By Alex Kurpeski
In the fantasy football community the term “hog rate” is used often to hype up underrated pass-catchers. But what exactly is hog rate? What does it measure and why is it relevant? Well, in short, hog rate is used to measure a receiver or tight end’s effectiveness and usage in the passing game. PlayerProfiler defines the term as “captur(ing) the rate of passing game utilization on a per play basis by calculating the number of targets per snap. This metric helps to identify wide receivers and tight ends with limited route trees that may have a low snap count and target share, but when they are on the field, are a focal point of the passing offense”.
So in essence, hog rate points us in the direction of those players who tend to draw their quarterback’s attention when they’re on the field. Simple enough, right?
We use the term “target hog” to describe high-usage receivers in fantasy football. In fact, the targets that a receiver sees are often more important than the passes he catches when looking at his numbers in a vacuum. Opportunity creates production, after all. Thanks to our friends over at FantasyData we can take a look at a few of the receivers and tight ends who are currently leading the NFL in target rate.
2020 Hog Rate Leaders
WR Davante Adams, 22.0
TE Anthony Firkser, 20.2
WR Diontae Johnson, 19.4
WR Jamison Crowder, 19.0
WR Robby Anderson, 18.8
WR Stefon Diggs, 17.9
WR Keenan Allen, 17.0
WR Allen Robinson, 17.0
WR Cole Beasley, 17.0
WR Braxton Berrios, 16.7
With the exception of Berrios and Firkser, this list looks as one might expect it to based on the volume of targets seen by each of the remaining members of the top ten.
As we can see, there is a theme among these players, with five of them (Johnson, Crowder, Allen, Beasley, Berrios) doing most of their work out of the slot. In the fantasy football community, slot targets are a premium commodity, particularly in PPR formats. The Jets offense in particular has been very favorable to slot receivers (as evidenced by the presence of Crowder and Berrios) with 42.2% of their passes having targeted either Berrios or Crowder in the slot.
Mixed in with these smaller sample size receivers are names like Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, and Allen Robinson, all of whom are unquestioned WR1’s in fantasy football this season. These are guys who are seeing a huge volume of targets and converting those targets into yards and receptions regularly. Due to their high opportunity rate and high target share, these receivers are regularly finishing games with double-digit fantasy points, making them the absolute best receivers to roster in all formats.
So what’s my point here? It’s pretty simple actually. Hog rate says a lot about a player’s role in his team’s offense, even if he’s seeing a relatively low target share overall. In fantasy football, we want to chase targets, air yards, and snap shares rather than points and touchdowns. The context of a player’s numbers says a lot about their big picture viability, as well as their potential to produce in crucial matchups. In short, we want target hogs and we want players with high hog rates.