As a new feature I thought that every Tuesday or Wednesday during the season I’ll take a look back at the prior weeks games and pick out the best and worst values each week. To gauge values we’ll be looking at a players salary cap charge for the week and comparing that to Pro Football Focus’ grade for a player. I’ll alternate each week between offense and defense, with offense in week 1 and then turning our attention to defense in week 2. Feel free to leave any feedback in the comments or by email.
Best Value: Colin Kaepernick ($3.76M cap charge, +3.7 PFF grade)- While Matt Ryan had the biggest game of the week, his $17.5 million cap charge makes it near impossible to be the top value for the week. Kaepernick was actually neck and neck with the Dolphins Ryan Tannehill, but Kaepernick cost his team about $63,000 in week 1 allocated cap dollars per point while Tannehill was at $67,000.
Worst Value: Tony Romo ($11.8M cap charge, -4.6 PFF grade)- Romo stunk up the field on Sunday with multiple interceptions, bad reads, and general careless play and it was reflected in his grade for the week. Tom Brady was the more expensive of the two players ($14.8M for the season), but he was slightly better than Romo. All told Romo was about 20% cheaper but scored over 40% worse than Brady.
Best Value: Le’Veon Bell ($936.5K cap charge, +4.7 PFF grade)- Bell was terrific on Sunday gaining 109 yards on 21 carries with over 80 of those yards coming after contact. He played in 58 snaps, so its not like he needed to be replaced by other players to increase the salary on the position. This was not even close
Worst Value: Arian Foster ($8.5M cap charge, -1.6 PFF grade)- Foster has the 4th highest cap charge at his position this year which makes any type of negative score an excellent opportunity to be the worst value each week. Foster’s play on Sunday was the classic big yardage line but the actual play in getting to that number was not good. Matt Forte also has a high cap charge ($7.9M)and scored lower (-1.8), but the difference in cap is enough for Foster to get the worse value, plus Forte scored positive in one category and his score was dragged down by his pass blocking.
Best Value: Allen Hurns ($421.6K cap charge, +2.4 PFF grade) – You certainly wont find a much cheaper player than the undrafted Hurns in 2014- he received just a $5,000 signing bonus and $20,000 in total guarantees upon signing. Hurns rated third among all receivers with his 2.4 grade despite that low salary. Will he ever be here again? Maybe not, but he’s the bargain of the week in week 1.
Worst Value: Mike Wallace ($17.25M cap charge, -3.1 PFF grade)- Anytime you have a non-QB with a cap charge as high as Wallace, he is a lock for worst of the week if he scores negative. Wallace did put up better numbers than usual, but saw a pass intended for him get picked off and had a fumble. Marques Colston of the Saints was also bad with a -3.6 grade, but at half the cost of Wallace this is an easy decision.
Best Value: Rhett Ellison ($645.1K cap charge, +5.5 PFF grade)- Even adjusting downward for the fact that Ellison played in just 50% of the snaps, he still worked out as the best value of the week. Ellison was a blocking machine for the week which fueled his score, though he did add a 22 yard reception to boot.
Worst Value: Marcedes Lewis ($8.25M cap charge, -4.8 PFF grade)- Lewis carries the second highest cap charge in the NFL at the position and graded dead last at the position per PFF metrics. Somewhere there has to be a reason as to why he is still playing on this inflated contract in 2014.
Best Value: Derek Newton ($1.45M cap charge, +5.4 PFF grade)- This was a great start for the soon to be free agent right tackle of the Texans. PFF graded him as the prime catalyst behind the rushing yards gained by the Texans and with such a low cap figure he stood out far and away the best bargain at the position
Worst Value: Derek Sherrod ($2.1M cap charge, -6.9 PFF grade)- This was a pretty easy call to make as Sherrod was awful and he has a more than minimum cap charge. His grade was not impacted by penalties or anything like that just simply poor play in every phase of the game. Sherrod will need to improve if he hopes to get any kind of new contract next season.
Best Value: Kelechi Osemele ($912.5K cap charge, +4.7 PFF grade)- Tough call between Osemele and the undrafted Michael Ola who racked up a grade close to 4. The reason I selected Osemele was because he participated in pretty much all his teams offensive plays while Ola was in only in 70% or so of his. That puts more power behind the Osemele grade and moves him up as a better bargain for the week.
Worst Value: Rodger Saffold ($4M cap charge, -4.0 PFF grade)- There were more than few bad values this week at this position, but none gave the cost vs performance level of Saffold. Saffold was the subject on some interesting valuation debates in the offseason and for this week those who said he was not worth high end money are clearly winning out.
Best Value: Corey Linsley ($466.2K cap charge, +2.2 PFF grade)- Despite a great deal of criticism levied his way on Thursday, Linsley graded out positively, mainly based on his run blocking ability. In a difficult environment it was not a bad start at all for the 5th round draft pick. Brian De la Puente also had a great week, and was one of my favorite acquisitions of the offseason, but his score was dinged somewhat by limited participation or he may have gotten the nod.
Worst Value: Scott Wells ($4.3M cap charge, -3.0 PFF grade)/Chris Myers ($7.0M cap charge, -1.8 PFF grade)- This was too close for me to call as the difference in cap charges is essentially the difference in scores. Both of these two players are paid to be top 10 centers, but they were anything but on Sunday. Wells was better in pass protection and Myers in run blocking, but neither was good at anything and at that price they were just wasted cap room.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.