The 7 Most Effective Offensive Players From Week 4
Week 4 gave us some great performances, as well as some efficient days from some familiar faces. This is finally the week we see repeat offenders make the All-Net Expected Points team, headlined by a quarterback making his case for the league MVP.
Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
For the second consecutive week, Andrew Luck has graced us with an All-NEP worthy performance. This time, however, he did even better. Luck finished with a Passing NEP of 28.32, the highest single-week Passing NEP of any quarterback in 2014, topping his own Week 3 mark of 25.43. Luck again finished with a completion percentage above 70 percent, over 350 yards and four touchdowns. He has been playing great this season, and is comfortably at the top of the Passing NEP list, leading the next best passer, Philip Rivers, by 10.36.
Luck has been spreading the wealth this season as eight different players caught at least two balls in Week 4. To add to that, each of his four touchdowns was caught by a different pass-catcher this past week. Ahmad Bradshaw and Luck’s tight end duo of Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, each caught a touchdown for the second week in a row.
Matt Asiata, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
Amidst all the haters and doubt, Matt Asiata just keeps chugging along. When I say chugging, I do mean that in the literal sense - Asiata is a plodder with little speed, but somehow, someway continues to get the job done.
He came up big for the Vikings multiple times Sunday, but none was more important than his last rush of the day. With about 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, down by one, with 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line, Asiata was able to punch it in for the go-ahead score. This was Asiata’s third touchdown of the day, and would turn out to be the difference in the game.
Asaita’s stat line wasn’t eye-popping - as it most likely never will be – but it was effective. He finished with 23 total touches, 100 total yards and 3 touchdowns. He averaged less than four yards per carry, but his ability to find the end zone helped him rack up a Rushing NEP of 8.53 and a Total NEP of 10.00 – both the highest of any running back in Week 4. His day propelled him to number-three overall in terms of Rushing NEP among running back with at least 40 carries.
DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys
How ‘bout them Cowboys? Eek, as a Saints fan, that gives me the heebie-jeebies to say, but I have to give credit where credit is due. The Cowboys absolutely shut down the Saints on both sides of the ball on Sunday, and it started with DeMarco Murray and their offensive line.
Murray gashed the Saints defense early and often. On four different plays, he rushed for 15 or more yards, including both touchdowns which went for 15 and 28 yards, respectively. On the first touchdown, Murray took the delayed hand-off outside, beating several Saints defenders to the end zone. However, his second touchdown was more impressive all around. On 1st-and-10 from 28 yards out, Murray found a hole, exploded through it and shook the last man, Jairus Bryd, on his way to the score.
He finished his night with 24 carries, 149 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also added a catch for six yards. All in all he completed Sunday night with a Rushing NEP of 7.58 and a total NEP of 8.03. Murray leads the league with five rushing touchdowns through his first four games, and is undoubtedly the fantasy football MVP thus far.
Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
With how well Antonio Brown has been playing all season, it’s actually surprising that this is the first time he’s been honored on the weekly All-NEP team. But, nonetheless, he’s finally made it, and deservedly so. He ended his day with 7 receptions, 131 yards and 2 touchdowns. He even added a pass to Le’Veon Bell for 17 yards in the third quarter. This is the second week in a row Brown has caught two touchdowns, even if one of them was a slight push-off.
Brown ended up with a Reception NEP of 15.45, which was the highest of any receiver in Week 4. He converted two third downs which led to scores, one of which was an 11-yard touchdown when Ben Roethlisberger found him over the middle in the first quarter. Brown has been one of the best receivers in the NFL through four weeks. He has been extremely consistent and shows up to play every day, being one of the few bright spot of the Steelers' season to this point.
Steve Smith Sr., Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens
Steve Smith Sr. is one of those players that you love if he’s on your favorite team, and you loathe if he’s not. Well, as a fan of an NFC South team, I’ve come to competitively dislike on-field Smith, yet I still respect him and he showed why on Sunday. Smith talked the talk, yet walked the walk against his former team, the Carolina Panthers. Smith has been on fire since joining forces with Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens, and it continued Sunday afternoon.
Early in the second quarter Smith was in the right place at the right time as he caught a tipped pass for a 61-yard touchdown. His second touchdown came right after the first half’s two-minute warning – on a fumbled snap, Flacco lofted a “Hail Mary” to Smith, who dove and caught it in the back of the end zone.
Smith earned a 13.73 Reception NEP on 7 catches, 139 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also added four receptions of 15 yards or more. He now sits second, only to Antonio Brown, in Net Expected Points among wideouts. He’s been having a resurrection season, and he is a big reason the Ravens are having the success they’re having.
Martellus Bennett, Tight End, Chicago Bears
Martellus Bennett joins Andrew Luck as the first two players to make the All-NEP list more than once. Also, as with Luck, he did it in consecutive weeks. Bennett has been the beneficiary of nagging injuries to Brandon Marshall, and is taking full advantage of it. He caught 9 passes for 134 yards and was held without a touchdown, but this doesn’t mean he wasn’t effective. In fact, for him to have such a high NEP score without scoring a touchdown means he was even more effective than last week – a week when he caught two touchdowns.
Bennett was a big-play machine Sunday afternoon against the Green Bay Packers, catching four passes of 15 yards or more. He also converted two third downs, one of which kept a drive alive in which the Bears scored a touchdown. Bennett earned a Reception NEP of 11.89 on the week, and now sits alone at the top of the list after four weeks.
Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers
Jordy Nelson gets all of the pub, yet Randall Cobb, by our metrics, was the more efficient player on Sunday. Cobb had 7 catches, 113 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Packers’ 38-17 win over the Chicago Bears. Cobb’s first touchdown came on 3rd-and-7 from the Chicago 22-yard line, and gave the Packers a 21-17 lead. His touchdown would prove to be the game winner, as Chicago would fail to score again the remainder of the day.
Cobb finished with a Reception NEP of 12.42, the third highest of any wide receiver in Week 4. Cobb is now ranked eighth among wide receivers after four weeks, and five spots behind teammate Jordy Nelson.