Fantasy Football: The Report, Week 5
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 5's report.
|Team||Pass Att||Rush Att||Ratio||+/- 6 Ratio||RZ Plays||RZ Ratio||GL Plays||GL Ratio|
Even though Andrew Luck's arm strength has been questioned this year, the Colts currently have the highest pass-to-rush ratio in neutral game script situations. That's partially because they just can't run the football, ranking 30th in per-play efficiency according to numberFire's expected points model (more on that below). It does bode well for Indianapolis pass-catchers in fantasy football, though -- volume should be there all season long.
Going into Week 4, the Patriots had only run one goal-line play all season long. This past Sunday, they upped that number to four, and we got to see Sony Michel as the running back receiving that goal-line work. Entering 2018, the Patriots were tied with the Panthers for the most goal-line rushes run over the past three years. If New England's offense gets going, Michel could be a fantastic fantasy football asset.
The Cardinals have run so few offensive plays this year, but if there's one positive sign, they threw and ran the ball 10 more times in sum than their average from the first three weeks of the season. There was signs of life with Josh Rosen under center. It's still crazy that they've run fewer plays than Washington, though, who had their bye in Week 4.
The Cleveland Browns lead the league in rushing touchdowns, and a lot of that has to do with their low pass-to-rush attempt ratio in the red zone -- it's the lowest in the league. They've got a well below-average ratio at the goal line, too. You could argue that this will continue to bode well for Carlos Hyde, but we could also see a little regression as well. It makes him somewhat of a sell candidate in fantasy football.
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|
The Chargers probably have the most underrated offense in football. According to Net Expected Points, it's the second-best in the league and just one point off of the first-place Chiefs. That environment has really allowed Melvin Gordon to showcase his talent and thrive. He's an easy top-five running back in fantasy football from here on out.
When adjusted for strength of opponent, Baltimore has numberFire's top-ranked secondary. And that's without top cornerback Jimmy Smith, who's back this week from a four-game suspension. They'll get Baker Mayfield and the Browns in Week 5, making Mayfield a clear sit in fantasy football. It's not a matchup you want to mess with this year.
The Buccaneers have a classic funnel defense. They're decent enough at stopping the run, but they can't defend the pass. At all. They rank as numberFire's worst secondary, having allowed about 47 more points than an average team would have over the first four games of the season. They've got a bye this week, but in a matchup against the Falcons in Week 6, Matt Ryan should go berserk.
Team Directional Passing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
The Bengals passing attack has a host of plus matchups upcoming on their schedule. Miami's probably their toughest opponent defensively over the next handful of weeks, but even they're still beatable. Looking at the chart above, you've got to be a little intrigued by what Andy Dalton may be able to do with the middle of the field. That should benefit Tyler Boyd, who's seen about 23% of their targets this year, but don't sleep on C.J. Uzomah. Tyler Kroft filled in for Tyler Eifert when he went down last year, but in Week 4, Uzomah ran 29 routes according to Pro Football Focus, while Kroft ran just 4. He looks like the pass-catching tight end in the offense, and makes for a deep (deep) sleeper in Week 5. Boyd should be the one who benefits most from the Eifert injury.
Derek Carr really hasn't been that bad this year. In fact, he's been good. Of the 34 quarterbacks with 50 or more drop backs in 2018, Carr ranks third in Success Rate, which measures the percentage of positive expected point plays made by a quarterback. He's listed behind only Jared Goff and Drew Brees.
This week, Oakland's taking on a Chargers defense and secondary that's struggling this year. They rank in the bottom eight against the pass, per Net Expected Points, and they've allowed big performances to Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes, but even C.J. Beathard posted over 17 fantasy points against them in Week 4. With a high over/under, the Chargers-Raiders game could see some points, and that would benefit Carr greatly in fantasy football. He's not a bad streamer this week.
We could see a lot of passes from Minnesota this week. Philadelphia has faced the highest pass-to-rush ratio in the league to start the year, and the Vikings are fifth in the NFL in neutral game script ratio and first in total pass-to-rush attempt ratio. We should expect a lot of tosses aimed at Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen -- specifically Thielen, who'll see a good number of slot snaps against the defense that's allowed the highest yards per play rate to the middle of the field this year.
The New Orleans secondary has been really bad this year. Per Pro Football Focus, Ken Crawley and P.J. Williams have allowed seven combined receiving touchdowns -- only 11 cornerbacks have allowed 3 or more touchdowns this year, and 2 of them are on the Saints. Alex Smith is most definitely in play this week, as are his receivers. Specifically his perimeter ones. (I'm looking at you, Paul Richardson.)
After a really strong Week 1, Emmanuel Sanders has cooled off a bit. He's still been good, but he hasn't been Week-1-good. Having played 62.1% of his snaps from the slot this year, he could see a big performance in Week 5 against the Jets. Buster Skrine has allowed the ninth-most yards per snap in the slot this year, per Pro Football Focus, and as you can see in the chart above, New York's most vulnerable in the middle of the field. Sanders is in a great spot this week.
Team Directional Rushing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
Washington's secondary has been one of the better ones in the NFL to start the year, but the rush defense has had some holes. You can sort of notice that from the chart, but according to numberFire's Net Expected Points model, only Kansas City has allowed a higher Success Rate on the ground to opposing running backs than Washington has this year. Alvin Kamara will eat, but don't forget that Mark Ingram is back this week, too. He's a good start.
I already mentioned the type of pass-to-run splits that Philadelphia's faced this season, and a big part of that is their front seven. Teams can't get much done on the ground against them. That's even more reason for Minnesota to throw -- on the year, Vikings' running backs have a 25.5% Success Rate, worst in the league.
It'll be interesting to see how Dallas' offense handles their matchup against the Texans on Sunday night. Houston's been great on a per-play basis against the run, and we know what Dallas wants to do offensively. They want to feature Ezekiel Elliott. That may be easier said than done this week on the road.
Detroit's been awful at stopping the run this year, ranking third-worst in Success Rate allowed while surrendering the third-most fantasy points to the position. Green Bay Packer running backs should be able to take advantage this week. We didn't see number-one running back usage from Aaron Jones in his second game of the season this past weekend, but his snap rate did increase from 24.6% in Week 3 to 38.2% in Week 4. As the most efficient runner in that offense, he deserves more work. And, hey, maybe this is a sign of a trend.
Running Back Usage
|Player||Att||Rush %||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Att||RZ Targets||GL Att|
As I talked through in this week's 15 Transactions column, James White is a great high-floor play each week, but we should pump the brakes on his ceiling. The table above lists players by fantasy points scored, meaning White is currently the seventh-best running back in PPR formats. But he's got a 22.2% target share, and he's yet to see a goal-line rush. The former should dip a little due to natural regression (running backs usually won't maintain that type of share) and Julian Edelman's return, while the latter won't change much as the season progresses, as Sony Michel is the team's goal-line back. That doesn't mean James White is a bad fantasy asset to have. He should be able to finish as an RB2 this year, which is far better than where you drafted him. It's just important to have reasonable expectations for players in fantasy football.
Everyone's talking about Nick Chubb after his huge game on Sunday, but that big performance came on a grand total of three snaps played. He's showing that he's a beast, but without a larger snap share -- he's been on the field for fewer than 5% of Cleveland's plays this season -- Chubb won't be getting it done in fantasy football. He's not a bad flier if you want to stash him, but you certainly can't trust him in Week 5. It's still Carlos Hyde's backfield.
Royce Freeman has been great this year (Did you see his touchdown run against the Chiefs?), but the problem is, so has fellow rookie back Phillip Lindsay. Freeman's 45.5% Success Rate is well above average, but Lindsay's 57.8% rate is the best in the NFL among 30-plus attempt rushers. And a big issue for Freeman right now is that he hasn't monopolized goal-line work. Lindsay, through four weeks, now has more rushes at the goal line. With a larger target share, Lindsay is becoming the clear back to own of the two in fantasy football.
Kareem Hunt tallied four targets in KC's win over Denver on Monday night, which more than doubled his season's average. If that type of usage continues, then he's back up to being a firm RB1. Without the volume through the air, he was more of a lower-end RB1 with lots of touchdown upside. Week 4 was a big one for Hunt.
In Week 4, Peyton Barber gave up some of his work to rookie Ronald Jones, playing fewer than 50% of Tampa Bay's snaps. He's been completely useless from a fantasy football perspective this year, scoring fewer points than the aforementioned Nick Chubb on 144 more snaps played. Even though his peripheral numbers are decent, he's not getting it done. You can drop him, especially with Ronald Jones stealing work now.
Why won't the Lions use Kerryon Johnson more? Good freaking question. He found the end zone on Sunday, but he still carried the ball just nine times, when LeGarrette Blount had seven attempts. On the year, Johnson has a 47.4% Success Rate (8th-best among the 46 running backs with 25 or more attempts), while Blount's is 22.86% (second-worst). Johnson should grab hold of this backfield eventually, and if he does, he could dominate.
Wide Receiver Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
|Odell Beckham Jr||45||29.80%||95.8%||95.2%||4||1||1|
Calvin Ridley has seen fewer than 15% of Atlanta's targets this year, and he's played 59% of the Falcons' snaps. Yet, here we are, waiting for Week 5, and Calvin Ridley is the 10th-highest scoring wide receiver in fantasy football. As you'll see in the last table below, Ridley's a huge candidate for touchdown regression, though he does have great matchups in Weeks 5 and 6.
In Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown has gotten off to a slow-ish start this season. He should be fine given his high target share, but it's worth noting that he hasn't seen a target within the opponent's 10-yard line yet this year. And Pittsburgh's run 12 plays from that area of the field.
Two players with incredible usage in average (perhaps below-average) offenses are Jarvis Landry and Corey Davis. Both wideouts have targets shares north of 30%, and they've each been looked at in the red zone six times. Landry's three targets within the opponent's five-yard line is especially awesome -- maybe the regression talked about earlier in Cleveland's offense will benefit him most.
Courtland Sutton isn't in the table above, but he leads the Broncos with two end zone targets. Demaryius Thomas has one. Emmanuel Sanders, the most useful wideout in Denver? Zero. In fact, Sanders hasn't even been targeted in the red zone this year. He's the only top-30 wide receiver in fantasy football without a look within the opponent's 20-yard line. The only way he makes a jump into WR1 territory is if that starts to change.
Dede Westbrook also hasn't seen a red-zone look, but he officially jumped teammate Keelan Cole in the fantasy football standings after Week 4's performance. On the year, Westbrook now has a slightly higher target share, but his 4.8 average depth of target (aDOT) is much lower than Cole's 7.8 and Donte Moncrief's 11.3. It's sort of a mess to figure out in Jacksonville. They each should be deeper plays this week against Kansas City, though. Moncrief specifically is interesting, as the Chiefs have allowed the second-most air yards in football, and he's been the one getting down the field for Jacksonville.
Tight End Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
We've seen Jared Cook's target share drop over the last couple of weeks, but that was to be expected. The good news for Cook truthers is that he's still had really great usage. No tight end has more red-zone targets than Cook this year, and his seven targets from within the opponent's 10-yard line is four more than any other player at the position. At a position as bleak as tight end, Cook should continue to be a strong play.
Geoff Swaim has 16 targets on the season now, but 12 of them have come over the last two weeks. During this time, per Pro Football Focus, Swaim has run 59 routes, when all other Dallas Cowboys tight ends have tallied 18. In Week 5, he'll face off against a Texans defense that's allowed the ninth-most yards to the position this year. If you're in need of a streamer, he's one.
Vance McDonald's a better option this week than Swaim, as he continues to see more and more work in the Steelers' offense. He played about 62% of Pittsburgh's snaps on Sunday night, and has separated himself from Jesse James, having run 32 routes against the Ravens versus James' 11. McDonald is the Steelers primary pass-catching tight end, and he should be rostered in fantasy football.
With O.J. Howard sidelined, Cameron Brate should get more run in the coming weeks. So far this year, the two tight ends have sort of dug into the other's workload, with Howard leading the two with just an 11% target share. They rank in the high 20s in total routes run, too. But without Howard, Brate should be a good tight end option for your fantasy squad. You've just got to wait for them to be done with their bye week to use him.
Deep Ball Passing
|Player||15+ Yd Att||15+ Yd Att %||15+ Comp %||15+ % of Tot Yds||15+ Yd TD %|
In this column last week, I noted that Andrew Luck wasn't heaving the ball deep at a very high rate. Because he wasn't. That changed a bit -- just a bit -- in Week 4. Entering the week, 10.5% of his passes were traveling 15 or more yards through the air. In Week 4, that rate was 14.5%. That's still not very high, but it's a lot better than what we'd been seeing from Luck.
Derek Carr was more aggressive last week, too. Almost 19% of his passes were deep, when that rate was just 9.9% entering Week 4. That's a good sign moving forward.
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|
Once again, Javorius Allen leads all running backs in overachieving in the touchdown column, but with Alex Collins' goal-line fumble on Sunday night, Allen could still find the end zone moving forward. It won't be at this rate, but his touchdown regression may not be as severe.
Given Carlos Hyde's rushing yardage total, he should have closer to two touchdowns on the ground rather than five. As I noted earlier, the Browns have been really run-friendly close to the opponent's end zone, which has helped Hyde tremendously. Given his usage as a receiver and the touchdown regression that's coming, you could consider him a sell candidate.
Wide Receiver Touchdown Regression
|Player||Rec Yds||TD||Should Have||Difference|
|Odell Beckham Jr||331||0||1.98||-1.98|
I've already talked about Calvin Ridley, who's overexceeding in the touchdown column most at wide receiver. That's been at Julio Jones' expense, as Jones still hasn't found the end zone despite 502 receiving yards. Eventually, he'll get there. Eventually.
Brandin Cooks was the leader in "should have more touchdowns" last week, and he ended up scoring in the Rams' offensive outburst on Thursday night. He still should be scoring at a higher rate, though, given his performance thus far.