Data Points: Next Gen Stats Week 6

Week six is in the books, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now 3-3. It was a very up and down performance, but a win is a win as the Steelers head into the bye week. Today I wanted to look at another week of sample size from Next Gen Stats, let’s start with the quarterbacks using the following data points:

  • Average Completed Air Yards = Vertical yards completed on a pass attempt at the moment the ball is caught in relation to the line of scrimmage.
  • Average Intended Air Yards = Vertical yards intended on all pass attempts in relation to the line of scrimmage.
  • Longest Completed Air Distance = Amount of yards the ball has traveled on a pass, from the point of release to the point of reception (as the crow flies). Unlike Air Yards, Air Distance measures the actual distance the passer throws the ball.


Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ranked 33rd out of the 36 quarterbacks on the graph in the completed air yards stat, negatively regressing compared to his week five improvement. His intended air yards ranked slightly better at 30th, and hopefully after the bye week we can see an improvement moving forward. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson leads the rankings in both data points and will be interesting to monitor leading up to the week 13 matchup against the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s next opponent are the Browns and quarterback Baker Mayfield lands above the mean in intended air yards and just below for completed air yards, and it will be interesting to monitor his status leading up to the game. Since the other takeaways were in the AFC North, I also wanted to point out Joe Burrow’s results, above the mean in completed air yards and right at the mean for intended air yards.

What are your favorite takeaways from the results?

Now let’s look at running backs with the following data points:

  • Rushing Yards Over Expectation (RYOE) = Rushing Yards – Expected Rushing Yards
  • 8 Men in the Box Percentage = How often a rusher sees eight or more defenders in the box against them.

Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris is ranked third in attempts, topped only by Titans running back Derrick Henry and Bengals running back Joe Mixon! Harris is below the mean with the other data points and it will be interesting to monitor this moving forward to see what the 2021 Steelers run game will become. Colts running back Jonathan Taylor ranks first in the rush yards over expected data point, followed by Browns running back Nick Chubb. Fellow Browns running back Kareem Hunt is high in the data point as well, but both are injured and will not play in week seven. Monitoring Cleveland’s injuries will be very interesting coming out of the bye week.

What are your favorite takeaways from the results?

Next, let’s look at wide receivers using the following data points:

  • Average Separation = The distance in yards measured between a wide receiver and the nearest defender at the time of the catch or incompletion
  • Catch Percentage = Percentage of targets that were caught
  • Average Intended Air Yards = Vertical yards intended on all pass attempts in relation to the line of scrimmage.

Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson ranks 15th in separation out of the 55 players on the graph and also above the mean in catch percentage, highlighting his improvements in 2021 compared to last season. The only other Pittsburgh wide receiver with 30 targets or more is Chase Claypool but he ranks 52nd in separation and 53rd in catch percentage. This highlights how important an improvement is, especially in the catch percentage department and taking into account the injury to Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster providing more opportunity for Claypool. Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is the leader in separation so far and Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk leads in catch percentage.

What are your favorite takeaways from the results?

To close, let’s look at tight ends with the same data points as the wide receivers:

Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth ranks second in catch percentage and this will be very interesting to monitor moving forward, considering he will likely continue to see more targets as he did in week six with Smith-Schuster out. Freiermuth also ranks 25th in separation and 19th in average intended air yards out of 35 tight ends. Arizona tight end Maxx Williams leads the graph in both data points but suffered a serious injury cuing their trade for tight end Zach Ertz, who is below the mean in both data points. Browns tight end David Njoku is above the mean in both data points, and it will be interesting to see what type of performance he has in comparison to his teammate Austin Hooper in week seven to see their results before the Steelers matchup.

What are some of your favorite takeaways from the results?

Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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