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2013 Catch Rate & Yards Per Target Analysis: RBs

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by Joe Dolan, Managing Editor

Published, 4/3/14 

This is an article we’ve published for a few years now, and it often serves as a basis for our late spring/summer analysis that will shape our receiver rankings for the upcoming fantasy football season. Why’s that? While we never want to take just one or two stats and base a ranking on that, we do want our receivers, tight ends, and PPR running backs to be both consistent and efficient. We feel that catch rate and yards per target analysis is a very good place to start on that.
 
In 2013, NFL QBs continued to be more accurate and efficient. Overall, NFL receivers caught 63.0% of the passes thrown their way, a half a percentage point increase over 2012 and about a percentage and a half over 2011. And we have some good news in the other department as well – after a fall to 7.28 YPT in 2012, down from 7.39 in 2011, NFL receivers gained about 7.33 yards per pass thrown their way in 2013, meaning an increase in completion percentage didn’t necessarily mean that teams were taking shorter gains in general, the way they did in 2012.
 
Obviously, as with any stat or scouting report, this is only one way to look at a receiver, and it should not be taken as gospel one way or the other. The system a receiver plays in, the quarterback he plays with, and his role in the offense are all going to affect his overall numbers.
 
But being the first to notice an emerging stud at any of these positions, or to pass up a guy who could fall off a cliff, could be keys for success in 2014. What we’re doing here is trying to notice trends, red flags, or signals for potential breakout players. We’re also going to try to explain what might have gone well or wrong for a player in targets. It’s up to you to decide how to look at the data, but there are a lot of interesting tidbits one can find.
 
You’ll notice we have each player broken down by multiple categories, including the standard catches, targets, yards, TDs, etc. But we’ve also included “first-half catch rate” (meaning his first eight games) and “second half-catch rate” (meaning his final eight games), and we’ve broken that down even further into “quarters” of the season if you prefer to download our master RB file in excel, so we can see which players were the most or least consistent. We’ve done the same with the “yards-per-target” stat.
 
After presenting the charts, we’ll look at some players whose performances were noteworthy – either good or bad. Obviously, there is much more you could glean from these charts, but we looked at some players in each category whom we thought were particularly interesting.
 
Running Backs Catch Rate
 
The chart below details each of the NFL RBs who saw at least 15 targets in 2013, sorted by total targets. In 2013, NFL RBs caught 2522 of the 3408 targets thrown their way, meaning a league average of 74.0% catch rate for RBs, up from 73.3% in 2012. “74.0%” will be the benchmark in this article when “league-average” is discussed.
 
NoteYou can also download our master RB file in excel to see all categories and positions in one file.

Rank
Player
Team
Rec
Avg.
Tgt
RZT
GLT
2013 Season
 
1st Half
2nd Half
1
Jamaal Charles
KC
70
9.9
104
18
7
0.673
 
0.641
0.725
2
Matt Forte
CHI
75
7.9
94
12
3
0.798
 
0.878
0.736
3
Darren Sproles
NO
71
8.5
89
9
0
0.798
 
0.766
0.833
4
Danny Woodhead
SD
76
8
87
23
5
0.874
 
0.889
0.857
5
Pierre Thomas
NO
77
6.7
84
12
2
0.917
 
0.941
0.900
6
Reggie Bush
DET
54
9.4
79
7
1
0.684
 
0.721
0.639
7
Knowshon Moreno
DEN
60
9.1
74
11
1
0.811
 
0.806
0.816
8
Ray Rice
BAL
58
5.5
73
13
0
0.795
 
0.774
0.810
9
Chris Ogbonnaya
CLE
48
7.1
73
8
3
0.658
 
0.657
0.658
10
Giovani Bernard
CIN
56
9.2
71
9
0
0.789
 
0.788
0.789
11
Shane Vereen
NE
47
9.1
69
12
3
0.681
 
0.700
0.678
12
Joique Bell
DET
53
10.3
69
4
1
0.768
 
0.794
0.743
13
DeMarco Murray
DAL
53
6.6
66
8
0
0.803
 
0.889
0.744
14
Le'Veon Bell
PIT
45
9.1
66
14
0
0.682
 
0.813
0.640
15
LeSean McCoy
PHI
52
10.4
64
5
1
0.813
 
0.758
0.871
16
Fred Jackson
BUF
46
8.2
64
3
0
0.719
 
0.743
0.690
17
Jacquizz Rodgers
ATL
52
6.6
61
8
1
0.852
 
0.871
0.833
18
Maurice Jones-Drew
JAC
43
7.3
59
6
1
0.729
 
0.667
0.771
19
Andre Ellington
ARI
39
9.5
57
5
1
0.684
 
0.667
0.708
20
Bilal Powell
NYJ
36
7.6
57
4
1
0.632
 
0.613
0.654
21
Marcel Reece
OAK
32
10.3
54
11
1
0.593
 
0.625
0.579
22
Trent Richardson
CLE
35
9
52
2
0
0.673
 
0.500
0.765
23
Chris Johnson
TEN
42
8.2
51
5
1
0.824
 
0.833
0.818
24
Steven Jackson
ATL
33
5.8
49
8
1
0.673
 
0.600
0.706
25
Ben Tate
HOU
34
4.1
49
5
1
0.694
 
0.800
0.621
26
Rashad Jennings
OAK
36
8.1
47
2
0
0.766
 
0.923
0.706
27
Marshawn Lynch
SEA
36
8.8
44
4
0
0.818
 
0.750
0.875
28
Eddie Lacy
GB
35
7.3
44
5
1
0.795
 
0.800
0.793
29
Roy Helu
WAS
31
8.1
42
1
0
0.738
 
0.722
0.750
30
C.J. Spiller
BUF
34
5.8
41
2
0
0.829
 
0.882
0.792
31
Adrian Peterson
MIN
29
5.9
40
7
1
0.725
 
0.792
0.625
32
Brian Leonard
TB
29
6.2
37
4
0
0.784
 
0.800
0.773
33
Fozzy Whittaker
SD
21
7.4
36
3
0
0.583
 
0.571
0.586
34
Bruce Miller
SF
25
9.7
36
7
1
0.694
 
0.722
0.667
35
Arian Foster
HOU
22
8.3
35
3
2
0.629
 
0.647
0.000
36
Zac Stacy
STL
26
5.4
35
4
1
0.743
 
0.700
0.760
37
DeAngelo Williams
CAR
26
12.8
35
1
0
0.743
 
0.765
0.722
38
Donald Brown
IND
27
7.9
35
7
1
0.771
 
0.900
0.720
39
Lamar Miller
MIA
26
6.5
35
6
0
0.743
 
0.600
0.850
40
Jason Snelling
ATL
29
7.4
34
5
1
0.853
 
0.800
0.929
41
Mike Tolbert
CAR
27
6.8
33
4
2
0.818
 
0.833
0.810
42
Ryan Mathews
SD
26
7.3
31
2
0
0.839
 
0.875
0.826
43
Andre Brown
NYG
20
5.2
29
4
0
0.690
 
0.000
0.690
44
Brandon Bolden
NE
21
7.2
28
0
0
0.750
 
0.773
0.667
45
Montee Ball
DEN
20
7.3
27
4
1
0.741
 
0.400
0.818
46
Frank Gore
SF
16
8.8
26
2
0
0.615
 
0.533
0.727
47
Darren McFadden
OAK
17
6.4
25
2
0
0.680
 
0.800
0.500
48
Bernard Pierce
BAL
20
5.2
25
2
0
0.800
 
0.875
0.765
49
Jordan Todman
JAC
14
8.3
25
3
1
0.560
 
0.500
0.579
50
Doug Martin
TB
12
5.5
24
2
0
0.500
 
0.500
0.000
51
Anthony Sherman
KC
18
8.6
24
7
1
0.750
 
0.813
0.625
52
Rashard Mendenhall
ARI
18
7.4
21
1
0
0.857
 
0.909
0.800
53
Peyton Hillis
NYG
13
7.4
21
3
0
0.619
 
0.727
0.500
54
Stanley Havili
IND
18
7.1
21
2
0
0.857
 
0.875
0.846
55
Vonta Leach
BAL
11
4.3
20
4
2
0.550
 
0.571
0.500
56
Bobby Rainey
CLE
15
3.1
19
3
2
0.789
 
1.000
0.733
57
Da'Rel Scott
NYG
11
9.3
19
3
0
0.579
 
0.579
0.000
58
Toby Gerhart
MIN
13
6.8
19
3
0
0.684
 
0.750
0.571
59
John Kuhn
GB
13
6.2
19
4
1
0.684
 
0.667
0.692
60
Daryl Richardson
STL
14
8.6
18
0
0
0.778
 
0.778
0.000
61
Jed Collins
NO
14
3.9
18
5
2
0.778
 
0.800
0.750
62
Daniel Thomas
MIA
15
4.2
17
6
2
0.882
 
1.000
0.778
63
Justin Forsett
JAC
15
5.5
16
0
0
0.938
 
0.933
1.000
64
Tommy Bohanon
NYJ
11
6.3
16
1
0
0.688
 
0.857
0.556
65
Ronnie Hillman
DEN
12
9.9
15
3
0
0.800
 
0.857
0.000
66
Knile Davis
KC
11
6.8
15
3
0
0.733
 
0.750
0.727
67
Isaiah Pead
STL
11
7.1
15
5
1
0.733
 
0.750
0.667

Running Backs Yards Per Target
 
The chart below details each of the NFL RBs who saw at least 20 targets in 2013, sorted by total targets. In 2013, NFL TEs gained 19,562 yards on 3408 targets, of which they caught 2522 passes. They averaged 7.76 yards per reception and 5.74 yards per target in 2013, the latter of which was down from 5.78 YPT in 2012. “5.74 YPT” will be the benchmark in this article when “league-average” is discussed.

Rank
Player
Team
Rec
Avg.
Tgt
RZT
GLT
2013 Season
 
1st Half
2nd Half
1
Jamaal Charles
KC
70
9.9
104
18
7
6.66
 
5.98
7.75
2
Matt Forte
CHI
75
7.9
94
12
3
6.30
 
6.34
6.26
3
Darren Sproles
NO
71
8.5
89
9
0
6.79
 
7.79
5.67
4
Danny Woodhead
SD
76
8
87
23
5
6.95
 
6.98
6.93
5
Pierre Thomas
NO
77
6.7
84
12
2
6.11
 
6.59
5.78
6
Reggie Bush
DET
54
9.4
79
7
1
6.41
 
7.79
4.75
7
Knowshon Moreno
DEN
60
9.1
74
11
1
7.41
 
7.97
6.87
8
Ray Rice
BAL
58
5.5
73
13
0
4.40
 
3.68
4.93
9
Chris Ogbonnaya
CLE
48
7.1
73
8
3
4.70
 
4.80
4.61
10
Giovani Bernard
CIN
56
9.2
71
9
0
7.24
 
7.33
7.16
11
Shane Vereen
NE
47
9.1
69
12
3
6.19
 
5.80
6.25
12
Joique Bell
DET
53
10.3
69
4
1
7.93
 
8.71
7.17
13
DeMarco Murray
DAL
53
6.6
66
8
0
5.27
 
6.00
4.77
14
Le'Veon Bell
PIT
45
9.1
66
14
0
6.18
 
5.13
6.52
15
LeSean McCoy
PHI
52
10.4
64
5
1
8.44
 
8.64
8.23
16
Fred Jackson
BUF
46
8.2
64
3
0
5.86
 
6.03
5.66
17
Jacquizz Rodgers
ATL
52
6.6
61
8
1
5.59
 
5.35
5.83
18
Maurice Jones-Drew
JAC
43
7.3
59
6
1
5.32
 
4.58
5.83
19
Andre Ellington
ARI
39
9.5
57
5
1
6.51
 
6.00
7.21
20
Bilal Powell
NYJ
36
7.6
57
4
1
4.77
 
5.06
4.42
21
Marcel Reece
OAK
32
10.3
54
11
1
6.13
 
5.38
6.45
22
Trent Richardson
CLE
35
9
52
2
0
6.08
 
3.89
7.24
23
Chris Johnson
TEN
42
8.2
51
5
1
6.76
 
9.28
5.39
24
Steven Jackson
ATL
33
5.8
49
8
1
3.90
 
4.00
3.85
25
Ben Tate
HOU
34
4.1
49
5
1
2.86
 
2.80
2.90
26
Rashad Jennings
OAK
36
8.1
47
2
0
6.21
 
7.46
5.74
27
Marshawn Lynch
SEA
36
8.8
44
4
0
7.18
 
9.05
5.63
28
Eddie Lacy
GB
35
7.3
44
5
1
5.84
 
5.20
6.17
29
Roy Helu
WAS
31
8.1
42
1
0
5.98
 
8.06
4.42
30
C.J. Spiller
BUF
34
5.8
41
2
0
4.80
 
2.82
6.21
31
Adrian Peterson
MIN
29
5.9
40
7
1
4.28
 
5.17
2.94
32
Brian Leonard
TB
29
6.2
37
4
0
4.84
 
5.07
4.68
33
Fozzy Whittaker
SD
21
7.4
36
3
0
4.31
 
5.00
4.14
34
Bruce Miller
SF
25
9.7
36
7
1
6.75
 
8.78
4.72
35
Arian Foster
HOU
22
8.3
35
3
2
5.23
 
5.38
0.00
36
Zac Stacy
STL
26
5.4
35
4
1
4.03
 
4.00
4.04
37
DeAngelo Williams
CAR
26
12.8
35
1
0
9.51
 
7.12
11.78
38
Donald Brown
IND
27
7.9
35
7
1
6.11
 
7.50
5.56
39
Lamar Miller
MIA
26
6.5
35
6
0
4.86
 
3.20
6.10
40
Jason Snelling
ATL
29
7.4
34
5
1
6.35
 
6.70
5.86
41
Mike Tolbert
CAR
27
6.8
33
4
2
5.58
 
5.83
5.43
42
Ryan Mathews
SD
26
7.3
31
2
0
6.10
 
8.25
5.35
43
Andre Brown
NYG
20
5.2
29
4
0
3.55
 
0.00
3.55
44
Brandon Bolden
NE
21
7.2
28
0
0
5.43
 
4.86
7.50
45
Montee Ball
DEN
20
7.3
27
4
1
5.37
 
5.40
5.36
46
Frank Gore
SF
16
8.8
26
2
0
5.42
 
6.40
4.09
47
Darren McFadden
OAK
17
6.4
25
2
0
4.32
 
5.47
2.60
48
Bernard Pierce
BAL
20
5.2
25
2
0
4.16
 
4.75
3.88
49
Jordan Todman
JAC
14
8.3
25
3
1
4.64
 
3.33
5.05
50
Doug Martin
TB
12
5.5
24
2
0
2.75
 
2.75
0.00
51
Anthony Sherman
KC
18
8.6
24
7
1
6.46
 
6.63
6.13
52
Rashard Mendenhall
ARI
18
7.4
21
1
0
6.38
 
6.00
6.80
53
Peyton Hillis
NYG
13
7.4
21
3
0
4.57
 
5.45
3.60
54
Stanley Havili
IND
18
7.1
21
2
0
6.10
 
5.63
6.38
55
Vonta Leach
BAL
11
4.3
20
4
2
2.35
 
2.86
1.17
56
Bobby Rainey
CLE
15
3.1
19
3
2
2.42
 
4.75
1.80
57
Da'Rel Scott
NYG
11
9.3
19
3
0
5.37
 
5.37
0.00
58
Toby Gerhart
MIN
13
6.8
19
3
0
4.63
 
5.50
3.14
59
John Kuhn
GB
13
6.2
19
4
1
4.26
 
4.00
4.38
60
Daryl Richardson
STL
14
8.6
18
0
0
6.72
 
6.72
0.00
61
Jed Collins
NO
14
3.9
18
5
2
3.00
 
3.90
1.88
62
Daniel Thomas
MIA
15
4.2
17
6
2
3.71
 
5.75
1.89
63
Justin Forsett
JAC
15
5.5
16
0
0
5.13
 
4.87
9.00
64
Tommy Bohanon
NYJ
11
6.3
16
1
0
4.31
 
6.29
2.78
65
Ronnie Hillman
DEN
12
9.9
15
3
0
7.93
 
8.50
0.00
66
Knile Davis
KC
11
6.8
15
3
0
5.00
 
4.00
5.36
67
Isaiah Pead
STL
11
7.1
15
5
1
5.20
 
5.08
5.67

Notable Performances:
 
Jamaal Charles (KC, 67.3%/6.66) – This is why we thought it was absurd last season that some were concerned that Andy Reid’s presence would mean fewer touches for Charles. Despite playing in only 15 games, his 104 targets were 10 more than Matt Forte for tops among all RBs. And Charles’ receiving improved in the second half of the season, when he caught 72.5% of his targets and averaged 7.75 YPT. Think about that – Charles was nearly automatic on his targets in the second half, and averaged nearly as much per target as the average WR (average of 7.8 YPT). Charles was essentially playing two fantasy positions during the second half, and playing them well.
 
Matt Forte (Chi, 79.8%/6.30) – As mentioned with Brandon Marshall in the WR portion of this article and Martellus Bennett in the TE section, it’s not like Marc Trestman came into Chicago and revolutionized things. He just helped the Bears’ talented skill players to accentuate their strengths and made them more efficient – Forte’s season in 2013 was an improvement over 2012, when he posted 73.3%/5.67.
 
Darren Sproles (NO, 79.8%/6.79) – It’s funny that Sproles’ fantasy numbers were down across the board in 2013, because his rate stats as a receiver improved pretty significantly over 2012 (72.8%/6.48). It just shows how TD-dependent his status as a #2 PPR RB was in 2011 and 2012 – he scored 17 TDs between those two seasons, but only 4 in 2013. However, if he wants to get even better than those numbers, he’s landing in a good spot in Philadelphia, because… well, read the next blurb.
 
LeSean McCoy (Phi, 81.3%/8.44) – Chip Kelly is an absolute master at getting his players in the right position to succeed, and creating explosive plays. McCoy’s 8.44 YPT would have been a great number for a WR or a TE, let alone the incredible number it is for a RB, especially on 66 targets. Only one RB with 15 or more targets had a better number – DeAngelo Williams with 9.51, but on only 35 targets. McCoy and Darren Sproles should be two key players when it comes to picking up the slack DeSean Jackson has left behind in the wake of his release.
 
Danny Woodhead (SD, 87.4%/6.95) – Woodhead’s numbers slipped in the second half of the season when the Chargers decided to feed Ryan Mathews more, but it wasn’t because he lacked effectiveness as a receiver. Woodhead’s second-half rate stats (85.7%/6.93) were down only slightly from his first-half stats (88.9%/6.98), and were still elite among his RB peers. It’s unfortunate that it looks like he’ll have to split some third-down work with Donald Brown next season (Brown posted a 77.1%/6.11 line with Indy in 2013).
 
Pierre Thomas (NO, 91.7%/6.11) – Yeah, you’re reading that right. Thomas caught 77 out of 84 targets in 2013, which is absolutely disgusting. And with Darren Sproles gone, is it possible that Thomas sees even more targets in 2014? Even if so, it would be difficult to imagine him replicating such a ridiculous catch rate, considering he posted one of only 73.6% in 2012. But it just goes to show how effective he was last year, which helps explain why they picked him over Sproles (he’s also younger).
 
Reggie Bush/Joique Bell (Det, 68.4%/6.41 and 76.8/7.93) – “Catch rate” wasn’t really the strong suit of any of Detroit’s top players in 2013. Bush’s 68.4% was below average among his position, joining Calvin Johnson from this year. On the flip side, Joique Bell posted an above-average 76.8% rate, which combined with his 76.5% rate from 2012 makes you wonder if he’s simply a more reliable receiver than Bush despite Bush’s reputation. Bell also averaged a great 7.93 YPT this year, up from 7.13 YPT last year, which was also great. Hopefully, new OC Joe Lombardi can figure out a way to keep both Bush and Bell fed. It’s certainly possible, but it’s interesting to note that there are expectations that Bush could revert to something closer to the receiving role he had in this offense when he was in New Orleans, yet Bell was a more efficient receiver in 2013.
 
Knowshon Moreno (Den, 81.1%/7.41) – This section shouldn’t be about Moreno’s 2013 numbers because we know that Peyton Manning helps to produce elite numbers for his backs and receivers. It’s whether he can even come close to approaching them with Miami in 2014. The Miami backfield was a black hole for RB receiving production in 2013, with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas combining to average a pathetic 4.48 YPT despite catching 78.8% of their 52 targets. If you want a glimmer of hope here, it’s that Moreno’s a better receiver than either of those guys, and new Dolphin OC Bill Lazor comes from Philadelphia, which saw LeSean McCoy post video-game receiving numbers last season.
 
Arian Foster (Hou, 62.9%/5.23) – Everyone was worried about some of Foster’s key stats being down in 2012, and he actually managed to increase his yard-per-carry (4.5) and catch (8.3), and both were solid numbers. His catch rate was down 6 percentage points, but he increased his YPT from a miserable 3.74 to 5.2. His stats are still underwhelming, but it’s pretty clear that he’ll still produce if he’s on the field.
 
Ray Rice (Bal, 79.5%/4.40) – The biggest concern for us with regards to Rice’s awful season is the fact that he averaged only 4.4 YPT, meaning he wasn’t even gaining yardage when he was out in space. The only RBs with 40 or more targets who averaged fewer YPT were Adrian Peterson, Ben Tate, and Steven Jackson. Jackson is on his last legs, and no one will confuse Peterson and Tate for Darren Sproles. For a back who used to be so feared because of his receiving ability, this is a major concern for Rice. If we look at Rice’s 2012 YPT number (5.7) we see that was still below the 2013 league average, but his YPC was down over 2.0 full yards (7.8 in 2012 to 5.5 in 2013).
 
Giovani Bernard (Cin, 78.9%/7.24) – Among RBs with 20 or more targets, only LeSean McCoy and Knowshon Moreno averaged both a higher catch rate and more YPT than Bernard did. Take a look at the final finishes for McCoy and Moreno in a PPR league if you want to know why we’re so excited about Bernard next season, playing under RB-friendly OC Hue Jackson. Gio was also really consistent in both categories from the first and second half of the season.
 
Shane Vereen (NE, 68.1%/6.19) – Vereen is an exceptional receiver out of the backfield, but like a lot of Patriot players outside of Julian Edelman, it wasn’t the most efficient year for him on a per-target basis, as his 68.1% catch rate was below league average. That said, he saw 69 targets in eight games, and at that pace, he would have posted a whopping 138 over a full 16 games, which would have been 34 more than Jamaal Charles’ league-leading 104 this season. Vereen is also a RB who runs more downfield routes than your typical back, which helps explain the lower catch rate.
 
Le’Veon Bell (Pit, 68.2%/6.18) – It was a tale of two halves for Bell. In the first half of the season, he caught 81.3% of his targets, but wasn’t doing much with them, averaging 5.13 YPT. In the second half, his catch rate plummeted to 64.0%, but he was making more plays on the passes he did catch, with 6.52 YPT in the second half. We noticed the team starting to use Bell down the field more in the passing game on wheel routes and the like, which helps explain the lower catch rate. For 2014, it’ll be nice to see him balance the two numbers out for PPR owners, especially if he’s going to lose any goal-line work to LeGarrette Blount.
 
Buffalo Bill RBs – Certainly, injuries had a lot to do with C.J. Spiller failing to meet expectations, but the lack of third-down work and his general ineffectiveness as a receiver was the biggest buzzkill of all. Spiller posted an 82.9% catch rate on 41 targets, but he averaged a miserable 4.8 YPT, down significantly from his elite 8.05 YPT from 2012. Compare that to Fred Jackson, who improved from 5.17 YPT in 2012 to 5.86 YPT this season, despite falling in catch rate from 81.0% to 71.9%. So Jackson was doing significantly more with his targets than Spiller was, yet another indication that Spiller’s ankle and foot just weren’t right all season. The good news for Spiller – his 6.21 YPT in the second half was a significant improvement over a pitiful 2.82 in the first half, after he got a little healthier.
 
Marshawn Lynch (Sea, 81.8%/7.18) – Lynch doesn’t get a ton of opportunities as a receiver, but he’s a good one, posting above-average numbers in both categories in back-to-back seasons (76.7%/6.53 in 2012). He’s got a lot of value because the Seahawks can leave him in there on third downs and know he’s incredibly capable when Russell Wilson decides to check down.
 
Andre Ellington (Ari, 68.4%/6.51) – We don’t have a ton of analysis on Ellington based on the numbers, but he improved in the second half of the season in both categories. His catch rate will likely be low compared to other RBs because Bruce Arians almost views him as a WR and flexed him out a lot in 2013, but while his YPT was above-average, we’d like to see that increase in 2014, and it likely will.
 
Trent Richardson (Ind, 67.3%/6.08) – Is there a glimmer of hope for Richardson? One thing we did notice about him later in the season is that he was still a bull to bring down when he got into the open field, and the numbers back that up. After posting a miserable 50.0% catch rate and 3.89 YPT in the first half of the season, Richardson raised his game to 76.5% and 7.24 YPT in the second half, the latter number being well-above league average (and well above Donald Brown’s 5.56 YPT over the same span). Richardson needs to figure out how to utilize his great power in the short area, mostly by becoming more decisive. We can’t assume that Ahmad Bradshaw, with major availability issues, will be a major threat to Richardson, but Bradshaw definitely could be, if for no other reason than he’s good in pass-pro.
 
Chris Johnson (Ten, 82.4%/6.76) – CJ had a more consistent and effective fantasy campaign in 2013, and a large part of that was because of his improvement as a receiver over 2012 (73.5%/4.61). Unfortunately for CJ owners, his YPT plummeted from 9.28 in the first half to only 5.39 in the second half. Let’s hope his next home (the Titans will release or trade him) finds a way to get him in space, where he can be more effective.
 
Ryan Mathews (SD, 83.9%/6.10) – Mathews’ target numbers have dropped three years in a row, so he’s not someone to count on in the passing game (31 targets in 2013). But it is worth noting that his catch rate jumped up from 69.6 in 2012 to a healthy 83.9 and his YPT rose from 4.5 to 6.10. We’re not going to expect more action in the passing game this year, especially with Donald Brown added, but Mathews is effective when he gets chances to catch the ball.
 
Jacquizz Rodgers (Atl, 85.2%/5.59) – Rodgers has just never lived up to his promise as a third-down playmaker. While his catch rate was very good, his 5.59 YPT was really disappointing, and down from a rock-solid 6.81 in 2013. It just means that he wasn’t making plays with his targets the way a Darren Sproles or Giovani Bernard was, and with Steven Jackson also struggling as a receiver (67.3%/3.90), third-down back is one area the Falcons can significantly improve in 2014, whether they get a late free-agent add or build through the draft.
 
Ben Tate (Hou, 69.4%/2.86) – Yes, that’s 2.86 yards per target. Tate caught 34 passes this year, in large part because Gary Kubiak utilizes checkdowns to the RBs as a significant portion of his offense, but Tate simply isn’t a good receiver (he had a poor 4.5 YPT in 2012 as well). If Cleveland OC Kyle Shanahan’s time in Washington is any indication, PPR owners should not expect Tate to see a whole lot of work as a receiver if Shanahan doesn’t feel he’s capable. Alfred Morris was a zero the last two years in Shanahan’s offense, almost always coming off the field in third downs.
 
Rashad Jennings (Oak, 76.6%/6.21) – It’ll be really interesting to see if new Giant OC Ben McAdoo can convince QB Eli Manning to check down to Jennings, who is a very capable receiver, as he showed in Oakland this season. Jennings saw 47 targets in 2013, of which he caught 36 passes. The eight Giant RBs and FBs to be targeted in 2013 combined for 58 catches on 95 targets (an abysmal 61.1% conversion rate).
 
Eddie Lacy (GB, 79.5%/5.84) – Lacy’s not a Packer back who is going to call Ahman Green’s PPR heydays to mind, but as he showed in 2013, he’s more than capable of doing enough damage in the passing game when he gets an opportunity. He’s someone for whom catches are bonus points, and not something that should be expected week in and week out (think Marshawn Lynch or Adrian Peterson in that regard). He’s not going to lose a ton of work in passing situations, either, as the recently re-signed James Starks had only 10 catches on 13 targets. Johnathan Franklin was targeted only 5 times all year, catching 4 passes.
 
Zac Stacy (Stl, 74.3%/4.03) – It’s not like the Ram offense under Kellen Clemens reminded anyone of The Greatest Show on Turf, but Stacy’s “production” as a receiver shouldn’t make anyone think he’s going to put up dominant PPR numbers. Of the 55 RBs with 20 or more targets, only five averaged fewer YPT than Stacy did. We wonder if he has some Alfred Morris PPR disappointment potential in him, because he probably should be coming off the field in passing downs. However, we at least noticed him doing a good job making himself an available receiver at times, and his catch rate was very decent.
 
DeAngelo Williams (Car, 74.3%/9.51) – We wonder if the disarrayed state of the Panther receiving corps will mean more targets for DeAngelo in 2014. He saw only 35 of them in 2013, but for the second consecutive year, he was extremely productive with the targets he did get, as his 9.51 YPT led all RBs with 15 or more targets. And it doesn’t seem to be a complete fluke, as he averaged 9.35 YPT in 2012. His numbers have been buoyed from big plays in the passing game the last two years, but Williams is more than capable of making positive contributions as a receiver even if he floats around 7.0 YPT.
 
Montee Ball (Den, 74.1%/5.37) – It’s a small sample with only 27 targets, but Ball did double his catch rate percentage in the second half of the season (from 40% to 81.8), and he impressively caught 18 of his 22 targets from Week 11 through Week 17. It’s fair to expect him to keep up that 3.1 targets/game pace from those final seven weeks with Moreno gone, and if he can pick up even 20 more targets with Moreno out of the mix, Ball has a chance to hit 50 catches if he can maintain a solid 75% catch rate, which was his season average.  
 
Doug Martin (TB, 50%, 2.74) – It was only six games, and Josh Freeman was bad, but Martin’s numbers from 2013 are disconcerting. His catch rate was down from 70%, and his YPT was down from 6.75. Hopefully, having a veteran QB in Josh McCown will help. It just might because Matt Forte caught 21 or 26 targets (80%) in the four consecutive games McCown started from Weeks 11-14. Martin never seemed to have good chemistry with Freeman catching passes out of the backfield.
 
Roy Helu (Was, 73.8%/5.98) – If new Redskin coach Jay Gruden is going to keep up an active backfield rotation the way he did last season in Cincinnati, he may want to consider upgrading on Helu as the third-down back. While Helu isn’t a terrible receiver, his numbers were remarkably pedestrian for a back who played in almost every passing situation for Washington a year ago, and it’s an area at which the Redskins can get better. Heck, maybe Gruden should consider giving Alfred Morris (6.50 YPT, albeit on only 12 targets) more looks. PPR owners would certainly appreciate that. If they don’t draft a back, we’ll have to also look at second-year man Chris Thompson, who has some potential as a receiver and some overall upside due to his speed. Thompson is another year removed from his 2012 ACL injury.

FantasyGuru.com’s John Hansen assisted with the analysis in this article.

 

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