Adjusted Catch Yards Since 1991

Today I’m going to look at receivers since 1991 as ranked by Adjusted Catch Yards (ACY). I’m using 1991 as my cutoff because I don’t have data on receiving first downs prior to that, and since first downs are a huge part of the formula, it seems unwise to go past that cutoff.1 The formula for ACY is:

ACY = Receiving Yards + 11*Receiving Touchdowns + 9*Receiving First Downs – 25*Receiving Fumbles2

I will also include small modifications to adjust for era. Since we are only looking at the fairly small period in history (1991-2015), adjustments will not be very significant in one way or the other. My method for adjusting is pretty straightforward:

  1. Find a player’s ACY per league game in a given season.
  2. Find the league average ACY per game in a given season.
  3. Find the average ACY per game for all seasons in the data set.
  4. Divide the league average ACY/G by the data set average ACY/G.
  5. Find the average of the number from step 4 and 100%.
  6. Divide that number into the number from step 1.
  7. Multiply by the number of scheduled games from that season.

Let’s say, for example, a receiver gained 1800 ACY in 1992. That’s 112.5 ACY/G. The NFL average for 1992 was 297.9 ACY/G. The average ACY/G from 1991-2015 was 335.8, so we follow step 4 and divide 297.9 by 335.8 and get 88.7%. Then we take step 5 and average that with 100%, giving us 94.4%. Step 6 tells us to divide 94.4% into 112.5 ACY/G, leaving us with 119.2 ACY/G. Finally, we multiply by the 16 scheduled games in a season, giving us a final result of 1908 ACY. Here, we can see that the hypothetical receiver gets a 108 ACY bonus after era corrections.

On the other hand, a receiver who gained 1800 ACY in 2015 would be penalized for playing in a more passing friendly environment. The league average ACY/G in 2015 was 378.8, so following all the steps above, we find that the receiver gained 1692 era-corrected ACY (a loss of roughly 108).

Keep in mind as you read that this is not a subjective ranking of receivers, but rather a list of outputs derived from the inputs mentioned above. It does not account for quarterback quality, strength of defense faced, effects of weather, whether a receiver’s team led or trailed often (and, thus, passed less or more), or the impact coaching. With that, let’s check out the numbers.

Single Season Adjusted Catch Yards Since 1991

The table below displays the top 250 ACY seasons of the last 25 years. Read it thus: In 2012, Calvin Johnson had 122 receptions for 1964 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 92 first downs. He also fumbled 3 times on receiving plays. He finished the year with 2772 ACY.

YearPlayerTeamPosRecYdsTD1DFUMACY
2012Calvin JohnsonDETWR1221,96459232772
2015Julio JonesATLWR1361,87189332721
2015Antonio BrownPITWR1361,834108412675
2002Marvin HarrisonINDWR1431,722119202671
1995Jerry RiceSFWR1221,848157532613
1995Isaac BruceSTLWR1191,781138222612
1995Herman MooreDETWR1231,686149022600
2014Antonio BrownPITWR1291,698138512581
2003Torry HoltSTLWR1171,696128412559
2011Calvin JohnsonDETWR961,681167712525
1995Michael IrvinDALWR1111,603108812480
2003Randy MossMINWR1111,632177612478
1999Marvin HarrisonINDWR1151,663127922456
1999Jimmy SmithJAXWR1161,63668612451
2007Randy MossNEWR981,493237402412
2015DeAndre HopkinsHOUWR1111,521118312364
2001Marvin HarrisonINDWR1091,524157502364
2014Demaryius ThomasDENWR1111,619116902361
2011Wes WelkerNEWR1221,56997702361
2000Rod SmithDENWR1001,60287712358
2012Andre JohnsonHOUWR1121,59847902353
2008Andre JohnsonHOUWR1151,57587912349
1991Michael IrvinDALWR931,52387902322
2013Josh GordonCLEWR871,64696402321
1994Jerry RiceSFWR1121,499137712310
2001David BostonARIWR981,59887212309
2014Jordy NelsonGNBWR981,519137102301
2005Steve SmithCARWR1031,563127012300
2014Julio JonesATLWR1041,59367622293
1997Rob MooreARIWR971,58486802284
1995Cris CarterMINWR1221,371178002278
1995Robert BrooksGNBWR1021,497137002270
2015Brandon MarshallNYJWR1091,502147632265
2009Andre JohnsonHOUWR1011,56996912264
2012Brandon MarshallCHIWR1181,508117522254
1993Jerry RiceSFWR981,503157232241
1995Brett PerrimanDETWR1081,48897412228
2013Calvin JohnsonDETWR841,492126912220
2001Terrell OwensSFWR931,412167002218
2010Brandon LloydDENWR771,448117202217
2013Antonio BrownPITWR1101,49986902208
2004Muhsin MuhammadCARWR931,405167422197
2007Reggie WayneINDWR1041,510107232193
2000Torry HoltSTLWR821,63566022191
2004Joe HornNORWR941,399117302177
1992Sterling SharpeGNBWR1081,461136922175
2006Marvin HarrisonINDWR951,366127812175
2005Chad JohnsonCINWR971,43297412172
2013Demaryius ThomasDENWR921,430146612153
2000Marvin HarrisonINDWR1021,413147022147
2015Odell BeckhamNYGWR961,450136722146
2007Chad JohnsonCINWR931,44087422144
2007Terrell OwensDALWR811,355156902141
2011Victor CruzNYGWR821,53695912141
2000Isaac BruceSTLWR871,47196612139
2011Rob GronkowskiNETE901,327176902135
2008Larry FitzgeraldARIWR961,431126612132
2010Roddy WhiteATLWR1151,389107312131
2000Terrell OwensSFWR971,451136522129
2005Larry FitzgeraldARIWR1031,409106702122
2001Rod SmithDENWR1131,343117512114
1998Antonio FreemanGNBWR841,424145902109
2013A.J. GreenCINWR981,426116512107
2015Allen RobinsonJAXWR801,400146102103
1994Henry EllardWASWR741,39767102102
2014Emmanuel SandersDENWR1011,40496912099
1992Michael IrvinDALWR781,39677112087
2013Andre JohnsonHOUWR1091,40756902083
1993Michael IrvinDALWR881,33077502082
2011Roddy WhiteATLWR1001,29687702077
2000Randy MossMINWR771,437155822074
2011Jimmy GrahamNORTE991,310117412072
2005Santana MossWASWR841,48396022072
1994Terance MathisATLWR1111,342116702066
2007Larry FitzgeraldARIWR1001,409106932065
2012Roddy WhiteATLWR921,35177312060
2003Chad JohnsonCINWR901,355106602059
2013Brandon MarshallCHIWR1001,295127002057
2011Larry FitzgeraldARIWR801,41186102048
2001Jimmy SmithJAXWR1121,37386812048
1995Tim BrownRAIWR891,342106602046
2010Reggie WayneINDWR1111,35567212044
2012Reggie WayneINDWR1061,35557312042
2005Anquan BoldinARIWR1021,40276822041
2014Dez BryantDALWR881,320166002036
1996Herman MooreDETWR1061,29697102034
2014Randall CobbGNBWR911,287127112033
2006Reggie WayneINDWR861,31097212032
2004Javon WalkerGNBWR891,382126322031
2009Reggie WayneINDWR1001,264107302031
2002Hines WardPITWR1121,329126612030
2000Ed McCaffreyDENWR1011,31796802028
1997Tim BrownRAIWR1041,40856512023
2012Vincent JacksonTBWR721,38486102021
2012Wes WelkerNEWR1181,35467222018
2006Chad JohnsonCINWR871,36976612015
2012Demaryius ThomasDENWR941,434106032009
1997Yancey ThigpenPITWR791,39876212008
2009Wes WelkerNEWR1231,34847112006
1999Marcus RobinsonCHIWR841,40095602003
2003Derrick MasonTENWR951,30386802003
2000Derrick AlexanderKCWR781,391105501996
1994Tim BrownRAIWR891,30996811995
2008Steve SmithCARWR781,42165911993
2002Randy MossMINWR1061,34776611993
2002Terrell OwensSFWR1001,300136101992
1996Jerry RiceSFWR1081,25487201990
1999Tim BrownRAIWR901,34466401986
2008Roddy WhiteATLWR881,38276111983
1993Sterling SharpeGNBWR1121,274116811982
2013Alshon JefferyCHIWR891,42176231981
1995Carl PickensCINWR991,234176511981
1999Randy MossMINWR801,413115211977
1997Herman MooreDETWR1041,29386601975
2003Anquan BoldinARIWR1011,37786221973
2012A.J. GreenCINWR971,350116121970
2000Joe HornNORWR941,34086311970
1999Cris CarterMINWR901,241136501969
2002Amani ToomerNYGWR821,34385901962
2007Brandon MarshallDENWR1021,32577031957
2004Tony GonzalezKCTE1021,25876901956
2000Cris CarterMINWR961,27497331955
1998Eric MouldsBUFWR671,36895401953
2002Eric MouldsBUFWR1001,292106411953
2012Dez BryantDALWR921,382125421950
2014Odell BeckhamNYGWR911,305125701950
2015A.J. GreenCINWR861,297106311949
2002Joe HornNORWR881,31276511949
2009Miles AustinDALWR811,320115911947
2005Torry HoltSTLWR1021,33196321947
2013DeSean JacksonPHIWR821,33296011946
2013Jordy NelsonGNBWR851,31486001942
2002Torry HoltSTLWR911,30246911942
2013Jimmy GrahamNORTE861,215166101940
1998Randy MossMINWR691,313175111934
1997Irving FryarPHIWR861,31666411933
2014Jeremy MaclinPHIWR851,318105601932
2006Roy WilliamsDETWR821,31076621931
1996Isaac BruceSTLWR841,33876011930
2004Torry HoltSTLWR941,372105831929
2002Plaxico BurressPITWR781,32576421928
2013Eric DeckerDENWR871,288116321926
1995Jeff GrahamCHIWR821,30146711923
1997Jimmy SmithJAXWR821,32446411919
1991Gary ClarkWASWR701,340105201918
1994Andre ReedBUFWR901,30386421917
2013Pierre GarconWASWR1131,34656011916
1993Andre RisonATLWR861,242156221915
2004Chad JohnsonCINWR951,27496311915
2009Randy MossNEWR831,264136221915
2000Eric MouldsBUFWR941,32656211914
1995Yancey ThigpenPITWR851,30756411913
2001Torry HoltSTLWR811,36375821912
1996Irving FryarPHIWR881,195116601910
2005Joey GallowayTBWR831,287105701910
1997Antonio FreemanGNBWR811,243126211908
2009Sidney RiceMINWR831,31285911906
2014T.Y. HiltonINDWR821,34576231905
2013Dez BryantDALWR931,233136731904
2007Braylon EdwardsCLEWR801,289165731903
1996Jake ReedMINWR721,32075601901
2002Laveranues ColesNYJWR891,26456711897
2000Tony GonzalezKCTE931,20396601896
1994Michael IrvinDALWR791,24166501892
2015Demaryius ThomasDENWR1051,30466321887
2006Terrell OwensDALWR851,180136201881
2008Calvin JohnsonDETWR781,331125221881
1996Carl PickensCINWR1001,180126301879
1996Michael JacksonBALWR761,201145801877
1999Germane CrowellDETWR811,33875411876
2004Drew BennettTENWR801,247116221876
1999Muhsin MuhammadCARWR961,25386211874
2001Randy MossMINWR821,233105901874
2007Marques ColstonNORWR981,202116411874
2011Steve SmithCARWR791,39475331873
2015Calvin JohnsonDETWR881,21496511873
2004Reggie WayneINDWR771,210125901873
2014Golden TateDETWR991,33145811872
2003Marvin HarrisonINDWR941,272106021872
2001Joe HornNORWR831,26595911870
2009Santonio HolmesPITWR791,24856301870
2008Greg JenningsGNBWR801,29295511861
1994Sterling SharpeGNBWR941,119186311859
2009Larry FitzgeraldARIWR971,092136901856
1996Tony MartinSDWR851,171145901856
2007T.J. HoushmandzadehCINWR1121,143127021855
2011Jordy NelsonGNBWR681,263154701851
1994Irving FryarMIAWR731,27075601851
2006Torry HoltSTLWR931,188106721851
2015Larry FitzgeraldARIWR1091,21596521849
2004Derrick MasonTENWR961,16876701848
2009Steve SmithNYGWR1071,22076101846
1991Jerry RiceSFWR801,206145401846
2005Donald DriverGNBWR861,22156301843
2008Brandon MarshallDENWR1041,26566531841
2008Antonio BryantTBWR831,24876011840
1996Jimmy SmithJAXWR831,24476011836
2006Donald DriverGNBWR921,29585311835
2006Lee EvansBUFWR821,29285311832
2001Keyshawn JohnsonTBWR1061,26616721830
1998Rod SmithDENWR861,22266001828
2004Marvin HarrisonINDWR861,113156311820
2000Jimmy SmithJAXWR911,21386011816
2013Vincent JacksonTBWR781,22476011816
2010Greg JenningsGNBWR761,265125221815
1993Anthony MillerSDWR841,16276401815
2002Peerless PriceBUFWR941,25295721814
2013Anquan BoldinSFWR851,17976201814
2004Donald DriverGNBWR841,20895911813
2001Tim BrownRAIWR911,16596101813
2003Hines WardPITWR951,163106001813
2012Julio JonesATLWR791,198105601812
1997Michael IrvinDALWR751,18095901810
2010Andre JohnsonHOUWR861,21685911810
2005Marvin HarrisonINDWR821,146125901809
2004Isaac BruceSTLWR891,29266451809
1992Jerry RiceSFWR841,201105811808
1994Cris CarterMINWR1221,25676341800
2007Wes WelkerNEWR1121,17586521798
2010Dwayne BoweKCWR721,162155511797
2014Rob GronkowskiNETE821,124126001796
2002Jerry RiceRAIWR921,21175911794
2009Vincent JacksonSDWR681,16795801788
1994Ben CoatesNETE961,17476521786
2001Troy BrownNEWR1011,19955901785
2014Alshon JefferyCHIWR851,133106001783
1999Isaac BruceSTLWR771,165125401783
2007Torry HoltSTLWR931,18976321783
2000Muhsin MuhammadCARWR1021,18366211782
1991Andre ReedBUFWR811,113106201781
1998Keyshawn JohnsonNYJWR831,131106001781
2015Mike EvansTBWR741,20636311781
2000Tim BrownRAIWR761,128115901780
2008Reggie WayneINDWR821,14566301778
2010Mike WallacePITWR601,257104811774
2004Michael ClaytonTBWR801,19375601774
1994Herman MooreDETWR721,173115611773
1991Haywood JeffiresHOUWR1001,18175701771
2008Tony GonzalezKCTE961,058106701771
1999Keyshawn JohnsonNYJWR891,17085701771
2001Jerry RiceRAIWR831,13996211771
1993Tim BrownRAIWR801,18075701770
2005Antonio GatesSDTE891,101106201769
2009Antonio GatesSDTE791,15786111769
2002Koren RobinsonSEAWR781,24055821767
2015Rob GronkowskiNETE721,176115201765
2004Terrell OwensPHIWR771,200145121763
1996Cris CarterMINWR961,163105711761
2007Tony GonzalezKCTE991,17255901758
2004Darrell JacksonSEAWR871,19975921757

You can see that, without adjusting for era, the last few seasons and the crazy 1995 season dominate the list.

GOAT
Jerry Rice

Despite the fact that he was already 29 years old in the first year of our data set, Jerry Rice still managed to get eight seasons in the top 250. In other words, without including the first 446 catches, 7866 yards, and 79 touchdowns of his career, Rice still tied for the most top 250 seasons in the past quarter century.

Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, and Torry Holt also posted eight seasons on the list. Moss was known as a deep threat who could beat double coverage with ease, but he was also a terrifying runner who could nullify the best pursuit angles and turn screens into long scores. Harrison was a precise route runner with solid hands and uncanny chemistry with long-time quarterback Peyton Manning. Holt possessed an incredible combination of speed and smooth route running. He produced at an unprecedented rate, including six straight seasons with more than 1300 yards.

There are twelve tight end seasons on the list, from just five different players. Legendary pass catcher Tony Gonzalez has four seasons on the list, possible mutant Rob Gronkowski already has three, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham have two apiece, and Ben Coates rounds out the group. Gronk is the only one in the group with consecutive top 250 season, but Gonzo can boast two great seasons eight years apart. Given the usual brevity of tight end peaks, I’d say Gonzo’s feat is most impressive.

Career Adjusted Catch Yards Since 1991

This table shows the top 250 careers, by ACY, since 1991. Read it thus: Terrell Owens caught 1078 passes for 153 touchdowns and 742 first downs. He also fumbled 10 times on receiving plays, leaving him with 24045 ACY. For those interested, that’s 22.3 ACY per reception.

HumanRecYdTD1dFumACYACY/C
Terrell Owens107815934153742102404522.3
Tony Gonzalez13251512711186462397418.1
Marvin Harrison110214580128758102256020.5
Randy Moss96014979151688132250723.4
Jerry Rice109814962118738162250220.5
Isaac Bruce10241520891716152227821.8
Reggie Wayne10701434582759102182820.4
Tim Brown1032139369269392096020.3
Andre Johnson1053141006869092083319.8
Larry Fitzgerald1018133669867692030319.9
Steve Smith9611393276602141983620.6
Anquan Boldin10091319574648151946619.3
Torry Holt9201338274629191938221.1
Cris Carter98512036108637151858218.9
Hines Ward10001208385620121829818.3
Derrick Mason930119466663871823919.6
Jimmy Smith8621228767599101816521.1
Calvin Johnson7311161983555131720223.5
Rod Smith8491138968570121696720.0
Keenan McCardell883113736356891695319.2
Brandon Marshall8821127379577161693519.2
Jason Witten1020112156057361688216.6
Antonio Gates8441064410458261687620.0
Muhsin Muhammad8601143862566141686419.6
Chad Johnson766110596757471678721.9
Roddy White8081086363550141615620.0
Keyshawn Johnson814105716455291601819.7
Joey Galloway694108837748161590922.9
Michael Irvin672104595353941579323.5
Santana Moss7321028366491151505320.6
Wes Welker90399245052061500416.6
Donald Driver743101376147571490820.1
Shannon Sharpe80899616149071486718.4
Marques Colston711975972506101485520.9
Eric Moulds76499954947571463419.2
Amani Toomer66894975447641427521.4
Herman Moore67091746245851385320.7
Irving Fryar61188645344111339121.9
Vincent Jackson52589075742531328425.3
Terance Mathis67085646345531327719.8
Joe Horn60387445843681310621.7
Laveranues Coles67486094944351301019.3
Terry Glenn59388234442171292121.8
Tony Martin56486775441451287222.8
Johnnie Morton62487194342461285820.6
Rob Moore58486764340721276221.9
Plaxico Burress55384996440491261422.8
Curtis Conway59482305239571218220.5
Greg Jennings57182916437061217521.3
Ricky Proehl61380765041791215419.8
Jeff Graham54281723039231195522.1
Eddie Kennison53381764136871176422.1
Andre Rison57577196838781175020.4
Bobby Engram650775135425141161117.9
Andre Reed56378454837891155020.5
Ed McCaffrey56574225536941124819.9
T.J. Houshmandzadeh62772374439661113517.8
Wayne Chrebet58073654137941112719.2
Antonio Freeman47772516134961091322.9
Dwayne Bowe53772084437061087220.2
DeSean Jackson44278144229571075624.3
Chris Chambers50071115734961072921.5
Carl Pickens54071296333881066419.7
Antonio Brown52670933834841054320.0
Darrell Jackson49971325133991051921.1
Nate Washington45869544432221028622.5
Jake Reed45069993632951023122.7
Shawn Jefferson47070232933051018721.7
Henry Ellard39367402534611010425.7
Jerricho Cotchery52466233435131008119.2
Heath Miller59265694534671000316.9
Larry Centers82767972834791000312.1
Derrick Alexander4176971402914993023.8
Frank Sanders5076749243479991119.5
Deion Branch5056532383280990219.6
Marty Booker5396703373204989018.3
Marshall Faulk7676875363036984812.8
Ike Hilliard54663973535310970917.8
Demaryius Thomas4566621472977963621.1
Greg Olsen5426292493267959017.7
Anthony Miller4216437432902947022.5
Troy Brown5576366313124941516.9
Jeremy Shockey5476143373319930417.0
Mike Wallace4146307492836924322.3
Sean Dawkins4456291253157922620.7
Darnay Scott4086193372770909322.3
Jordy Nelson4006109492721907122.7
A.J. Green4156171452786901821.7
Santonio Holmes3896030362966894023.0
Julio Jones4146201342848893121.6
Todd Heap4995869423006888117.8
Dallas Clark5055665533036882517.5
Pierre Garcon4856027342794881218.2
Rob Gronkowski3805555652872880323.2
Dez Bryant4125825592746879021.3
Owen Daniels4795661363197875318.3
Lee Evans3816008432616868022.8
Ben Coates4995555503088867717.4
Jabar Gaffney4475690243002860419.2
Jeremy Maclin4305859442635858520.0
James Jones43358615127513857219.8
Jimmy Graham4345357532985849719.6
Brandon Lloyd3805706362702848222.3
Quinn Early4055709352652842920.8
Nate Burleson4575630392848841518.4
Wesley Walls4415248532892838219.0
Brandon Stokley3975339392841829920.9
Brett Perriman4475553262844829518.6
Vernon Davis4435647552448824818.6
Malcom Floyd3215550342562817825.5
Chris Calloway3765373292782814421.7
Roy Williams3765483432609807121.5
Michael Jackson3535393462515803322.8
Miles Austin3615273372593793622.0
Michael Crabtree4325249352572789718.3
Brian Blades4155350182735788019.0
O.J. McDuffie4155074292926787119.0
Antonio Bryant3565419302454785422.1
Braylon Edwards3415309392435780022.9
Eric Decker3765059502555777920.7
Kellen Winslow4695236252707776616.6
Michael Haynes3445230392373771722.4
Frank Wycheck5055126282708766415.2
Peerless Price4035281312447764319.0
Mark Carrier3515135272492762321.7
Lance Moore3894816442602759019.5
Raghib Ismail3635295282253755320.8
Qadry Ismail3535137332394755121.4
Mike Pritchard4225187262549753417.9
Benjamin Watson4344963382618753017.4
Hakeem Nicks3565081312343745320.9
Sterling Sharpe3834815462484745319.5
Yancey Thigpen3135081302303740623.7
Steve Johnson3814764342544732419.2
Dennis Northcutt3994941182322717718.0
Donte' Stallworth3214837352131711422.2
Bert Emanuel3474827282314711420.5
Chris Cooley42947113325011704916.4
Tiki Barber58651831222612704912.0
Torrance Small3464602312331701520.3
Alge Crumpler3734743392206700218.8
Brian Hartline3444766142414698920.3
Haywood Jeffires4054529392377691617.1
Marcus Robinson3254699432034689921.2
Brent Celek3714713302174689618.6
Charles Johnson3544606242232682719.3
Courtney Hawkins3664573182363682018.6
Eric Metcalf4304723262146678515.8
David Patten3244715242135677120.9
David Boston3154699252135676621.5
Randy McMichael4264539242325676615.9
Bill Schroeder3044583282246675722.2
Emmanuel Sanders3384569262235673719.9
Fred Barnett3254641242175673320.7
Kevin Walter3564379252311670818.8
Michael Jenkins3544427252282670418.9
Willie Davis2864503332042665223.3
Drew Bennett3074412282275663821.6
Robert Brooks3094276322140655421.2
Antwaan Randle El3704467152359652217.6
Marcus Pollard3494280402105648518.6
J.J. Stokes3294177302222645519.6
Michael Westbrook2854374262032643722.6
LaDainian Tomlinson6244772171899643510.3
James Jett2564417301984642925.1
Joe Jurevicius3234119292234634519.6
Golden Tate3544339252025630717.8
Gary Clark2844366221912627722.1
Jackie Harris3814253252054627316.5
T.Y. Hilton2834413241874626022.1
Torrey Smith2464254341812620725.2
Jerry Porter2954120312014617020.9
Kevin Johnson3434214231963615617.9
Warrick Dunn5104339151945612512.0
Webster Slaughter3224183202138612019.0
Freddie Jones4044232221924610215.1
Darren Sproles4734156281862608812.9
Devery Henderson2454377201733607924.8
Tony McGee3224089212003604518.8
Koren Robinson2944244161945604120.5
Eddie Royal3753988262023601716.0
Ricky Watters4674248131823595412.7
Az-Zahir Hakim2994044281946594819.9
Bernard Berrian2884122241813594020.6
Michael Timpson2953956122164593220.1
Eric Green32840032920510591718.0
Randall Cobb3063878311911591319.3
Marcedes Lewis3314015271884590417.8
Bryant Johnson3143938162032589118.8
Ken Dilger3564099241897588916.5
Javon Walker2674011311814588122.0
Travis Taylor3114013221914587418.9
Doug Baldwin2743826291831576721.0
Percy Harvin3293887221904573917.4
Jason Avant3253917122016570817.6
Victor Cruz2643963241692569821.6
Delanie Walker3404014241777569616.8
Davone Bess3633809142065569215.7
Ronnie Harmon3763924121872568915.1
Brian Westbrook4423940301695566612.8
Brandon LaFell2783853201803561820.2
Matt Forte4874116191637561711.5
Brent Jones3113856221888559018.0
Kenny Britt2413879251725557723.1
Alshon Jeffery2523728241824553021.9
Willie Green2373720261732551323.3
Zach Miller3283804201723549716.8
Bill Brooks2883539231901547719.0
Sidney Rice2433592301772546522.5
Randal Hill2623849141693544920.8
Desmond Clark3233591271888538016.7
Justin McCareins2403676161783537922.4
Patrick Crayton2473650251755537521.8
Josh Reed3113575101932537217.3
Martellus Bennett3483586231814536815.4
James Thrash2903646221622529618.3
Kyle Brady3433519251878527715.4
Ashley Lelie2173749151531526624.3
Charlie Garner4193711121632526012.6
DeAndre Hopkins2393533191784524421.9
Willie Jackson2663442241773522419.6
Ernest Givins2703471231765518319.2
Reggie Bush4703508181661517511.0
Ted Ginn2553533211653517420.3
Julian Edelman3273434211743515615.8
Kevin Faulk4313701151669513511.9
Jessie Hester2513423131752509120.3
Steven Jackson461368391545504310.9
Harry Douglas2943541101623503417.1
Jared Cook2733503161666502318.4
Mark Clayton2603448141591500819.3
Calvin Williams2583238251662495719.2
Andre Hastings2663307181610495418.6
Anthony Fasano2793088331722494917.7
Vincent Brisby2213202141772489922.2
James McKnight2223595181458489822.1
Steve Breaston255338791560489019.2
Tony Scheffler2583207221673487718.9
John Taylor2153297241533486322.6
Oronde Gadsden2273252221593485021.4
Danny Amendola3423207131774484314.2
Floyd Turner2383130261642484220.3
Jerome Pathon2603350151532484218.6
Kevin Curtis2523291201543482219.1
Alvin Harper1893408211405477425.3
Corey Bradford2153346251384476322.2
Lawrence Dawsey240327161601475219.8
Michael Floyd2093293191484473422.7
Keith Jackson2473096341536469719.0
Eric Martin2213101131641469521.2

I could belabor the point that Rice is the greatest receiver of all time – so great, in fact, that omitting a portion of his career statistically similar to Bob Hayes‘s entire career still lands him in fifth (behind four guys who played well into the 2000s) – but I’d probably be preaching to the choir at this point.3

Henry_Ellard
Unheralded phenom

Instead of looking at the obvious names, I’d rather sort by ACY/C and point out the quiet greatness of Henry Ellard. Ellard posted an incredible 25.7 ACY on each reception, which is primarily a product of his historically amazing first down conversion rate. From 1991 to 1998 (when he was aged 30-37, mind you), he  caught 393 passes for 346 first downs – a ridiculous 88% first down rate. Sure, he didn’t catch a lot of touchdowns, especially compared to contemporary Rice, but he made nearly all of his catches matter.

Era-Corrected Single Season Adjusted Catch Yards Since 1991

The following table displays the top 250 ACY seasons since 1991, corrected for era. Read it thus: In 2002 Marvin Harrison caught 143 passes for 1722 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 92 first downs. He had no fumbles. He had 2671 ACY at 167 per scheduled game. This translates to 2683 ACY after era adjustments.

YearPlayerTeamPosRecYdsTD1DFUMACYACY/LGEraACY
2002Marvin HarrisonINDWR14317221192026711672683
2012Calvin JohnsonDETWR1221964592327721732668
2003Torry HoltRAMWR11716961284125591602643
1995Jerry RiceSFWR12218481575326131632566
1995Isaac BruceRAMWR11917811382226121632565
2003Randy MossMINWR11116321776124781552560
2015Julio JonesATLWR1361871893327211702557
1995Herman MooreDETWR12316861490226001632553
2015Antonio BrownPITWR13618341084126751672514
1999Marvin HarrisonINDWR11516631279224561542463
1999Jimmy SmithJAXWR1161636686124511532458
2014Antonio BrownPITWR12916981385125811612453
2011Calvin JohnsonDETWR9616811677125251582442
1995Michael IrvinDALWR11116031088124801552435
2007Randy MossNEWR9814932374024121512407
2001Marvin HarrisonINDWR10915241575023641482407
2000Rod SmithDENWR1001602877123581472398
2008Andre JohnsonHOUWR1151575879123491472380
1991Michael IrvinDALWR931523879023221452378
2001David BostonARIWR981598872123091442351
2005Steve SmithCARWR10315631270123001442350
1997Rob MooreARIWR971584868022841432334
1993Jerry RiceSFWR9815031572322411402317
1994Jerry RiceSFWR11214991377123101442311
1992Sterling SharpeGNBWR10814611369221751362305
2011Wes WelkerNEWR1221569977023611482284
2012Andre JohnsonHOUWR1121598479023531472265
2001Terrell OwensSFWR9314121670022181392258
2009Andre JohnsonHOUWR1011569969122641422250
2014Demaryius ThomasDENWR11116191169023611482244
1995Cris CarterMINWR12213711780022781422237
1995Robert BrooksGNBWR10214971370022701422229
2000Torry HoltRAMWR821635660221911372228
2015DeAndre HopkinsHOUWR11115211183123641482222
2006Marvin HarrisonINDWR9513661278121751362222
2005Chad JohnsonCINWR971432974121721362219
2004Muhsin MuhammadCARWR9314051674221971372217
1992Michael IrvinDALWR781396771120871302212
2013Josh GordonCLEWR871646964023211452202
2004Joe HornNORWR9413991173021771362196
2007Reggie WayneINDWR10415101072321931372189
1995Brett PerrimanDETWR1081488974122281392188
2014Jordy NelsonGNBWR9815191371023011442187
2000Marvin HarrisonINDWR10214131470221471342184
2014Julio JonesATLWR1041593676222931432179
2010Brandon LloydDENWR7714481172022171392179
2000Isaac BruceRAMWR871471966121391342175
2012Brandon MarshallCHIWR11815081175222541412170
2005Larry FitzgeraldARIWR10314091067021221332168
2000Terrell OwensSFWR9714511365221291332165
2008Larry FitzgeraldARIWR9614311266121321332160
2001Rod SmithDENWR11313431175121141322153
1993Michael IrvinDALWR881330775020821302152
1998Antonio FreemanGNBWR8414241459021091322149
2007Chad JohnsonCINWR931440874221441342140
2007Terrell OwensDALWR8113551569021411342137
2015Brandon MarshallNYJWR10915021476322651422129
2003Chad JohnsonCINWR9013551066020591292127
2005Santana MossWASWR841483960220721302117
2000Randy MossMINWR7714371558220741302109
2013Calvin JohnsonDETWR8414921269122201392106
1994Henry EllardWASWR741397671021021312103
2013Antonio BrownPITWR1101499869022081382095
2010Roddy WhiteATLWR11513891073121311332095
2005Anquan BoldinARIWR1021402768220411282086
2001Jimmy SmithJAXWR1121373868120481282085
2006Reggie WayneINDWR861310972120321272076
2011Victor CruzNYGWR821536959121411342071
2003Derrick MasonTENWR951303868020031252069
1997Tim BrownRAIWR1041408565120231262067
1994Terance MathisATLWR11113421167020661292067
2011Rob GronkowskiNETE9013271769021351332065
2000Ed McCaffreyDENWR1011317968020281272063
2007Larry FitzgeraldARIWR10014091069320651292061
1996Herman MooreDETWR1061296971020341272060
2006Chad JohnsonCINWR871369766120151262059
1997Yancey ThigpenPITWR791398762120081262052
1993Sterling SharpeGNBWR11212741168119821242049
2004Javon WalkerGNBWR8913821263220311272049
2013Demaryius ThomasDENWR9214301466121531352043
2002Hines WardPITWR11213291266120301272039
2003Anquan BoldinARIWR1011377862219731232038
2000Derrick AlexanderKCWR7813911055019961252030
2008Steve SmithCARWR781421659119931252020
2009Reggie WayneINDWR10012641073020311272019
1997Herman MooreDETWR1041293866019751232018
2015Odell BeckhamNYGWR9614501367221461342017
1996Jerry RiceSFWR1081254872019901242016
2011Roddy WhiteATLWR1001296877020771302009
1995Tim BrownRAIWR8913421066020461282009
2010Reggie WayneINDWR1111355672120441282009
1999Marcus RobinsonCHIWR841400956020031252009
2008Roddy WhiteATLWR881382761119831242009
2000Joe HornNORWR941340863119701232004
2011Jimmy GrahamNORTE9913101174120721302004
2002Randy MossMINWR1061347766119931252002
2002Terrell OwensSFWR10013001361019921252001
2013A.J. GreenCINWR9814261165121071321999
1994Tim BrownRAIWR891309968119951251996
2014Emmanuel SandersDENWR1011404969120991311995
2009Wes WelkerNEWR1231348471120061251994
1999Tim BrownRAIWR901344664019861241992
1998Eric MouldsBUFWR671368954019531221990
2005Torry HoltRAMWR1021331963219471221989
2000Cris CarterMINWR961274973319551221988
1999Randy MossMINWR8014131152119771241983
2012Roddy WhiteATLWR921351773120601291983
2011Larry FitzgeraldARIWR801411861020481281981
1993Andre RisonATLWR8612421562219151201980
2015Allen RobinsonJAXWR8014001461021031311976
2013Andre JohnsonHOUWR1091407569020831301976
1997Irving FryarPHIWR861316664119331211975
1999Cris CarterMINWR9012411365019691231975
2006Roy WilliamsDETWR821310766219311211973
2004Tony GonzalezKCTE1021258769019561221973
2002Amani ToomerNYGWR821343859019621231971
1998Randy MossMINWR6913131751119341211970
2012Reggie WayneINDWR1061355573120421281966
1991Gary ClarkWASWR7013401052019181201964
2002Eric MouldsBUFWR10012921064119531221962
1997Jimmy SmithJAXWR821324464119191201961
2002Joe HornNORWR881312765119491221958
1996Isaac BruceRAMWR841338760119301211955
2007Brandon MarshallDENWR1021325770319571221953
2005Joey GallowayTBWR8312871057019101191952
2002Torry HoltRAMWR911302469119421211951
2013Brandon MarshallCHIWR10012951270020571291951
1997Antonio FreemanGNBWR8112431262119081191950
2000Eric MouldsBUFWR941326562119141201947
2001Torry HoltRAMWR811363758219121201947
2004Torry HoltRAMWR9413721058319291211946
2012Vincent JacksonTBWR721384861020211261945
1995Carl PickensCINWR9912341765119811241945
2012Wes WelkerNEWR1181354672220181261943
2002Plaxico BurressPITWR781325764219281211936
2014Dez BryantDALWR8813201660020361271935
1996Irving FryarPHIWR8811951166019101191935
2009Miles AustinDALWR8113201159119471221935
2003Marvin HarrisonINDWR9412721060218721171934
2012Demaryius ThomasDENWR9414341060320091261934
2004Chad JohnsonCINWR951274963119151201932
2014Randall CobbGNBWR9112871271120331271932
2000Tony GonzalezKCTE931203966018961191928
1996Jake ReedMINWR721320756019011191926
2006Terrell OwensDALWR8511801362018811181922
1994Andre ReedBUFWR901303864219171201918
1992Jerry RiceSFWR8412011058118081131916
2001Randy MossMINWR8212331059018741171908
2008Calvin JohnsonDETWR7813311252218811181906
2002Laveranues ColesNYJWR891264567118971191905
2001Joe HornNORWR831265959118701171904
1996Carl PickensCINWR10011801263018791171903
2009Randy MossNEWR8312641362219151201903
1996Michael JacksonBALWR7612011458018771171901
2007Braylon EdwardsCLEWR8012891657319031191899
2012A.J. GreenCINWR9713501161219701231896
2009Sidney RiceMINWR831312859119061191894
1994Michael IrvinDALWR791241665018921181893
2004Drew BennettTENWR8012471162218761171893
2006Torry HoltRAMWR9311881067218511161891
2004Reggie WayneINDWR7712101259018731171890
1991Jerry RiceSFWR8012061454018461151890
1995Jeff GrahamCHIWR821301467119231201888
2008Greg JenningsGNBWR801292955118611161886
2005Donald DriverGNBWR861221563018431151883
1999Germane CrowellDETWR811338754118761171882
1999Muhsin MuhammadCARWR961253862118741171880
1996Tony MartinSDWR8511711459018561161880
2013Alshon JefferyCHIWR891421762319811241879
1995Yancey ThigpenPITWR851307564119131201878
2012Dez BryantDALWR9213821254219501221877
1993Anthony MillerSDWR841162764018151131876
2006Donald DriverGNBWR921295853118351151875
2003Hines WardPITWR9511631060018131131873
2006Lee EvansBUFWR821292853118321151872
2007Marques ColstonNORWR9812021164118741171870
2008Brandon MarshallDENWR1041265665318411151866
2008Antonio BryantTBWR831248760118401151865
2004Derrick MasonTENWR961168767018481161864
2001Keyshawn JohnsonTBWR1061266167218301141863
1998Rod SmithDENWR861222660018281141862
1996Jimmy SmithJAXWR831244760118361151860
1994Sterling SharpeGNBWR9411191863118591161860
2009Santonio HolmesPITWR791248563018701171859
2014Odell BeckhamNYGWR9113051257019501221853
1994Irving FryarMIAWR731270756018511161852
2007T.J. HoushmandzadehCINWR11211431270218551161851
1997Michael IrvinDALWR751180959018101131850
2005Marvin HarrisonINDWR8211461259018091131848
2000Jimmy SmithJAXWR911213860118161141847
2013DeSean JacksonPHIWR821332960119461221846
2001Tim BrownRAIWR911165961018131131846
2009Larry FitzgeraldARIWR9710921369018561161845
2013Jordy NelsonGNBWR851314860019421211842
2013Jimmy GrahamNORTE8612151661019401211840
2014Jeremy MaclinPHIWR8513181056019321211836
2004Marvin HarrisonINDWR8611131563118201141836
2009Steve SmithNYGWR1071220761018461151835
2015A.J. GreenCINWR8612971063119491221832
1993Tim BrownRAIWR801180757017701111830
2004Donald DriverGNBWR841208959118131131829
2013Eric DeckerDENWR8712881163219261201827
2004Isaac BruceRAMWR891292664518091131825
1991Andre ReedBUFWR8111131062017811111824
2002Peerless PriceBUFWR941252957218141131822
2013Pierre GarconWASWR1131346560119161201818
2001Troy BrownNEWR1011199559017851121818
1998Keyshawn JohnsonNYJWR8311311060017811111815
2003Laveranues ColesWASWR821204654017561101814
1991Haywood JeffiresHOUWR1001181757017711111813
2011Steve SmithCARWR791394753318731171812
2000Muhsin MuhammadCARWR1021183662117821111812
2014T.Y. HiltonINDWR821345762319051191811
2000Tim BrownRAIWR7611281159017801111810
2005Antonio GatesSDTE8911011062017691111808
2013Dez BryantDALWR9312331367319041191806
2001Jerry RiceRAIWR831139962117711111803
2002Jerry RiceRAIWR921211759117941121802
2008Reggie WayneINDWR821145663017781111802
1994Cris CarterMINWR1221256763418001131801
2008Tony GonzalezKCTE9610581067017711111795
2007Wes WelkerNEWR1121175865217981121795
2011Jordy NelsonGNBWR6812631547018511161790
2004Michael ClaytonTBWR801193756017741111790
1999Isaac BruceRAMWR7711651254017831111788
1994Ben CoatesNETE961174765217861121787
1992Andre RisonATLWR9311191155216851051786
1991Mark ClaytonMIAWR7010531262017431091785
1998Tony MartinATLWR661181656017511091784
1996Cris CarterMINWR9611631057117611101784
2010Greg JenningsGNBWR7612651252218151131784
2007Torry HoltRAMWR931189763217831111780
2014Golden TateDETWR991331458118721171779
2004Terrell OwensPHIWR7712001451217631101779
2010Andre JohnsonHOUWR861216859118101131779
1993Cris CarterMINWR861071961017191071777
2009Vincent JacksonSDWR681167958017881121777
1999Keyshawn JohnsonNYJWR891170857017711111776
1998Terance MathisATLWR6411361154017431091776
2002Koren RobinsonSEAWR781240558217671101775
1994Herman MooreDETWR7211731156117731111774
2004Darrell JacksonSEAWR871199759217571101773
2015Demaryius ThomasDENWR1051304663218871181773
2003Keenan McCardellTBWR841174853117141071770
2010Dwayne BoweKCWR7211621555117971121767
1997Jake ReedMINWR681138658017261081764
2006Anquan BoldinARIWR831203453017241081762
1997Rod SmithDENWR7011801254317231081761
2015Calvin JohnsonDETWR881214965118731171760
2009Antonio GatesSDTE791157861117691111758

Accounting for era hurts Calvin Johnson’s best years, as well as last year’s phenomenal two horse race featuring Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. Those were the top three seasons previously, but they have all been jumped by Harrison’s historic 2002 season. Jones and Brown have also lost position to Torry Holt and Randy Moss from 2003 and Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce from 1995.4

If I were to further adjust the numbers to consider how often a receiver’s team passed relative to the rest of the league, names like Hines Ward, Michael Irvin, and Steve Smith would appear much higher on the list. However, I am not going to do that until later (and, in truth, I go back and forth on whether I philosophically agree with doing it at all).

Era-Corrected Adjusted Catch Yards Since 1991

The table below lists the top 250 careers, as measured by era-corrected ACY, since 1991. Read it thus: Terrell Owens gained 24327 era-corrected ACY in his career.

PlayerEraACY
Terrell Owens24327
Tony Gonzalez24008
Marvin Harrison22906
Jerry Rice22855
Randy Moss22749
Isaac Bruce22500
Reggie Wayne21734
Tim Brown21265
Andre Johnson20605
Larry Fitzgerald20019
Steve Smith19672
Torry Holt19657
Anquan Boldin19274
Cris Carter18847
Hines Ward18471
Derrick Mason18440
Jimmy Smith18425
Rod Smith17241
Keenan McCardell17207
Muhsin Muhammad17083
Chad Johnson16944
Antonio Gates16692
Calvin Johnson16690
Jason Witten16647
Brandon Marshall16489
Keyshawn Johnson16267
Joey Galloway16100
Michael Irvin16086
Roddy White15848
Shannon Sharpe15129
Santana Moss15067
Donald Driver15019
Eric Moulds14849
Wes Welker14758
Marques Colston14552
Amani Toomer14473
Herman Moore14049
Irving Fryar13621
Terance Mathis13424
Joe Horn13303
Laveranues Coles13196
Terry Glenn13130
Tony Martin13035
Johnnie Morton13030
Rob Moore12976
Vincent Jackson12957
Plaxico Burress12744
Ricky Proehl12411
Curtis Conway12312
Jeff Graham12110
Andre Rison12005
Greg Jennings11973
Eddie Kennison11948
Andre Reed11776
Bobby Engram11760
Ed McCaffrey11429
Wayne Chrebet11260
T.J. Houshmandzadeh11217
Antonio Freeman11072
Chris Chambers10876
Carl Pickens10764
Darrell Jackson10692
Dwayne Bowe10639
DeSean Jackson10441
Shawn Jefferson10331
Jake Reed10310
Henry Ellard10144
Larry Centers10136
Derrick Alexander10056
Antonio Brown10039
Nate Washington10030
Marty Booker10030
Frank Sanders10019
Marshall Faulk9961
Jerricho Cotchery9952
Deion Branch9948
Ike Hilliard9843
Heath Miller9793
Anthony Miller9653
Troy Brown9564
Jeremy Shockey9367
Sean Dawkins9319
Greg Olsen9269
Demaryius Thomas9186
Darnay Scott9166
Todd Heap8951
Mike Wallace8921
Santonio Holmes8863
Dallas Clark8799
Ben Coates8774
Lee Evans8748
Jordy Nelson8745
A.J. Green8596
Jabar Gaffney8589
Owen Daniels8573
Quinn Early8551
Julio Jones8502
Pierre Garcon8482
Wesley Walls8461
Rob Gronkowski8427
Dez Bryant8421
Brett Perriman8404
Brandon Lloyd8396
Nate Burleson8359
Brandon Stokley8317
James Jones8291
Jeremy Maclin8275
Chris Calloway8259
Michael Jackson8192
Jimmy Graham8136
Roy Williams8105
Vernon Davis8060
Brian Blades7981
Antonio Bryant7966
Malcom Floyd7962
O.J. McDuffie7945
Michael Haynes7875
Braylon Edwards7815
Frank Wycheck7762
Mark Carrier7759
Peerless Price7757
Miles Austin7737
Mike Pritchard7708
Kellen Winslow7706
Sterling Sharpe7685
Raghib Ismail7638
Qadry Ismail7610
Michael Crabtree7608
Yancey Thigpen7452
Eric Decker7413
Lance Moore7408
Benjamin Watson7389
Dennis Northcutt7269
Hakeem Nicks7224
Donte' Stallworth7186
Bert Emanuel7167
Tiki Barber7162
Alge Crumpler7103
Torrance Small7101
Chris Cooley7090
Haywood Jeffires7065
Steve Johnson7064
Marcus Robinson6994
Courtney Hawkins6941
Charles Johnson6899
David Boston6886
Eric Metcalf6878
Fred Barnett6867
Bill Schroeder6851
David Patten6845
Randy McMichael6826
Willie Davis6788
Drew Bennett6739
Brian Hartline6725
Brent Celek6708
Michael Jenkins6685
Kevin Walter6662
Robert Brooks6587
Marcus Pollard6586
Antwaan Randle El6578
James Jett6534
J.J. Stokes6531
Michael Westbrook6499
LaDainian Tomlinson6488
Joe Jurevicius6431
Gary Clark6426
Emmanuel Sanders6420
Jackie Harris6385
Jerry Porter6244
Webster Slaughter6233
Kevin Johnson6232
Warrick Dunn6216
Freddie Jones6198
Koren Robinson6131
Tony McGee6100
Devery Henderson6070
Ricky Watters6047
Az-Zahir Hakim6035
Michael Timpson6034
Eric Green6019
Golden Tate6009
Travis Taylor5977
Javon Walker5975
Bernard Berrian5972
Bryant Johnson5951
T.Y. Hilton5945
Ken Dilger5944
Torrey Smith5923
Darren Sproles5901
Eddie Royal5864
Ronnie Harmon5804
Marcedes Lewis5781
Brian Westbrook5735
Brent Jones5698
Randall Cobb5632
Willie Green5611
Randal Hill5588
Percy Harvin5582
Davone Bess5578
Jason Avant5578
Bill Brooks5576
Doug Baldwin5489
Justin McCareins5474
Victor Cruz5469
Desmond Clark5462
Delanie Walker5461
Matt Forte5443
Josh Reed5442
Zach Miller5418
Kenny Britt5388
James Thrash5385
Patrick Crayton5382
Brandon LaFell5379
Sidney Rice5366
Ashley Lelie5352
Kyle Brady5341
Charlie Garner5328
Ernest Givins5327
Willie Jackson5274
Alshon Jeffery5246
Jessie Hester5218
Kevin Faulk5197
Martellus Bennett5157
Reggie Bush5109
Mark Clayton5051
Calvin Williams5047
Ted Ginn5042
Steven Jackson5014
Andre Hastings4997
James McKnight4980
John Taylor4973
DeAndre Hopkins4957
Jerome Pathon4920
Vincent Brisby4919
Julian Edelman4919
Oronde Gadsden4916
Floyd Turner4898
Kevin Curtis4873
Eric Martin4865
Alvin Harper4858
Lawrence Dawsey4853
Steve Breaston4843
Harry Douglas4836
Anthony Fasano4836
Tony Scheffler4830
Corey Bradford4830
Jared Cook4815
Keith Jackson4805
Keith Byars4794
Rickey Dudley4757

After applying era adjustments, Moss loses one spot to Rice. The Freak is hurt by playing in an environment more conducive to gaining receiving totals (as well as by the lost years of his prime during his sabbatical in Oakland).

It’s a good time to be named Smith. Steve Smith, Jimmy Smith, and Rod Smith rank eleventh, seventeenth, and eighteenth, respectively, on this list. Three very different players, each excelled with both strong and weak supporting casts.

Gonzalez is far and away the top rated tight end, with Gates and Jason Witten barely making the top 25. Gronkowski ranks all the way down in 100th place right now, but he has only appeared in 80 regular season games. Compare that with Gates (190) and Witten (207), and you’ll see that the young phenom has already accrued over half the career value of the elder tight ends while playing in fewer than half the games.

I could get into more of the information here, but I’d rather leave you to make your own judgments. What stands out to you?

  1. I have run some regressions to estimate first downs based on yards per catch, touchdowns per catch, and total team passing first downs, but I am not yet happy with the results. When I produce something I feel confident with, I will look at pre-1991 totals with estimated receiving first downs.
  2. Note that the actual bonuses for touchdowns and first downs are 20 and 9 yards, respectively. However, because the NFL counts touchdowns as first downs, subtracting them out of the first down total by changing the bonus to 11 helps avoid double counting touchdowns. Also note that I don’t have receiving-only fumble data for 1991, so I didn’t count any fumbles. Thus the ACY totals for that year are artificially inflated.
  3. Yes, I am aware of the trendy pick of Don Hutson for the role of WRGOAT, but let’s be serious: Hutson played in an infantile league for a team that passed far more than other teams, in a league that wan’t used to facing wide receivers. He had his best seasons when most of the NFL was overseas fighting Nazis, and he didn’t have to play against integrated secondaries. He was a pioneer at the position and the archetype for the modern receiver, but he is not the greatest of all time.
  4. Brown also lost footing to Herman Moore‘s brilliant 1995 campaign.