J Rice 159 K McCardell 158 B Stokley 161 H Ward 163
12 C Conway 158 L Coles 156 T Owens 158 D Jackson 158 T Glenn 161
 
13 K Johnson 158 K Robinson 152 L Coles 153 I Bruce 157 D Driver 152
14 T Brown 151 M Booker 151 J Horn 152 M Clayton 157 Houshmandzadeh 147
15 M Booker 150 T Holt 148 S Smith 148 N Burleson 156 R Moss 147
16 D Jackson 149 I Bruce 145 P Warrick 135 E Kennison 154 R Smith 146
17 K McCardell 142 C Johnson 142 A Toomer 130 D Mason 152 K McCardell 145
18 Q Ismail 141 J Smith 141 D Boston 127 R Smith 152 E Kennison 144
19 B Schroeder 141 R Gardner 141 I Bruce 126 R Moss 151 J Smith 138
20 I Bruce 140 Q Morgan 137 J Walker 119 J Porter 147 D Stallworth 135
21 J Morton 135 K Johnson 136 R Wayne 119 A Lelie 145 R Wayne 135
22 L Coles 135 C Conway 128 J McCareins 118 A Johnson 144 D Branch 129
23 P Price 134 R Smith 126 A Johnson 114 J Smith 144 J Jurevicius 128
24 J Thrash 130 J Galloway 125 E Kennison 110 L Evans 140 D Mason 124
The Following season: Remained Top 6 Became 7-12 Became 13-24 Not in next Top 24

Top 6 became Avg. 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Top 6 3 4 3 3 2 1
7 to 12 1 1 0 0 1 1
13 - 24 1 0 2 1 1 0
Duds 2 1 1 2 2 4
7 to 12 became Avg. 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Top 6 1 1 0 0 1 1
7 to 12 1 2 2 0 0 0
13 - 24 2 1 2 3 2 2
Duds 3 2 2 3 3 3
Top 12 was: Avg. 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Top 6 3 5 3 4 3 2
7 to 12 1 3 2 0 0 1
13 - 24 2 1 4 2 2 0
24+ 6 3 3 6 7 9

Those Top 6 each season are true difference makers and quite often reside on the rosters of the league champion. There's just a tremendous advantage to having high scoring receivers when so many are grouped in the middle. From the numbers, there are usually half of the players that return to the Top 6 the next season - one of the highest in any position... at least until last year. Amazingly, four of the previous top six players - Horn, Walker, Owens and Muhammad - tumbled to less than 24th though mostly because of injury which is relatively rare for the position to be so hard hit.

The 7 to 12 range, quite on the other hand, has been one of the most unproductive areas since on the average season 5 of the 6 players will drop from the previous season. That's something to remember and a reason to grab either a top 6 wideout or wait a bit for the next tier.

Looking backwards, The Top 12 comes from all over. More players come from the 24+ range than any of the other three higher tiers from the previous season. In particular, the last three years have witnessed an unprecedented amount of "sleepers" turning in great years that well exceeded expectations. Quite often they were born of some particular team situation that game them a much higher volume of passes than the offense would typically allow. Just as notable is that no wideout from the 7 to 12 range over the last three seasons has returned to the Top 7 to 12 the next year.

  Repeat Reliability 2002 2003 2004 2005
1 T Holt 15 2 6 6
2 C Johnson 17 3 9 4
3 M Harrison 1 4 5 8
4 S Smith 43 15 na 1
5 R Moss 5 1 19 15
6 J Walker   25 2 na
7 S Moss 65 7 33 3
8 C Chambers 49 12 25 7
9 H Ward 2 6 28 11
10 R Wayne 50 19 7 21
11 T Owens 3 11 4 32
12 D Mason 26 9 17 24
13 R Smith 23 27 15 16
14 J Smith 18 24 20 19
15 T Houshmandzadeh 84 na 31 14
16 E Kennison 37 32 18 18
17 J Horn 8 13 3 55
18 A Boldin   5 58 9
19 M Muhammad 42 37 1 37
20 P Burress 9 23 43 10
21 K Johnson 21 23 27 28
22 L Evans     24 29
23 D Jackson 32 8 14 60
24 L Coles 12 14 39 31
25 D Driver 10 62 10 13
26 I Bruce 16 18 13 56
24 R Williams     29 30
28 D Bennett 73 44 8 38
29 A Johnson   30 22 48
30 E Moulds 4 40 26 35
31 A Toomer 6 16 53 34
32 D Stallworth 38 49 35 20
33 K McCardell 46 10 84 17
34 J Galloway 24 54 55 5
35 D Branch 69 41 57 22
36 T Glenn 52 34 77 12
37 J Porter 27 82 21 25

 

Top 12
Wide Receiver Repeatability
50% - 0%

Though the names change frequently at the top, the receivers still ended up with the previous Top 12 yielding 5 of the next Top 12. But the reality here is that if you remove Harrison, Owens, Moss, Holt and Chad Johnson from the equation, the chance that a Top 12 receiver repeats to the Top 12 the following year is almost zero. There were only two players (Ward and Rod Smith) that have managed to do that once in the last five years. The reality is that you do need two or three receivers for starters so there is no sense in waiting too long, but the chance you will get a truly difference making receiver after the top six are taken is actually negligible.