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Football Outsiders: Marqise Lee ranks in top-20 of NFL receivers in DVOA

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the week, we published a film breakdown of the 2016 performance of Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee. The breakdown examined if Lee’s breakout play last season was a fluke or sign of future success.

And to go along with that film breakdown, according to the 2017 Football Outsiders Almanac, Lee’s play in 2016 was (mostly) fantastic.

Lee ranked in the top-20 for wide receivers for both Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR).

Per the 2017 Football Outsiders Almanac:

“DVOA is a rate statistic, while DYAR is a cumulative statistic. Thus, a higher DVOA means more value per pass play, while a higher DYAR means more aggregate value over the entire season.”

The metrics compare every pass intended for a wide receiver, and the results are compared against league-average baseline. Obviously, the metrics are also adjusted based on the opposing defense. For example, is the ball carrier facing a high-ranked defense or low-ranked defense? Things like defensive pass interference yards for intended receivers also count. DVOA takes into account things like down and distance, area of the field, time left in the game, etc...

Lee ranked 18th in DVOA with a 12.2 percent clip, just ahead of Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin and just below New Orleans Saints receiver Willie Snead. Wide receivers had to have a minimum of 50 targets to qualify.

However, we should keep in mind that Blake Bortles and the Jaguars are kings of garbage time stats. Lee posted a DVOA of 53.5 percent when down by a touchdown or more. He had a -9.0 percent clip otherwise.

Lee also had a catch rate of 60 percent in 2016, with five drops on the season. His 5.5 yards after catch ranked 14th in the league, though.

The Almanac had this to say about Lee:

A season ago, Lee looked like the likely odd man out among the Jaguars’ trio of receivers who had debuted with Blake Bortles. Now, each of the three has had a season in the top 20 in DVOA and DYAR, and Jacksonville has some difficult decisions to make. Lee’s biggest on-field improvement was better work at the catch point. We didn’t see this in Lee’s drop rate, but rather in setting up for Bortles. Even so, more good play could lead to more playing time should Allen Hurns’ struggles continue.

As the Almanac alludes, two other Jaguars receivers have had recent success in the DVOA and DYAR categories. Both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns ranked highly in those categories in 2015. Robinson ranked 16th in DVOA that year (14 percent) and eighth in DYAR (318). Hurns came in with an even higher DVOA clip of 16 percent (12th), and a good DYAR of 236 (16th).

Obviously, both players regressed big time in 2016. Hurns’ rank shot all the way down to 88th in DVOA and 89th in DYAR. Robinson wasn’t far behind, coming in at No. 74 and No. 73, respectively.

Going back to Lee, the Almanac projects his 2017 stats as 67 receptions (+4) on 115 targets (+10) for 871 yards (+20) and five touchdowns (+2). While all of those numbers are a potential increase, Football Outsiders projects his DVOA to fall from 12.2 percent to -4.8 percent.

The Almanac has a bit of a disclaimer about their projections, though, stating that predicting numbers in a short 16-game season is exponentially more difficult than something like a 162-game baseball season:

“Consider the listed projections not as a prediction of exact numbers, but as the mean of a range of possible performances. What’s important is less the exact number of yards we project, and more which players are projected to improve or decline.”

So, it appears that they are projecting Lee’s overall performance to decline, despite a slight increase in projection.

What do you think? Will Lee continue to play well in 2017, or will his performance decline? Let us know in the comments.