The Denver Broncos didn’t get the start to the 2020 season that they had hoped for. Monday’s late-night game against the Tennessee Titans ended in a loss, courtesy of a game-winning field goal kicked with just seconds left on the clock. But, in a game with its fair share of missed opportunities, there were definitely some shining moments for the Broncos offense. Specifically, tight end Noah Fant, who had an exceptional opening night.
Noah Fant on the Offensive Value Metric Charts
No doubt about it, Fant’s first half play is what helped keep Denver in the game as long as they did on Monday. Fant’s production alone attributed to the largest part of the Broncos’ overall offense and he carried a massive amount of individual value for his team. His OVM grade for Monday night was a monster 57.81.
The Offensive Value Metric (OVM) was created to provide a numerical scale to measure the overall value that an individual player provides to his offensive unit. A player with a higher OVM grade isn’t necessarily a higher skilled player, but they do create more offensive production for their team than a player with a lower OVM.
Fant’s Week 1 OVM grade is ridiculously high. For comparison, if a player really puts the team on his back one week, it’s possible to see an OVM grade a little north of 40.00. For Fant’s grade to be nearly 60 means that, if he’s not in the game, you’re getting a completely different result. Remember that, I’m going to come back to it.
First half breakout
Fant played lights out in the first two quarters. He brought in all five of the passes thrown his way for 81 yards and a touchdown. He attributed to almost 21% of Denver’s total air yardage and averaged almost ten yards of up-field movement before being targeted. What was most impressive was his YAC movement of 11.7 yards of positive offense after the catch — the third-highest YAC of any NFL receiver in Week 1.
That one touchdown wasn’t a walk in the park, either. Heavily defended, and while being held by a Titans defender, Fant brought in a nine-yard pass from QB Drew Lock for a first-quarter touchdown. With just a 30% chance of completion, this play is already listed as a top Improbable Completions play of 2020 on the NFL NextGen stats list.
Where the Broncos need to improve with Noah Fant
Remember what I mentioned earlier? About how the game would have been completely different without Fant in it? Well, unfortunately, Monday night’s game was a tale of two halves. Because as excellent and “just can’t miss” as Fant’s play was in the first half, he just wasn’t targeted in the second.
After coming back onto the field after halftime, Fant had just one more pass thrown his way all night. It didn’t seem that he had any additional coverage from earlier in the game, it just seemed to be a shift in-game strategy from the Broncos. With as productive as Fant had been Monday night, it’s easy to assume that with just a handful of more passes (especially later in the fourth when the Broncos needed to put the game away) the game’s result would have been different.
The Titans’ defense can be formidable and a true force. Don’t forget they were competing for the AFC Championship last year. But Fant seemed to break into them with no problem. If this is any indication of what his production value can be this year, the Broncos will have to lean on him more.
Moving forward this season, the Denver offense must find a way to recognize when they have a weapon on their front that is playing at a high level and capitalize on it. Fant was obviously able to find holes in the Tennessee defense and exploit it for some serious yardage. But regardless, Fant gave us a glimpse of the amount of value that he can add to his offense.