5 NFL Stats to Know Through Week 9

Here are some important -- and interesting -- takeaways from the ninth week of NFL action.

After nine weeks of NFL action, we have started to see each team’s true identity, and some of the same teams seem to be giving up the big stats each game.

We also saw how tough an NFL player can be, when Andrew Luck played through a lacerated kidney. Unfortunately, his name has now been added to the list of star players missing games due to injury, and we’ll have to see how Matt Hasselbeck can perform in his absence.

On the bright side, other players like Alshon Jeffery have rebounded from early season injuries, and DeAngelo Williams shined once again in Le’Veon Bell’s absence.

Here are five stats to know -- both traditional stats and Net Expected Points (NEP) marks, which compare a team's or player's performance relative to expectation-level -- through Week 9.

1. San Diego’s 2 rushing touchdowns rank 31st in the NFL

After finishing 2014 with only six rushing touchdowns, the Chargers drafted Melvin Gordon in the first round of the NFL Draft. Clearly that has not worked out as only Jacksonville (1) has fewer rushing touchdowns this season.

Gordon has not found the end zone all year, and none of San Diego’s running backs have scored on the ground since Danny Woodhead’s two rushing touchdowns in Week 1.

Of the 72 running backs with 20 or more carries this season, Gordon’s -0.16 Rushing NEP per play ranks 64th.

With Keenan Allen lost for the season and Malcom Floyd dealing with a torn labrum, the Chargers really need their running backs to step up and contribute more on offense. They have a bye this week to figure out how Gordon, Woodhead, or even Branden Oliver can do that.

2. The Saints’ 106.94 Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP is worst in the NFL

I’m sure most of you are well aware of the Saints' recent defensive struggles after they allowed a combined 10 passing touchdowns and no interceptions to Eli Manning and Marcus Mariota over the past two weeks.

They have given up 300 yards passing in six of their nine games, including at least 330 yards in each of the past three. Matt Ryan threw for 295 yards in one of those sub-300-yard games.

They have also allowed three or more passing touchdowns in three straight games, and Brandon Weeden is the only quarterback this year to score only one touchdown against the Saints.

The success of opposing quarterbacks certainly correlates with the Saints' inability to force interceptions. They have two games this season with two interceptions apiece, but zero interceptions across the other seven games.

In Week 10, they will take on Kirk Cousins, who has thrown nine interceptions this season but only one across his past two games. His 0.11 Passing NEP per play currently ranks 17th among quarterbacks with 50 or more drop backs, and he threw for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns in his last home game.

Don’t expect the Saints' passing defense to rebound this week, as Cousins makes for a solid streaming option.

3. DeAngelo Williams’ 36.50 standard fantasy points led the NFL in Week 9

In his first week back in the starting role since Week 2, Williams rushed for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns, while adding 55 receiving yards to lead the league in standard fantasy points for the second week this season. Devonta Freeman is the only other running back to lead the league in fantasy points in multiple weeks this year.

Williams had 38.50 fantasy points in a PPR format, while his teammate Antonio Brown led the league with 45.60 PPR fantasy points.

Among running backs with 20 or more carries this season, Williams ranks third in the league with 15.42 Rushing NEP,and will take on the Browns this week, who rank last in the NFL with 28.02 Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP.

4. Matt Hasselbeck’s 0.25 Passing NEP per play ranks fourth in the NFL

Hasselbeck has two wins in two games while filling in for the injured Luck this year and actually ranks 18 spots ahead of him in terms of Passing NEP per play among quarterbacks with 50 or more drop backs.

Player Passing NEP/P Rank Success Rate Rank
Matt Hasselbeck 0.25 4th 48.10% 17th
Andrew Luck 0.08 22nd 44.48% 32nd

Compared to Hasselbeck’s eight other seasons with at least 50 drop backs, this season is his best in terms of Passing NEP per play and fourth best according to Success Rate.

He has benefited from an easy schedule, with one of his wins coming against the Jaguars, who are the 29th best passing defense according to our power rankings, and moving forward, the schedule doesn’t get much harder. Three out of the Colts’ next four opponents are among the 11 worst teams in the NFL in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP.

5. Alshon Jeffery’s 0.89 Reception NEP per target ranks fourth in the NFL

Among all receivers with 50 or more targets this season, only three have a better Reception NEP per target than Jeffery.

After missing four games due to injury, he has rebounded with three straight games over 100 receiving yards. He has averaged 27.13 PPR fantasy points per game over that stretch and has been a top-six PPR fantasy wide receiver in each of those three weeks.

Including Week 1, Jeffery has seen 11 or more targets in every game he’s played in this season and has seen 31 targets over the last two games.

His 33 receptions through four weeks translates to 132 over a full 16-game season, which would shatter his previous career high of 89 in 2013.

In his first year as a number-one receiver, Jeffery has proven he has the talent but needs to prove he can stay healthy. He will be up against the top two passing defenses in the NFL over the next two games.