The 5 Worst Wide Receiving Corps in the NFL
The NFL is a passing league, and there are some fantastic receiving tandems to watch each and every Sunday. But for as many Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb duos as there are, there are just as many - if not more - teams that are equally as unfortunate.
Celebrating the best and trying to figure out who is the best of the best in terms of receiving threats is fun and all, but sometimes, figuring out who is truly bad isn't just good for the jokes but also helpful to determine which teams really need to make wide receiver a priority before next season.
And with our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, that's quite simple to do.
Analyzing NEP numbers for receivers on each team returns some expected results, but one big-time team ranks in the bottom five at receiver. Take a look.
The Bottom 5
Cumulative Reception NEP is one way to gauge who has the top receiving production - in that sense, it's the Atlanta Falcons - but not every team throws to its receivers quite as much as others. And, Reception NEP correlates very well with receptions. After all, the Falcons receivers are second in receptions with 221 total.
So instead of ranking teams based on Reception NEP, I'll do it by Reception NEP per target. That will evidence just how many points teams are getting when they throw to their receivers.
With that in mind, here are the five worst receiving teams on a per-target basis.
New England Patriots: Reception NEP, 158.74 (22nd) | Reception NEP per Target, 0.57 (28th)
Taking Rob Gronkowski out of the equation really makes evident how depleted the Patriots are at wide receiver. Gronkowski himself ranks seventh in the entire NFL in Reception NEP, adding 102.19 points above expectation with his receptions. Clearly, the Patriots aren't a bad passing team. They rank third in the league in Adjusted Passing NEP per play, which adjusts for schedule strength.
Julian Edelman ranks 19th in the league in Reception NEP but just 54th in Reception NEP per target of the 79 receivers with at least 30 receptions. The big-play Brandon LaFell is just 57th among wideouts with 30 or more catches. With Gronkowski, the inefficiencies of the Patriots wideouts are sufficiently covered, but New England really does own one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL.
Oakland Raiders: Reception NEP, 137.15 (28th) | Reception NEP per Target, 0.55 (29th)
In typical Raiders style, they find themselves near the bottom of the list in something that is important to have: receivers.
Unlike New England, there are no real positives to be had. As a team, Oakland ranks 29th in Adjusted Passing NEP per play. James Jones and Andre Holmes rank a lowly 66th and 67th, respectively, in Reception NEP in the league. Not that Mychal Rivera's metrics count, but he's 81st in Reception NEP, so it's not like he has taken all the opportunity there to be had by Oakland wideouts.
Kansas City Chiefs: Reception NEP, 83.80 (32nd) | Reception NEP per Target, 0.53 (30th)
The Chiefs were the easiest candidate, realistically, to wind up in last. And in their defense - or lack of - they are undeniably last in Reception NEP. Their receivers are the only group to have a combined Reception NEP of 100.00. Seattle, who comes in 31st right now, are at 117.89. The average combined Reception NEP in the league for receivers is 178.83. The Chiefs aren't even half that productive.
But Chiefs receivers have been targeted only 158 times, last in the league. Seattle receivers are the only other team under 200 at 195. The league average is 270.09. It's fair to consider them the worst. Nobody could really argue that, but per-target, they're only third worst. So that's something.
The only receiver to note is Dwayne Bowe, who is 47th in the NFL in Reception NEP. The real production for the Chiefs, who are a respectable 16th in Adjusted Passing NEP considering their wideout play, comes from Travis Kelce, 41st in Reception NEP, and Jamaal Charles, who is 13th among running backs in Reception NEP.
New York Jets: Reception NEP, 135.13 (29th) | Reception NEP per Target, 0.52 (31st)
I included Percy Harvin's metrics, and even those didn't help. Of course, Harvin was dreadful in Seattle this year, but everything about the Jets' passing attack has been dreadful. The team ranks 30th in Adjusted Passing NEP per play, and the receivers are just as bad.
Now, Eric Decker is a respectable 36th in the league in Reception NEP considering the rotten state of the Jets. No other player on the Jets is inside the top 100 in Reception NEP. Harvin is 103rd. Jeremy Kerley is 117th.
For all of the problems in the organization, the wide receivers might be the worst. That's saying a lot.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Reception NEP, 134.14 (30th) | Reception NEP per Target, 0.44 (32nd)
Yeesh. Just 0.44 points added per target for Jaguars receivers, the only mark in the league under 0.50. The Jaguars receivers have been targeted 307 times, seventh in the league. It's no wonder why their per-target metrics are so atrocious.
In their defense, the passing game certainly hasn't helped. The Jaguars, as a team, rank last in the league in Adjusted Passing NEP per play, losing 0.15 points per drop back. Tampa Bay, 31st, loses only 0.05.
As far as individual receivers go, the Jags don't have any receiver inside the top 60 in league-wide Reception NEP. Allen Hurns is 64th, posting a Reception NEP of 47.32. Allen Robinson is 77th, at 41.17.
The biggest plague is Cecil Shorts, the team's most-targeted player. Shorts is just 143rd in the league, posting a Reception NEP of 19.13 on 82 targets.