Fantasy Football: 3 Things We Learned in Week 6
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. Let's dive in and look at some interesting pieces of information from Week 6.
Miles Sanders Does A Little With A Lot
After Thursday's disappointing 11 touches in a primetime game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I got curious about just how little Miles Sanders has been playing. Over the past four games, Sanders has had a total of 42 touches (carries plus receptions) -- just barely over 10 per contest. Surely, the Philadelphia Eagles are benching him in favor of other backs to have that low of an opportunity share, right?
Sanders had the fourth-highest snap rate of any running back in Week 6 at 83%. On the season, Sanders is tied with Derrick Henry and D'Andre Swift for the sixth-highest snap rate of any rusher (almost 69%). So if Sanders is playing at an elite, workhorse level, why isn't he producing many fantasy points?
Here is the list of the 14 running backs this season with at least a 60% snap share, sorted by their fantasy points in half-point per reception formats.
|PLAYER||SNAP RATE %||FANTASY POINTS|
|Darrell Henderson Jr.||65.8||85.1|
As you can see, only Sanders and Mike Davis have less than 50 fantasy points this season. David Montgomery has just 57 points but has played in only four games. All other backs have at least 80 fantasy points on the year. We know why Mike Davis is so low; Cordarrelle Patterson has 89 fantasy points on the season, stealing many of them from Davis along with the souls of plenty of fantasy managers.
Essentially, Sanders is being used as a giant decoy in most games. The Eagles run 58.8 offensive plays per game this season, and Sanders is involved in far less than 20% of those. Jalen Hurts has become Lamar Jackson lite, and is the de facto running back. In fact, Hurts has occupied 29% of his team's rushing share so far this season. Lamar Jackson, for context, only soaks up 24.6% of his team's carries.
No matter the kind of draft capital you spent on Sanders, it's time for him to find your bench until his usage starts to change.
Sterling Shepherd Picks Up Where He Left Off
After missing almost three full games, Sterling Shepard picked up right where he left off. Despite mostly incompetent quarterback play from Daniel Jones, Shepard led all NFL players with 14 targets in Week 6, continuing the pace he set in the first two weeks with 19 total targets.
In fact, if we remove Week 3 where Shepard was injured early, his average for the season is 11 targets per game. That ties him with Davante Adams for second in the league, trailing only Cooper Kupp. Assuming Shepard remains healthy, his circumstances are setting him up to be a target monster the rest of the year.
Let's run down the competition for Shepard. Kadarius Toney: hurt. Darius Slayton: hurt. Kenny Golladay: hurt. Saquon Barkley: hurt. Evan Engram: apparently will never live up to potential. John Ross: irrelevant. It got so bad on Sunday after Toney was hurt that the Giants gave Dante Pettis 11 targets in his first action with the team.
And the Giants are making it easy on Shepard to make his catches and generate yards after. Here is his Week 6 route chart against the Los Angeles Rams:
As noted, all but two targets were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Going forward, Daniel Jones won't face as ferocious a Rams' pass rush as he did in Week 6, so the path to plenty of targets for Shepard should be free and clear. Considering the relatively modest totals from Sunday (10 catches for 76 yards), there might be a small buying window here.
With the rest of the Giants' receiving corps in shambles, Shepard looks like a clear WR2 play every week.
Trevor Lawrence is Already Making Adjustments
The Jacksonville Jaguars actually won a game, so something drastic must have happened to that team. What could have possibly created this miracle?
Yes, this game was on another continent in London -- the Jags' home away from home. Yes, Urban Meyer is still gross. Yes, the Jaguars made a mistake drafting a running back in the first round. Of course, none of those things are driving this more competitive streak from the Jaguars. In fact, it's a couple of slight changes in Trevor Lawrence's play style that are keeping Jacksonville in some of these recent games.
First, consider some of Lawrence's key statistics for each of the first six games of the season:
|Week||Result||Completion %||TD||Int||Passer Rating||Yards Per Attempt||aDOT|
Where do some of the trends in these numbers begin and end? There seems to be a clear fork in the road after Week 3 that has led to more efficiency from Lawrence, albeit with fewer touchdowns.
The key, in my opinion, lies with the trend in average depth of target (aDOT). He started off the year trying to recreate some of his Clemson magic by bombing deep shots everywhere. All that got him was a 5:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a passer rating that never exceeded 70.0.
In the past three weeks -- and especially the last two -- the passes have been more controlled, shorter, and efficient. It has allowed Lawrence to post a 90-plus passer rating for three straight weeks. His yards per attempt has actually increased because the completion percentage is higher, and his receivers (and James Robinson) can gain yards after the catch.
As the Jaguars let Lawrence grow this season, and as they start to feature Robinson more exclusively (Carlos Hyde didn't touch the ball once on Sunday), we should see a better version of Lawrence moving forward. We may not see many 300-yard, 3-touchdown games from the rookie quarterback, but he is getting incrementally better -- making him still an elite dynasty league stash.