What Is A Reception In Football

Football statistics can be tough to keep up with. One offensive stat that often leaves fans with questions is the term reception.

A reception in football is also known as a catch and occurs when a player catches a forward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage.

Receptions are one of the key statistics for wide receivers and tight ends. This statistic along with receiving yards are key indicators into how much that player produces in an offense.

When you see a player’s total receptions this is usually referring to the total passes caught by that player throughout their career.

Receptions can also play a major role in some fantasy football formats. PPR format in fantasy football refers to points per reception. This style of fantasy awards points to player every time they catch a pass.

There is also a half PPR format which gives a half-point to a player every time he makes a catch. In these leagues, the number of receptions a player gets throughout each game is going to have a large effect on his fantasy output.

Reading The Stats

If you are looking to find receptions when looking at football statistics it will most likely be under the acronym rec.

Statistics in football use a ton of acronyms and often leave the reader wondering what they are reading.

Rec in football statistics stands for reception and occurs when a player catches a forward pass.

Which Positions Get The Most Receptions

Now that you understand what the term reception means you may be wondering which positions tend to earn this statistic.

Wide Receivers

Wide receivers are the position that earns the most receptions. This position specializes in catching passes so it is no secret that these players are going to earn a lot of receptions.

In any given year wide receivers will make out the majority of the top ten leaders in receptions. A mark of a great NFL season by a wide receiver is to pass the 100 reception mark.

Tight End

Tight ends are another position that earns a large number of receptions. These players are often involved in blocking but run receiving routes as well.

These players are often used as a safety valve for quarterbacks allowing them to rack up a good bit of receptions.

On some teams, a tight end may act as the number one receiver. And since this position has a low depth of target this can result in a larger number of targets.

These players are often known for their consistency when it comes to catching the ball. This paired with their short routes means a lot of their targets are caught and result in receptions.

This help put two tight ends in the top ten in receptions in the 2020 season.


Running back is another position that is going to earn themselves some receptions throughout the season.

Runningbacks are primarily known for carrying the ball via handoffs from the quarterback. Though as the NFL has progressed to a more pass friendly league receptions by runningbacks have become even more frequent.

Some styles of running backs like third-down backs are known for their ability to catch the ball. For this reason, these players are going to have a much higher portion of their touches being catches instead of carries.

Are Lateral Passes Receptions?

One question many football fans have is whether or not catching a lateral pass is considered a reception.

The answer to this question is no, catching a lateral pass will not get you a reception. Caching a lateral pass in football is considered the same as receiving a handoff of the ball.

For this reason, when a player catches a lateral pass he will be credited with a carry/rush. This also means they will earn rushing yards for all the yards gained on the play as opposed to receiving yards.

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