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Another Fantasy Points Over Par post here. Jordy Nelson was ridiculously efficient in 2011. Part of Nelson’s efficiency was no doubt related to Aaron Rodgers (both Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings were also well above Par in terms of fantasy points as well). But I think it’s also fair to say that Nelson is just a good receiver. His numbers coming from K-State should have given us a clue that he was going to be good. Nelson caught 1600 yards in his final season at K-State. That was close to half of the yards that Josh Freeman threw that year. That’s generally the sign of a very good wide receiver.
The crazy thing about Nelson’s 2011 season is how efficient he was and the amount of success he had all over the field. He was good in the red zone. Like really good. But he was also really good pretty much everywhere else on the field as well. The graphs below show Jordy Nelson’s Fantasy Points Over Par by field position. I’ve put it next to Calvin Johnson’s graph just so you can see how ridiculously efficient Nelson was.
The dots at the top of the graph are touchdowns. The dots at the bottom of the graph are incompletions. As you get closer to the end zone an incompletion costs you more in terms of Fantasy Points Over Par – i.e. that target is worth a lot, so not completing the pass is a big negative. But Nelson was pretty much a beast everywhere on the field. No other receiver’s graph looks like his does. You can see that even Johnson’s trend is lower (which is I’m sure largely related to the kind of coverage that Johnson sees).
Nelson was so efficient in 2011 (like close to 3.5 standard deviations above average) that you can’t expect him to be that efficient in 2012. Probably what you’re hoping for is that he increases his targets from the 95 that he got last year. The tough thing is trying to figure out where that increase is coming from. James Jones had 55 targets, so maybe if the Packers dealt him to another team then some part of that 55 could go to Nelson. It’s tough to see Nelson really eating into Greg Jennings’ targets at all. It seems more likely that they would end up with equal distribution of targets.
But here’s an area where additional targets could certainly come from – increased passing attempts for the Packers. Aaron Rodgers was just 14th in the league in passing attempts per game last year. I think the primary reason is because they were so efficient on offense. When a team is as efficient as the Packers were last year, the offense leaves the field because plays are resulting in touchdowns. Less efficiency means more attempts, which means more targets to go around. To illustrate this point consider that both Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne were targeted over 130 times last year.
So maybe even if Nelson is less efficient in 2012, that could balance out with more targets that would directly result from that reduced efficiency.
Go ahead and file this under things I did just because I thought it would be interesting and I haven’t yet checked to see whether it’s predictive at all. The table below is what 2011′s stats for receivers would have looked like if only the first half of games counted and we assumed that every player played every game of the season. So basically, take the first half stats times two, then adjust so that every player gets 16 games. Wide receivers and tight ends are shown together.
The only comment I have is that this isn’t a useless exercise. Game situations often dictate how much a team passes in the 2nd half. I’ll have to do some work to see if 1st half stats are any more predictive than full game stats (and even if they aren’t, I still find the table below to be interesting).
A few weeks ago I wrote a post for Rotoworld that focused on the older WRs sitting at the top of ADP. Be sure to check out that post as it has some good info. I figured I would compare the careers of the three receivers on a Fantasy Points Over Par basis. Fantasy Points Over Par is essentially a way to measure a WR’s efficiency on a per target basis. It’s a measure that looks at each target relative to what all targets from that line of scrimmage produced in total fantasy points.
The graphs below will show the FPOP on a per target basis for each season in a WR’s career. Comments below the graphs.
The graphs are basically illustrating how many points above average, or Par a receiver is on a per target basis. To illustrate, let’s take a target from the opponent 1 yard line. On average that’s worth 3.15 standard fantasy points. Catch the ball and a receiver essentially just picked up 3 points over par. Drop it and the receiver went negative in terms of points over par. We do that for every target in a season, average them up, and we have FPOP for each season. On the graphs a bar above zero is better than Par, a bar below zero is below Par.
You can see that Andre Johnson became an extremely efficient receiver as soon as Matt Schaub got to Houston. Schaub probably isn’t the world’s best QB, but he’s head and shoulders above David Carr. Johnson doesn’t show any signs of losing his efficiency. That hasn’t been his problem. Staying on the field has been his problem.
Welker doesn’t look like an extremely efficient WR, but that could also be largely because I’m not currently separating out the value of short targets compared to deep targets. Doing so would (I suspect) make Welker look more efficient. In any case, it doesn’t look like Welker is really seeing any kind of age related decline yet, and that’s primarily what I’m interested in today.
Roddy White is the interesting case. He’s been an efficient WR in his career, but not on the level of Andre Johnson. Johnson has a few seasons that are better than White’s best season of FPOP. White has survived more on target volume. The ATL offense has actually been really two dimensional. Hand it off to Michael Turner or throw it to White. But 2011 was the first time in a few years that White turned in a negative FPOP season. He was actually slightly below average. He did less with his targets than you would have expected. That’s probably not as bad as it sounds. Consider that the average value of a target in fantasy football is influenced by a lot of things. Some players only see the field when they’re fresh. White and other top WRs are going to play most downs and they’re going to play against coverage geared to stop them. If we compare the production of those #1 WRs vs. situational players, we shouldn’t be distressed if the top WRs come out looking closer to average in some cases. A shorter way of saying that is that we shouldn’t be concerned if Jordy Nelson is more efficient than Roddy White. Although it would be fine to compare White to Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald. Basically any player who is seeing similar situations.
It’s not the case that White couldn’t bounce back from that kind of season, as Larry Fitzgerald had an inefficient 2010 and then followed it up with an efficient 2011. It could also be possible that having Julio Jones on the field actually helps White by making sure that he’s not the one the defense is geared to stop. In fact the two could help each other in the same way that Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison did for a few years. There were years where Harrison was a #1 WR and Wayne was maybe 1b. Having an inefficient season isn’t death sentence, it’s just something that you need to keep in mind when you’re weighing your options at WR.