Teams spent a lot of high draft picks on players who can help their passing attack this year, both in the draft and in trades. Brandin Cooks netted the Saints a first-round pick, and Sammy Watkins gave the Bills a second-round pick with just one year left on his contract. During the draft, two quarterbacks, three wide receivers, and one running back (Christian McCaffrey) who figures to be heavily involved in the passing game were taken in the top 10 picks. As the reliance on passing grows in the NFL, the importance of quantifying the effect of each player involved grows with it.
Last year, I introduced a new metric called Wide Receiver Efficiency Rating (WRER). You can read the introduction on Pro Football Focus. The goal is to measure each wide receiver’s impact on a per route run basis. This is not a list of the top receivers, but rather a metric that gauges how well each receiver did given the playing time he received. Now that I have another year’s worth of data to look at, I did some more testing and drew conclusions for the upcoming NFL season.
I wanted to see if WRER fluctuates from year-to-year or if it is a relatively stable statistic. In other words, I wanted to know how much efficiency was influenced by skill versus luck (which I am loosely defining as factors that the receiver cannot control). The short answer is that it’s a lot of both, but knowing where those two components come into play is important.
What is luck and what is skill?
Before I get into the analysis of how efficiency is affected by luck and skill, remember that WRER has three components: a separation score, a hands score, and an open field score. Below are the formulas that I use to calculate each part: