Wide Receiver Regression: Yards-Per-Reception
Last off-season, I tracked many different regression trends for metrics. Most did not make it into article form on this site, but the reams of excel pages of data were there. This off-season, PFF Fantasy readers will get many more glimpses into the regression closet. In this first installment, I look at receivers (and tight ends) with a high yards-per-reception (YPR) average. Specifically, those with 40+ receptions and a 15.0 or higher YPR. The regression trends of those players were strong prior to the 2011 class and their regression in 2012 was another vote of confidence in the power of regression and trend analysis for this metric.
Prior to this installment, there were 58 pass catchers since 2006 that qualified for this study. Of those, 48 or 83% saw a decline in their next season’s YPR. With the inclusion of last year’s data, that strength only grew. The 2011 class included 20 receivers and 18 of them (90%) saw a decrease in their 2012 YPR by an average of 2.5 yards. Here is the complete list:
|Year||Player||YPR||Y+1 YPR||YPR +/-|
|2011||Steve L. Smith||17.6||16.1||-1.5|
The good thing about the regression-busters on this list (Torrey Smith and Vincent Jackson) is they were two of the biggest deep threat weapons in the NFL. Of that list, they would be two of the players one would target as more likely to buck the trend. One of the players with the highest likelihood to fall because of their historical YPR was Larry Fitzgerald. He benefited from many big plays in 2011 and this season was no so kind to the Arizona receiver. In fact, he saw the largest fall of the entire group.
Adding that group to the prior seasons produces the following trends:
Overall, these players are seeing a reduction 85% of the time and the higher the YPR, the larger the fall the following season. Now, the important part: What players are likely to be affected in 2013. Here is the list of receivers that qualified from 2012 that have the odds stacked against them from repeating their gaudy YPR metrics:
|2012||Steve L. Smith||16.1|
|2012||Mike A. Williams||15.8|
So 2013 has 19 receivers with a 15.0+ YPR that are on the hot list. Based on the recent history of this metric, only 2-3 of them will come close to matching their efforts. Some of the names that standout are:
After having a high of 12.1 YPR over the previous four seasons, Lance Moore shot up to 16.0 in 2012. That is a huge leap for an established receiver in the same system over that span of time. That screams regression to me and a YPR of 11.0 seems more likely than 15.0 or higher in 2013. Buyers beware for owners expecting more than 1,000 yards on under 70 catches again next season.
Golden Tate also does not have a long history of big plays down the field. His YAC/Rec of 7.2 is at regression level in its own right. That makes up for the fact that his YPR saw a big jump in 2012 despite just a 10.9 aDOT. Russell Wilson’s knack for the big play down the field is a reason for optimism, but the metrics just do not add up outside of that fact. Tate is another prime candidate to regress in 2013.
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