Fantasy Football: The Report, Week 12
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 12's report.
|Team||Pass Att||Rush Att||Ratio||+/- 6 Ratio||RZ Plays||RZ Ratio||GL Plays||GL Ratio|
Atlanta has been by far the most pass-heavy team in neutral game scripts this season. When games have been within six points, the Falcons are throwing more than two passes for every run -- their 2.07 pass-to-rush attempt ratio is significantly higher than second-place Pittsburgh's 1.78 rate. This is a big reason Julio Jones is second in the league in targets, and why we could see a whole lot of passing from the Falcons in Week 12. Not only do they throw a lot when the game is close, but against New Orleans, they're likely to be playing from behind.
No team has run more plays while trailing this season than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They've been fairly balanced when games have been close, but their overall pass-to-rush ratio ranks seventh-highest in the league. What's interesting for this week, though, is that they're 3.5-point favorites against San Francisco. We'll probably see a more balanced approach than we're used to seeing from this Bucs' offense as a result.
With Byron Leftwich as offensive coordinator, the Cardinals are running roughly nine more rushing and passing attempts combined per game. They've also seen their yards per drive increase by about four yards. The problem is that, over the last four weeks, that yards per drive rate is still second-lowest in football. Leftwich has been an improvement, but the Cardinals' O still has a long way to go.
The Saints have run 50 goal-line plays this year, which is 14 more than any other team in the league. And it's 43 (!!!) more than 32nd-ranked Miami Dolphins. They've been fairly run-heavy close to their opponent's end zone -- they're the seventh-most run-friendly in the NFL in that area of the field -- but thanks to sheer volume, Drew Brees is tied for the league lead in goal-line touchdowns.
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|
Tampa Bay is back to the bottom in numberFire's schedule-adjusted pass rankings, but there are still four pass defenses that the algorithm really doesn't like: Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Detroit, Oakland. Of those defenses, the Bucs and Raiders are facing stream-worthy quarterbacks in Nick Mullens and Lamar Jackson this week. If you need a quarterback, you could do worse than those two this week, especially Jackson.
Similar to the secondary rankings, there are three offenses that have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, but in a good way. Kansas City has gotten a lot of praise -- and rightfully so -- for their offensive play this year, but numberFire's expected points model sees the Chargers and Saints as comparable units. There's not necessarily a fantasy football takeaway there, just something interesting from the model.
Cincinnati continues to struggle defensively, and that's especially true against the run. We saw Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson run all over them last week, and on the season, only the Chiefs have a worse run-stuffing unit. Nick Chubb should be in your lineup this week.
Team Pass Defense Splits
The chart below displays the raw number of yards and the percentage of yards allowed by pass defense to wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs.
Tennessee has really struggled against wide receivers this year. They rank sixth-worst in fantasy points allowed to the position, and they've given up the largest percentage of receiving yards allowed to wide receivers. The thing is, according to Pro Football Focus, they've surrendered the sixth-fewest receiving yards to the slot in the league. That means DeAndre Hopkins could go off this week, while Keke Coutee may be a little less reliable.
The team allowing the most slot yards is Tampa Bay, but they're really just giving up a lot of yards to the middle of the field. Only Baltimore and Indianapolis have allowed a higher percentage of receiving yards to tight ends this year than Tampa Bay has. You know what that means: it's another George Kittle week.
The Falcons are known for giving up receiving yards to opposing backs, but the Chargers have surrendered nearly as many receiving yards to the position this year, and a larger portion of their total receiving yards allowed are going to backs. They'll get David Johnson this week, so hopefully that means the Cardinals will utilize Johnson in the passing game a bit more. In Week 11, he saw just three targets. The matchup is definitely there for Johnson to do work in PPR formats.
Indianapolis has been good against opposing wide receivers this season. They're third-best in yards allowed to the position, and they've seen the lowest percentage of yards go to wideouts, as well. That doesn't bode well for those of you throwing darts at Miami wideouts this weekend.
We may see a situation where Jared Cook is funneled a lot of targets this week, too. Baltimore's been great against wideouts, but they've been not-so-great against tight ends. Considering Oakland is hurting at the wide receiver position -- and by hurting, I mean they're deathly ill -- Cook should see a lot of volume in Week 12.
Philadelphia's secondary is hurting, and over the team's last four games, they've allowed two top-five performances and four top-12 ones. And it's not like they've faced spectacular quarterbacks -- Drew Brees and Cam Newton are obviously good, but Dak Prescott and Blake Bortles posted 21.7 and 19.7 points, respectively, on the Eagles over this time. It's a rough in-division road matchup for Eli Manning, but he should be considered as a streamer.
Team Directional Rushing
All numbers below reflect yards per play.
Marlon Mack has 12-plus carries in all fives games since his return from injury, and he gets a matchup this week against a Miami rush defense that ranks sixth-worst, according to numberFire's expected points model, and one that has allowed the fifth-most points per game to the running back position. The Miami D has also seen a running back finish as a top-15 one in PPR formats in all but one game this year, with that contest coming against the Jets. Indianapolis is a 9.5-point home favorite, making Mack a very strong play in Week 12.
On paper, the matchup for Adrian Peterson this week is pretty tough. He'll be on the road, and he'll be up against Dallas, owners of the fourth-best rush defense according to numberFire on a per-rush basis. Not only that, but Washington's a pretty big 7.5-point underdog. And in losses this year, AP has averaged just 23.5 rushing yards versus the 104.8 he's had in wins. He's tough to trust with Colt McCoy under center.
Josh Adams is getting more run with the Eagles. In his two games prior to Sunday, he was handling about 46% of Philly's running back carries while playing roughly 30% of the team's offensive snaps. This past Sunday, those numbers jumped to 70% and 55%, respectively. This week, they could find themselves in a positive game script, and they'll be facing the Giants, a defense that's posted below-average marks against the run. Adams is a nice low-key start this week.
Tampa Bay isn't as bad against the run as they are the pass, but that doesn't mean you should keep Matt Breida benched this week. The Bucs have actually given up the fourth-highest Success Rate -- or the percentage of positive expected point runs, per NEP -- to running backs this season. Breida's coming off a bye, but the last time we saw him, he toted the rock 17 times. He's got a high floor in what could end up being a higher-scoring contest this weekend.
Running Back Usage
|Player||Att||Rush %||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Att||RZ Targets||GL Att|
Week 11 was a great one for Phillip Lindsay. Not only did he finish as a top-10 running back for the first time this season, but he played 57.1% of Denver's snaps, and that was with Royce Freeman back in the lineup. That was the third-highest single-game rate of Lindsay's season. Lindsay's been their best running back this year, and if that usage continues, he'll keep being an easy plug-and-play option.
If you weren't a believer before, now you have to be: Aaron Jones has been freed. He played 90% of Green Bay's snaps in Week 11, and while he didn't see a ton of volume, he still managed about 94% of the backfield's touches. He's a strong starter from here on out.
Tevin Coleman has hit a 60% snap share in each of his last two games, marking the two highest rates of his season since Devonta Freeman's been sidelined. What's been huge for Coleman since the Falcons' bye -- so the last three weeks -- has been his receiving usage. He has 15 targets over the last three games, when he totaled 18 targets across the first seven games of the season. That's giving him a much better floor in all formats.
No player has more goal-line carries over his last three games than Mark Ingram. With seven, Ingram's out-pacing teammate Alvin Kamara within the statistic. Here's the thing, though: Ingram has just one touchdown on those attempts, while Kamara has three.
Over the last two weeks, Leonard Fournette leads all running backs in attempts with 52. But he also averaged fewer than three yards per carry on those attempts -- despite the volume, 10 running backs have more rushing yards over their last two games played. Fournette is certainly viable in fantasy due to his workload, but it hasn't been pretty.
Wide Receiver Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
Julian Edelman has been silently useful in fantasy football. He's finished as WR12, WR12, and WR13 over his last three games in PPR formats, and that's without a touchdown. Those really should be coming, because during this time, Edelman's ranked close to the top-10 in the league in red-zone targets. Perhaps Rob Gronkowski's return pushes targets away from Edelman, but he's been a lot better than most are giving him credit for.
If there's one piece of downside with D.J. Moore and his 5.2 targets per game over his last six contests, it's that he's not seeing a lot of work in the red zone. He only has one red-zone target this season, tied for the lowest among top-60 wide receivers. He's still someone you want rostered, especially with Carolina's favorable schedule down the stretch, but for him to consistently do what he did in Week 11, he'll need more looks closer to the end zone.
Golden Tate saw his snap share rise from about 30% in Week 10 to 70% in Week 11. As a result, he finished with eight targets against the Saints, which was a team high. Meanwhile, the arrow seems to be pointing down for Alshon Jeffery, but it's not time to panic. He's ranked outside the top-40 in PPR formats in each of Philly's last three games, and he's failed to hit 50 yards in those contests. With that being said, he's still got a 23.1% target share during this time -- better days should come.
There are 41 wide receivers with more red-zone targets than Julio Jones. One of those players is Dede Westbrook, who went a solid seven weeks with just one red-zone look. But over his last four, Dede has seen eight, which marks the second-most at the position behind only Odell Beckham. He's too tough to trust in the Jacksonville offense, but it's a trend to watch.
Tight End Usage
|Player||Targets||Target %||Snap %||Last Wk Rate||RZ Targets||< 10 Targets||GL Targets|
When the Steelers have to throw, Vance McDonald stands to benefit. In a negative game flow situation this past week, McDonald played 80% of the team's snaps and, per Pro Football Focus, he ran the second-most routes at tight end across the league. Even if we can't predict Pittsburgh's game script, McDonald is still a good enough option at a terrible position to play each week.
Gerald Everett got the scores in Monday night's showdown, but Tyler Higbee ran six more routes and played way more than double the amount of snaps. Higbee is probably the one you'd want to roster on this Cooper Kupp-less Rams team, not Everett.
Eric Ebron failed to receive a target in Indy's Week 11 win, while Jack Doyle played over 82% of the Colts' snaps. This is your friendly reminder that Doyle remains the tight end that you want from the Colts in fantasy football.
O.J. Howard is done for the season with an ankle injury, which allows Cameron Brate to remerge as a tight end option in fantasy. Brate played just 28% of Tampa Bay's snaps this past Sunday, but he should now step in as starter, and it's for a team that's thrown the second-most pass attempts in football this season. At the very least, you should consider him as a streamer in Week 12 in a game with an over/under of 55.
Deep Ball Passing
|Player||15+ Yd Att||15+ Yd Att %||15+ Comp %||15+ % of Tot Yds||15+ Yd TD %|
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been slinging it down the field this year, throwing it 15-plus air yards on over 26% of his attempts. Without him under center, though, things shouldn't change much in the Bucs' offense, because Jameis Winston has tossed it deep on 23% of his throws, the fourth-highest mark among relevant quarterbacks. The biggest difference is that Fitzpatrick has completed his deep balls at a higher rate, and over 44% of his yards have come on those types of throws, whereas Winston has seen just 30% of his passing yard total stem from them. Overall, there shouldn't be much of a change -- some of those numbers were bound to regress for Fitzpatrick anyway.
As fun as the Nick Mullens story has been, Kyle Shanahan has rightfully played it conservative with the third-stringer. Mullens has chucked it deep on just 8.2% of his tosses, easily the lowest among relevant quarterbacks. That's probably the scariest part about streaming him in Week 12, and why he's merely a deep option.
After the Saints beat down the Vikings back in Week 8, fantasy managers were nervous that 2017's Drew Brees was back. Through those seven games, Brees had been throwing it deep on just 13.2% of his throws, and in that Week 8 contest, he finished as the QB30 in weekly scoring.
Over the last three weeks, though, Brees has been pretty aggressive. He's finished as a top-three fantasy quarterback in each game played, and his deep-ball rate has jumped to 24.2%. That, along with his absurd efficiency and a favorable schedule, should keep Brees in the high-end QB1 discussion through the rest of the fantasy season.
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|
After a touchdown-less Week 11 for Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara's taken the crown as the biggest overachiever in the touchdown column. As I mention each week, elite players in good offenses are going to outperform the norm. So even with Kamara at the top of this week's list, you should feel good about him moving forward.
Alex Collins keeps breaking math, though. According to his yardage totals, he should have nearly five fewer touchdowns than he has. With his usage coming down in Week 11, his outlook through the rest of the season is borderline frightening.
Dion Lewis has only scored twice this year, when his rushing and receiving yards tell us that he should've found the end zone closer to four times. If he's going to find the end zone, it's probably going to come from outside the five-yard line. He's actually tied for third in red-zone carries across the last three games, but during this time, he has just one goal-line attempt.
Wide Receiver Touchdown Regression
|Player||Rec Yds||TD||Should Have||Difference|
If there was a market for John Ross, he'd be an easy sell candidate. He has four scores on just 145 receiving yards, and A.J. Green could return from injury soon. It'd be shocking if Ross kept this up.
One player you should continue to look to buy is JuJu Smith-Schuster. He's only scored three times this year, which is low for his 866 receiving yards. What's really weird about it is that he leads the NFL red-zone targets. With a great fantasy football playoff schedule, you should want JuJu on your roster.
Hey, Julio Jones scored again.