Cost Efficiency: An Underrated Aspect

With the 2012-2013 NFL Season just about halfway complete, it got me thinking: while touchdowns, punt returns, and interceptions are the “sexy” aspect of the sport, there’s also a less attractive yet necessary aspect of the game. Cost Efficiency.

Cost efficiency is defined as “productive relative to the cost.”  In English, that essentially means how much bang for your buck you receive.  Going back to the “sexy” aspect; other than the quarterback and running back in terms of excitement—and fantasy points—comes the wide receiver.   As such, I have decided to combine the two, and in no particular order, these are my Top 5 Cost Efficient NFL Wide Receivers in 2012.

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals.   2012 base salary: $1,269,913

Selected fourth overall in the 2011 NFL draft and with seven touchdowns in seven games on a 3-4 Cincinnati Bengals team, A.J. Green is young quarterback Andy Dalton’s primary weapon.  Making the 2012 Pro Bowl, Green represents a bright spot in the Bengals’ future, and with both he and Dalton 24 years old, it’s very likely this team could contend sooner rather than later.  Green averages a steady 14.5 yards per reception and has 636 yards (4th in the NFL)  in his team’s first seven games.  Provided he doesn’t get hurt, he could easily break the 1,057 yards he set as a benchmark in his rookie campaign.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants 2012 base salary: $490,000

Going undrafted in 2010 than winning a Superbowl in 2012 with the New York Giants, life has been pretty kind to Victor Cruz in the last year or so.  Cruz’s trademark salsa dances in the end zone have become almost a routine, and after a year, he has gone from QB Eli Manning’s fourth wide receiver to Manning’s no.1 target.  With 50 receptions for 627 yards, Giants fans always seem to get the sense Cruz is going to do something big when the ball is in his hands, perhaps personified best last week with a literal last-minute game-winning 77-yard touchdown reception from Manning.  The Salsa Dancer has received 32 first downs, and already has seven touchdowns, two short of his high he set in 2011, his rookie year. Victor Cruz has already started writing his name into the sports books of New York and on the backs of fans across the sport.  With the USA Today reporting Cruz wants a new contract by the end of the season, can you really blame him?

Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, Detroit Lions 2012 base salary: $1,250,000

Considering “Megatron” signed an 8-year/$132 million contract back in March of 2012, this is probably the last time you’ll see Johnson on a list like this, but considering the Lions’ receiver already established repertoire and only the fact he is only 27, $1.25 million sure seems like a bargain.  The 2nd overall pick in the 2007 draft, Johnson currently graces the cover of Madden ’13, and although he only has one touchdown, his 592 yards currently rank seventh after Week seven of the 2012 NFL season.  In 2011, Johnson set a Lions franchise record, Most Receiving Touchdowns with 16.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings 2012 base salary: $915,000

Despite requesting a trade from the Vikings over the summer and even hinting at a holdout at one point during the 2012 offseason, Harvin has been a crucial part to the Vikings’ current 5-3 season.  Having 60 receptions for 667 yards, he is currently only behind Patriots WR Wes Welker for the most yardage in the NFL as of Week Eight.  His 60 receptions rank first.  In eight games played, Harvin has averaged the same number of yards per reception at 11.1 as he did in 2011.  Doubling as a kick returner, Harvin also set a Vikings franchise record for Longest Kick Return at 105 yards back in September against the Detroit Lions.


Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons 2012 base salary: $1,110,625

At the forefront of the currently 6-0 Atlanta Falcons success is Quarterback Matt Ryan’s 98.8 passer rating (4th in the NFL), as well as the fact that Ryan was named the Offensive Player of the Month for September.  While credit is necessary to the Falcons’ QB, another reason for his success is the fact that Wide Receiver Julio Jones has received 20 first downs, and is set to match or eclipse his rookie campaign benchmark of eight TDs, already having four.  Jones has 30 receptions, while his counterpart, WR Roddy White has 37, at a salary of $5.5 million, five times the amount of Jones.

While some of these names aren’t as yet defined as the Larry Fitzgeralds, Wes Welkers and DeSean Jacksons of the world, their production despite relatively cheap 2012 base salaries are a big factor to where their team is currently at.  Look for these five names to become the forefront of a national NFL discussion in a few years, if they haven’t already (Looking at you, Megatron).  Cost Efficiency is clearly one of the most underappreciated aspects of a sports-business relationship, and it must be taken into account when considering individual performances.



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