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Albert Wilson’s Week 16 performance was the best by any Dolphin in 2019

Albert Wilson's Week 16 performance was the best by any Dolphin in 2019
Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

PFN’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM), measures how responsible a player was for the statistics they produced. Additionally, it does not calculate how statistically successful they were, but rather how efficiently they accrued those statistics. As a result, the best performances on the metric often come from unexpected places. That is precisely what you find when looking for the highest single-game grade produced by any player on the Miami Dolphins last season. Against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16, Albert Wilson received a grade of 51.36, almost six points higher than the next highest grade produced by a Dolphins player in 2019.

To put Wilson’s grade against the Bengals into perspective, it was the 25th-highest grade produced by any player the entire season. That might not sound very impressive, but when you consider that more than 100 players qualify for a grade during each week of the regular season, that puts Wilson’s grade above the vast majority of performances in the NFL.

The implication of a grade that high is that, during Week 16, Wilson got more value out of his touches than almost any other player did at almost any point in the entire 2019 season. Wilson grading so highly could come as a surprise to many Dolphins fans (although those who read my work frequently might have been able to guess it based on this earlier article). He did not feature very prominently in Miami’s offense last season, only gaining 351 receiving yards in total.

However, it is important to remember that Wilson was coming off of a very serious injury, and only really started to see significant playing time later in 2019. Week 16 was simply the most extreme example of this trend.

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Analyzing Wilson’s statistics from Week 16

Looking at his statistics against Cincinnati, you might reasonably question why Wilson graded so highly. After all, on paper, his numbers don’t seem that impressive. In total, he caught seven passes for 79 yards and didn’t score a touchdown. That is a solid performance for a backup wide receiver, but hardly anything to write home about.

Related | OSM Back to the Future: Isaiah Crowell’s 2018 top-ranked performance for the Jets

In fact, in that very game, both DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki outperformed Wilson on the stat sheet by a significant margin. Between the two of them, they caught 11 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns. Despite their successes, their OSM grades were significantly lower than Wilson’s, at 17.1 for Parker and 25.06 for Gesicki. However, Wilson’s underwhelming numbers conceal a highly efficient performance from the veteran wide receiver.

Explaining why Wilson’s grade was so high

Once we take a more in-depth look at the metrics that go into creating a player’s OSM grade, it becomes much easier to see why Wilson performed so well. One of the most important statistics for calculating the OSM grade for a wide receiver is their catch percentage, a metric on which Wilson performed as well as a player possible could. He was targeted seven times and caught all seven of those passes, giving him a catch percentage of 100%.

However, Wilson’s high catch percentage wasn’t the only factor increasing his grade in Week 16. He also excelled at gaining yards after the catch, something he is well-known for. His 8.4 YAC average was the third-highest among wide receivers that week. On its own, that is already an impressive number, but the story doesn’t end there.

Related | Corey Davis’ OSM continues to climb during his time with the Titans

Based on numerous advanced metrics, the NFL calculates how many yards a receiver should have gained after catching the ball. In Wilson’s case, his YAC was 2.7 yards higher than it should have been. Once again, that puts Wilson near the top of the NFL, tied for the fifth-highest among qualifying wide receivers.

Wilson’s performance in Week 16, and in 2019 overall, was exceptionally efficient

At this point, the reasons why Wilson received such a high OSM grade should be abundantly clear. Every pass thrown his way resulted in a completion, and once he had the ball in his hands, he gained every yard available to him, plus some extra yards on top of that. It was the perfect example of a game in which a player didn’t get that many opportunities, got everything he could out of the ones that he got.

Performances like these are a large part of why the OSM was created in the first place. It has many applications, but one of the most useful is finding players who excel despite a relatively limited role. In the article I mentioned earlier, I discussed how Wilson was in this category for most of 2019. His overall OSM grade of 37.36 ranked eighth among qualifying wide receivers, and Week 16 was the peak of that already excellent season.

Wilson’s play in 2019 indicates further success in 2020

Wilson’s Week 16 performance is yet another indication that, despite his recent injury troubles, he still has the potential to be a crucial contributor for Miami. Now that he is (hopefully) entirely recovered from his injury, he can be better incorporated into the offense from the start of the season, although the lack of a preseason in 2020, combined with the implementation of a new offensive system, might make that more difficult.

Wilson’s place in the offense might be further limited by the emergence of Parker and rookie Preston Williams last season, although there are questions regarding the consistency of both players.

If Miami does choose to make Wilson a larger part of their offense, the performances we saw from him later in 2019 should become a more common occurrence. We might even see a return to the form we saw from him back in 2018 when he was winning games practically by himself. Regardless of how the Dolphins decide to utilize him, however, Wilson has already proven that he can provide a great deal of value to their offense, even in a limited role.

Lucas Ellinas is a writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Lucas_Ellinas.

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