If you like watching football on television you may have overheard the announcers mention the term x, y, and z receivers. If you haven’t been involved in playing or coaching the game it is likely you have no idea what these terms really mean.
A Y receiver is a receiver that lines up closest to the formation in a three-receiver or two-receiver one tight end set.
The X receiver is the number one option and lines up on the outside. The Z receiver lines up opposite the X on the other sideline of the field. And The Y receiver is either the tight end or slot receiver that lines up in between the outside receiver and the formation.
What Is A Y Receivers Role
Before we get into the role of a y receiver we must explain more about this position. The Y receiver is the only one of the X, Y, and Z roles that can be played by multiple positions. What we mean by this is that a Y receiver can be a slot receiver or a tight end. Depending on which position is acting as the Y you will find they have very different roles.
Y – Tight end
When you are a y receiver tight end you want to be a safety valve for short yardage pickups. Though some tight ends like Kittle and Kelce have changed the game a standard tight end is typically going to be catching shorter passes.
This often means the tight end will be finding holes in a zone defence. Or beating a linebacker with a quick cut. These routes allow the quarterback an easy short to medium range option.
The tight end is also responsible for blocking on running plays. And at times depending on the defense the tight end can be called in to help with pass protection.
Y- Slot Receiver
A slot receiver playing the Y position is going to be the go-to guy on short-yardage and third-down situations. This type of receiver is not meant to beat the defense overtop with big plays but rather work underneath coverage and uses their agility to get open.
These players tend to get tons of receptions but due to the short passes typically fail to amass a large number of yards.
What Traits Do They Have?
Y – Tight End
A y receiver tight end is going to have a much larger frame than the other receivers. This due to tight ends being much larger players all around. A Y tight end will also have to have adequate blocking skills as they will often run in his direction on handoffs.
This tight end will also have to be sure-handed. Similar to a slot receiver the tight end is the go-to guy for short yardage. If your quarterback looks past his #1 option and throws a short pass to the tight end you better be sure they will catch it.
These tight ends also will typically have the ability to find holes in zones. These players typically don’t get open on athleticism alone. Good knowledge of zone defenses and how to expose them is a common trait among tight ends.
Y – Slot Receiver
A slot receiver has to have a lot of similar receiving traits to a tight end but comes in a much smaller package. A Y slot receiver is also going to be your go-to guy in short-yardage situations.
A slot receiver can generate more separation in a short period of time than the X or Y receiver. These slot receivers typically don’t have much top-end speed but are incredibly quick and agile.
Their ability to quickly generate separation makes them the perfect target for short quick passes. These players cannot block like tight ends so they are often taken off the field for running plays.
A slot receiver should also have incredibly consistent hands. Due to their passes often coming in crucial times a slot receiver has to be dependable when the ball is thrown their way.