JVM: Detroit Lions
In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Jahnke Value Model” number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2013. You can read about the work we’ve done to create it HERE, but in short:
• It’s solely about what a player did on the field in 2013
• Players are grouped by positions so their play essentially earns them a portion of the positional salary pool
• It’s all about cap hits (these values are approximate)
Here are 2013′s most undervalued and overvalued Detroit Lions:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Joique Bell, Halfback
The Lions made the big splash in signing Reggie Bush last offseason, but Joique Bell was their most effective running back for the second straight year. Bell forced 48 missed tackles, just three fewer than Bush despite getting roughly 20 percent fewer touches. Bell averaged a sixth-best 1.90 Yards Per Route Run and his 547 receiving yards were second-most on the Lions. Bell’s value nearly reached $7 million even though he played less than half of the Lions’ snaps this season.
2013 Cap Hit: $600k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $6.9m
Value Differential: +$6.3m
2. Larry Warford, Right Guard
Our Offensive Rookie of the Year was one of the most consistent linemen in football in 2013. Warford finished with easily the highest overall grade for a rookie guard in PFF history and was our fourth-ranked guard overall. He averaged less than one allowed pressure per game and didn’t allow a sack in nearly 700 drop-backs. While it’s unsurprising that he outplayed the value of his rookie contract, his performance made him one of the biggest bargains of any offensive lineman.
2013 Cap Hit: $600k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $6.6m
Value Differential: +$6m
3. Joseph Fauria, Tight End
The undrafted rookie played only 26.9% of the Lions’ offensive snaps yet quickly became a red-zone threat for Matthew Stafford. He showed up when called upon, scoring seven touchdowns in 30 targets. His value didn’t go far beyond that, but he made plenty of impactful plays considering his cap hit and role in the offense.
2013 Cap Hit: $400k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $4.2m
Value Differential: +$3.8m
4. Willie Young, DE – Cap: $1.5m, JVM: $4.7m, Value Differential: +$3.2m
5. DeAndre Levy, OLB – Cap: $2m, JVM: $5.2m, Value Differential: +$3.2m
6. Stephen Tulloch, MLB – Cap: $4.8m, JVM: $8m, Value Differential: +$3.2m
7. Glover Quin, S – Cap: $2m, JVM: $4.7m, Value Differential: +$2.7m
8. Rashean Mathis, CB – Cap: $600k, JVM: 3.2, Value Differential: +$2.6m
9. Louis Delmas, S – Cap: $1.2m, JVM: $3.8m, Value Differential: +$2.6m
10. Dominic Raiola, C – Cap: $3m, JVM: $5.4m, Value Differential: +$2.4m
1. Nate Burleson, Wide Receiver*
For the second-straight season Burleson missed significant time due to injury, although this year it was due to an odd off-field incident. Still, he graded ‘green’ in just one of the nine games he played and was average at best throughout the season. Burleson’s strength has been his ability to work well in the slot but he averaged 1.26 Yards Per Route Run from the position, 38th out of 60 qualifying receivers.
2013 Cap Hit: $4m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $900k
Value Differential: -$3.1m
2. Brandon Pettigrew, Tight End
The former first-round pick failed to take a step forward in his contract year when the Lions needed him most. On a team desperate for a solid receiving option after Calvin Johnson, Pettigrew finished fifth on the team in receptions (41) and sixth in receiving yards (416). His value could have been higher had he been a better blocker to offset his mediocrity in the passing game. However, at times Pettigrew struggled to hold his own, ranking 48th of 64 tight ends with a combined -8.6 run and screen blocking grade.
2013 Cap Hit: $3.5m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $700k
Value Differential: -$2.8m
3. Tony Scheffler, Tight End
Scheffler had long been a staple in the Lions’ pass offense due to his unique size-speed combination that allowed them to move him around in formations. His 2013 season got off to a rocky start though, dropping three of his first 10 catchable targets in five games. So after suffering another concussion, the Lions decided to part ways with the 31-year-old midseason knowing that the aforementioned Fauria was capable of taking over his role.
2013 Cap Hit: $3m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $400k
Value Differential: -$2.6m
4. Matthew Stafford, QB – Cap: $17.8m, JVM: $15.3m, Value Differential: -$2.5m
5. Shaun Hill, QB – Cap: $3.3m, JVM: $900km, Value Differential: -$2.3m
6. Jason D. Jones, DE* – Cap: $1.8m, JVM: $100k, Value Differential: -$1.7m
7. Chris Houston, CB – Cap: $2.3m, JVM: $700k, Value Differential: -$1.6m
8. Ndamukong Suh, DT – Cap: $10.5m, JVM: $9.6m, Value Differential: -$900k
9. Ezekiel Ansah, DE – Cap: $3.4m, JVM: $2.5m, Value Differential: -$900k
10. Rob Sims, LG – Cap: $3.4m, JVM: $2.5m, Value Differential: -$900k
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$17.2m
The Lions finished with one of the best team value differentials. Not only did they benefit from great value out of some of their youngest and lowest paid players, but the Lions’ three highest paid players came close to earning their high cap numbers. Even though Stafford was the fourth-most overpaid player on the team, he had the second-highest cap hit of any player in the league. The Lions’ most overvalued player was -$3.1 million, which wouldn’t crack the Top 5 for many teams. Continuing to get value from these players will be even more important as they head into 2014 with less salary cap room than most other teams.
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