(Editor's note: Every day, we're offering our Crazy Fantasy Stat of the Day, something that catches our eye and helps us learn something for fantasy for 2016.)
Last season was Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin’s fifth year in the NFL, and by almost any measure, it was his best year. He cracked 1,000 receiving yards for the first time, set a career high in receptions and targets, and scored 14 touchdowns — his previous best mark was five.
On top of that, though, he was maybe the league’s most efficient receiver. That efficiency inspires today’s Fantasy Stat of the Day: There were 87 receivers who played at least 25 percent of their teams’ snaps last year and had an average depth of target of at least 10 yards. Of those, Baldwin’s 79-percent completion percentage was the best in the league. In fact, only New England’s Danny Amendola and Washington’s Jamison Crowder had a higher completion percentage than Baldwin of anyone with 40-plus targets.
That led to a dramatic increase in Baldwin's fantasy production. He put up 190 fantasy points in 2015, 0.37 fantasy points per opportunity; both numbers had Baldwin firmly inside the positions top 10. And that was far ahead of his 2014, when those numbers were 101 and 0.20, respectively. Much of that can be attributed to his 14 touchdowns, but Baldwin also raised his yards per reception from 12.5 to 13.7 last year.
Now, a lot of credit for this goes to Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Tyler Lockett, the Seattle rookie last year, had the second-highest completion percentage of anyone with an aDOT of 10 or more yards. But even with Wilson showing marked improvement, Baldwin helped his cause. His production came on 99 targets. There has never been a receiver in the history of PFF’s grading (2007-present) who has had an aDOT as high as Baldwin’s and caught 80 percent of their passes. The only ones who came as close as Baldwin were Brandon Stokley in 2012 and Kenny Stills in 2014, and neither one came close to Baldwin’s target numbers (57 for Stokley, 80 for Stills) or touchdowns (five and three, respectively).
The numbers were new territory for Baldwin. In 2014, his aDOT was slightly lower (9.4 yards, compared to 10.1 in 2015), while his completion percentage was only 73. Before that, he had always had a high aDOT, but his completion percentage had lagged. It was only in 2015 that he (or he and Wilson, working together) put both things together.
Our rankers aren’t convinced Baldwin can continue last season’s success, ranking him 27th among wide receivers entering the year. He’s going slightly better than that in early drafts; his ADP has him going 23rd at the position. Still, if 2015 was the start of a new reality for Baldwin and not a career year, he has a real shot at outperforming even that ADP. If you’re looking in the 20s at receiver for a player who has top-five potential, Baldwin might be the best bet.