Contextualizing the Run: Offensive Run-Game Win Value – Week 7

Week 7 QB Spotlight: Carson Wentz, Is it Finally Time for #DraftTwitter to Take an L?
October 25, 2017
Week 8 QB Spotlight: Jacoby Brissett and Replacing Andrew Luck
November 1, 2017

Contextualizing the Run: Offensive Run-Game Win Value – Week 7

OrW tracks both teams and players and evaluates one thing—the frequency with which the subject can win the play by running the ball. How do we define this? An offensive run-game win is any run play (excluding kneel-downs) that keeps an offense on track to pick up a first down, or a touchdown if it’s a goal to go situation.

This stat, on a team level, will show who has the most efficient and reliable running games. On a player level, while it shouldn’t be viewed as a be-all end-all stat to evaluate running backs, combining it with a stat like Justis’ that tracks what RB’s do past the line of scrimmage, or Ryan Jackson’s ANRY/A that adjusts running backs yardage for efficiency, it can paint a pretty good picture.

Over the season, I will be posting the weekly results here on settingedge.com, and every four weeks I will be giving a big-picture, season long look at how teams and players are faring. With all the introductory stuff out of the way, let’s take a look at Week Seven.

In the three weeks since the transition to OrWV instead of OrW%, no one has posted a value as high as the Cowboys did this week. On the back of Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas walked into San Francisco and blew out a deceivingly competitive 49ers team. It’s almost like we shouldn’t have freaked out because Ezekiel Elliot and the Cowboys offensive line started with a couple slow games. Behind the Cowboys, the Falcons and Packers each allowed the Patriots and Saints to win 22 times on 33 runs. With Aaron Rodgers out for the Packers and Steve Sarkesian in for the Falcons, either of these teams getting back to the NFC Championship game seems a bit optimistic at this point in the year.

Despite the 49ers, Falcons, and Packers allowing the three most successful win values of the week, each team found their own level of success as well. These three games resulted in the top 6 win values, with the Rams, Vikings, Redskins, and Colts rounding out the top 10. Only 13 teams had a net positive value running the ball this week, with the Bills, Jaguars, and Seahawks rounding out the list.

On the other end, the Chargers stay atrocious running the ball, and now they get to fly across the country to face the (Malcom Brown-less) Patriots, so don’t expect much improvement from them this week. The Titans run game continues to fall off as the season gets deeper, dropping into the bottom 5 this week. Just outside the bottom 5 is a Panthers team that still can’t get any momentum going on a team designed to lean on the run. Cam Newton has become their go-to runner when they need a big play, a recipe that is almost certainly unsustainable. Nothing else about this week was particularly interesting.

The players section can be wrapped up fairly quickly. Ezekiel Elliot is back to being really good. Melvin Gordon stinks, even beyond how bad his line is, same with Isaiah Crowell. As long as Dion Lewis can stay healthy he should be getting the most touches among the Patriots running backs, while Kareem Hunt has quietly started to slide back from an MVP-caliber back to simply a very good one. The entire Broncos offense is broken, free Carlos Hyde, and feed Devonta Freeman. I have no clue how the Vikings should handle their running backs other than riding the hot hand each week, while the Packers should absolutely be giving Aaron Jones all of the touches.

Last note of the week: the Eagles should trade for Carlos Hyde. Hyde has consistently found success despite being on a winless team with no QB and a plan to rebuild that doesn’t include him. The Eagles have the NFL’s best record behind their defense and Carson Wentz, but haven’t found any success against any run defenses that have any talent to them. Hyde would fit well and allow them to continue capping how often Carson Wentz has to throw, and if he gets hurt they still have their current stable of backs behind him.

That’s it for this week. Next week is our second quarterly update, and while this week’s results can obviously impact how that update looks, as of now there is a serious surprise on top of the team rankings. I’m very excited to dive into the update with OrWV, so tune in next week, only on settingedge.com.