Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.
What could possibly be worth some brief words on Wes Welker? He was great. He’s always been great. He’s the greatest there ever was and the greatest there ever will be.
Well, sure. He was pretty good during the regular season this year. He had 1,354 receiving yards with six touchdowns, and that yardage easily led all Patriots pass catchers.
Cool, but there was also this…
For those wanting Wes Welker in the All-Pro team. Actually led the league in dropped passes w/15. All rare drops though we’re assured by TV
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 3, 2013
Now, the reaction here is to point to Welker’s high number of targets, and as we saw last year with Roddy White, there seems to be a correlation of some kind between the amount of times a receiver is asked to catch a ball, and the amount of times he then drops said ball. Crazy, yes.
And sure, Welker was indeed targeted often, finishing with 174 targets according to ESPN. But that puts him in fourth, behind Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne, and Calvin Johnson. It’s not close either, as Welker was 20 targets behind both Wayne and Marshall, and 31 behind Johnson. His target volume didn’t significantly increase over last year either, as Tom Brady threw his way 172 times in 2011.
This is also coming after a season in which Welker’s fantasy production lagged below the elite receivers, and although his total yards were still swell, that number dropped swiftly too (down 215 yards from last year). He ranked 12th at his position with 163 fantasy points. There was the expected hot streak (four straight +100 yard games between weeks three and six), but Welker still logged eight games with fewer than 10 fantasy points.
I suppose that means he was who we thought he would be for much of the year: a solid WR2, who can produce WR1 numbers some weeks. But his league lead in drops is concerning from a wideout who will celebrate his 32nd birthday this offseason. Hopefully it’s an outlier.