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One for bad, two for good: Quantifying C.J. Spiller's impact

By Tim Graham

We return to our regular, in-depth Buffalo Bills statistical analysis segment, sanctioned by Raymond Babbitt ...

One for bad

* Rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore has drawn a laundry basket of yellow flags this year. He has been penalized a team-leading 10 times (all accepted) for 118 yards and nine first downs.

Gilmore is tied for sixth in the NFL in penalties. He would be the leader on 25 teams.

Gilmore has twice as many penalties as his closest teammates, but rookie cornerback Ron Brooks already has five for 69 yards (second on the team) and three first downs in just five games. Rookie left tackle Cordy Glenn and injured tackles Chris Hairston and Erik Pears also have five penalties apiece.

Two for good

* Bills linebacker Nick Barnett's pass coverage was skewered in this space last week. But he has done well in other phases of the game.

Football Outsiders has a defensive stat called "defeats," a combination of tackles for losses, turnovers and plays that deny a third- or fourth-down conversion.

Barnett went into this week tied for 11th in the NFL with 21. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt ranked first with 41, while Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller was a distant second at 33 defeats.

Football Outsiders credited Barnett with 26 defeats last season, tied for 13th.

* computes "expected points added," a metric explained on the site much better than I can articulate it.

C.J. Spiller ranks first among all NFL running backs in EPA by a large margin over Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. also computes "win probability added," a stat similar to the sabremetric formula commonly used in baseball. An explanation from the site: "The model created here at Advanced NFL Stats uses score, time, down, distance and field position to estimate how likely each team will go on to win the game."

The metric is weighted on the importance of the situation. For example, an interception in the first quarter or in a blowout loss doesn't mean as much as one that's thrown late in a close game.

Spiller ranks second in WPA among all running backs behind only Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |