Under Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos wide receiver group has enjoy amazing statistical success with Demaryius Thomas being the primary benefactor of it. Consistently ranking among the tops in the league in targets, receptions and yards, so to see those targets drop precipitously is a bit of a concern.
Through four games, Thomas is on track to see just 108 targets this season. This is nearly a 40% drop from his average over the last four seasons. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Sanders is on pace to see 168 targets this season - a career high for him.
However, it is Thomas who is taking advantage the most of his targets. numberFire broke this down neatly using their Net Expected Points (NEP) metric.
|Player||Tar||Rec||Rec Yd||TD||Yd at Rec/Rec||Yd/Tar||Rec NEP||Tar NEP||Rec NEP/Tar||Rec Success%|
They further elaborated the difference between the two wide receivers based on these metrics.
By all accounts, Thomas is performing at a much higher level than Sanders is. Although he has about two-thirds as many targets as Sanders has, his traditional statistics and NEP metrics are far ahead.
While Thomas' yards per target mark makes him appear like the big-play target, this is due to his ability to catch more of his targets than Sanders has. Thomas has caught 78% of his targets. Sanders has caught 60% of his targets.
Due to the catch rate difference, Thomas' yards per target has soared to 12.30 while Sanders' has floundered to 6.98.
To illustrate Thomas' success over Sanders further, his Reception NEP per target is nearly twice as high as Sanders'. Sanders' 0.63 mark is slightly below last year's league average of 0.67. Thomas' 1.01 would have ranked third last year among receivers with at least 27 targets.
Needless to say, Thomas has been far more efficient than Sanders once the ball is in his hands.
What I took away from all of this is that we shouldn't worry too much about Thomas' lack of targets as he is not making the same mental errors he was in 2015. In fact, he is becoming the playmaker he once was with the ball in his hands.
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