Punch Drunk Wonderland

Takeaways from Week 14 – The Rams defense is good

As we look back on the happenings of Week 14 there are a few big things that can be taken away. One big one is that the St. Louis Rams D/ST is operating at a very high level. In the last two weeks they’ve allowed zero points, forced 7 turnovers, and scored 2 touchdowns. Granted, their opponents in Weeks 13 and 14 were the Raiders and Redskins, but there’s no denying that this defense is looking good at the tail end of the season. I expected this unit to be one of the more stout groups in the league this year, but they got off to a slow start. However, things are looking up and at this point in the season the Rams’ defense appears to be a force with which to be reckoned. The matchups aren’t as easy in coming weeks as they face better offenses in the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants, and Seattle Seahawks. But, at this point I’d feel good playing them in my fantasy football playoff matchups.

To supplement the Rams’ defensive successes, here are some additional key takeaways from Week 14 from our friends at numberFire.com.

Le’Veon Bell Is the NFL’s Best Back

Entering Week 14, Bell ranked fourth among the NFL’s high-volume runners in Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP). When factoring in what he’s done through the air, however, Bell’s been the best running back in the league — he’s added 45.25 points on receptions for the Steelers (again, prior to Week 14), which is 9 points better than the second-place Matt Forte.

Against the Bengals, Bell’s Rushing NEP increased by over six expected points (roughly 46% of his season total), and his Reception NEP rose over eight points. In other words, he’s going to still rate as the league’s best runner according to our metrics.

And he’s only 22.

Brian Hoyer Should Be Benched

Since November 2nd, JJ Watt has more touchdown receptions than Brian Hoyer does passing touchdowns.

I’m not sure what Mike Pettine sees out of Hoyer. Over the team’s last four games, Hoyer has one touchdown pass and eight interceptions, and his Passing NEP of -10.73 against a Vontae Davis-less Colts secondary brings his Passing NEP to a poor -15.48 over this stretch. That’s a per-game average that you’d only find from the worst quarterbacks in the league.

Some are still behind Pettine in starting Hoyer over rookie Johnny Manziel, mostly due to the notion that Manziel “isn’t ready”. But I’d strongly argue that it doesn’t matter — Brian Hoyer’s performance down the stretch this year has been just about the worst you could expect from a starting passer in the NFL.

Miami’s Defense Is Gone

After Week 11’s conclusion, the Miami Dolphins had the top-ranked defense according to our Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points metric. Their following two games – one against the Broncos and the other against the Jets – forced their ranking to drop to sixth overall, as they played roughly 25 points below expectation defensively (factoring in strength of opponent).

The Dolphins allowed four offensive touchdowns to the Ravens on Sunday, including two passing scores from signal-caller Joe Flacco. Flacco’s 14.23 Passing NEP was far above his 4.9 Passing NEP per game average, while the Dolphins continued to be gashed on the ground, as every rusher for Baltimore had a positive NEP score.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)

K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...