Receiving Turnover

Which teams are projected to have the greatest turnover in receiving weapons in 2015?

According to the Footballguys.com projections as of August 23rd, there are four Oakland Raiders expected to gain at least 400 receiving yards in 2015: Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Clive Walford, and Rod Streater.  Last year, those four combined for a total of just 84 receiving yards in Black & Silver. That's because Cooper (Alabama) and Walford (Miami (FL)) were in college, while Crabtree was still with the 49ers.  And while Streater was with the Raiders, he was limited to just three games due to injury.  As a result, the Raiders passing attack (other than at quarterback) should look very different this year.

How do we measure how "different" a receiving game will be? This is a bit trickier than you might think. For example, it’s not hard to come up with a formula that recognizes that the Packers experienced a loss with the Jordy Nelson injury. And, of course, turnover isn’t just bad: the Raiders are very happy to have Cooper in town.

Other parts of turnover are a bit trickier to measure. For example, players like Davante Adams, Kyle Rudolph, Victor Cruz, and Tyler Eifert were on the same team last year as they are this year, but are expected to be much bigger contributors. And what do you do with a pair of Raiders like Andre Holmes and Mychal Rivera? They ranked 2nd and 3rd in receiving fantasy points for the team last year, but are expected to have significantly lower numbners this year. 

Here’s the solution I came up with:

1) Calculate the number of Receiving Fantasy Points gained by each player in each season, by assigning 0.5 points per reception, 1 point per 10 receiving yards, and 6 points per receiving touchdown.

2) Calculate the percentage of Receiving Fantasy Points gained by each player among all players on that team.  For example, Dez Bryant led the way with 34.6% of his team's Receiving Fantasy Points, followed by Antonio Brown (34.5%) and Jordy Nelson (32.9%).

3) Calculate the percentage of Receiving Fantasy Points projected by Footballguys for each player in 2015 as a percentage of his team's Receiving Fantasy Points.  For example, DeAndre Hopkins has the highest number right now at 34.3%, followed by Bryant (32.2%) and Julio Jones (31.7%).

4) Take the lower of those two values for every player on every team.  So Jordy Nelson gets a 0%, since he had 32.9% of the Packers Receiving Fantasy Points in 2014 and is projected to have 0% of the team's Receiving Fantasy Points in 2015.  Streater, who had 2.9% of Oakland's Receiving Fantasy Points last year and is projected to have 10.2% in 2015, gets graded at 2.9%.

I ran that calculation for each player on each team, and then summed those values to create a team grade. Using this methodology, the team with the least projected turnover this year is Dallas, followed by Pittsburgh, Detroit, and St. Louis.  All four teams are at around 80% or higher, a sign that not much has changed with respect to the receiving game (at least for the Rams, quite a bit has changed in the passing game with the arrival of Nick Foles). 

For reference, I have also included the number of 2015 Receiving Fantasy Points for each team and where that ranked; as a general rule, it's a good thing if a team ranked high in that category and high in the retention percentage (like Pittsburgh), while it might raise some eyebrows if they ranked low in that category and still had a high retention percentage (like St. Louis and Tampa Bay, although both teams made changes at quarterback and offensive coordinator; for Tampa Bay, at least, that makes sense.  For the Rams, I'm not sure I'd be as bullish on that receiving group as management appears to be.)

RkTeam2014 Rec FPRkRetention %
1 DAL 787 11 85.5%
2 PIT 905 4 83.4%
3 DET 741 14 80%
4 STL 655 23 79.7%
5 TB 647 25 75.5%
6 NYG 823 8 74.3%
7 ARI 685 18 73.8%
8 NE 830 7 73.7%
9 ATL 853 5 69.3%
10 WAS 736 15 68.7%
11 DEN 917 2 66.2%
12 CHI 782 12 65.9%
13 GB 847 6 62.4%
14 JAX 598 30 61.4%
15 NYJ 545 32 59.2%
16 CAR 684 19 59%
17 PHI 813 9 57.8%
18 CIN 637 27 57.8%
19 IND 957 1 57.5%
20 BAL 733 16 53.8%
21 KC 659 21 53.3%
22 HOU 606 29 52.5%
23 SD 807 10 52.5%
24 BUF 705 17 52.2%
25 TEN 657 22 51.1%
26 SEA 667 20 51%
27 MIN 646 26 49.9%
28 NO 913 3 46.2%
29 SF 607 28 43.3%
30 CLE 578 31 42.6%
31 MIA 766 13 34.4%
32 OAK 648 24 24.7%

By this methodology, the Raiders have the most turnover in the receiving group, as indicated at the beginning of this post.  What other teams stand out?

  • The Saints were 3rd in Receiving Fantasy Points last year, but Jimmy Graham (21.0%) and Kenny Stills (15.6%) are now gone.  So too are Pierre Thomas and Travis Cadet, who combined for 13.3% of the team's Receiving Fantasy Points. The only notable additions at the skill positions werey C.J. Spiller or Brandon Coleman, so if Drew Brees is going to be a fantasy stud again, it's going to be with a very different supporting cast.  Among top fantasy quarterbacks, Brees and Russell Wilson are the only ones with significant turnover.  That's a questionable thing for Brees, but probably a good one for Wilson (adding Graham, of course, along with Tyler Lockett).
  • The Chargers probably don't strike you as a team with a lot of receiving turnover, but Eddie Royal (second on the team with 18.7%) is now in Chicago and Antonio Gates is going to miss a quarter of the season.  With Steve Johnson now expected to contribute, the San Diego passing game will look a bit different this year, especially in September.

Changes is neither inherently good nor inherently bad, but it's worthwhile to keep these numbers in mind when thinking about certain offenses.  The Browns added Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, and that makes them a pretty different passing attack than what they had last year. Meanwhile, a team like Detroit has just one new face in the passing game: the addition of running back Ameer Abdullah.  That might give you more confidence in your Matt Stafford projections than you had in your Josh McCown/Johnny Manziel projections, although I doubt you had much confidence in those projections, anyway.


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