Just How Impressive Is Tyrod Taylor's Efficiency?
Before the year started, the Buffalo Bills had a terrible quarterback situation, as all their quarterbacks looked better suited as backups rather than starters.
Prior to Taylor solidifying his spot as the Bills starting quarterback, E.J. Manuel, Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, and Chris Simms all were given opportunities to start within the past year. If ever there was such an ugly quarterback situation, the Bills' one over the past year took the cake.
A Look Back
Last year according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics, the Bills finished the season with a 55.48 Adjusted Passing NEP score, which was good for 14th place. That means they added about 55 points above expectation-level with their passing plays.
Not a bad result for a team led by Manuel and Orton as the quarterbacks for a whole year.
In the 4 games he started, Manuel dropped back to pass 131 times and accounted for a -0.05 Passing NEP. Only nine quarterbacks to attempt as many pass plays as Manuel (42 of them in total) had a worse Passing NEP. While Orton represented an improvement for the team, he ended with a 19.65 Passing NEP that was 24th ranked.
Neither quarterback represented anything resembling efficiency, as Orton's 0.04 Passing NEP per play was tied for 24rd among 42 quarterbacks with at least 131 drop backs. Manuel (0.00) tied for 32nd. As a team, the passing game had moderate efficiency finishing with a 0.09 Adjusted Passing NEP per play that was tied for 12th with the Seahawks, Eagles, and Giants.
Neither of these quarterbacks represented a good dual threat option, and because of that and the middling efficiency through the air, the run game suffered. The team ended with a -32.08 Adjusted Rushing NEP that was fourth worst in the league.
Overall, the team finished with a -1.00 Adjusted NEP with a 0.00 Adjusted NEP per play that ranked 26th in the league.
Now this year, Taylor has become the leader of this offense, and it looks way different than last year. Right now the Bills have a 36.17 Adjusted Rushing NEP, leading the NFL, and a 20.32 Adjusted Passing NEP that is 20th.
While the Adjusted Passing NEP does not seem impressive, it dipped when Taylor was injured. In the two games that Manuel started this year, the Bills posted a -12.61 Adjusted Passing NEP.
With Taylor as the starter, the Bills have posted a 32.93 Adjusted Passing NEP, which would rank 14th right now. Had he stayed healthy, the eight-game pace from this would have ranked them 14th.
Even though Taylor only has 25 pass attempts per game, as the Bills have run 257 passing plays (second fewest in the NFL), he has a 31.34 Passing NEP that ranks 16th among all quarterbacks. His efficiency is even better, as he has a 0.19 Passing NEP per play that is 11th among 31 quarterbacks with at least 168 drop backs.
Taylor has done this with minimal help coming from his skill positions due to inefficiency and injury. Charles Clay leads the team with a 28.69 Reception NEP that ranks 13th among tight ends, and Sammy Watkins (24.47) is narrowly behind him and ranks 52nd among wide receivers. Clay's inefficiency is easily noticeable as he has a 0.55 Reception NEP per target that is 17th among tight ends with at least 25 targets.
While Clay represents inefficiency, Watkins, due to Taylor's play, represents efficiency with a 1.06 Reception NEP per target that ranks second among receivers with at least 20 targets, and digging deeper further illustrates this picture.
His 73.08% Catch Rate is the 8th highest among qualifying receivers, and his 94.74% Reception Success Rate -- the percentage of catches that actually result in NEP gains -- is 13th among the group.
While Watkins finished last year with an 89.99 Reception NEP that was good for 18th among wide receivers, he was nowhere near as efficient as he is now. He had a 0.70 Reception NEP per target on a 50.78% Catch Rate with a 92.31% Reception Success Rate.
Taylor is known more for his rushing than his passing. That much is certain. It's also deserved.
Taylor has a 18.48 Rushing NEP that is second among quarterbacks, and on a per-play basis (0.58), he ranks fourth among passers with at least 18 rushes.
He is ahead of Cam Newton (18.14, 0.28) in both categories.
Additionally, his presence has helped Karlos Williams produce the league leading 20.26 Rushing NEP, and LeSean McCoy produce a 1.04 Rushing NEP that is 19th best among backs with at least 40 carries. Both are efficient on a per-carry basis, too, as Williams (0.40) and McCoy (0.01) hold the same spot as their Rushing NEP rank.
The Bills face a stiff defense, according to our metrics, in Week 10, and going forward they face three other teams in the top 10 for Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP and only one other team in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP. While this can provide a challenge for Taylor, his running ability helps buoy his floor, and he should be able to exploit the softer passing defenses.
Going forward, our projections rank Taylor as the eighth best fantasy football quarterback. While it seems a bit unreal to see a Bills quarterback mentioned near the top of a quarterback list, Taylor has earned his spot due to his amazing efficiency.
Even if his efficiency drops some against some quality opponents the rest of the year, he remains a solid quarterback option who can guide your fantasy team -- and the Bills -- to success.