Different NFL routes produce different results depending on the route itself, team tendencies, and receiver profiles. So what are the most efficient route types?

We dug into the data to find the six most productive routes in the NFL, then picked the teams, wide receivers and quarterbacks that stand out in each concept, for better or worse. We have also identified the least efficient path, the risky play up, which does not always pay off.

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Route statistics are associated with two problems: sampling bias and small samples. We can’t quite decide on the first, but considering the number of yards per route rather than the number of yards per target helps. Non-goals should not be considered neutral territory. As for the sample size, this is quite natural, given that we are tracking over 30 route names using our own route classification model with NFL Next Gen Statistics Data. For some of the sections below, we used data from the start of the 2021 season rather than just four weeks of 2022 statistics to increase our sample. A full explanation of the data is at the bottom of the story.

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Let’s take a look at the top six routes in terms of efficiency, and the best and worst performers for each.

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The most efficient | Least Efficient