The 7 Most Effective Offensive Players From Week 11
With 11 weeks in the books, we continue to see some great performances around the league. Some were from unexpected players, while others were from elite talents. Let’s look into the players who earned their way onto Week 11’s All-Net Expected Points (NEP) team.
Andy Dalton, Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
After one of the worst performances we’ve seen all season, Andy Dalton bounced back in a big way. Dalton had a -21.31 Passing NEP in a Week 10 matchup against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. Well, he flipped the script, literally, in Week 11, as he posted a Total NEP of 23.21 during a visit to the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
Dalton finished 16 of 22 passing for 220 yards and three touchdowns. However, he did catch a little good fortune on his first touchdown pass. On 3rd-and-8 from the 12-yard line, Dalton found Jermaine Gresham, who proceeded to fumble the ball at the half-yard line. Gresham ended up recovering his own fumble in the end zone, but only after about three Saints defenders failed to recover it themselves.
We’ll just call Dalton’s past two weeks a wash, as he went from the least effective quarterback on the week to the most effective. This is, however, cause for concern as the Bengals fight for a playoff spot. Is Dalton going to play effective and consistent enough to carry the Bengals on a long run?
Jonas Gray, Running Back, New England Patriots
Jonas Gray finally had his breakout game, and unfortunately for most fantasy football owners, he was most likely benched or on waivers. That doesn’t mean his performance wasn't important. I mean, he did help his actual team win a big prime time game.
Gray ran 37 times for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns. His first touchdown was a very impressive display of power, as he plodded and fought his way into the end zone from four yards out. His third, again, showed his power, as he bulldozed his way in from the two-yard line to break a one score game. And finally, his last touchdown came midway through the fourth quarter with the Patriots again only up by one possession.
The Pats leaned on Gray a ton, and he ended up with more carries (37) than Tom Brady had pass attempts (30). He was also efficient with those carries, rarely rushing for fewer than five yards and adding four rushes of 10 yards or more. He earned an absurd Rushing NEP of 17.32 and will be a hot waiver add this week.
Le’Veon Bell, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’Veon Bell went off on Monday Night Football. It seemed like every time he touched the ball he was going for 10 yards and the first down. In fact, he had nine touches of 10 or more yards, and two for 15-plus.
Overall, Bell carried the ball 33 times for 204 yards and a touchdown. He also added 2 catches for 18 yards. Bell’s 204 rushing yards were the most ever by a Steeler on Monday Night Football (I know, that sounds like a Tim Kurkjian stat. I got nothing but love for you though, Tim. You signed my program at the 2004 Home Run Derby here in Houston.)
Bell finished with a Rushing NEP of 7.78 and a Total NEP of 9.52. He’s now only second to Matt Forte in Total NEP among all running backs. He’s been one of the best backs in the league this year after dropping weight, and his vision, patience and acceleration combination is unparalleled in the game today.
Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In a loaded rookie wide receiver class, Mike Evans is quickly proving why he was one of the top selected. In terms of Reception NEP, Evans is only behind Kelvin Benjamin, and ranks not only as the best rookie on a per play basis, but top three overall (among receivers with at least 45 targets).
On Sunday, Evans was our most effective receiver for the entire week. He finished with 7 catches, 206 yards and 2 scores – good enough for a Reception NEP of 19.46, which boosted him from 26th after Week 10, to 12th after Week 11.
His first touchdown came from 36 yards out with the Bucs only up by six nearing the end of the third quarter. He beat fellow rookie Bashaud Breeland on a streak, and Josh McCown found him in the end zone. On his second touchdown, McCown took advantage of a mismatch, as Evans burned Redskins linebacker, Perry Riley, for the 56-yard touchdown.
Evans’ future looks up, and is one of the lone bright spots for the Buccaneers this season.
A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green finally returned to form on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. After a toe injury complicated much of his 2014 campaign, Green looked like the player we’re all used to seeing. He caught 6 balls for 127 yards and a touchdown.
His touchdown was a great show of Green’s skills, and is still being reviewed by NFL officials. I mean, seriously, that was one most difficult calls I’ve seen in a while. In case you missed it, Green caught the 24-yard pass from Dalton along the sideline, and got two feet down. Or did he? (After watching the replay literally tens of times, I think he got both feet down, but I’m still not sure.) His first foot kind of drug simultaneously as he was securing the catch, but nonetheless, they called it a touchdown and it stood.
Green earned a Reception NEP of 13.01 on the day, and his fantasy owners and team are hoping he can keep going strong without any setbacks.
Coby Fleener, Tight End, Indianapolis Colts
He posted a Reception NEP of 11.01 on 7 catches and 144 yards. Five of those catches went for more than 20 yards – a big reason for his high NEP. It doesn’t hurt that Fleener and Luck have been able to build a rapport that’s longer than their professional careers.
Fleener looks to be a very hot waiver pick up this week in a diluted tight end pool, especially those facing uncertainty with Julius Thomas.
Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears
Alshon Jeffery has quietly been one of the best wide receivers this season after finishing with a stat line of 7 catches, 135 yards and a touchdown. He also earned himself a Reception NEP of 11.56, and is now 15th among all receivers in the category.
His touchdown came with Bears down 10 at the beginning of the second quarter. On 2nd-and-6, Jay Cutler escaped the pocket, pumped, rolled some more and fired a rocket to Jeffery, who made a great adjustment and catch falling down in the end zone.
Jeffery also added 6 catches of 10 or more yards, and converted on third down three times. He sits seven spots ahead of teammate Brandon Marshall in Reception NEP, as both provide elite targets for the Bears’ quarterback.