Fantasy Football: The Report, Week 2
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 2's report, knowing that we're dealing with a very small sample size.
|Team||Pass Att||Rush Att||Ratio||+/-6 Ratio||RZ Plays||RZ Ratio||GL Plays||GL Ratio|
|DEN||39||32||1.22||0.93||1||No Rush||1||No Rush|
|LAC||51||22||2.32||1.33||4||No Rush||1||No Rush|
The crazy thing is, despite not running a single play when the game was within six points, the Bills still had a pass-to-run ratio that was below the league's average in Week 1. It's no secret that they're going to want to run the ball this year, but it's frightening to think about how that may impact their offensive result, as passing is far more efficient than rushing is. And it won't be all that easy to move the ball against the Chargers this week and the Vikings in Week 3.
After running the fewest plays in football last year, Cincinnati started 2018 by...running the fewest plays in football. They were fortunate to score a touchdown on 30% of their drives, seventh-best in Week 1. But if they aren't able to consistently move the ball down the field, there could be volume issues in fantasy football for this offense. A tough matchup against Baltimore on Thursday night won't help things at all.
Cincinnati's Week 1 opponent, Indianapolis, featured the now-healthy Andrew Luck pretty heavily. And he didn't throw a ton of passes simply because the Colts trailed at times in the game. No team had a higher neutral game script (when the game margin was within six points) pass-to-rush attempt ratio in Week 1 than the Colts, and Indy also threw the ball at one of the highest rates in the red zone. This bodes well for all Colts' pass-catchers.
Unsurprisingly, both Arizona and Dallas had one of the lowest neutral script ratios across the NFL in Week 1. That'll happen when you have David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott. The problem is, when the offenses can't move the ball through the air to move the chains, fewer plays are run. Dallas tallied 51 pass and rush attempts on Sunday, while Arizona had 49. The league's average was 62.38. Elliott and Johnson saved their fantasy football days with scores, but using non-Larry Fitzgerald receivers from those offenses isn't wise at this point. We've got to see better passing efficiency.
Atlanta had a pretty pass-heavy gameplan on opening night, but it made sense given the opponent. They finished the day with a 2.39 pass-to-rush attempt ratio, and when the game was close, that number was actually higher. Don't let it scare you off that backfield, though an approach similar to last week's would make sense against Carolina this week.
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|
After one week, Minnesota has the worst rushing offense in football, per numberFire's expected points model. Dalvin Cook should be totally fine in fantasy football given he saw roughly 80% of the Vikings' snaps on Sunday, but he also only had one single successful run out of his 16 attempts. And his fumble shifted the expected points equation quite a bit, too, which is why the team is ranked so low.
Funny and predictably enough, the Saints and Buccaneers have the two worst-ranked secondaries in football after their shootout over the weekend. Tampa Bay has some personnel issues within their secondary (on both a talent and injury front), but New Orleans has strong playmakers in theirs. And they've got a good chance to rebound in Week 2 against a Browns passing attack that currently sits third-worst in the league. For those of you on the verge of dropping the New Orleans defense in fantasy, you may want to give them another week. Bad days happen.
The worst rush defense in the league right now according to NEP is the Steelers, but much of that has to do with Tyrod Taylor. Just a little ahead of Pittsburgh is Green Bay, who were gashed by Jordan Howard on the ground on Sunday night. Among the 31 backs with 10 or more carries in Week 1, Howard had the highest Success Rate (the percentage of positive runs made by a running back). Given his usage (which you can find below), it could be a big year for Howard.
Team Directional Passing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
Is this real? The Bills seriously averaged 0.20 yards when throwing to the left side of the field on Sunday?
Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey were great in the Baltimore secondary, and Buffalo completed just one pass to that side of the field that went for positive yardage. What's interesting is that they're facing the Chargers this week, who struggled in that area in Week 1. The difference is that they struggled against Tyreek Hill, and they'll face the literal opposite of Hill this week in Kelvin Benjamin. Don't be scared off of the Chargers' D -- they're an elite play in Week 2.
As you can see, one of the best parts of Oakland's offense on Monday night happened in the middle of the field. That's where Jared Cook was, and in case you missed it, Cook went off for 9 catches and 180 yards against the Rams. Aside from New Orleans (because they allowed so many big plays), the team that struggled most in the middle of the field during Week 1 was Denver. The Broncos have been a funnel-passes-to-the-tight-end defense over the last few years given their strong cornerback play, and that could create another favorable matchup for Cook in Week 2.
Adam Thielen saw 9 slot targets against the 49ers, converting them into 5 catches for 68 yards. This week, Golden Tate will play that role, matching up against slot corner K'Waun Williams, who allowed the third-most slot receiving yards in Week 1 according to Pro Football Focus. Matthew Stafford had a brutal outing on Monday night, but the Lions, as you can see in the team play-calling chart above, were very pass-heavy, similar to previous seasons under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. That volume will give Tate both a nice floor and ceiling each week.
Chris Hogan struggled on Sunday, playing over 90% of New England's snaps while seeing five targets and catching just one of them. This week, the Patriots get the Jaguars secondary, who greatly limited non-Odell Beckham pass-catchers in Week 1. It'll be tough to trot Hogan out in your lineup confidently this week.
The Jets' left side passing numbers are skewed a bit by the big Robby Anderson touchdown, but Miami, their Week 2 opponent, did a good job on the perimeter against the Titans in Week 1. That means we might see Quincy Enunwa featured once again, as he played 65% of his snaps from the slot against the Lions.
Team Directional Rushing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
Cincinnati's offensive rushing chart doesn't look all that appealing, but don't look too much into that. They ran an even number of plays on the left and right side, and Joe Mixon, according to numberFire's expected points model, ranked only behind Jordan Howard in Success Rate among 10-plus carry backs this past week. The matchup isn't ideal for Week 2, but taking some sort of methodical, ground-and-pound approach is probably coming for Cincinnati given Baltimore's secondary (even without Jimmy Smith). It feels like entering daily fantasy games on Thursday night in order to fade the game will be a strong move this week.
Speaking of Joe Mixon, his Week 1 opponent, Indianapolis, will be on the road to face Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson in Week 2. Combined, the two Washington backs had a 54.84% Success Rate in Week 1 (the league average is usually around 40% or lower) and, as noted, Mixon had one of the highest Success Rates in football this past week. Given the potential for a positive Washington game script, we could see another strong Peterson performance.
The Jets ran all over the Lions on Monday night, but given Miami's Week 1 performance, we shouldn't expect a repeat in Week 2. Derrick Henry had just a 20% Success Rate against the Dolphins, while Dion Lewis' was more than double that. Perhaps this means the shiftier pass-catching back Bilal Powell will find more success than Isaiah Crowell in Week 2 but, regardless, don't move forward with the expectation that New York can do what they did in Week 1 again, even if this week's game is at home.
Running Back Usage
|Player||Att||Rush %||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Att||RZ Targets||GL Att|
Alvin Kamara saw over 61% of the Saints' rushes this past week, which is over double his rushing share post-Adrian Peterson in 2017. More importantly for Kamara, though, was his 27% target share. It wasn't as high as Christian McCaffrey's, but the Saints also threw the ball 19 more times than the Panthers, so our sample of Drew Brees consistently targeting his running back is larger. Kamara should continue to eat with Mark Ingram sidelined.
Kareem Hunt's usage in Week 1 was a little frustrating, as he saw fewer than 60% of the team's rushes and just one target through the air. Not only that, but Patrick Mahomes threw the ball three times and ran it twice himself at the goal line. One game isn't enough to want to sell Hunt (you'd be selling him low, anyway), especially with a game against Pittsburgh upcoming. But it's not a good start for the Chiefs' back.
We got a clearer look at how the usage for a few players may look in particular game scripts. Marshawn Lynch's last touch in the Raiders-Rams game came with over three minutes left in the third quarter, lowering his rushing share to under 50%. Nyheim Hines saw almost 17% of Indianapolis' targets, with four of his nine targets coming within the final four minutes of the game while the Colts trailed. Dion Lewis out-everything'd Derrick Henry in a game that got away from the Titans.
The split in San Francisco was pretty even, with Matt Breida seeing looks through the air and Alfred Morris serving as the goal-line back. Morris actually led the league in goal-line rushes this week, but he failed to convert and actually fumbled close to the end zone. Perhaps that changes the way the 49ers approach their goal line approach, but it's unlikely.
Frank Gore had a crazy-good 66.67% Success Rate on his 9 carries against the Titans, which was probably annoying to Kenyan Drake truthers. The silver lining is that Drake still played over 74% of Miami's snaps, far more than Gore. The Dolphins won and Gore played well, so it'd be irrational to think this backfield will shift into Drake's favor overnight, but the snap rate is a positive sign.
Wide Receiver Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
I've already mentioned him, but congratulations if you picked Quincy Enunwa to be the target share leader after Week 1. Whew.
There were tons of big performances from wide receivers this week. The table above is sorted by target share, and as you can see, nine different wide receivers hit the 30% mark within the metric. That's not going to be sustained throughout the year, but that's a number that's rarely hit by a wide receiver -- the only ones we can really bank on getting close are players like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Odell Beckham (and maybe Michael Thomas and Keenan Allen).
Corey Davis' usage in Week 1 was awesome. If we had more clarity around his quarterback situation, he would've been featured as a buy in this week's 15 Transactions column. But Davis saw over 34% of Tennessee's targets, he was on the field for 91% of the team's snaps, he had 3 red zone targets, and he also saw a pair of goal-line targets. With Delanie Walker sidelined with an injury, Davis' volume should be there for a breakout year. It'll just depend on the quarterback play.
As big of a game as Kenny Stills had, it's a little discouraging to see him with a 17.86% target share after Week 1. He was out-targeted by Jakeem Grant, who played far fewer snaps. That's the thing, though -- Stills had a big game despite the low target share, and given the snap numbers, his volume should regress positively. Hold tight.
In his Browns debut, Jarvis Landry saw 15 targets and a 37.50% target share. Those are insane numbers. What's even more insane is that his average depth of target was 15.4, when his previous career high was 7.7. Todd Haley and the Browns are going to use Landry more as a down-the-field receiver, which is great for his fantasy outlook. He's more than just a slot receiver.
Randall Cobb came through for fantasy owners in Week 1 with a big, clutch performance, seeing double-digit targets and 27% of Green Bay's targets. This really is just a continuation off of last year, where Cobb was posting WR2 numbers when Aaron Rodgers was healthy. But with Rodgers banged up again, the Packers may look to get the ball out quickly, which would benefit Cobb in the offense.
Tight End Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
Jared bleeping Cook.
Cook took advantage of a plus matchup against the Rams and was targeted on 30% of Derek Carr's passes. Will he keep up that type of target share? Of course not. Can he be a top-10 tight end asset this year? Why not? The Raiders don't have much competition for targets, and Cook will be on the field a lot, as we saw Monday night (90.5% snap share). He's also got three straight positive matchups upcoming, making him a nice add off the waiver wire this week.
Eric Ebron scored the touchdown, but Jack Doyle is still very easily the tight end I want in Indianapolis. He played more than double the amount of snaps as Ebron played, he ran 28 more routes, and he had double the number of targets. He's in a great place fantasy-wise.
Ricky Seals-Jones was a mild disappointment on Sunday, but his peripheral numbers look strong. He played about 93% of Arizona's snaps and saw over 17% of the team's targets. And, per Pro Football Focus, he ran the ninth-most routes at tight end this week even with so few plays run by the Cardinals. He's got sleeper appeal against a Rams team this week that just allowed a monster day to the aforementioned Jared Cook.
We didn't get a whole lot of clarity with the Tampa Bay tight end split, though O.J. Howard played far more snaps than Cameron Brate. The problem is, neither tight end ran a ton of routes -- Howard ran 16, while Brate ran 14. You're going to need to see a strong performance from one of them before you can confidently throw them into your lineup.
Deep Ball Passing
|Player||15+ Yd Att||15+ Yd Att %||15+ Comp %||15+ % of Tot Yds||15+ Yd TD %|
I mentioned Jack Doyle's strong numbers, and part of the reason you should love him is because Andrew Luck isn't pushing the ball down the field. Of his 53 attempts this past weekend, only 5 of them traveled 15 or more yards through the air. That lower average depth of target will greatly benefit Doyle.
You know who's not afraid to sling it? Patrick Mahomes. A concern of mine entering the year was that even though Mahomes has a gifted arm, it wasn't a given that a large number of his attempts would go deep. And even if they did go deep, there's no guarantee that he'd be as effective as Alex Smith last year, who was arguably the best deep-ball passer in the league (that's still weird to write).
In other words, I was a believer in Mahomes' talent, but worried about how everything would come together for fantasy football.
Well, forget all that. Forget being level-headed. Mahomes threw it deep on one-third of his throws, completing well over half of them. There may be some regression coming there, but if you bought Mahomes, good on you. He should be good to go on Sunday against the Steelers.
Speaking of Alex Smith, he returned to his conservative ways on Sunday, tossing exactly zero deep balls. Game script probably played a role there, but if that continues, it should be a plus for slot receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Jordan Reed.
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|
The season is young, so we're not going to learn a lot from regression analysis like this just yet. The biggest negative regression candidate appears to be Jay Ajayi, but as I noted in my 15 Transactions column this week, he's not a sell candidate as a result of that. He's more of a hold.
On the other end, there's Lamar Miller. Alfred Blue stole a goal-line rush and a touchdown from him on Sunday, and while that's not a good sign for what's to come, the rush also came after the Texans were in the hurry-up. There's a chance Miller was gassed. Or, at least, that's the narrative I'm telling myself.
Wide Receiver Touchdown Regression
|Player||Rec Yds||TD||Should Have||Difference|
|Odell Beckham Jr||111||0||0.67||0.67|
Kenny Golladay (Babytron) came through with a big 114-yard performance on Monday night, but he failed to score. Touchdowns should come, but he's still competing for red zone targets with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, who both saw two in their game against the Jets. Golladay had one.
The top positive regression candidate is none other than Julio Jones. If you recall from last week's Report, Jones had one of the flukiest touchdown seasons we've seen in recent memory given the number of receiving yards he saw. The Falcons were inept in the red zone last year, though, and that continued last Thursday, as they averaged just 1.31 yards per play in that area of the field, third-lowest in the NFL