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Week 4 Air Yards Buy Low WRs

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 John Brown in Week 4.

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): 103
Incomplete Air Yards (gray): 70
YAC (green): 41
aYPT: 10.8
RACR:1 0.83
Market Share Air Yards: 0.36

John Brown broke out in Week 4 because he was efficient and because he got volume. His aYPT was lower than what we usually expect for a deep threat at 10.8, indicating that the Cardinals may have game planned to use him in ways that the opposing defense didn’t expect. Perhaps because the Patriots showed the league how to contain the Arizona offense (take away the deep passes) Bruce Arians will use Brown on more intermediate routes moving forward. If so this could bode well for his volume and production, and perhaps spell the end of Michael Floyd‘s fantasy usefulness.

WRS TO BUY IN SEASONAL LEAGUES – WEEK 3

name air_yards rec_yards ms_air_yards aypt racr target_share predict ppr diff
Allen Robinson 550 238 0.42 13.4 0.43 0.26 16.5 15.7 0.8
Terrelle Pryor 605 290 0.53 15.1 0.48 0.30 16.4 13.5 2.9
Odell Beckham 460 303 0.40 11.8 0.66 0.26 15.0 13.1 1.9
Amari Cooper 377 318 0.33 10.8 0.84 0.23 14.7 13.0 1.7
Jordan Matthews 272 204 0.39 10.5 0.75 0.25 14.1 11.9 2.2
Brandon Marshall 547 249 0.39 14.0 0.46 0.25 13.9 11.7 2.2
Kevin White 412 187 0.36 11.4 0.45 0.25 13.9 9.4 4.5
Quincy Enunwa 260 243 0.19 8.1 0.93 0.21 13.6 13.3 0.3
Jeremy Maclin 408 244 0.36 11.0 0.60 0.22 13.5 12.6 0.9
DeAndre Hopkins 395 227 0.29 12.0 0.57 0.23 13.1 12.9 0.2
Tyrell Williams 275 241 0.27 9.8 0.88 0.20 13.1 11.5 1.5
Alshon Jeffery 352 317 0.31 14.1 0.90 0.17 12.6 12.2 0.4
Kenny Britt 268 281 0.28 10.3 1.05 0.21 12.5 11.5 1.0
Jeremy Kerley 291 202 0.30 9.1 0.69 0.27 12.3 11.1 1.2
Tajae Sharpe 379 172 0.31 11.8 0.45 0.24 11.9 8.3 3.6
Tavon Austin 299 159 0.31 8.5 0.53 0.29 11.9 9.5 2.4

Some familiar names on the list, and some new ones as well. The model’s explanatory power, based almost solely on volume, now stands at an out of sample r-squared of 0.55. I want to emphasize that the model is not optimized to be the best predictor of future ppr points per game. Instead it was created to find buy low candidates. A legitimate question is: why not try and be as accurate as possible?

It turns out that buy low candidates are the hardest to identify. When you look at how players typically regress, or move toward the mean, the upward lift to the mean is usually just half that of the downward fall. So a guy who was producing at 10 points above expected might see his ppr average fall most of the way back to the mean, but the player producing 10 points below expected typically only sees a move of 5 points. This is partially explained by the fact that it is easier to be bad than good — or put another way, that it’s harder to be good than bad.

Typically when you are trying to identify buy low or sell high candidates you do it with efficiency metrics like yards per target that regress very heavily toward the mean. In other words they have almost zero game-to-game or year-to-year “stickiness”.

Air yards are different. They are both very sticky, and very predictive of the things we care about in fantasy. Since volume is necessary for PPR points production, the absence of ppr points when volume is present is a strong signal that positive regression is coming. We want this signal to be as strong as possible. If I were to muddy the waters of the model with other data, it could potentially weaken that signal instead of enhance it.

NOTES:

  • Allen Robinson again tops the list. While he had a nice Week 4, catching a touchdown on five receptions, there is still more upside to be had. The difference between his current production and the predicted production is less than a point per game, so I’m not arguing Robinson is terribly undervalued. What I am saying however is that if you are an owner you should expect more of the same or better moving forward.
  • Terrelle Pryor is back on the list again as well. His MS Air continues to be ridiculous at 0.53, leading the NFL. There is no reason to fade him and he remains a buy.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. had a rough Monday night in front of a national audience. Still, he sports an extremely healthy MS Air of 0.40. If there is an owner in your league who is tired of Beckham’s antics and year-to-date performance, he is the quintessential buy low.
  • Amari Cooper seems to get targeted everywhere but the end zone. He’s been efficient in his targets with a RACR of 0.84, has good target share and sports a MS Air of 0.33. The touchdowns will come. Buy.
  • Deandre Hopkins and Alshon Jeffery make the buy low list for the first time this season. Unfortunately their volume indicates they are basically returning expected value through four weeks. Both are a hold.
  •  Kevin White and Jeremy Kerely both were injured this past weekend. Until their injury situations are better understood they are best ignored.
  • Tajae Sharp has underwhelmed since Week 1, but his volume says better days are yet to come. He is saddled with a terrible offensive scheme and a quarterback that is either not very good or who is being severely misused. Sharpe is going through the normal growing pains typical of an NFL rookie and patience is warranted. I still recommend that you buy low.
  • Tavon Austin is probably a guy you can acquire cheaply. Don’t overpay, but I think Austin has some big weeks left in him this season.

AIR YARDS DATA DUMP AND TENTATIVE ROS PROJECTIONS

As always, here are the full YTD air yards data for all WRs who have received a target through Week 4.

full_nameteamrectartdyaccomp_airincomp_airair_yardsrec_yardsrush_yardsattemptsteam_air_yardsms_air_yardsayptracrcatch_ratetarget_sharepredictpprdiff
Terrelle PryorCLE1940170230375605290154511420.5315.10.480.480.3016.413.52.9
Will FullerHOU1934212919439058432303413430.4317.20.550.560.2315.415.8-0.4
Allen RobinsonJAC214135018836255023804113040.4213.40.430.510.2616.515.70.8
A.J. GreenCIN3244214832010942946804410350.419.81.090.730.3018.722.7-4.0
Odell BeckhamNYG223908821524546030303911490.4011.80.660.560.2615.013.11.9
Emmanuel SandersDEN25423712221583802930429500.409.00.770.600.3415.518.1-2.6
Julio JonesATL2235318430418348748803512220.4013.91.000.630.2517.422.2-4.8
Mike EvansTB264834231836768536004817290.4014.30.530.540.2717.820.0-2.2
Brandon MarshallNYJ163917517437354724903913880.3914.00.460.410.2513.911.72.2
Jordan MatthewsPHI15262751291432722040276910.3910.50.750.580.2514.111.92.2
Marvin JonesDET2336216331916948848203612460.3913.60.990.640.2316.320.8-4.5
T.Y. HiltonIND2544210722923946833604412650.3710.60.720.570.2715.517.7-2.1
Jeremy MaclinKC2037151193215408244-13711310.3611.00.600.540.2213.512.60.9
Kevin WhiteCHI193605413327941218793611470.3611.40.450.530.2513.99.44.5
Antonio BrownPIT284549327618245836904513340.3410.20.810.620.3116.322.2-5.9
Amari CooperOAK2035013018818937731803511290.3310.80.840.570.2314.713.01.7
Michael CrabtreeOAK263746224612437030803811290.3310.00.830.700.2416.120.2-4.1
Dez BryantDAL11231201301833131500239820.3213.60.480.480.1811.28.03.2
Stefon DiggsMIN2534112424871319372-23410040.329.41.170.740.2715.217.1-1.8
Jordy NelsonGB17274821241482722060278580.3210.10.760.630.2913.915.4-1.5
Kenny StillsMIA92025814921136020502111370.3218.00.570.450.1411.010.40.7
Mike WallaceBAL1428358152254406210192812880.3214.50.520.500.1612.313.3-0.9
Marquise GoodwinBUF4151529125634713001611010.3223.10.370.270.138.75.83.0
Tajae SharpeTEN163202714523437917203212160.3111.80.450.500.2411.98.33.6
Tavon AustinLA16351718821129915924359600.318.50.530.460.2911.99.52.4
Sammie CoatesPIT132005522718441128252013340.3120.60.690.650.1411.610.31.3
Alshon JefferyCHI172507524211035231702511470.3114.10.900.680.1712.612.20.4
Jeremy KerleySF18321751271642912020329770.309.10.690.560.2712.311.11.2
Torrey SmithSF922113931962891060229770.3013.10.370.410.189.96.43.5
DeAndre HopkinsHOU173322819919639522703313430.2912.00.570.520.2313.112.90.2
DeSean JacksonWAS152518116217333524302511780.2813.40.730.600.1710.711.3-0.6
John BrownARI183404718931650523603417820.2814.90.470.530.2011.310.40.9
Chris HoganNE815160621872491220158910.2816.60.490.530.1310.06.63.4
Kenny BrittLA1826081200682682810269600.2810.31.050.690.2112.511.51.0
Demaryius ThomasDEN21272131201602613320279500.279.71.270.780.2214.716.6-1.9
Brandin CooksNO18322113142197339255173212540.2710.60.750.560.1813.313.9-0.6
Tyrell WilliamsSD162811449717827524102810200.279.80.880.570.2013.111.51.5
Michael FloydARI123122214832847617003117820.2715.40.360.390.1811.610.31.3
Jarvis LandryMIA3145117220596301377164511370.266.71.250.690.3317.118.7-1.6
Travis BenjaminSD212828419377270277-12810200.269.61.030.750.2012.615.2-2.6
Phillip DorsettIND91814417515633121531912650.2618.40.650.500.119.69.10.4
Davante AdamsGB81622178144222990168580.2613.90.450.500.1710.47.52.9
DeVante ParkerMIA132214713015628617702211370.2513.00.620.590.1611.39.22.1
Doug BaldwinSEA2431211421671287330-43111500.259.31.150.770.2213.817.3-3.5
Nelson AgholorPHI111513684861701200156910.2511.30.710.730.1510.07.32.8
Eric DeckerNYJ92123016416933319402113880.2415.90.580.430.149.910.1-0.2
Corey ColemanCLE71322115211526717301311420.2320.50.650.540.109.09.1-0.1
Robert WoodsBUF182503213811425217002511010.2310.10.670.720.2110.88.82.0
Julian EdelmanNE19280851119020119631288910.237.20.980.680.2411.39.71.6
Charles JohnsonMIN514028621642269001410040.2316.10.400.360.118.23.54.7
Sterling ShepardNYG20262781857025526302611490.229.81.030.770.1712.714.6-1.9
Kelvin BenjaminCAR162944919011730723803013850.2210.60.780.550.1813.916.0-2.1
Vincent JacksonTB122701012725538213702717290.2214.10.360.440.159.56.43.1
Victor CruzNYG16241891569525124502411490.2210.50.980.670.1611.111.6-0.5
Steve SmithBAL2437111616511327828103712880.227.51.010.650.2212.214.5-2.3
Allen HurnsJAC1527110112515528022602713040.2110.40.810.560.1711.610.90.7
Golden TateDET14260614521526095-62812460.2110.00.370.540.179.85.94.0
Chris ConleyKC152304312910523417202311310.2110.20.740.650.1410.68.12.5
Michael ThomasNO2131210915110725822903312540.218.30.890.680.1813.814.0-0.2
Cole BeasleyDAL23290138141592002797299820.206.91.400.790.2212.212.7-0.6
Brian QuickLA814363901051951530149600.2013.90.780.570.1210.210.3-0.1
Larry FitzgeraldARI264039818617035628414017820.208.90.800.650.2414.418.1-3.7
Brandon LaFellCIN132106614659205208-22210350.209.81.010.620.149.78.51.3
Dontrelle InmanSD122116410110120216502110200.209.60.820.570.1510.08.61.3
Ted GinnCAR817014118153271132301713850.2015.90.490.470.116.85.31.5
Adam ThielenMIN13170281177919614501710040.2011.50.740.760.139.26.92.3
Rishard MatthewsTEN122005112910423318002012160.1911.70.770.600.159.87.52.3
Quincy EnunwaNYJ23321801639726024303213880.198.10.930.720.2113.613.30.3
Breshad PerrimanBAL8160209313222511321612880.1714.10.500.500.098.64.83.8
Jamison CrowderWAS182821098711720419602811780.177.30.960.640.1911.812.4-0.6
Randall CobbGB1218061746714113212198580.167.80.940.670.198.76.32.4
Danny AmendolaNE91223388571451210128910.1612.10.830.750.107.98.3-0.4
Terrance WilliamsDAL1114157109481571660149820.1611.21.060.790.119.28.40.8
Andre JohnsonTEN717115571341917201712160.1611.20.380.410.137.65.12.6
Quinton PattonSF101804363881511060189770.158.40.700.560.158.45.23.3
Sammy WatkinsBUF61107561101666301111010.1515.10.380.550.097.53.14.4
Pierre GarconWAS17250661067117717402611780.157.10.980.680.1710.08.61.4
Willie SneadNO15182901592718624901812540.1510.31.340.830.1010.813.0-2.2
Marqise LeeJAC162401105913419316902513040.158.00.880.670.1510.68.22.4
Mohamed SanuATL13201856710717415202012220.148.70.870.650.149.98.61.3
Brice ButlerDAL613175076126570139820.139.70.450.460.107.54.43.1
Paul RichardsonSEA59086581146730911500.1316.20.500.560.065.93.12.9
Malcolm MitchellNE49043328111375098910.1312.60.660.440.086.82.93.9
Eddie RoyalCHI182221231182714524102211470.136.61.660.820.1510.713.5-2.9
Brandon ColemanNO1115024867215811001512540.1310.50.700.730.098.95.53.4
Tyler BoydCIN1218042884213013001810350.137.21.000.670.128.86.32.6
Seth RobertsOAK1019353301101408302011290.127.40.590.530.129.29.10.2
Jaron BrownARI71514610611321915201517820.1214.60.690.470.097.87.10.8
Corey BrownCAR1320140917917013102013850.128.50.770.650.138.98.00.8
Devin FunchessCAR513139511041558401413850.1111.90.540.380.088.24.93.4
Eli RogersPIT915143578914610001513340.119.70.680.600.107.86.31.5
Tyler LockettSEA815034951811312901511500.107.51.140.530.116.75.21.5
Anquan BoldinDET1724265705112113602512460.105.01.120.710.159.810.7-0.9
Josh DoctsonWAS260155162113660611780.1018.80.580.330.045.82.23.7
Robby AndersonNYJ480123496130460813880.0916.30.350.500.055.72.23.6
Adam HumphriesTB192901505510516020572917290.095.51.280.660.1611.19.91.3
Dorial Green-BeckhamPHI710027382361650106910.096.11.070.700.108.03.44.6
Taylor GabrielATL8902189181071100912220.0911.91.030.890.065.64.80.8
Aldrick RobinsonATL58128027107820812220.0913.40.770.630.065.54.80.7
Greg SalasBUF46133563793890611010.0815.50.960.670.056.34.71.5
Ricardo LouisCLE69022464894680911420.0810.40.720.670.077.13.23.9
Donte MoncriefIND71011657441017301012650.0810.10.720.700.067.75.12.6
Tyreek HillKC111425611788967-61411310.086.40.750.790.088.47.41.0
Chris MooreBAL490121875933001012880.0710.30.320.440.055.81.84.1
Bennie FowlerDEN14067616813049500.0717.00.190.250.035.10.64.5
Jermaine KearseSEA121805844388210201811500.074.61.240.670.138.25.62.6
Andrew HawkinsCLE8130432751787001411420.076.00.900.620.105.63.81.9
Albert WilsonKC10160352942716401611310.064.40.900.630.107.34.13.2
Chester RogersIND2600433679390712650.0613.20.490.330.044.51.53.1
Darrius Heyward-BeyPIT24112265379380413340.0619.80.480.500.035.13.02.2
Cameron MeredithCHI68019333467520811470.068.40.780.750.066.22.83.4
Walt PowellBUF7100242637635001011010.066.30.790.700.096.03.03.0
Kamar AikenBAL68010185472280812880.069.00.390.750.056.02.23.8
Matthew SlaterNE0100049490018910.0549.00.000.000.013.70.03.7
Jordan NorwoodDEN5902029194849099500.055.31.020.560.074.42.51.9
Markus WheatonPIT2610323567320613340.0511.20.480.330.044.72.81.9
Justin HardyATL47210243761340712220.058.70.560.570.055.94.91.1
Cody LatimerDEN350121264722059500.059.40.470.600.045.61.34.3
Keenan AllenSD6701845550630710200.057.11.260.860.056.23.13.1
Jalin MarshallNYJ58020442468640813880.058.50.940.630.056.02.93.2
Jaelen StrongHOU6110123430644601113430.055.80.720.550.086.32.73.6
Harry DouglasTEN49011302656410912160.056.20.730.440.073.92.01.9
Rashad GreeneJAC36012124456240613040.049.30.430.500.044.71.43.4
Aaron BurbridgeSF1300529345049770.0311.30.150.330.034.80.44.4
Trevor DavisGB0200028280028580.0314.00.000.000.023.80.03.8
Kendall WrightTEN230593039140312160.0313.00.360.670.024.00.93.2
Rashard HigginsCLE02000353500211420.0317.50.000.000.024.30.04.3
J.J. NelsonARI2301341953350317820.0317.70.660.670.023.21.41.8
Tommylee LewisNO5602130737514612540.036.21.380.830.034.52.52.0
Tanner McEvoySEA1211032133420211500.0316.51.270.500.015.82.83.0
Andre HolmesOAK251862430140511290.036.00.470.400.034.92.42.5
Ryan GrantWAS13005242950311780.029.70.170.330.024.10.43.8
Rod StreaterSF230275152032039770.026.71.600.670.034.11.32.8
Braxton MillerHOU2603619259-2613430.024.20.360.330.044.80.74.0
Leonte CarrooMIA230311920140311370.026.70.700.670.025.20.94.3
Alex EricksonCIN110218018200110350.0218.01.111.000.014.10.83.3
Charone PeakeNYJ330624024300313880.028.01.251.000.025.01.53.5
Andre RobertsDET2305111021160312460.027.00.760.670.023.70.92.8
Jordan TaylorDEN220131601629029500.028.01.811.000.024.81.23.5
Cecil ShortsTB120572027120217290.0213.50.440.500.013.70.63.2
Russell ShepardTB340517926229417290.026.50.850.750.024.21.32.9
Arrelious BennJAC24055914100413040.013.50.710.500.034.60.83.8
James WrightCIN330161101127-6310350.013.72.451.000.024.71.43.3
Bryan WaltersJAC01000121200113040.0112.00.000.000.013.20.03.2
Bradley MarquezLA120844812029600.014.01.500.500.024.10.63.5
Dexter McClusterSD46030-8168182710200.011.32.250.670.043.71.52.2
Josh HuffPHI59020-16519096910.010.63.800.560.095.41.73.7
Jared AbbrederisGB11026068018580.016.01.331.000.013.70.53.3
Cordarrelle PattersonMIN78051167528810040.010.97.430.880.066.53.13.5
Quan BrayIND110070770112650.017.01.001.000.013.60.43.2
Freddie MartinoTB010008800117290.008.00.000.000.013.40.03.4
Mike ThomasLA01000440019600.004.00.000.000.013.90.03.9

  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)

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