Which Wide Receiver Prospects Dominated the Most Games in 2018?

Which incoming rookie wide receivers accounted for big-time production on a game-to-game basis?

Evaluating potential NFL prospects requires a lot of nuance and context.

Some players may produce elite counting stats in an offense that averages 500-plus yards per game. Some players benefit from a soft schedule. Some colleges average fewer than 10 pass attempts a game. We can't just box-score scout every player based on per-game or season totals. That doesn't help us level the playing field.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that production numbers don't tell us anything useful. That'd be pretty ridiculous to assume. Sure, some players fight with other future NFL players for touches in a top-tier offense at a prestigious school, but if we look at how players fare within their own offense, we can uncover some useful info.

Simply put, if you excel while your teammates don't, there's probably a reason for that. For that reason, I'm going to dig into which receiver prospects dominated the most games this past college season. To put a firm number on "domination," I'm defining it as at least 40% of his team's receiving yards in a single game.

It's an arbitrary cutoff, yes, but that number does pass the eye test when digging back into past prospects. Among 150-plus Division-I receivers taken in the first four rounds since 2009, the names at the top of the game domination list in a player's final season is pretty nice.

Eric Decker generated at least 40% of the Minnesota Golden Gophers' receiving yards in seven of eight games (87.5%) in 2009, his final collegiate season. Demaryius Thomas accounted for 40% or more of Georgia Tech's receiving yards in 11 of 13 games (84.6%) in 2009.

D.J. Moore went 9 of 12 in his final season at Maryland and transitioned well into the NFL in his first season with the Carolina Panthers.

Jordan Matthews did it in 9 of 13 games (69.2%) for the 2013 Vanderbilt Commodores. Then, sure, there's A.J. Jenkins (69.2%) near the top of the list, but Paul Richardson (66.7%), DeVante Parker (66.7%), Dez Bryant (61.5%), Allen Robinson (58.3%), Zay Jones (58.3%), and Kenny Golladay (58.3%) round out the top of the list. If we use dominated games in context with other evaluation techniques, it can certainly hold value.

You don't just accidentally accrue a near-majority of production game over game if you don't have any talent. So, which combine-invited prospects dominated at least a third of their team's games this year? (Ties are broken by games with 50% of receiving yards or more, and non-FBS players are included.)

14. AJ Brown, Ole Miss

Height & Weight: 6'1", 230
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 1st-2nd
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 33.3% (4 of 12)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 0.0% (0 of 12)

Brown is a top-tier wide receiver prospect, but he's a little bit of a curious case because he may be considered the second-best draft asset on his own team, as DK Metcalf also is lauded as a first-round talent. Throw in DaMarkus Lodge (projected to be taken in the back half of the draft), and it's reasonable to expect Brown to have a hard time taking over games.

Despite sharing the wealth, Brown ranked sixth in yards per game on the season and dominated 4 of 12 Ole Miss games, including 72 of 172 yards against LSU, who ranked second in FootballOutsider's Pass Defense S&P+, and 61 of 152 yards against Mississippi State, who ranked third.

Metcalf was limited to seven games (of which he dominated only one), and in games both played, Brown out-targeted Metcalf 52 to 32 (market shares of 38.2% and 23.5%, respectively), according to target numbers from our data scientist, Andy Sherman-Ash.

Brown notched at least 21.7% of the Rebels' yardage in all but one game, and he dominated four of six games against top-50 pass defenses this season. His production profile makes him look like the real deal, especially when factoring in the context of his opponents and teammates.

T-12. Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska

Height & Weight: 6'0", 200
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 7th-Undrafted
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 33.3% (4 of 12)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 16.7% (2 of 12)

Morgan doesn't grade out as an elite prospect by any means, though other scout sites project him as more of a mid-round pick than a late-round pick. Either way, he stood out for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2018. Morgan's best games by market share came on the road against a Michigan team that ranked 21st in S&P+ pass defense (61 yards (65.6%)) and at home against Minnesota, who ranked 43rd (163 yards (59.1%)).

In total, Morgan fell shy of a 21.4% market share just once in 12 games, and in all five of his games against top-50 pass defenses, he accrued at least 31.2% of the Cornhuskers' yardage. The productive Morgan projects as around an average athlete based on his size, making his draft capital the biggest variable in his transition to the next level.

T-12. Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

Height & Weight: 5'10", 168
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 1st-2nd
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 33.3% (4 of 12)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 16.7% (2 of 12)

The undersized Brown -- cousin to Antonio Brown -- is shaping up as a consensus top-five wide receiver prospect. Expected to run a 40-yard dash around 4.35 seconds, per NFL Draft Scout, Brown wasn't just a seldom-used deep threat, as he posted a 28.2% target share, ranking him 26th in 2018.

Coming out of Oklahoma, Brown has some schedule concerns from a pass defense perspective -- though of course not nearly as many as some of his small-school counterparts. While he had a checkered production profile against his six top-75 pass defense opponents, it was certainly more good than bad, and he went for 131-plus yards and dominant yardage shares in four of the six.

Date Location Opp S&P+ Rank Rec Yd Y/R TD reYD%
10/20/18 A Texas Christian 12 5 41 8.2 0 19.2%
9/15/18 A Iowa State 25 9 191 21.2 1 54.9%
10/6/18 N Texas 45 9 131 14.6 2 42.3%
12/1/18 N Texas 45 5 54 10.8 0 14.2%
11/10/18 H Oklahoma State 59 8 142 17.8 1 40.7%
11/23/18 A West Virginia 71 11 243 22.1 2 66.8%

Brown sets up for a solid NFL career as a deep threat at worst, and he could be a first-rounder or slide to Day 2 given his stature.

11. KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State

Height & Weight: 6'1", 204
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 6th
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 35.7% (5 of 14)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 21.4% (3 of 14)

Johnson projects as a back-half pick despite a better-than-average breakout age and dominator profile, in part because of subpar athleticism projections based on his size. Context always matters.

Now, Johnson did dominate more than a third of his games, but three of those big games came against teams that either ranked outside the top 100 in pass defense S&P+ or were FCS teams (San Jose State, New Mexico, and Idaho).

That's not to say that he didn't fare well against top-50 pass defenses, however.

Johnson was limited to 17.8% of Fresno State's receiving yardage against Wyoming (9th in S&P+) and 23.5% against Boise State (37th) in a rematch game. But his other three contests against top-50 pass defenses resulted in 33.6% of yards against Boise State the first time around (again, 37th in pass defense), 42.0% against Minnesota (43rd), and 52.8% against San Diego State (47th).

Maybe the biggest concern for Johnson, who ranked 13th in target market share this season (30.2%), is that he played all four years at Fresno State and will be 23.2 already before entering the NFL. Despite his advanced age, he didn't do a little more in an efficient Fresno State passing offense, which is never a promising sign -- even if it's not a glaring red flag.

10. Emanuel Hall, Missouri

Height & Weight: 6'2", 195
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 5th
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 37.5% (3 of 8)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 12.5% (1 of 8)

Hall is shaping up as a firm mid-round pick despite injury concerns and an unfortunate 2018 off the field. While tending to a nagging groin injury, Hall lost his father and played in only eight games total.

His combination of size and athleticism (projected for a 40 time around 4.41 seconds) make him an intriguing prospect to say the least. Hall's dominator rating (not the same as games dominated) would place him in the 66th percentile among receivers in my draft model, but the competition he actually played against is a bit suspect.

Date Location Opp S&P+ Rec Yd Y/R TD reYD%
9/8/18 H Wyoming 9 10 171 17.1 1 43.0%
11/3/18 A Florida 24 4 77 19.3 1 30.8%
11/10/18 H Vanderbilt 42 3 22 7.3 0 8.7%
12/31/18 N Oklahoma State 59 2 72 36.0 0 19.3%
11/17/18 A Tennessee 87 4 74 18.5 0 28.8%
11/23/18 H Arkansas 97 6 153 25.5 2 67.4%
9/15/18 A Purdue 98 4 88 22.0 0 23.5%
9/1/18 H Tennessee-Martin FCS 4 171 42.8 2 43.4%

Hall did dominate against Wyoming but did not dominate against any other of the top-90 pass defenses he faced. Instead, a lot of his production came against weaker pass defenses at home -- Arkansas and Tennessee-Martin. Hall's range of outcomes seems about as wide as any receiver's in this class.

9. Tyre Brady, Marshall

Height & Weight: 6'2", 206
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 5th-6th
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 46.2% (6 of 13)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 23.1% (3 of 13)

Brady, who ranked 11th in target market share (31.1%) this season, is one of the oldest prospects in this draft class and will be 24 by draft week. His size alone could help him find an NFL fit somewhere, but the age and schedule could be a bit of a red flag.

Brady accounted for just 1 catch and 17 yards on 5 targets against his only top-50 pass defense opponent (Southern Mississippi, 32nd), but he went for 39.8% of the yardage against South Florida (51st), 42.6% against Miami (OH) (54th), and 56.3% against Western Kentucky (65th). He averaged 120.0 yards per game against his three opponents outside the top 100 in pass defense S&P+.

In all, the Miami (FL) transfer didn't disappoint while playing for an average passing offense.

8. Dillon Mitchell, Oregon

Height & Weight: 6'1", 189
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 7th-Undrafted
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 46.2% (6 of 13)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 30.8% (4 of 13)

One of the more intriguing dominator profiles belongs to Mitchell, who accounted for 33.2% of Oregon's pass attempts, ranking him fifth in target market share in 2018. That workload alone doesn't project him for an early draft pick, so why is he so interesting to me?

He dominated 6 of 13 games but also got to 37% of the Ducks' yardage in two more games, putting him right on the brink of eight games dominated, which would have thrust him to a tie for second on this list. Mitchell also came through against the respectable opponents, failing -- instead -- to post big games against his easiest matchups.

Date Location Opp S&P+ Rec Yd Y/R TD reYD%
9/29/18 A California 10 7 105 15 1 46.7%
12/31/18 N Michigan State 17 6 70 11.7 1 42.2%
10/13/18 H Washington 18 8 119 14.9 1 58.9%
10/20/18 A Washington State 33 7 47 6.7 0 17.4%
11/10/18 A Utah 40 8 169 21.1 2 58.7%
11/17/18 H Arizona State 86 4 103 25.8 1 39.3%
9/22/18 H Stanford 90 14 239 17.1 0 69.1%
10/27/18 A Arizona 91 6 69 11.5 1 37.1%
11/3/18 H UCLA 95 8 156 19.5 2 53.4%
9/15/18 H San Jose State 102 1 17 17 0 5.5%
9/1/18 H Bowling Green State 108 3 26 8.7 1 8.9%
11/23/18 A Oregon State 115 1 9 9 0 7.6%
9/8/18 H Portland State FCS 2 55 27.5 0 20.7%

Despite the fact that Mitchell's breakout age puts him slightly ahead of the curve, he profiles as an average athlete when adjusted for size, and the most common criticism of Mitchell is his ball skills. He is a name to monitor regardless of where he lands because the production profile suggests a possible late-bloomer at the NFL level.

7. Greg Dortch, Wake Forest

Height & Weight: 5'9", 170
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 5th
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 50.0% (6 of 12)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 33.3% (4 of 12)

The do-it-all Dortch might be a reach even in the fifth round, as other grading sites expect him to be drafted later. Some buzz has him climbing higher. It's tough to tell.

Dortch doesn't particularly project as a future fantasy football stud, but he's the type of player who can provide utility to an NFL team as a slot receiver and return specialist. At 5'9" and 170 pounds, his athletic testing and draft stock will go a long way toward determining his ability to play at the next level.

Dortch, who has a better-than-average breakout age, played six opponents inside the top 50 in S&P+ and dominated four of those six games, three of which were at home.

Date Location Opp S&P+ Rec Yd Y/R TD reYD%
10/6/18 H Clemson 4 3 37 12.3 0 50.0%
9/22/18 H Notre Dame 8 6 56 9.3 0 40.3%
11/24/18 A Duke 29 10 124 12.4 1 70.1%
10/20/18 A Florida State 44 4 24 6.0 0 9.2%
11/3/18 H Syracuse 48 9 95 10.6 1 34.5%
9/13/18 H Boston College 49 9 93 10.3 0 43.5%

Dortch's in-game totals aren't overly surprising against his two top-10 opponents, but we're looking at market shares here to help contextualize his performance relative to his teammates'. Dortch caught 4 of 5 targets against Florida State, the only game of the season in which he had less than an 18.0% target share.

6. Ashton Dulin, Malone

Height & Weight: 6'1", 210
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: Undrafted
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 50.0% (5 of 10)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 40.0% (4 of 10)

Dulin's a small-school guy but has the size to make it in the NFL, and his production profile helps justify his inclusion in the combine.

Date Location Opp Rec Yd Y/R TD reYD%
9/1/18 H Concordia (Mich.) 4 29 7.3 0 10.6%
9/8/18 H Lake Erie 4 99 24.8 2 40.6%
9/22/18 A Kentucky Wesleyan 6 81 13.5 2 58.7%
9/29/18 H Hillsdale 9 71 7.9 1 36.2%
10/6/18 A Tiffin 4 108 27.0 1 60.3%
10/13/18 A Ohio Dominican 6 95 15.8 0 38.3%
10/20/18 A Millersville 5 97 19.4 2 37.3%
10/27/18 H Alderson Broaddus 11 164 14.9 2 34.0%
11/3/18 A Findlay 6 78 13.0 0 75.0%
11/10/18 H Walsh 6 162 27.0 1 59.6%

No, you probably don't recognize many (any?) of those schools, but it's the production that we're digging into, and -- look -- Dulin got a combine invite. That qualifies him for our list. He accounted for at least 34% of Malone's yardage in all but one game, the first of the season, when he caught 4 of 11 targets for 29 yards. Dulin saw at least 10 targets in 8 of his 10 games in total and earned a 37.1% target share overall.

Dulin's consistent domination at Malone is certainly a promising sign for his potential to make a splash in the NFL.

Ashton Dulin GP Rec Yd Avg TD Avg/G Dominator Rating
2018 10 61 984 16.1 11 98.4 52.9%
2017 10 59 1050 17.8 10 105.0 68.9%
2016 9 50 825 16.5 4 91.7 59.1%
2015 10 19 329 17.3 3 32.9 31.1%

While not adjusted for opponents or situation, Dulin's 52.9% dominator rating in 2018 ranks him second among 48 receivers invited to the combine.

5. N'Keal Harry, Arizona State

Height & Weight: 6'3", 213
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 1st
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 50.0% (6 of 12)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 50.0% (6 of 12)

Harry's draft stock couldn't be much different from Dulin's. He's a consensus top prospect. Harry topped a 40% receiving yards share in half of his games -- but all of those were actually games with at least half of Arizona State's receiving yardage.

When not dominating games, Harry failed to top a 28% share in every contest -- but he never fell shy of a 19.2% yardage output.

Perhaps the biggest red flag for Harry's game log is that he failed to dominate in his few chances against truly elite defenses but came through in his three easiest matchups.

Date Location Opp S&P+ Rec Yd Y/R TD reYD%
9/8/18 H Michigan State 17 6 89 14.8 1 23.4%
9/22/18 A Washington 18 5 20 4.0 0 19.2%
10/27/18 A Southern California 35 4 95 23.8 1 57.2%
11/3/18 H Utah 40 9 161 17.9 3 56.5%
9/15/18 A San Diego State 47 9 86 9.6 1 25.2%
11/17/18 A Oregon 74 7 105 15.0 0 57.7%
10/6/18 A Colorado 77 3 62 20.7 0 27.9%
10/18/18 H Stanford 90 8 91 11.4 0 25.8%
11/24/18 A Arizona 91 4 55 13.8 0 20.8%
11/10/18 H UCLA 95 7 100 14.3 0 50.3%
9/29/18 H Oregon State 115 5 84 16.8 1 51.9%
9/1/18 H Texas-San Antonio 124 6 140 23.3 2 59.1%

By no means does Harry present a dreadful production profile, and his blend of size and breakout age are all big positive for him. If we're trying to get nitpicky, though, we can look to his game-by-game performance against tougher opponents and average size-adjusted athleticism.

4. Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona

Height & Weight: 6'3", 220
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 7th-Undrafted
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 55.6% (5 of 9)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 55.6% (5 of 9)

Butler, another small-school prospect, has the frame and production profile required to make it in the NFL despite his collegiate pedigree at Northern Arizona. At 6'3" and 200 pounds, Butler projects as an above-average athlete, and he hauled in 7 of 15 touchdowns in games he played, as well as 38.6% of NAU's total receiving yardage.

Butler's one game against FBS competition came against Texas-El Paso, who ranked just 109th in pass defense S&P+. Against them, he racked up 138 yards and 2 touchdowns on 6 catches, good for 65.2% of their yardage.

An odd wrinkle in Butler's profile is that he played with four different quarterbacks who attempted at least 30 passes in 2018, and the team as a whole averaged below 180 passing yards per game.

3. Alex Wesley, Northern Colorado

Height & Weight: 6'0", 191
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: Undrafted
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 60.0% (6 of 10)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 20.0% (2 of 10)

Wesley -- yet another FCS player -- made the most of his chances at Northern Colorado this season. Wesley's arrow may be pointing up after a trip to the Senior Bowl, though he ultimately sat out the game due to a groin injury. In total, Wesley produced at least 30% of NCU's yardage in seven of nine games this season.

Accounting for a missed game -- coincidentally against Emmanuel Butler's Northern Arizona squad -- Wesley averaged 105.0 yards per game and was responsible for 40.2% of NCU's receiving yardage (though just 4 of 16 touchdowns). In 2017, he posted similar numbers.

Alex Wesley GP Rec Yd Avg TD Avg/G Dominator Rating
2018 10 57 1050 18.4 4 105 32.6%
2017 10 55 1010 18.4 6 101 33.8%

Perhaps the biggest plus for Wesley is his 5-catch, 8-target, 102-yard, 2-touchdown game against Colorado in 2017, a game during which his team accounted for just 202 yards receiving, giving him more than half of the yardage.

2. Hakeem Butler, Iowa State

Height & Weight: 6'5", 225
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 3rd-4th
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 61.5% (8 of 13)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 30.8% (4 of 13)

Butler's massive frame and big production makes him a fascinating prospect, but draft projections for him range pretty drastically. Butler is an older prospect in this class, and the production wasn't really there until this past season, as he had a dominator rating of 22.6% in 2017 and 44.1% in 2018, giving him a breakout age around 22.4 or so.

Butler's two toughest matchups resulted in scoreless duds (2 catches on 8 targets for 14 yards against TCU (12th in pass defense S&P+) and 3 catches on 10 targets for 35 yards against Iowa (23rd). Butler did post 128 yards and 2 scores on 5 catches (7 targets) against Iowa in 2017, for what it's worth. That game was a 44-41 overtime tilt, while the score was 13-3 in the 2018 rematch for some added context.

Butler did, however, account for more than 60% of Iowa State's yardage on Washington State (33rd) and Texas (45th), and he wound up with 27.4% of Iowa State's targets on the season, ranking him 29th in the nation.

At his ceiling, Butler could prove to be a matchup nightmare at the next level, so finding the right NFL fit is going to be crucial for the enigmatic prospect.

1. Andy Isabella, Massachusetts

Height & Weight: 5'9", 186
NFL Draft Scout Projected Round: 4th
Games With at least 40% of Receiving Yards: 75.0% (9 of 12)
Games With at least 50% of Receiving Yards: 16.7% (2 of 12)

Isabella leads the pack in games with at least 40% of receiving yardage but eclipsed the 50% mark just twice this season, something that is at least a little bit surprising. On the flip side, he fell shy of a 38.6% yardage share only once, meaning he dominated almost every single game for UMass in 2018. In total, Isabella accounted for 37.7% of Massachusetts' targets this season, second in the nation, and he had at least a 30% target share in all but one game in 2018.

The undersized wideout projects to be a below-average athlete at the next level, but we've seen him do damage against every opponent this season. That's noteworthy because he faced the top pass defense in the nation -- Georgia Bulldogs -- and dropped 219 yards on them (catching 15 passes for 2 scores). Just 55 of those yards came in the first half, and after two quarters, the Minutemen trailed 42-13. Take that for what you will.

11/10/18HBrigham Young1410858.5046.4%
9/1/18ABoston College4959619.2038.6%
10/6/18HSouth Florida511319114.7147.6%
9/15/18AFlorida International7244310.8119.2%
9/8/18AGeorgia Southern7399510.6044.0%
10/20/18HCoastal Carolina1031017417.4044.6%

Either way, few prospects in recent years have had as big an impact on the their passing offenses as Isabella had on UMass this season. His domination of 75% of his games ranks him fourth among relevant wide receivers, and his showing against some of the top pass defenses he faced is a good sign that he can remain somewhat productive at the next level. The landing spot for Isabella will tell us a lot about how his future NFL team values his potential.