2015 Fantasy Football Snap Efficiency Sleepers
Minimum input, maximum payoff: that’s what we all want in life, right?
When my girlfriend and I go to pick out a bottle of wine for date night, we consider a couple of factors and how they relate: cost, quality, amount, and so on. We could buy a large bottle of wine, but if it costs a ton, then that isn’t an efficient use of money. We could buy a cheap bottle of wine, but if it’s poor quality, then that’s also a waste. Also, my girlfriend refuses to buy a bottle off the shelves over one in the cooler, thus reducing the time before it chills and we can drink it.
That, my friends, is the most important facet of efficiency.
Fortunately, this idea of efficiency is much easier to look at in the context of fantasy football, when we have just quality (fantasy points) and quantity (snaps). We can find a lot of sneaky value from those players who are creating exceptional production even if they don’t get on the field a ton. This also means they might be undervalued, which also helps our fantasy wallet.
So, using standard scoring, which fantasy options at each position were the most valuable on a per-snap basis in 2014? Will they remain so in 2015?
With quarterback a fairly static position, there are not many surprises here on top. Aaron Rodgers was hyper-efficient as a fantasy player last year, as he racked up an equivalent number of fantasy points to Andrew Luck with 130 fewer snaps. He was also numberFire’s top quarterback by Total Net Expected Points (NEP), with about 60.00 NEP more than the second-place finisher.
If you’ll remember, Tony Romo also made a not-so-surprising appearance in the Total NEP top-five for our quarterbacks in 2014. He was actually the second-most valuable quarterback on a per-play basis in Passing NEP as well. Romo is a player to target this year, due to his potent offense and efficient value.
Other quarterbacks of note: Cam Newton (ninth) was injured for part of the season, due to a car accident, yet he had just as good an efficiency on a per-snap basis as Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. He could provide good value if he falls in your draft. Colin Kaepernick (20th) -- despite his mediocrity -- was more efficient on a per-snap basis last year than Matthew Stafford and Andy Dalton. The San Francisco offense struggled last year, ranking 22nd in our schedule-adjusted NEP per play metric. We shouldn’t expect him to be a surefire, reliable fantasy quarterback in 2015, but if he cashes in on opportunities he missed last year, he could be worth a flier.
The top running back in terms of fantasy points per snap is the Patriots’ undrafted 2014 rookie, Jonas Gray. He also was third in per-play Rushing NEP in 2014 among running backs with 50 or more attempts and was top-20 overall in Total NEP. With the second man on our chart, LeGarrette Blount, suspended to start the 2015 season, Gray may be able to work his way into favor in the Patriots’ running back committee.
Our other very interesting name here is Detroit Lions’ scatback Theo Riddick. Riddick was a complementary receiving back in 2014 who barely saw the field until Reggie Bush was injured. When he did get a chance, however, Riddick was electric. Despite rookie Ameer Abdullah's presence in the Detroit, Riddick still has plenty of sleeper value considering Joique Bell's injury concerns and is worth a roster spot on your team in 2015.
Other running backs of note: Ryan Mathews (11th) lost a lot of playing time in 2014 due to yet another ailment. Still, when he was on the field, his per-snap fantasy points were higher than Jamaal Charles and Le'Veon Bell. We still don’t know exactly how the Eagles’ backfield will shake out, but there’s a good chance that Mathews will earn rotational time, and he could be a strong handcuff. C.J. Spiller (37th) is one of the hottest sleepers this offseason, but he is in a committee in New Orleans, has been banged up (again), and was just as effective in the fantasy game as Ben Tate and Andre Williams. He just may not have the snaps to matter this year in standard scoring leagues.
|Odell Beckham, Jr.||NYG||793||204.00||0.26|
This is a huge surprise to me, as Martavis Bryant was not a player I was a huge fan of in the 2014 NFL Draft. Still, Bryant had an incredible connection with Ben Roethlisberger and was able to capitalize on some stellar targets that led him to be the most valuable wide receiver on a per-snap basis from 2014. He could easily supplant teammate Markus Wheaton as a starter in Pittsburgh, so feel free to draft him and take a chance.
Odell Beckham is an obvious member of this list, playing only 12 games but scoring the fifth-most fantasy points for a wide receiver in 2014. I still don’t buy that he’ll remain this efficient, but he will be valuable.
Other wide receivers of note: Steve Johnson (13th) was only on the field for 305 snaps last year, but he was as efficient with them as A.J. Green and DeSean Jackson. Now he gets to play with Philip Rivers as the Chargers’ starting slot man. That’s huge for his value, and he’s one of my favorite late-round risers. Jaron Brown (26th) was really good for the Arizona Cardinals in 2014 despite being their fourth-string wide receiver and having atrocious quarterback play while Carson Palmer was sidelined. With additional snaps in 2015, he could be sneakily useful; he had the same efficiency as Steve Smith and Golden Tate.
Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the game; we get it already.
More interesting here is how efficient Antonio Gates was last year, despite having his snaps managed to preserve his health. With the same likely to happen this year, he will have to remain efficient to stay fantasy-relevant. He is suspended for the first four games of the season, so I don’t mind letting him fall through the draft, but you should take a waiver wire claim on him before he comes back in Week 5, just in case.
Tim Wright is an unexpected player listed here, but he was a touchdown machine for the Patriots in 2014. A former wide receiver in college, Wright has route-running savvy for a tight end and found creases in the red zone last year. He’s back on his old team -- the Buccaneers -- for 2015, though, and unlikely to earn much playing time behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Leave him to the waiver wire.
Other tight ends of note: Josh Hill (sixth) was also a touchdown monster for the Saints last year. Jimmy Graham's departure creates a void on the New Orleans offense, and Hill could see major upside as a valuable target for Brees if he doesn't stay stuck behind Benjamin Watson all season. Jason Witten (25th) is aging, but I didn’t think he was aging this quickly. He is one of a few tight ends who regularly earn more than 1,000 snaps a year, but he was often a decoy or blocker in 2014. He's not done for just yet and hopefully 2015 is a bounce-back, but there are no guarantees.