Fantasy Football: The Report, Week 7
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 7's report.
|Team||Pass Att||Rush Att||Ratio||+/- 6 Ratio||RZ Plays||RZ Ratio||GL Plays||GL Ratio|
The Seahawks continue to do what they wanted to do to start the year, and that's run the football. Through six weeks, no team has a lower pass-to-rush attempt ratio in the NFL, and only one team -- Buffalo -- has a lower ratio in neutral game scripts. Russell Wilson's thrown the ball more than 26 times in just two games this year, when he averaged 34.6 pass attempts per game last season. That, in turn, has hurt the workloads for pass-catchers in the offense.
If there's any sign for passing game optimism as it relates to volume, the Seahawks do have a lot of games upcoming that could be higher-scoring ones. They'll face the Lions after their Week 7 bye, then they'll see the Chargers, Rams, and Packers. That should force them to be slightly more pass-friendly, considering their early-season schedule was much softer, having faced Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Arizona, and Oakland.
On the flip side, Indianapolis just keeps on throwing. Their 2.33 pass-to-rush ratio leads the NFL, and their 2.23 ratio in neutral scripts is far above the rest of the field as well. Andrew Luck is averaging 48 attempts per game. At this pace, he'll break Matthew Stafford's single-season attempt record by 41 attempts.
Interestingly enough, the team ranked second in neutral script ratio is Baltimore. They're 13th in overall pass-to-rush ratio thanks to being in a lot of positive game scripts, but it appears as though they're fine with throwing the rock when games are close. That could bode well for Joe Flacco this week as the Saints and their porous secondary comes to town.
Arizona still isn't running many plays. I feel the need to mention this each week, because what they're doing is becoming historic. They've run 302 plays when you account for sacks, which is the sixth-fewest in NFL history through a team's first six games. In an era where teams can move the ball offensively with ease, it's a pretty shocking thing to see.
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|
According to numberFire's expected points model, the Chargers currently own the league's best offense. Only the Chiefs have been better through the air, and no team has been more effective on the ground.
Speaking of the Chiefs, they currently own the worst schedule-adjusted secondary. That's translated well to fantasy football, as every starter not named Case Keenum has finished as a QB1 against them this season. Andy Dalton's up next.
Atlanta's another team that's struggled against the pass, ranking 31st. They've been absolutely atrocious against opposing quarterbacks in fantasy football -- since facing Nick Foles in Week 1, every starter that's faced Atlanta has posted a top-nine weekly performance. Two players -- Jameis Winston and Drew Brees -- were top options. They'll get Eli Manning this week, making Manning an interesting streaming option.
Team Directional Passing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
As I talked about above, Joe Flacco makes for a good streaming play this week. The Saints are allowing far below average passing yards per play marks on the right and middle areas of the field, and according to numberFire's expected points model, they've got the fourth-worst secondary in football. They're also seeing an 8.7 average depth of target (aDOT) against this season, which is a top-10 number in football. That coincides nicely with Flacco's (coincidentally) 8.7 aDOT, a higher mark in the league. With a strong 49.5-point over/under and with the Ravens as home favorites, Flacco is good to go for quarterback-needy teams.
The 49ers get the Rams this weekend, giving C.J. Beathard another strong matchup. As you can see in the chart, the Rams haven't been very good against the pass this year. That's emphasized by their numbers since Aqib Talib went down in Week 3 -- Kirk Cousins was the QB4 against the Rams in Week 4, Russell Wilson the QB12 in Week 5, and Case Keenum the QB14 in Week 6. Beathard, whose Success Rate (the percentage of positive expected point plays) is on par with Ben Roethlisberger this year, isn't an awful deep streaming play this week, and don't sleep on George Kittle, as the Rams have allowed the eighth-most yards to the tight end position and have allowed 10.7 yards per passing play to the middle of the field.
The Jacksonville Jaguars' defense has allowed 70 points over the last two weeks. Their Week 5 performance on the road against a top Kansas City offense is excusable, but this past week against Dallas, they really didn't show up. The pass defense wasn't really the issue against the Cowboys, though -- Dak Prescott threw for fewer than 200 yards. They should still be considered a tough matchup against the pass -- numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics still have them as the fourth-best secondary in football.
Indianapolis' secondary hasn't been very good this year, but they're facing a Buffalo offense that's trending to be historically bad when you adjust for era. The Colts have allowed the highest Success Rate to opposing wide receivers this year, but no Bills wide receiver ranks in the top-75 in target Success Rate. This is a reason the Colts are a good streaming option defensively this week, aside from the obvious point that they're at home as big favorites.
Week 7 will be a big test for the Saints passing attack. Baltimore's secondary is one of the best in football, and as you can see in the chart, they're above average in yards per play allowed at each area of the field. They've allowed six passing touchdowns this season, but four of those came against Andy Dalton. And they've been strong in every game aside from that Thursday night Bengals' tilt: the Ravens have given up 14 or fewer points in every other contest. Drew Brees should still be started in most instances this week, but it's hard to imagine he'll post numbers like he has up until this point.
Team Directional Rushing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
Joe Mixon should go berserk this week. The Chiefs are all green in the chart above, and they rank 31st in Success Rate allowed to running backs through the air while ranking dead last in Success Rate surrendered via the ground. In six games, five running backs have posted a top-10 performance against them. It could be a monster day for Mixon against KC.
The Lions have been brutal against the run as well. They're 31st in Success Rate allowed, and we've seen Isaiah Crowell, Matt Breida, and Ezekiel Elliott hit the 100-yard mark against them this year. The problem is, Miami's run game is kind of bad from a fantasy perspective. There's a clear split between Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake (you can see the exact split in the table below), and they've run so few plays, including only four from the goal line this season. Hypothetically, Gore, who's having a great year analytically, would be a good play this week. But you can't really back it given the workload balance and the ineptitude of the offense as a whole.
Denver has been really good at running the football this year, especially behind their tackles and when they bounce it to the outside. They'll be in Arizona this week, who's been weak at stopping those types of runs. They've also allowed the most fantasy points to the running back position this year. Perhaps this is the game where we see more Royce Freeman considering it's likely there's more of a neutral or positive script for the Broncos.
It's been really hard for teams to run up the gut against Carolina this year. On 41 carries between the guards, the Panthers have held opposing rushers to just 1.8 yards per tote, a rate that's over a yard better than any other team. Fortunately for the Eagles, they tend to run the ball to the edges. They rank 19th in runs up the middle this year, but 5th in runs to the left side of the line, and 13th in runs to the right. Expect a lot of those outside runs against the Panthers this week.
Running Back Usage
|Player||Att||Rush %||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Att||RZ Targets||GL Att|
With Devonta Freeman on IR, the Falcons backfield will consist of a split between Tevin Coleman and rookie Ito Smith. In Week 6, the snap split was 38 to 31 in favor of Coleman, so we should expect to see Smith involved in the offense moving forward. The problem is, Atlanta hasn't really been able to move the ball well on the ground. Coleman has a sub-30% Success Rate this year, while Smith's is close to the league-average 40% mark. Both are either lower-end RB2s or higher-end flex plays with Freeman sidelined, but that's not saying much at a top-heavy position.
Despite Aaron Jones being the clear best runner in Green Bay's backfield (his Success Rate is nine percentage points higher than Ty Montgomery's), the team continues to deploy a three-headed committee. And when game script goes south, that's seemed to hinder Jones. Over the last two weeks in bad game flow situations, Jones has been third in the pecking order in snap share. You can't play him in fantasy football until something changes.
The Broncos backfield continued to be a mess in Week 6 as well. There's essentially been a three-way split in backfield snaps all year long, despite Devontae Booker having a Success Rate that's 13% lower than Royce Freeman's and 24% lower than Phillip Lindsay's. When game script could be negative -- when they've been utilizing Booker -- it's tough to trust these Denver backs.
From Weeks 1 through 5, Alfred Morris never played fewer than 23.3% of the 49ers snaps. On Monday night, he played 1.8% of them. Perhaps it was matchup-related, but let's not pretend Morris has been lighting it up this year. Between Morris, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert, Morris is the owner of the lowest Success Rate on the ground. That metric isn't the end-all, but it may make sense for San Francisco to phase him out a bit.
Across the first three weeks of the season, Tarik Cohen was playing between 32% to 40% of Chicago's snaps. Over the team's last two games, that's jumped to about 48%. All the while, Cohen's gone from averaging 4.7 rushes and 2.7 targets per game to 9.0 rushes and 8.5 targets in each contest. Chicago's been impressive offensively with the shift, too. What seemed like it may have been a one-game matchup-related thing against Tampa Bay in Week 4 is looking more like a trend. And that's bad news for Jordan Howard, who may just be more of a touchdown-dependent back for your fantasy squad across the rest of the season.
Wide Receiver Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
|Odell Beckham Jr||69||29.87%||95.6%||96.9%||0||0||0|
I'm having a hard time understanding why the Buccaneers keep using Adam Humphries as much as they are when Chris Godwin's on their roster. Sure, sure -- Humphries is their top slot guy, but we also know Godwin is filled with talent, and he's still played over 27% of his snaps from the slot this year, per Pro Football Focus. He can play that role. Humphries has now out-snapped Godwin in each game since Week 2, but Godwin continues to see great red-zone work, making it evident that he could be a really strong fantasy asset if and when he gets more run.
The table above is listed by fantasy points scored, and pretty high on the list is Albert Wilson. Wilson now leads the Dolphins with a near-18% target share, but his fantasy production has been completely unsustainable. He has just one red-zone target, and his four touchdowns have come from 29, 74, 43, and 75 yards out. He's an electric player with a lot of ability, but in this offense, he's a clear sell candidate.
Josh Gordon isn't shown above because he hasn't played much this year, but he ended up playing over 80% of New England's snaps on Sunday night, a higher mark than all Patriot wide receivers outside of Julian Edelman. The odd man out with Gordon around has been Phillip Dorsett. He'd played no fewer than 40 snaps in a game prior to last week, but in Week 6, he was on the field for just three.
Tyrell Williams had a monster Week 6, but don't get too excited. He still has just an 11.8% target share on the season, and he's only seen one red-zone target. With Mike Williams there, it's tough to envision either player becoming locked-in every-week starters without an injury.
Historically, we've looked at Taylor Gabriel as more of a low-volume, big-play receiver. The latter is still true in 2018, but the former isn't. Gabriel owns a 21% target share this season, when his previous career high came back in 2014 at 14.5%. It's not really a fluke, either. He's been on the field for almost 80% of the Bears' snaps this year. Gabriel's got a higher floor than most people probably realize.
Tight End Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
One tight end to watch this week and in future ones is Ricky Seals-Jones. The production hasn't really been there, but he's captured over 18% of his team's targets this year, with six targets in four of his six games played. He's not a bad streaming option against Denver this week, if you're needing to dig a little deep at that position.
A top streaming option -- one who's better than RSJ -- in Week 7 is C.J. Uzomah. He had a 92% snap share last week as Cincinnati's primary tight end, and he ran the fourth-most routes at the position across the league. Against a team that's allowed the most receiving yards and the fourth-most receptions to tight ends (that's Kansas City), Uzomah could be considered a top-10 play this week.
Deep Ball Passing
|Player||15+ Yd Att||15+ Yd Att %||15+ Comp %||15+ % of Tot Yds||15+ Yd TD %|
We've seen a turnaround with Mitchell Trubisky over his last two games, and a lot of that has to do with his aggressiveness down the field. Prior to Week 4, Trubisky had a deep-ball rate of 15.4% -- he was throwing it 15 or more air yards on a little over 15% of his throws. Over the last two weeks, that number's been 33.3%, giving him a 21.7% deep-ball rate on the year. Good things are happening with long tosses in Chicago.
Among starting quarterbacks -- or, original starting quarterbacks -- Derek Carr has tossed it 15-plus air yards at the lowest rate in the league. But he's completing 50% of those throws, which is a top-10 rate. Meanwhile, Josh Allen has thrown it deep at the highest rate in the league, but his completion percentage on deep balls is the lowest in the NFL. There's not much of a fantasy takeaway here -- it's just an interesting nugget.
C.J. Beathard has been solid in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo, but he's not pushing it down the field very often. He's actually the one passer who's thrown it deep at a lower rate than Derek Carr. Marquise Goodwin benefited from big plays on Monday night, but I'm concerned about sustainability.
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|
In fairness to LeSean McCoy, the Bills have faced a rough schedule to start the year. We knew that coming into the season. Things do open up for him a bit over the next two weeks with games against the Colts and the Patriots. The Buffalo offense has been horrible, but if there's a time for positive touchdown regression to hit, it may be now.
David Johnson continues to score touchdowns, and if you're a fantasy footballer who has him rostered, consider yourself fortunate. Johnson's in one of the worst offenses in the league, but he's found the end zone six times. Yes, he's good, but regression is still coming if the Cardinals continue at this rate. It may not hit this week, though, because Denver's been dreadful at stopping opposing running backs over the last few weeks.
Wide Receiver Touchdown Regression
|Player||Rec Yds||TD||Should Have||Difference|
|Odell Beckham Jr||506||1||3.03||-2.03|
Odell Beckham and Julio Jones have combined for over 1,200 receiving yards while scoring just once through the air. According to their yardage totals, the two of them should have well over seven total touchdowns. To me, they're still buy candidates depending on the price.
You may notice that two Seahawks receivers -- Tyler Lockett and David Moore -- are near the top of the list. That's because Russell Wilson has a 7.9% touchdown rate, an average that's over two percentage points higher than his career average. Like I said earlier, the team's schedule should allow them to be a little more pass-heavy in the coming weeks, but that doesn't mean we should expect the touchdowns to flow the same way.