2021 Receiving Plus/Minus: Cooper Kupp Cleans Up


NFL Offseason – Our annual have a look at the superior stats within the passing sport continues with what has develop into a really NFC West-focused collection this 12 months. Last week, we talked about YAC+ and the dominance of the San Francisco 49ers. We additionally coated passing plus/minus, the place Kyler Murray reigned supreme. However the 49ers and Cardinals did not win the Tremendous Bowl final 12 months; that was the area of the Los Angeles Rams. And it was the Rams who had the receiver who shattered all of our DYAR records, as Cooper Kupp’s triple crown was simply nearly as good in superior stats because it was in conventional ones. At present, we get to have a good time Kupp’s distinctive season as soon as extra as we swap to receiving plus/minus, only one extra stat the place Kupp stood head-and-shoulders above his competitors.

Receiving plus/minus is a stat we yearly observe to assist present context to catch charge. Given the placement of a receiver’s targets, it compares his catch charge in every space to historic baselines. This stat doesn’t think about passes listed as “Thrown Away,” “Tipped at Line,” “Miscommunication,” or “Quarterback Hit in Movement” by Sports activities Information Options charting. The chances of a cross being accomplished are primarily based on the cross distance, the space required for a primary down, and whether or not the ball was thrown to the left, center, or proper aspect of the sector. This can be a counting stat, so extra targets are clearly a fantastic factor for the needs of what we’re speaking about right here.

Receiver stats are sometimes tied very carefully with quarterback stats, because it takes two to tango. A completion is the accountability of each the receiver and the quarterback, and it is uncommon for a passer to be extremely correct to only one goal. Since our numbers start in 2006, the main wideout in receiving plus/minus had a quarterback who, on common, ranked third in passing plus/minus, correct to everybody at each depth. The one time we had a quarterback rank exterior of the highest 10 was in 2012, when Andre Johnson was clearly the superior half of his reference to Matt Schaub.

And Schaub, a minimum of, completed with a +8.6 plus/minus. Kupp was working with Matthew Stafford, who completed twentieth in passing plus/minus at +3.0—or, to place it one other manner, at -14.3 to everybody not named Cooper Kupp. There’s an argument to be made that Kupp’s numbers are much more spectacular than they seem at first blush. Along with celebrating Kupp’s numbers, we’ll additionally have a look at simply what the heck was up with the relaxation of the Rams’ passing assault. Let’s dive in.

2021 Broad Receivers

A complete of 91 large receivers certified final season, however we’ll simply present the 15 from the highest and backside of the rankings to save lots of area right here. Every receiver’s plus/minus might be present in Soccer Outsiders Almanac 2022.

2021 Broad Receivers: High 15 in Plus/Minus
Rk Participant Crew Targets Catch
1 Cooper Kupp LAR 186 78.0% +17.3
2 Hunter Renfrow LV 124 83.1% +14.6
3 Davante Adams GB 165 74.5% +13.6
4 Christian Kirk ARI 97 77.3% +13.4
5 Tyler Lockett SEA 103 70.9% +12.0
6 Justin Jefferson MIN 158 68.4% +9.7
7 Chris Godwin TB 123 79.7% +9.6
8 Amon-Ra St. Brown DET 115 78.3% +8.6
9 Tyreek Hill KC 155 71.6% +8.3
10 Mike Evans TB 109 67.9% +7.7
11 DeAndre Hopkins ARI 57 73.7% +7.6
12 Kendrick Bourne NE 69 79.7% +7.0
13 Tyler Boyd CIN 86 77.9% +7.0
14 Michael Pittman IND 122 72.1% +6.7
15 Adam Thielen MIN 92 72.8% +6.3


2021 Broad Receivers: Backside 15 in Plus/Minus
Rk Participant Crew Targets Catch
77 Nico Collins HOU 58 59.6% -4.0
78 Van Jefferson LAR 87 57.5% -4.4
79 Marquez Valdes-Scantling GB 54 48.1% -4.5
80 Jarvis Landry CLE 82 63.4% -4.6
81 Jalen Reagor PHI 56 58.9% -4.9
82 Darnell Mooney CHI 133 60.9% -5.2
83 Ray-Ray McCloud PIT 62 61.3% -5.6
84 Laviska Shenault JAX 93 67.7% -5.6
85 Chase Claypool PIT 103 58.3% -5.9
86 Odell Beckham 2TM 82 53.7% -6.3
87 Kenny Golladay NYG 73 50.7% -7.2
88 Darius Slayton NYG 55 47.3% -7.8
89 Zach Pascal IND 68 55.9% -9.2
90 DJ Moore CAR 156 59.6% -9.5
91 Robby Anderson CAR 106 50.0% -17.0

Kupp’s +17.3 is spectacular in and of itself. Whereas it would not have topped the record in any of the previous 4 years, it’s the seventh-highest plus/minus now we have seen since 2006—now we have been in a run of excellent seasons for the reason that tail finish of the Michael Thomas/Drew Brees period. The one gamers to have the next mark than Kupp since 2006 are Thomas, Antonio Brown, Reggie Wayne, and Stefon Diggs.

It’s value noting that plus/minus is a counting stat, and Kupp did a lot of counting in 2021. Kupp had 191 targets (together with cross interference), 22 greater than anybody else final season and within the high 15 all-time. I believe it is extra correct to say that Kupp was excellent over super quantity final season versus being super on a play-for-play foundation. That is terribly invaluable, and why Kupp broke so many Soccer Outsiders data, however it signifies that his numbers aren’t fairly as spectacular once you break it down as a charge reasonably than as a complete. A +17.3 plus/minus on 186 qualifying targets comes out as a catch charge over expectation of 9.3%—as soon as once more, excellent, however not typically league-leading. In truth, the one participant with a decrease CROE to guide the league in plus/minus was Andre Johnson in 2008 at 8.3%. Kupp’s 9.3% was seventh amongst certified receivers, however he had a minimum of 60 extra targets than anybody up above him. Superb in super quantity equals league-leading numbers.

Kupp’s additionally fascinating as a result of he is not the prototypical man you’ll count on to guide the league in plus/minus. Since he entered the league in 2017, he is seventh in plus/minus at +35.4. Apart from Michael Thomas, nonetheless, everybody forward of Kupp is extra of a deep-ball risk—Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Davante Adams, and DeAndre Hopkins. Kupp is racking up his numbers by catching mainly all of his food regimen of high-probability targets, nickel and diming his approach to the highest of the league. Since 2017, he’s the plus/minus chief for all gamers with a mean depth of goal underneath 8.0 yards, greater than doubling another eligible participant other than Hunter Renfrow’s +19.7, most of which got here from 2021 alone. I will be very to see if Kupp can come shut to those numbers once more subsequent season; whereas he has improved in plus/minus yearly he has been within the league, going from +6.4 to +17.3 in a single season does considerably shout outlier.

However, after all, Kupp’s enchancment did not are available in a vacuum—it got here with Matthew Stafford changing Jared Goff at quarterback, which is certain to enhance issues. In spite of everything, Goff’s profession CPOE is a paltry 0.2%, which might’t maintain a candle to Stafford’s … uh, -0.8%. Huh. That is worse. Nicely, Goff was working with higher receivers in Los Angeles than most of Stafford’s crew in Detroit, so we must always as an alternative have a look at Stafford’s reference to gamers extra in Kupp’s caliber—in any case, with Corridor of Famer Calvin Johnson, Stafford had a profession plus/minus of … uh, +14.2, or lower than what he did with Kupp final season. And a CPOE of simply 1.7%. In truth, Stafford’s 9.3% CPOE to Kupp dwarfs another connection he has ever had, with the next-closest participant with a minimum of 100 targets being Golden Tate at 3.0%.

In truth, let’s go forward and print the entire desk of Rams receivers final season and their plus/minus numbers so you’ll be able to see how a lot Kupp stood out over his teammates.

2021 Rams Receivers Plus/Minus
Participant Targets Catch
Cooper Kupp 186 78.0% +17.3
Tyler Higbee 81 75.3% +1.5
Robert Woods 64 70.3% +0.7
Cam Akers 3 100.0% +0.5
DeSean Jackson 15 53.3% +0.4
Johnny Mundt 1 100.0% +0.3
Brycen Hopkins 1 100.0% +0.3
Ben Skowronek 18 61.1% -1.2
Kendall Blanton 7 57.1% -1.3
Odell Beckham 48 56.3% -3.2
Darrell Henderson 40 72.5% -3.4
Van Jefferson 87 57.5% -4.4
Sony Michel 32 65.6% -6.4

It is rather, very unusual for a league chief to overperform his teammates by this a lot. The common plus/minus for a second banana since 2006 was +7.5, with the earlier low-water level being Jimmy Graham’s +3.7 in 2016 behind Doug Baldwin. Accuracy just isn’t Stafford’s major talent as a passer at any depth, making Kupp’s league-leading totals all of the extra spectacular.

Christian Kirk was essentially the most spectacular on a play-for-play foundation, as +13.4 is the third-highest plus/minus now we have ever seen for a participant with fewer than 100 targets. You’ll be able to query whether or not or not he is definitely worth the $18 million a 12 months Jacksonville is paying him, however he is only a slight enchancment over the arms of, say, a Laviska Shenault. Kirk is one in all a number of of final 12 months’s high finishers on the transfer, becoming a member of Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams. As receiving plus/minus is a minimum of considerably depending on quarterback accuracy, it will likely be fascinating to see how their numbers change in 2022.

Adams in all probability has the most effective probability of holding on to a high spot, contemplating Derek Carr helped Hunter Renfrow to a second-place end in 2021. Adams joins Tyler Lockett, Justin Jefferson, Chris Godwin, and DeAndre Hopkins as gamers returning to the highest 15 from 2020. Lockett and Hopkins have each been close to the highest of the leaderboard since 2018, however their streaks are in jeopardy on account of Hopkins’ suspension and Lockett’s quarterback scenario.

We additionally have to concentrate on the underside of the leaderboards for only a second, with Carolina ending one-two on the backside within the type of DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. Having Sam Darnold as your major quarterback will try this for you, however even taking that into consideration, Anderson could not catch a chilly in 2021. A -17.0 plus/minus is traditionally horrible—fourth worst since our knowledge started.

Worst Receiving Plus/Minus, 2006-2021
12 months Participant Crew Targets Catch
2006 Chris Chambers MIA 134 44.0% -20.5
2012 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 144 49.3% -19.7
2008 Braylon Edwards CLE 126 43.7% -18.8
2021 Robby Anderson CAR 106 50.0% -17.0
2011 Devin Aromashodu MIN 76 34.2% -14.8
2009 Louis Murphy OAK 89 38.2% -14.7
2013 Davone Bess CLE 83 50.6% -14.4
2016 Brandon Marshall NYJ 121 47.9% -14.0
2018 John Ross CIN 57 36.8% -13.3
2020 Jerry Jeudy DEN 107 48.6% -13.3

That is not regular for Anderson, who was up at +3.8 in 2020. He struggled with drops all season lengthy and simply appeared to lack any form of reference to any Panthers quarterback—he was technically worst with Darnold, however he had a -6.1 plus/minus on simply 42 targets from P.J. Walker and Cam Newton too, so it isn’t all on one quarterback. It was extra regular for Moore, who joins Darius Slayton and Jalen Reagor as returnees from 2020’s backside 15. Both manner, Carolina’s receiver corps was a catastrophe final 12 months, and we’ll proceed to see extra of that as we transfer to tight ends.

2021 Tight Ends

A complete of 55 tight ends certified final season, however we’re solely itemizing the highest and backside 10 for area causes.

2021 Tight Ends: High 10 in Plus-Minus
Rk Participant Crew Targets Catch
1 Mark Andrews BAL 159 71.3% +8.3
2 Dalton Schultz DAL 101 77.2% +5.8
3 George Kittle SF 93 76.3% +5.4
4 Dallas Goedert PHI 75 74.7% +5.4
5 Hunter Henry NE 69 72.5% +5.2
6 Durham Smythe MIA 40 85.0% +4.8
7 Noah Fant DEN 87 78.2% +4.8
8 Gerald Everett SEA 59 81.4% +4.5
9 Hayden Hurst ATL 31 83.9% +3.3
10 John Bates WAS 23 87.0% +3.2


2021 Tight Ends: Backside 10 in Plus-Minus
Rk Participant Crew Targets Catch
46 Mo Alie-Cox IND 41 58.5% -3.1
47 Ryan Griffin NYJ 41 65.8% -3.2
48 Ian Thomas CAR 29 62.1% -3.9
49 Jared Cook dinner LAC 78 61.5% -4.4
50 Austin Hooper CLE 58 65.5% -4.5
51 Cameron Brate TB 50 60.0% -4.6
52 Darren Waller LV 90 61.1% -4.8
53 Evan Engram NYG 69 66.7% -4.8
54 Jonnu Smith NE 45 62.2% -5.5
55 Ricky Seals-Jones WAS 49 61.2% -5.6

Tight ends and working backs are much less constant from year-to-year than large receivers as a basic rule of thumb. Durham Smythe is the one returnee from 2020’s high 10 tight ends, whereas Noah Fant and Hayden Hurst each rose from the underside 10 in 2020 to the highest in 2021—Fant bought a quarterback improve, whereas Hurst noticed his utilization shift dramatically with Kyle Pitts on the town.

Tight ends do assist clarify one of many extra shocking outcomes from the quarterback plus/minus rankings: Lamar Jackson’s end forward of Justin Herbert. Jackson had Mark Andrews as a security internet, and Andrews set all kinds of franchise data throughout his profession 12 months. Herbert, then again, needed to cope with Jared Cook dinner, seventh-worst amongst tight ends final season. The distinction in tight finish connection explains away all the distinction between Jackson and Herbert’s totals, and it is value noting that the Chargers have dumped Cook dinner and added Gerald Everett, eighth finest final season. A good finish that may catch ought to assist Herbert immensely in 2022.

When it comes to charges, the most effective tight finish was really rookie John Bates in Washington, who caught 20 of his 23 eligible targets. That is a small pattern dimension, however contemplating his teammate Ricky Seals-Jones was useless final with a -5.6 plus/minus, there’s one thing to be recommended there. Bates might be the Week 1 starter for the Commanders as Logan Thomas continues to heal from his December knee damage. On the different finish of the spectrum, Carolina’s Ian Thomas had the worst 12 months on a per-play foundation—he had an anticipated catch charge of 75.5%, and solely introduced in 62.1% of his targets. Not a fantastic 12 months for the Carolina passing assault.

2021 Operating Backs

There have been 57 certified working backs, however we’re simply going to record 10 from the highest and backside right here.

2021 Operating Backs: High 10 in Plus-Minus
Rk Participant Crew Targets Catch
1 Christian McCaffrey CAR 40 92.5% +5.7
2 James Conner ARI 40 95.0% +4.4
3 AJ Dillon GB 37 91.9% +3.3
4 Cordarrelle Patterson ATL 64 81.3% +3.2
5 Kyle Juszcyzk SF 38 78.9% +2.7
6 David Montgomery CHI 48 87.5% +2.6
7 Jamaal Williams DET 28 92.9% +2.4
8 Tony Pollard DAL 44 88.6% +2.3
9 Devonta Freeman BAL 38 89.5% +2.3
10 Devontae Booker DET 45 88.9% +2.3


2021 Operating Backs: Backside 10 in Plus-Minus
Rk Participant Crew Targets Catch
48 Chuba Hubbard CAR 34 73.5% -3.6
49 Kenneth Gainwell PHI 47 70.2% -4.0
50 Saquon Barkley NYG 55 74.5% -4.2
51 Dalvin Cook dinner MIN 45 75.6% -4.7
52 James Robinson JAX 43 72.1% -5.2
53 Michael Carter NYJ 51 72.5% -5.2
54 Alvin Kamara NO 65 72.3% -5.8
55 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 64 73.4% -6.0
56 Sony Michel LAR 32 65.6% -6.4
57 Ty Johnson NYJ 53 64.2% -8.0

Hey, a Panther what finished good! Whereas Carolina hopes that Christian McCaffrey might be wholesome sufficient to earn greater than 40 targets in 2022, it is good to see him again on high of those rankings the place he belongs. Regardless of lacking many of the final two seasons, McCaffrey nonetheless leads all working backs in plus/minus since he entered the league with +18.8. A wholesome McCaffrey is the league’s finest receiving possibility out of the backfield, and goodness is aware of the Panthers want that.

The Jets may use actually anybody who may maintain on to a soccer out of the backfield, with Ty Johnson and Michael Carter each ending within the backside 10. Drops had been the key perpetrator, particularly for Johnson, which does not assist a creating younger quarterback like Zach Wilson! Enter Breece Corridor, who was a considerable contributor within the receiving sport at Iowa State, and can hopefully hold the Jets off the underside of this record in 2022.

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