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
Antonio BrownSteelers101153387857.3
DeAndre HopkinsTexans96137865947.8
Julio JonesFalcons88144469047.8
Keenan AllenChargers102139362444.8
Adam ThielenVikings91127755443.4
Rob GronkowskiPatriots69108346442.8
T.Y. HiltonColts5796641342.8
Tyreek HillChiefs75118349241.6
JuJu Smith-SchusterSteelers5891738041.4
Larry FitzgeraldCardinals109115646840.5
Sterling ShepardGiants5973129440.2
Michael ThomasSaints104124548939.3
Amari CooperRaiders4868026138.4
Travis KelceChiefs83103839538.1
A.J. GreenBengals75107840737.8
Brandin CooksPatriots65108240737.6
Marquise Goodwin49ers5696235637.0
Golden TateLions92100336536.4
Marvin JonesLions61110139936.2
Chris ThompsonRedskins3951018335.9
Keelan ColeJaguars4274826835.8
Robert WoodsRams5678127835.6
Stefon DiggsVikings6484929735.0
Robby AndersonJets6394132334.3
Mike EvansBuccaneers71100133133.1
Zach ErtzEagles7482426632.3
Doug BaldwinSeahawks7599131932.2
Mike WallaceRavens5274823130.9
Davante AdamsPackers7488527130.6
Demaryius ThomasBroncos8394929030.6
Emmanuel SandersBroncos4755516830.3
Jamison CrowderRedskins6678923629.9
Kenny StillsDolphins5884725029.5
Ted GinnSaints5378722128.1
DeVante ParkerDolphins5767018828.1
Chris GodwinBuccaneers3452514527.6
Jermaine KearseJets6581022327.5
Todd GurleyRams6478821427.2
Nelson AgholorEagles6276820626.8
Albert WilsonChiefs4255414526.2
Hunter HenryChargers4557915025.9
Rishard MatthewsTitans5379520525.8
Tyler LockettSeahawks4555514225.6
Cooper KuppRams6286922225.5
Jarvis LandryDolphins11298725225.5
Marqise LeeJaguars5670217725.2
Jared CookRaiders5468717124.9
Tyrell WilliamsChargers4372818024.7
Devin FunchessPanthers6384020424.3
Travis BenjaminChargers3456713323.5
DeSean JacksonBuccaneers5066815523.2
Alvin KamaraSaints8282618922.9
Michael CrabtreeRaiders5861814122.8
Jack DoyleColts8069015722.8
Evan EngramGiants6472216422.7
Vernon DavisRedskins4364814422.2
Le'Veon BellSteelers8565513620.8
Mohamed SanuFalcons6770314220.2
Terrance WilliamsCowboys5356811319.9
JJ NelsonCardinals2950410019.8
Paul RichardsonSeahawks4470313819.6
Charles ClayBills4955810719.2
Sammy WatkinsRams3959311319.1
Delanie WalkerTitans7480715319.0
Alshon JefferyEagles5778914718.6
Danny AmendolaPatriots6165911918.1
Dez BryantCowboys6983915118.0
Kendall WrightBears5961410817.6
Duke JohnsonBrowns7469311516.6
Cameron BrateBuccaneers485919816.6
George Kittle49ers435158516.5
Randall CobbPackers666539714.9
Austin HooperFalcons495267814.8
Eric EbronLions535748514.8
Adam HumphriesBuccaneers616319314.7
Ben WatsonRavens615227614.6
Jason WittenCowboys635608014.3
Eric DeckerTitans545638014.2
Ryan GrantRedskins455738114.1
Martavis BryantSteelers506037512.4
Christian McCaffreyPanthers806518012.3
Josh DoctsonRedskins355025310.6
Jimmy GrahamSeahawks57520519.8
Brandon LaFellBengals52548539.7
Kyle RudolphVikings57532213.9