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Best non-QB performances of wild-card weekend

Randall Cobb (18) and Davante Adams (17) were among the most important non-QBs of wild-card weekend. AP Photo/Mike Roemer

We've looked at each of the eight quarterbacks from wild-card weekend, but what about the other players? While we don't have a Total Running Back or Total Tight End Rating, we can still approximate a player's contributions using the team's Expected Points Added (EPA) metric. For this exercise, offensive players will be assigned the team's EPA values for rushes, receptions and drops on the plays they're involved in. From there, we apply an adjustment to judge the plays by type. This way, rushes are judged against other rushes and receptions against other receptions. This is done to create more of a level playing field for running backs, as the value of the passing game is greater than that of running the ball.

On defense, we will count tackles (solo and assisted), sacks, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries, interceptions and passes defended -- but only when they help the defense. This is largely to avoid penalizing players for making tackles downfield, when the EPA and WPA (win probability added) values will favor the offense. Counting all plays can overly penalize defensive backs who are forced to make tackles downfield, and doesn't penalize the defensive linemen or linebackers who may have missed tackles on the same play. We also won't be splitting the EPA if more than one player is involved in a play for the defense -- both players will get the team's EPA on split sacks, or if multiple players are credited with a tackle.

Cobb, Adams among top offensive players

Leading the way for offensive skill players was Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb. Green Bay accumulated 12.7 EPA on his five receptions, with his Hail Mary touchdown reception at the end of the first half accounting for 6.3 EPA on its own. His other two TD catches (of 30 and 16 yards) each clocked in at just over 3.0 EPA each, which helped Cobb earn the top spot.

Thomas Rawls was the top running back of the week, trailing only Cobb as the Seattle Seahawks racked up 11.5 EPA on his rushes and receptions. While Rawls didn't have a single massive play like Cobb's Hail Mary touchdown, he did provide steady production. Eighteen of his 27 carries were positive, and he had six carries that were worth more than one EPA -- for context the average rush this season was worth 0.1 expected points added. Rawls' biggest carry was his 26-yard gain on a second-and-10 at the Seattle 24-yard line, a play that brought the Seahawks to midfield and was worth 2.1 EPA. That carry edged Rawls' longest gain of the day, which was 32 yards and worth a 2.0 EPA.

Next up was another Packers receiver, Davante Adams, with 10.7 EPA. His lone touchdown reception was his biggest play at just over 2.3 EPA for the Packers, but maybe the most impressive part was that six of his eight receptions were worth at least one expected point added. Seven of Adams' eight receptions went for first downs.

Steelers dominate defensive EPA list

The top of the defensive leaderboard is laden with Pittsburgh Steelers, who own the top four spots and five of the top eight. Seemingly ageless linebacker James Harrison topped all defenders with 7.7 EPA, recording a defensive stat on 10 plays during the game -- all of which were beneficial to the Steelers defense. Harrison's biggest play was his late first-half strip-sack of Matt Moore deep in Steelers territory, which was worth 2.8 EPA. He was involved in another sack of Moore that was worth 1.0 EPA for Pittsburgh.

Joining Harrison in the top four were teammates Stephon Tuitt (7.5), Mike Mitchell (6.92) and Ryan Shazier (6.91).

Tuitt recovered the aforementioned fumble that Harrison forced, as well as making back-to-back stops on third- and fourth-down near the end of the third quarter to force a turnover on downs -- plays worth a combined 3.8 EPA. Mitchell's biggest contribution came via his strip-sack early in the third quarter (4.9 EPA), as well as an assist on Tuitt's aforementioned third-down stop. Shazier's impact was felt via an interception and return into Dolphins territory to set the Steelers up in field goal range -- a play worth 4.7 EPA.

The biggest contribution from a non-Steeler came from New York Giants safety Landon Collins, who was involved in 11 plays worth 6.65 EPA. The bulk of his contributions came on back-to-back plays in the third quarter in which Collins tackles helped cause the Packers to turn the ball over on downs. The plays were worth a combined 4.5 EPA.

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