Commentary

Fitzgerald moves into elite company

Originally Published: January 22, 2009
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders
It's pretty close to impossible to argue that anyone but Larry Fitzgerald has been the MVP of this year's playoffs. His ability to fight through double-teams and leap over defensive backs to make catches that cause viewers to question reality has led Fitzgerald to an astounding set of numbers: Through three games, he's caught 23 passes for 419 yards and five touchdowns.

Is Fitzgerald on pace to have the most dominant postseason of any wide receiver in history, though? That's a question that requires some perspective and a database full of playoff statistics. We compiled the playoff stats for every receiver since 1970, using fantasy points to judge a player's production (one point for 10 yards receiving, plus six points for a touchdown), and the results are stunning.

Because players are thrown more passes now than they were in 1970 (and play in more playoff games), we also had to adjust for the era the games were played in. We did that by ranking the players by points in each season, and then comparing the receiver's performance with that of the next-best player in that postseason. For example, Fitzgerald's earned 71.9 fantasy points so far in the playoffs; the receiver with the second-most points is Eagles tight end Brent Celek, who's accrued 33.1 points. Fitzgerald, therefore, has 117 percent more points than Celek does.
Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.