Jan. 04, 2017
NFL: WRT Regular Season Ratings: Evans, Jones lead the 2016-17 Wideouts
In 2016, I created an algorithm to use as a metric of rating wide receiver performance and value to their team. I called this statistic WRT, or Wide Receiver Total. It combines different receiving stats and weighs them on a scale of "importance" that reflects how each stat is valued in accordance to each other. For some frame of reference, 45-55 is a good estimate for an average season, or a good season for a 2nd receiver, and 90+ is a very good season for a wide receiver in general. The all-time NFL single-season WRT record is Randy Moss in 2007 with the New England Patriots, a season in which he amassed an amazing 131.92 WRT. Some more explanation will likely come in the future, but let's get into it: here are the NFL's top 10 wide receivers this season by WRT performance. Don't like it? That's fine, you might think some things are more important than I do. It's not just about receiving yards or touchdowns. This is purely statistical, it is not an opinion. Well, here's the list:
10. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks - 93.87 WRT - Baldwin is a consistent receiver and that's what his stats showed.
9. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints - 96.04 WRT - Thomas had a great rookie season, and it helps to be in such a pass-heavy system like the typical 5,000-yard Saints and QB Drew Brees.
8. The Surprise of the List: Tyrell Williams, San Diego Chargers - 96.34 WRT - Admittedly, I did not expect this, but Williams was a great player in a good offense, and a lot of wideouts had down seasons in 2016.
7. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints - 100.59 WRT - Cooks is very possibly the NFL's most dangerous deep threat with the elite speed and catching ability he possesses, and again, he's got a great quarterback with him.
6. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers - 111.18 WRT - Yes. Antonio Brown might on tape be the NFL's best receiver, or second best, or whatever you want to say, but statistically, his season was both sub par by his standards and worse than some other receivers.
5. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants - 111.77 WRT - Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the NFL's finest young receivers and he's always a threat for Eli Manning. Whether it's deep down the field, on a screen, or a slant-and-go, OBJ is a tough receiver to stop and that launched him up these rankings.
4. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers - 113.21 WRT - Being the top target in a great system like this is well earned, and Jordy Nelson sure produced like a number 1 receiver. He amassed an NFL-best 14 receiving touchdowns and, like every other player on this list, over 1,000 receiving yards.
3. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts - 113.37 WRT - Hilton led the league in yards and came close to it in touchdowns, and he definitely deserves what the metric rates him as. However, the overall rating of the metric is based on a player's efficiency, and two guys did it better than T.Y.
2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons - 113.72 WRT - Julio Jones was probably the preseason favorite, maybe second to Antonio Brown, and he comes up just short here. Julio's magnificent season, which could have been far and away the NFL's best without his missing 2 games with a foot injury, was good enough for number 2 and he's looking like one of the NFL's top heading into the playoffs and the 2017-18 season.
1. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 115.12 WRT - Congratulations, Mike Evans. The NFL's best receiver this year by WRT had his best season, notching high figures in every statistic (except fumbles and drops). In a season that required Evans to be incredibly productive for his team to go anywhere in 2016, he went above and beyond as the most valuable and efficient wide receiver in the NFL. Celebrate it now, Mike, the challenge will begin again this fall.