Ranking most efficient NFL routes: Best, worst teams and players

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

We dove into the data to find the six most productive routes in the NFL, and then picked out the teams, receivers and quarterbacks who stand out in each concept, for better or worse. We also identified the least effective route -- a risky upside play that doesn't always pay off.

Route statistics are riddled with two issues: selection bias and small samples. We can't completely solve the former, but looking at yards per route run rather than yards per target helps. Non-targets shouldn't be considered neutral ground. And for sample size, it's just a natural issue considering we track over 30 route names using our own route classification model with NFL Next Gen Stats data. For some of the sections below, we used data going back to the start of the 2021 season -- rather than just four weeks of stats for 2022 -- to increase the sample. Full explanation of the data is at the bottom of the story.

Let's look at the top six routes in terms of efficiency, along with the best and worst performers for each.

Jump to:
Most efficient | Least efficient