Who Were the Worst Starting Wide Receivers in the NFL in 2014?
The premise here is simple: among the NFL wide receivers to log the most playing time in 2014, which ones were worst?
To answer this important question, we can use numberFire's helpful metric called Net Expected Points, or NEP. NEP essentially illustrates how many points a player adds or subtracts for his team through each play he's involved in. More specifically, we'll be looking at Reception NEP for this study, which analyzes the number of expected points a receiver adds to his team on receptions only.
First, a few notes on the criteria for this examination. The term "starting wide receiver" is a little open-ended, so I sifted through snap count data over at Football Outsiders and pulled the two wide receivers with the most offensive snaps from each team. Then, I only included players that were on the field for at least 60 percent of their team's offensive snaps.
So, that leaves out gadget-type players like Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson, who were among the top-two receivers in terms of playing time, but played fewer than 60 percent of offensive snaps. I also did not include Jeremy Ross in this, who would have qualified, but was obviously playing in place of the injured Calvin Johnson.
Now, remember that the worst receiver will be listed first, followed by the next worst, and so on. So, without further ado, I present you the least productive starting wide receivers in 2014 in terms of Reception NEP:
|Receiver||Reception NEP||Offensive Snap %|
Of the 28 receivers in the NFL to play at least 80 percent of the team's offensive snaps, Riley Cooper was the least productive player. Even if you doubled his Reception NEP value of 45.13, there'd still be 15 receivers adding more points for their respective teams. That's, uh, not good.
His five-year contract extension last offseason ($22.5 million, including $8 million guaranteed) continues to be a head-scratcher for Philadelphia. The organization paid him as the 26th best receiver in the NFL per OverTheCap.com, and his production obviously doesn't come anywhere close to matching his price.
You'll notice Miami's Brian Hartline on this list, who followed up a career year in 2013 with a real clunker last season. In fact, the Dolphins released Brian Hartline last week, illustrating that they also recognized his mediocre play in 2014.
This study is also another indication of Keenan Allen's well-documented struggles in 2014. We knew that he came back to earth following his impressive rookie season, but this is just another reaffirmation of how big the drop was.
It's also important to notice that there are three teams on the above list with multiple offenders -- Tennessee (Nate Washington, Kendall Wright), Jacksonville (Allen Hurns, Cecil Shorts), and Oakland (James Jones, Andre Holmes). Each of these teams had a common denominator - a first-year quarterback under center.