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Davante Adams Has Nightmarish Analytics

I don’t enjoy disparaging Green Bay Packers players. But with Davante Adams, still the No. 3 wide receiver on the official team depth chart, an analytical review of his pro career is in order.

The experts at numberFire, which refers to itself as “the world’s most accurate predictor of sports performance,” said this of Adams’ rookie season. “Adams was actually really inefficient [in 2014]. His Reception NEP per target average (an efficiency algorithm) was just 0.58, which ranked 62nd of the 90 wide receivers… with 30 or more receptions.”

Jordy Nelson’s Reception NEP per target was 0.93, and Randall Cobb’s was 0.94 – these were both top-10 averages league-wide.

Following the 2014 season, Pro Football Focus (PFF) compared the play of all 34 rookie receivers that year. Using its detailed grading system, Adams came out last among the 12 receivers who had over 500 snaps, and also last among the 25 rookies who got any snaps at wide receiver. It was the eighth worst rookie receiver grade recorded by PFF in the last eight years.

From the very first game of the 2015 season, against the Bears, Adams was unproductive. RotoUnderworld noted that Adams had a catch rate of 50.0% (4 of 8), while the other Green Bay receivers combined for a 93.3% rate from an otherwise red-hot Aaron Rodgers.

Here’s how numberFire put Adams’ 2015 season into perspective: “(A)mong the 721 instances of a receiver seeing at least 90 targets in a season since 2000, Adams’ Reception NEP ranked 719.”

On November 17, 2015, Football Outsiders did a lengthy analysis on why the Packers passing attack had gone south. Using an analytic that measures the efficiency or productivity when throwing to a particular receiver, they examined all Packers’ receivers with 40 or more targets per season from 2010 up to that point in 2015. Of the 23 rankings, Jordy Nelson utterly dominated the top of the list, with James Jones and Randall Cobb also having multiple highly-productive seasons. Faring less well were Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Jarrett Boykin’s 2013 season was ninth from the bottom, and Richard Rodgers’ 2015 season (to that point) was seventh worst. The next to last ranking was Adams’ 2014 season, and in last place was his 2015 season (to that point).

Football Outsiders concluded: “Rodgers has had success with a range of receivers, but his lack of success with Adams has extended throughout the receiver’s two seasons.”

For 2015, Pro Football Focus, which reviews game tapes and issues a score for every play involving every NFL player, ranked Adams 181 out of 182 NFL wide receivers.

Some NFL players have low catch rates, others have low yards per reception, but few have both. Going back to 1992, however, numberFire reported in December 2015 that only 17 wide receivers have averaged 11 or fewer yards per reception and a 50% (or worse) catch rate (minimum of 60 targets) in a season. At that point, Davante Adams was on that list of 17 players – and his yards per reception was then fifth worst. He finished the season with a 53.7 catch rate, though his yardage per catch actually fell to 9.7.

Heading into the 2016 season, Pro Football Focus has Adams at No. 109 out of 121 ranked receivers.

In November 2015, Monty summed up the second-rounder from Fresno State: “He’s not fast, he can’t separate from coverage, he can’t win the jump ball and he doesn’t even appear to be a great route runner or pass catcher.”

Good enough for Mike McCarthy, who will likely make him a starter (as the No. 3 receiver) for a third year in a row.

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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15 Comments

  1. Zwoeger August 21, 2016

    Maybe about time for MM and TT to read “Moneyball” then ? Altough just looking tape should be enough.

  2. Vijay-jay August 21, 2016

    Again, you have Allen Robinson sitting there in Rd2 of the 2014 draft and you fucking pick this guy!?
    Man, I need to get into scouting/ personnel someday.

    1. ferris August 21, 2016

      That was a huge miss. The Jordy Nelson was a huge hit. You never know what type of Pro they will be. See Montee Ball vs Eddie Lacy.

    2. ay hombre August 22, 2016

      Again Vijay pipes in after the fact, as if he was touting Allen Robinson before the draft. Where did Ted fall short this season Vijay? Oh that’s right…you don’t know. You’ll wait to see how these players develop and then tell us how you were all about the guys who became stars. Get over yourself already.

  3. Longrod VonHugendong August 21, 2016

    He will start the season as the #3 wr, but they will stick by him despite abbrederis and montgomery and possibly trevor davis getting open more consistently would be my prediction.

    Hes a bust, or possibly just isnt a fit here. He had his moments his rookie year… but yeah who knows what happened.
    Nelson-cobb-abbrederis/montgomery-davis/janis-adams-allison if it were up to me.
    But if hes choking like last year by the time janis comes off ir id have to strongly consider cutting him to make space… or try to get any draft picks for him

  4. Howard August 21, 2016

    Good article Rob. Sometimes when the lights get brighter on a player they are blinded by the light. I think Adams is one of those type players. Granted Adams had a good game against Dallas in the 2014 playoffs. Adams also had a good game against NE in 2014, however remember when he dropped the potential game clinching slant late in that NE game. I would not put it past Adams to have a big game this week in preseason when the lights aren’t as bright. If Adams makes the team hopefully he gets some shades for the bright lights.

  5. Feck August 21, 2016

    You didn’t even mention his constant injuries.

  6. Feck August 21, 2016

    I think his odds of being more effective than Trevor Davis or Geronimo Allison are about 50-50. Adams is one year away from a contract year, Davis could give you four years. Allison is a UFA. If it’s even odds now, use the roster stop to take a shot at the future. Adams future is practically over. If he doesn’t hit now he’s a bust. I f he does suddenly put together a miracle, he’s almost out the door to free agency.

  7. wrich August 21, 2016

    These writer’s always have so much trash to talk about TT and MM and their choices, but they should compare the win game totals with other GM and Coaches around the NFL. (How many winning years ?)

  8. jtmax August 21, 2016

    Reminds me of James Jones. Not really fast enough to get separation and has a really hard time with drops. But they stuck with him until he turned it around. I guess if you give somebody enough chances he will figure it out. I don’t like that idea because I know that Rodgers is on the downhill and we’ve already wasted too much of his years with guys who take too long to figure it out.

  9. jtmax August 21, 2016

    If he makes #3 he will get a lot of targets because nobody will bother to cover the guy and he will probably be open more than any receiver on the field.

  10. Deepsky August 22, 2016

    I would say that equally damaging to the Packers offense last year was that Cobb is obviously not a primary receiver.

    Look at Packer history. When Sharpe went down, Brooks stepped with a 1400 yard season. When Brooks went down Freeman responded with a 1400 yard season. Jennings joined Driver as a successful receiver. Nelson replaced Jennings as the primary receiver. The Packers have a long history of replacing primary receivers with guys who can shoulder the load.

    As the primary receiver, Cobb should have had 1400 yards receiving last season. That would have lightened the load on Adams. Adams had an awful season, but Cobb was the guy who should have stepped up.

  11. Savage57 August 22, 2016

    Numbers can always be twisted, but when they stack up like this, only a fool would continue defending someone who by these indications is not only not producing himself, but eating the snaps up of someone else who might not be pretty much the shittiest receiver in the league.

  12. MMTTDCSUCK August 22, 2016

    I believe that A. Rodgers has a bit of clout with who starts at WR ( just a guess guys! ). I believe that up till now, Rodgers may be his saving grace. This trump card perhaps is being used to keep him around IMO. If he does not perform to expectations this year they should send him packing.

  13. Davante November 29, 2016

    “Good enough for Mike McCarthy, who will likely make him a starter (as the No. 3 receiver) for a third year in a row.”

    Seems Mike was right, and you were wrong bud.