Corey Davis, Jaire Alexander, Marcus Peters 2021
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

What type of numbers did New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis put up against elite cornerbacks in his breakout 2020 season?

After a disappointing first three years of his career in which he averaged only 44.5 receiving yards per game, Corey Davis enjoyed a breakout season of spectacular proportions in 2020. He ranked 19th in the NFL and 16th among wide receivers with 70.3 receiving yards per game – but it was his per-play efficiency that shined the brightest. Davis ranked seventh among wide receivers in yards per target (10.7), fifth in yards per route run (2.58), and first in conversion rate as he picked up a first down or a touchdown on 53.3% of his targets.

Did Davis rack up those numbers by beating up on lousy defenders or did he maintain his dominance even against some of the league’s best cornerbacks? Shown below is a chart that includes Davis’s production versus every defender he saw at least one target against.

Five numbers are listed for each defender:

  • The defender’s career average for yards per target allowed
  • Davis’s number of targets and receiving yards against the defender
  • The expected number of receiving yards Davis should have earned against that defender (defender’s yards-per-target average multiplied by the number of targets Davis saw against him)
  • The net difference between Davis’s actual receiving yardage total against the defender and his expected receiving yardage total

The data reveals some very interesting takeaways regarding the legitimacy of Davis’s 2020 production:

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Great analysis, Michael. For the contract we gave him, Davis needs to continue to play like this, as he is getting a good chunk of cap monies. Having had him on two past FF teams, I need to be persuaded that he can be this kind of WR going forward, lol. Seemed he only ever produced in games where I benched him!