Fantasy Football: Week 11 Personnel Tendencies
In fantasy football, we look at a ton of factors when retrospectively dissecting one week and projecting the next. We analyze a player's opportunity in the form of attempts and targets, their matchup against the opposing defense, their game script by betting odds, and a whole lot more. One thing we don't do a lot of, though, is look at a player's opportunity or matchup through the lens of personnel groupings.
By personnel grouping, I mean which type of offensive package his team is deploying on a play-by-play basis. Are they rolling out big sets with frequency, or are they more likely to spread it out with three to four wideouts?
For those who might be a bit unfamiliar, personnel groupings are commonly referred to in numbers like 21. The first of the two figures, the "2", refers to the number of running backs (including fullbacks) on the field, whereas the second, "the 1", indicates the number of tight ends in the formation. So, 21 personnel is very traditional in that you get a fullback, running back, tight end, and two wideouts. Today, that traditional set isn't as popular as it once was, with a trend toward 11 personnel (one back, one tight end, and three receivers) for purposes of efficiency in the passing game.
You can find this personnel grouping information in a neat, sortable format over at Sharp Football Stats. You can see how frequently a team uses (or opposing team faces) each grouping and what kind of success they have found in doing so. You can even narrow it down to run and pass game efficiency.
While shifting our focus forward, we take a look at last week's personnel usage to find a few valuable pieces of data for season-long fantasy owners and DFS players alike.
Let's see what we can find.
The Jags Go Four Wide
As we all know, Nick Foles returned for the Jacksonville Jaguars in their Week 11 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately, the quarterback's return didn't go as planned. The Jags trailed for the majority of the game and lost by 20 on the road to their divisional foes.
However, after a bit of lull under Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville's pass offense broke out for 296 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to D.J. Chark. In that negative game script, they threw the ball 47 times to just nine rush attempts. And that is why we are hearing from Doug Marrone about the lack of Leonard Fournette.
Along with game script, a lot of that had to do with personnel. Jacksonville utilized 10 personnel (one back and four receivers) a league-high 29% of the time this past week. They took a lot of snaps away from blocking tight ends in favor of four receivers logging 25-plus snaps -- with 50 or more going to Chris Conley (60), Chark (59) and Dede Westbrook (53).
Passing the ball out of 10, Foles and company completed 11 of 16 attempts for 12.2 air yards per attempt and one touchdown. Their 47% success was 8% above the league average for Week 11.
The success was there, but the opportunity was created by Jacksonville also being short-handed at tight end. Even before Josh Oliver exited late with an injury that has since landed him on injured reserve, the Jags were without the services of James O'Shaughnessy and Geoff Swaim. Swaim has had a concussion and could return this week, but O'Shaughnessy is done for the year, so they will have to rely on more unknown commodities or else play more of Westbrook and Keelan Cole.
It will be interesting to see what happens, especially in games that Jacksonville trails. They will most certainly look to establish Fournette and the run this week, but they are 3.0-point underdogs, and they could be favored in only one or two of their last six games.
Keep an eye on this for DFS this week and beyond. Foles is $7,200 at quarterback, but you have Jacksonville options at each pricing tier in Chark ($7,000), Conley ($5,700), Westbrook ($5,300) and -- to a lesser extent -- Cole ($5,300) for tournaments.
The Saints Running From 11
The New Orleans Saints appeared to finally get back on track Sunday in their commanding 34-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They played a solid all-around game with three touchdowns from Drew Brees, but Alvin Kamara bounced back with 75 rushing yards and 47 receiving yards on 23 combined attempts and targets. He and Latavius Murray teamed up for 102 yards on the ground at 4.4 yards per carry.
One of the main packages that contributed to their running success was 11 personnel. They used it on 53% of plays this week en route to 4.9 yards per carry and a 82% rushing success rate. That's 31 percentage points above the NFL average in that subset, and it helped that to an above average success rate in both run and pass.
In the last two games with Kamara active, they have now deployed 11 personnel 62% of the time for a 88% success rate on the ground. The Saints have averaged 5.0 yards per carry, and that success rate is not boosted by touchdowns whatsoever as they have zero from one-back, three-wideout looks in that time.
With Sean Payton the offensive guru that he is, and the Saints the versatile offensive juggernaut they are capable of being, it would be shocking for them to move away from this tendency. That is particularly true ahead of a date with the Carolina Panthers, who are getting 8.5 points in New Orleans and have not limited backs all year.
In addition to ranking 28th in their opponents' running back success rate on the ground, for the season they have been mashed for 6.1 yards per carry, a 53% success rate and 10 rushing touchdowns versus 11. At $8,300, Kamara makes a lot of sense as a core play this week.
Atlanta's Red Zone Approach
Staying in the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons and their offense have performed quite well in their last two games, accumulating 55 points (26 and 29) in winning efforts against the aforementioned Saints and Panthers. And they did it in two different ways, running for 143 yards against the Saints and passing for 295 yards versus Carolina.
As for their red zone approach, here's how their personnel usage has broken down over the last two weeks compared against their tendencies for the first eight games (in which they were 1-7):
|Personnel Grouping Usage||First 8||Last 2||Week 11|
As you can tell, the Falcons have used less two-tight end looks following Austin Hooper's injury, and in place of it, they've made more use of 21 and 01 -- four wideouts and one tight end.
Over the last two weeks, their success rate in the red zone is above league average in only 12. However, they have been effective throwing out of 11, as Matt Ryan has completed 8 of 12 passes for three touchdowns and a 111.1 passer rating in that split.
All this information is a bit perplexing in the smaller sample, but what Atlanta should do is rely on their 11 looks and keep guys like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley heavily involved. The passing game has a really high-ceiling week against the Bucs, who let up the most FanDuel points per game (39.2) to wideouts and second-most to quarterbacks (25.3). In both cash and tournaments, Ridley is a top option at $6,700.