If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you know all about the in-depth, unique statistics we provide you with right here at Profootballfocus.com. One of those items is target distribution data for each offensive player. When it comes to charting a pass play, one of the PFF analysts jobs is to chart how far away from the quarterback the receiver is when he is targeted. Additionally, the game charter will consider if the ball was caught, how much yardage was accrued when the ball was caught, how much yardage was accrued after the catch, if a touchdown was scored, if the ball was intercepted, if the ball was dropped, etc.
A majority of that data can be found at other sites, but the main one that can’t is the target location information. Today, I will be investigating and comparing the 42 most heavily targeted wide receivers from 2010 (42 is attained by including only those wide receivers with 90+ targets in 2010, including playoffs). A handful of tight ends accrued 90 or more targets in 2010, but for the purposes of this article, we will only focus on the wide receivers.
20+ yard targets
|42 player Average||NFL||18%|
The top 5 most targeted are anything but shocking. Mike Wallace and DeSean Jackson are known for their ridiculous yards-per-reception marks, which are a byproduct of many long receptions. The Jets are a run heavy team, but Mark Sanchez wasn’t afraid to chuck it down field to Braylon Edwards when he did throw. There was a bit of a dropoff from four to five, but the Kyle Orton-to-Brandon Lloyd connection was one of long distance passes. The most interesting tidbit from this list of 10 players is the comparison between Calvin Johnson (2nd highest) and Roddy White (4th lowest). Both are among the league’s most talented and productive wide receivers, but they do it different ways.
Focusing on the wide receivers who aren’t targeted deep very often, Wes Welker is the catalyst. We know he is used primarily in underneath routes, but a whopping 97.6% of his targets are within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage. Danny Amendola was a favorite target of Sam Bradford, who threw short passes more than any other quarterback in 2010. Davone Bess and Lance Moore played similar roles for Chad Henne and Drew Brees, respectively.
10-19 yard targets
|42 player Average||NFL||30%|
This list really shows how heavily Brandon Lloyd was targeted down field. Some additional math shows that 76% of his targets were 10+ yards down field, which is quite high when you consider that the average is right around 48%. Teammates Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens both landed in the top 4, which is quite impressive for teammates and really shows how much Carson Palmer likes that 10-19 zone. Near 44% of the passes Palmer threw to Ochocinco/Owens were in this range. While Lance Moore is busy being targeted a few yards in front of Brees, Saints slot man Colston is busy in the 10-19 range.
On the flip side, just 17% of Danny Amendola’s targets are 10+ yards down field, 13% of which are in the 10-19 range. Mike Thomas acts as a possession receiver that David Garrard likes to use closer to the line of scrimmage. Similarly, Mike Williams and Wes Welker are among the most heavily targeted players by their respective teams, but most of that comes in the 0-9 range. A receiving and rushing threat, Percy Harvin spends most of his time closer to the quarterback.
0-9 yard targets
|42 player Average||NFL||45%|
|40||Mike A. Williams||TB||33%|
Although I list five names in the “most” list, three of them really stick out. Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, and Davone Bess are well known as heavily-utilized underneath targets and the numbers are further evidence. After the “big 3”, aforementioned Mike Williams and Lance Moore show up with nearly 60% of their targets in the 0-9 range.
The players targeted least often in the 0-9 zone are generally used as down field weapons, but Hines Ward also slips onto the list. Ward, who will show up again in the next group, is as balanced as can be across the three zones closest to the quarterback. Considering the previous commentary on Lloyd, it should be no surprise that he’s dead last on this list. Only one-third of passes to Mike A. Williams (TB), Mike Wallace, and Derrick Mason were in the 0-9 range.
Targets behind the line of scrimmage
|42 player Average||NFL||7%|
40th out of 42 in terms of overall targets, Eddie Royal barely made the list. Still, he’s on it and leads the group as the most targeted wide receiver behind the line of scrimmage. Interestingly, the Broncos have Brandon Lloyd being targeted more than anyone 10+ yards down field and Royal targeted more than anyone in the backfield. You awake, 2011 opposing cornerbacks? Considering my previous comments on the two, Danny Amendola and especially Percy Harvin fit the bill here. Hines Ward is one that jumped off the page a bit, but, as mentioned, he had balls thrown to him all over the place between the backfield and 19 yards down field in 2010. Mike Thomas spent many games as the Jaguars #1 option at wide receiver in 2010, which makes him a bit of a surprise, but this certainly shows that they wanted to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.
With Brandon Lloyd being the clear exception, we have a relatively fresh group of faces in the low department. In fact, we could even add Braylon Edwards at 37 and we’d have the only six qualified wide receivers who were targeted behind the line of scrimmage less than 1% of the time. Miles Austin, Dwayne Bowe, and Marques Colston were targeted only once in this zone. Johnny Knox is the only wide receiver of the 42 that did not see at least 1 target behind the line of scrimmage.
The complete list of eligible players:
|Rk||Player||Team||20+||10 to 19||0 to 9||<0|
|18||Mike A. Williams||TB||26%||34%||33%||7%|