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Factoid

Rashid Shaheed

Saints sitting on a sneaky-good deep threat

I’m intrigued by Rashid Shaheed of the Saints. He put together a heck of a rookie season – better, I found out, than I even realized.

New Orleans threw only 34 passes in his direction last year, but he caught 28 of them. That’s a real nice catch ratio, and it’s unusual in that he’s primarily a deep route (with those passes being harder to connect on). He averaged 17.4 yards per catch, with 4 of his receptions going for 40-plus yards. (Separately, he also scored on a 44-yard run against Cincinnati.)

Granted, 34 pass attempts is a tiny sample size, but follow me down this rabbit hole. Shaheed (who wasn’t even drafted coming out of Weber State) averaged 14.4 yards on his pass attempts (that is, not his catches but an average of 14.4 yards when they threw him the ball). And with Andy Dalton, no less, as his primary quarterback.

I’ve got target data going back to 1992 – 31 seasons. Of all the thousands of wide receivers, there’s never been one with at least 30 targets who’s averaged as many yards per pass play. Only eight other times has anyone made it over 13 yards per play. Another 14 guys have averaged over 12 yards per play.

Shaheed, in other words, was wildly productive with that tiny slice of work he got last year. I would like to see what he does with more opportunities. Sadly, I think he’ll be pigeon-holed into a No. 3 role, as long as Michael Thomas and Chris Olave stay healthy. But Shaheed is definitely a guy on my radar.

In the chart below, you’re seeing the receivers who’ve averaged at least 12 yards per pass play in a season. Six of these players put up top-20 numbers the next year (using PPR scoring); another six ranked in the top 40.

Note that four of the players are tagged with black dots. Those are the four that seem most similar to Shaheed. I picked them because of their age, draft pedigree and playing style. Robert Foster, Malcolm Floyd and Brian Finneran, like Shaheed, weren’t drafted. Kenny Stills was selected, but he was just a fifth-round pick and played a deep-threat role (for the Saints, no less). And three of the players I tagged were in their rookie year.

Of those four I tagged, two weren’t factors the next year, and the other two just snuck into the top 40. At this point, I see Shaheed as just a possible late-round pick, but definitely a guy I’ve got an eye on.

WIDE RECEIVERS AVERAGING OVER 12 YARDS PER TARGET (last 30 years)
YearPlayerTgtNoYdsAvgTDYPTNext Year
2022Rashid Shaheed, N.O.342848817.4214.4?-?-?-?
2008Devery Henderson, N.O.563279324.8314.283-51-804-2
2006Devery Henderson, N.O.543274523.3513.843-20-409-3
2018Tyler Lockett, Sea.705796516.91013.8110-82-1057-8
1999Tim Dwight, Atl.503266920.9713.453-26-406-3
2021DeSean Jackson, 2tms342045422.7213.417-9-153-0
2011Jordy Nelson, G.B.9668126318.61513.273-49-745-7
2019Mecole Hardman, K.C.412653820.7613.162-41-560-4
2021Henry Ruggs, L.V.362446919.5213.00-0-0-0
2010Mike Wallace, Pitt.9860125721.01012.8114-72-1193-8
2013• Kenny Stills, N.O.503264120.0512.883-63-931-3
1993John Taylor, S.F.745694016.8512.764-41-531-5
2008• Malcom Floyd, S.D.372746517.2412.676-45-776-1
2019A.J. Brown, Ten.8452105120.2812.5106-70-1075-11
2014DeSean Jackson, Was.9556116920.9612.349-30-528-4
2018• Robert Foster, Buff.442754120.0312.318-3-64-0
2010Patrick Crayton, S.D.422851418.4112.234-23-248-1
1992John Taylor, S.F.352542817.1312.274-56-940-5
2011Malcom Floyd, S.D.704385619.9512.285-56-814-5
2011Randall Cobb, G.B.312537515.0112.1104-80-954-8
1999Az-Zahir Hakim, St.L.563667718.8812.181-53-734-4
2019Stefon Diggs, Min.9463113017.9612.0166-127-1535-8
2002Dennis Northcutt, Cle.503860115.8512.093-62-729-2
2001• Brian Finneran, Atl.412349121.4312.0102-56-838-6

In the chart, the last column includes four numbers. Commonly you see three numbers bundled together – catches, yards touchdowns. With this one, I’ve added a fourth stat, targets, since they factor heavily into the discussion. I’ve got them as the first of the four – targets, catches, yards and touchdowns. Foster, as an example, caught only 3 of the 18 passes thrown his way in his second season, for 64 yards.

—Ian Allan

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