Analytics shine more positive light on Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond

Kalif Raymond could be a sneaky big factor in the Lions' offense this year, and a couple analytic metrics have shone more light on the possibility.
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While the headlines land elsewhere, even now in terms of who will emerge in place of the departed Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond operates in the background. His offensive snap share dwindled last season, but that hides how he averaged 14 yards per catch and how over three seasons as a Detroit Lion he has stepped up when called upon.

Raymond posted the third-best Pro Football Focus receiving grade on the Lions team last year (75.8, a top-35 grade among all wide receivers). That led to the site highlighting him as a potential breakout candidate this year, in light of renewed opportunity that could be in front of him.

in a fantasy football light, Raymond has the makings of a no-risk potential nice upside end of bench stash in the appropriate formats.

Now, Pro Football Focus and ESPN have shone more light on Raymond.

Kalif Raymond is something of an analytics darling

PFF recently ranked the top wide receivers from last season based on "open target rate", which boils down to how well someone gained separation on their targets.

Raymond came in No. 1, with a 97.7 percent open target rate ("open" on 42 out of 43 targets).

"Raymond gained separation on all but one of his 43 targets in 2023. He finished third on the team in target rate (22.2%) and receiving yards (489) while leading the way in yards after the catch (6.7). Raymond gained 20 first downs, had nine catches of 20-plus yards and generated a team-best 121.8 passer rating when targeted."
-Lauren Gray, Pro Football Focus

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report had Raymond on his recent list of the eight most underrated wide receivers in the NFL heading into the 2024 season (No. 6, if that matters to you). Ballentine pointed to a couple more deeper metrics regarding Raymond.

"His 35 receptions for 489 yards and a touchdown weren't much, but his 65.9 percent success rate was the fifth-highest in the league. Raymond's greatest strength is his ability to get open."

"According to
ESPN Analytics, he had the third-highest "open score" in the league based on player-tracking metrics. Only Keenan Allen and CeeDee Lamb were ranked higher."

Raymond's "Open Score" of 84 last year was one better than Dolphins' wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and one behind Lamb. Allen lapped the field with an score of 91.

Success rate, in what makes a successful reception in this case, is defined as:
At least 40 percent of yards required for a first down on first down, at least 60 percent of required yardage on second down and 100 percent of required yardage on third and fourth down.

Of Raymond's 35 catches last year, 20 moved the chains and 23 of his catches were tabbed as successful. He's clearly a trusted target for Jared Goff, with a bigger role virtually assured this year.

A lot of deeper numbers like Raymond, and his role in one of the league's best offenses should be more substantial this year. The search for who the Lions' No. 3 wide receiver will be may be over, before training camp.