With that, to the selections. Envelope, please. The 2011 WPA's go to...
American Football Conference
Top honors this year go to Tom Brady with 6.15 WPA, which is top for the whole league and just a few notches below his insane 2007 season with one game still to play. Brady, perversely, benefited from a very poor NE defense. The way things work, great QBs have more opportunities to gain WPA when their defense keeps giving up points, and Brady took advantage of those opportunities. 6.15 WPA equates to 0.40 WPA per game--which means his passing game carries his Patriots 4/5 of the way to each victory. Brady is #1 in Success Rate (SR), #3 in total EPA, and #3 in EPA per Play.
The NFC owns the #2 through #7 spots on the WPA list, so runner up goes to Joe Flacco with 2.88 WPA. Flacco has made the most of his 12th ranked 65.9 total EPA, playing well when it mattered most. Nearly half of his WPA came from an improbable comeback win at PIT, worth 1.12 WPA for that one game alone. Flacco is not an elite QB, but does appear to be able to manage games behind a league-leading defense. He's 23rd in SR, and tied for 18th in Adjusted Yards Per Attempt (AYPA).
These two guys traded spots from last year. Flacco was #1 and Brady was #2. It's no surprise both of their teams are currently sitting #1 and #2 in the AFC seeding.
Second-year player Ryan Mathews dominated at his position in WPA this season with 1.41 WPA, which is nearly 25% more than his next nearest rival. That's works out to 0.10 WPA in his 14 games. Mathews consistently racked up positive WPA each game, and had only 3 games of negative WPA. His biggest game was in a loss against DEN, with 0.55 WPA. His total EPA of 25.7 ranks 4th in the league, and his SR is tied for 15th with 43.7%.
Again, the NFC owns the next several spots, so we have to dig down to #8 to get Fred Jackson's 0.60 WPA. Jackson achieved that in just 10 games, tying him for 4th in the league for WPA per game. His biggest game came in a win over NE with 0.35 WPA. But he also had a very costly -0.30 against NYJ later in the season. Jackson was #15 in total EPA, #16 in SR, and tied for 2nd in YPC with 5.5.
Darren McFadden deserves an honorable mention with 0.59 WPA over just 7 games.
Wes Welker leads the way for the AFC with 3.28 WPA, accounting for half of Brady's total. His next-nearest league rival doesn't come close, with 2.63. Welker is #1 in total EPA, #4 in SR, #2 in total targets, and #5 in Catch Rate (CR). Welker's biggest day came in the losing shootout with BUF with 0.86 WPA and 24.3 EPA!
Rookie A.J. Green is next in the AFC with 1.97 WPA. Green is #8 in total EPA, #16 in SR, and was a deep target over 40% of the time. Green had several big games, but the biggest was in a 24-17 win over TEN. He caught all 7 ball thrown his way.
Another rookie, Torrey Smith rounds out the AFC's top receiving corps with 1.94 WPA, barely behind Green. Smith is #10 in total EPA but was only #42 in SR, partially because he was a deep target over 50% of the time. Smith's big game was in BAL's win at PIT.
Rob Gronkowski overshadows every other TE this season with 2.75 WPA, nearly double the nearest competitor. He's #1 in EPA, by a lot, #3 in SR, #1 in YPT, and #4 in CR. An amazing season. His biggest WPA day came in the loss to NYG, in which he was good for 0.61 WPA.
Owen Daniels is second in the AFC with 1.26 WPA. He's #6 in total EPA and #8 in SR. His biggest day came in a 20-19 win over CIN with 0.26 WPA.
For the second year in a row, NE's offensive line represents the AFC with 1.23 WPA. They're #2 in the league in EPA and 6th best in sacks allowed. The NE o-line allowed the fewest tackles for losses all season.
BAL's o-line is next best with 0.78 WPA. But they also have a negative EPA, ranking 22nd in the league in that department. The BAL offense is either playing smart, being lucky, or most likely some combination of both.