Who has the best wide receiver duo in the NFL?
- Updated: April 17, 2014
Recently a number of prominent media outlets, including Yahoo, ESPN, and NFL.com, have put out rankings of the top wide receiver duos in the NFL, with Chicago’s Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery topping both lists.
Some Atlanta Falcons fans have protested these rankings, claiming that Julio Jones and Roddy White were every bit as good-and maybe better-in 2012 before they both struggled with injuries last season. White and Jones were certainly an outstanding duo, so I thought I would look into the numbers and see how they compare.
I am going to look at several factors here. We’ll start with just raw statistics.
|Catches||Yards||Touchdowns||Catch %||Yards per target|
Marshall and Jeffery combined for more catches, yards, and touchdowns than their White and Jones, but trailed them in both catch percentage and yards per target. So while Chicago had better volume statistics, the efficiency metrics favor Atlanta’s wide receivers. To me, the two duos are still looking pretty comparable at this point.
Account for offense
Of course, one factor that must be accounted for is different surroundings. The wide receiver tandems played in different offenses with a different quarterback throwing the ball. In order to help account for this, let’s see how their numbers stack up relative to the rest of their team. For the volume numbers (catches, yards, touchdowns), we’ll look at the percentage of the teams’ total production the duo had. For the efficiency numbers (catch percentage and yards per target), we’ll look at how they compare to the team average. So, for example, Marshall and Jeffery averaged 8.7 yards per target, while Chicago quarterbacks averaged 7.7 yards per attempt, meaning the wide receiver duo had a yards per target differential of +1.0.
|Catches||Yards||Touchdowns||Catch %||Yards per target|
Once again we can see that, relative to the total production of their offense, Chicago’s wide receiver duo was leaps and bounds ahead of Atlanta’s for total volume. Now this does not mean that Marshall and Jeffery were necessarily better than White and Jones, but it does mean that the offense relied on them more, which meant defenses could focus more attention on them and make their job more difficult.
In the efficiency numbers, I find it interesting that both duos have significantly lower catch percentages than their team averaged. I guess this makes sense, because the total team numbers include running backs and tight ends, who typically have higher completion percentages due to being targeted on shorter, safer throws. But here we see that Chicago’s wide receiver duo outpaced Atlanta’s, though the Falcons receivers did still post a higher differential in yards per target.
Completion percentage and yards per target often will have a somewhat inverse correlation to each other, since longer throws (which lead to a higher yards per target) inherently will be completed less often.
When you adjust for the offense the wide receiver duos played in, Chicago’s lead in the volume category increases while the efficiency shrinks to basically a tie. Therefore, I would say that Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall were a better wide receiver duo in 2013 than Julio Jones and Roddy White in 2012, and therefore deserve the title of best wide receiver duo in the NFL that many pundits have placed on them.
It should be noted, however, that the numbers are fairly close overall, and certainly both teams can feel very good about their starting wide receivers right now. Perhaps Atlanta’s duo will improve in 2014 (Julio Jones certainly looked significantly better in 2013 before getting injured) and/or Chicago’s will regress some.
It also cannot be overlooked that two new formidable receiving duos have been formed this offseason in free agency. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate combined for 148 catches, 2,390 yards, and 17 touchdowns in 2013, while Washington’s DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon combined for 195 catches, 2,549 yards, and 14 touchdowns. But both of these pairings need to play together for a while before we see how that impacts their numbers and can fairly evaluate them.
So for now, I feel confident in proclaiming that the Chicago Bears have the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. But that may not be the case a year from now. After all, who thought Chicago would even be in this conversation last offseason?
Let me know in the poll below who you think the best wide receiver duo in the NFL will be in 2014.
I like this one.. If we get OBJ.. He replaces everything Ginn did and adds more..He a lot like Harvin, hopefully without the injuries
Really hope Panthers get Cooks or OBJ.. Both very fast and can really stretch the field, would take a lot of pressure off Olsen.
As long as the panthers get someone that can blow the top off coverages.. I'm fine with who they get, cause all we had right now are slow possession WR's.
R1: OT Morgan Moses
R2: WR Davante Adams
R3: CB SJB
R4: WR Martivus Bryant
R5: Best OT
R6: CB Aaron Colvin
R7: QB Tom Savage
alright guys .... goodnight .... Geaux Saints .... fuck panthers, falcons and Bucs .....WHODAT4LIFE!!
@Cam Of Steel you wont get all three ....
@Cam Of Steel Cooks is the best one outta the three
My Dream Saints draft
Trade down to the 2nd round hopefully to top 5 in the 2nd ....
2a :- Jordan Matthews - WR - Vandy
2b:- Kyle Van Noy - DE/OLB - BYU
3:- Stanley Jean-Baptiste - CB - Nebraska
4a:- Bryan Stork - C - Florida State
4b:- best available ILB
5a:- Jerick Mccinnon - RB - Georgia Southern
5b:- Best available OT to backup Armstead
6:- Jeff Janis - WR- Saginaw Valley state
@Javenjp80FearTheFro fuck off ....
I think Ed Dickson could be solud fir Carolina as long as he diesn't have to be the #1 option, which he won't be. Panthers just need to find an OT and WR in the draft.. If they are succesful, the team won't be much different than last year and I'd expect the O to be bether than 28th ranked last year.
Jim McMahon goes to the White House with the rest of the 1996 Green Bay Packers.
@Dom Capers Did Nothing Wrong Tho, given his brain issues its possible he thought it was 1985 again.
@Dom Capers Did Nothing Wrong Is that real? Mother fucking hoser.
Mother bitcher. Wild give up the tying goal with 13 seconds left. Now I have to stay up drinking during overtime.
@bp. and we were only inches from that empty netter
@bp. Sux to be you man.....lol
@bp. i knew they were gonna score. if we lose this game i'm gonna stab somebody to death
@droog who? ....
If the Browns are smart they would take Watkins if there and QB with 22nd pick or 2nd round but they will probably take Johnny.
I think most teams are Iffy on the Top 3 QBs and there is gonna be alot of shuffling. Some teams are banking on Garrappalo in the Second
@Javenjp80FearTheFro Johnny is the best pick for them to put them on the map at this point ...
@Javenjp80FearTheFro DUDE............You may be on to something.
@Javenjp80FearTheFro I agree. I think our D will be better this yr but Hey. Im a Fan
@gatrbuc17 You have many, many hours of honking to do to reach that level.
@gatrbuc17 Also, you have to irrationally hate a division opponent. Probably NO makes the most sense.