The good people at Pro Football Focus have introduced a new measure of just how good a receiver is: yards per route run (YPRR). YPRR measures the number of yards a receiver gas gained per ROUTE RUN. They don't show how they did it, but PFF.com takes the number of snaps a WR has and subtracts the plays where the team ran the ball (and the WR just blocked).
|Name||Team||Targets||Yards||Snaps in Route||YPRR||Tgt Rate|
|Steve L. Smith||CAR||127||1174||527||2.23||10.8%|
When you do this, you get a very clear picture of the upper tier of NFL Wide Receivers. Quoting PFF:
"Michael Crabtree played like an elite receiver all season long, he just didn’t play in a pass-heavy offense. Of the Top 5 receivers in YPRR, Crabtree’s 433 snaps in route are the fewest by 98 even though he didn’t miss a game. For the season he ran three less routes thanMichael Jenkins yet totaled 656 more yards. The way Crabtree finished out the season with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback suggests things are pointing up for the fourth-year wideout. Crabtree caught 41 balls for 595 yards and a YPRR of 3.15 in the last seven games of the season with Kaepernick at the helm."
So, wow. yeah. Crabtree had the same yards per route run as Calvin Johnson. PFF believes that Brandon Marshall was the best receiver in 2012, even though Andre Johnson had a higher YPRR. They don't address Johnson directly, but they do discuss "targeting rate", which is targets per route run. By that metric, Brandon Marshall was Welker-esque: Cutler threw the ball to him on 12% of his routes -- that means that Marshall beat his man and got open...a lot. Andre Johnson was 10%. As for Crabtree, his target rate was 10.7%.
So, I think that PFF's assessment of Crabtree is correct: "things are pointing up for the fourth-year wideout."