The 7 Most Effective Offensive Players From Week 5
A lot of big names made this week’s All-Net Expected Points (NEP) team, including two huge bounceback games from a pair of slumping stars. Introducing your Week 5 All-NEP team:
Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos
Arguably one of the best quarterbacks ever, Peyton Manning makes this most-coveted list for the first time in 2014 season. It also just so happens to be the same week that saw Peyton throw his 500th career touchdown pass, joining Brett Favre as the only two players in NFL history to accomplish the feat.
Peyton not only had an historic day, but an efficient one to boot. He finished with 479 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 picks. His first touchdown of the day, his 500th of his career, was a seven-yard score to Julius Thomas. Peyton proceeded to throw three more, and all four of his touchdown passes were to a “Thomas” – two to Julius Thomas and two to Demaryius Thomas.
Another impressive stat from Manning’s day was that he had 10 completions of 15 or more yards. Nearly one-third of his completed passes on the day went for more than a first down, which was a big reason for his high NEP mark, as well as the Broncos’ 21-point victory.
Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Green Bay Packers
Whew! After a not-so-stellar Week 4 performance, I was starting to get worried after I vehemently campaigned for numberFire readers to buy-low on the Alabama product. Is Eddie Lacy back for good? That's yet to be determined. What I can say, however, is that he looked the best he has all season against the Minnesota Vikings – a team who, entering Week 5, was in the top half of the league in terms of Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play.
He started going on Thursday early; on the Packers’ second drive of the game, Lacy broke off back-to-back runs of 18 yards and 29 yards. Lacy finished Thursday night rushing the ball only 13 times, but he gained 105 yards and scored twice. Admittedly, both of his touchdowns came in the third quarter, with the game well in hand, but we’ve seen the Packers pass the ball in the red zone in these same situations this season.
Nonetheless, both of Lacy’s touchdown runs were very impressive and helped towards his 7.86 Rushing NEP. Lacy was literally the least efficient rusher before Week 4. However, thanks to his big Week 5, he's now moved up, giving that honor to LeSean McCoy
Arian Foster, Running Back, Houston Texans
With all the hamstring concerns coming into Week 5’s Texas showdown, Arian Foster exceeded expectations. In a losing effort against the Dallas Cowboys, Foster rushed for 157 yards and a pair of scores on 23 carries. Foster’s first touchdown came midway through the third quarter. This touchdown was the first scored by either team, and gave the Texans a temporary 7-3 lead. I should add that the cut Foster made on this play was a thing of beauty, and showed why, when healthy, he’s one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL.
Foster did everything he could to keep the Texans in this game, totaling seven touches that went for 10 or more yards. He finished Sunday with a Rushing NEP of 6.72 and a Total NEP of 8.93 after adding 2 catches for 15 yards to his rushing totals. More importantly, one of his two catches was a fourth-down conversion, leading to a Texans field goal towards the end of the game.
Demaryius Thomas, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos
Welcome to the 2014 season, Demaryius Thomas. Better late than never, huh? Thomas had been fairly quiet through the first three weeks of the season, but boy did he make his Week 5 entrance grand. He had 8 catches, 226 yards and 2 touchdowns Sunday, and could have had another 77-yard touchdown added to that total had it not been nullified by an offensive penalty.
His first touchdown was on a simple slant route, in which he turned up field and beat half the defense in a foot race to the end zone. He again beat Antonio Cromartie on his second touchdown, only this time streaking up field, catching Manning’s pass in stride and out-running the final defender for an 86-yard touchdown.
Thomas, as did his quarterback, had an historic day. He is now the record-holder for most receiving yards by a Denver Bronco in a single game – a record previously held by Hall-of-Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe.
He ended Sunday with an absurd Reception NEP of 19.19, edging himself closer and closer to familiar territory on that list.
DeSean Jackson, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins
We all know DeSean Jackson is one of the finest big-play threats in the NFL, and he certainly held true to that on Monday night. Of his five catches, three of them went for 20 or more yards, and two went for over 55 yards. His biggest play came towards the end of the second quarter when he beat Kam Chancellor deep for a 60-yard touchdown. His second big play of the night came on the opening play of the second half. It was a pass that could not have been more perfectly placed by Kirk Cousins, and led to a 57-yard gain.
The Redskins ended up falling short to the Seahawks, but Jackson’s night was huge. His big-play ability lent to his solid Reception NEP of 11.72 on 5 catches, 157 yards and a touchdown. After five weeks in the books, he now ranks 16th among wide receivers.
Greg Olsen, Tight End, Carolina Panthers
This is probably the happiest I’ve ever been, through these short five weeks, that a certain player has made this list. As we all know, Greg Olsen’s son, Tate, underwent his fourth open heart surgery earlier in the month of September – a hard enough time for any parent. Yet, Olsen isn’t a normal parent. He’s a parent whose job requires 90 percent of his attention and time. But somehow, Olsen continues to be there for his son and family in what is truly a remarkable story.
What makes it even more remarkable is the fact that Olsen does come to work – a job that requires its employees to be at the top of their game, 100 percent of the time, against the toughest competition in the world – and he produces as normal. Olsen caught 6 passes for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns on Sunday afternoon. His second touchdown gave the Panthers the lead with a little over two minutes remaining in the game, and was eventually the game-winner. He ended his day with a Reception NEP of 9.59, and now has a season total of 32.54, which ranks third among tight ends.
With all the negativity and undesirable attention that has fallen upon the NFL this season, it's stories such as Olsen’s that we, as fans, (and human beings) need. Add in the fact that Olsen is performing at the top of his class, and it makes it all the better.
Branden Oliver, Running Back, San Diego Chargers
Branden Oliver is one of this week’s biggest waiver-wire commodities, and for good reason. Oliver had a great day against one of the toughest rushing defenses in the NFL - one that was ranked in the top 10 according to our Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. He ran the ball 19 times for 114 yards and a touchdown, and added 4 catches for 68 yards and a score. No catch was bigger than the one he had at the end of the first half though, converting a 3rd-and-17 from the Chargers’ own 27-yard line. Oliver ended up scoring his first touchdown of the game later in that drive.
That third-down conversion was one of his three on the day, and helped tremendously on his big NEP day. He ended up with a Rushing NEP of only 3.76, but a Total NEP (receiving included) of 11.40.