That Aaron Rodgers and Le’Veon Bell top the NFL1000 charts for Week 14 is no surprise. The surprises come later.
But to focus on Rodgers and Bell first: The Green Bay Packers’ quarterback turned in a masterful performance against a Seattle Seahawks defense that has played him tough in recent years, and it wasn’t because of Earl Thomas’ injury-related absence. Thomas is by far the league’s best deep coverage defender, but Rodgers didn’t test the middle of the field often. According to ESPN Stats & Information, 13 of his 18 completions (in 23 attempts) were outside the numbers.
Instead, Rodgers was satisfied to pick apart Seattle’s cornerbacks (especially Jeremy Lane) with deep strikes to the boundary, averaging 10.7 yards per attempt. And he did that with an injured calf that affected his mobility. Given the Seahawks’ excellence in sideline pass defense, this may be even more disconcerting for the franchise’s near future.
As for Bell, the Pittsburgh Steeler continued to blow up enemy defenses on a no-matter-what basis, generating 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries and adding four receptions for 62 yards against an overmanned Buffalo Bills defense. No back in the league has Bell’s combination of patience, explosiveness through the hole, second-level speed to power and versatility throughout the offense.
Bell currently ranks third in the league in yards from scrimmage (1,616) behind Davis Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott, which is pretty incredible when you consider that he missed the first three games of the season after missing a random drug test.
Johnson will most likely become the third back in league history to gain over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a season, but Bell, incredibly enough, has an outside shot—he has 1,053 rushing yards and 563 receiving yards with three games to go. It’s time to consider Bell as a serious NFL MVP candidate.
New York Giants cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have been playing at a high level all season, but what they did against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night put the duo near the top of this week’s NFL1000—Jenkins is third and Rodgers-Cromartie is sixth. Dez Bryant didn’t help Prescott much, as the rookie quarterback had his first multi-interception game, but Jenkins, Rodgers-Cromartie and the entire Giants secondary presented Prescott with problems he couldn’t solve.
According to our scouts’ game-charting, Jenkins allowed two completions on nine targets, giving Bryant all he could handle. Actually, more than he could handle—Bryant had one catch on nine total targets. Pro Football Focus has Rodgers-Cromartie allowing four catches on seven targets…for a grand total of 46 yards. Rookie cornerback Eli Apple got in on the act as well, allowing just two catches on five targets for 31 yards. Ian Wharton, our NFC cornerbacks scout, believes Jenkins has played as well as any cornerback in the league this year. He’s certainly been a lockdown artist of late.
Part of Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 player rating methodology is the ability to look at our grades from week to week (as you, dear reader, can) and suss out which patterns are turning into trends and which are flukes in the relatively small sample size of an NFL season.
There are many ways to dissect and learn from what the NFL presents on the field every week, and the NFL1000 goes as deep as any to tell you just what’s going on out there.
With a 17-person crew of experienced evaluators, we’ll comb through the game tape each week to bring you concise, clear evaluations of every player in the NFL. We’ll tell you which rookies are rising and which undrafted players are coming out of nowhere to make an impact. We’ll tell you which players are falling in performance and why.
There is no predetermined narrative with these grades. No mysterious “clutch factor.” No tweaked-out quarterback ratings that defy explanation. Our grades are based on pure scouting, and lots of it. We grade the key criteria for each position based on a series of attributes and add in a score for positional importance.
In the case of a tie, our scouts ask, “Which player would I want on my team?” and adjust accordingly.
Is it a subjective process? Of course—that’s what scouting is, and as we like to say, ties are no fun.
Each player is evaluated and graded by our crack team of scouts, who possess more than 100 combined years of experience in playing, front-office work, coaching and media. Cian Fahey, John Middlekauff, Alex Kirby, Mark Schofield, Duke Manyweather, Ethan Young, Joe Goodberry, Justis Mosqueda, Charles McDonald, Zach Kruse, Derrik Klassen, Jerod Brown, Ian Wharton, Kyle Posey, Mark Bullock, Chuck Zodda and Doug Farrar have watched tape for months to bring you these grades, and we’ll be bringing you player grades based on the game action every week.
Here are the NFL1000 player grades for Week 14 of the 2016 NFL season.
All advanced stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.