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Things I Learned From the New PFR Play Finder: Clutch Receivers

Posted by Neil on August 30, 2012

For the few week or two, I'll be looking at a different example search from the new PFR Play Finder tool. Today's topic: Clutch Receivers...

Who was the best clutch receiver in the game last season? Obviously any definition of "clutch" is going to be pretty arbitrary, but let's use the Play Finder to look at this from a couple of different angles.

First, who were the best receivers in the 4th quarter or OT? Here's who had the most yards:

Player T C Pct Yds TD
Victor Cruz 59 39 0.661 692 6
Larry Fitzgerald 62 32 0.516 682 5
Steve Smith 35 22 0.629 457 0
Calvin Johnson 43 29 0.674 452 5
Wes Welker 43 31 0.721 418 2
Reggie Wayne 47 29 0.617 411 3
Dwayne Bowe 49 27 0.551 393 2
Rob Gronkowski 32 26 0.813 392 4
Jimmy Graham 36 26 0.722 380 2
Pierre Garcon 56 30 0.536 370 2

Yards along might not tell the whole story, though -- here are the leaders in Adjusted Yards per Target (min. 30 4th-quarter targets):

Player T C Pct Yds TD AY/A
Rob Gronkowski 32 26 81.3% 392 4 14.8
Hakeem Nicks 30 20 66.7% 348 4 14.3
Victor Cruz 59 39 66.1% 692 6 13.8
Steve Smith 35 22 62.9% 457 0 13.1
Calvin Johnson 43 29 67.4% 452 5 12.8
Percy Harvin 32 22 68.8% 329 4 12.8
Larry Fitzgerald 62 32 51.6% 682 5 12.6
Eric Decker 31 17 54.8% 313 3 12.0
Jimmy Graham 36 26 72.2% 380 2 11.7
Darrius Heyward-Bey 30 18 60.0% 325 1 11.5

Then again, the whole 4th quarter isn't the greatest definition of "clutch". Instead, let's look at the playoffs or regular season, 4th qtr or OT, 3rd or 4th down, 7 or more yds to go, score margin +/- 7 pts, with 5 or fewer minutes left:

Player T C Pct Yds TD
A.J. Green 3 2 66.7% 92 1
Eric Decker 4 2 50.0% 48 0
Dez Bryant 2 2 100.0% 45 0
Larry Fitzgerald 3 3 100.0% 44 0
Brandon LaFell 2 1 50.0% 44 0
Malcom Floyd 1 1 100.0% 38 0
Patrick Turner 2 2 100.0% 37 0
Chester Taylor 3 3 100.0% 36 0
Reggie Wayne 2 1 50.0% 34 0
Joel Dreessen 1 1 100.0% 34 0

Unfortunately, that's a bit too small of a sample! Perhaps the best compromise would be the playoffs or regular season, 2nd half of the game, 3rd or 4th down, with the score margin +/- 10 pts:

Player T C Pct Yds TD
Victor Cruz 26 17 65.4% 368 2
Hakeem Nicks 20 11 55.0% 230 2
Larry Fitzgerald 20 11 55.0% 215 0
Wes Welker 19 14 73.7% 181 2
Mario Manningham 16 12 75.0% 174 4
Rob Gronkowski 14 12 85.7% 163 5
A.J. Green 17 8 47.1% 160 1
Percy Harvin 10 5 50.0% 155 2
Greg Little 14 7 50.0% 145 1
Jason Witten 12 8 66.7% 144 1

Here are the AY/A leaders in that category (min. 10 targets):

Player T C Pct Yds TD AY/A
Percy Harvin 10 5 50.0% 155 2 19.5
Rob Gronkowski 14 12 85.7% 163 5 18.8
Mario Manningham 16 12 75.0% 174 4 15.9
Victor Cruz 26 17 65.4% 368 2 15.7
Marques Colston 11 9 81.8% 140 1 14.5
Donald Driver 10 7 70.0% 102 2 14.2
Jason Witten 12 8 66.7% 144 1 13.7
Hakeem Nicks 20 11 55.0% 230 2 13.5
Anquan Boldin 10 9 90.0% 129 0 12.9
Preston Parker 11 6 54.5% 120 1 12.7

So who was the best in the clutch? There's no "right" answer per se, but it looks like you can't go wrong with Victor Cruz, Rob Gronkwoski, or Larry Fitzgerald.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2012 at 3:57 pm and is filed under Announcement, Features, Play Index, Pro-Football-Reference.com. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Things I Learned From the New PFR Play Finder: Clutch Receivers”

  1. This post reminded me of the old blog posts!

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