Antonio Brown, DeAndra Hopkins and Julio Jones were the Most Dominant Receivers in 2017
By Chris Malumphy
Football Perspective has an interesting article on total rushing yards gained over 50 yards in a game. The author, Chase Stuart, says that his analysis "helps remove less material games and places more of an emphasis on dominance." His stats verify that the Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott dominates just as we would have thought, but that the Colts' Frank Gore and Texans' Lamar amass yards in a slow, consistent, but far from dominating manner. It's an interesting article, so check it out.
Inspired by that research, I took a look at similar statistics for receivers who gained over 500 yards. In 2017, Antonio Brown led the NFL in receiving yards gained after having already amassed 50 yards receiving in a game. The Steelers' wideout had 101 receptions for 1,533 yards overall. The 878 yards gained after having already gained 50 yards in a game accounted for 57.3% of his total yards gained, nearly 10% more than his closest rivals DeAndra Hopkins of the Texans and Julio Jones of the Falcons who each had 47.8%. Other dominant receivers in this category were: Keenan Allen, Chargers, 44.8%; Adam Thielen, Vikings, 43.4%; Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, 42.8%; T.Y. Hilton, Colts, 42.8%, Tyreek Hill, Chiefs, 41.6%; JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers, 41.4%; Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, 40.5%; and Sterling Shepard, Giants, 40.2%.
At the other end of the spectrum, players with 500 or more yards receiving for the season included three players with fewer than 10% of their yards accrued after having gained 50 yards in a game. It is not surprising that the Ravens' Kyle Rudolph or the Bengals' Brandon LaFell were at the bottom of the list, but they were joined by Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham, who has certainly been a much more productive player in prior seasons.
Looking deeper into Sterling Shepard's figures shows how this stat can enlighten but also reveals its limitations. Shepard's overall stats are pedestrian, 50 receptions for 731 yards. The raw numbers don't reveal, however, that he missed five games. He averaged 66.5 yards per game played. All that a player needs to gain to reach 1,000 yards in a season is an average of 62.5 yards a game for 16 games. So absent the injury, Shepard was on target to meet that benchmark. Yet his production was far from consistent. In his 11 games, Shepard was held to less than 50 yards on 5 occasions and in two other occasions he was held to just 54 and 56 yards. So in 7 of 11 games he was far from on pace to reach 1,000 yards or be a dominant force in the game. He was mildly better versus the Rams in week 9 when he gained 70 yards, but he was wildly productive against the 49ers in week 10 as well as in both games versus the Eagles in weeks 3 and 15 when he gained 142, 133 and 139 yards respectively. Thus Shepard amassed 264 of his total 294 yards over 50 in just three games, leaving him mediocre the rest of the season. Most telling is that the Giants were 0-11 in the games Shepard played, even those in which he performed admirably. The Giants were 3-2 otherwise. Shepard would have fit right in with the Cleveland Browns.
|Receiving Yards Over 50 in a Game|