Fantasy: 2010 Wide Receiver Normalization

| May 25, 2011

Continuing my series on the normalization of 2010 player stats, today I’ll be looking at the league’s wide receivers.

I normalized each wide receiver who had accrued at least 20 targets during the 2010 season, including the playoffs. I used 2 factors in the normalization process: team and opponent. The normalization process is long and rigorous, but I’ll do my best to explain what I did.

The ‘team’ aspect involves how the rest of a player’s team fared in the receiving department. By removing a wide receiver’s stats from his team’s receiving stats, we can see what kind of role the wide receiver in question had by comparing his stats to the entire rest of the team. For example, let’s say we remove a player with a 55% catch rate from his team, resulting in a team catch rate of 70%. That mark of 70%  is still 5% above the league average 65% catch rate. Clearly, this is a team that completes passes at a rate well above league average. Despite this, however, our player has a poor catch rate. Had he been on a league average squad instead, his rate would’ve been even lower. If we normalize our player in question to a league average team, his catch rate drops to 50% (55% – 5%).

The ‘opponent’ aspect is a little bit easier to understand, but it also makes less of an impact. What I’m doing here is studying each player’s schedule and normalizing their stats so that they reflect a league average opponent each week of the season. The reason this aspect makes less of impact is because, over 16 games, most players will see enough easy games to offset the tough ones.

For both factors, I find the impact on each player’s Yards-Per-Reception, Touchdown Rate, and Catch Rate. The results are applied to the player’s actual 2010 target numbers, leaving us with the results.

Better than the numbers

Larry Fitzgerald – Cardinals

Fitzgerald is the clear leader here. Not only did the Cardinals poor pass offense hold him back, he also had a tougher-than-average schedule. Put him on a league average team against a league average schedule and he’d have racked up a ridiculous 20 more receptions, 323 yards, and 8 Touchdowns, which works out to 99 PPR Fantasy points. Think that’s a bit much? Consider that his normalized YPR (13.3), TD% (12.6%), and Catch% (65%) are all below his 2-year average from the 2008-2009 seasons: YPR (13.7), TD% (14.5%), Catch% (67%). Fitzgerald was much better statistically in 2010 than most realize. Expect a huge 2011 season if the team improves at the quarterback position.

Steve Breaston – Cardinals

Breaston didn’t even play the entire season, but still ranks #2 on this list. The Cardinals offense cost him a whopping 12% in the catch rate department and his YPR and TD rate suffered, as well. His normalized numbers look much closer to the 13.5 YPR/6.1% TD%/70% Catch% he put up in 2009.

Percy Harvin – Vikings

Third up is Percy Harvin who, much like Breaston, actually missed a handful of games in 2010. The area Harvin suffered the most was touchdowns. In an average offense, he would’ve seen a boost of 3 scores to a total of 8. Additionally, the Vikings struggles cost him 4 catches and 125 yards. Interestingly, his normalized numbers trump what he did during his rookie season, which tells us that he was much better in year 2 despite playing in a worse offense.

Roddy White – Falcons

Already one of fantasy’s top scoring wide receivers in 2010, White was actually better than his numbers indicate. The reason for this is the very limited passing game that the Falcons offense utilized in 2010. Had the Falcons thrown down field more often, White would’ve seen a better YPR mark than the below-average 12.0 he put up. With a normalized rate of 14.2, White would’ve seen 265 more receiving yards to go with an additional touchdown.

Steve Johnson – Bills

Rounding out our top 5 is 2010 breakout Steve Johnson. Similar to White, it’s probably a bit shocking to see a guy who was so good in 2010 so high on this list, but when you’re seeing over 100 targets in an offense that is limiting your abilities, you’re bound to lose a ton of fantasy points. The Bills offense and a tough schedule cost Johnson 6 catches, 148 yards, and a pair of scores. Johnson has the looks of anything but a one-year wonder.

Worse than the numbers

Wes Welker – Patriots

Despite playing in one of the league’s most efficient offenses, Welker managed a TD rate of just 7.5%. Normally, that is a decent rate for a wide receiver, but his teammates combined for a mark of 12%. His normalized rate drops to 2.8%, which, combined with a 1.2 drop in YPR, does some serious damage to his fantasy production. On an average team with an average schedule, Welker would drop 36 fantasy points, the most in the league.

Greg Jennings – Packers

Number two on the list is the Packers top receiver in Greg Jennings. Because Aaron Rodgers is his quarterback and maintains a high completion percentage, Jennings’ 63% catch rate is good, but not good enough. He’d see a 6% drop on a league average squad. That, coupled with a slight increase in YPR and decrease in TD rate, results in 9 fewer receptions,110 more yards, and 2 fewer scores when normalized.

Mike A. Williams – Buccaneers

Interestingly, the already impressive YPR (14.9) and TD rate (17.2%) numbers we saw from Williams in 2010 actually increase when we normalize. Unfortunately for his fantasy value, a poor catch rate does him in. Williams caught 52% of his targets, while his teammates combined to haul in an impressive 73%. On an average team, his catch% drops to a very unimpressive 43%. This costs him 11 receptions, 114 yards, and 1 score.

Malcom Floyd – Chargers

Considering the ridiculously high TD rate and yardage numbers we see from the Philip Rivers-led Chargers pass offense these days, it should be no surprise that a Chargers wide out made this list. On a league average team, Floyd would suffer a 2.0 drop in YPR, 2.4% drop in TD rate, and a 6% decrease in catch rate. The only reason Floyd isn’t first on this list is that he saw just 74 targets, which is close to half of what the three players ahead of him saw.

Donald Driver – Packers

Next up, we have yet another wide receiver from Green Bay. In fact, notice that James Jones comes in 6th and Jordy Nelson is 11th. The Packers wide receivers are clearly fortunate to have a quarterback as good as Aaron Rodgers throwing them the ball. Driver already had a relatively low 11.3 YPR, but normalization drops him to 10.5. He also drops 2.2% to 4.0% in the TD rate department and sees his catch rate fall from an above-average 65% to a very average 60%. All in all, it costs him 5 receptions, 102 yards, and 2 scores.

Remember, this is the impact on wide receivers had they played on a league average team against a league average schedule during the 2010 season. Many of these players will play in a similar offense in 2011 (eg. Welker) and we shouldn’t expect a dramatic change. However, where these numbers come into play is when the player sees a change in his offense. Reasons a player might see a change include, but are not limited to, a new offensive scheme/coach/coordinator (eg. Amendola), a new quarterback (eg. Fitzgerald), or a new team all together (eg. Floyd? Breaston? J Jones?). Should a player see one these dramatic changes, we can apply the details of his 2011 offense to his normalized 2010 stats. This would give us a better idea of what to expect going forward.

Complete Data

Min 20 Targets Actual Adjusted
Rk Player Targ YPR TD% Catch% Rec Yards TD YPR TD% Catch% Rec Yds TD
1 Larry Fitzgerald 168 12.6 6.7% 54% 90 1137 6 13.3 12.6% 65% 110 1460 14
2 Steve Breaston 82 15.3 2.1% 57% 47 718 1 16.1 5.3% 71% 58 936 3
3 Percy Harvin 104 12.3 7.0% 68% 71 871 5 13.2 11.0% 72% 75 996 8
4 Roddy White 176 12.0 9.1% 69% 121 1446 11 14.2 9.9% 69% 121 1711 12
5 Steve Johnson 139 13.1 12.2% 59% 82 1073 10 13.9 13.1% 63% 88 1221 12
6 Braylon Edwards 107 17.2 12.9% 58% 62 1068 8 18.5 14.3% 62% 67 1229 10
7 Steve L. Smith 87 12.0 4.3% 53% 46 552 2 13.8 8.7% 57% 49 679 4
8 Calvin Johnson 131 14.5 15.6% 59% 77 1120 12 16.9 18.0% 58% 76 1288 14
9 David Gettis 66 13.7 8.1% 56% 37 508 3 15.9 13.0% 59% 39 621 5
10 Mike Williams 127 11.3 6.8% 58% 74 834 5 12.1 9.7% 59% 75 908 7
11 Brandon LaFell 71 12.3 2.6% 54% 38 468 1 14.1 6.7% 56% 40 561 3
12 Santonio Holmes 108 14.3 13.1% 56% 61 873 8 14.8 14.4% 60% 65 961 9
13 Brandon Lloyd 147 18.8 14.3% 52% 77 1448 11 19.1 16.3% 54% 79 1514 13
14 Early Doucet 56 11.2 3.8% 46% 26 291 1 10.9 6.9% 58% 32 351 2
15 Danny Amendola 114 8.1 3.5% 75% 85 689 3 9.1 5.1% 76% 86 779 4
16 Andre Roberts 48 12.8 8.3% 50% 24 307 2 12.5 11.2% 61% 29 363 3
17 Brandon Stokley 57 11.9 4.7% 75% 43 512 2 12.9 7.3% 79% 45 585 3
18 Brandon Marshall 132 11.8 3.5% 65% 86 1014 3 12.6 5.4% 65% 86 1085 5
19 Ben Obomanu 65 15.5 10.3% 60% 39 605 4 16.7 13.2% 62% 40 675 5
20 Davone Bess 118 10.2 6.3% 68% 80 817 5 10.4 8.3% 68% 81 840 7
21 Nate Burleson 85 11.4 10.9% 65% 55 625 6 12.5 11.8% 66% 56 699 7
22 Brian Hartline 68 14.3 2.3% 63% 43 615 1 15.5 4.5% 63% 43 666 2
23 Kenny Britt 66 18.5 21.4% 64% 42 775 9 19.1 21.8% 66% 44 834 9
24 Brandon Gibson 86 11.7 3.8% 62% 53 620 2 13.5 5.9% 59% 51 686 3
25 Jerricho Cotchery 96 10.9 5.7% 55% 53 579 3 10.7 5.2% 60% 58 620 3
26 Deon Butler 69 10.7 11.1% 52% 36 385 4 10.8 12.9% 54% 37 403 5
27 Roscoe Parrish 50 11.9 6.1% 66% 33 392 2 12.2 5.6% 72% 36 440 2
28 Stephen Williams 23 11.2 0.0% 39% 9 101 0 11.2 3.7% 50% 11 129 0
29 Jordan Shipley 72 11.5 5.8% 72% 52 600 3 12.4 6.2% 73% 53 655 3
30 Anthony Armstrong 78 19.8 6.8% 56% 44 871 3 20.6 8.2% 57% 44 907 4
31 Brian Robiskie 49 10.7 10.3% 59% 29 310 3 11.8 14.6% 57% 28 329 4
32 Max Komar 22 9.8 0.0% 55% 12 118 0 9.6 2.9% 66% 14 138 0
33 Joshua Cribbs 36 12.7 4.3% 64% 23 292 1 14.3 8.0% 62% 22 320 2
34 Chansi Stuckey 57 8.7 0.0% 70% 40 347 0 9.2 2.5% 69% 39 363 1
35 Mark Clayton 38 13.3 8.7% 61% 23 306 2 14.4 11.7% 60% 23 332 3
36 David Nelson 47 11.4 9.7% 66% 31 353 3 11.5 8.9% 72% 34 389 3
37 Sidney Rice 39 16.5 11.8% 44% 17 280 2 17.5 14.0% 45% 18 308 2
38 Greg Camarillo 33 12.0 5.0% 61% 20 240 1 12.6 7.7% 63% 21 260 2
39 Jerome Simpson 25 13.9 15.0% 80% 20 277 3 15.2 16.3% 82% 21 312 3
40 Mike Wallace 118 18.8 15.1% 62% 73 1372 11 19.0 17.0% 61% 72 1368 12
41 Golden Tate 41 10.5 0.0% 54% 22 232 0 11.3 1.1% 57% 23 263 0
42 Randy Moss 63 14.0 17.9% 44% 28 393 5 14.1 18.5% 46% 29 414 5
43 Greg Lewis 34 11.6 0.0% 50% 17 197 0 12.3 2.9% 52% 18 218 1
44 Santana Moss 142 12.0 6.5% 65% 93 1115 6 11.2 7.5% 67% 96 1074 7
45 Jacoby Ford 50 18.8 8.0% 50% 25 470 2 18.3 9.1% 53% 26 483 2
46 Bernard Berrian 53 9.0 0.0% 53% 28 252 0 9.2 1.9% 54% 28 263 1
47 Lee Evans 78 15.6 10.8% 47% 37 578 4 16.1 10.4% 49% 38 615 4
48 Danario Alexander 33 15.3 5.0% 61% 20 306 1 16.8 7.0% 60% 20 333 1
49 Michael Jenkins 77 12.2 4.3% 61% 47 572 2 13.8 3.9% 60% 46 638 2
50 Michael Crabtree 92 13.5 10.9% 60% 55 741 6 12.0 12.0% 63% 58 696 7
51 Mohamed Massaquoi 68 13.4 5.6% 53% 36 483 2 14.6 9.2% 49% 33 483 3
52 Louis Murphy 74 14.9 4.9% 55% 41 609 2 14.4 5.6% 57% 42 608 2
53 Brian Finneran 37 9.3 13.0% 62% 23 213 3 10.7 13.9% 61% 22 241 3
54 Dwayne Bowe 125 16.1 20.8% 58% 72 1162 15 16.7 20.5% 58% 72 1205 15
55 Andre Caldwell 36 13.8 0.0% 69% 25 345 0 14.9 -0.4% 70% 25 378 0
56 Josh Morgan 74 15.9 4.5% 59% 44 698 2 15.0 4.6% 62% 46 692 2
57 Donald Jones 36 11.8 5.6% 50% 18 213 1 12.4 4.8% 52% 19 232 1
58 Bryant Johnson 48 11.7 0.0% 38% 18 210 0 12.8 0.4% 37% 18 228 0
59 Laurent Robinson 69 10.4 5.9% 49% 34 353 2 11.7 8.0% 46% 31 368 3
60 Demaryius Thomas 37 12.9 9.1% 59% 22 283 2 11.1 9.6% 65% 24 265 2
61 Terrell Owens 132 13.7 12.5% 55% 72 983 9 15.2 14.4% 50% 67 1015 10
62 Johnnie Lee Higgins 25 10.3 0.0% 40% 10 103 0 9.4 1.1% 42% 11 100 0
63 Blair White 64 9.7 11.9% 66% 42 409 5 10.5 12.2% 64% 41 425 5
64 Darrius Heyward-Bey 60 14.1 3.8% 43% 26 366 1 13.1 4.4% 44% 26 345 1
65 Verran Tucker 20 17.0 14.3% 35% 7 119 1 16.1 11.1% 37% 7 118 1
66 Ted Ginn 32 13.6 8.3% 38% 12 163 1 11.6 7.3% 40% 13 147 1
67 Devin Aromashodu 21 14.9 0.0% 48% 10 149 0 13.9 -1.7% 48% 10 139 0
68 Damian Williams 26 13.7 0.0% 62% 16 219 0 13.2 -3.1% 64% 17 219 -1
69 Tiquan Underwood 21 13.9 0.0% 38% 8 111 0 14.7 -2.0% 34% 7 104 0
70 Sam Hurd 21 8.6 0.0% 67% 14 120 0 8.7 -0.5% 60% 13 111 0
71 Antonio Brown 27 12.2 0.0% 78% 21 257 0 10.8 -0.7% 80% 22 234 0
72 Austin Collie 70 11.2 13.8% 83% 58 649 8 11.4 13.5% 81% 57 649 8
73 Jabar Gaffney 106 13.6 3.1% 61% 65 881 2 12.4 1.6% 66% 70 860 1
74 Harry Douglas 50 12.9 4.3% 46% 23 296 1 14.2 3.0% 43% 21 304 1
75 Robert Meachem 65 14.2 10.6% 72% 47 667 5 16.3 11.8% 65% 42 686 5
76 Justin Gage 40 13.3 5.0% 50% 20 266 1 12.1 2.5% 52% 21 252 1
77 Arrelious Benn 37 15.8 8.0% 68% 25 395 2 16.2 7.5% 64% 24 385 2
78 Jason Hill 20 22.5 9.1% 55% 11 248 1 23.0 8.1% 50% 10 231 1
79 Sammie Stroughter 40 9.9 0.0% 63% 25 248 0 10.1 -1.1% 59% 23 237 0
80 Antwaan Randle El 40 12.6 0.0% 60% 24 303 0 11.8 -0.2% 58% 23 271 0
81 Chris Chambers 41 9.7 4.5% 54% 22 213 1 9.2 1.3% 54% 22 206 0
82 Emmanuel Sanders 60 13.3 5.7% 58% 35 467 2 11.9 5.1% 59% 36 424 2
83 Mario Manningham 86 15.7 15.0% 70% 60 944 9 16.3 13.7% 69% 59 961 8
84 Terrance Copper 25 8.7 0.0% 72% 18 157 0 7.9 -4.1% 74% 19 146 -1
85 T.J. Houshmandzadeh 58 13.7 8.8% 59% 34 465 3 14.2 8.6% 55% 32 452 3
86 Nate Washington 88 16.4 14.3% 48% 42 687 6 16.3 13.1% 47% 41 674 5
87 Derek Hagan 39 9.3 4.2% 62% 24 223 1 8.4 1.8% 61% 24 198 0
88 Eddie Royal 93 10.6 5.1% 63% 59 627 3 8.5 4.0% 69% 64 543 3
89 Earl Bennett 74 12.4 8.0% 68% 50 619 4 11.1 6.3% 70% 52 578 3
90 Deion Branch 100 13.3 10.6% 66% 66 877 7 13.6 8.9% 65% 65 887 6
91 Roy E. Williams 59 14.5 13.5% 63% 37 538 5 15.6 14.3% 56% 33 516 5
92 Brandon Tate 43 18.0 12.5% 56% 24 432 3 18.1 9.7% 53% 23 414 2
93 Johnny Knox 108 18.7 8.8% 53% 57 1068 5 18.7 7.4% 52% 56 1050 4
94 Lance Moore 101 11.6 11.4% 69% 70 812 8 13.3 12.5% 61% 62 823 8
95 Seyi Ajirotutu 23 20.2 15.4% 57% 13 262 2 18.4 13.1% 51% 12 215 2
96 Pierre Garcon 126 12.4 9.7% 57% 72 896 7 13.7 9.8% 52% 66 901 6
97 Vincent Jackson 20 17.7 21.4% 70% 14 248 3 16.1 20.0% 63% 13 202 3
98 Jason Avant 79 11.5 3.4% 73% 58 667 2 10.9 3.0% 71% 56 611 2
99 Hines Ward 104 12.3 9.9% 68% 71 872 7 10.8 10.2% 68% 71 766 7
100 Devin Hester 79 11.6 9.5% 53% 42 486 4 10.1 7.9% 53% 42 429 3
101 Dez Bryant 71 12.5 13.3% 63% 45 561 6 12.9 14.4% 57% 40 521 6
102 Devery Henderson 68 13.2 4.9% 60% 41 541 2 15.0 4.8% 51% 35 521 2
103 Anquan Boldin 113 12.8 11.4% 62% 70 899 8 13.2 11.5% 58% 66 862 8
104 Kevin Walter 71 12.2 9.8% 72% 51 621 5 11.5 10.2% 67% 48 547 5
105 Jacoby Jones 76 11.1 5.9% 67% 51 564 3 10.4 6.5% 61% 47 488 3
106 Legedu Naanee 42 16.1 4.3% 55% 23 371 1 14.4 2.7% 49% 20 294 1
107 Steve Smith 72 11.0 6.3% 67% 48 529 3 10.8 3.9% 63% 46 491 2
108 Andre Johnson 131 14.1 9.3% 66% 86 1216 8 14.5 10.8% 60% 78 1134 8
109 Patrick Crayton 42 18.4 3.6% 67% 28 514 1 17.0 1.8% 61% 26 434 0
110 Jeremy Maclin 113 14.2 13.7% 65% 73 1037 10 14.2 14.9% 60% 67 954 10
111 Derrick Mason 101 13.1 11.3% 61% 62 813 7 13.1 10.4% 57% 58 757 6
112 Hakeem Nicks 126 13.3 13.9% 63% 79 1052 11 13.5 12.6% 60% 75 1016 9
113 Marques Colston 134 12.4 8.0% 66% 88 1088 7 14.1 8.3% 57% 76 1076 6
114 Jordy Nelson 90 13.2 6.1% 73% 66 868 4 12.9 4.1% 70% 63 810 3
115 Mike Thomas 99 12.4 6.1% 67% 66 816 4 12.4 3.1% 64% 63 786 2
116 Miles Austin 115 15.1 10.1% 60% 69 1045 7 16.6 11.0% 52% 59 986 7
117 Reggie Wayne 173 12.1 5.4% 65% 112 1356 6 13.1 3.6% 60% 105 1375 4
118 DeSean Jackson 95 22.5 12.2% 52% 49 1103 6 23.3 12.4% 45% 42 985 5
119 James Jones 98 13.7 11.5% 62% 61 836 7 13.4 10.2% 56% 55 742 6
120 Donald Driver 100 11.3 6.2% 65% 65 734 4 10.5 4.0% 60% 60 632 2
121 Malcom Floyd 74 19.4 16.2% 50% 37 717 6 17.3 13.8% 44% 33 569 5
122 Mike A. Williams 122 14.9 17.2% 52% 64 955 11 15.8 18.8% 43% 53 841 10
123 Greg Jennings 154 16.2 14.4% 63% 97 1568 14 16.6 14.0% 57% 88 1458 12
124 Wes Welker 127 9.7 7.5% 73% 93 905 7 8.5 2.8% 74% 94 796 3

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