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Using detailed analysis to project 2019 receiving stats for every Raiders player

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Oakland Raiders v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

In this article I will examine Jon Gruden’s offense through the years and the current Raiders personnel in an attempt to predict how the ball will be distributed to the players on offense. In order to best predict how the ball will be distributed lets first look at how Jon Gruden’s offense has operated from a historical perspective.

Jon Gruden’s offense historically

The first way to predict how the football will be distributed in 2019 is to see how it has been done in Gruden’s past offenses. This type of projection is called “market share analysis” and it examines the percentage of targets a receiver gets in an offense. Market share analysis is a common method for fantasy football analysts to get a leg up on their competition.

Looking back at how Gruden historically targets receivers in the passing game a few interesting trends are easily identified. Here is a table of the percentage of targets receivers (including tight ends) and running backs get throughout 10 years in Gruden’s offense. The highest market share percentage is in bold. “Other receivers” and “Other backs” is a statistic that combines all the other players in that category into one market share number.

There are some offenses that prefer to have a more even split in targets between their 1st and 2nd or 2nd and 3rd passing threats. Gruden’s offense is more old school in its approach opting instead to heavily target the best passing threat. The only real exception to this was in 2001 when Gruden’s offense featured both Tim Brown (26.02%) and Jerry Rice (23.23%). 2019 was the only season in which the main passing target failed to get over 20% of the passing targets. Not coincidentally 2019’s main passing threat was Tight End Jared Cook which explains the lower number (19.05%).

Another interesting observation is that a tight end has always been in the top 4 of receiving targets other than a running back. Gruden likes to use tight ends in the passing game which is good news for Darren Waller.

Lastly Gruden’s offense relies heavily on contribution from running backs in the passing game. In many seasons a back (tailback or fullback) is usually the 2nd or 3rd most targeted receiver in the offense. So when you see Derek Carr check down, just know Gruden specifically coaches his quarterbacks to make safe throws and get the backs involved.


Raiders personnel

In order to use this data to project the Raiders offensive statistical projection the market share averages in the black column from the above table will be used as the starting point. I ran into two problems when attempting to use these averages to project how many targets each receiver will get in 2019.

The first problem is Antonio Brown. The uber-talented receiver has averaged 157 targets since 2011 including huge seasons; 181 and 193 targets in 2014 and 2015. Receivers just aren’t targeted with that extreme frequency in Gruden’s offense. The highest total for a receiver in a Gruden offense is 153 (Joey Galloway 2005, Tim Brown 1998). Antonio Brown for his career has averaged more than the highest under Gruden.

The second problem is figuring out just how much of the workload Joshua Jacobs will take from Jalen Richard in the passing game. Jacobs was drafted in part for his receiving chops but Richard’s proven ability in this area suggests the receiving opportunities will be more evenly spread out than what is usual in Gruden’s offense.

Derek Carr’s projected numbers

Since work has already been done predicting Carr’s 2019 season I will adjust some of the numbers in the prediction to reflect the previous study. Using Carr’s projected improvement in completion percentage and passing yards for instance boosts a few of the totals in the final prediction.

Method for final projection

Before getting to the numbers let’s go over the thought process that brings us to the final result. I used the average market share percentages from the table above and assigned them to a Raider player. The only deviation from the average is Antonio Brown (to account for his projected volume) and the split between Jalen Richard and Joshua Jacobs’s targets.

The market share projection will predict how many targets a player receives. In 10 years as a head coach, Jon Gruden has averaged 520 pass attempts in his offense. Taking into account the fact that NFL offenses pass the football more than ever along with the likely boost the passing game should receive with all the new weapons I settled on 550 pass attempts in the 2019 season. This means if Antonio Brown gets 27.8% of 550 total pass attempts he should end the year with 154 total targets.

The next part of the prediction uses the following statistics to predict what each player will do with the targets they receive in Gruden’s offense.

  • Catch rate is a statistic that looks at how often a target actually turns into a catch. This statistic will be used to predict number of passes caught for each player after finding their projected targets.
  • Yards per catch measures how many yards a receiver gains with each reception. This statistic will be used to predict how many yards a player will get after finding their projected receptions total.
  • Touchdown rate measures how often a player turns a reception into a touchdown. This statistic will be used to predict the the number of touchdowns a player will make after finding their projected receptions total.

For all veteran players their career averages in the above stats will be the starting point. Like mentioned before some of these numbers will be adjusted to reflect Derek Carr’s projected numbers in 2019. For the “Other receivers” and “Other backs”, the median stat for each position group was used from the 2018 season. For rookies Josh Jacobs and Hunter Renfrow I simply made an educated guess, forgive me for not having a more scientific approach.

With all of these details considered these are the Raiders receiving projections:

Antonio Brown: 154 targets, 104 receptions, 1401 yards, 10 touchdowns

Tyrell Williams: 85 targets, 56 receptions, 936 yards, 6 touchdowns

Darren Waller: 60 targets, 37 receptions, 373 yards, 4 touchdowns

Hunter Renfrow: 47 targets, 33 receptions, 312 yards, 3 touchdowns

Jalen Richard: 66 targets, 53 receptions, 456 yards, 1 touchdown

Joshua Jacobs: 49 targets, 37 receptions, 308 yards, 1 touchdown

Doug Martin: 26 targets, 19 receptions, 158 yards, 0 touchdowns

Obviously Antonio Brown will be the main target in the passing game. Tyrell Williams will have a very good season but if you go by past Gruden offenses it’s unlikely he will break 1000 yards receiving although he should get close. Darren Waller is really a wild card because he’s never been used with the frequency that his projection suggests. That being said Waller’s projection is relatively modest and should be well within his reach.

The remaining WR’s, TE’s, and backs there are projected to be 43 catches and 388 yards and 3 TD’s spread between 5 or 6 players.