The 10 Best Offensive Players From the NFL's Divisional Round
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. Here's a look at the top 10 guys from this past weekend:
- This week was Jeff Janis week, at least to fantasy football fans who've been touting the athletic wide receiver since he entered the league. Janis posted a perfect rating according to our analytics, thanks in large part to two big plays. One was a 4th-and-20 conversion that lifted the Packers' win probability from 2.13% to 11.45%, and the other was the now-famous Hail Mary catch, which took the Packers from 4.34% win odds to 43.89% odds. Janis, in the end, finished with 18.21 Reception Net Expected Points, which was over 4.5 expected points more than Larry Fitzgerald, the second-best wideout of the week.
- Without Antonio Brown, someone on the Steelers had to step up. That was undoubtedly Martavis Bryant, who not only hauled in 9 catches for 154 yards, but he rushed for another 40 more. His Total NEP ended up being 11.31 points which, as you can see above, was the third best score among wide receivers this weekend. The difference is that the two wideouts ahead of him weren't facing the toughest pass defense -- and overall defense -- in football. Though Pittsburgh lost, it was a big win for Martavis.
- It was a little surprising to see Carson Palmer's name on this list, simply because it felt like he didn't have the most effective game in the world. And some of the plays he made really impacted his NEP total. Remember that interception in the end zone? He lost 5.14 expected points for his team with that pass. But Palmer also benefited from Fitzgerald's big contest, and is credited, too, for the big overtime play. It all combined for 10.25 Net Expected Points, which was a little below his 11.65 per game average in 2015.