Houston Texans Advanced Stat of the Week: Yards Per Target

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistFebruary 27, 2013

Johnson often finds himself alone.
Johnson often finds himself alone.Bob Levey/Getty Images

Though controversial before the season, it's now a generally accepted fact that the Houston Texans had a serious problem at wide receiver in 2012.

This week's advanced stat of the week will help illustrate just how bad things were.

Yards per target (YPT) is a player-specific derivative of the single most important stat in football: yards per attempt (YPA). There is no number more important for evaluating an offense or a defense than measuring yards per attempt.

YPT is just YPA isolated to a particular wide receiver. To calculate it, simply divide a player's receiving yards by his total number of "targets." As I discussed when looking at catch rate, knowing how often a player was thrown to matters when evaluating his overall play.

It's not always possible to get a perfect look at YPT, as we can't always tell for sure who a quarterback was targeting on a play. While we know if a pass is attempted, we can only guess at who it is intended for. Obviously, batted passes often have no intended target associated with them.

Still, looking at how many yards are gained every time a wideout is targeted by the quarterback, we can get a snapshot of his effectiveness in getting open downfield.

Compared with 2011, everyone not named Andre Johnson was significantly worse at YPT in 2012.

Johnson actually improved to nearly 10 yards every time he was targeted, but several other Texans experienced huge declines.

The most disappointing season belongs to Arian Foster, who averaged 8.5 yard per target in 2011 but only 3.7 in 2012.

Houston also suffered from the loss of Jacoby Jones, who, for all his faults, averaged eight yards a target in 2011. The combination of Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey was an abject disaster as neither player showed they deserved to be on the field.

Martin actually averaged just three yards a target, and while Posey doubled that, his number was still only a tad above six. Combined, they picked 172 yards 42 targets. Throw in Lestar Jean's numbers and you get 54 targets for just 323 yards. That's a shade under six yards a throw.

As Daniels and Walter continue to age and see their effectiveness slip, teams are able to better defend Foster. Without any viable threat outside of Johnson, the Houston offense is going to suffer from a lack of explosiveness.