Fantasy Football: The Report, Week 6
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 6's report.
|Team||Pass Att||Rush Att||Ratio||+/- 6 Ratio||RZ Plays||RZ Ratio||GL Plays||GL Ratio|
Minnesota now ranks 31st in rush attempts this year, with the last-ranked team, Tampa Bay, having had their bye already. As a result, the Vikings have the second-highest pass-to-rush attempt ratio in football, trailing only Indianapolis. The difference between those two teams, though, is that the Vikings neutral game script (when the game is within six points) pass-to-run ratio is eighth-highest in the league, whereas the Colts still rank first. In other words, the Vikings probably want to run the ball more than they have.
Give credit to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and the Seahawks: they wanted to run the ball this year, and they have. They're last in pass-to-rush attempt ratio, and their neutral script rate is second-to-last. The problem is that the offense hasn't been super effective, posting 26.5 yards per drive, sixth-worst in the NFL. The run-heavy approach combined with a split backfield has really hurt fantasy assets on that team.
The Miami Dolphins have run just one goal-line play this year. That's almost hard to believe considering they've played all five weeks. For some context, every other team -- including the Cardinals -- have run at least five goal-line plays, while Houston leads the league with 25. This is something that's been common under Adam Gase. In 2016 and 2017, no team ran fewer goal-line plays than the Miami Dolphins. Had this been just a five-game sample, I may scream, "Variance!" But we're looking at a multi-year theme here, and it's hurting Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake tremendously.
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|
As it stands today, the Cleveland Browns have the best defense in football. Now, before you roll your eyes, much of it has to do with turnovers and sacks -- the Browns have 15 takeaways this year, and opponents have lost the sixth-most expected points due to sacks against them. Sacks and turnovers will swing things pretty drastically in any expected points model. Even still, the Browns have held all but one opponent to 21 or fewer points, which is pretty impressive in today's NFL.
Tampa Bay had the worst secondary according to NEP last week, and while they're still bad (they didn't play), Houston now ranks dead last in schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP. They're actually just 11th-worst in fantasy points allowed to the quarterback position, but context is key: they've faced Blaine Gabbert, Eli Manning, and Dak Prescott this year. The two good fantasy signal-callers to go up against Houston, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck, scored 21.3 and 35.7 fantasy points, respectively.
Team Directional Passing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
The Vikings have been surprisingly bad against the pass this year. You can see in the chart above -- they're Arizona's opponent in Week 6 -- that they've allowed below-average marks across the field, and they rank in the bottom-10 against the pass according to NEP, too. To be fair, they have faced some good quarterbacks, including Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz. They should still be started against the Cardinals this week, and the matchup shouldn't make Josh Rosen a streamer. He's got to prove to be reliable before we trot him out in our lineup.
The top streaming option this week is easily Jameis Winston. The Falcons have allowed the 10th-highest Success Rate -- the percentage of positive expected point plays -- to wide receivers this year (Winston has some pret-tay good wideouts to throw to), and they've faced the ninth-highest pass-to-rush ratio against this season. On a per-play basis, only four teams are allowing more expected points through the air. And only Nick Foles has failed to rank as a top-10 passer against the injured Falcons D this year. With a high over/under in Atlanta this week, Winston is in a great spot.
On paper, Baker Mayfield looks to be in a decent place this week as well. The Chargers have sort of underachieved against the pass, allowing below average per-play marks across all areas of the field. They've allowed the third-most 15-plus air yard plays this year, making for an interesting matchup against Antonio Callaway, who could get more run due to an injury to Rashard Higgins. The only issue is that Mayfield hasn't been totally consistent. You'll get that with a rookie. He has a 44.4% Success Rate, which is fifth-worst in football among the 31 quarterbacks with 100 or more drop backs. So he's a tad unsafe, making him a deeper streamer.
The Tennessee passing attack hasn't really gotten it going this year, and it's going to be tough for them to perform well in their Week 6 matchup. Baltimore has numberFire's fourth-ranked secondary, and they rank first in Success Rate allowed to wide receivers and second to running backs. Tennessee doesn't utilize their tight ends much at all, making things even more difficult. You can probably bench someone like Corey Davis this week. Good things are to come as the Titans' schedule opens up down the stretch.
As annoying as the Seahawks' offense has been, they've got a matchup this week that they should be able to win. The Raiders have allowed the second-highest net yards per attempt in football and, as you can see in the chart, they've been pretty bad on a yards per play basis pretty much all over the field. numberFire's metrics have them as the fifth-worst secondary in football as a result.
The thing is, this doesn't make Russell Wilson a slam dunk play. He has some touchdown regression coming (his 7.0% touchdown rate is a good bit higher than his career average), and Oakland's been just as bad against the run, ranking in the bottom five in expected points allowed on a per rush basis. Wilson is fine if you've got him, but the ceiling is still limited since he's only been running the ball a little over two times per game versus this six rush attempts per game rate he had last year.
Team Directional Rushing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
New England Patriot running backs -- so Sony Michel and James White -- are both great options this week in fantasy football. The Chiefs have been the absolute worst team against running backs this year, allowing a 56.2% Success Rate on the ground. That's the worst in football. But they've also been bad at defending backs through the air, having surrendered the second-highest Success Rate to receiving backs. So Michel should be able to take advantage with his rushing volume, while White is a good play given his crazy target share in the offense.
One team that's been not-so-great against the run despite strong personnel up front is the Rams. They've allowed the second-worst per-rush efficiency on the ground this year when adjusted for strength of opponent, and as the chart shows (they play Denver this week), their yards per play allowed hasn't been very good. We know LA should be able to put up points, but don't be shocked if the Broncos, who are playing at home, can move the ball on them as well.
Among backs who've run 20-plus attempts up the middle, Chris Carson has the third-best yards per carry average. As I just mentioned, Russell Wilson has a good matchup against Oakland's secondary, but the between-the-guards runs for Seattle should work well against a Raiders defense that's giving up almost six yards per carry on those types of rushes. Carson could be in store for a strong outing.
The Bills may end up being pretty one-dimensional against the Texans this week, and that's not a good thing. I mentioned earlier that the Texans rank last against the pass according to numberFire's expected points model, but they're first against the run. Buffalo, meanwhile, has been one of the most run-heavy teams in the league with a 1.00 pass-to-rush ratio and a 0.70 ratio in neutral game scripts. If they're unable to get things going on the ground, they'll be forced to try and win the game with Josh Allen's arm. And so far this year, that hasn't been effective: no player has a lower Success Rate through the air. Perhaps he can get it done with his legs for fantasy purposes, though, like we saw against the Vikings a few weeks back.
Running Back Usage
|Player||Att||Rush %||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Att||RZ Targets||GL Att|
On Tuesday morning, my mentions were filled with people asking if they should trade Alvin Kamara. And the reason was that, on Monday night, Kamara wasn't heavily involved with Mark Ingram back in the mix. The table shows this -- Ingram played more snaps, and he saw three goal-line rushes. Kamara's season-long snap rate is over 75%, but on Monday, it was 47%.
Don't panic. Please, don't panic. The Saints are going to split that backfield up, but we knew that coming into the season. Just because Kamara won't see the same type of usage that he saw in Weeks 1 through 4 doesn't mean he won't be a reliable fantasy football asset. The truth is, it sort of made sense to rest him a bit in Week 5. New Orleans has a bye in Week 6, Ingram was well rested himself, and Kamara was on the injury report last week with a knee injury. He should still be an RB1 from here on out considering the offense he's in and the type of target and rushing share he'll see in games that aren't blowouts.
It was a negative game script for the Colts in Week 5, but Nyheim Hines was their dude from the start. He ended up playing 67.5% of the team's snaps, and he was close to scoring near the end of the game. The problem is, when Marlon Mack returns, Hines will be pushed back to being more of a third-down back for Indy. Keep that in mind moving forward.
Derrick Henry is the 59th-ranked running back in PPR formats despite seeing 65 carries this year. He's got a pair of goal-line rushes, but it hasn't been enough to keep him afloat week to week. With just a 3.3% target share, he's droppable in shallower leagues. Arguably deeper ones, too.
Even with the return of Devonta Freeman this past week, Atlanta had a big split in the backfield. Freeman played roughly 39% of Atlanta's snaps, Tevin Coleman was on the field for 37.5% of them, and rookie Ito Smith played 16.7% of them. Freeman never played fewer than 52.8% of Atlanta's snaps last season, so this is definitely a concern. The hope is that he'll see more work as he gets healthier, but if Smith plays 15% to 20% of the Falcons' snaps each week, Freeman and Coleman will suffer big time.
Cleveland's backfield looked a little different in Week 5. Duke Johnson led the way with a 51.2% snap share, the highest mark of his season. Carlos Hyde played 35% of the team's snaps, when his previous season low was 52.8%. And Nick Chubb had a 13.8% snap share, a season high.
This all hints at a slow transition to get Chubb more involved, and the pass-catching Johnson may get more love as well with the injury to Rashard Higgins. At the very least, it's not good news for the touchdown-dependent Carlos Hyde.
Wide Receiver Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
Marvin Jones has been outplayed by Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay thus far in 2018, but he's still got loads of touchdown upside in the Detroit offense. Only seven wide receivers have more red-zone targets, just three have more targets from inside the opponent's 10, and he's tied for the NFL lead in end zone targets. So even with a sub-17% target share, Jones is still a weekly starter in most leagues.
We saw a big outing from Robby Anderson in Week 5, but it's always important to not favor one single game above a larger sample size. The truth is, Anderson hasn't been all that helpful this year. He still has just a 14% target share, and he's yet to see a red-zone target. If you're able to sell him this week, feel free.
Kenny Stills' near 18% target share isn't so bad, but it needs to be higher for him to be consistently usable in an offense like Miami's. Of all teams without a bye week, Miami has thrown the fewest passes in the league. And Stills has just a single red-zone target. You can't play him until we see more from that O.
Last year, Cooper Kupp finished tied for third in the NFL in red-zone targets. That usage has continued into 2018, with only JuJu Smith-Schuster and Michael Thomas ranking ahead of him in targets from within the opponent's 20. To go along with a near-25% target share, there's a reason he's been a plug-and-play option to start the year. Things aren't likely to just simply regress unless the Rams offense hits a wall, which seems unlikely.
Tight End Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
It was C.J. Uzomah who ran the most routes at tight end for Cincinnati last week, and while he only saw a pair of targets, he's an interesting play this week against Pittsburgh, who've struggled against the position. If you need a streamer, you could look his way in a high-scoring game.
With Jack Doyle sidelined, Eric Ebron has been crushing it. He now leads all tight ends with 12 red-zone looks, and he's scored more fantasy points than any other player at the position not named Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz. Because the Colts are passing so much, Ebron's 18.3% target share has yielded just one fewer target compared to Kelce, who has a 26.1% share. Just keep in mind that the Colts are unlikely to keep up this passing pace, and Doyle's return will dramatically hurt Ebron's target share. Ebron's unlikely to keep this up.
Vance McDonald was starting to separate himself from Jesse James in the Steelers' offense. In Week 4, he ran 32 routes versus James' 11 (per Pro Football Focus) but this past Sunday, that split fell to 19 versus 15. Game script may have been a factor, but it's not a good sign that you need the Steelers to be in a negative script in order to see Vance McDonald with a good fantasy outing. He's still in streaming territory, unfortunately.
Jared Cook's two big performances are boosting his overall fantasy point totals, but his peripherals are strong enough for him to be considered an every-week starter. Only the aforementioned Ebron has more red-zone looks than Cook at the position, and Cook has five more targets from within the opponent's 10-yard line than any other tight end. Keep using him.
Deep Ball Passing
|Player||15+ Yd Att||15+ Yd Att %||15+ Comp %||15+ % of Tot Yds||15+ Yd TD %|
Andrew Luck's deep-ball tendencies are changing. In this column two weeks ago, Luck was throwing it 15-plus air yards on 10.5% of his throws. Today, that number is 14.69%. He's thrown 121 passes over the last two weeks, and 23 of them have traveled 15 or more yards through the air. That's good for a 19.0% rate, which would rank close to the top-10 among relevant quarterbacks this season. This is a great sign for his future performances. And it's definitely a good look for T.Y. Hilton, who's seen his lowest career average depth of target by far this season.
It's looking like Josh Rosen is willing to sling it. And we couldn't say that about Sam Bradford. Rosen has thrown it deep on more than 27% of his throws this year, which ranks second behind only Ryan Fitzpatrick. That should help the offense as the season progresses.
In 2017, Tom Brady had the fifth-best completion percentage on deep passes. This year, he's fifth-worst. His completion rate has dropped from 45.4% to 34.4%, and his average depth of target has fallen by half a yard. The combination of the two has resulted in a less effective offense, but the hope is that slot wideout Julian Edelman and field-stretcher Josh Gordon can help turn things around. And things should. We're talking about Tom Brady, after all.
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|
Todd Gurley has scored over five more touchdowns than he should have so far this season based on his yardage totals. Yes, he's in a good offense. And, yes, his usage close to the end zone has been bananas. But don't expect Gurley to score the 28 or 29 touchdowns that he's pacing towards right now. He's still the single best player in fantasy football, even with some touchdown regression coming.
Another player who's taking advantage of awesome usage at running back is James White. He's only carrying about 17% of New England's rushing attempts, but he's captured a near 25% target share this season, the third-highest at the position. Even if his target share regresses slightly -- which it should considering Edelman's return -- White should give you a solid floor each week.
But don't assume White can just keep scoring the way he has, even if he's in a good offense. He's scored four times through the air, when a running back with 270 receiving yards has historically had 1.2 receiving touchdowns. You can say it's because of his red-zone looks, but Alvin Kamara has seven more red-zone targets than White and has scored once. Melvin Gordon has just as many and has one fewer receiving touchdown than White. Gurley has one fewer target in the red zone, and he's scored half the number of touchdowns.
Regression doesn't mean a player is going to start performing poorly. It just means that he won't be able to maintain his current pace. And that's the case with White, who should still be considered a higher-end RB2 in PPR formats.
David Johnson was featured in this week's 15 Transactions column as a sell candidate, and his touchdown regression had a lot to do with it. Unlike other overachievers on this list like Gurley, White, and Gordon, Johnson isn't playing in an advantageous offense. Even if Rosen takes a step forward -- and he should -- we can't assume Johnson will keep up his scoring rate. That's a big reason he's a "sell" -- plenty of fantasy owners won't realize it.
Wide Receiver Touchdown Regression
|Player||Rec Yds||TD||Should Have||Difference|
|Odell Beckham Jr||462||1||2.77||-1.77|
Another week, another Julio Jones scoreless stat line. Based on his yardage total, Jones should have between three and four touchdowns by now. His red-zone workload has been lacking, but it's still surprising that he hasn't found the end zone once. This could be his week, though, as he found the end zone twice against the Bucs last year, and they have one of the worst secondaries in football.
Jarvis Landry has scored just once this season despite ranking ninth in red-zone targets, sixth in targets within the opponent's 10-yard line, and fourth in goal-line targets. All the while, he's got the fourth-highest target share in football. Touchdowns are coming, especially considering the Browns have upcoming matchups against the Bucs, Steelers, Chiefs, and Falcons.