Six Facts You Have To Know For Week 6

Let's talk about Greg Olsen more - he's a pretty good football player.

I do these articles each Wednesday, pointing out the crazy outlier-like numbers we’re seeing throughout the NFL by both players and teams. But after five weeks of those same outliers continuing to be outliers, I realize now that it’d get rather repetitive if I were to continuously let you all know that Peyton Manning is on pace to break every passing record imaginable, or that Blaine Gabbert is terrible at throwing the pigskin.

So instead, I’ll do my best to pinpoint the less obvious metrics that could end up shaping your viewpoints on particular players in fantasy and real football. First up? Nick Foles.

Nick Foles’ passing net expected points per pass is second behind only Peyton Manning.

Sample size – I get it. Opponents – I get that too. But there’s something intriguing about this passing net expected points per play number, .51, for Foles.

First, for some background if you’re looking at a numberFire article for the first time, passing net expected points (NEP) is a metric that looks at how well a player is performing above or below expectation at his position. It says, “Hey, this passer has added X number of points for this team over the course of the season.” When you divide that number by the number of passes thrown, you see how efficient a particular quarterback has been, regardless of volume.

And that’s what I’ve done here. Only Peyton Manning has been more efficient than Foles on a per pass basis among 30-plus attempt quarterbacks, and Michael Vick, Foles’ teammate, has a passing NEP/pass of .08. That’s good for 14th among 30-plus attempt throwers.

What does this all mean? Well, Foles hasn’t seen what it’s like to be a starter this season, and his volume has been limited. However, the NEP values we work with do correlate nicely to fantasy success, making it appear that there’s a chance Nick Foles will be plenty fantasy relevant with Michael Vick sidelined.

His Week 6 matchup isn’t phenomenal, but if Vick somehow misses time against the Cowboys or the Giants, Foles could be a nice streaming option over the next few weeks in fantasy. Don’t write him off in Chip Kelly’s offense.

Knowshon Moreno has the best success rate among NFL running backs.

Rushing success rate measures how many – in terms of a percentage – of a player’s touches result in a positive net expected point (shown above) impact. Of every running back with 20 or more touches, Knowshon Moreno – yes, Knowshon freaking Moreno – ranks number one in the NFL under the category. He’s better than everyone – all 53 of them – at getting the most out of each tote.

Clearly a lot of this has to do with how effective the Broncos passing game is. In fact, Ronnie Hillman ranks fifth under the same category. But regardless, as long as Moreno is getting the bulk of the carries in that offense, he’s going to continue to be successful.

Greg Olsen ranks second in percentage of team targets among tight ends.

Not a lot has been said about Greg Olsen this season, but he’s actually putting together a decent year. Through four games (the Panthers had a Week 4 bye), Olsen has a combined 21 receptions for 273 yards and a touchdown. He’s the 12th-ranked half-point PPR tight end, and has played one fewer game than most of his positional peers.

As the heading says, Olsen ranks second in the entire league in percentage of team targets, behind only Jimmy Graham. The Panthers tight end has seen 25.4 percent of Cam Newton’s passes (32 targets), which is just three percent less than wideout Steve Smith.

Olsen continues to be a high-floor play in fantasy football, and should have a few weeks of elite tight end play. If you own him, feel good about having one of the few players at that position that is predictable week in, week out.

No offense has run more plays than the Houston Texans this season.

The Texans have run 402 plays this season, including 229 passes to 144 runs. For some perspective, they’ve ran 11 more plays than the Bills, and 16 more than the Peyton Mannings.

As always, quantity doesn’t mean quality. The team ranks only ahead of Pittsburgh, both New York squads, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville in adjusted net expected points per play. This metric, like the ones above, shows how well above or below expectation a team is performing. Given it’s on a per play basis, it’s a nice measure of efficiency – something the Texans haven’t had a lot of.

Matt Schaub and his play is already the talk of Houston, but a nice matchup against St. Louis this week should rise this efficiency mark. Hopefully.

Alex Smith has run the ball more than Colin Kaepernick this season.

Lost in the “Alex Smith doesn’t throw downfield” criticism is Smith’s ability to run with the football in his hands. So far this season, excluding kneel downs, Alex Smith has rushed the ball 28 times, good for fourth-most among quarterbacks in the league. Only Terrelle Pryor, Russell Wilson and Michael Vick have taken off with the ball more.

This little tidbit is what’s kept Smith in fantasy football QB1 territory this season. He’s had games of 25, 57, 32, 37 and 10 rushing yards this year, which essentially equates to making up for a turnover in pretend pigskin. Expect it to continue in this offense, too.

Pierre Thomas’ rushing net expected points per rush ranks fourth to last.

We’ve talked about Pierre Thomas a couple of times on numberFire this week, noting that he’s one of the elite pass-catching backs in the NFL and that he needs to be owned in more leagues. But his sub-3.0 yards per carry average is a little worrisome, especially when you consider his career-long average of 4.6. The inefficiency to run the ball has placed him in the bottom four in terms of rushing net expected points per rush, only ahead of Montee Ball, David Wilson and Stevan Ridley. Yikes.

He’s great in PPR leagues, catching 28 passes this year compared to his usual 30 to 40 across an entire season. It just needs to be noted that, even with a fair amount of touches on the ground, Thomas’ fantasy ceiling has been limited due to his lack of rushing efficiency.

It could be that we’ll eventually see a slight decline in his receptions, and a steady increase in his running effectiveness. Thomas is not the type of player to see such poor efficiency across an entire season.