Doug Baldwin Has Become One of the Most Efficient Receivers in Football
Jerry Maguire is one of my favorite movies. Yes, it was one of Tom Cruise's last vintage performances before going off the rails, but the witty dialogue between agent Maguire and his client, Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell, was what really got me. In every sense of the word, Tidwell was the stereotypical "diva" wide receiver who wanted the respect he thought he was due in pursuit of the "kwan" -- the perfect combination of athletic prowess, love, respect, and money.
In a similar vein, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin strikes me as the modern-day NFL receiver most resembling Tidwell, seeking the respect of the media while trying to achieve the kwan contract-wise as well. And he's doing this all while trying to balance knowing his role on the once run-centric Seahawks offense. He's constantly parading around with a giant chip on his shoulder and attempting to defend himself to media members who have referred to the Seahawks wideouts as "appetizers".
However, since Jimmy Graham went down with a season-ending knee injury, you could say Baldwin has achieved the kwan. In his past five games, Baldwin has 30 receptions on 40 targets for 515 yards and 9 touchdowns. He's routinely winning against defensive backs, effectively owning the middle and right side of the field.
Show Me the Efficiency!
According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Baldwin is achieving the kwan on far fewer targets than most of his fellow wideouts. His Reception NEP (a cumulative statistic) of 79.04 is 14th among wide receivers, yet Baldwin, with 80 targets, has more than 20 fewer looks than every receiver in the group ahead of him other than Allen Hurns. When you flip the statistic to Target NEP, which measures points added on all targets, Baldwin ranks 8th among all wideouts.
Where Baldwin's efficiency really shines is his Reception NEP per target, as he ranks third in the category with a 0.99 average. Baldwin is routinely making big plays, especially recently, with eight touchdowns in the past three games against the Steelers, Vikings and Ravens. Baldwin has 36 first downs among his 61 receptions, which also highlights his coming up big in key real-world football situations as well as on the proverbial fantasy football field. Hence, his incredible per-target efficiency.
Naysayers may cite the quality of the opponents defenses the past three weeks, but it isn't like fantasy football owners have to give those points or wins back. At this point, can you be the fantasy owner who doesn't ride this hot streak that Baldwin and his quarterback Russell Wilson are on?
For the rest of the season, we have Baldwin ranked as the 22nd best pass catcher, firmly entrenching him as a WR2 for fantasy purposes. This clearly represents a huge jump from where Baldwin was drafted at the beginning of the season.