Week 3 Air Yards Buy Low WRs
tajae sharpe fantasy

Each week I break out air yards data to attempt to find the wide receivers that stand the best chance to see an increase in their fantasy production.

AIR YARDS EXPLAINED

Air yards give us a complete view of a wide receiver’s game. They show us the volume of yards that are thrown at a guy, the amount of those air yards he caught, and how many yards after the catch he created on passes he did catch. Matt Harmon has tweeted out some very cool route visualizations this season from NFL Next Gen Stats. Below is one for Terrelle Pryor in Week 3.

What I love about these visualizations is that they graphically depict the information captured in air yards.

From the above picture, here are the corresponding air yards data:

Completed Air Yards (white): 97
Incomplete Air Yards (gray): 101
YAC (green): 57
aYPT: 14.1
RACR:1 0.72
Market Share Air Yards: 0.85

The Cleveland Browns threw 233 yards in the air Week 3, and 198 of them were directed at Pryor. That’s incredible. The past two weeks I preached caution on Pryor because his situation was destabilized each week by injuries at quarterback. At this point I’m ready to put those concerns aside. There is little doubt Cleveland wants to direct the bulk of their passing offense through Pryor. Given the state of their team (bad), it is a solid bet they will be passing a lot, and Pryor will benefit. The returns of Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman should keep Pryor’s price low, but his role should remain. Take advantage of the uncertainty. Despite his breakout week, Pryor remains a good buy low candidate and a potential league winner.

WRS TO BUY IN SEASONAL LEAGUES – WEEK 3

name air_yds ms_air_yds aYPT RACR tar_share predict ppr diff
Terrelle Pryor 528 0.55 17.0 0.46 0.34 14.33 12.80 1.53
Kevin White 326 0.36 12.1 0.40 0.25 11.59 8.73 2.86
Brandon Marshall 348 0.35 12.9 0.46 0.24 11.15 9.33 1.82
Tajae Sharpe 303 0.34 12.1 0.52 0.23 11.12 9.90 1.22
Golden Tate 214 0.22 9.7 0.44 0.18 9.35 7.47 1.88
Jeremy Kerley 201 0.28 8.7 0.57 0.24 9.27 7.80 1.47
Torrey Smith 238 0.33 11.9 0.43 0.21 9.22 8.10 1.12

We’ve come to the point in the season where the buy lows start to become less obvious. Star players who were receiving volume but that had not turned that volume into points (Allen Robinson, Demaryius Thomas, TY Hilton, Dez Bryant) had great Week 3 performances that have brought their points per game averages in line with what the model predicted based on their volume. The list above has some solid buy low candidates, but since the model only has an explanatory power of 52 percent we need to be pretty discerning with some of the names in this group. They are truly “buy lows,” with an emphasis on low. Still, there is a decent shot a good percentage of them will hit.

Notes:

  • Pryor was discussed above, but it’s worth noting that even despite his breakout game Week 3 he still leads the list of buy low candidates.
  • Kevin White is a player everyone loves to hate. Tape grinders dislike his limited route tree, and metrics folks think he’s an overrated prospect that produced too little, too late at an advanced age. Because of this, White is the ultimate contrarian upside play. If he proves everyone wrong and things start clicking for him, the volume is there for a seemingly unexpected breakout.
  • Brandon Marshall has been on the list two straight weeks, and his pedigree makes him an obvious Buy Low relative to his production to date. Still, there will be those who are ready to weave his age, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s struggles Week 3, and his knee injury into a narrative tapestry of impending doom. Marshall is the safest play on this list, and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy low on him.
  • Tajae Sharp missed having Delanie Walker on the field. Marcus Mariota is struggling as a passer, and the defense was able to key on him. Despite these struggles, he still amassed a 29 percent market share of air yards in Week 3, and a 21 percent target share. Sharpe remains a strong buy.
  • Golden Tate is another returning name on this list from Week 2. Tate’s Week 3 was brutal, with an 11 percent market share of air yards and 14.6 percent target share. There is no doubt left that Marvin Jones is the WR to own in Detroit, but Tate is an excellent buy low currently. There are still crooked numbers to come for Tate this season given his role and the volume being directed his way.
  • Jeremy Kerley and Torrey Smith are playing on what is probably the worst offense in football, with a coach who is run-first by nature. Until and unless Chip Kelly changes his approach, changes his quarterback, or opponents of the Forty Niners begin to look past them and shirk on their preparation, the type of garbage time stats you might typically expect from a team with the Niner’s game script will be hard to come by. Torrey is a hold, but not a buy. Kerley is probably not yet worth rostering, except in the deepest leagues. It should also be noted that just before this article went to press, the Niners signed Keshawn Martin to a two year deal, adding perhaps more target competition.

Air Yards Data Dump And Tentative ROS Projections

It is far too early to create reliable rest of season projections, but with three weeks worth of data in the books I went ahead and added the ppr points per game predicted by the air yards model that drives the buy low recommendations. The r-squared of the model is 0.52, so there is a ton of unexplained variance. Do not treat these projections as gospel. Instead you might use them to maybe identify some sell high candidates. You also might combine them with DFS ownership percentages and salaries to find over and under priced receivers for your lineups.

full_namecomp_airincomp_airair_yardsyacteam_air_yardsms_air_yardsayptracrtarget_sharepredictppr
Mike Evans2622264883912870.3813.20.620.2616.323.0
Jarvis Landry169742431479950.246.91.300.3115.320.5
Marvin Jones2651434081439660.4214.11.000.2415.223.6
A.J. Green202101303938180.379.50.970.2815.019.2
Antonio Brown2141713859110500.379.60.790.3414.922.2
Terrelle Pryor190338528649680.5517.00.460.3414.312.8
Stefon Diggs222532751037840.3510.21.180.2914.219.5
Jordy Nelson124148272828580.3210.10.760.2914.020.5
Allen Robinson1342764104910960.3713.20.450.2413.915.4
Jordan Matthews129143272756910.3910.50.750.2513.815.8
Odell Beckham198107305828370.3610.20.920.2813.615.7
Amari Cooper1561713271148690.3811.30.830.2513.414.0
Doug Baldwin18471255928590.309.41.080.2513.419.9
Larry Fitzgerald1541202746813100.218.30.810.2713.320.4
Demaryius Thomas129521811095750.319.11.310.2113.214.9
T.Y. Hilton1951813769910500.3611.10.780.2712.817.8
DeAndre Hopkins1961303262710560.3112.10.680.2512.716.8
Michael Crabtree16068228608690.269.10.960.2112.615.7
Kelvin Benjamin16372235379930.2410.70.850.2012.617.0
Will Fuller1623445068010560.4820.20.480.2312.514.1
Quincy Enunwa12393216609950.228.60.850.2212.413.8
Brandin Cooks11417829211010530.2811.20.770.1912.216.5
Jeremy Maclin128207335388300.4011.60.500.2512.212.5
Emmanuel Sanders14557202605750.357.01.010.3112.116.5
Alshon Jeffery20984293629080.3214.70.920.1911.813.7
Sterling Shepard17533208588370.2510.91.120.1811.817.1
Kenny Britt14668214536670.329.70.930.2411.611.3
Kevin White103223326299080.3612.10.400.2511.68.7
Michael Thomas129301598710530.157.21.160.1611.613.8
Travis Benjamin15933192706800.289.11.190.2111.617.3
Dez Bryant130183313208030.3913.60.480.2311.510.7
Tyrell Williams621191811396800.279.11.110.2011.312.4
Cole Beasley13150181828030.237.21.180.2511.313.8
Brandon Marshall110238348509950.3512.90.460.2411.29.3
Adam Humphries518914015012870.115.61.440.1711.112.7
Julio Jones123111234657760.3011.70.800.1911.113.6
Tajae Sharpe132171303258940.3412.10.520.2311.19.9
Tavon Austin86146232596670.358.00.630.3211.011.5
Jamison Crowder761011779910540.177.10.990.2010.915.2
Julian Edelman9535130856340.215.41.380.2710.912.0
Willie Snead151271787510530.1710.51.270.1210.516.2
DeVante Parker125148273329950.2714.40.580.1710.410.9
Mike Wallace113162275539480.2915.30.600.1510.414.9
Eric Decker164169333309950.3315.90.580.1910.413.5
DeSean Jackson1571583158110540.3013.70.760.1910.314.6
Allen Hurns1241322565510960.2311.10.700.1810.010.3
Michael Floyd1142633772013100.2915.70.360.209.89.5
Davante Adams78144222218580.2613.90.450.179.710.0
Chris Hogan62131193606340.3014.80.630.159.78.7
Nelson Agholor8486170366910.2511.30.710.159.79.7
Victor Cruz11760177788370.2111.81.100.149.412.2
Golden Tate45169214609660.229.70.440.189.37.5
Jeremy Kerley66135201487270.288.70.570.249.37.8
Mohamed Sanu4673119847760.157.01.090.179.310.0
Marqise Lee451261719610960.169.50.820.149.38.7
Torrey Smith90148238137270.3311.90.430.219.28.1
Kenny Stills105200305289950.3117.90.430.159.19.0
Steve Smith11476190569480.207.30.890.229.011.0
Sammie Coates1701343043310500.2925.30.670.109.09.1
Rishard Matthews82104186168940.2110.30.530.178.76.6
Pierre Garcon96651613710540.158.10.840.168.68.8
Corey Coleman152115267219680.2820.50.650.148.612.1
Randall Cobb7467141618580.167.80.940.198.48.4
Vincent Jackson892102991012870.2313.60.330.158.46.3
Tyler Boyd9138129298180.168.60.930.138.47.7
Chris Conley7395168298300.2010.50.610.148.36.4
Anquan Boldin543993509660.105.81.130.138.211.2
Adam Thielen11240152127840.1910.90.820.158.27.8
Brandon LaFell10944153598180.1910.21.070.138.18.5
Robert Woods6884152137750.2010.10.530.198.06.4
Brandon Coleman76481241710530.1210.30.750.097.96.1
Seth Roberts25110135468690.168.40.530.147.78.7
Dorial Green-Beckham382361276910.096.11.070.107.64.5
Marquise Goodwin79190269527750.3526.90.440.137.66.9
Eli Rogers57891464310500.149.70.680.137.58.3
Sammy Watkins5611016677750.2115.10.380.147.54.1
Quinton Patton5251103417270.146.90.900.167.56.1
Phillip Dorsett1291092382210500.2315.90.630.127.57.7
Donte Moncrief57441011610500.1010.10.720.087.46.8
Eddie Royal662793649080.106.21.400.147.410.0
Danny Amendola88492336340.159.21.320.117.311.0
Breshad Perriman78114192119480.2017.50.460.097.34.6
Jermaine Kearse393877408590.095.11.030.147.15.6
John Brown86246332613100.2518.40.280.157.05.7
Brian Quick732295116670.1411.90.880.097.06.8
Terrance Williams722092508030.1111.51.330.086.86.4
Jaron Brown101511524413100.1215.20.950.086.78.8
Devin Funchess309012049930.1212.00.230.096.53.9
Malcolm Mitchell3281113436340.1812.60.660.106.53.8
Andre Johnson3112315488940.1712.80.250.116.34.6
Corey Brown564399279930.107.60.840.126.25.4
Greg Salas563793337750.1215.50.960.086.06.3
Charles Johnson9129138117840.1813.80.140.116.01.7
Keenan Allen45550186800.077.11.260.076.04.1
Tyler Lockett841094328590.117.81.230.115.96.2
Dontrelle Inman38589676800.149.60.470.105.83.2
Ted Ginn103117220159930.2218.30.540.115.75.9
Tyreek Hill-53732488300.044.61.340.065.65.4
Jalin Marshall442468209950.078.50.940.075.53.8
Justin Hardy243761107760.088.70.560.075.46.5
Josh Doctson51621131510540.1118.80.580.055.02.9
Paul Richardson408112168590.1415.10.380.074.92.9
Ricardo Louis30333109680.038.31.210.044.92.3
Josh Huff-165206910.010.63.800.094.82.3
Albert Wilson-22927148300.033.40.440.074.82.1
Cody Latimer2102115750.047.01.050.034.71.7
Kamar Aiken12395179480.0512.80.370.034.61.6
Chris Moore134457119480.0611.40.420.044.51.8
Brice Butler12536548030.0816.30.250.044.30.9
Leonte Carroo1101139950.015.51.270.024.31.1
Cameron Meredith21295039080.0616.70.480.034.21.5
Andre Holmes6243088690.036.00.470.044.23.1
Cordarrelle Patterson60687840.013.02.330.024.11.1
James Wright11011168180.013.72.450.034.01.9
Taylor Gabriel481866137760.0911.00.920.063.93.7
Tanner McEvoy01108590.001.00.000.013.90.0
Braxton Miller61925310560.024.20.360.063.91.0
Andrew Hawkins143650289680.055.00.840.113.83.1
Jaelen Strong152136010560.037.20.420.053.80.8
Jordan Taylor1601645750.0316.01.250.013.71.0
Walt Powell13821157750.034.21.330.063.71.9
Arrelious Benn7916210960.018.00.560.023.60.6
Rashad Greene104454610960.0510.80.300.043.61.2
Bennie Fowler70765750.017.01.860.013.60.8
Aldrick Robinson34225607760.0711.20.610.053.52.1
Darrius Heyward-Bey-353501010500.0516.70.140.033.50.6
Russell Shepard17926512870.026.50.850.033.51.7
Aaron Burbridge0191907270.0319.00.000.013.50.0
Robby Anderson2602689950.0313.01.310.023.41.8
Tommylee Lewis227292010530.035.81.450.043.42.7
Rod Streater51520277270.036.71.600.033.41.7
Rashard Higgins0353509680.0417.50.000.023.30.0
Harry Douglas302656118940.066.20.730.083.32.7
Ryan Grant52429010540.039.70.170.023.20.5
Alex Erickson1801828180.0218.01.110.013.21.0
Bradley Marquez44886670.014.01.500.023.20.7
Jordan Norwood141933105750.064.70.730.073.11.8
Matthew Slater0494906340.0849.00.000.013.00.0
Cecil Shorts72027512870.0213.50.440.013.00.7
Mike Thomas04406670.014.00.000.013.00.0
Markus Wheaton23537010500.047.40.050.042.90.4
Jared Abbrederis60628580.016.01.330.012.80.6
Trevor Davis0282808580.0314.00.000.022.70.0
Quan Bray707010500.017.01.000.012.70.6
Andre Roberts5101539660.027.50.530.022.50.6
Chester Rogers03434010500.0311.30.000.022.50.0
Dexter McCluster31619106800.036.30.470.032.21.0
J.J. Nelson101929113100.0214.50.380.021.80.7
  1. RACR is a measure of how well a receiver converts air yards into receiving yards. The formula is: (completed air yards + YAC) / total air yards. It captures a receiver’s catching ability with his ability to create yards after the catch into one efficiency metric. It is the most predictive efficiency metric I have found for WRs.  (back)

Josh Hermsmeyer

Air yards, Numbers Game, and predictive modeling.
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