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Lunchbreak: ‘Traditional’ & ‘Advanced’ Stats Have Thielen Among NFL.com’s ‘Most Impactful’ WRs

A handful of numbers are notable throughout the first six weeks of the NFL season.

NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund made the following observations in a recent article:

Through Week 6, NFL teams have scored 4,489 combined points, 239 more than the fastest prior six-week scoring pace (4,250 points, set in 2014). This season, 328 passing touchdowns have already been scored, 25 TDs ahead of the pace in ’14 (303 passing TDs through Week 6). And games are coming down to the wire. If this season’s current average margin of victory (10.58) holds, it will be the third-lowest since 1991. Meanwhile, we've had a record nine overtime games to start the season.

But how are games being won or lost amid the flurry of points being scored? That is to say, who is having the greatest impact on the final outcome in this offensive bonanza?

Frelund said she zeroed in on the receiver position to “determine which wide receivers in today’s NFL have the greatest impact on winning games.”

Adam Thielen came in at No. 2 on Frelund’s list behind Saints receiver Michael Thomas. She wrote:

Thielen’s on-ball impact couldn’t be higher, between his leading the NFL in receiving yards and topping the century mark in each of his six games thus far. The traditional stats make sense. The advanced stats show that he has created the most separation and yards after the catch on plays where Kirk Cousins is under pressure and holds onto the ball for more than 2.5 seconds. Given that Cousins has been under pressure more than any other quarterback, Thielen’s ability to adjust and adapt is helping to both reduce the risk of turnovers and extend drives for the Vikings. This propels him all the way to second on this list, despite the fact that he has not faced as many No. 1 corners as some of the others listed here. 

Listed after Thielen were Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, Los Angeles Chargers Keenan Allen, Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, Pittsburgh’s Juju Smith-Schuster and Green Bay’s Davante Adams.

Thielen included on PFF’s Team of the Week

Thielen continues to get recognition across the league as he continues to rack up stats.

Thielen, who leads the league in catches (58) and receiving yards (712), was recently included on the “Team of the Week” put together by analytics site Pro Football Focus.

PFF’s Gordon McGuinness explained the approach:

The team format will match the improved All-Pro system when it comes to offensive and defensive formation, with a flex player for both sides of the ball that can be either a receiver, slot weapon, tight end or running back on offense, and anybody in the defensive secondary on defense. This gives us the flexibility to reward the player that best deserves it across multiple positions, rather than shoehorning in somebody just to fit a slot receiver or cornerback role.

Thielen received a 90.9 grade and was one of two receivers included on the team, joining Hill. McGuinness wrote the following of Thielen:

Six games in a row. Nobody in the Super Bowl era had opened the season with six straight 100-yard games, but that is exactly what Thielen accomplished [Sunday]. From 39 snaps as a receiver, he picked up 123 yards on 11 receptions, giving him a yards per route run average of 3.15. At this point, the big question is how long he can keep the streak going.

Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks was the only other NFC North player included.

Thanks to Rudolph, TE’s alma mater breaking ground on fitness center

Last year, it was announced that Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph committed financial support for the construction of a new fitness center at his alma mater, Elder High School.

On Wednesday morning, the Cincinnati high school broke ground on the 19,500-square-foot facility. Scott Springer of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote:

The new Panther Fitness Center will feature a weight room on the first floor, which doubles the current space, as well as a more than 6,000-square-foot second-floor, multi-purpose room. The project is expected to be completed in two phases as funds are secured. Elder graduate and [Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph] has personally committed his financial support of the project, and the school has already secured additional funding to complete Phase I. 

“The main reason I wanted to do it was I know what this place did for me,” Rudolph told the Enquirer last spring. “I was born a Panther, I had a dad that went here, a grandfather than went here, uncles that went here, I went here and my brother went here. Now, we have cousins here.

“This place is something always near and dear to my heart,” Rudolph continued. “I had every resource and every opportunity to become the man and player I am today. I want kids who are coming here now and in the future to have every opportunity.”

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