Fantasy Football: The Report, Week 11
What is The Report? It's a comprehensive, statistical look at how teams and players are functioning offensively, with notes as to what it all means for the fantasy football future. Each week, The Report will feature charts on team play-calling tendencies, player usage close to the end zone, deep ball rates, and so much more. With added commentary, the purpose is to not only hand you information, but provide actionable information to crush both season-long and daily fantasy football.
Let's dig into Week 11's report.
|Team||Pass Att||Rush Att||Ratio||Neutral Ratio||RZ Plays||RZ Ratio||GL Plays||GL Ratio|
With Mike McCoy as Arizona's offensive coordinator, the Cardinals averaged 49.9 pass and rush attempts per game. That was easily the lowest in the NFL. In two games with Byron Leftwich, Arizona's seen their average plays per game rise to 62.5, which is a lot more normal. Now, they've faced the San Francisco and Kansas City defenses, but this is a good sign for all Cardinal fantasy assets.
You may be feeling down on Sony Michel after his performance last week, but the Patriots faced a negative game script in their game against the Titans, forcing James White onto the field a lot more than Michel. There are a few things working against Michel in fantasy -- he doesn't see a ton of receiving volume, and Rex Burkhead could return in Week 13. However, one positive is that New England has seen a ton of goal-line work since the first chunk of the season, and they've been the fourth-most run-heavy team in that area of the field this year. The touchdown upside is still there for Michel.
Something that's really helped Andrew Luck in fantasy football this year is that the Colts have been fairly pass-happy at the goal line. They've run 28 plays from within their opponent's 5, ranking fifth in the NFL. But on top of that, they're eighth in pass-to-rush ratio there. Only Deshaun Watson has more goal-line passes than Luck, but unlike Watson, Luck's been able to convert at a high rate -- he leads the league with 10 touchdowns of 5 or fewer yards.
The Steelers have a few tough-ish matchups upcoming against the Jaguars, Broncos, and Chargers. When the fantasy football playoffs hit, though, they'll face Oakland, New England, and New Orleans. Considering they've seen the seventh-highest overall pass-to-rush attempt ratio and the second-highest one in neutral game scripts this year, Ben Roethlisberger and his pass-catchers are in a great spot to help you win in the playoffs this year.
Schedule-Adjusted Net Expected Points
To learn more about numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, check out the glossary. (Note: Negative figures for defense are good.)
|Team||Adj NEP||Adj Pass NEP||Adj Rush NEP||Adj D NEP||Adj D Pass NEP||Adj D Rush NEP|
It's easy to poke fun at Buffalo, but the defense has been pretty solid all season long. Thanks to their dominating performance against the Jets, the Bills now have numberFire's second-ranked pass defense when adjusted for strength of opponent. That's translated to fantasy, too. No team has allowed fewer points to opposing quarterbacks than the Bills have. Since you know Buffalo won't be involved in shootouts, they're a really unattractive matchup for passing attacks.
From an expected points standpoint, the difference between the best pass defense to the worst one is about 118 points so far this year. From the best to worst rush defense, you're looking at about 72. The reason is because it's easier to see large discrepancies in skill via the pass than the run. A great passing game versus a poor one (or the ability to stop a great passing game) is going to give you a bigger advantage than a great running game versus a bad one.
Even still, it's important to look at the extremes, and Kansas City is one of those extremes. They've been dreadful against the run this year, allowing about 38 more points than they should have on the ground alone. In fantasy, no team has allowed more points to opposing backs. And they get Todd Gurley this week. Whew.
Team Pass Defense Splits
The chart below displays the percentage of yards allowed by pass defense to wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs.
The Report is a new column. I started writing it this year. And it's going to evolve. It needs to evolve. After writing it for 10 weeks, I realized that the directional pass defense chart wasn't very useful. The rushing one -- which you can find below -- still is. But the passing one could often be misinterpreted.
So it's being replaced. Instead, I'll provide a chart each week that breaks down the receiving yards allowed by a defense into the percentage that's gone to wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs.
Got it? Cool.
The Chargers have been low-key bad against receiving backs this year. Only the Chiefs have allowed more receiving yards to the position, and they've given up about 110 more, but they've also played an additional game. That makes Phillip Lindsay a more attractive play even though the Broncos will likely be in a negative game script.
C.J. Uzomah has pretty much burned fantasy footballers each week since he's become the full-time starter in Cincinnati. But here's why this may be his week. Uzomah saw only 4 targets in Week 10, but he ran 26 routes according to Pro Football Focus, ranking 11th at tight end. Baltimore, his Week 11 opponent, has allowed the 10th-most yards to the position this year. And as a percentage of total receiving yards, the Ravens actually rank first (or last, depending on how you want to look at it), surrendering 28.6% of their receiving yards to tight ends. He's not an easy start, but he's not a bad one in a pinch.
You've got to love the matchup for Dak Prescott this week. He's been a top-eight fantasy quarterback in three of his last four outings, and he's averaging one rush per game from within his opponent's 10-yard line during this time. And over these four contests, Prescott's yards per attempt has risen to 7.5 from the 6.7 rate he saw across his first five. Atlanta, as I said above, has a bottom-four secondary according to numberFire. They've also allowed a high percentage of receiving yards to the running back position, which plays right into the Cowboys' top offensive weapon, Ezekiel Elliott. If Prescott's on your waiver wire, consider streaming him.
And you could also think about streaming Eli Manning this week. Tampa Bay's been one of the friendliest opponents for quarterbacks this year, surrendering the second-most points to the position. And they've provided a pretty nice floor for any quarterback who's faced them -- in Week 10, Alex Smith became the first starting quarterback to not finish with at least 16 fantasy points against the Bucs. And his offensive line was completely makeshift. He also hasn't been very good this year from a fantasy perspective. You may say the same about Manning, but Eli's given you 19-plus points in three of his last five games. That's something Smith has done once this year.
Team Directional Rushing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
You can see in the gorgeous, color-coded chart above that the Cardinals have struggled on the ground this year. We all know this. David Johnson, among the 53 backs with 50-plus carries, ranks 12th-worst in Success Rate, or the percentage of positive expected point runs made by a back.
Fortunately, that may not matter against Oakland this week. The Raiders are 31st against the run on a per-play basis according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted numbers, and they rank 30th in Success Rate allowed to backs on the ground. DJ should do work again this week.
Jordan Howard had the matchup and the game script last week, but he finished with just 21 rushing yards on 11 carries. He's been almost completely touchdown dependent this season: he has five top-24 performances, and he's scored a touchdown in four of them. And a huge issue for Howard right now is his lack of receiving upside -- he's seen just five targets over his last six games. Against Minnesota this week, a team allowing low yards per carry marks to every portion of the field, Howard's a risky play.
The Colts' offensive line has been strong this year, and the run game has benefited as a result. Their opponent this week, Tennessee, will be an interesting matchup. They've been good at preventing high yards per carry marks to the perimeter, which is where Indy's been most successful. The Titans also haven't allowed a single top-10 running back performance in fantasy football this year. You should probably downgrade Marlon Mack.
Running Back Usage
|Player||Att||Rush %||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Att||RZ Targets||GL Att|
Aaron Jones has been freed. In Week 10, Jones played almost 74% of Green Bay's snaps and handled 15 of the 18 running back carries in the offense. Those are both season highs. The result? 145 rushing yards and a pair of scores. He's a higher-end RB2 with upside from here on out.
I thought Ito Smith was a viable deeper play last week, but he ended up finding the field on just 29% of Atlanta's snaps, his lowest share since Devonta Freeman's injury that sent him to IR. Until we see that bounce back, we can't really trust Smith -- he saw just four carries this past Sunday.
Corey Clement has a Success Rate of just 31% this year, while teammates Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams are at 45% and 48%, respectively. The three Eagles backs split up the backfield evenly in snap share on Sunday night, but it would make sense for Clement to be phased out a bit. And it sounds like that could happen in favor of Adams as soon as this week.
In a negative game flow on Sunday, Kerryon Johnson played 70.5% of Detroit's snaps. He saw more snaps back in Week 8, but he wasn't playing with Theo Riddick back then. So this is kind of significant. Not only that, but Johnson scored a goal-line touchdown after LeGarrette Blount failed to do so on two goal-line attempts. He's been the most effective back in the Lions' backfield this year, and it makes total sense to utilize him more. Things are trending upwards for Johnson, but it would just be nice if his role was more solidified and the Lions' offense was more efficient.
You can't trust Derrick Henry in fantasy football. He's played just 34% of Tennessee's snaps this year, and even with a usable performance in Week 10, he was on the field for only a quarter of the team's snaps. It's Dion Lewis' backfield, and there's reason to actually buy Lewis, but -- and this is what we in the business call a "teaser" -- more on that later.
Wide Receiver Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
After a hot start to the fantasy season, Mike Evans has been kind of meh of late. From Weeks 1 through 3, Evans was fantasy football's number-two receiver in PPR formats. Since, he's averaging the 26th-most points per game at the position. A big reason for that is because he's seen his volume drop a good bit over this time. After Week 3, he had a 27% target share in the Bucs' O. His share on the season is now 22.5%. He's also not finding the end zone, with just one score since Week 3 after scoring in each of his first three games. It's hard to say that he'll have a big comeback there, though, considering he's not seeing a ton of work in the red zone. He should still be considered a WR2 through the rest of the season, but it'd be a surprise to see him post elite WR1 numbers like we saw at the start of the season.
As I talked about in my 15 Transactions column this week, fantasy managers need to pay attention to Anthony Miller. He's leading the Bears in targets over the team's last four games, and he's sixth in the NFL in deep-ball targets during this time. He's still not playing as many snaps as Taylor Gabriel, but the usage has been there. With a favorable schedule ahead, Miller is a must add this week off the waiver wire.
Amari Cooper's numbers look a little funky in the usage chart because, obviously, he switched teams halfway through the season. But over the last two weeks as a Cowboy, Cooper has 18 targets, good for a 26.5% target share. That's far better than what he'd been seeing in Oakland. And over the last two weeks, no player in football has more red-zone targets than Amari Cooper. Yours truly wasn't very high on Cooper post-trade, but things are looking decent for him in Dallas.
In his debut with the Eagles, Golden Tate played just 29% of the team's snaps. It's unfortunate, but it's tough to trust him in what should be a high-scoring game against the Saints. At the very least, he's a risky play.
Tight End Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
Ricky Seals-Jones saw 9 targets on 39 Josh Rosen attempts this past week, and he ran the third-most routes among all NFL tight ends. This week, he's facing an Oakland defense that's allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position this year while allowing the highest Success Rate. If RSJ's Week 10 usage spills over into Week 11, he'll be a strong tight end play. His target share is already one of the best at the tight end position.
Geoff Swaim hasn't done a whole lot this year, but Dallas is facing Atlanta this week, a defense that can really be beat anywhere on the field. The Cowboys are three-point underdogs, so they could throw more than usual, and last week, Swaim ran 27 routes, 10th-most at the tight end position in football. If you need a deep streamer, he could be it.
The fourth-highest target share at tight end belongs to Jordan Reed, but he continues to be a lower-end TE1 option in fantasy football. He's just not scoring. He has just three red-zone targets this year, and Washington has been the fifth-most run-heavy team in the red zone this season. They've also had the lowest pass-to-rush ratio at the goal line. That's not what you like to see if you're hoping for tight end scores.
Deep Ball Passing
|Player||15+ Yd Att||15+ Yd Att %||15+ Comp %||15+ % of Tot Yds||15+ Yd TD %|
Mitchell Trubisky's deep-ball rate on the season is the third-highest in the league, but since Week 3, it's easily the highest. He's been throwing it 15-plus air yards on over 30% of his passes across his last six games, and that's helped him finish as a top-10 fantasy option in five of his last six starts. Add in his rushing and athleticism, and he should be considered a QB1 over the rest of the season.
Over his last two games, Marcus Mariota has posted the two highest yards per attempt rates of his season. Things are pointing up for the Tennessee passing attack. But what's also noteworthy is that only 14.3% of Mariota's touchdowns have come on deep balls, the lowest number in the league if you don't count Nick Mullens. Mariota's been totally fine on deep balls, too. He's about average in deep-ball rate, and he has an above-average completion mark on 15-plus air yard throws. Positive regression is coming.
Russell Wilson is awesome, but being awesome doesn't excuse someone from inevitable regression. Almost 48% of his touchdowns have come on deep balls, and Wilson has an 8.5% touchdown rate this year, 2.6% higher than his career average. Maybe he keeps this up for the rest of the season, but I wouldn't bank on it.
Running Back Touchdown Regression
Regression analysis doesn't always have to be so complicated. As you'd expect, there's a decent correlation between yards gained and touchdowns scored. The regression analysis in The Report looks at running back and wide receiver yards gained, shows how many touchdowns they've scored, and then finds how many touchdowns they should have scored based on trends from the last seven NFL seasons.
|Player||Rush Yds||TD||Should Have||Difference||Rec Yds||TD||Should Have||Difference||Total Difference|
Here's where we're getting back to Dion Lewis: he's a positive touchdown regression candidate. Derrick Henry will steal plenty of goal-line work in the Tennessee offense, but even still, based on his yardage totals, Lewis should have about two more touchdowns than he currently has. And it's not like he's never touched the ball close to his opponent's end zone -- he has more red-zone carries this year than Alex Collins, Melvin Gordon, Joe Mixon, James White, and plenty of other higher-end backs. Given his usage, he could be considered a buy candidate right now.
Wide Receiver Touchdown Regression
|Player||Rec Yds||TD||Should Have||Difference|
|Odell Beckham Jr||858||4||5.15||-1.15|
Tyler Lockett has seven touchdowns with only four red-zone targets. You'd think there's no way he keeps this up, right?
Both Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods are underperforming in the touchdown column, partially because Todd Gurley is owning in the red zone this year for the Rams. But without Cooper Kupp, the two LA wideouts should see a slight bump in opportunities to score. You could consider trading for them right now.
Hey, look, Julio Jones scored again!