Using Air Yards to Better Predict Receiving Yards

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing fantasy footballers that efficiency is useful. Unless you are talking about quarterbacks, I can’t really think of a good efficiency metric. When you test them to see if they predict anything, you always find that they come crashing back to the mean the next season like a garbage meteorite. But maybe that is about to change.

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By Josh Hermsmeyer | @friscojosh | Archive

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  1. David says:

    If I'm following correctly, we can think of Air Yards as a more detailed version of Targets. Much like how number of targets is not dependent on the player's efficiency skill (how many caught, etc), having Air Yards include the incomplete ones gives us an idea of the player's potential. We can measure potential, and add in the YAC feature as a generalized way to capture efficiency.

    I like it.

  2. Hi Jerruh,

    I think that is right. We've been missing the total volume stat for WR. And it turns out that we can predict that total volume stat pretty well year over year, so we should be able to make better receiving yard predictions.

  3. David says:

    Now the battle becomes using a stat with a 0.77 correlation to link to other stats that could help us... war ain't what it used to be.

  4. Jason says:

    Draft is coming up so a few quick takeaways that may influence some decisions here.

    1. Keenan Allen was on a torrid pace last year, but looking at his incomplete air yards, does he have to come down to the mean a bit from last season? Think he's a very safe round 2 option regardless.

    2. Alshon Jeffry was on pace for 2441 air yards last season, behind only Hopkins. He's a red zone monster and he looks very appealing in the second round this season.

    3. Emmanuel Sanders had a very poor catch rate this past season. However, he actually had a much higher air yards per target than Demaryius. Sanders also averaged more YAC on a per catch basis than Demaryius did. It's good to see Sanders not just used underneath, but I think he sees his catch rate go up this season as they target him more on quicker routes instead of deep. I like him a lot in the middle rounds this year.

    Also, do you have earlier seasons air yards data?

  5. Jason says:

    Some other notes I found:

    TY Hilton had a very impressive 12.9 aYPT and 5.5 Yac per reception. Guys who have higher than average scores in both areas intrigue me, especially a known player like Hilton in a great offense.

    Sanders had 13.7 aYPT and 5.1 Yac/Rec

    Everyone's favorite Stefon Diggs had 10.6 a YPT and 5.6 Yac/Rec (Avg YAC/Rec of all players with at least 75 targets was 4.5 for reference). He bested fellow rookie Amari Cooper in both categories.

    Terrance Williams had a very respectable 12.8 aYPT and 5.3 Yac/Rec

    Michael Floyd went 15.8 aYPT and 4.0 Yac/Rec - love him this year with injury concerns to the other 2 WRs

    Keenan Allen had just 7.6 aYPT and 3.5 Yac/Rec.

    Ted Ginn had a very impressive 16.2 aYPT and 5.5 Yac/Rec

    Marvin Jones had the same aYPT as Calvin Johnson, and Jones averaged a full yard better Yac/Rec. He likely won't see Megatron volume of targets, but should he see 100+ he will be a great mid-round pick.

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