Week 15 Offensive Players of the Week

Just as everyone would have predicted, Drew Stanton tops all QBs in week 15. His 23-for-37, 252-yard performance was good for +0.80 WPA/+11.8 EPA and enough to lead the Lions from behind to beat Tampa Bay in overtime for their first road win in three years.

Ray Rice is the RB of the week. In the Ravens victory over the Saints, Rice logged 153 yards rushing on 37 attempts (4.9 YPC), plus 80 yards receiving on 5 catches. That's worth +0.50 WPA/+7.4 EPA.

Jamaal Charles gets the honourable mention (I'm in London today) as he continues his great season. Sunday he gained 126 yards on 11 carries. Let me repeat that...on 11 carries, good for 11.5 yards a pop and +10.0 EPA. I know to a lot of people EPA and WPA are just numbers, but they have practical significance. Yards and catches and completions are all good things, and we know more is almost always better. But what exactly do they mean in terms of winning? For example, how do we compare a RB with 100 yards of rushing and a fumble with a RB with 70 yards of rushing but no fumbles? Charles' +10.0 EPA means that his 11 carries generated 10 net points of the 14-point net differential in the Chiefs' 27-13 win over the Rams.

Calvin Johnson leads the WRs with his 10-catch, 152-yard performance on 12 targets. Johnson was instrumental in the Lions' critical final two possessions. Johnson's plays were worth +0.59 WPA/+13.0 EPA.

I guess if a team comes from behind twice and makes two crucial drives to tie and then win in overtime, you'll see a lot of its players top the WPA numbers. The Lions' Tony Scheffler leads the TEs with +0.23 WPA/+1.2 EPA. Scheffler did not have a big day in conventional statistical terms, but he made the most out of his 4 targets for 3 catches and 18 yards. His 12-yard catch on 3rd and 10 on the final drive in regulation accounts for nearly all of his WPA.

Jason Whitten's 140-yard day against the Redskins didn't have the leverage of Scheffler's single play, but it was good for +12.3 EPA, twice as much as any other TE.

'Where's DeSean Jackson?' you ask. Without his miraculous game-winning punt return, he didn't have a very good game. He had 53 yards on 3 catches, had two fumbles and lost one, worth -0.10 WPA/-6.2 EPA. But the punt return was worth +0.50 WPA, netting him +0.40 WPA.

We'll see if anyone tops these numbers in tonight's game.

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11 Responses to “Week 15 Offensive Players of the Week”

  1. Chris says:

    Firstly woo London! Glad to hear someone else is going to have the same trouble as me watching the game tonight :o)

    Second I had been thinking about muffs on returns - it seems a couple of games lately there have been big plays after a muffed catch. It's pretty clear you'd expect more big negative plays (turnovers) and small/negative returns (where the returner recovers) - but I'd be interested to see the overall analysis if there are enough data points.

    Not that I'd expect muffed punts to have an average net +EPA overall, but I've been surprised before...

  2. slushhead says:

    Any thoughts about the strategy on the final drive by the Packers? They seemed to be adhering to the "don't leave Brady too much time" philosophy; in the end, they left themselves too little time. It may be a tough decision to analyze statistically, but I maintain that an offense should conserve the clock and only worry about scoring. I have the same problem with basketball teams holding the ball for a last second shot rather than running their offense. Any thoughts?

  3. Dan Danilo says:


    Carson Cistulli response to reader challenge reference "Falcon Fraud"

    Dan, please note that this article wasn't written by Brian Burke, but by me.

    I can assure you that, while I bear no hostility against the Falcons, it would also be difficult to produce something "beneath" my current level of professionalism, which is currently somewhere around the zero-percent area.

    Reader response: Carson, your willingness to protect your buddy is commendable as is your sense of humor. This has to take you above the zero-percent professional rating! Good job and keep the insightful anaysis coming!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree very poor clock management by the Pack

    Also earlier on the Packers fell victim to conventional wisdom when they kicked a field goal on 4th & goal at the 1. If they had made that TD they would only have needed to kick a gamewinning FG on the last drive.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Can you run an analysis of Jacksonville going for it 3rd quarter, 4th & 2 in their own territory - the NBC announcers were laying into the coach for the decision saying it wasn't 'smart football.'

  6. Jim Glass says:

    Here's a metric to consider for the Win Probability Charts: measure the area on both sides of the line as a measure of dominance, and upset. E.g, In the Giants-Philly game there are yards and yards of area on the Giants side, then a little thread of area on the Philly side shooting straight up to 100% at the very end. I bet the ratio of those two areas is some kind of record, and maybe deserves a prize or other special recongition. Sports geometry.

  7. James says:

    @Jim, you want to integrate the WP line?

  8. Jim Glass says:

    I note that Kitna had another good week, and has EPA/play and success rate numbers almost exactly the same as Romo's. I take this as another bit of anecdotal evidence supporting my belief that the stat lines of QBs who are competent (as opposed to bad) reflect the abilities of the other players on the O much more heavily that most fans believe. "Their" numbers really are heavily team numbers. (Really bad QBs compile numbers that are much more their own.)

    @ James: Just for fun!

  9. Jim Z says:

    Let me get this straight - Jimmy Clausen and Charlie Whitehurst had more WPA than Michael Vick this week?

    Yeah, this system sure is worthwhile.

  10. Brian Burke says:

    Jim Z-This system does exactly what it's supposed to. It cuts through the ball-watching, Favre-loving, moronic talking head chatter and tells you who truly helped and hurt his team.

    Vick was sacked 3 times, intercepted once, threw for a miserable 4.6 Adj YPA, helping put his team in a hole only a miracle of miracles could overcome. He was lucky as hell just to break even in WPA or EPA.

    Make fun of Whitehurst and Clausen all you want, but they played fairly well. Whitehurst, by the way, outperformed Vick in neither WPA nor EPA. Clausen gave up 2 sacks and no interceptions. He threw for 6.4 Adj YPA and a 68.4 completion percentage. He led his team to a win, having the game in hand by halftime.

    But hey, you keep looking at names and we'll keep looking at facts. Why don't you go buy a pack of trading cards and stare Michael Vick's dreamy picture all day, fanboy?

  11. Chris says:

    Awesome, Brian....Awesome. I really am starting to like your policy of allowing everyone to post, but laying the smack down on the obnoxious ones. That's a Hall of Fame comment by you right there, Brian. Nice work!

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