Discussion

Better season, AP or Megatron?

Calvin Johnson has broken a record, and Adrian Peterson is closing in

Originally Published: December 24, 2012
By Vince Verhei | Football Outsiders

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson made history this weekend against Atlanta. Johnson gained 225 receiving yards against the Falcons, bringing his season total to 1,892, breaking the record of 1,848 set by San Francisco's Jerry Rice in 1995. That record lasted for 17 years. Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 yards rushing, set in 1984, has lasted even longer, but that mark too is in jeopardy. Despite a modest output Sunday against Houston, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson has 1,898 yards on the ground this season, and he can surpass Dickerson's mark with 208 yards next week against Green Bay -- the same Green Bay team that let Peterson run for 210 yards in Week 12.

There's a problem with all these numbers, though. Total yardage tells us only part of what each player did in a given season. In a nutshell, it tells us a lot about the good plays a runner or receiver made, but it doesn't say much about the bad plays -- the incomplete passes on bad routes, the stuffs in the backfield when a running back took a poor angle, the fumbles, and other gaffes. For that we can turn to DYAR (Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement), Football Outsiders' metric that examines every play of the NFL season and measures its value in terms of producing yards, first downs, turnovers and touchdowns, then adjusts for factors such as down, distance, field position, score, opponent, and other factors. (More info available here.) So who is having the better year?

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