Racking up YAC, 2021 Edition

Top Fantasy WRs, NFL Weeks 1-10, 2021 - from FantasyPros

Last year, Cooper Kupp and Deebo Samuel finished as the #27 and #97 receivers in fantasy football. Through the first ten weeks of the NFL season, they’ve emerged as the clear #1 and #2 receivers.

What explains their terrific performances this season? A little bit of Matthew Stafford, and a little bit of Kyle Shanahan, for sure, but a lot of one thing in particular: yards after the catch (YAC). Kupp and Samuel (especially Samuel) have been absolute monsters this season with the ball in their hands, breaking tackles and running past safeties.

The top two accumulators of YAC in the league by far, both Kupp and Samuel are used as moveable “chess pieces” inside their offenses, with their quarterbacks and coordinators scheming to get them the ball in space, with the opportunity to take off downfield.

While Kupp has been incredibly productive in that role, Samuel’s performance has been even more impressive - he’s racked up a comparable amount of YAC (both are right around 500 yards) on a bit more than half the number of catches as Kupp, for a YAC per reception of 9.6.

For context, there’s only one other wide receiver in the NFL with a YAC/reception figure over 9 - Rondale Moore. All the other players with comparable figures are elite pass-catching running backs like Jonathan Taylor and Joe Mixon, who are typically recieving the ball in the backfield, /with screens and downfield blocking set up. In that sense, Deebo is able to blend the best of both worlds: downfield route running ability and running back tackle-breaking.

With all this in mind, I thought it would be fun to build a quick chart showing total YAC against YAC per reception, to help visualize just how productive Deebo (and Kupp) have been with their opportunities this season. Take a peek below!

Total YAC and YAC per Reception, NFL Week 10, 2021