Two-Point Conversions: Look Into It

Over the course of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, kickers combined to make 94.1% of extra point attempts, meaning the Expected Points Added (EPA) for that play is 0.941.

During those same two seasons, the NFL’s two-point conversion rate was 49.4%, which is an EPA of 0.988.

With that data, we now know that two-point conversions have a higher EPA than extra points. The 2018 season was probably for the first time in NFL history that has been true as a consequence of the 2015 rule change that moved extra points from 20-yard attempts to 33-yard attempts.

NFL decision makers must understand their offense’s ability to convert two-point conversions and their kickers ability to do the same for one-pointers as a means for understanding how this applies to their team.

Generally speaking though, the data now tells us that going for two is more beneficial for going for one. How much so? And in how many cases? Well…

According to Pro Football Reference, during the 2019 season all but four kickers were under the EPA of a two-point conversion. Twelve kickers were below the league average, so 12 kickers were well below the league’s average EPA, which is well below the EPA of two-point conversions. Meaning: they really should’ve considered attempting more two-point conversions.

Adam Vinatieri missed six PATs in 12 games this season and was clearly not himself from the start of the year. The Colts attempted three two-point conversions. None of them were outside of late game situations where the analytics said they should do it from a points needed perspective. So they used analytics right in that aspect, just not fully.

Ka’imi Fairbairn missed five PATs for the Texans. The third-year player’s career average was already below the two-point conversion threshold at 93.4% heading into the season. Houston attempted one two-point conversion.

Considering the most PATs attempted were 49 by Wil Lutz of the Saints, a basically kicker has to hit 100% of his extra point attempts for his EPA to be higher than the two-point conversion EPA.

So, essentially, two-point conversions are almost always the right decision.

And as coaches continue to place more emphasis on the play, I imagine that offensive coaches will continue to push their efficiency upwards.

We should see a huge uptick in two-point conversions in 2020, but don’t hold your breath. As stated, the 2018 season was the first year where the two-point EPA exceeded the extra point EPA, but NFL teams attempted 17 less two-pointers in 2019.

So…will the old guard listen to the nerds and increase the number of two-point conversion attempts in 2020? Will an organization with a great offense and a bad kicker do something unconventional?

Maybe.

Zack Moore is a certified NFL agent, a writer for OverTheCap.com, as well as the author of “Caponomics: Building Super Bowl Champions,” a book that breaks down how Super Bowl champions are built in the NFL’s salary cap era and discusses how NFL front offices can best allocate resources to create successful teams.

You can follow him on Twitter at @ZackMooreNFL. You can subscribe to The Zack Moore Show podcast here. You can subscribe on YouTube here.

A Weekend at the College Gridiron Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas

Last weekend, I spent a few days up the road from Austin in Fort Worth checking out my friend Craig Redd’s College Gridiron Showcase, which he co-founded with Jose Jefferson. I’ve had a handful of meals and beers with Craig in New Jersey, oftentimes talking about this college all star showcase, so it was exciting to see the week play out in person.

After each day we would meet up to grab a drink and talk about the day’s events. Craig, being a former agent himself, would talk to me about my process I’m going through in determining how I’d fit in the reality of that industry, while I’d talk to Craig about their entire vision for the showcase and what makes it successful. It was a great learning experience that I am lucky to have had.

He excitedly told me that when he asked a scout from a successful NFC organization what he thought about the game and what he could improve, the scout said that he told this bigger all star game that CGS is doing everything that this other game should be doing. The process is sound from the scouts perspective, which was a welcome thing for Craig to hear.

That’s not to say that the other game is doing anything wrong because I don’t know, but Craig and Jose have worked with their team to knock out a lot of the fluff that surrounds college all star games, the main piece being the game. He says it is unnecessary as scouts oftentimes don’t even stick around for the game, having seen everything they needed to see in the practice portion. Preparing for the game takes time away from actual player performance as they have to take time out of practice to install an offense and defense, they also go through special teams periods.

The practices revolve around the players doing the normal warm ups of routes on air for receivers, cornerbacks work through backpedal drills that warm them up while illustrating hip dexterity and fluidity, and linemen move through their steps and get offs. They then come together with their counterparts on the other side of the ball for one-on-ones, which gives coaches and scouts what they want to see: a player’s ability to win against the man in front of him.

After one-on-ones they come together for a natural 7-on-7 period, then it goes into team. They hold scrimmages at the end of each group’s week with players playing off of cue cards, rather than going through the full installation.

Prospects are separated into three groups. Over the weekend was the small school group named the Marshals, then started the Desperados who were the second tier, while the Wranglers were the first tier of prospects. Players from the small school group and Desperados could move their way up to the Wranglers group at the request of scouts. Sixteen players from the Marshals group were moved up after the small school days on the weekend.

Three of the players that moved their way up to the Desperados group from the Marshals group who impressed me as well were wide receivers Daylon Person from Langton and JoJo Gause from IUP, plus running back Jaquan Hemphill from Hardin Simmons.

Players from the Wranglers who impressed me were wide receivers as well as being a former receiver leads to my eyes always being curious as to what they’re doing.

Sean Riley Jr. from Syracuse moves in a way that immediately tells you he’s likely the most fluid athlete on the field from the moment you see him warming up.

RJ Turner, a graduate student from Texas Tech after a four-year career at Louisiana-Monroe, performed exactly as I’d expect one of the better receivers in the Big 12 to perform. He’s 6’2″, 215-pounds and feels like he plays a little bigger in an Anquan Bolden style.

Dontavion “Lucky” Jackson from Western Kentucky had the kind of shake that I expected out of him at the line of scrimmage, which led to quarterbacks having big windows to throw through.

Safety Sam Franklin Jr. from Temple seemed to be a terrific athlete with the build to contribute at the next level.

The Regulators are the special teamers, who had their own separate showcase on Wednesday between scrimmages for the Desperados and Marshalls. This kept scouts at the field, watching special teamers, and giving them a platform that other games don’t provide.

They also have kicking coach Mike McCabe there to facilitate that whole Regulators program, which is a very positive relationship for the CGS and McCabe.

Craig, Mike, and myself.

Maybe even more importantly than the on field showcase is that the event clearly has an atmosphere that’s conducive to players and scouts meeting. While position groups at the biggest all star game in the sport, the Senior Bowl, are scheduled to meet as a group with the scouts having limited time to speak with each individual, the CGS gives scouts as much time as they need. It’s a much more laid back environment.

Again, this isn’t to bash other games, but to illuminate the benefits the game provides for players. It’s especially important because the CGS is targeting the later round prospects, the players that scouts want to see in one-on-one scenarios and want to meet with to learn more about their psyche.

Craig has big goals for the game in Fort Worth. He understands the value the game provides in terms of hotel rooms, economic activity, and attention. Goals are to continue to grow it in this growing city inside the DFW metroplex, which is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the US with over 7.5 million citizens, while providing the city of Fort Worth something to call their own on the heels of their Armed Forces Bowl as the new year kicks off every January.

The CGS team is committed to continuing to make adjustments to the game to better serve the players who attend it. I had a great time learning about the thoughts that go into such an event and I look forward to attending next year.

Zack Moore is a certified NFL agent, a writer for OverTheCap.com, as well as the author of “Caponomics: Building Super Bowl Champions,” a book that breaks down how Super Bowl champions are built in the NFL’s salary cap era and discusses how NFL front offices can best allocate resources to create successful teams.

You can follow him on Twitter at @ZackMooreNFL. You can subscribe to The Zack Moore Show podcast here. You can subscribe on YouTube here.

Richard Sherman’s Contract is Still a Bad Contract

Richard Sherman went on a tweet storm today because he hit his incentives and now wants to tell everyone who doubted him that the $9 million per year contract he signed is a good contract.

Not every agent gets the best contract they can get for their player, which is a part of his argument. Not every agent is that qualified. Plenty of agents get draft picks because they’re ready to pay for training or they’re good at networking, not because they’re contract experts.

Not every agent being very good is a fair assumption. I agree. But most are pretty good. And all of them are more competent than Richard Sherman.

My real issue with the rant is that he called out Joe Thomas for correctly stating that Pro Football Focus’ cornerback of the decade got duped into signing a three-year prove it deal without visiting any other teams because his ego was enticed by the potential of playing the Seattle Seahawks twice a season and negotiating his own contract.

The soon to be 30-year old Sherman was coming off a torn Achilles, but he was still considered a top cornerback and was on his way to being named the top cornerback of the decade, a real insight into the kind of player he has been. That has value, despite the torn Achilles, he was on the road to a comeback.

Just like fellow Legion of Boom brethren Earl Thomas was considered a top safety when he went down with a broken leg, then David Mulugheta of Athlete’s First signed him to a near market setting $13.75 million per year deal.

The torn Achilles doesn’t excuse him though. This is a bad contract.

It was essentially a prove-it deal. It still is.

He received $9 million per year with a $3 million signing bonus. The average per year and the $5 million signing bonus are below what Aqib Talib signed…in 2014, at 28 years old himself. Granted, $2 million was guaranteed after passing a physical, which he knew he would pass, so let’s say $5 million was guaranteed. It’s essentially what a lesser player, who wasn’t coming off an injury, signed four years earlier, not something to brag about.

The $3 million signing bonus means he could have been cut by a team with a ton of cap space with just a $2 million consequence this year. It was essentially $8.8 million in cash in year one to get the right to play for a hard to reach potential $13.05 million per year over the life of the contract.

Sherman had only $7 million in salary for this year, year two. If he got injured, there goes the $2 million roster bonus right away.

A number he essentially only reaches if he plays at an AP All-Pro level every year, plays 90% of snaps, makes the Pro Bowl, and plays every game. The contract’s per game roster bonuses total $2 million in each season. Which means $125,000 is tied to him being active every game, so if he had any issues coming back from the injury, he would’ve lost out on that money.

So he signed a one-year prove it deal that’s three year built in earnings puts him in the much less prestigious slot cornerback or wide receiver market (that $9 million area) for the right to be paid as what would now be the 10th highest paid cornerback for hitting All Pro level incentives.

The deal is more like an $11 million per year deal if he hits everything else, but doesn’t play like an All Pro.

The same offseason Sherman negotiated this deal, Donte Moncrief got a one-year prove-it deal with the Jaguars for $9.6 million guaranteed. Devin Funchess got $10 million from the Colts this year with $7 million guaranteed.

The only guarantee that Richard Sherman got was his $3 million signing bonus.

And if Sherman wasn’t playing well, they just would have cut him. So it was a one-year prove it deal with $8.8 million in cash for year one for all intents and purposes. One-year prove it deals for top talent are worth much more than that in cash.

Talk about protecting yourself and maximizing your value!

According to Over The Cap, he was the most valuable cornerback in the NFL in 2019 with a production value of $14.7 million. So he produced at this top of market level, while busting his ass to get incentives that will just pay him what he should have signed for. And he won’t reach those incentives every year.

Even if you’re coming off an Achilles injury, as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in a market where Trumaine Johnson and Josh Norman had earned $14.5 and $15 million per year in years prior, you’re supposed to get $13 million per year. You’re not supposed to have to keep proving you’re one of the best players in the league to earn that.

Sherman also said he spent ten to 12 hours researching contracts to prepare for his negotiation.

From article:

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You think 12 hours is doing the research?!

If you’re going to try to negotiate with Paraag Marathe of 49ers with 12 hours of practice, you’re going to get beat. You might not know how, but somewhere important he’s going to win. He’s going to do it to almost anyone.

Marathe and his team told him if he wanted a deal done today and a sure thing, this was what they would offer him. He took it. He made a few calls around, but didn’t take any visits.

They pressured him into it and he took what amounted to a one-year prove-it deal with two years tacked on that are all far under the market value of someone who had already proven to be one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL and could be again if healthy.

If you liked this article and want to learn more about the salary cap and contracts, my book Caponomics: Building Super Bowl Champions is available for $14.99 on Amazon.

Zack Moore is a certified NFL agent, a writer for OverTheCap.com and OnnitGymMMA.com, as well as the author of “Caponomics: Building Super Bowl Champions,” a book that breaks down how Super Bowl champions are built in the NFL’s salary cap era and discusses how NFL front offices can best allocate resources to create successful teams.

You can follow him on Twitter at @ZackMooreNFL. You can subscribe to The Zack Moore Show podcast here. You can subscribe on YouTube here.

Projecting The 2020 Compensatory Picks

UPDATE – January 8: This projection has been revised to account for a correction to the qualification of Mike Iupati. Please read more here.

This article refers specifically to OTC’s projection for the 2020 NFL Draft’s compensatory picks. For details on the basics and methodology of projecting compensatory picks in general, please reference this article.

To understand how this projection is generated for each team, please reference the compensatory picks cancellation charts here.

The Projection

TeamRoundCompensated Free AgentAPY
NE3Trey Flowers$18,000,000
NYG3Landon Collins$14,000,000
NE3Trent Brown$16,250,000
SEA3Earl Thomas$13,750,000
HOU3Tyrann Mathieu$14,000,000
PIT3Le’Veon Bell$13,125,000
PHI3Nick Foles$22,000,000
BAL4C.J. Mosley$17,000,000
LAR4Rodger Saffold$11,000,000
MIN4Sheldon Richardson$11,933,333
TB4Kwon Alexander$13,500,000
PHI4Jordan Hicks$9,000,000
WAS4Jamison Crowder$9,500,000
MIA4Ja’Wuan James$12,750,000
SEA4Justin Coleman$9,000,000
CHI4Adrian Amos$8,500,000
BAL4John Brown$9,000,000
PHI4Golden Tate$9,350,000
DEN5Billy Turner$7,000,000
DAL5Cole Beasley$7,250,000
NE6Malcom Brown$5,000,000
NE6Cordarrelle Patterson$5,000,000
SEA6Shamar Stephen$4,150,000
NYG7Mario Edwards$2,500,000
HOU7Kendall Lamm$2,225,000
HOU7Christian Covington$1,687,500
MIA7Brandon Bolden$1,850,000
DEN7Max Garcia$1,796,875
MIN7Trevor Siemian$2,000,000
MIN7Tom Compton$1,600,000
DEN7Tramaine Brock$1,325,000
NYG7Josh Mauro$1,300,000
Compensation over 32-pick limit; not awarded
NYG7Kerry Wynn$1,212,500

Note that although there are 33 eligible compensatory picks listed in this projection, each year only exactly 32 picks are awarded. Therefore, the pick that ranks 33rd is not awarded, although the official release will typically acknowledge presence of any comp picks in excess of 32, as this list does with strikethrough text.

Compensatory picks became tradeable beginning with the 2017 NFL Draft. This year, there has been one such trade thus far, with the Texans sending a 3rd round comp pick to the Browns for Duke Johnson–although it may be unclear as to which pick is sent to Cleveland should the Texans receive two 3rd round comp picks.

I expect the official release to come out on February 21, the Friday before the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. Releasing the list then is sensible, as it allows executives at the Combine to discuss possible trades with full knowledge of their draft capital.

Cutoff Projections

It was suggested via the resolution allowing comp picks to be traded on December 2, 2015 that the cutoffs between each rounds and whether or not a player had an APY high enough to qualify was determined by a “rank[ing] against all players in the League who are on rosters at the end of the season”. I have conjectured from this evidence that the cutoffs are based on a percentile system. After refining the OTC’s program following the official release of the 2017 compensatory picks, it’s my guess that the percentiles operate on even percentages divisible by five, as illustrated in the table below.

The most difficult part of projecting the compensatory picks is accurately identifying where these cutoffs lie. That is because the larger subset of the leaguewide players of which the smaller subset of compensatory free agents are judged against is never the same size, and requires accurately tracking roster transactions for thousands of players–a feat that will always have a margin of error.

At the end of the 2019 regular season, OTC’s database identified a total of 1,958 players that were either on the active roster or reserve lists, and had also been on a roster for at least 10 games during the 2019 regular season. As explained in the general methodology in the previous link, the cutoffs for each round and for qualifying as a compensatory free agent (CFA) have been established by this projection on certain percentile ranks of all players on the active roster and reserve lists at the end of the regular season, sorted by APY adjusted for snap counts in descending order and also represented by the player at the cutoff point. For 2019, these cutoffs are as follows:

RoundPercentileOverall RankRepresentative Player
3rd/4th95th (top 5%)99Trumaine Johnson
4th/5th90th (top 10%)197Eddie Goldman
5th/6th85th (top 15%)295Solomon Thomas
6th/7th75th (top 25%)491Robby Anderson
7th/Qualify50th (top 50%)980Chuma Edoga

A change in the cutoff calculation at the top

After reviewing the previous five seasons of compensatory pick projections, it is my belief that in the past, I incorrectly calculated the APY of players leaguewide whose contracts were extended. I believe this error was most grievous in 2018, a draft in which I projected too many 3rd round comp picks to be awarded. By correcting this possible error, the most significant change is that more players have jumped ahead in order of the compensatory free agents from the 2019 offseason, particularly in the 3rd round. That means that several players whose contracts I initially projected as 3rd rounders may instead only be 4th rounders. While I hope that I’m correct in making this correction, I don’t have the highest confidence in that, and I could be wrong, which would restore several previously projected 3rd round comp picks.

Players On The Cutoff Bubbles

While it is my hope that my projection of where the cutoffs lie is correct, there is enough of a margin of error that the players that are very close to them may fall on the opposite side of where I have them projected. In most cases, if I’m wrong it means that the team in question will still get a comp pick for that player, but that it may be in a round higher or lower. But in a few cases (those are bolded), it could change cancellations, possibly taking away or greatly devaluing a projected comp pick—or possibly adding or greatly upgrading a comp pick.

3rd/4th

  • Nick Foles (Philadelphia): #86
  • Projected 3rd/4th cutoff: #99
  • CJ Mosley (Baltimore): #101
  • Rodger Saffold (Los Angeles Rams): #107
  • Sheldon Richardson (Minnesota): #112
  • Kareem Jackson (Houston): #119
  • Kwon Alexander (Tampa Bay): #134

4th/5th

  • John Brown (Baltimore): #187
  • Golden Tate (Philadelphia): #189
  • Projected 3rd/4th cutoff: #195

5th/6th

  • Projected 5th/6th cutoff: #295
  • Cameron Wake (Miami): #309

6th/7th

  • None (Projected 6th/7th cutoff: #491)

7th/Qualifying

  • None (Projected 6th/7th cutoff: #980)

Qualifying/Valuation Questions

The level at which teams are becoming more mindful of compensatory picks has reached new highs. This once again includes the rule where compensatory free agents will not qualify if they are not on their roster past Week 10 (this year, the Sunday games took place on November 10). This year, notable cuts right before this date include LJ Fort (cut by Philadelphia September 27), Deone Bucannon (cut by Tampa Bay October 9), Justin Bethel (cut by Baltimore October 21–and acknowledged by John Harbaugh as comp picks being the reason why), Donte Moncrief (cut by Pittsburgh November 2), Andrew Sendejo (cut by Philadelphia November 5), and Mike Davis (cut by Chicago November 9).

While I have high confidence that all these players, among others cut before Week 10, will not qualify, two that will be specifically noted in the altering scenarios below will be Moncrief and Davis. That’s because both were claimed off waivers by the Panthers, thus spending more than 10 weeks on NFL rosters. The precedent of Martellus Bennett not qualifying in 2018 makes me believe that Moncrief and Davis will not qualify, but because that’s the only precedent I have on record, it’s safe to note what would happen if I’m wrong–and it would be bad news for Pittsburgh and/or Chicago.

There are two players that I am guessing will not qualify to become compensatory free agents due to having their previous contracts shortened via renegotiation. On March 16, 2018, Latavius Murray and the Vikings renegotiated his contract that included deleting the 2019 year, allowing him to become a free agent one year earlier. Murray subsequently signed with New Orleans on March 12, 2019. Similarly, on March 15, 2018, Mike Iupati and the Cardinals renegotiated his contract that including voiding his 2019 year for salary cap proration purposes. Iupati subsequently signed with Seattle on March 14, 2019. If I am wrong about either or both of these players not qualifying, it will change the comp picks awarded to Minnesota and/or Seattle.

UPDATE – January 8: I now believe that my initial analysis of Iupati’s renegotiation is incorrect.

A source that OTC considers reliable informs us that Iupati will indeed qualify as a compensatory free agent. The reason why is that Iupati’s renegotiation occurred immediately before the start of the 2018 league year, despite being first reported in the media immediately after the start of the new league year. The explanation is that renegotiations that shorten a contract only disqualify a player from becoming a CFA if the shortening causes the contract to expire in the same league year that the renegotiation occurred. If true, this would help better explain why Adrian Peterson qualified as a CFA in favor of Minnesota in 2018 despite shortening his contract via renegotiation, as that renegotiation happened well before this cited cutoff date of the start of the new league year.

A similar question regarding void years was raised with Alex Okafor, who went from New Orleans to Kansas City as an unrestricted free agent. In Okafor’s case, a late renegotiation in his two year deal with the Saints transformed a player option to void the second year should Okafor log three or more sacks to an automatic void. I am guessing that Okafor will qualify as a CFA because the void year existed in the original contract, and was not created via renegotiation. If I’m wrong about that, it will help out the Chiefs’ comp pick standing.

Possible Altering Scenarios

  • Chicago
    • If Mike Davis qualifies, Chicago will not get a 4th for Adrian Amos.
  • Houston
    • If Kareem Jackson’s contract is valued in the 3rd round, Houston will get a 3rd for him instead of a 7th for Kendall Lamm.
  • Kansas City
    • If Alex Okafor does not qualify, Kansas City will get a 4th for Steven Nelson.
  • Miami
    • If Cameron Wake’s contract is valued in the 5th round, Miami will get a 5th for him instead of a 7th for Brandon Bolden.
  • Minnesota
    • If Latavius Murray qualifies, Minnesota will get a 6th or a 7th for him.
  • Pittsburgh
    • If Donte Moncrief qualifies, Pittsburgh will not get a 3rd for Le’Veon Bell.
  • Seattle
    • If Mike Iupati does not qualify, Seattle will get a 7th for Brett Hundley.

The Top Valued NFL Players of 2019

With the regular season finished up I thought it would be a good time to look back at our OTC Valuation metric to see who the top players were at each position. If you haven’t followed the OTCs value this year it’s a metric that combines various data including snaps, statistical performance, and PFF grades to assign a salary based on that data within the market for the position. You can read more about it and how you can access the OTC values here.

This is still a work in progress that we’ll tweak a bit during the year (there will be a note of which position in particular right below) and during the offseason we’ll hopefully go back and revalue some past seasons just to see how varied the numbers are from year to year.

Before we jump into this I would like to thank PFF for letting me work with their data this year to come up with this. If you don’t subscribe to PFF’s elite package it’s something I highly recommend. So without further ado here are our top players of the 2019 NFL season.

Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seahawks, $29.25 million

Almost all season long Wilson trailed Lamar Jackson by a few million but Jackson sat for the final game of the year to rest for the playoffs and that was enough to tip the scales for Wilson who was able to play in 16 games. Wilson was dynamic this year and is the sole reason that the Seahawks were as good as they were. Wilson threw for over 4,100 yards rand for over 300 and had 34 combined touchdowns. One thing I will say is that the QB numbers at the top were somewhat down this year which in part is why Wilson’s value comes in under $30 million so this is something I may revisit this year to see if we made the value system too difficult  or not. Partially QBs are hard to reach their salary maximums because there is so much cheap talent in the draft that also produces at a reasonable level.

Runner Up: Lamar Jackson, $28.8M; Best Value: Dak Prescott, $28M over annual salary


Edge Rusher: TJ Watt, $21.3M

Watt was absolutely dominant this year for the Steelers. Watt played in nearly 87% of the teams defensive snaps en route to a 14.5 sack season in which he forced a league leading 8 fumbles. Per PFF he had 81 pressures on the year and was their highest graded edge rusher as well. Every time I watched the Steelers this year Watt seemed unstoppable. He is now eligible for a new contract and will become the highest paid defensive player in the NFL when extended.

Runner Up: Danielle Hunter: $20.8M; Best Value: Watt, $19M over annual value


Wide Receiver: Michael Thomas, $19.3M

This was a two person race until Chris Godwin was injured late in the year allowing Thomas to pull away. Thomas was phenomenal this season. He was the top graded player by PFF in their receiving category and led the NFL with 149 receptions for 1,725 yards. He accomplished that playing with two quarterbacks this season and maintained over an 80% catch rate. And its not like Thomas is playing opposite all stars either to make things easy. He is simply un-guardable.

Runner Up: Chris Godwin, $17.2M; Best Value: Godwin, $16.4M over annual salary


Interior D-Line: Aaron Donald, $17.5M

This was not even close with Donald being worth about $2 million more than the next closest player at the position. The perennial All Pro finished the season with 12.5 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, and 80 QB pressures. He led all interior linemen with 83.8% playtime. While one can argue the merits of paying Donald $5.4 million per year more than the next closest player you can’t argue that he is the best at the position by a wide margin.

Runner Up: Cameron Heyward, $15.5M; Best Value: Kenny Clark, $10.3M over annual value


Running Back: Christian McCaffrey, $15.6M

McCaffrey had such a ridiculous start to the year that he was in the early MVP discussions. McCaffrey finished the year in the 1,000/1,000 club rushing for a career best 1,387 yards and adding 1,005 receiving yards. Though the team fell apart late and McCaffrey’s performance became more of an example of why a dominant running back doesn’t really change the fortunes of a team it should not discount from a great performance especially on a team with a QB situation as bad as the Panthers. He will be looking for a new contract this offseason which should be a fascinating situation to watch unfold.

Runner Up: Nick Chubb, $12.8M; Best Value: Aaron Jones, $11.9M over annual salary


Left Tackle: Jake Matthews, $15.4M

Matthews was one of only nine left tackles to hit the 99% snap threshold and played the most snaps at the position being on the field for 1,189 snaps in 2019. It was that durability that saw him claim the top spot for left tackles in the valuation metric. On a per game basis Ronnie Stanley was better but Matthews played all 16 games compared to just 14 for Stanley. Per PFF Matthews ranked 5th best for pressures allowed per pass snap and was top 15 in penalties per snap.

Runner Up: David Bakhtiari, $15.1M; Best Value: Dion Dawkins, $10.6M over annual value


Cornerback: Richard Sherman, $14.7M

This was one of the more volatile positions with the top player constantly shifting around before Sherman came out ahead with a strong finish to the season as some others cooled off. Sherman solidified his place in the Hall of Fame with 3 interceptions, 11 passes defensed and only allowing a ridiculous 8.4 yards per reception with just 67 yards allowed after the catch, basically showing him to be attached to the hip of any receiver this year.

Runner Up: Stephon Gilmore, $13.8M; Best Value: Tre’Davious White, $10.7M over annual value


Linebacker: Luke Kuechly, $14.1M

There isn’t much left to say about Kuechly, who has been named to 7 straight Pro Bowls and deservedly so. At this point the only discussions about Kuechly should be where he rates among the all time players at the position. Just an all around terrific player Kuechly finished the season with 144 tackles and two interceptions while logging over 1,000 snaps on the season.

Runner Up: Demario Davis, $13.3M; Best Value: Jamie Collins, $10.2M over annual value


Right Tackle: Ryan Ramczyk, $13.6M

Ramczyk was about as good as it gets this season.  He led the position with 0 sacks allowed and was tied in pressure rate at just 3.03% per dropback. He was PFF’s top graded pass blocker and 2nd highest graded run blocker. The first round draft selection should become the highest paid right tackle in the NFL as soon as the Saints decide to extend him.

Runner Up: Mitchell Schwartz, $12.6M; Best Value: Ramczyk, $11.4M over annual value


Safety: Justin Simmons, $12.7M

Simmons has certainly peaked at the right time as he is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason. Simmons finished the year for the Broncos with 4 interceptions, 11 passes defensed and 93 tackles. Per PFF his 53.2% completion against was 7th best in the NFL among players with over 500 snaps and he was the top graded safety in that group. Simmons was just one of four safeties to not miss a snap this year.

Runner Up: Anthony Harris, $11.9M; Best Value: Simmons, $11.9M over annual value


Guard: Zack Martin, $11.7M

Martin is universally recognized as the best guard in the NFL and has certainly proven time and time again to deserve the honor. Martin was the top graded pass blocker and third best run blocker by PFF. Martin was one of only a handful of players to not allow a sack all season. Not surprisingly Martin was named to his 6th straight Pro Bowl.

Runner Up: Brandon Brooks, $11M; Best Value: joe Thuney, $10.2M over annual value


Tight End: Travis Kelce, $10.9M

Another year another 1,000 yards season and Pro Bowl selection for Kelce. No player at the position is more consistent than Kelce. Kelce plays every game and basically every snap. He was the only tight end with over 90% playing time and finished with 12% more playing time than the next closest player at the position (Zach Ertz at 80.5%). While he may not be the most dynamic tight end, a distinction that goes to the 49ers George Kittle, its hard to argue against Kelce’s performance and durability year after year.

Runner Up: Darren Waller, $10.3M; Best Value: George Kittle, $9.3M over annual value.


Center: Ryan Jensen, $10.4M

The Buccaneers center was third in the NFL in snaps played and one of just six players to log 100% playing time at the position. Per PFF Jensen was the 5th best run blocking center and 4th best pass blocking center, which was the best combo in the league. Jensen was credited with just one sack and 15 pressures allowed.

Runner up: Brandon Linder, $10.1M; Best Value: Connor McGovern, $8.2M over annual value


Kicker: Wil Lutz, $4.9M

Punter: Jake Bailey, $3.1M

Long Snapper: Thomas Hennessy, $1.2M

The OTC Valuation Metric vs NFL Record

For this week I wanted to take a look at the OTC valuation and see how it compared to the NFL records for the season. For those unaware of our valuation metric, essentially it boils down a player’s value to his team based on the position he plays, his playing time, various statistical measures and Pro Football Focus grades. We publish weekly valuations free of charge on our valuation page while OTC premium subs have access to each week as well as the player’s overall value on the season. This is the first year we have done this and will likely tweak this a bit in the future after watching it play out on a weekly basis to fix what I think are some bugs in the system, but I think it should be a good tool to put a different type of way to read a team’s performance.

The following chart plots the teams win percentage through 13 games against the OTC valuation of all players on a teams roster through week 13.
The chart is sectioned off into quadrants based on the average NFL performance. Teams in the top right basically have a high value per the OTC metric and a good record. Teams in the lower right would be those with a below average record but high valuation. The top left are those with a below average value but a good record. Everything is bad with the teams in the bottom left. The chart does look skewed but that is because of the outlier that is the Miami Dolphins who have been, by design, in a class all their own this year.

Overall I thought this was a pretty good showing. The overall R2 of this is close to a 0.5 and more so than that most of the teams in the above average category are primarily the leaders in the race for the playoffs while the bad teams are indeed showing up as bad teams in the valuation metric.
The teams that are the most interesting to me are those in the upper left and bottom right quadrants as they are kind of bucking the trends. The Titans is probably a combination of a team taking advantage of a schedule and a late change at QB. Ryan Tannehill has played incredibly well for the Titans down the stretch but his overall value is compromised because he didn’t play for the first 5 weeks of the season. Its really his insertion into the lineup that has bumped them back into the playoff hunt and had he played all year I would anticipate them being in the above average category.

The other team there is Chicago who are more or less completely schedule dependent this year. They have one quality win (the Vikings) and the rest have come against the Broncos, Giants, Lions, Redskins, and Cowboys. Its similar to a team like the Jets getting some wins because they play the NFC East and the Dolphins despite a poor performance. Trubisky has of course played better of late so maybe they can jump into the other quadrant.

Dallas and Tampa are the oddest two teams in the NFL and clearly perform better on an individual level than as a team. We all know that there is usually some correlation between positions and the flow of games but in both cases we are not seeing results on the field. In Dallas’ situation I think some of the blame likely goes on coaching decisions. They have played very conservative at times and its cost them wins. Tampa just makes too many boneheaded mistakes that have cost them wins. Jameis Winston does a lot of good things but the bad things are often really bad and come at inopportune times.

The Panthers played competitive football until the last few weeks and have some good parts. The bottom fell out as the schedule stiffened and injuries piled up. My guess is they will float more to the left by the end of the season as their better players see the bench for more weeks.