5 NFL Facts to Know for Week 2

Calvin Johnson was masterful in Week 1, but exactly how great was he analytically?

Wasn't that a wild Week 1 in the NFL? Strap in for 16 more exciting weeks of football! And before this football weekend get started, check out these five facts you should take note of.

Calvin Johnson Doesn’t Need Scott Linehan

Check out this play before you read the rest of this article.

With all the talk about Demaryius Thomas set to have another huge year and Dez Bryant expected to see an increase in numbers, Calvin Johnson was business as usual, passing the “eye test” in Week 1 to prove he’s still the best receiver in the league. And our Net Expected Points (NEP) data backs up that statement analytically.

If you’re still new to the site and getting used to our NEP data, we have two big metrics when it comes to receivers: Target NEP and Reception NEP. When looking at Target NEP, this indicates how a receiver performed above expectation on all targets he received in the game. Reception NEP looks at how a player exceeded expectations on receptions only.

With Johnson, his Target NEP and Reception NEP were nearly identical. That doesn’t happen often with receivers (because it would mean a receiver is catching almost every pass thrown his way), and shows that Johnson preformed very well in all aspects of his game against the Giants. And his Target and Reception NEP weren't just the highest totals among receivers for Week 1; they were head and shoulders above everyone else.

Johnson was targeted 11 times against the Giants (tied for seventh most targets for Week 1). Of the 14 receivers who received 10 or more targets, only 8 of them had a positive Target NEP. AJ Green had only nine targets but his Target NEP (9.18) was second best for Week 1. Yet Johnson’s Target NEP (16.90) nearly doubled Green's.

But that’s not all Johnson did. Turning our attention to his Reception NEP shows a lot of the same story. Of Johnson’s 11 targets, he caught seven of them (tied for eighth most for Week 1) and turned that into 18.86 points above expectation. Only four other receivers had a double-digit Reception NEP, and AJ Green again finished second to Johnson. But Green's 11.63 Reception NEP wasn’t even close to Johnson's. If Calvin Johnson can consistently put up these numbers on a weekly basis, the battle will be for the second-best receiver the rest of the season.

Oh and to top it off, Calvin Johnson had the third-highest overall NEP of all positions in Week 1. What an amazing work of art.

Two Week 1 Comebacks That Fell Short

Two games that you would have expected to be a blowout came down to the last minutes of the game. The losing team in the matchups below put up a valiant fight, but didn't have enough in the end.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers had a 24-point lead at halftime and saw that evaporate thanks to 100 rushing yards from Terrance West and two touchdown runs from Isaiah Crowell. But Shaun Suisham hit the game-winning field goal as time expired to give the Steelers a 30-27 victory. The Steelers visit the Ravens (20th in our Adjusted Defensive NEP) in a short week while the Browns host the high-powered Saints (5th in our Adjusted Offensive NEP).

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
When Peyton Manning opened up the game with three touchdown passes to Julius Thomas, many penciled in a win for the Broncos before halftime even arrived. However, Andrew Luck righted the Colts’ ship and led a furious fourth quarter comeback with a touchdown to Dwayne Allen and another one just a few minutes later to Hakeem Nicks. If it wasn’t for rookie Bradley Roby breaking up a fourth down pass on the Colts’ last drive, the Broncos may have been facing an overtime game.

The Broncos (barely) defended their home field and will be facing division foe Kansas City in Week 2, while the Colts road doesn’t get any easier as they play host to the Eagles.

Two Quarterbacks Who Finished as Top-12 Fantasy Options Went Undrafted

Of the top-12 Week 1 quarterbacks in fantasy (standard scoring), only half were drafted as a QB1 leading up to the beginning of the NFL season (ADP thanks to

QuarterbackWeek 1 FinishAvg Draft Pos
Matt RyanQB1QB7
Matthew StaffordQB2QB4
Andrew LuckQB3QB5
Peyton ManningQB4QB5
Carson PalmerQB5QB18
Jake LockerQB6Undrafted
Derek AndersonQB7Undrafted
Andy DaltonQB8QB16
Jay CutlerQB9QB9
Colin KaepernickQB10QB12
Russell WilsonQB11QB14
Ben RoethlisbergerQB12QB17

Two quarterbacks, Jake Locker and Derek Anderson, went undrafted in many fantasy football leagues. Granted, Cam Newton was a late scratch, but even his draft position was starting to slip. But I find it odd that Jake Locker wasn’t even drafted as a backup quarterback in standard leagues while Johnny Manziel was being selected as the 19th quarterback over the last month of fantasy drafting season.

Lesson learned, fantasy footballers: the elite quarterbacks aren't doomed this season already, but as I alluded to last week, quarterbacks are very replaceable on a weekly basis.

Three Teams Proved No Lead is Safe

We went over two games that saw big comebacks, but the respective team still ending up on the losing side. Below are three comebacks that netted a win for each team that fought back furiously.

San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals
As the Cardinals faced a 17-6 deficit going into the fourth quarter, they still weren’t fazed. Thanks to two long drives, Carson Palmer completed a touchdown pass to Stepfan Taylor on one drive and then another to rookie John Brown to give the Cardinals a one-point lead.

The Chargers became the first team in the Super Bowl era to blow double-digit leads in the fourth quarter and go on to lose the game. They face an even tougher NFC West foe as Seattle comes to town in Week 2, while the Cardinals head to the East Coast to face the Giants in what could be a big defensive struggle as both teams' run defense ranks in the top-10 according to our numbers.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles
Talk about a tale of two halves between these two opponents. The Jaguars looked to have the game under control after going up 17 points thanks to Nick Foles three first half turnovers. But after halftime, the Eagles straightened their wings and flew by with 34 unanswered points. Jeremy Maclin, Darren Sproles and Zach Ertz all scored a touchdown in the second half as the Jaguars couldn’t muster much of anything. The Jaguars get an injury-riddled team as they travel up the coast to Washington while the Eagles hope to put on another clinic against the Colts.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
For the first time since 2003, the Patriots lost a season opener. Also for the first time since Week 3 of 2012, the Patriots don't have at least a share of the AFC East division lead. Oh, and Tom Brady had the worst Passing NEP of Week 1, at -10.71 points below expectation. Add in 23 unanswered points for the Dolphins, and you have a recipe for beating the Patriots. The Dolphins travel to Buffalo for Week 2, while the Patriots travel to the Midwest and take on the Vikings and their top-rated Week 1 defense.

Passing Volume Isn't Everything

Five quarterbacks dropped back to toss the pigskin at least 50 times in Week 1: Joe Flacco, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Jay Cutler and Nick Foles. That’s reasonable considering the offenses each player captains.

However, only one quarterback played above expectation and accumulated a positive Passing NEP: Andrew Luck. Volume doesn’t always equal success. Plus, while Luck had a positive Passing NEP, he still only contributed 6.43 points to the Colts thanks in part to two late touchdown passes against the Broncos. The three most efficient quarterbacks of Week 1 (Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick and Matt Ryan) had 33, 24, and 44 drop backs, respectively. When it comes to great quarterback play, it's not always about having the most opportunities - its about making the most of your opportunities.