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For more from Chase and Jason, check out their work at Football Perspective and The Big Lead.

Yards per Reception: “Worst” WRs ever

Posted by Chase Stuart on October 7, 2008

Yesterday, I looked at the WRs with the highest yards per reception ratios (compared to league average) in NFL history. Today I'm going to look at the "worst" ones, with that word in quotes because I'm not really sure a low YPR is bad.

I'll use the same three methods employed yesterday to rank the receivers again. The first involves taking the difference between the league-wide yards per reception rate (after subtracting out the individual WR’s own numbers) and the WR’ s yards per reception ratio, and multiplying that difference by the number of receptions. So if the league average YPR was 15.00, and a WR had 100 receptions for 1400 yards, he’d have a value of -100 — he averaged 14 YPR, 1.00 below 15 YPR, over 100 receptions. Similarly, if he had 50 receptions for 650 yards, he’d be 100 yards below average as well. He’d have a 13.00 YPR average, which is 2.00 below 15.00, for 50 receptions.

Here's a list of the 50 WRs with the "worst" YPR seasons of all time:

			year	team	rec	recyd	ypr	lg ypr	diff
Cris Carter		1994	min	122	1256	10.30	14.24	-482
Lionel Taylor		1961	den	100	1176	11.76	15.95	-419
Troy Brown		2002	nwe	 97	 890	 9.18	13.34	-404
Al Toon			1988	nyj	 93	1067	11.47	15.66	-390
Jim C. Jensen		1989	mia	 61	 557	 9.13	15.36	-380
Lionel Taylor		1962	den	 77	 908	11.79	16.63	-372
Gail Cogdill		1966	det	 47	 411	 8.74	16.42	-361
Haywood Jeffires	1992	oti	 90	 913	10.14	14.13	-358
Lionel Taylor		1964	den	 76	 873	11.49	16.16	-355
Ricky Sanders		1994	atl	 67	 599	 8.94	14.22	-353
Cris Carter		1995	min	122	1371	11.24	14.10	-349
Dwight Clark		1980	sfo	 82	 991	12.09	16.26	-342
J.T. Smith		1987	crd	 91	1117	12.27	15.97	-337
Dwight Clark		1981	sfo	 85	1105	13.00	16.88	-330
Lonzell Hill		1988	nor	 66	 703	10.65	15.65	-330
Art Monk		1984	was	106	1372	12.94	16.02	-326
Laveranues Coles	2004	was	 90	 950	10.56	14.17	-325
T.J. Houshmandzadeh	2007	cin	112	1143	10.21	13.10	-325
Raymond Berry		1961	clt	 75	 873	11.64	15.91	-320
Matt Bouza		1986	clt	 71	 830	11.69	16.10	-313
J.T. Smith		1988	crd	 83	 986	11.88	15.65	-313
Ahmad Rashad		1978	min	 66	 769	11.65	16.37	-311
Johnny Morris		1964	chi	 93	1200	12.90	16.13	-300
Billy Johnson		1976	oti	 47	 495	10.53	16.90	-299
Chris Burford		1963	kan	 68	 824	12.12	16.51	-299
Bobby Engram		1999	chi	 88	 947	10.76	14.14	-297
Wes Welker		2007	nwe	112	1175	10.49	13.10	-292
Marty Booker		2001	chi	100	1071	10.71	13.61	-290
Billy Johnson		1983	atl	 64	 709	11.08	15.57	-288
Peter Warrick		2001	cin	 70	 667	 9.53	13.61	-285
Mike Pritchard		1993	atl	 74	 736	 9.95	13.77	-283
Don Stonesifer		1952	crd	 54	 617	11.43	16.64	-282
Jim C. Jensen		1990	mia	 44	 365	 8.30	14.69	-281
Bill Miller		1963	buf	 69	 860	12.46	16.51	-279
John Mistler		1983	nyg	 45	 422	 9.38	15.57	-279
Eric Moulds		2005	buf	 81	 816	10.07	13.48	-276
Hines Ward		2001	pit	 94	1003	10.67	13.60	-276
Clyde Conner		1958	sfo	 49	 512	10.45	16.06	-275
Charley Taylor		1969	was	 71	 883	12.44	16.29	-274
J.T. Smith		1986	crd	 80	1014	12.68	16.09	-273
Al Toon			1989	nyj	 63	 693	11.00	15.34	-273
Quinn Early		1994	nor	 82	 894	10.90	14.20	-270
John Stallworth		1985	pit	 75	 937	12.49	16.09	-269
Brett Perriman		1996	det	 94	1021	10.86	13.72	-269
Sterling Sharpe		1993	gnb	112	1274	11.38	13.77	-268
O.J. McDuffie		1998	mia	 90	1050	11.67	14.64	-267
Peerless Price		2006	buf	 49	 402	 8.20	13.62	-265
Lionel Taylor		1965	den	 85	1131	13.31	16.40	-263
Derrick Mason		2007	rav	103	1087	10.55	13.09	-261
Mike Pritchard		1992	atl	 77	 827	10.74	14.10	-259
You can do this simple calculation for every season of every receiver’s career. If you add up the differentials, you can get a career list. Here’s a list of the top 30 wide receivers, with their career differential totals listed alongside their first year in the league:
			diff	 firstyr
Lionel Taylor		-2036	 1959
Art Monk		-1764	 1980
J.T. Smith		-1716	 1978
Cris Carter		-1658	 1987
Charley Taylor		-1485	 1964
Dwight Clark		-1420	 1979
Jim C. Jensen		-1332	 1981
Al Toon			-1315	 1985
Haywood Jeffires	-1293	 1987
Ahmad Rashad		-1279	 1972
Troy Brown		-1261	 1993
Billy Johnson		-1229	 1974
Jim Gibbons		-1076	 1958
Hines Ward		-1039	 1998
Bobby Engram		-1001	 1996
Bobby Joe Conrad	- 988	 1958
Raymond Berry		- 922	 1955
Ike Hilliard		- 878	 1997
Tom Fears		- 869	 1948
Terance Mathis		- 844	 1990
Chris Burford		- 841	 1960
Bob Chandler		- 825	 1971
Brett Perriman		- 818	 1988
Brian Brennan		- 809	 1984
Don Stonesifer		- 795	 1951
Don Herrmann		- 790	 1969
Keenan McCardell	- 789	 1992
O.J. McDuffie		- 779	 1993
Dan Edwards		- 768	 1948
Mike Pritchard		- 752	 1991

That list isn't perfect, though. It treats a WR that has 70 catches and a 12 YPR average as having a "worst" YPR average than a guy with 50 catches and a 12 YPR average. So once again, I came up with another method that looks purely at YPR, assuming a certain threshold has been met. Any season where a WR accumulated 1% of the receiving yards gained by all WRs in the league counts; any season where a WR hasn’t, doesn’t.

If a WR hits that threshold, his season is included, and he’s given credit for his percentage below league average. Troy Brown in 2002 had 890 yards on 97 catches. That means he averaged 9.18 YPR and the rest of the WRs in the NFL averaged 13.34; in other words, he averaged 31% fewer yards per reception than the average receiver. The table below lists the top 50 seasons since 1950 by NFL WRs under that method:


year team rec recyd ypr lg ypr perc
Gail Cogdill 1966 det 47 411 8.74 16.42 -46.7%
Billy Johnson 1976 oti 47 495 10.53 16.90 -37.7%
Frank Pitts 1973 cle 31 317 10.23 15.98 -36.0%
Billy Johnson 1975 oti 37 393 10.62 16.59 -36.0%
Bob Scarpitto 1964 den 35 375 10.71 16.08 -33.4%
Pervis Atkins 1962 ram 35 393 11.23 16.55 -32.1%
Lonzell Hill 1988 nor 66 703 10.65 15.65 -31.9%
Bob Long 1969 was 48 533 11.10 16.28 -31.8%
Tinker Owens 1978 nor 40 446 11.15 16.33 -31.7%
Troy Brown 2002 nwe 97 890 9.18 13.34 -31.2%
Joel Parker 1974 nor 41 455 11.10 16.04 -30.8%
Bobby Joe Conrad 1966 crd 34 388 11.41 16.34 -30.2%
Gino Cappelletti 1967 nwe 35 397 11.34 16.23 -30.1%
Lionel Taylor 1962 den 77 908 11.79 16.63 -29.1%
Harold Carmichael 1976 phi 42 503 11.98 16.86 -29.0%
Lionel Taylor 1964 den 76 873 11.49 16.16 -28.9%
Billy Johnson 1983 atl 64 709 11.08 15.57 -28.9%
Ahmad Rashad 1978 min 66 769 11.65 16.37 -28.8%
Ron Kramer 1966 det 37 432 11.68 16.34 -28.6%
Al Toon 1989 nyj 63 693 11.00 15.34 -28.3%
Haywood Jeffires 1992 oti 90 913 10.14 14.13 -28.2%
Jim C. Jensen 1988 mia 58 652 11.24 15.63 -28.1%
Harold Carmichael 1974 phi 56 649 11.59 16.06 -27.8%
Mike Pritchard 1993 atl 74 736 9.95 13.77 -27.8%
Cris Carter 1994 min 122 1256 10.30 14.24 -27.7%
Bob Wallace 1969 chi 47 553 11.77 16.27 -27.7%
Matt Bouza 1986 clt 71 830 11.69 16.10 -27.4%
Raymond Berry 1961 clt 75 873 11.64 15.91 -26.8%
Sam McCullum 1981 sea 46 567 12.33 16.85 -26.8%
Al Toon 1988 nyj 93 1067 11.47 15.66 -26.8%
Chris Burford 1963 kan 68 824 12.12 16.51 -26.6%
Jim Gibbons 1960 det 51 604 11.84 16.14 -26.6%
Drew Hill 1992 atl 60 623 10.38 14.10 -26.3%
Lionel Taylor 1961 den 100 1176 11.76 15.95 -26.3%
Nat Moore 1980 mia 47 564 12.00 16.21 -26.0%
Dwight Clark 1980 sfo 82 991 12.09 16.26 -25.7%
Dick Compton 1967 pit 42 507 12.07 16.23 -25.6%
Joe Walton 1962 nyg 33 406 12.30 16.52 -25.5%
Laveranues Coles 2004 was 90 950 10.56 14.17 -25.5%
Eric Moulds 2005 buf 81 816 10.07 13.48 -25.3%
Chris Burford 1965 kan 47 575 12.23 16.36 -25.2%
Chip Myers 1974 cin 32 383 11.97 16.00 -25.2%
Andre Hastings 1996 pit 72 739 10.26 13.72 -25.2%
Bob Newland 1972 nor 47 579 12.32 16.46 -25.2%
Ahmad Rashad 1976 min 53 671 12.66 16.87 -24.9%
Ahmad Rashad 1974 buf 36 433 12.03 16.01 -24.9%
Don Bass 1979 cin 58 724 12.48 16.60 -24.8%
Max Boydston 1962 rai 30 374 12.47 16.52 -24.5%
Bill Miller 1963 buf 69 860 12.46 16.51 -24.5%
Don Herrmann 1973 nyg 43 520 12.09 15.98 -24.3%

It's worth noting that Billy Johnson -- Billy "White Shoes" Johnson -- ranks with some of the "worst" seasons of all time here. Obviously Johnson was very fast and not your typical possession receiver, but surely his teams tried to get him the ball in space, and run a number of screen passes his way. In that sense, his YPR is almost more comparable to a RB's yards per reception ratio, as those plays are low-risk plays that usually gained at least a couple of yards. Just another reason I'm skeptical that a low YPR is a bad thing for a receiver.

That said, here's the career list:

Charley Taylor		1964	-1.61
Lionel Taylor		1959	-1.56
J.T. Smith		1978	-1.34
Wayne Millner		1936	-1.29
Ahmad Rashad		1972	-1.29
Art Monk		1980	-1.26
Don Stonesifer		1951	-1.20
Bob McChesney		1936	-1.10
Bobby Joe Conrad	1958	-1.09
Dwight Clark		1979	-1.08
Billy Johnson		1974	-1.07
Jim Gibbons		1958	-1.07
Al Toon			1985	-1.06
Tom Fears		1948	-1.01
Cris Carter		1987	-1.00
Dan Edwards		1948	-0.95
Bob Chandler		1971	-0.94
Chris Burford		1960	-0.93
Maury Patt		1938	-0.92
Raymond Berry		1955	-0.91
Billy Wilson		1951	-0.87
Al Coppage		1940	-0.85
Haywood Jeffires	1987	-0.83
Joe Aguirre		1941	-0.83
Nick Susoeff		1946	-0.82
Don Herrmann		1969	-0.80
Charley Malone		1934	-0.80
Bill McColl		1952	-0.80
Bob Masterson		1938	-0.77
Sam Busich		1936	-0.76
Jack Matheson		1943	-0.74
Gordie Soltau		1950	-0.74
Bill Swiacki		1948	-0.73
Fred Biletnikoff	1965	-0.72
Bill Stribling		1951	-0.71
Pop Ivy			1940	-0.71
Pat Tilley		1976	-0.71
Mike Pritchard		1991	-0.70
Boyd Dowler		1959	-0.70
Jim Mooney		1933	-0.70
Joel Mason		1939	-0.65
Bill Fisk		1940	-0.64
Max Boydston		1955	-0.64
Clyde Conner		1956	-0.63
Troy Brown		1993	-0.61
Sam McCullum		1974	-0.61
Paul Riblett		1932	-0.60
Ron Kramer		1957	-0.60
Ed Cifers		1941	-0.60
Keyshawn Johnson	1996	-0.59

The above formula solves the problem of guys with a ton of receptions and an average YPR ranking "worse" than a guy with a very low YPR average and an ordinary number of catches. However, it obviously doesn’t look at a player’s entire career — only some seasons are counted. This last formula fixes that:

(Sum over all seasons of: playerREC * 100*playerYPR/leagueYPR)

all divided by

total career receptions.

This is a weighted average of seasonal YPR/LgYPR, weighted by number of
receptions in the season. We have to use a minimum number of receptions if we want to generate a career list, but this stat might do the best job of matching our perception of what a low YPR receiver looks like. Here’s a list of all guys with at least 100 receptions:

Jim C. Jensen		1981	229	61.9
Paul Skansi		1983	166	76.0
Dick Bielski		1955	107	76.1
Jim Gibbons		1958	287	76.9
Billy Johnson		1974	337	77.5
Bob Wallace		1968	109	77.7
George Wilson		1937	111	77.9
Lionel Taylor		1959	567	77.9
Don Stonesifer		1951	231	78.5
Dan Edwards		1948	234	78.9
Don Herrmann		1969	234	79.3
Karl Noonan		1966	136	79.4
Dennis Gentry		1982	171	79.6
J.T. Smith		1978	544	80.3
Lonzell Hill		1987	136	80.3
Peter Warrick		2000	275	80.3
Clyde Conner		1956	203	80.4
Dave L. Smith		1970	109	80.4
Dante Hall		2000	150	81.0
Bill Miller		1962	141	81.0
Wayne Millner		1936	124	81.8
Matt Bouza		1981	234	82.4
Don Bass		1978	117	82.4
Jack Clancy		1967	104	82.6
Dwight Clark		1979	506	82.7
Haywood Jeffires	1987	535	82.9
Wes Welker		2004	208	82.9
Troy Walters		2000	102	83.0
Dick Witcher		1966	172	83.2
Troy Brown		1993	557	83.3
Al Toon			1985	517	83.4
Brian Brennan		1984	334	84.0
Curtis Duncan		1987	322	84.0
Lou Piccone		1974	100	84.2
Ahmad Rashad		1972	495	84.2
Kevin Walter		2003	112	84.7
Dez White		2000	187	84.9
Ken Payne		1974	116	85.1
Chip Myers		1967	220	85.4
Jim Beirne		1968	142	85.5
Tai Streets		1999	196	85.5
Bobby Joe Conrad	1958	422	85.7
Tom Hall		1962	103	85.7
Troy Edwards		1999	203	85.7
Mark Seay		1993	135	86.0
Charley Taylor		1964	649	86.0
Tom Fears		1948	400	86.3
Bob Chandler		1971	370	86.4
Fair Hooker		1969	129	86.7
O.J. McDuffie		1993	415	86.7

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 at 4:48 am and is filed under History, Statgeekery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.