MVP Update: Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson Ascending

This is the Week 8 update for the points added formula I laid out in detail last week. The key to the calculation is the ability to judge all offensive skill positions on a single metric: their share of the additional points their teams scored over league-average expectations. The formula looks at every offensive play and calculates the expected points added for each, then splits those points between the passer/runner/receiver involved.

The calculation favors quarterbacks on receivers, simply because throwing the ball average is much more efficient than running.

Quarterbacks: Week 8

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Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson find themselves near the top of the points added board for Week 8 after their epic matchup in Seattle. Wilson is viewed much more favorably, primarily because Watson’s mistakes were big ones. In particular, Watson threw a pick-6 that took at least three points off the board and turned it into six for his opponent. Interestingly, ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) for the week has Watson on top with a big boost from its opponent adjustment.

As we’ll see later, Tyrod Taylor is a sneaky MVP candidate after a strong Week 8. It’s questionable whether the Bills can maintain their 5-2 pace, but it’s hard to argue that Taylor has a ton of help this season.

The three leading MVP candidates Tom BradyCarson Wentz and Alex Smith all had sub-par weeks, scoring points added of 2.0, -1.2 and 1.15, respectively.

Non-quarterbacks: Week 8

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Non-quarterbacks probably don’t have much of a shot at the MVP, but many have added significant value. Unlike for quarterbacks, the points added leaderboard for non-quarterbacks is going to differ significantly from consensus.

Many of the top non-quarterbacks have added their points through big plays, i.e. plays that produced significantly better results that expected. Unlike most football analysts/fans, the points addd formula doesn’t give much credit to high volume usage in and of itself.

Workhorse running backs like Le’Veon BellEzekiel Elliott and Kareem Hunt aren’t going to be points added studs unless they break an unsustainable amount of big runs, or are heavily involved in the passing game.

The top-25 MVP candidates

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The top-5 hasn’t changed, but the biggest trend is more running quarterbacks working their way up the board. Tyrod Taylor, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott are now within striking distance of the leaders.

Running value is commonly underrated for the position, and teams’ increasing willingness to let quarterbacks use their legs has changed the dynamics of player value.

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