The numberFire team loved Matt Schaub entering 2013. His efficiency scores were great last season, and with a new-look offense, there seemed to be plenty of opportunity for him to reach startable fantasy quarterback numbers in his seventh year with Houston (Already seven years?!). After two weeks of the NFL season, the sixth-ranked standard scoring Schaub is doing just that.
But Schaub’s not the only pleasant surprise in Houston. His rookie receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, is already looking like a four-year veteran in the Texans offense. After an Andre Johnson concussion last week, Hopkins led Houston to an overtime victory against the Titans, making a leaping grab near the end zone in extra time and scoring the game winner just a few plays later.
He’s the real deal.
And the numbers agree. Through two weeks of this youthful NFL season, Hopkins ranks ninth among receivers in terms of net expected points. Not sure what that means? No problem. Think of it this way: Every situation on the field has an expected point value – how many points an average team would be expected to score in that given situation. When a player helps move that expected point total forward, whether it be on a first down grab or a 60-yard play, he’s helping his team increase their expected point value on that drive. He, in essence, is gaining net expected points for himself while helping his squad.
DeAndre Hopkins has helped his team more than all but eight wide receivers so far this season. Pretty impressive for a rookie wideout.
We love metrics – especially these advanced ones – at numberFire. They tell a different story compared to boring yardage and completion percentage statistics. Though a player may be killing it on the fake gridiron, we’re able to see if that player’s actual performance is just as good. Math is fun!
Take a look at some of the other numbers through two weeks of the NFL season. There may be some sleepers ready to break loose.
Knowshon Moreno ranks second in rushing net expected points
Something that may be going unnoticed in fantasy circles is the fact that Knowshon Moreno is, again, making the most of his opportunity with Peyton Manning under center. Montee Ball fumbled a goal line touch against the Giants, forcing the Brocnos to play the always-mediocre Moreno against New York. He didn’t disappoint, scoring over 24 fantasy points in .5 PPR leagues.
Only LeSean McCoy has a better rushing net expected points total than Knowshon, who has helped the Broncos to an increase of 5.67 points (real points) compared to a replacement-level back. As long as Montee Ball struggles, Moreno is a decent play in fantasy, especially this week against Oakland.
Of the 20-plus attempt runners, Fred Jackson has been the most successful
When a player contributes positively towards his team’s NEP total, he’s awarded a success on that play. Fred Jackson, among all running backs who are averaging double-digit touches per game, has had a 60 percent success rate through two weeks. That’s better than the 57 percent LeSean McCoy.
Jackson’s been a nice surprise early, but keep in mind that his 32-year-old body may not be able to withstand a full season of 12-plus touches per game. He’s a decent flex play moving forward if you’re desperate, but beware of his health concerns.
DeSean Jackson is the best NFL wide receiver through Week 2
Is this a surprise? Hopefully not. Michael Vick’s favorite target has nearly 300 receiving yards and two scores over the first two weeks of the season, and that number could be higher if not for a long touchdown that was called back on Sunday.
Expect DeSean Jackson to continue to thrive in Chip Kelly’s offense. Not only is it friendly for a player of his ability, but Michael Vick is throwing the ball like he did back in 2010. It’s going to be an exciting year for that offense.
Cecil Shorts ranks fourth in the league in wide receiver targets
Shorts has 25 targets, accounting for over 33 percent of the Jags looks, and has only caught 11 of them. Fortunately for fantasy owners who banked on Chad Henne lighting up the Raiders, Shorts saw some garbage time that allowed for a 93-yard performance. But in the end, his efficiency is so poor right now that he’s tough to start. The volume game matters a lot in fantasy football, but not when you play in Jacksonville. If you have decent options moving forward, start them over Shorts until the Jags can figure out their issues offensively.
On a per attempt basis, Russell Wilson ranks fifth in efficiency
Russell Wilson is the 24th-best fantasy quarterback after two weeks, but he’s ranked fifth in passing net expected points per attempt. Why? Quantity.
Wilson has dropped back to pass 58 times this season, throwing 52 passes, which ranks fourth-lowest among quarterbacks who have played both games for their teams. That’s going to be an issue with Wilson from a fantasy perspective moving forward, as his defense and running game are so sound that he won’t need to toss the ball around to win. So watch out: He plays Jacksonville this week, which looks like a great matchup on paper (and is), but the Hawks may got up big early and pound the rock with their talented running backs.
In fantasy football, efficiency doesn’t always mean fantasy success. If Wilson starts to see more pass attempts, which is possible against the Texans and Colts in Weeks 4 and 5, he’ll become more valuable. For now, his fantasy upside is handcuffed.
Terrelle Pryor ranks 12th in passing net expected points
Continuing this Jacksonville opposition theme, the Raiders jumped ahead early on them last week and never looked back. Terrelle Pryor was better from a real football standpoint than a fake one, but still mustered up over 10 fantasy points without even scoring.
Pryor’s passing NEP is listed at 9.54, better than Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck and Eli Manning. Like Wilson, Pryor won’t see the type of attempt numbers some of the other quarterbacks will, so this number means less in terms of fantasy football if compared to a higher-volume signal-caller.
Still, this is a telling sign that Pryor’s passing effectiveness hasn’t been nearly as poor as many predicted. He’s been fortunate to have seen two very soft matchups over the first couple of games this year, and will certainly be tested against Denver on Monday night. He’s not a great play this week in fantasy, but watch and see if he can keep up his competence throwing the ball.
Stevan Ridley has been the worst NFL running back so far this year
Ridley’s seen 25 attempts over the first two Patriot games, rushing for just 86 yards and zero touchdowns. He’s also yet to see a reception.
His rushing NEP totals in at -14.87, which is now officially worse than David Wilson and Montee Ball. Fumbling has been an issue for each of these runners, which is a key reason for their poor effectiveness.
Ridley will see a Tampa Bay defense this week that ranks 11th according to our metrics in terms of stopping the run this year. It could be a rough day, but fantasy owners should fully expect last year’s 12-touchdown back to see opportunity to improve his NEP value.