The Least Successful Wide Receivers From 2014

Which wide receivers did the least with their opportunities last year?

If you've never read a football article on numberFire before (shame on you), then you may not be aware of our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. NEP looks past basic statistics like yards and touchdowns and instead looks at how well a player performs versus how he's expected to perform. After all, a 15-yard gain on 3rd-and-15 is much more impactful than a 15-yard gain on 3rd-and-20, right?

Before you get going to the rest of the article, check out our glossary to learn more about NEP.

Receivers can be tricky with NEP, mostly because there are a lot of ways to measure their success. You can look strictly at Reception NEP, which measures the impact a player has on catches only. This is good for fantasy football purposes, as fantasy football is a volume game -- it doesn't care if a receiver drops balls or has a low catch rate as a result.

There's also Target NEP -- this shows us the number of expected points a player is adding on all targets thrown his way. Unlike Reception NEP, which is almost always a positive outcome, receivers will sometimes have negative Target NEP totals because interceptions and incomplete passes can happen. Reception NEP only cares about catches, so those aspects of the game aren't captured.

Got it so far? Good.

One metric we have but often don't write about with receivers is Success Rate. What Success Rate does is it gives us a black and white look at how often a player is successful on a play. For instance, if a catch contributes positively towards a player's NEP, then it's a success, no matter how big or small the impact. If he doesn't -- say, he fumbles or gets tackled for just a couple of yards when he needed more -- then it's a failure.

Naturally, because it's easy to be successful when you actually catch the football (How often do short gains really occur on a catch? Not very.), Success Rates for receivers will skew higher than at running back or quarterback. These rates for wide receivers will also trend downwards for players who play closer to the line of scrimmage because, well, their catches just aren't as big and vital as other receivers' grabs.

With that being said, let's take a look at the 10 worst wide receivers (minimum of 50 targets) in terms of Success Rate from 2014.

Full NameRecRec NEPTargetsTarget NEPRec NEP/TargetSuccess Rate
James Jones7352.8211116.380.4868.49%
Chris Hogan4135.256118.790.5870.73%
Hakeem Nicks3831.3669-3.740.4571.05%
Kendall Wright5751.949317.930.5671.93%
Robert Woods6558.4810416.870.5672.31%
Michael Crabtree6862.5310824.050.5873.53%
Percy Harvin5131.8678-0.910.4174.51%
Brandin Cooks5341.586925.650.6075.47%
Doug Baldwin6667.639842.400.6975.76%
Jarvis Landry8463.2911228.570.5776.19%

As I noted above, a lot of these wide receivers are ones who stuck close to the line of scrimmage, seeing targets that didn't go deep downfield. As a result, most of their successes had to come in the form of yards after the catch.

And according to's average depth of target data, that's certainly the case. Jarvis Landry, for instance, had the second lowest average depth of target in the NFL among receivers last year. Brandin Cooks, Kendall Wright and Doug Baldwin each were low on the list as well.

What you tend to notice with this type of data, though, is that it can become increasingly difficult for these wideouts to make a name for themselves in fantasy football. Touchdowns and big plays matter, and when you're not adding to a team's bottom line at a strong enough pace, your performance will suffer, especially in standard, non-PPR leagues.

These players, then, need volume to really do something big in pretend pigskin. And that's precisely what I found with Jarvis Landry.

Keep that in mind as you approach your drafts next month.