NFL Player Rankings Through Week 15
I’ve been unveiling the NFL’s All Decade Teams using Z-score to determine the best individual seasons. With the 2010 to the present seasons left to unveil, which we’ll do at the end of this season, this is a build up to who may be the top players when the season ends, and an early prediction for league MVP
Check out these articles for all you need to know about Z-Score. The short version is that a score is assigned to each qualifying player on a scale of -4.0 to +4.0, where 0.0 is average.
Anything over 1.96 is considered in the top 5% or “elite” by some definitions. In most seasons, scoring above 1.96 means you should be in consideration for the league’s MVP.
Here is a look at the elite players, MVP candidates if you will, with 15 weeks in the books. There were eight of them when we did this following week 4, and seven of them following week 10. They were Jordy Nelson, Demaryius Thomas, Peyton Manning, Marshawn Lynch, Antonio Brown, Aaron Rodgers, and Arian Foster. We have narrowed the field to four of them this time around, and one that stands out far above the rest.
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Demaryius Thomas – sRBZ: 1.9653 – Thomas has been a model of consistency ever since Peyton Manning took over quarterbacking in Denver. Despite other talented receivers around him, and the Broncos becoming a run first offense of late, Thomas is still logging the big time stats. He ranks second in the league with 96 catches, third in yards with 1,389 yards (99.2 YPG), and tied for third with 11 scores.
Odell Beckham – sRBZ: 2.039 – Beckham not only made the catch of the year, decade, maybe century in a prime time game with Dallas a few weeks back, but he’s also been putting up some really good numbers in his ten games played thus far in his rookie year. He ranks third in catches per game with 7.1, he is 28 yards shy of cracking 1,000 with two games left (97.2 YPG). In ten games, Beckham has notched nine touchdowns. Even without the amazing catch, Beckham should be a shoe in for offensive rookie of the year.
Antonio Brown – sRBZ: 2.2755 – Brown had found himself the sRBZ leader after four weeks, and was third in sRBZ after ten. But he’s lead all receivers, all year long, and that continues with two games to go. Brown has the most catches by a lot, 19 more than Demaryius Thomas with 115. He’s second in yards per game at 107 (Julio Jones, 109.8), leads the league with 1,498 yards, and like Thomas, also has 11 TDs.
Brown is held out of the top spot in the league by a newcomer to the elite club, cracking the 1.96 “elite” threshold for the first time, thanks to some hall of fame level play of late. It’s also a teammate of Browns.
Le’Veon Bell – sRBZ: 2.7208 – Bell has come on strong of late with a three game stretch of production only matched by Walter Payton. He had a three game stretch where he totaled over 200 scrimmage yards in each game. Bell is the only player averaging over 6.0 yards per touch (6.04). He and DeMarco Murray are the only two players over the 2,000 scrimmage yards mark thus far (Murray: 2,082, Bell: 2,043). He averages 145.8 Y/G, is fourth in the league with 10 TDs, and has not put the ball on the turf one time this year, making him a clear cut choice for MVP with two games to go.
I know what some of you are thinking. Well two things. First, Why not DeMarco Murray over Le’Veon Bell? Murray has 11 TDs to Bell’s 10, 148.7 scrimmage Y/G, and rushing specifically, Murray has more than 400 rushing yards on Bell who ranks second. But Murray has amassed those numbers because of the insane amount of chances he’s got. Teams like to limit their RB touches to around the 300 mark as players don’t seem to rebound well the year after a heavy work load. Murray has already touched the ball 405 times! It’s the first time in nine seasons that someone has eclipsed 400 touches, and Murray could challenge Larry Johnsons mark from that 2006 season where Johnson racked up 457 touches. Second most all-time behind Tampa Bay’s James Wilder in 1984 (492). Bottom line, Murray averages just over 5.0 yards per touch. Good enough for just 12th best among RBs
Second thing that you probably can’t wrap your head around, why no quarterbacks? Aaron Rodgers was on the list last time, Peyton Manning had been on the list until now. Andrew Luck early on. What gives? Well, Luck has a completion percentage below the league average at just 61.4%. He’s attempted the most passes, but isn’t exactly the model of efficiency. His 41 total TDs is tops, but his 7.8 Y/A is just eighth best. Not to mention the only QB to turn the ball over more than Luck is Jay Cutler who was just benched. 14 INTs is tied for third most, and he has put the ball on the turf 12 times. I’ll be very disappointed if the AP simply points to the TD number and anoints Luck the MVP.
When you look at the other top flight QBs, Drew Brees leads in completion % (70%) but his 7.4 Y/A is not great. Tom Brady is in the same boat, with an ok 64.4% CMP%. But just 7.2 Y/A. Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are the leading QBs in sRBZ, and Rodgers took a big hit by practically not even showing up in the Buffalo game last week. He was 17/42 for 185 yards, no TDs and two INTs. Manning has conceded a bit lately going run first, and now battling the flu last week. Passing is just down this year, despite even more rules changes in place to get receivers even more open, supposedly making it easier than ever. Luck might get to 5,000 yards, but no one is sniffing 50 TDs this year. There is no quarterback running away from the field. There isn’t one quarterback noticeably better than the rest like there are in the RBs and receivers cases. You can’t say Peyton Manning is more valuable than Aaron Rodgers, who is more valuable than Tom Brady, who is more valuable than Ben Roethlisberger, who is more valuable than Drew Brees…and so on. This year, they are all practically the same.
The following is a list of positional rankings through 15 weeks, noted with +/- for their change in the rankings since week 10. (UR – Unranked after week 10, N – No change)
Risers: Ryan Fitzpatrick (11, out for the season), Joe Flacco (8), Andy Dalton (5)
Fallers: Brian Hoyer (-9, benched), Colin Kaepernick (-9), Kyle Orton (-8)
Risers: C.J. Anderson (Unranked to 10), Joique Bell (21), Tre Mason (18)
Fallers: Ben Tate (-14), Mark Ingram (-11), Terrence West (-11)
Risers: Odell Beckham (Unranked to 2), A.J. Green (Unranked to 10, coming off injury), Calvin Johnson (Unranked to 13, coming off injury)
Fallers: Reggie Wayne (-20), Mohamed Sanu (-18), Dwayne Bowe (-15)