As the author of our weekly Pro Football Focus review, I love using their signature stats and opinions to get a better understanding of the team. They are not, however, the only site out there that has exclusive metrics to help break down the team.
If Pro Football Focus is "Coca-Cola", Football Outsiders is "Pepsi." Their claim to fame is the stat "DVOA" which almost everybody has heard of. It's a metric based on value. This is the short explanation that comes from FOs site itself:
DVOA measures a team's efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.
It essentially means that every single play is compared to a "success rate" on league average, adjusted to by quality of opponent and a bunch of other variables. Pretty neat stuff.
DVOA is similar to PFF's grading system and I'm not saying one is better than the other, it's all just a matter of personal preference.
Football Outsiders also has a metric called "DYAR" which takes a long view look at a player. It is the football equivalent of baseball's WAR for those sabermetrics fans out there. DYAR stands for "Defense Adjusted Yards Above Replacement." Let me explain:
Take, for example, 500 snaps by DeMarco Murray. He's pretty damn good. Now just take him away from the Dallas Cowboys. Those 500 snaps don't just disappear along with him, they are distributed to players behind him. You can generalize what an inferior or "replacement" level player will do in those 500 snaps and compare it to Murray. A DYAR of 0 is what indicates what a "replacement" level player plays at. Anything above means better, and anything below means worse. You don't have to be ranked 16th to have a DYAR of 0. You can be ranked 16th and still be better than a replacement player, it just means there are more players doing good things at that position.
That is essentially DYAR. It's a lot more complicated than that and includes mumbo jumbo which I'm not very good at, but that's the basic view. If you want to learn more, a detailed explanation can be found at their site here.
So with the explanations out of the way, let's take a look at where the Giants' skill players stand through 10 weeks:
Eli Manning has a DYAR rank of 13th and a DVOA rank of 16th through Week 10. That tells me that Eli has more total value as a QB than he does on a per-play basis. Which makes sense, because he has a lot of "dead" or negative plays, but over time, he's pretty valuable over a replacement level guy. I think, given the season he's had, slightly above average to average is about fair. One interesting stat is that he's third in the league among forcing defensive pass interference penalties with eight.
An interesting stat is "effective yards." It essentially measures DVOA from a yards per attempt look. Say for example, Eli threw a perfect pass to Rueben Randle that should have gone for 20 yards, but Randle does something that forces him back and the result is only 16 yards. Eli's effective yards would be 20, but on the stat sheet, it would be only 17. A QB with more effective yards than total yards, then, is indicative of him playing better than what the stat sheet would suggest. Eli's effective yards are 2,217, while his real yards are 2,098. Quite a big difference.
Want to take a look at how injuries might have torpedo'ed this season? Rashad Jennings, from a DVOA perspective is ranked third in the NFL. On a per play basis, factoring in the OL that he's got and the strength of schedule that he's faced, he's done the third most out of what's possible. Andre Williams? Ranked 34th among qualified players. It's that bad.
When looking at total value perspective, Rashad Jennings' DYAR is 118, which comes in sixth place. The closest DYAR to 0 (which means kind of equal to a replacement player) is Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West. Andre Williams is ranked 34th and is seven spots below what an average "replacement-level" player would bring in his snaps. That's a huge difference in an albeit limited sample size. What does this tell me? That Jennings' rise in 2013 was not a fluke. He can be successful. It also tells me that Williams better be prepared to work in this off-season.
Tight Ends And Wide Receivers
When we first look at tight ends, Larry Donnell appears in the lower half of the league, which again seems about right. In fact, he's the only tight end with a DYAR of ZERO. That means he's exactly what every other tight end should be compared to when looking at an average replacement level tight end in the league. He's ranked 23rd by both measures, DYAR and DVOA.
The tight end category is split into two, with one category being players that have been targeted between six and 19 times, and players that have been targeted 19+ times. Donnell obviously has been targeted more than 19 times, but Daniel Fells falls in the former category. He's ranked second in that behind New England's Tim Wright, and it is no surprise. He has a fantastic DYAR of 62 and has the BEST DVOA of any player in that category. Not really a surprise when four out the eight passes thrown your way go for touchdowns! Now THAT's value per play!
When taking a look at receivers, I know the first thing everybody wants to know is where Odell Beckham is at. The categories are split between receivers getting six to 39 passes their way and receivers getting 40+ passes thrown their way. Beckham, somewhat predictably, lands right at the tippy top of the receivers getting six to 39 passes.
His DYAR is a monstrous 170. Funnily enough, the DYAR of 0 in this group belongs to Jerrel Jernigan. He has a difference from his effective yards and his real yards of 115, which is pretty big. None of this should be surprising. Beckham, in his limited time here, has been one of the best receivers in football, making the most of every catch in every situation.
Preston Parker is also in that six to 39 pass category and he's also been a pleasant surprise. He is ranked fourth in that category with a DYAR of 67. Nobody had any expectation of him doing anything, but in the early going, he has been a solid contributor to the team.
Going to Rueben Randle (and reminder, this is only through week 10), he is on the opposite spectrum. Those that want to get rid of Randle have your evidence with Football Outsiders. He is ranked 72nd in DYAR with a terrible score of -84. He should see his rank rise by next week, but for now, it's terrible. Before he got injured, Victor Cruz was middle of the pack, with a DVOA and DYAR ranked around 50th. His DYAR is 26, so mildly above replacement level.
That was a lot of numbers and words. Even I'm left a little puzzled by everything, so let's take a moment to breath.
You good? I'm good. So after sifting through all that, here's what I came up with.
Manning is playing well at times, but overall he's been slightly above average. He has been mediocre on a per play basis, though. The drop off from Jennings to Williams has been borderline cataclysmic, thought we really didn't need fancy-shmancy stats to tell us that.
Randle had better improve, and he'd better improve quickly or the Giants will look to getting another wide receiver through free agency or the draft. Parker has done more for the team than could have been asked for given the circumstances. I think that's true.
This also highlights what a nice, under-the-radar pick up Fells has been. The personnel department deserves credit for that. Donnell has been the definition of an average player, with some highlights and lowlights (those fumbles don't help!)
Finally, I think it's become abundantly clear that Beckham isn't going to become a star, he already is one. If he stays healthy, he's going to be destroying secondaries for this team for a long, long time.
Stay tuned for a Football Outsiders analysis of the offensive and defensive lines coming soon!