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PFF Data Study: Introducing Personnel-Adjusted Yards Per Route

Tennessee Titans wide receivers A.J. Brown (11) and Corey Davis (84) come out to the field before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Gw54097

Wide receivers A.J. Brown and Corey Davis excelled for the Tennessee Titans in 2020, propelling Arthur Smith’s offense and many fantasy owners to successful seasons as a result. Judging by yards per route run (YPRR), both players appear to have improved greatly from 2019 to 2020: Brown’s YPRR increased from 2.41 to 2.53 and Davis jumped from 1.73 to 2.40 YPRR.

YPRR is a popular statistic for measuring receiver performance, but we want to add context to this measurement.

Receiving production often hinges on a player’s usage, and one of the ways we can quantify this is by looking at the different personnel groupings within which receivers run their routes. If more receivers are running routes on a play, each individual receiver has less opportunity to command targets and gain yardage. For example, wideouts who play in two-wide-receiver sets should be expected to gain more yardage than wideouts who see a lot of three-WR and four-WR looks. 

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Take a look at how a wide receiver’s average YPRR changed based on the number of WRs on the field in 2020:

WRs Average yards per route run Total routes in 2020
1 2.14 993
2 2.11 9,838
3 1.39 46,311
4 1.32 3,368
5 0.88 135

These differences show that while YPRR is a helpful stat, it struggles to account for context, as Hayden Winks pointed out in a recent post for Underdog Fantasy. With some simple calculations, however, we can create an adjusted version of YPRR that better accounts for differences in personnel packages. 

Examining Personnel-Adjusted Yards Per Route

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