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Jordan Matthews vs. Sammy Watkins: What advanced stats say after 3 games

Before the season, I pieced together a comprehensive comparison of Jordan Matthews and Sammy Watkins. In that study, I came to the conclusion that Matthews had been about 85 percent as good as Watkins in their three-year NFL careers leading up to the 2017 campaign.

Jordan Matthews and Sammy Watkins: A comprehensive comparison

Let's check in on Matthews vs. Watkins through Week Three from an advanced-stat angle to get the best idea of how the two have performed.

I'll be updating this on a weekly basis. Given the flip the Bills made this offseason – replacing Watkins with Matthews – it's arguably the most critical story line to monitor early in the Brandon Beane era in Buffalo.

(Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus.)

Jordan Matthews

  • 13.8 yards per target
  • 19.0 yards per reception
  • 50.7 yards per game
  • 1.65 yards per route run
  • 118.8 passer rating on his targets
  • 0 touchdowns

Sammy Watkins

  • 13.8 yards per target
  • 14.9 yards per reception
  • 64.7 yards per game
  • 2.69 yards per route run
  • 158.3 passer rating on his targets
  • 2 touchdowns

Fresh off a spectacular outing in the win over the 49ers that included those two touchdowns, Watkins has been money for second-year quarterback Jared Goff through three games this season.

While basically all of Watkins' figures eclipse Matthews' at this juncture, the identical yards per target figures do stand out. They've been equally as efficient when the football's been thrown in their direction through three games. Interesting, too, is that Matthews has been more of the big-play wideout than Watkins. Before 2017, Matthews averaged 11.9 yards per catch in his career, while Watkins' average was a hefty 16.1.

Watkins has run just 72 routes so far, while Matthews has run 92 routes, but Watkins has out-targeted Matthews 14 to 11. Watkins suffered a concussion in Week Three but is expected to play Sunday.

Both wideouts have matchups against marquee teams this week, as Los Angeles travels to Dallas and the Bills take on the Falcons in Atlanta.

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