NFL MVP Watch: Antonio Brown Is Adding to His Legend

Antonio Brown has been great the last two seasons - and he's just 26.

While other sites and analyses may look at standard statistics like yards per carry and completion percentages to determine the best player in the league - the MVP - we like to dig a little deeper here at numberFire. We like to use our favorite metric, Net Expected Points (NEP), and its position-specific variations.

Since common numbers such as yards, completions, and touchdowns don't tell the whole story about a player, we can use NEP to see who is truly separating himself from the pack and adding value to his team.

Because this advanced metric alters depending on the position being analyzed, we'll look at each of the skill positions individually through the first 13 weeks of the season to determine the most valuable player at each position. You will see higher NEP values for quarterbacks and receivers than for running backs due to the nature of their production.

Take a look below.

Top-5 NEP Performers by Position Through Week 13

Quarterbacks: 1. Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos
Season Passing NEP: 152.18
Passing NEP per drop back: 0.31
Last week: #1

Well, this is a first - the top five quarterbacks remain the same from one week to the next. However, it was close as Peyton Manning struggled. The narrative will give Manning a pass since the game was on the road and it was windy. The numbers, however, won't. Manning only contributed 2.05 Passing NEP despite tossing two touchdowns. Manning just wasn't that great in Week 13 - again.

Aaron Rodgers managed to stay ahead of Andrew Luck as they performed nearly the same in our Passing NEP despite the touchdown difference. Luck contributed 16.63 points against the Redskins while Rodgers contributed 17 points against the Patriots.

If Manning falters against the Bills, Luck and Rodgers should be ready to pounce as they match up against the Browns and Falcons, respectively.

Playing Catch Up
2. Aaron Rodgers: 147.88 Passing NEP, 0.37 per drop back (last week: #2)
3. Andrew Luck: 140.90 Passing NEP, 0.28 per drop back (last week: #3)
4. Tom Brady: 122.48 Passing NEP, 0.26 per drop back (last week: #4)
5. Drew Brees: 112.92 Passing NEP, 0.22 per drop back (last week: #5)

Running Backs: 1. Justin Forsett – Baltimore Ravens
Season Rushing NEP: 27.45
Rushing NEP per carry: 0.15
Last week: #1

Note: Running backs have been evaluated solely on their performance running the ball, not catching the ball.

Justin Forsett remains at the top of our ranks as the best runner in football right now after a week in which few of the top running backs contributed positively to their team's efforts on the ground. Forsett lost 0.55 Rushing NEP for the Ravens as they had to sling the ball around to have a chance against the Chargers. It worked out well enough for Forsett, as Jamaal Charles struggled himself against the Broncos.

Charles never really got going for the Chiefs in the running game and contributed just 0.15 points on the ground. Charles did only tote the rock 10 times though; Matt Forte saw a similar fate as he only saw five carries against the best run defense according to our power rankings, losing 2.62 points on the ground.

Le’Veon Bell was the only back in the top five to have a decent impact on his team's success, notching a rushing touchdown on his way to contributing 2.52 Rushing NEP to the Steelers. While his Rushing NEP wasn't great, it wasn't horrible compared to everyone else in Week 13.

Playing Catch Up
2. Jamaal Charles: 18.96 Rushing NEP, 0.12 per rush (last week: #2)
3. Marshawn Lynch: 13.92 Rushing NEP, 0.07 per rush (last week: #3)
4. Le'Veon Bell: 13.57 Rushing NEP, 0.06 per rush (last week: #5)
5. Matt Forte: 9.60 Rushing NEP, 0.05 per rush (last week: #4)

Receivers: 1. Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers
Season Target NEP: 78.19
Reception NEP per target: 0.87
Last week: #2

Note: Receivers and tight ends are evaluated on Target NEP rather than Reception NEP. Target NEP will look at how a player is doing on all targets received, not just on the passes he catches.

As Manning goes so do Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. As a result of Manning's rough week, both Sanders and Thomas opened the door for others to move up again in the receiver race. Sanders was the first to cross the 70 point threshold in Target NEP last week and had a solid lead over Brown by 6.63 points. But things change quickly for the elite receivers.

In adding 13.24 Target NEP against the Saints, Brown had his best performance of the year and finished behind only Kenny Stills' and DeAndre Hopkins' career days in Week 13. Brown is more reliable than UPS, but should he be considered among the elite?

Let's take Calvin Johnson, long considered the best receiver in the NFL. While he has missed some games and thus has a lower Target NEP, which is cumulative, we can compare their efficiency. Through Week 13, Johnson is adding 0.09 Reception NEP per target less than Brown. That's a good sign for Brown. Dez Bryant, pegged by myself and others to have his best year yet, has contributed 0.07 points per target less than Brown.

With the numbers showing Brown is ahead of these guys - among others - long considered elite, it's time to place him in that category as well.

Playing Catch Up
2. Emmanuel Sanders: 74.00 Target NEP, 0.89 Reception NEP per target (last week: #1)
3. T.Y. Hilton: 67.93 Target NEP, 0.97 Reception NEP per target (last week: #5)
4. Randall Cobb : 66.89 Target NEP, 0.97 Reception NEP per target (last week: #4)
5. Demaryius Thomas: 66.07 Target NEP, 0.81 Reception NEP per target (last week: #3)

Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
Season Target NEP: 61.75
Reception NEP per target: 0.93
Last week: #1

Gronkowski had a decent game against the Packers but still only converted half of his targets. He could have racked up more if it weren't for Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix knocking the ball away on possible touchdown play. But to keep a good distance between him and the rest of the field at tight end, Gronk's 4.75 Target NEP was good enough.

Two changes to note in the standings. Antonio Gates accumulated 8.05 Target NEP on just eight targets to jump into second place. Travis Kelce and Gronk combined for almost as many points as Gates himself but it took nearly 15 targets combined to get there. Thanks to a higher efficiency mark (Reception NEP per target), Gates just needs a couple huge games to jump to the top.

The other change happens to be Dwayne Allen dropping out of the standings due to a prolonged injury. Greg Olsen is happy to take his place, but we see a huge drop in effectiveness from Olsen. Because of the difference in effectiveness, Olsen has nearly an identical Target NEP as Allen's despite playing three more games than Allen has. With the threat of Julius Thomas dropping out as well, we can officially call this a three-person race.

Playing Catch Up
2. Antonio Gates: 50.77 Target NEP, 1.03 Reception NEP per target (last week: #4)
3. Travis Kelce: 46.59 Target NEP, 0.96 Reception NEP per target (last week: #2)
4. Julius Thomas: 40.20 Target NEP, 1.03 Reception NEP per target (last week: #3)
5. Greg Olsen: 32.08 Target NEP, 0.71 Reception NEP per target (last week: #5)