Signature Stats: Yards Per Route Run

Looking at receiver production when considering opportunity as a factor, Khaled Elsayed presents 2013's best and worst in Yards Per Route Run.

| 3 years ago

Signature Stats: Yards Per Route Run

2013-WK13-YPRRBox score fanatics look away, because it’s time for another installment of Pro Football Focus: Signature Stats.

When we started this over six years ago it wasn’t too collect stats, but that has become a happy by-product of what we do. It means we can challenge narratives led by numbers that lack the kind of context to paint anywhere near a complete picture.

This week we’re going to look at Yards Per Route Run for wide receivers. A simple enough concept, that means we’re not looking at just the total yards but rather the opportunity players had to collect those yards. After all, 1000 is a big number and certainly bigger than 600. But if you collected those 600 yards running just one hundred routes, as opposed to collecting 1000 running 500, is the 600 not more impressive?

Top of the Charts

Sometimes you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And other times you know what you’ve lost before it’s even been put on injured reserve for the year. 2013 was a horrible year for the usually competitive Falcons and nothing summed it up quite like the loss of Julio Jones for the year. With Roddy White down at the start of the season the third-year man stepped up and delivered a humongous 2.74 yards per route run. The best of all receivers who ran at least 200 routes.

That put him ever so narrowly ahead of Calvin Johnson who ended with a 2.72 score. A mighty fine showing and while many were quick to scream “drop-off” Johnson actually picked up more yards per route run than in his stellar 2012 season where he ended with a 2.55 figure. Less “drop-off” and more “well he missed time so what did you expect would happen”. Also featuring in the Top 5 were Josh Gordon, Anquan Boldin and DeSean Jackson, and while Antonio Brown would finish sixth Demaryius Thomas could only end up in 12th in this metric. Though it’s somewhat fair to say that has something to do with Denver having two more guys in the Top 40 (out of 92 qualifying candidates) as well as a tight end who was eighth in his position.

Here’s the Top 10:

Rank Name Team Targets Rec. Yards Snaps in Route YPRR
1  Julio Jones ATL 57 580 212 2.74
2  Calvin Johnson DET 148 1489 547 2.72
3  Josh Gordon CLV 149 1646 615 2.68
4  Anquan Boldin SF 123 1179 462 2.55
5  DeSean Jackson PHI 119 1332 544 2.45
6  Antonio Brown PIT 159 1443 609 2.37
7  Alshon Jeffery CHI 140 1421 601 2.36
8  Andre Johnson HST 176 1407 613 2.3
9  A.J. Green CIN 171 1426 625 2.28
10  Vincent Jackson TB 156 1224 552 2.22


The Rookies

A turn now to rookies and it will surprise absolutely no one to see Keenan Allen leading the way. Perhaps more impressively for the man who finished 21st overall in yardage is that he would end up 14th overall, showing just how productive he was when he was on the field. That was ahead of guys like Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson and T.Y. Hilton.

Patriots fans will be happy/ surprised to see Aaron Dobson come in as the next rookie in a healthy 36th spot. His 1.65 yards per route run were surprisingly competitive against both Danny Amendola (1.7) and Julian Edelman (1.78) and they’ll be hoping to see that number jump up next year. In third spot of all rookies is the Vikings Cordarrelle Patterson who may have only run 293 routes but it was enough for the team to develop some extremely high hopes for him.

The Free Agents

What for the guys that are about to hit the open market? Well you’ve already seen the name of the ageless Anquan Boldin up in fourth spot overall so you know he led the way in that regard, with Eric Decker the next man up in 18th spot. Interestingly (especially if you’re this players agent) he’s only one spot ahead of Golden Tate. So while Decker ended up with nearly four hundred more yards, it’s worth noting that he needed to run almost two hundred more routes to do so. They’re the Top 3 with restricted free agent Doug Baldwin in 25th overall while, despite having an off year by his standards, Hakeem Nicks still featured in the top half of this thing in 32nd overall. It’s a big drop though for a guy who has recently as 2011 was averaging 0.3 yards more per route run.

Down at the Other End

There was a feeling that Greg Little had turned something of a corner after a much improved second half of 2012. A playmaker with the ball in his hands, the problem for him has always been actually securing it with those bad boys and so it proved once again. He finished 42nd of all receivers in terms of targets but just 71st in terms of yards, not helping himself with the sixth worst drop rate in the NFL. This all led to the worst yards per route run number (0.7) of all receivers. If there’s any consolation he’s not alone in Cleveland with Davone Bess also in the Bottom 5 as whoever was behind center wisely decided that Josh Gordon was the guy to go to.

Bottom 10

Rank Name Team Targets Rec. Yards Snaps in Route YPRR
1  Greg Little CLV 88 465 668 0.7
2  Miles Austin DAL 46 244 324 0.75
3  T.J. Graham BUF 55 361 467 0.77
4  Darrius Heyward-Bey IND 58 309 382 0.81
5  Davone Bess CLV 83 362 430 0.84
6  Kris Durham DET 82 490 568 0.86
7  Vincent Brown SD 65 472 518 0.91
8  Jason Avant PHI 71 447 462 0.97
9  Mohamed Sanu CIN 73 455 463 0.98
10  Santana Moss WAS 77 452 456 0.99


As ever with signature stats something of a disclaimer. Are these numbers better than what the box score tells you? In our opinion without doubt otherwise why would we bother showcasing them on our site. But are they as good as our grades? Without doubt they are not. When looking at any number a certain degree of context beyond what the stat sheet tells you and instead as to what the eye tells you is needed. After all a 10 yard reception where you beat three defenders and then dive for the end zone might be better than say an 80-yard grab where the defense has all collectively gone for a nap and yet you saunter down the field.

In either case, if you want all these stats, all the grades and much more then grab yourself a PFF Premium Package today. Be good to yourself.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • ItsJustWerner

    Heck of a 2nd year for Alshon.

  • Jason Williams

    Oh Cleveland. Sigh.

  • Ron Havas

    Khaled, can’t we infer that Denver WRs relatively low YPRR (when compared to ‘box score’ stats and reputation) is more a function of a) Peyton spreading the ball around and b) running a lot of 3+ WR sets? This would seem to be the flaw of an otherwise very good metric

    • Ron Havas

      Also Khaled, while bubble and tunnel screens would be easy to account for, does accounting a ‘route-ran’ become tricky with rub routes? Not knowing the play-call must force you to guess, no?

    • Hannah Hayes

      How is that a flaw? It is pointing out a fact. What you take from it is up to you.

      • Ron Havas

        Passing yards point out facts, but it has limits (eg how many attempts or dropbacks did it take to gain said yardage). I am not saying YPRR is useless, I am saying it is limited (if you prefer that to flawed) because a receiver might be penalized for playing in a certain offensive scheme. Khaled points that out himself “Demaryius Thomas could only end up in 12th in this metric. Though
        it’s somewhat fair to say that has something to do with Denver having
        two more guys in the Top 40 (out of 92 qualifying candidates) as well as
        a tight end who was eighth in his position.”

        • Hannah Hayes

          lol That is not limited or flawed. It is what it is. You decide what you take from it. Is there an echo in here?

          • Ron Havas

            Statistics present data, and they are effective if they allow us to make accurate inferences. Understanding the limit of a stat allows you to make better inferences…

          • Hannah Hayes

            So, where is the flaw?

          • walnuts

            shutup you dumb bitch

          • Hannah Hayes

            lmao Nice one.

          • [email protected]

            Statistics are not data, theyre just lies that are told in a form that appears to unwary people to be facts.

    • kb

      Rodgers and the Packers WR’s have been the same way for years with some years going 5 WR’s deep. This year is obviously different considering Rodgers missing half the season and a couple receivers missing more.

      Nelson in 2011 had a 2.98 which is the 4th highest in the last 4 years. They have also had 2 others in the top 10 over the last 4 seasons and 7 in the top 20 in that time period.

      All that being said, Den had 2 in the top 20 this year. Thomas(11th) and Decker(16th) Welker(30th).

    • [email protected]

      Its hard to take any statistic seriously, especially one regarding passing yards. If this was statistic was so valuable then why did 7 of the top 10 not even make the playoffs?

  • Sean Donovan

    Important: In that top 10 list of YPRR, notice that out of the 10 people, all 10 have either A or J as an initial, and three players have both? Solid idea for another PFF signature stat.