Ranking NFL's most valuable players  

September, 28, 2012

He is the eighth name on the New York Jets' Week 4 injury report, just behind linebacker Nick Bellore and just in front of defensive tackle Mike Devito. Both of those guys are listed as "full participation in practice." But not Darrelle Revis. He gets the definitive and, considering the circumstances, understated "out (definitely will not play)."

But let's face it, we all know teams aren't throwing names on the injury list to be good sports and let opponents know who might or might not be playing. I think Tom Brady has been listed on every injury report since he paid Mo Lewis to knock Drew Bledsoe into a journeyman career. Other than the obvious injuries that coaches can't avoid adding to the list -- next week we might see "Josh Cribbs, nearly beheaded" -- these lists are as full of lies and deception as a night at a Nucky Thompson joint.

The lists are -- all together now -- for gambling purposes. Which means there's a column missing on these reports that would be just as valuable as a player's status and his name: What is his absence worth to the point spread?

This is something my Insider buddy Chris Sprow and I have been debating for years. In the days leading to the Indianapolils Colts-New Orleans Saints Super Bowl in 2010, I asked several bookmakers and wiseguys what they thought Peyton Manning was worth in point-spread value. The Colts, if you remember, were a statistically mediocre team that year. Their overall defense was just 18th. The running game averaged a middling 3.5 yards per carry. And yet, the line for that Super Bowl was posted as Colts minus-3.5. Within minutes it moved to Colts minus-5.5. Manning was that dominant presence, from an on-field perspective and from a public-perception perspective.

The Vegas guys thought Manning was worth seven points on his own. Taking into account how bad his backup, Curtis Painter, was, they tacked on three more. One player, 10 points. It's like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball. We can call it Point Spread Value Above Replacement, because PSVAR just rolls off the tongue. Or, in a brazen bid for immortality, we can call them the Millman Rankings™. Because if Sagarin can do it, why they hell can't I? I have my own Insider column for god's sake.

Even in his first game back from neck surgery, playing for a new team after a year out of the league, you could see Peyton's value.

"Think about it this way," Todd Furhman of DonBest.com told me Wednesday night. "The Broncos were 8.5-point underdogs against the [Pittsburgh] Steelers in the playoffs when Tim Tebow was quarterback. With Peyton, in Week 1, they were 2.5-point favorites."