What Does High Average Separation Translate to in the NFL?
Many define a great receiver as one that is able to break loose from his defender and catch the ball. While we can all agree that catching the ball is a very important aspect, what about separation? Do the best receivers in the game have a high average separation from their defender? Are they around the league average? Or are they surprisingly low? Let’s take a look.
If you had to guess who the number one player was in average separation, how would you approach that guess? Would you think of someone speedy like Tyreek Hill or John Ross? Or would you think of a great route-runner like Davante Adams or Stefon Diggs? Well I can assure you that it is none of these guys. In fact, it is the 49th ranked wide receiver in fantasy this year, Rondale Moore. And just in case you think that is a fluke, four of the top ten players in separation are tight ends (Dawson Knox, Gerald Everett, Ryan Griffin and Jonnu Smith). Of the other five receivers in the top ten, Cole Beasley is ranked the highest in fantasy this year at 32. Ironically, there are three receivers in the bottom-ten of this list that rank higher than Beasley: Ja’Marr Chase (8), Tee Higgins (24) and Terry McLaurin (23).
Now of course, having a high separation is a good thing, but it is not a good thing to look at when betting on a player or figuring out who you want to start in your fantasy league. To be completely honest, average separation is a very abstract thing to look at when comparing players. One main reason for this is that the best receivers in the NFL are often covered by the best defender and will consequently not be wide open much during a game. Guys like Rondale
Moore have an average separation of 5.6 yards because they are the third target option on their team and will often be covered by a defense’s third best pass defender. Unfortunately, average separation is not a stat that will be a difference maker in the NFL due to the many other factors that come into play with it.