Fantasy Football: Week 15 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 Eagles Running From 12
The Philadelphia Eagles manufactured a big rushing day in a crucial win over divisional foe Washington. En route to 157 rushing yards as a team, they primarily rode rookie Miles Sanders and his 122 on 19 carries. He also made a trip for six on a goal line run.
Philly posted a 57% rushing success rate across all packages, but in 12 -- with tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert on the field -- they improved that to 67%. On 18 carries, they totaled 131 yards. Their offensive line dominated a Washington defense that has allowed the fifth-most rushing yards overall and 4.9 yards per carry out of 12.
The Eagles will return home for Week 16 as they battle the Dallas Cowboys for the second time. In their first meeting in Week 7, the Eagles ran for 115 yards with 5.6 yards per carry and a 50% rushing success rate with their two-tight end look. It could be another good week for Sanders, who should be in your season-long and DFS lineups. He costs $7,400 on FanDuel.
The Rams Go Back to 11
Like the Eagles this week, the Los Angeles Rams found a lot of success on the ground -- particularly out of 11 -- in Week 14. But in Week 15, that was definitely not the case. After using 12 personnel on 67% of their plays last week, they turned around and -- in large part thanks to game script -- went to 11 for 96% of their total plays in Week 15.
L.A. trailed Dallas out of the gate and got down big, but it was still quite odd to see them so heavy on 11 in the absence of Gerald Everett, not to mention they passed it out of 11 on 98% of their drop backs.
What that did was bring Cooper Kupp back in the fold. Following a week with a 27.1% snap rate, the usually reliable receiver and fantasy asset was in on 91.8% of snaps, hauling in all 6 of his targets for 41 yards and a score.
So far, there has been no update on Everett's status for this week, though he did practice in full Wednesday. If he plays, there is a chance Kupp sees a lower snap share and less value for fantasy purposes. However, they face the San Francisco 49ers, who held them to 48 yards passing in Week 6. The Rams passed the ball 89% of the time out of 11 in that game, yet they managed just a 24% success rate and 2.9 yards per attempt while allowing four sacks of Jared Goff. Richard Sherman is practicing in full, as well, so if you have a better option than Kupp, it could be best to avoid him. The same goes for Goff in a very low-upside matchup.
The Falcons Versus 21
Somehow, some way, those same ferocious 49ers fell to the now-5-9 Atlanta Falcons this past week in Levi's Stadium. You could chalk it up to injuries, or some combination of that and the Falcons' lights-out play, but there was a negative that emerged from that performance.
Atlanta didn't do much to slow down Kyle Shanahan and the Niners' rushing attack. Raheem Mostert and others combined for 120 yards on 27 carries -- 11 of which were from a 21 set. Those 11 attempts resulted in 6.9 yards per carry and a 64% success -- a rate that is 21% above the league average out of 21 personnel for the week. For the year, their 50% success rate allowed is three percentage points above the league average while they have given up 4.3 yards per carry, which goes beyond their team average.
On Sunday, they host the Jacksonville Jaguars down in Atlanta, and Leonard Fournette will be licking his chops. At $7,500, he is in search of a bounce-back game from last week's 9.8-point output at the hands of Oakland. Unfortunately, Jacksonville hasn't made use of two-back sets much, so we will have to see if they adapt and include a blocking tight end in the run game. If they do, we should see Fournette exceed his projected output of 18.0 FanDuel points.