(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)
New England Patriots
Believe it or not, the New England Patriots ran the second-most plays in the NFL in 2018. Their 1073 offensive plays fell behind only the Baltimore Ravens. They ran an average of 67.1 plays per game.
Although the Patriots ran a lot of plays, they were below the league average in passing play percentage at 55%. That rate was 25th in the league last year which cuts down on a lot of potential opportunity for the receivers in this fast-paced offense.
After missing the first four games of the 2018 season, Julian Edelman was New England’s most consistent target. He made up 25% of the target share in the Patriots offense averaging 9 targets per game. Edelman’s average depth of target (ADoT) was 7.7 yards which was near the average for NFL receivers. He finished the season in the 91st percentile for total yards after the catch (YAC) with 346 YAC. This helped propel Julian Edelman to a very efficient 1.95 yards per route run (Y/RR). Although he is not the big-bodied target most imagine quarterbacks would look for near the endzone, Brady trusted Edelman enough to give him 11 targets within the opponent’s 10-yard line. A huge selling point for the efficient receiver.
Not to be outdone, Josh Gordon bested his teammate, and the majority of the league, in yards after the catch per reception (YAC/REC). Gordon finished 10th in football averaging 6.6 YAC/REC. Gordon also led the team with 83.8 air yards per game meaning he was a major focus in the passing game when he played. With that kind of opportunity and efficiency, Josh Gordon should meet his current WR23 ADP with ease if he remains on the field.
The 2018 Miami Dolphins ran the fewest plays in the NFL last season. They only ran 878 offensive plays or about 54.9 plays per game. This is not conducive to offensive opportunity at any skill position.
A little less discouraging was the rate at which Adam Gase’s Miami offense threw the ball (especially for current Jets fans). Miami chose to throw on 58% of their offensive plays which made up 507 passing plays overall.
The Dolphins’ receivers bested the league average of targets per game on occasion. Albert Wilson had the most targets per game, with an average of five before being designated to the IR. Wilson would be considered the one bright spot in the 2018 receiving corp. He led the league with 3.03 Y/RR much in part due to his ability to make defenders miss after the catch. Wilson also led the league in yards after the catch per reception with an amazing 12.4 YAC/REC. Wilson is worth consideration and is currently free (WR70, 207 overall) according to FantasyPros.com.
DeVante Parker was not a consistent part of the offensive gameplan as measured by air yards. After returning from injury early in the year, Parker did not make much of an offensive impact until the Dolphins’ eighth game. This, however, was not consistent for the rest of the season. Parker reportedly is coming in with a clean slate with the new coaching staff, but we have heard all about his talent previously, he needs to show consistency before you roster him.
Buffalo was a middling offense when looking at their 1008 total offensive plays in 2018. The averaged 63 plays per game which put them 19th in the league in play volume.
Of those 1008 plays, only 540 were passing plays which made up a below-average 54% of their offense. It did not matter what the game script called for, the Bills were below the league average in passing play percentage.
When analyzing the target share of the Bills offense in 2018, only one receiver showed consistency throughout the season, Zay Jones. Jones earned a 21% target share within the Bills offense which totaled to 100 total targets. That breaks down to 6.4 targets per game. When the Bills got in close, within the opponent’s 10, Jones was targeted the most of the Buffalo receivers with four targets. While he was only able to covert one to a touchdown, the opportunity was there.
From the tenth game of the season forward, Robert Foster emerged as a threat in the Bills offense as well. Although he averaged just 3.4 targets per game, his 22.9-yard ADoT placed him in the 96th percentile for receivers ADoT. Foster’s speed and Josh Allen’s penchant for the deep ball were well matched. Foster was above-average with 2.06 Y/RR and ranked seventh, among receivers with at least 24 targets, in YAC/REC averaging 7.1 YAC/REC. Foster was a great value last season, however, his role is in question now that John Brown is in Buffalo and brings a similar skill set. Look for Brown to have first shot at the role, but monitor Foster’s usage in case he emerges again in 2019.
New York Jets
The 2018 Jets were not a high volume passing offense. Their offense ranked in the bottom ten in the number of offensive plays run with 971 plays.
The Jets were below league average in passing play percentage no matter the game situation. Overall the Jets chose to throw the ball on 58% of their offensive plays, which was 20th in the league. However, 58% of a small number of total offensive plays is still a small number. New York finished bottom ten again in total number of passing plays with 561 plays through the air.
Robby Anderson averaged the most targets per game for the Jets. Anderson finished the season with 94 targets and 6.7 targets per game. He was a deep threat with a 15.7 ADot and 30 targets 20-yards or more downfield according to Pro Football Focus. Anderson has a slightly above average 1.72 Y/RR but does not stand out in yards after the catch with only 3.6 YAC/REC.
Quincy Enunwa was never able to make his way as a permanent fixture in the New York Jets offense. Despite injuries to each of his ankles that forced him to miss time, he was able to accrue 68 targets. However, he was only able to best the league average in air yards per game four times in 2018. He was not efficient with those targets with a catch rate of only 55% and a below-average 1.4 Y/RR, Enunwa does not have much upside and does not need to be added until his opportunity and efficiency improve.