The fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information constantly do a great job of providing us with numbers that can’t be found anywhere else. But they’ve outdone themselves this time.
New Orleans running back Darren Sproles leads the league with 651 yards after the catch. That's not even the amazing part because Sproles has been in the lead or near it in this category much of the season.
Here's the really amazing part. Sproles only has 659 total receiving yards.
Could all but 8 of his receiving yards really come after the catch? That’s the question that first popped into my head when I saw the stat. Given the way the Saints use Sproles, it seemed somewhat plausible. But it still was such a big number that I put in a call to Bristol to get verification.
I got it. ESPN Stats & Information’s John McTigue confirmed that Sproles does indeed have 651 yards after the catch. As I suspected, McTigue explained that if Sproles catches a pass 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage and gets tackled at the line of scrimmage, Sproles doesn’t get any receiving yards, but is credited with 5 yards after the catch. McTigue also said there are a few running backs around the league who have more yards after the catch than they do receiving yards. In fact, fellow New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas also falls into this category. Thomas is No. 12 in the league with 439 yards after the catch. Yet, Thomas only has 385 total receiving yards.
For the record, Sproles has 79 receptions. He’s averaging 8.3 yards per reception and 8.2 yards after the catch. Guess that tells us a lot about how the Saints use their running backs to make plays in the passing game.