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Wide Receiver Performance Through The Years

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Thanks to Football Study Hall, we can get a better idea of how our wide receivers have been used over the past seven seasons. While I've tracked WR targets for a while, I was always limited by a lack of big picture perspective. That's not the case anymore. (All of this data is available for download at the link above.)

For starters, I was curious about which receivers paid the biggest dividends on a per-target basis. Here are the top 10*** individual seasons over the last seven years, sorted by yards per target. Owen Spencer not surprisingly figures prominently.

Year Player Targets Catches Yds Catch% Yds/Target Yds/Catch
2009 O. Spencer 47 30 765 63.8 16.3 25.5
2009 T. Baker 30 28 355 93.3 11.8 12.7
2009 D. Davis 35 25 380 71.4 10.9 15.2
2005 B. Clark 49 25 532 51.0 10.9 21.3
2011 T.J. Graham 74 46 757 62.2 10.2 16.5
2008 O. Spencer 68 31 691 45.6 10.2 22.3
2011 T. Palmer 51 37 496 72.5 9.7 13.4
2007 D. Bowens 62 41 598 66.1 9.6 14.6
2010 O. Spencer 101 60 912 59.4 9.0 15.2
2008 J. Williams 50 26 432 52.0 8.6 16.6

(***I tossed out Geron James, who averaged 10.5 yds/target in 2006 but was targeted just 11 times.)

The triple-digit targets for Spencer in 2010 are unprecedented in this data set--the only other player to even break 80 was Jarvis Williams, who was targeted 83 times in 2010. Spencer was targeted on about 18-19% of all pass attempts in 2008 and 2010, with a significant drop in 2009 that I can't explain.

Toney Baker is the only non-WR on the list, and he's here primarily because of his reception efficiency, though he did have a big play or two that year. (Watch the Pittsburgh LB who gets killed for paying too much attention to Russell Wilson.)

I'm still in the process of sifting through these figures, and in the future I think I'm going to look at the career progressions of some of the more notable receivers from the last half dozen years. Maybe this will shed some light on what the hell happened to George Bryan.