Welcome to the Advanced Stat of the Week for the AFC South. This week we'll be discussing Catch Rate. Catch Rate is a deceptively simple stat that can lead to very wrong conclusions about wide receivers if misused.
I first encountered Catch Rate on the FootballOutsiders wide receiver pages. Catch rate is easy to calculate. Take the number of time a wide receiver catches the football and divide it by the number of times he is "targeted" by the quarterback. Ratio of catches to targets is his catch rate.
Catch Rate = Receptions / Targets
Catch rate divorced from the overall context of a receiver's profile is meaningless. You can't simply say, "Wes Welker has a catch rate of 71 percent and Calvin Johnson has a catch rate of 61 percent." Without more information, you cannot judge the players at all using this stat.
However, if in addition to catch rate you add yards per reception, targets and quarterback overall completion percentage, you can get a more complete view of the skill set and effectiveness of the pass catcher.
The Houston Texans have come under scrutiny in recent weeks for a wave of high-profile departures, but for all the attention on Mario Williams and Eric Winston, the loss of Joel Dreessen to the Broncos may hurt just as much. Lost among offensive stars like Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels and Arian Foster, Dreessen has been a valuable weapon for the Texans.
Catch rate is a useful tool to measure just how important Dreessen has been at moving the chains. Obviously Dreessen isn't as much of a high-volume target as Johnson, Foster and Daniels, but he's been extremely effective when targeted. Dreessen's catch rate of 73 percent in 2011 ranked fifth among all qualified tight ends.
In terms of catching the ball when thrown to him, Dreessen's numbers have been absolutely comparable to the more heralded Owen Daniels. While the loss of a No. 2 tight end may not make headlines, his reliability in the red zone will be missed. Over the last two years, Dreessen is tied with Johnson for the most touchdown catches on the Texans.
Dreessen wasn't flashy, but catch rate illustrates that he was reliable and productive when targeted. The Texans will have to find a way to replace his efficiency with another player in 2012.