NFL News & Analysis

Signature Stat Spotlight: Wide Receivers

PFF's in-depth charting and advanced stats look beyond the box score to identify key metrics otherwise overlooked across all positions in the NFL. This “Signature Stat Spotlight” series will walk readers through the varying advanced stats and metrics we track for every player at every position in every game.

Rounding out the Signature Stat Spotlight series, we take on wide receivers and the advanced stats that play into evaluating pass-catchers at the NFL and FBS level.

Yards per route run is the crown jewel of PFF’s advanced stats for wide receivers. Dividing total receiving yards recorded by the number of routes run in a given game, season, career, etc. provides a great one-number summary of just how efficient a receiver is on a down-by-down basis. Receivers need to create separation, earn targets, secure passes and generate yards after the catch to have a high yards per route run figure, making it a product of multiple factors and, as a result, a fantastic advanced stat made available to all of PFF’s ELITE subscribers.

In addition to yards per route run, PFF tracks passer rating when targeted, drop rate, deep receiving statistics and slot production in Premium Stats 2.0. Outside of ELITE, PFF also charts contested targets, receptions, etc. and forced missed tackles and yards after contact on receptions.

Signature Stat Spotlight Series:  


Yards per Route Run

Among the 84 NFL receivers with at least 300 routes run in 2019, New Orleans SaintsMichael Thomas ranked first in yards per route run at 2.82. Including the postseason, Thomas caught 156-of-188 targets (83%) for 1,795 yards, 85 first downs and nine touchdowns a year ago. Green Bay PackersDavante Adams and Minnesota VikingsStefon Diggs ranked second and third at 2.61 and 2.50, respectively.

Philadelphia Eagles rookie wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (.54) and Los Angeles ChargersAndre Patton (.18) ranked 83rd and 84th in yards per route run in 2019. JJAW caught just 10-of-19 targets for 169 yards, six first downs and one touchdown across 312 routes as a rookie.

Passer Rating when Targeted

Kansas City Chiefs rookie receiver Mecole Hardman caught 30-of-42 targets for 567 yards, 13 first downs and six touchdowns en route to an NFL-best 153.3 passer rating when targeted in 2019. Fellow rookie Marquise Brown ranked second among the same group of qualifiers in passer rating when targeted (129.8), as he hauled in 53 passes from 76 targets for 710 yards, 23 first downs and seven touchdowns for the Baltimore Ravens this past season.

On the opposite end of the metric, Patton ranked dead last at his position in the NFL in passer rating when targeted at 23.2. Only Patton and Carolina PanthersJarius Wright (28.6). were the only two NFL receivers with at least 300 routes run and passer rating when targeted figures below 55.0.

Deep Receiving Performance

No NFL receiver recorded more yards on deep targets – 20-plus air yards – than Diggs in 2019. He caught 17-of-32 targets for 676 yards, 10 first downs and seven touchdowns on targets of 20-plus air yards this past season. Detroit LionsKenny Golladay recorded more deep targets than any other NFL receiver in 2019 with 37, but he still finished second behind Diggs in total deep receiving yards (628).

Chargers veteran receiver Keenan Allen and Panthers’ Curtis Samuel were the only two NFL receivers with 20 or more deep targets and fewer than 200 deep receiving yards. And Cleveland BrownsOdell Beckham Jr. recorded the lowest passer rating when targeted on deep targets among qualifying wideouts at 40.9.

Slot Receiving Performance

Among the 32 NFL receivers with at least 200 routes from the slot in 2019, Thomas ranked first in PFF receiving grade (90.3) and Los Angeles Rams’ veteran Robert Woods ranked second (89.0). Denver Broncos slot receiver DaeSean Hamilton recorded the lowest PFF receiving grade (48.7) of any qualifier this past season.

Woods led all qualifying receivers in yards per route run from the slot at 2.55. He caught 40-of-51 targets for 537 yards, 22 first downs and one touchdown across his 211 routes run from the slot in 2019. His teammate, Cooper Kupp, ranked second in yards per route run (2.26) among the same group of qualifiers. Kupp caught 69 of his 99 slot targets for 853 yards, 28 first downs and five touchdowns a year ago.

Seattle SeahawksTyler Lockett recorded 64 receptions from 88 targets for 901 yards, 38 first downs and six touchdowns across his 448 routes run from the slot in 2019 and ranked first in passer rating when targeted in the slot (128.1) as a result. Oakland Raiders rookie receiver Hunter Renfrow finished second behind Lockett at 126.9.

Drop Rate

Arizona Cardinals veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald was the only NFL receiver with more than 30 catchable targets and zero drops in 2019. Tampa Bay BuccaneersChris Godwin and San Francisco 49ersEmmanuel Sanders finished second and third in drop rate at 1.1% and 1.4%, respectively.

Both Wright and Cincinnati BengalsJohn Ross dropped 20% of their 35 catchable targets in 2019, a figure that ranked tied for dead last at the receiver position this past season.

Contested Targets/Catches

Among the 34 NFL receivers with at least 20 contested targets in 2019, Thomas ranked first in contested-catch percentage (67.7%). Godwin, Marvin Jones, Golladay and Washington Redskins rookie receiver Terry McLaurin rounded out the top-five NFL receivers in contested-catch percentage.

Name Contested Targets Contested Catches Percent of Targets Contested Contested-Catch Percentage
Michael Thomas 34 23 18.09% 67.65%
Chris Godwin 24 16 21.05% 66.67%
Marvin Jones Jr. 31 20 34.44% 64.52%
Kenny Golladay 41 26 36.28% 63.41%
Terry McLaurin 25 15 27.47% 60.00%

Tennessee Titans rookie wideout A.J. Brown recorded the lowest contested-catch percentage (29.2%) among the 34 qualifiers at his position. Samuel (30.0%) and Jacksonville JaguarsChris Conley (33.3%)  finished 33rd and 32nd, respectively.

Yards After Contact per Reception/Forced Missed Tackles

Brown made up for his low contested-catch numbers with his play after the catch, as he finished the season ranked first among wideouts with 40-plus receptions in yards after the catch per reception (8.74). Fellow rookie Deebo Samuel finished second behind Brown at 8.4. Brown and Samuel were the only two NFL wideouts with 40-plus receptions and yards after the catch per reception averages above 7.0.

Samuel also recorded 23 missed tackles on his 67 receptions to lead all NFL receivers in forced missed tackles per reception in 2019. Samuel, Brown (0.32) and Pittsburgh SteelersDiontae Johnson (0.31) – another rookie – finished first, second and third in forced missed tackles per reception this past season.

To continue to learn more about PFF’s advanced stats,  subscribe to PFF’s ELITE subscription to dive into the numbers yourself throughout the offseason and into next season.

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