Fantasy Football: 3 Things We Learned in Week 3
Perhaps more than anything, fantasy football is a game of adjustments. Season-long fantasy doesn't end at the draft, and smart managers learn to take the trends and data that each week of games offers and apply it to their roster decisions moving forward.
This weekly piece will look at trends from the previous slate of games and determine which trends in snaps, usage, and matchups are actionable moving forward. Lets' dive in and look at some interesting pieces of information from Week 3.
Aaron Jones Is Getting All the Red Zone Work
There was a mild rumble of panic that set in after the Week 1 Green Bay Packers game when they scored just three points against the New Orleans Saints. "Has their offense taken a step back?" "Does Aaron Rodgers care anymore?" "Will they all regress?" In the words of Rodgers, we all just needed to R-E-L-A-X.
After Aaron Jones scored just 3.2 points in half-point per reception formats in Week 1, he proceeded to score more than 55 points in the next two weeks, catapulting all the way to RB2 in that format. And while the 41 rush attempts and 10 receptions this season have been nice, they take a backseat to the elite usage Jones is seeing in the red zone.
Jones is third among all running backs in rushing yards inside the red area (40 yards). He also has the 11th-most receiving yards among all skill players in that area (far and away most among running backs). His 32 receiving yards inside the 20 are more than Adam Thielen, Amari Cooper, Najee Harris, D.K. Metcalf and a host of other elite players. As expected, these high totals are due to the fact that his volume is second to none. He leads all rushers with 13 attempts in the red zone and is second in targets (five) to only Harris. In fact, Jones' fantasy points in the red zone (37.2) this season are 14 points higher than the second-place running back (Ezekiel Elliott), according to FantasyData.
But it's not just volume that's driving the production. Jones is excelling with the high-leverage targets and expected points he contributes to his team. According to numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Jones' NEP per target is first among all running backs with at least 10 targets (0.90 per target). That means Jones is contributing almost one point to his team's total every time he is targeted by Rodgers.
Sit back and enjoy the ride with Jones this season. With Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook already banged up, there is a very real chance Jones could overtake one of them for the overall RB1 rank. If the Green Bay offense keeps humming, Jones should continue to see overwhelming red-zone work.
Courtland Sutton Is About to Explode
There was some understandable trepidation coming into the season about how Courtland Sutton would perform in 2021. A myriad of factors caused him to drop to WR32 (80th overall) in preseason drafts: Sutton was less than a year removed from ACL surgery, a new quarterback was in town, the potential Year 2 emergence of Jerry Jeudy, and a couple of other potential playmakers in Noah Fant and Javonte Williams on the roster all helped to temper expectations.
Now, with concerns about the ACL behind us and several of the other worrying factors out of the way, the time is right for Sutton to explode. The underlying numbers are there and now that he will not have Jeudy and K.J. Hamler as target competition for some time, we should prepare for some elite performances.
According to NFL's Next Gen Stats, there are 15 players who have received at least 38% of their team's intended air yards:
|Player||Percentage of Intended |
|Average Intended |
Of those 15 players, only Ja'Marr Chase has a higher average intended air yards per target. Chase is the only one with fewer than Sutton's 20 targets, and only Tyler Lockett has a higher catch percentage than Sutton's 75%. Sutton shares the unfavorable distinction with DeVante Parker and Michael Pittman Jr. as the players in this list who have yet to score a touchdown. That can't last long.
Rest assured the touchdowns are coming -- and likely soon. The Broncos face the Baltimore Ravens, who are without their best cornerback in Week 4, and then face the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers through three weeks.
The Price Is Probably Right on Robert Woods
At this point, three weeks into the season, it looks a little bit silly that Robert Woods was drafted as the WR15 on average (42nd overall) and Cooper Kupp was drafted as WR19 (51st overall). Kupp is top-two among wide receivers in targets, receptions, receiving yards, target share, touchdowns, and fantasy points. He is clearly the desired target for Matthew Stafford, who has climbed up to a tie at the top of the leaderboard in MVP odds.
Woods, to this point, has been an afterthought in fantasy. But all that's doing is creating the perfect price for a buying opportunity for those who are paying attention.
While Kupp has been getting all the hype in season-long and DFS this year, Woods has been getting reliable usage. It just hasn't translated into the top-20 wide receiver output that we are used to from "Bobby Trees." In fact, Woods plays on 88% of his team's snaps (Kupp is at 91%) and still has a target share north of 20% on the season.
When it's high-leverage time, Woods is still looking elite. He bests Kupp in third-down targets (eight to seven) and has a higher yards per reception (10.9) than Kupp (9.0) in those situations.
The Los Angeles Rams -- even before the Darrell Henderson injury -- were evolving into the league's most dangerous passing attack. The Rams pass 56% of the time when in neutral game scripts (when the game is within one score) and their yards per attempt is third-highest, behind only the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals. This is an offense that is looking to sling it with Stafford on board, and we should be invested wherever we can.
The Woods manager in your league is probably frustrated with the lack of production from their premium investment on draft day (Woods ranks 49th among wide receivers in half-point per reception scoring). Now is the time to try and trade for Woods on the cheap and add some exposure to the high-powered passing attack of the Rams to your lineup.