The 20 Best Offensive Players From Week 16
Week 16 games aren't over yet, so maybe the title of this article is a little misleading. It should read something like The 20 Best Offensive Players From the Thursday and Sunday Games in Week 16.
That just doesn't flow all that well.
As you know, we like math here at numberFire. Our algorithms help tell a better story about sports -- they're able to dig through the nonsense, helping us look at things that matter on the court, field or rink.
With football, we love our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which measures the number of points a player adds (or loses) to his team versus what he's expected to add. Rather than counting statistics like yards, touchdowns and receptions, NEP looks at down-and-distance situations and field position and relates these instances to history. When a player outperforms what's happened in the past, he sees a positive expected points value on the play. When he doesn't, his expected points gained on the play is negative. All of these little instances add up, then, to be a player's Net Expected Points total.
You can read more about NEP in our glossary.
Using a formula that compares individual single-game performance to history, the numberFire Live platform takes this Net Expected Points formula and assigns a rating to a player's performance. Each week, that's what we'll show here -- the 20 best ratings from the Thursday and Sunday games.
Here are Week 16's results:
- Drew Brees wasn't even a guarantee to play on Sunday, but he wound up as the best performer in Week 16. He was 25-of-36 for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brees wasn't the lone Saint in the top-20, though. Brandin Cooks (5 catches on 7 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown), Travaris Cadet (3 catches on 5 targets for 69 yards and a score -- plus 6 rushing yards), and Tim Hightower (27 carries, 122 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 catches, 3 targets, and 47 receiving yards) all made the cut.
- The Jags put up a good enough fight for Allen Robinson (6 catches on 9 targets for 151 yards and a touchdown) and Allen Hurns (8 grabs on 10 targets for 106 yards and 2 touchdown) each to make the top-20. Their quarterback, Blake Bortles (27-of-35 for 368 yards, 4 scores, and 2 picks) was the second-best quarterback of the Thursday and Sunday games, per NEP.
- In the second matchup in three weeks between Julio Jones and Josh Norman, Jones ended up as the second-best player in Week 16 before the Monday night contest, thanks to a 9-catch, 11-target, 178-yard, 1-touchdown game. His big play, a leaping touchdown grab, was made not on Norman but rather over Luke Kuechly. Still, Jones was integral in the Falcons' handing Carolina their first loss of the year.
- Charles Sims, David Johnson, and Mike Gillislee were the three best running backs of Week 16, and all did their damage on pretty limited touches. Sims had just 4 carries and 3 receptions but turned them into 117 total yards and a score. Johnson kept up his breakout campaign with 9 carries for 39 yards and a score as well as 3 catches on 6 targets for 88 yards. Gillislee took 9 totes for 93 yards and a trip to the end zone and chipped in 16 yards through the air on 2 catches.
- The Kirk Cousins-to-Jordan Reed connection proved lethal again in Week 16, helping Washington clinch a playoff berth. Reed (9 catches on 11 targets for 129 yards and 2 scores) again showed that he can be one of the league's game-breaking tight ends when it matters most, and Cousins (31-of-46 for 365 yards and 4 touchdowns) overcame a monstrous mental lapse to end the first half to get Washington in the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and the second time since 2007.