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College Receiving Production Analysis: Adjusted Production Index of Top Devy WRs

In case you missed the introduction of the Adjusted Production Index in May, it turns out that peak collegiate production can be quite predictive of NFL success for wide receivers.

Practically speaking the Adjusted Production Index looks a wide receiver’s production profile from three angles. First is peak dominator rating. Can a player demand and account for a large percentage of their team’s receiving offense? Second is their peak yards per team pass attempt. It’s easy to find highly efficient players that often either add YAC or burn defenders deep looking at this metric. Third is peak touchdowns per team pass attempt. Are they go-to scoring machines for their team or just chain movers?1

Regardless of the practical applications, all three variables have shown to be some of the most predictive for future NFL production. When you combine them using z-scores you get one solid metric that neatly summarizes a player’s overall peak production profile. However, what are we supposed to do with this information? Draft the players who fit the metric already, or who very well could soon.

This year’s top rookies with a Adjusted Production Index score and draft capital to go with it as outlined before: Andy Isabella, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Marquise Brown, N’Keal Harry, and A.J. Brown. Hopefully you were able to be to nab some of those options this summer in your rookie drafts. But for devy and current college prospecting purposes go what wide receivers already have a good score? What receivers really need to improve their production profiles? Let’s start off with a look at 40 of the top NFL hopeful wide receivers in college right now.

PlayerSchoolAdjusted Production IndexPercentileRankEligibilitySum of peakADRpeakADR Z-scoresSum of peakAYPTApeakAYPTA Z-scoresSum of peakATDPTApeakATDPTA Z-scores
Tyler JohnsonMinnesota5.7807792350.98320200.73513993.4442606033.501724741.088347170.03620691.248171461
Darnell MooneyTulane2.5055873470.84520200.475455571.2083748753.343434340.914483920.026936030.382728552
Laviska ShenaultColorado1.2786824730.70820200.43556820.8649440593.20952380.7673990570.01904762-0.353660643
Antonio Gandy-GoldenLiberty1.0601410230.66220200.439994040.9030506042.525162360.0157090970.024350650.141381323
Tylan WallaceOklahoma State0.9781459430.64220200.366897630.2736894873.024340770.5639974390.024340770.140459017
Jalen ReagorTCU0.942620390.6420200.442979270.9287534762.594132030.0914641080.02200489-0.077597194
James ProcheSouthern Methodist0.871621830.63220200.398118140.5424985172.567451820.0621590590.025695930.266964255
Jerry JeudyAlabama0.8390534150.62520200.27091059-0.5527602753.002283110.5397697130.031963470.852043978
JD SpielmanNebraska0.711926730.60320200.418106970.7146026242.42970295-0.0891417550.023762380.086465862
Rondale MoorePurdue0.3483638220.53720210.372572350.3225489062.47151277-0.0432186210.023575640.069033538
Quez WatkinsSouthern Miss0.3106654730.53520200.395309130.5183129012.29123711-0.2412300750.023195880.033582647
CeeDee LambOklahoma0.1762040470.51920200.25600432-0.6811034692.8950.4219319270.02750.435375589
Jayden ReedMichigan State-0.2558612070.46920210.356559210.1846755462.18586501-0.3569688430.02194093-0.08356791
Kalija LipscombVanderbilt-0.4454256770.43620200.33207071-0.0261707832.21791768-0.3217627820.02179177-0.097492111
Damonte CoxieMemphis-0.5099029280.42420200.29739354-0.3247417042.842615010.3643932220.01694915-0.549554446
Michael Pittman Jr.USC-0.5752586450.40220200.352157920.1467803772.26832918-0.2663917220.01795511-0.4556473
Denzel MimsBaylor-0.6695490760.38420200.331358-0.0323072262.35281385-0.1735953220.01786942-0.463646528
Justin JeffersonLSU-1.0565132650.35320200.32377698-0.0975799152.26098191-0.2744618280.01550388-0.684471523
Tee HigginsClemson-1.1702572060.33920200.27399012-0.5262454791.84980237-0.7260938370.023715420.082082109
Donovan Peoples-JonesMichigan-1.3109631430.3220200.27579648-0.5106926941.76368876-0.8206794350.023054760.020408985
Collin JohnsonTexas-1.4159481910.30320200.28256088-0.4524511152.22850679-0.3101318990.0158371-0.653365177
Justyn RossClemson-1.4460900110.29920210.25831706-0.6611907462.11744779-0.4321170530.01905703-0.352782213
Rashod BatemanMinnesota-1.5130983480.28720210.27969786-0.4771017572.03468208-0.5230253790.01734104-0.512971211
Henry Ruggs IIIAlabama-1.5922650560.27720200.19510504-1.2054471251.81262231-0.7669317280.026908020.380113797
Tamorrion TerryFlorida State-1.596848750.27720200.31477939-0.1750492911.64966741-0.9459183790.01773836-0.47588108
Bryan EdwardsSouth Carolina-1.6770910580.2720200.28080013-0.4676111972.00759494-0.5527773940.01580135-0.656702467
Damon Hazelton Jr.Virginia Tech-1.7380657030.26120200.25944618-0.6514690061.87383178-0.6997003770.01869159-0.38689632
Seth WilliamsAuburn-1.8151732940.25320210.27478265-0.5194217841.82204726-0.7565795370.01706037-0.539171973
Isaiah HodginsOregon State-1.9244052920.24120200.29354712-0.3578594342.0372093-0.5202495280.01162791-1.04629633
Jeshaun JonesMaryland-2.0004075020.23120210.29328908-0.3600811621.19502075-1.4452938690.02074689-0.19503247
Nico CollinsMichigan-2.1137451590.2220200.23769615-0.838737071.82132565-0.757372140.01729107-0.517635949
Tyler VaughnsUSC-2.1262773540.21620200.27941341-0.4795508761.680798-0.9117251140.01496259-0.735001364
Amon-Ra St. BrownUSC-2.8108546510.16820210.22777457-0.9241620132.04035364-0.5167958430.00816141-1.369896795
Jaylen WaddleAlabama-2.8248924920.16820210.15465833-1.5536938671.93607306-0.6313357050.01598174-0.639862921
Jeremiah HollomanGeorgia-2.9475084820.15720200.17730967-1.3586655111.49019608-1.1210787410.01782531-0.46776423
Devonta SmithAlabama-3.0119033970.15220200.14893469-1.6029744871.8256059-0.7526707920.01580611-0.656258118
TJ VasherTexas Tech-3.118752870.14720200.18147123-1.3228344211.45512425-1.1596009910.01601972-0.636317458
Ja'Marr ChaseLSU-4.1019319320.0520200.18320757-1.3078845091.05142118-1.6030209830.01007752-1.19102644
Jhamon AusbonTexas A&M-4.1346860510.04820200.16856409-1.4339650781.37769115-1.2446520770.00723831-1.456068897
Elijah MooreOle Miss-5.3312894760.00720200.10417103-1.9883902290.98677685-1.6740251210.00495868-1.668874126

The percentile rank of each receiver’s API score is based on NFL wide receivers to enter the league in between 2005 and 2016. Essentially, if a receiver entered the league today their production profile would be around the X percentile among typical NFL prospects.

Knowing this, the first thing that likely jumps out to you is just how ridiculous Tyler Johnson is from a production standpoint. There have been just five NFL wide receivers with more impressive balanced production profiles. Four out of those five were drafted inside Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Three out of those four wide receivers are Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, and Jordy Nelson. That’s the company Tyler Johnson’s production profile keeps. If he’s drafted inside the top 50 picks like those three, Tyler will be sitting amid a tier of players that has essentially never missed in the NFL.

The second thing you may notice when looking at current production scores is that Rondale Moore is an absolute unicorn. Moore broke out as a true freshman with 114 receptions, 1,258 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns through the air. He won the Paul Hornung award for being the most versatile player in college football. He added 213 yards on the ground, and over 700 in the return game. And of all the 2021 eligible receivers Moore is the only one with an above average production score. He could essentially sit out the next two seasons and already have an adequate production profile. All he needs to do is improve on his efficiency via adjusted yards per team pass attempt. Hopefully Purdue pushes his aDOT a bit this season.

Historically speaking those two wide receivers are on pace to be the safest options in all of college football for the 2020 and 2021 NFL Draft classes. But there are several other already impressive receivers and those who could certainly prove themselves this season.

Let’s break things down just by adjusted dominator rating first to find a few other wide receiver targets.

Typically it’s a good indicator if a player can exceed 30% dominator rating at some point — especially at an early age. Several of these top receivers have already done that, but a few have a real shot to make huge leaps in 2019.

J.D. Spielman may be in the easiest position to skyrocket to elite-level production status this year. Nebraska has a budding sophomore star at quarterback. They just graduated away 1,300 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Spielman should easily accrue 1,000 yards and double digit touchdowns in 2019. If the passing volume holds steady those numbers would push Spielman’s ADR to around 50%. He isn’t ranked highly by most, but needs to be.

Bryan Edwards on the other hand is ranked highly by our team and currently sits rights on the cusp of having a decent dominator rating. Thanks to the departure of Deebo Samuel (now a 49er), Edwards’ market share should see a huge uptick. And he absolutely needs it to complete his profile. If Edwards rounds out his Adjusted Production Index to go with his impressive physical traits and breakout age he’ll be quite the top-notch prospect.

Seth Williams is already a 2021 NFL Draft fan favorite in devy fantasy leagues. His hype should explode even further when people see his 2019 campaign. Auburn just lost about 120 receptions via graduation, the NFL, and transfers. Williams already “broke out” posting a 27% adjusted dominator rating. And now he could he see that skyrocket somewhere near 40%. Given his high yards per reception that should boost his YPTA numbers well above average as well. Williams is 6 feet 3 inches, 225 pounds, and an absolute monster. He could be in the WR1 conversation after this year.

CeeDee Lamb began his career splitting time with two top future NFL Draft picks at Oklahoma. Marquise Brown (first round WR) and Mark Andrews (third round TE) took the majority of the work through the air for Oklahoma when Lamb was a freshman. But he still managed over 800 yards and seven scores. In 2018 he worked his way into the 1B role for the Sooners alongside “Hollywood” Brown. 2019 is his time to shine. And with over 1,600 yards of the receiving offense now departed it should be all too easy. If Lamb’s incredible ball skills, size, speed, and savvy combine with a 70th percentile Adjusted Production Index he may just be the WR1 in 2020.

Amon-Ra St. Brown is still competing for targets with Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns, so his dominator rating might stay put. However, USC’s new offensive coordinator, Graham Harrell, has been deemed by some the “next Kliff Kingsbury.” Harrell is going to turn USC into a high flying air raid offense. St. Brown’s targets should push a lot further downfield and be more plentiful than just a year ago. If he can add some YAC on top of a deeper aDOT, St. Brown’s production profile could begin to look promising.

Tamorrion Terry has been one of the few bright spots on the Florida State offense here lately. He’s 6 feet 4 inches, but is also one of the nation’s best deep threats, averaging 21.3 yards per reception. And that was with the putrid passing of Deondre Francois (6.3 adjusted yards per attempt last year). James Blackman has shown to be a much more efficient passer (7.7 career AYA) and leads the offense at quarterback. Terry could improve his YPTA and TDPTA numbers easily and immediately become a top deep threat in the 2020 class.

Lastly, Elijah Moore has an incredible opportunity with Ole Miss this year. The Rebels just lost their top three options at receiver and Moore takes over the coveted slot role in that offense. He’s an absolute lock for 100 targets. His production profile could immediately rise from 1st percentile to 70th in just one season. Buy way low in deeper leagues and draft him late in college fantasy drafts.

Regardless of what happens this year, the best bets of this bunch to finish college careers with draft capital and a balanced profile are likely: Jerry Jeudy, Laviska Shenault, Rondale Moore, Jalen Reagor, and CeeDee Lamb. There’s a reason they’re all ranked highly. The Clemson receivers should be missing the high API scores. Tyler Johnson might miss on capital. Either way, the next two classes have tons of potential.

As always, feel free to reach out on Twitter @FF_TravisM if you want to chat more on all these college prospects. And keep living that Dynasty Life!

Image Credit: David Berding/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Tyler Johnson.

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  1. Note that all these metrics have been adjusted for games missed.  (back)

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