The 7 Most Effective Offensive Players From Week 1
Every week there are players who step up and go beyond their peers on the gridiron. Some of these players are regulars, who are expected to produce as such. Other times it’s the unknown guy, or the player with tons of doubt riding on his shoulders. Nonetheless, every week we are left amazed by performances accomplished by players, popular or not, and they need to be recognized.
This is why every week I will bring you an All-Net Expected Points (NEP) team. This team will consist of your standard fantasy lineup – a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end and a flex. We'll go over the best and most efficient performances of the week. So, without further ado, here's your Week 1 NFL All-NEP team.
Matthew Stafford, Quarterback, Detroit Lions
In Week 1 against the New York Giants, Matthew Stafford showed why he was the number-one overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He got things rolling early on Monday Night Football; on just the fifth play of the game, Stafford escaped a collapsing pocket, embarrassing a would-be-tackler, and threw a deep pass to a wide-open Calvin Johnson, who literally strutted his way into the end zone from 20 yards out.
This was assuredly a sign of things to come throughout the night. Stafford ended the day with a Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) of 24.16 and a Total NEP of 27.11, thanks to a third quarter rushing touchdown. To put this number in perspective, if he keeps this pace up (which obviously isn’t likely), it would give him a end-of-season Total NEP of 433.76, 170.88 points higher than Peyton Manning’s record-setting 2013 season.
But it was impressive, as Stafford had one of the best games of his career against last year’s sixth-ranked passing defense according to our metrics.
Le'Veon Bell, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
Admittedly, I’m a little giddier of this performance than most on the list, as I’m sure one-twelfth of the post-pot-arrest fantasy football drafters are, too. After his marijuana-related arrest with ironically-named teammate, LeGarrete Blount, Le'Veon Bell’s average draft position (ADP) dropped almost a full round, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
Bell immediately rewarded those who stood pat and took a “risk” on the second-year back. He rushed for 109 yards, adding six receptions for 88 yards. Bell also had an amazing 38-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, showing great vision and great elusiveness. Bell’s performance earned him the top running back spot in PPR formats, as well as a Total NEP of 8.69. The Pittsburgh Steelers gained a little over a touchdown just from Bell stepping onto the field Sunday afternoon, a number I’m sure they’re ecstatic with.
Knowshon Moreno, Running Back, Miami Dolphins
Amidst all the doubt and speculation, Knowshon Moreno picked up right where he left off. Fresh off a career year in 2013, gaining almost 1,700 total yards and 13 total touchdowns, Moreno didn’t disappoint in his Miami Dolphins debut.
Many believed it was Peyton Manning who was responsible for the bulk of Moreno’s 2013 success. Moreno did everything in his power to put a stop to that speculation, at least for one week, rushing 24 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. Is this an anomaly, though? It’s tough to tell right now, but Moreno looked just as effective in his Week 1 matchup against the division-favorite, New England Patriots, as he did last year. He earned a Rushing NEP of 7.37, by far the best number of any running back in Week 1. While Le’Veon Bell had the more effective all-around week, Moreno, by our metrics, was undoubtedly the more effective runner on the day.
WR: Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions
Monday night was just Calvin Johnson being Calvin Johnson. He put up an absurd 18.86 Reception NEP in a game that saw him catch two touchdowns, the second of which he dove in the back of the end zone on yet another Stafford scramble. There’s not much to say that everybody doesn’t already know about this generation’s greatest wide receiver. At this point it’s becoming unfair; he turned himself into a glorified cheat-code, if you will. Again, it’s only Week 1, but at this rate, he’s on pace to smash his own personal-best Reception NEP total, set in 2012.
A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
What kind of “all-anything” list would this be without two of most talented receivers in the NFL, right? Well, they both certainly earned their spots in this week’s installment of the NFL’s All-NEP team. A.J. Green finished Week 1 with a Reception NEP of 11.63. Green was held to just five receptions and 54 yards until a late fourth quarter touchdown, in which he made a juggling circus catch, making his defender look silly - Barry Sanders style - en route to the end zone. This touchdown gave the Bengals a late lead in a game that saw the Ravens roaring back in the second-half. Green is a safe bet to make this list more than once this year, as the Bengals receiver enters his fourth NFL season.
Julius Thomas, Tight End, Denver Broncos
Julius Thomas had one of the best performances of any player this week. In a Sunday Night showdown against the Indianapolis Colts, Thomas caught three touchdowns - netting him a Reception NEP of 15.21 - on just eight targets. More eye-popping was his 1.90 Reception NEP per target. Folks, that's nuts. Thomas basically added two points to the Broncos score every time Peyton Manning looked his way. He rewarded the people who took him at the beginning of the third round in a big way. He and Peyton look to be as in sync as ever and are already firing on all cylinders. Thomas is another player who looks to make this list numerous times this season.
Allen Hurns, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars
Allen Hurns broke out in a big way Sunday afternoon. The undrafted rookie receiver got the starting nod, thanks to an injury to starting wideout Cecil Shorts. Hurns certainly capitalized on his opportunity, racking up a Reception NEP of 11.12 on the day. Hurns, who is owned in less the one-fifth of ESPN leagues, came out on fire from the get-go, catching two passes for two touchdowns during the Jaguars second and third possessions of the game. Hurns’ NEP had to be astronomical at this point in the game, as the playmaking ability was catching the eyes of many.
Both of Hurns’ touchdown catches were extremely impressive. The first, adjusting and diving at the goal line to snag a 34-yard pass. The second, adjusting to catch a ball thrown behind him, then proceeding to break two tackles to get the ball into the endzone.
While Hurns started off strong, he cooled down after halftime. Hurns was only targeted three times in the second half, catching none of them. It remains to be seen what Hurns’ role will be once Shorts returns, and if he can keep this level of play up, if given the opportunity. One thing is certain though, Hurns balled out in week one and definitely earned his spot on this week’s NFL All-NEP team.