Hoppen to Conclusions: Week 10 Insights and Analysis
Hello and welcome to the Week 10 edition of Hoppen to Conclusions! This is where I, Sam Hoppen, will share some of my favorite charts, which are designed to give you an overview of the NFL landscape. These charts, along with the commentary that I provide, aim to help you make start or sit, DFS lineup construction, or any other fantasy football decisions. There can be a lot of noise in fantasy football analysis, but these charts have been carefully selected to give you some of the most relevant and useful decision points.
Each of the charts has been designed in a way that you want to be targeting players and teams that are in the top-right quadrant of the chart as denoted by the dotted black lines, which signify the median value for the stat on either the x-axis or y-axis. Before getting to each of the charts and analyses, here are some brief descriptions of what you will find on each chart and how to interpret them. As you can see, I have also added views on the last five weeks of games.
Note: neutral game-script is defined as plays outside of the two-minute warning with a win probability between 20% and 80% for the offensive team.
- Team Pace and Plays: Compares a team's average plays per game to its neutral-script pace, using seconds per play as a measure of pace. On the chart, the y-axis flipped to show faster-paced teams (fewer seconds per play) on top. Simply put, teams (and overall matchups) with more plays and faster pace will offer more opportunities for fantasy point-scoring.
- Team Pass Rates: Compares a team's neutral-script pass rate (NPR) to its red-zone pass rate, with the size of the team's point showing its pass rate over expectation (PROE). Here we can identify which teams are passing the most when game script isn't a deciding factor and when they get close to the goal line.
- Team Game Script: Shows the distribution of a team's plays based on their win probability throughout their games - where there is a higher bubble for a team is where the team ran more plays under the win probability. This can help explain potential play-calling and usage decisions.
- Running Back Usage: Compares running back snap percent to his high-value touches (carries inside the 10 and receptions), with the size of the player's point as his total opportunities per game.
- Wide Receiver/Tight End Usage: Compares player weighted opportunity rating (WOPR) to his targets per route run (TPRR), with the size of the player's point as his receiver air conversion ratio (RACR). WOPR weights both air yards share and target share to evaluate a player's opportunity while RACR divides a player's receiving yards by his air yards to evaluate his efficiency in the opportunity he is given. The charts show the same information for both the wide receiver and tight end position.
Team Pace and Plays
- In an overtime win against the Vikings last week, the Ravens ran 89 (!!!) total plays, which is the second-most in a game this season and the 15th-most in any game since 2010. This is obviously heavily inflating their plays per game counts, but they do face off against a Dolphins team on Thursday night that has an above-average 64.8 plays per game count over the last five weeks. This game being the matchup with the highest combined plays per game may be a red herring though as both teams are below-average in neutral-script pace. Fortunately, both offenses are rather condensed and both defenses rank 25th or lower in DVOA (per Football Outsiders), so an offensive onslaught could be in the works in primetime.
- The game I'm eyeing as a potential shootout and target for DFS is between the Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings. Not only do both teams land in the top-8 in neutral-script pace the last five weeks, but they also both have team totals of at least 25 points. The Chargers have posted at least 24 points in five of their last six games while the Vikings have posted at least 30 points in four of their last seven. This is an offensive explosion waiting to happen, so start anyone that you can!
Team Pass Rates
- The New York Jets, among all their quarterback turnover, look to have become a run-first team. Over the last five weeks, the Jets rank eighth in neutral-script pass rate at 65.4% and have a 4.9% PROE over that span. However, they now get to play a Buffalo Bills team that, despite taking a dirt nap offensively against the Jaguars last week, have the top-ranked defense by Football Outsiders' DVOA. I would stay away from starting any Jets players outside of Michael Carter, especially given the uncertainty at quarterback and having the third-lowest implied team total on the week at 17.5 points.
- After starting rather pass-heavy, the New England Patriots have started to rely heavily on the running game with a 47.8% neutral-script pass rate over the last five weeks. They now play a Cleveland Browns team that also finds most of its offensive success with its running game. Usually, a run-heavy team means good things for a backfield, but the Patriots have been spreading opportunities around with little regard for our fantasy teams. Both Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris are also currently in concussion protocol while Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton are on the COVID list, so there's also a lot of ambiguity about who will even play for these teams come Sunday. I'm avoiding this game in general as it seems like fantasy points will come at a premium.
Team Game Scripts
- Recently, the Atlanta Falcons have shown some life and we're finally starting to see why they brought in Arthur Smith to be their head coach. The Falcons have won three of their last four, but their team looks wildly different than it did at the start of the season. Most notably, they no longer have Calvin Ridley, which has opened up opportunities for the likes of Tajae Sharpe, Olamide Zaccheaus, and Russell Gage. However, between the three of them, they have just five games with more than double-digit PPR fantasy points. Gage looks to be the best option moving forward, though, as he's earned at least six targets in three of the four games he's played.
- The Titans are on a roll as they sit atop the AFC with a 7-2 record. Losing Derrick Henry for a long stretch won't hurt them, but fortunately, they have A.J. Brown. Brown has played phenomenally during their five-game winning streak, averaging over 18 PPR points per game. He's dominating the opportunities for the Titans, too, with 52% air yards share and 35% target share. This past week, Tennessee had their highest single-game PROE mark of the season at 2.7%, which is encouraging given they had a double-digit lead going into the half. If the Titans keep up this rate of passing, Brown is someone that I would consider buying high on.
Running Back Usage
- Unfortunately, we have reached the point in which Ty'Son Williams can be dropped. Though he looked like the best player in the Ravens' backfield early in the season, he has gotten only 16 total opportunities since Week 3. For reference, Devonta Freeman, the now presumed lead back, had 16 opportunities in Week 9 alone. I say that he's the presumed lead back because Latavius Murray has been out the past two games and still isn't practicing, but Le'Veon Bell is not far behind him in the pecking order. In the last two games, Freeman has earned 51% of the backfield's touches while Bell is at 40%. The differentiating factor is that Freeman has run a route on 42% of dropbacks the past two games while Bell is only at 9%. I'm likely staying away from this backfield if I can, but Freeman is the one I have the most confidence in right now.
- A lot of eyes are on James Conner, and rightfully so. After Chase Edmonds left the game early in Week 9, Conner went on to post 40.3 PPR points and finish as the RB1 on the week. Conner already has plenty of touchdown equity as he leads the league with 11 touchdowns this season, but now his weekly floor should be raised with more pass-catching work. His 67% routes per dropback rate and five targets were both season-high marks this Sunday after having just five total targets before this game. Though Eno Benjamin will have a small role, Conner should be locked in as a top-5 running back option while Edmonds is out.
- Returning from his bye, Leonard Fournette looks to be in a smash spot against a Washington Football Team defense that has been a disappointment so far this season. Fournette currently ranks as RB16 in PPR this season thanks to a large portion of his touches being of the high-value variety. His 6.5 HVTs per game over the last five weeks are tied for second and he has a solid 62% of the backfield touches. This usage keeps him in the high-end RB2 conversation and a reliable starter each week.
Wide Receiver Usage
- Tyler Lockett has been feast or famine this year with three games over 26 PPR points and four games below eight PPR points. But his underlying metrics as of late make me optimistic that he should continue to be plugged into starting lineups. Since Week 5, Lockett has a 48% air yards share, a 32% target share, and is running a route on 93% of dropbacks. This doesn't mean that DK Metcalf has become an afterthought as he has a solid 22% target share in that same span and has been more efficient, scoring five touchdowns in his last four games. Hopefully, the return of Russell Wilson brings some more consistency to Lockett's play.
- Despite where Jarvis Landry is appearing on the charts above and with Odell Beckham Jr. now long gone, I'm doing what I can to avoid the Browns' passing attack. First, as I mentioned earlier, they are a run-heavy team and want to run the offense through their ground game. Second, and more importantly, is that this passing offense remains extremely dispersed. This past week, Baker Mayfield completed a pass to eight different players and no one player had more than five targets in the game. A high target share can be good when the offense is passing a bunch, but that's not the case for the Browns.
- I'm very worried about Courtland Sutton and the impact that Jerry Jeudy's return seems to have had on his usage. In the last two weeks, Sutton has had a total of six targets after six straight games with at least five targets. Additionally, his air yards have dropped dramatically and Tim Patrick leads the team in air yards the last three weeks. Sutton has still run a route on 90% of dropbacks the last two weeks, which is encouraging, but the alarms are certainly going off and he isn't as much of a locked-in starter.
Tight End Usage
- Tyler Higbee hasn't produced like many expected him to, especially given how much the Rams pass the ball and how successful they've been as a team. He only has one game with double-digit PPR points in his last five games (Week 9), but all of his underlying metrics look really good. In those five weeks, he's run a route on 86% of dropbacks, is averaging 5.6 targets per game for a 15% target share, and is the TE12 in PPR. You could do a lot worse and if he finds his way to your waiver wire, he may be worth a peek.
- George Kittle returned this past week and it was glorious. Contrary to Higbee, Kittle showed us exactly why people drafted him, putting up 101 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. His 70% routes per dropback rate was a little lower than the 83% he was running at before the injury, but I expect that's just the 49ers easing him back into work a little bit. He's a locked-and-loaded starting tight end when he's healthy.