Hoppen to Conclusions: Week 11 Insights and Analysis
Hello and welcome to the Week 11 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
- If it wasn't already obvious, this week's preeminent matchup comes in the late-afternoon slate of games between the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs. Not only does this game have the highest game total of the week at 56 points (the next highest is 50 points), but it also features two teams that like to pass and play fast. Dallas and Kansas City are both in the top ten in neutral-script pace the last five weeks and have accounted for a combined 135.8 plays per game this season. You're already starting your studs in these offenses, but guys like Byron Pringle, Michael Gallup, and Tony Pollard are all worth considering in your lineup.
- A game that I do not want action on is between the Browns and Lions, two teams hell-bent on running the ball. This game even becomes uglier with Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield not at full health, giving the Browns and Lions even more reason to run the ball and slow the game down. Each of these teams (as you'll see in the charts below) are among the lowest in pass rates this season. Furthermore, over the last five weeks, both teams are in the bottom half of the league in neutral-script pace. D'Andre Swift and Nick Chubb should be locked into your lineups, but I would be hard-pressed to find a reason to play anyone else in this game.
Team Pass Rates
- We made it - the Cincinnati Bengals are now a pass-first team. Well, they're close to it at least! Over the last five weeks, the Bengals rank third in neutral-script pass rate at 67.7% with a PROE of 4.5%. These are both much higher than the 58.8% and -5.8% marks that they had in the first five weeks of the season. This has primarily benefitted Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase, who have both seen an increase of at least one target per game between these two splits. However, they might just be taking away from Tyler Boyd, who has seen two fewer targets per game. Higgins and Chase both remain must-start players with Boyd garnering consideration in scripts that expect to be more pass-heavy.
- The Carolina Panthers have had a run-centric approach for most of the year, but with Cam Newton the presumed starter, there's no reason to think that will change. This, combined with Christian McCaffrey being back (who has earned 15 total targets the past two weeks), makes it difficult to plug Robby Anderson into lineups. He did have his best game of the season this past week, scoring over 12 fantasy points for just the second time this year, but that came on the back of his third receiving touchdown this season. Anderson doesn't have more than six targets in any of his last three games, while DJ Moore has more than seven targets in every single game. Moore is the only other Panther besides McCaffrey that I would start in this ambiguous offense.
Team Game Scripts
- Last week, the Arizona Cardinals got clowned by the Carolina Panthers, but that didn't stop Arizona from treating James Conner like a workhorse. In the first full game without Chase Edmonds, Conner saw a season-high 82% snap share while running a route on more than 50% of the team's dropbacks for the second straight week. While his 14 opportunities in the game were nothing to write home about, he did earn the only three high-value touches for the team. Regardless of game script, Conner figures to be heavily involved in the Cardinals' game plan and will continue to offer top-five upside at running back.
- Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Chargers have had a bit of a fall from grace, losing three of their last four games. In that stretch, Justin Herbert's average depth of target has dropped from 7.6 yards to 6.8 yards. While that doesn't sound like a lot, it can be over a stretch this long. This hasn't helped Mike Williams, who has struggled to keep up with his-early season pace. He has no more than six targets in each of the Chargers' last four games while Keenan Allen has secured at least 11 targets in the team's last three games. Because of this, Williams is averaging fewer than six PPR points per game over that stretch, so I wouldn't fault you for sitting him. That said, I have some confidence that he'll return to form eventually as he's still running a route on over 90% of the team's dropbacks and the Chargers are not afraid to throw the ball.
Running Back Usage
- Without Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams has been a suitable replacement. Since Week 6 (when he took over), Williams is the RB11 in PPR points per game, averaging 17.8 PPR points. This has come on the back of one of the highest HVT counts with just under seven per game. Though the Chiefs pass the ball as much as any team in the NFL, he's maintained a solid role in the passing game with an excellent 19% target share, which is typically unheard of for running backs. As long as he's the starter in Kansas City, he should be plugged into lineups.
- As this season has progressed, the Trey Sermon draft pick from the 49ers becomes more and more confusing. Since Elijah Mitchell returned from injury in Week 5, Sermon has more tackles (2) than he does carries (1). What's just as crazy is that Deebo Samuel had five carries on Monday Night Football, which is more than the number of snaps that Sermon has in games that Mitchell was active (3). However, Mitchell suffered a finger injury this past week so his status for Sunday's game against the Jaguars is up in the air. If Mitchell were to miss time, Sermon would become more intriguing but even Jeff Wilson got some run (pun intended) in his first game back this past week.
- I mentioned D'Andre Swift earlier, but it's worth mentioning how dominating his usage was in Week 10. In what was otherwise an ugly game, Swift set season-high marks in snap share (93%), share of backfield touches (88%), and total touches (36;15 more than his previous career-high of 21 touches). Granted, this was without Jamaal Williams and Jermar Jefferson leaving the game midway through because of an ankle injury, but it's encouraging to see what Swift could look like with a full workload. Swift also still leads the league in HVTs with 60 on the season and is behind only McCaffrey in HVT per game. Elite usage for an elite back.
Wide Receiver Usage
- The Jaguars' wide receiver room is a mess right now. Since D.J. Chark was ruled out for the season, no player has a target share above 19%. Jamal Agnew leads the team with an average of 7.2 targets per game over the past five weeks, which I would normally say is not enough to be a viable fantasy receiver, but he's averaging over 12 PPR points per game in that span (also a team-high). Marvin Jones appears to be the next best bet on fantasy production as he's the only player running a route on more than 90% of dropbacks and has a solid 33% air yards share since Week 5. I haven't even mentioned Laviska Shenault yet, who has failed to reach eight PPR points in three of his last four games and is worthy of being dropped at this point.
- In the past two games without Henry Ruggs, not much has changed for the Raiders' target distribution. Both Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller have held steady with each of them having a target share above 20%, while every other player has a target share at 13% or below. However, when looking more closely, I noticed that Zay Jones has gone from running a route on 21% of dropbacks in Weeks 1-8 to running a route on 92% of dropbacks the past two weeks. He's only gotten seven targets in those two games, but it helps to be on the field.
- We finally got the Stefon Diggs blow-up game that we've all been waiting for. After failing to top 20 PPR points in all but one game this season, Diggs had a season-high 30.2 points. Week 10 was Diggs' highest route run rate (93.5%) and target total (13) since Week 1 and he recorded a season-high 208 air yards, a hopeful sign that he continues to get downfield targets. The oddest part about this week was that Cole Beasley ran a route on a season-low 25.8% of dropbacks (the first time he was below 55% all season) and earned only two targets. I expect that to rebound eventually, but it's great to see Diggs showing us what we expected to see going into the season.
Tight End Usage
- George Kittle is back and as good as ever. With touchdowns in back-to-back weeks since returning from injury, he has quickly re-proven why he was drafted in the first couple rounds of drafts. Kittle leads the team with a 26% target share and 34% air yards share over the past two weeks, which are elite marks for a tight end. While we'll still see some volatility with his scoring because of the nature of the tight end position and the 49ers being a run-first team, he has firmly entrenched himself as a top-five tight end for the rest of the season.
- In his first game without Jonnu Smith this season, Hunter Henry didn't actually see his role change that much. He ran a route on more than 70% of dropbacks for just the third time this season but still hasn't had more than four targets in a single game since Week 5. However, if Smith is out again on Thursday night then Henry is a locked-and-loaded starter at tight end with how much touchdown equity he has earned.