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Efficient receivers

Does a high yards-per-catch number translate into future success?

George Pickens and DeVante Parker were discussed on the website this week. Both finished at the 2nd-most productive receivers on their teams last year, but both averaged over 2 more yards per pass play than their team’s No. 1 guys.

Treylon Burks, Rashid Shaheed, Darius Slayton and Terrace Marshall also fit this profile. None caught a ton of passes last year, but they mixed in a healthy number of impact plays. When we have such a player, is it an indication that the player is a breakout candidate? If a player is paying off with his chances, after it, it’s a sign he should perhaps be getting more use.

Or is it just the case of a guy being used primarily on deep routes; those players tend to finish with higher yards-per-target numbers, with them getting downfield on more of their routes?

We can look at previous such players. Below see the list of all wide receivers from the last 10 years who’ve been the 2nd-best receiver on their own team (using PPR scoring) but who averaged over 2 more yards per target than the No. 1 guy. (Not yards per catch but yards per target – including incompletions).

The overall track record hasn’t been great. Of the last 24 such players, only half the next year finished with top-50 numbers (again, using PPR scoring). Three moved up into the top 15, with only two others making the top 30. I see five who finished between 38th and 40th.

But 11 of these receivers (one short of half) didn’t even rank among the top 80 wide receivers the following season.

These are all different players and different situations, of course. A quarter of these players moved to new teams, and I’ve got those six tagged with black dots. (I remember Rishard Matthews getting a nice contract from the Titans after a productive year with the Dolphins.)

I don’t see YPT as a sneaky metric to tap into for fantasy purposes.

For our six 2023 guys, I see four who will be competing for playing time (with the possibility of not being used enough): Marshall, Slayton, Shaheed and Parker. I like the look of Burks (pictured); he’ll be Tennessee’s leading wide receiver. And Pickens has the potential to move up in his second year.

2014Kenny Stills, N.O.6393114.83173.939
2014Michael Floyd, Ariz.4784117.96167.344
2014Terrance Williams, Dall.3762116.88147.152
2015• Kenny Stills, Mia.2744016.3389.082
2016• Rishard Matthews, Ten.6594514.59213.521
2016Kenny Britt, LAR68100214.75198.228
2016Torrey Smith, S.F.2026713.4364.7100
2016• James Jones, Balt.11414.002.4210
2017Marqise Lee, Jac.5670212.53147.940
2017Chris Hogan, N.E.3443912.95109.663
2018JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.111142612.87298.98
2018• Jordan Matthews, Phil.2030015.0262.0105
2018Ted Ginn, N.O.1720912.3254.5115
2019Christian Kirk, Ariz.6870910.43168.238
2019Dante Pettis, S.F.111099.9234.7133
2019Robert Foster, Buff.36421.3012.3161
2020Mike Williams, LAC4875615.85153.748
2021Mike Williams, LAC76114615.19246.613
2021Rashard Higgins, Cle.2427511.5157.5114
2021• Travis Fulgham, NYG810112.6018.1143
2021• Will Fuller, Mia.4266.508.6184
2022Tyler Lockett, Sea.84103312.39241.313
2022Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cle.6183913.83169.138
2022Kendrick Bourne, N.E.3543412.4188.381
2023Terrace Marshall, Car.??????
2023Darius Slayton, NYG??????
2023Rashid Shaheed, N.O.??????
2023Treylon Burks, Ten.??????
2023DeVante Parker, N.E.??????
2023George Pickens, Pitt.??????

—Ian Allan

Fantasy Index