Earlier this year, we introduced the Total Points metric at FootballOutsiders.com. This stat was created to assess player value based on what a player is truly responsible for, using charting data and the Expected Points framework.
With that in mind, let’s look at the leaders at the different skill positions this season.
Drew Brees of the Saints edged out Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs by a slim margin that essentially renders the two as having had equally valuable seasons. Brees excelled at throwing the ball downfield, completing an NFL-best 58 percent of his throws that went at least 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and at avoiding the sack. He took 17 in 15 games.
Mahomes racked up yardage and touchdowns in bulk, throwing for 5,097 yards and 50 scores. He had more Points Earned on third and fourth down than anyone else in the league, thanks to 14 touchdowns and an average of 9 air yards per completion (third among quarterbacks).
|Most Total Points by QB
It’s not enough to run the ball. Someone who hopes to lead in this stat needs to catch it too. Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers does both well and ranks No. 1 in Total Points, ahead of Giants rookie Saquon Barkley. He ranked 14th in points earned on rushes and 20th in points earned on receptions (first among running backs). McCaffrey had 107 catches on 124 targets in 2018 (86 percent catch rate) compared to 80 catches on 113 targets last season (71 percent) thus allowing him to do what was needed more often. He finished the season as the only player with at least 75 targets and no drops.
|Most Total Points by RB
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
Since we’re looking at accumulated value, playing an entire season has value. That’s what vaults Julio Jones of the Falcons into the No. 1 spot, though on a per-play basis, he’s a smidge behind Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants. Jones bounced back from an off-year to lead the NFL in receiving yards (1,677). In addition to his standout receiving numbers, Beckham got a spike from two long touchdown passes.
Among tight ends, Travis Kelce emerges a hair ahead of George Kittle. Kelce caught 69 percent of targets, three percentage points better than Kittle, though both had an 88 percent on-target catch percentage. The Chiefs’ success on third down was partly due to Kelce’s success. Kelce caught 25-of-33 third-down targets, leading to 22 first downs. Kelce had one fewer third down reception than tight end leader Zach Ertz, but had 10 fewer targets.
|Most Total Points by WR
|Most Total Points by Tight End