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Stefon Diggs

Are Texans getting a playmaker? Or a headache?

What version of Stefon Diggs are the Texans getting? He’s been a top-10 receiver for most of the last four years. But in the second half of last season, not so much.

Diggs was ripping it up pretty good early last year, with 100-plus yards in five of his first six games. Through nine weeks, he was averaging 7.8 catches for 93 yards, with 7 TDs. Those are top-5 numbers. He caught 72 percent of the passes thrown his way during that run.

But Diggs wasn’t effective for the duration. In his final 10 games (including the playoffs) he averaged only 4.7 catches for 41 yards, and with only one touchdown. He caught only 59 percent of the passes thrown his way during that block of games. Diggs had a big drop on a potential long catch in the fourth quarter of the playoff loss against KC. After the Bills switched coordinators, they kind of phased him out of the offense.

Though Diggs put up big numbers in the first half of last year, I think it’s reasonable to ponder whether he’s slipped some. He’ll be 31 in November.

Diggs definitely likes him some Stefon Diggs. If he feels like he’s not getting the ball enough, it’s usually not long before he starts chirping or his brother (Trevon Diggs of the Cowboys) starts posting complaints on Twitter about the offense. He complained his way out of both Minnesota and Buffalo. He wore the Bills down to the point where they’re taking a $31 million cap hit to be rid of him.

The Texans have two receivers last year who were a lot more effective than Diggs. Nico Collins was playing like a top-10 receiver, while Tank Dell was putting up even better numbers than Collins until he broke his fibula. I don’t see it making much sense to have Diggs catch 100 passes if it means those guys are being underused.

Yards per target is one metric that can be used. You take the total yards generated by a receiver and divide by the number of passes thrown in his direction. Via that stat, Collins last year was the 2nd-most effective wide receiver in the league, averaging 11.9 yards per play – a yard more than everybody except Brandon Aiyuk.

If we look at Diggs’ final 10 games, he averaged only 5.1 yards per target. There were 78 other wide receivers last year who had at least 50 passes thrown their way, and only two of them averaged fewer than 5.7 yards per target.

Diggs is with a new team, at least. That might help keep him on his best behavior, at least for a while. And I like that Texans can get out of this deal at any point without any salary cap issues. If it’s not working, they can just release him and move on. Houston is paying Diggs only $19 million this year. The trade also allows Houston to avoid being lean at the position should Dell get hurt again.

But I’m not crazy about the trade. I think the Texans may look back and wish they’d just gone forward with that nice Collins-Dell combo.

WIDE RECEIVERS / YARDS PER TARGET
RkPlayerTgtRecYdsYd/TgtTDPct
1.Brandon Aiyuk, S.F.105751,34212.8771.4%
2.• Nico Collins, Hou.109801,29711.9873.4%
3.George Pickens, Pitt.106631,14010.8559.4%
4.Justin Jefferson, Min.100681,07410.7568.0%
5.Tyreek Hill, Mia.1711191,79910.51369.6%
6.• Noah Brown, Hou.553356710.3260.0%
7.DJ Moore, Chi.136961,36410.0870.6%
8.Deebo Samuel, S.F.896089210.0767.4%
9.Dontayvion Wicks, G.B.583958110.0467.2%
10.Amari Cooper, Cle.128721,2509.8556.3%
11.Jaylen Waddle, Mia.104721,0149.8469.2%
12.Darius Slayton, NYG79507709.7463.3%
13.Michael Wilson, Ari.58385659.7365.5%
14.CeeDee Lamb, Dall.1811351,7499.71274.6%
15.Rashid Shaheed, N.O.75467199.6561.3%
16.Josh Palmer, LAC61385819.5262.3%
17.DeVonta Smith, Phil.112811,0669.5772.3%
18.Josh Reynolds, Det.64406089.5562.5%
19.• Tank Dell, Hou.75477099.5762.7%
20.DK Metcalf, Sea.119661,1149.4855.5%
21.Puka Nacua, LAR1601051,4869.3665.6%
22.Christian Kirk, Jac.85577879.3367.1%
23.Amon-Ra St. Brown, Det.1641191,5159.21072.6%
24.Mike Evans, T.B.136791,2559.21358.1%
25.A.J. Brown, Phil.1581061,4569.2767.1%
26.Gabe Davis, Buff.81457469.2755.6%
27.Rashee Rice, K.C.102799389.2777.5%
28.Odell Beckham, Balt.64355658.8354.7%
29.Jerry Jeudy, Den.87547588.7262.1%
30.Justin Watson, K.C.53274608.7350.9%
31.Tee Higgins, Cin.76426568.6555.3%
32.Diggs (games 1-9)97708348.6772.2%
33.Courtland Sutton, Den.90597728.61065.6%
34.Jayden Reed, G.B.94647938.4868.1%
35.Jordan Addison, Min.108709118.41064.8%
36.JaMarr Chase, Cin.1451001,2168.4769.0%
37.Keenan Allen, LAC1501081,2438.3772.0%
38.Diontae Johnson, Pitt.87517178.2558.6%
39.Drake London, Atl.110699058.2262.7%
40.Chris Olave, N.O.138871,1238.1563.0%
41.Brandin Cooks, Dall.81546578.1866.7%
42.Christian Watson, G.B.53284228.0552.8%
43.DJ Chark, Car.66355258.0553.0%
44.Zay Flowers, Balt.108778587.9571.3%
45.Alec Pierce, Ind.65325147.9249.2%
46.Chris Godwin, T.B.130831,0247.9263.8%
46.Josh Downs, Ind.98687717.9269.4%
47.Cooper Kupp, LAR95597377.8562.1%
48.DeAndre Hopkins, Ten.137751,0577.7754.7%
49.Jakobi Meyers, L.V.106718077.6867.0%
50.Terry McLaurin, Was.132791,0027.6459.8%
51.Calvin Ridley, Jac.136761,0167.5855.9%
52.Adam Thielen, Car.1371031,0147.4475.2%
53.Michael Pittman, Ind.1561091,1527.4469.9%
54.Kendrick Bourne, N.E.55374067.4467.3%
55.Michael Gallup, Dall.57344187.3259.6%
56.Tyler Lockett, Sea.122798947.3564.8%
57.Tutu Atwell, LAR67394837.2358.2%
58.K.J. Osborn, Min.75485407.2364.0%
59.Demario Douglas, N.E.78495617.2062.8%
60.DeVante Parker, N.E.55333947.2060.0%
61.Romeo Doubs, G.B.96596747.0861.5%
62.Michael Thomas, N.O.64394487.0160.9%
63.Tyler Boyd, Cin.98676676.8268.4%
64.Darnell Mooney, Chi.61314146.8150.8%
65.Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Sea.93636286.8467.7%
66.Curtis Samuel, Was.91626136.7468.1%
67.Wan'Dale Robinson, NYG78605256.7176.9%
68.Rashod Bateman, Balt.56323676.6157.1%
69.Davante Adams, L.V.1751031,1446.5858.9%
70.Quentin Johnston, LAC67384316.4256.7%
71.Jahan Dotson, Was.83495186.2459.0%
72.Garrett Wilson, NYJ168951,0426.2356.5%
73.Elijah Moore, Cle.104596406.2256.7%
74.Marquise Brown, Ari.101515745.7450.5%
75.• Robert Woods, Hou.75404265.7153.3%
76.Rondale Moore, Ari.62403525.7164.5%
77.Trey Palmer, T.B.68393855.7357.4%
78.Diggs (games 10-19)80474115.1158.8%
79.Zay Jones, Jac.64343215.0253.1%
80.Jonathan Mingo, Car.85434184.9050.6%

—Ian Allan

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