Yeah he's good, but he's no Mike Wallace. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
We've certainly had our fun in the past with "the football scientist" KC Joyner's attempts to convince himself of ridiculous things by cherry picking certain stats or by simply inventing his own subjective metrics. His latest is maybe the best yet.
Joyner says that "no matter which way you look at, Wallace bests Johnson" and that he's currently the best WR in the NFL. Now, it is true that Wallace is off to a great start this year. He's got the 4th most receiving yards in football, 11th most catches and four touchdowns. Calvin Johnson, by the way, has nine. He's scored more TDs than any player in the NFL and more to this point in the season than any player since 1940. (LeSean McCoy is #2 BTW)
What Joyner does, as is his usual methodology, is break down productivity on a per play basis. Who has more yards per target, more TDs per target, who gained more yards on deep targets etc. Now in virtually all of these categories, Wallace does best Johnson. However, where Joyner fails, where he always fails, is the fallacy of assumption.
Here's his basic argument. Mike Wallace is more productive on a per target basis than Calvin Johnson, therefore Mike Wallace is better than Calvin Johnson. However, there's a missing link in there that Joyner fails to mention or prove.
Players who are more productive on a per target basis are better.
I'd love for someone to prove to me how that's true in the NFL. Because the assumption you can't make is that with less targets, Calvin Johnson would remain equally productive just like you can't make that same assumption with Wallace getting more targets. In fact, if anything evidence shows that the opposite is true. The more you throw to a guy, the more attention he gets from the defense, the more coverage rolls to him, the more talented players are assigned to defend him, plus the defense may even change more to defend the pass in general.
So Joyner's entire argument rests on the assumption that per target productivity is not only more important than overall productivity, but that it must also be projectable. Or else why is a guy who caught 5 TDs on 9 end zone targets not as good as a guy who caught three TDs from four end zone targets? You must be assuming that with more targets, a guy like Wallace would keep up and at least comparable conversion rate... and that's simply an assumption you can't make.
But hey, he's the football scientist. More after the jump.
Putting all that aside, Joyner also ignores the simple question of why? Why is Calvin Johnson targeted more than Wallace and might that also factor into the "who is better" debate?
There are a myriad of reasons. Maybe Johnson is open more. That would be a mark in his column. Maybe even if Johnson isn't as open, he gets targets because he's more physically able to beat double teams that Mike Wallace? The eye test tells me that seems true... Of course, the QB, other offensive weapons and even overall offensive philosophy all come in to play as well.
You might say that Detroit throws more than Pittsburgh. That's true, but what does that tell us? Their WRs are likely to get a higher number of chances, but then again Pittsburgh WRs are likely to get more lucrative opportunities as defenses are more geared toward defending the run. And if you think that's true, then the difference in the production of these guys may be seen as a function of their offensive systems, not simply their individual skill.
But again, these are factors that Joyner fails to explore. As always, he cherry picks his often subjective stats to prove a crazy looking point to get people talking. His subjective stats this time being what he calls a "bomb" and the fact that he looks only at how often Wallace and Johnson convert end zone targets into TDs. By doing so, he gets to ignore four of Johnson's 9 TDs on the season. Wallace, again, has only a total of four this season.