Six Facts to Know Through Week 12

There's no reason Joe Flacco should be making the money he's making.

I’m always overly excited – perhaps like a 12-year-old kid getting ready to eat pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving – to take a look at our updated data each week. I watch as much football as humanly possible on Sundays, but seeing how each player impacted their teams’ bottom line is always interesting to see – you think one thing at times, yet see another.

But quite honestly, things aren’t changing as dramatically as they did earlier in the season. It’s due to sample size – players have more games under their belt, so one bad performance isn’t going to radically alter their season-long advanced metrics.

Things are becoming more consistent. Geno Smith is always hanging out with Blaine Gabbert at the bottom of the Passing Net Expected Points list, while Peyton and Drew are high-fiving each other at the top.

You can always dig deeper though in an attempt to find things that will, in fact, raise some eyebrows. And that’s what I’ve tried to do again this week.

Anquan Boldin has the third-best Target Net Expected Points among wide receivers.

Boldin’s had a roller coaster season in terms of fantasy point scored, but he rewarded his patient owners again this week versus Washington with a five-reception, 94-yard, two-touchdown performance. That’s three scores on 11 catches for ‘Quan over the last two weeks.

If you’ve never watched him on the gridiron, you may be unaware that Boldin doesn’t need any separation from cornerbacks to make a play on the ball. He has fantastic body control, and hands that are always tops in the league.

That’s why his Target NEP is so high. This metric looks at how a receiver is contributing for his team on all targets, factoring in catch rate. Boldin’s only been worse than Antonio Brown and DeSean Jackson this season under the metric.

Peyton Manning’s Passing NEP has gone up just 8.3 points over the last two weeks.

I’ve mentioned Manning’s Passing NEP score plenty of times in this article in the past, but it’s always been on a positive note. This time, not so much.

Over the last two weeks, Manning’s pushed his Passing NEP up by only 8.3 points, an average of 4.15 points per game. While that’s still respectable, it’s not nearly as high of a rate as he had been producing at. Now, Manning’s been playing at Matt Ryan’s level.

This probably has a lot to do with his opponents (New England and Kansas City) as well as the weather conditions in New England on Monday night. He does, however, face Kansas City again this week, so there’s a chance that second-place Drew Brees can move in on him a bit under the metric. Brees is about 33 points behind Manning on the season.

Nick Foles has the best Passing NEP per Pass in the league.

Because of Manning’s struggles, Nick Foles has replaced Numer 18 as the best passer in the NFL on a per pass basis. Sure, the sample size is much smaller – Foles has dropped back to pass 175 times versus Manning’s 460 – so there’s certainly room for regression. But nonetheless, Foles is playing at a very high level, and is making his case to be the Eagles’ long-term option.

Just 40.91% of Joe Flacco’s passes have been successful.

A successful pass is one that positively impacts a player’s Passing NEP value. If, for instance, a quarterback throws a pick, an incomplete pass, or a three-yard completion on 3rd-and-5, then that pass won't be dubbed successful.

Joe Flacco has seen just 40.91% of his passes contribute positively towards his Passing NEP this year, which ranks ahead of only Geno Smith and Brandon Weeden among 200-plus attempt passers. While Flacco is complaining about Tyrod Taylor getting playing time, perhaps he should look at himself and start playing a little more effectively.

Andre Brown has the second-highest Success Rate among running backs.

Just like quarterbacks, running backs have a Success Rate as well. Because rushing is less effective than throwing the ball though, it’s more difficult for runners to have rates above the 50% mark.

But not for Andre Brown.

Brown has 69 rushes so far this year, and has been successful on 38 of them, giving him a 55.07% Success Rate. That’s better than everyone not named – wait for it – Donald Brown.

The Colts’ Brown has benefitted from not being a lead back though, making Andre’s rate a little more impressive. If the Giants’ Brown can keep this up, he’s going to be one of the fantasy football saviors of 2013.

Detroit has the third-best rush defense in the NFL.

Because Detroit Lions’ football is a staple of our Thanksgiving Thursdays, I figured it’d be worth pointing out one of the most underrated aspects of this team: their rush defense.

When adjusted for strength of schedule, the Lions rank only behind Denver and New York (Jets) against the run. Compared to a team in a similar situation, the Lions have prevented over 31 points from being scored on them this season via the ground.

That’s translated into fantasy football, too. Detroit ranks sixth in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, and haven’t allowed a single rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 4. And over their past three contests, the Lions have allowed a total of 107 rushing yards to backs. Eddie Lacy owners beware.