5 NFL Stats to Know Through Week 12
With Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror, we're mere weeks away from fantasy football playoffs getting underway. Have your teams survived the season's onslaught of injuries? Or have the fantasy gods destroyed your championship dreams yet again?
Here are five stats to know -- both traditional and our advanced statistics -- through 12 weeks.
Cam Newton Posts a League-Worst 13.64% Passing Success Rate in Week 12
It wasn't exactly a banner week for dual-threat quarterbacks, as Jalen Hurts, Cam Newton, and Lamar Jackson were bottom-three in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. All three produced negative Passing NEP -- meaning they effectively hurt their teams when they dropped back to pass -- which is to be expected considering the trio combined for just one passing touchdown and nine interceptions.
Newton threw just two of those picks, but he arguably had the worst day of the bunch. Cam posted a league-worst 13.64% Passing Success Rate versus Miami, completing just 5-of-21 passes for 92 yards before being benched in the fourth quarter. For context, despite all their miscues, Jackson and Hurts finished with Passing Success Rates of 38.24% and 31.25%, respectively.
While Newton saved his fantasy day from being a complete disaster with a rushing touchdown, the performance was reminiscent of last year's up-and-down campaign with the Patriots. For all of his rushing ability, Newton demonstrated a scary floor last year, too, scoring fewer than 13 fantasy points in 6 of 15 starts.
However, it's hard to blame Newton entirely for this clunker. After all, this was just his second start since re-joining Carolina, the offensive line didn't do him any favors, and he lost his best weapon, Christian McCaffrey, to a mid-game injury. As we saw the week prior, the upside is still there when things break right for Newton.
Cam and the Panthers get a much-needed bye to regroup, and Newton has already been confirmed as the starter for Week 14. He gets a perfect bounce-back spot against the Falcons, a team that entered the week as numberFire's 28th-ranked schedule-adjusted total defense. If you're weak at quarterback, this is the right matchup to put your faith back in Newton.
That being said, it might be time to bail after that. The Panthers follow up that cupcake matchup with far tougher opponents in the Bills, Buccaneers, and Saints -- all teams that rank top-seven in numberFire's defense rankings. Furthermore, McCaffrey's reportedly out for the season, which is another blow to Newton's rest-of-season outlook.
Joe Mixon Is Averaging 33.0 Adjusted Opportunities Over the Past Two Weeks
Since their Week 10 bye, Cincinnati has made it abundantly clear that they plan to lean heavily on Joe Mixon moving forward.
At numberFire, we often refer to "adjusted opportunities" for running backs on FanDuel because the data shows that targets are effectively twice as valuable as carries in half-PPR formats.
Therefore it's telling that despite only seeing 4 targets over the past two games, Mixon has averaged a monstrous 33.0 adjusted opportunities, which is more than any other running back who played in both weeks. This is in stark contrast to Mixon's previous eight games, where he saw just 22.4 adjusted opportunities.
There's no doubt that he's benefited from positive game scripts in multi-score victories over the Raiders and Steelers, but there's a good chance he has another heavy workload this week versus the Chargers. Not only are the Bengals 3.0-point home favorites on NFL odds, but the Chargers entered the week ranked 32nd in schedule-adjusted rush defense.
After that, it's easy to envision competitive games against the 49ers, Broncos, and Ravens, and while the Bengals could have their hands full against Kansas City in Week 17, the Chiefs are another team that struggles versus the run.
Things are looking brighter than ever for Mixon managers hoping to make a deep fantasy playoff run.
Elijah Mitchell Leads Week 12 With 39 Adjusted Opportunities
Entering the weekend, it was easy to be a bit skeptical of Elijah Mitchell's usage after missing Week 11 with a broken finger and being limited in practice all week.
So naturally, Mitchell would go on to see his biggest workload of the season.
In Week 12, he would pile up a league-high 39 adjusted opportunities, tying his season-best in carries (27) while also seeing season-highs in targets (6) and snap rate (70.1%). So much for that finger injury, eh?
And there's little reason to think Mitchell won't be the focal point of this 49ers attack for the foreseeable future. Deebo Samuel, who has been stealing away backfield touches of late, will reportedly miss time due to a groin injury, and backup running back Trey Sermon was also injured on Sunday. Jeff Wilson and eventually JaMycal Hasty could be factors, but they seem unlikely to put a significant dent in Mitchell's massive role.
Mitchell continues to look like one of the better waiver-wire darlings of the season, and his occasional usage in the passing game lately only further adds to his appeal as an all-around fantasy back.
Elijah Moore Exceeds a 30% Target Share in Back-to-Back Weeks
With the Jets turning back to Zach Wilson at quarterback this weekend, it was fair to wonder whether Elijah Moore would maintain the same volume we saw in Week 11 when Joe Flacco was at the helm, a game where Moore posted season-highs in targets (11), receptions (8), and yards (141).
While the box score result wasn't anything special, Moore thankfully remained the team leader in targets for the second straight week, surpassing a 30% target share yet again. Over this span, Moore is now showing a 32.8% target share, 41.5% air yards share, and 83.5% snap rate -- all marks well above his season averages.
Being tied to the woeful Jets will be a weekly hurdle for Moore's fantasy outputs, but at least it looks like New York is committed to getting the ball in his hands regardless of who is at quarterback.
Kyle Pitts Is Averaging 38.0 Receiving Yards Over His Last Five Games
Kyle Pitts is logging plenty of targets, routes, and snaps, but that hasn't translated to a whole lot of fantasy points lately.
Earlier in the year, Pitts had one of his best games of the season when Calvin Ridley missed Week 5, so when Ridley stepped away for mental health reasons, it appeared Pitts would be the main guy to make up for his absence.
Of course, it hasn't worked out that way.
With Ridley away for the last five games, Pitts has averaged 6.2 targets per game with a 21.7% target share, 32.8% air yards share, 83.4% route rate, and 76.0% snap rate. But all that's amounted to is 2.8 receptions and 38.0 receiving yards per game -- and not a single touchdown.
On a Falcons team lacking many weapons, it seems opposing defenses have prioritized neutralizing Pitts, and it's hard to argue with the results.
Unfortunately, this being the barren tight end position, your only real choice is to ride things out and hope Pitts is finally able to break through again. He still leads the team in targets over this span, and the fact that he's only recorded one touchdown all year remains an outlier.
This week's matchup versus the Bucs shows the Falcons as double-digit home underdogs, but at least that should mean Matt Ryan will be forced to air it out to keep up -- theoretically leading to more looks for Pitts.