Most teams have reached the quarter-pole at this point, so in the tradition of Bill Parcells, now is a good time to take stock of what has transpired throughout September and take a closer look at how teams and players have performed. Sports Info Solutions has its own metric to do that – the Total Points system.
You can read a comprehensive explanation of how the stat is calculated here. In brief, Total Points takes nearly everything SIS measures about a play and uses it to evaluate each player on a scale that allows you to compare them more easily using an Expected Points Added framework. Credits are assigned for things that help a team win (things like breaking tackles and batting down passes are among the many factors taken into consideration). Debits come for things that hurt a team (blowing a block, dropping a pass among the examples).
Total Points on offense are called Total Points Earned (TPE), and Total Points on defense are called Total Points Saved (TPS). Additionally, Total Points Earned can be subdivided into components for Passing, Receiving, Blocking, etc., so we can see how and where various players are adding value on the field. For an even more in-depth look, check out the SIS DataHub Pro.
We’ll hold off on the Total Points Saved leaders until later in the week, but for now, let’s look at who rates best in each of the Total Points Earned components.
Through four games, Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott are in a statistical dead heat at 45 Passing Points Earned.
Mahomes has the highest average yards per attempt at 9.7 per and has not yet thrown an interception. He’s thrown five touchdowns on passes at least 20 yards downfield, most of any quarterback.
Prescott is there because a staggering 87% of his passes have been catchable, which is five percentage points better than the next-closest QB (50 attempt minimum) and 15 percentage points better than Mahomes. An NFL-best 58% of his 127 attempts have resulted in a positive Expected Points Added result.
Most Total Points Earned – Passing
You were probably expecting Dalvin Cook as the leader here, but through four games he ranks fourth. The leader may come as a surprise. It’s Jordan Howard of the Eagles, who pushed ahead with 6 Total Points Earned last week, while others, including Cook, slipped back a little bit.
Howard has rushed for 13 first downs on his 40 runs. His first down percentage of 33% rates fourth-best overall, 10 percentage points better than Cook. The differential comes in how Howard is getting his runs. Howard is averaging 3.0 yards after contact on 25 inside runs, the same that Cook is averaging on 16 outside runs. However, it’s more difficult to gain yards after contact on inside runs than outside runs (since 2018, the average yards after contact per carry is 2.2 on inside runs and 2.6 on outside runs), so the reward for Howard is greater.
Cook’s ranking will also make a little more sense when you read the Offensive Line leaders.
Most Total Points Earned- Rushing
Chris Godwin and Keenan Allen are 1-2 among wide receivers here. Intuitively, that seems about right given that Godwin has 26 receptions on 28 catchable targets without a drop and ranks third in yards gained after contact. His 23 first downs as a receiver are the most in the NFL.
Allen has been a high-priority for Phillip Rivers. His 48 targets are the most in the NFL this season and his 34 receptions (on 37 catchable targets) are tied for the league lead.
Most Points Earned- Receiving
Giants RT Mike Remmers has transitioned from playing right guard last season for the Vikings back to his usual position of tackle without issue. He had 3 Pass Blocking Points Earned the first two weeks of the season with Eli Manning at quarterback and 3 Points Earned the last two weeks with Daniel Jones at quarterback. His 7 Pass Blocking Points Earned lead the NFL. Remmers will face his former team this week.
Most Points Earned – Pass Blocking
Though Dalvin Cook has earned the headlines, the Vikings offensive line should get some credit for his success. Thanks to this system, they do. The Points Earned methodology assigns key blockers based on many factors, including which side the runner goes to and what kind of run it is (inside, outside, or off-tackle). The credit on Cook’s runs is well spread out. Of the top six players in Run Blocking Points earned, four are Vikings, including tight end Kyle Rudolph. The combination of solid run blocking efficiency with extremely high usage over the early part of the season has resulted in a lot of accumulated value, but a regression to the mean seems inevitable.
Most Points Earned – Run Blocking
If we combine the two blocking components of Points Earned, Ronnie Stanley and Joe Thuney separate themselves as the top offensive linemen through the first quarter of the season. Thuney is no stranger to the blocking leaderboard, as he led guards in Points Earned last season. Stanley was no slouch either, as he ranked fourth among tackles.
Most Points Earned – Blocking
While Total Points can tell us in great detail which players performed well at whatever they were asked to do and provided value to their offenses, four games does not make a season. That said, while we can’t take Total Points through four games to be a true indicator of who the best players will be throughout the entire year, it does provide a robust system for describing the contributions of players thus far. Check back in on Friday, when we will break down the Total Points Saved leaders from the opposite side of the ball.