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Red Zone Efficient WRs Are Larger on Average

Just a quick post here as I ran some quick numbers I’ve been meaning to run for awhile.

The graph below shows the shape of the Expected Points curve for targets in the passing game.  As you get closer to the other team’s goal line, the value of a passing target increases dramatically.  This curve is the basis of my fantasy efficiency measure FPOP, which is Fantasy Points Over Par.  The Y axis is the average fantasy point expectation, while the X axis is Yards from Own Goal.

Rplot19

The red zone is the highest leverage place on the field for receiver targets and red zone targets tend to play a pretty big role in whether a receiver produces more or fewer fantasy points than average.  I’ve long theorized that larger receivers are more productive in the red zone, and while that theory might be widely held, it’s always fun to see if the numbers back it up.

This post only applies to receivers 25 years old and younger because the work I’m doing right now is related to the draft.  But I did find that the most effective red zone receivers are larger on average.  I split all receivers into two groups, those who were above average in the red zone and those that were below average in the red zone.  Then I averaged the weights of the two groups.  The above average red zone receivers weighed on average 206 pounds compared to the below average red zone receivers who weighed on average 199 pounds.

Note that I often use size and weight interchangeably although height is also a component of size.  But since weight and height enjoy a high correlation anyway and since in this case I can actually show that weight is slightly more predictive of red zone success (just weight predicts about 5% of RZ FPOP, whereas height predicts about 3% of RZ FPOP), I usually just default to discussing size in terms of weight.

Also, even though larger receivers are better on average in the RZ, the fit isn’t all-explanatory.  There are examples of big WRs who are bad in the RZ and and small WRs who are good in that part of the field.

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