JVM: Wide Receivers
In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Jahnke Value Model” number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2013. You can read about the work we’ve done to create it HERE, but in short:
• It’s solely about what a player did on the field in 2013
• Players are grouped by positions so their play essentially earns them a portion of the positional salary pool
• It’s all about cap hits (these values are approximate)
Here are 2013′s most undervalued and overvalued Wide Receivers:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Jeffery had a breakout season in his second year, ranking as our eighth-best wide receiver with a +18.7 overall grade. Jeffery finished among the Top 10 wide receivers in not only receptions and yardage, but also in Yards Per Route Run. His value extended beyond just catching the ball, because he was also effective running reverses and was one of the better run blocking receivers this season. Jeffery has a good shot to remain on this list with two more years on his rookie contract, and he could be in for a lucrative extension if he can sustain this level of performance.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.0m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $7.5m
Value Differential: +$6.5m
2. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
The Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate made quite the impression this season. After not seeing a single snap in Week 1 and gaining just 30 total yards the following two weeks, Allen racked up 1,016 yards over the final 13 games. Down the stretch he earned positive grades in each of the final six regular season games as the Chargers made a late playoff push. If Allen continues on the path he has set, he will be a bargain for the Chargers since an extension cannot be negotiated for a few years.
2013 Cap Hit: $600k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $7.0m
Value Differential: +$6.4m
3. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Gordon may have missed the first two games of the season and dealt with generally poor play from the quarterback position, but that didn’t stop him from leading the league in receiving yards. In fact, during one four-game stretch, Gordon earned a +12.1 grade while amassing 774 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He finished the season with 2.68 Yards Per Route Run, the third-highest in the league, and tied for the second-most receptions on Deep Pass targets. There has been trade speculation about Gordon, but he has begun to show the makings of a potentially elite receiver that the Browns are getting for relatively little cost.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.1m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $6.6m
Value Differential: +$5.5m
4. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
In 2012, the Steelers chose to reward Brown with a contract extension instead of Mike Wallace in a decision that has paid dividends thus far. Brown solidified himself as a No. 1 receiver with a +23.1 receiving grade that was best among wide receivers and he never graded lower than -0.6 in a game this season. He ranked second in receptions and yards, due in part to his work after the catch. Brown’s 657 Yards After Catch were third-most, as were his 16 forced missed tackles. His cap hit increases significantly in 2014, but it will still be in the range of his JVM value this season.
2013 Cap Hit: $3.1m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $8.6m
Value Differential: +$5.5m
5. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
Claiming three of the top spots, the AFC North found great value from some of their wide receivers. Even though Jones played half as many snaps as the league leaders, he made his impact felt with his ability to find the end zone. Jones was one of 10 receivers with double-digit touchdowns and Andy Dalton had a 119.2 QB Rating when throwing to Jones.
2013 Cap Hit: $500k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $5.7m
Value Differential: +$5.2m
6. Demaryius Thomas, DEN – Cap: $2.6M; JVM: $7.8M; Value Differential: +$5.2M
7. Eric Decker, DEN – Cap: $1.5M; JVM: $6.6M; Value Differential: +$5.1M
8. Jordy Nelson, GB – Cap: $4M; JVM: $8.4M; Value Differential: +$4.4M
9. Julian Edelman, NE – Cap: $800k; JVM: $5.2M; Value Differential: +$4.4M
10. Golden Tate, SEA – Cap: $900k; JVM: $5.2M; Value Differential: +$4.3M
1. Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks*
Rice had the third-highest cap hit among wide receivers in 2013, making it difficult to earn a positive differential even as one of the top performing receivers. So, after the oft-injured receiver missed over half the season, it is unsurprising he is at the top of this list. Rice had an outstanding Week 3 game against Jacksonville with a couple scores, but that performance would account for one-third of his total receptions and receiving yards on the season. Otherwise, the now-free agent had little impact and finished with a low 1.18 Yards Per Route Run.
2013 Cap Hit: $9.7m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.1m
Value Differential: -$8.6m
2. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
Coming off a +26.6 overall grade in 2012, White earned his first negative grade in six seasons of PFF grading. He missed only three games but was hampered by injuries for most of Atlanta’s disappointing season. White failed to gain 50-plus receiving yards in a single game until Week 13. Once healthy though, he did average 100 yards receiving over the final five games. White will have a lower cap hit in the final year of his contract, but will need to stay healthy and regain his prior form if the 32 year old wants a decent deal after 2014.
2013 Cap Hit: $9.1m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $800k
Value Differential: -$8.3m
3. Santonio Holmes, New York Jets*
For the second straight year, Holmes is near the top of the overvalued wide receivers. He has one of the largest contracts and injuries have made it impossible for him to justify it. Even when Holmes was on the field, he did not have much of an impact with just one ‘green’ game all season. He dropped 23.3% of his catchable targets, the third-highest rate of all wide receivers. If Holmes somehow ends up staying in New York on his current contract, he may be a candidate for this list yet again next year when his cap hit increases to eight-figures.
2013 Cap Hit: $9.0m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $800k
Value Differential: -$8.2m
4. Mike A. Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
It was a disappointing season for Williams after signing a five-year contract extension in the offseason. After not missing a game in his first three seasons, Williams played in just six games during 2013. In that time he caught 56.4% of his targets and averaged 9.8 yards per reception, both in the bottom third of the league. Williams, to a degree, was at a disadvantage by the large increase in his cap number after signing the extension. With a bounce-back performance next season he could potentially make his way onto the ‘Undervalued’ side of the list because of his $1.8 million cap hit next season. The low cap number is brief though because he is slated to make $30 million the next five years.
2013 Cap Hit: $8.3m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $300k
Value Differential: -$8m
5. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts*
Unlike those before him on the list, Wayne was having a very good season before his knee injury. Through seven games he graded +7.9 overall and was averaging nearly two yards for every route run. His value still may not have reached his cap hit had he played the entire season, but it’s likely he wouldn’t be among the Top 10 overvalued receivers.
2013 Cap Hit: $8.2m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $2.9m
Value Differential: -$5.3m
6. Michael Crabtree, SF* – Cap: $5.8M; JVM: $900k; Value Differential: -$4.9M
7. Percy Harvin, SEA* – Cap: $4.9M; JVM: $300k; Value Differential: -$4.6M
8. Josh Morgan, WAS – Cap: $5.1M; JVM: $700k; Value Differential: -$4.4M
9. Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ – Cap: $10.2M; JVM: $6.2M; Value Differential: -$4M
10. Steve Johnson, BUF* – Cap: $5.7M; JVM: $1.9M; Value Differential: -$3.8M
Follow Matt on Twitter: @PFF_MattC