Hoppen to Conclusions: Week 13 Insights and Analysis
Hello and welcome to the Week 13 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
- The Seattle Seahawks offense is borderline unwatchable. Monday night was the second game of Seattle's season in which they had a streak of at least four 3-and-outs in a row during the game - not what you would typically expect from a Russell Wilson-led team. If it wasn't apparent by the charts above, Seattle has struggled to produce any sort of play volume. Their opponent this week, the San Francisco 49ers, also rank in the bottom half in plays run this season, making it the matchup with the least potential for a lot of play volume. That said, if you plan to attack this game from a DFS perspective, it may be best to just stick with players on the 49ers' side.
- This week's game with sneaky shootout potential comes between the Washington Football Team and Las Vegas Raiders, both of whom have played at or above league average in neutral-script pace this season. With a 49-point total, this game features the third-highest game total on the main slate this week along with two defenses that rank in the bottom ten in total DVOA (per Football Outsiders). Both Taylor Heinicke and Derek Carr have shown the ability to support competent offenses, making this a spot to attack for DFS.
Team Pass Rates
- You might be looking at the Jaguars' bubble thinking "who cares what their neutral-script passing rate is, they're always behind!" Well, what if I told you that Jacksonville ranked 25th in negative-script (win probability below 25%) passing rate. Even with the 15th-most pass attempts in the league this year (400 attempts), the Jaguars have failed to produce any sort of relevancy from their passing-game weapons. But that's the thing with passing in fantasy football: we are looking for efficiency, not volume. Since throwing three touchdowns in Week 1, Trevor Lawrence hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns in a single game. He'll need to perform better to make any receivers worth starting.
- It's no secret that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a pass-funnel all season. With one of the best run defenses, teams have been attacking the Buccaneers pass defense so much that Bucs opponents have a 9.8% PROE against them, by far the highest in the league. While Atlanta is still missing their elite receiver in Calvin Ridley, their passing attack has become slightly more condensed, with Russell Gage leading the team with a 22.4% target share over the last five weeks. Look for Falcons pass-catchers to have a big game against their division rival this week.
Team Game Scripts
- The Miami Dolphins, winners of four straight, are firmly in playoff contention. While Tua Tagovailoa has only started two of those four games, he has been a big reason for Miami's success. In his last three games (the two starts and the game that he came in to relieve an injured Jacoby Brissett against the Ravens), Tagovailoa is third in the league with an 11.7% completion percentage over expectation. His 5.2-yard average depth of target over that span lowers his fantasy ceiling a little bit, but it helps when you have Jaylen Waddle catching the ball. With one of the higher passing rates in the league, Tua could be set up to have some solid games down the stretch, especially if DeVante Parker and Will Fuller return soon.
Running Back Usage
- Leonard Fournette is every bit the league-winner right now. In Week 12, on top of his four touchdowns, Fournette recorded a league-high 13 HVTs, which is one fewer than the most HVTs in a single game this season. Thanks to that impressive usage, Fournette's 6.7 HVTs per game now lead the league on the season. Though the Buccaneers face two teams in the top five in rushing DVOA to end the season, their other three opponents are all in the bottom third of the league in rushing DVOA. Fournette should have no problem maintaining his spot as a top-10 PPR running back.
- Saquon Barkley is back to being a full-time player. His 87% snap share and 73% routes per dropback rate in Week 12 were both his highest since Week 4. However, while he's been on the field, he still isn't getting the full workload. Barkley only has one game with more than 20 opportunities, a mark that he hit nine times in his 2019 season when he finished as the RB10 in PPR leagues. He hasn't been efficient with his touches, though, failing to reach a dozen PPR points in five of the seven games he's played.
- Antonio Gibson may finally be hitting his stride. In Week 12 he hit career-high marks in snap rate (67%), touches (36), carries (29), and catches (7). He hit these marks in a game that J.D. McKissic played the majority of the game. In fact, since the bye, Gibson is averaging 6.7 HVTs per game and 27 opportunities per game, a workload that only elite backs get. McKissic is in concussion protocol, so it's unsure if he'll play against the Raiders on Sunday, but Gibson will enter the week as a top-10 running back option, regardless.
Wide Receiver Usage
- For a while, I was very out on every part of the Browns' passing attack. Cleveland is a run-first team, Baker Mayfield wasn't having a great season, and, most importantly, the targets were unconcentrated. But that's changing and my view on Jarvis Landry, specifically, has shifted in a positive way. In Week 12, Landry tied his season-high with 10 targets and ran a route on a season-high 97% of dropbacks. Since Week 9 (their first game without Odell Beckham Jr.), Landry is the only receiver running a route on more than 80% of dropbacks and has a team-leading 25% target share. Cleveland enters their bye this week, but keep an eye on him to potentially have a good game when they face the Ravens again in Week 14.
- Darnell Mooney looks like a WR1 and is such a fun player to watch. Over his last four games, Mooney has an elite 31% target share, 0.69 WOPR, and 90% routes per dropback rate. Thanks to this, he's scored at least a dozen PPR points in each of those games, eclipsing 20 PPR points in two of them. Granted, Allen Robinson has been out the last two games, but Mooney has established himself as the clear favorite for either Bears' quarterback.
- A couple of weeks ago, I warned of Deebo Samuel as someone who could fall off in fantasy production due to San Francisco's lack of passing along with George Kittle coming back. Now Samuel has still been a fantasy superstar getting used as a rusher, but Brandon Aiyuk seems to be fully out of the Kyle Shanahan doghouse. In the last four weeks, Aiyuk has run a route on 94% of dropbacks, a 31% air yards share, and a 24% target share, all of which are leading the team. I mentioned earlier to only target the San Francisco side of their matchup against the Seahawks, and Aiyuk is the one that I'm gravitating towards.
Tight End Usage
- Logan Thomas returned to action this week and there were pre-game reports that he would be eased back into work. That was certainly the case as he only ran a route on 68% of dropbacks after running a route on at least 92% of dropbacks in each of the first three games. However, he still earned six targets (third-most on the team) for a solid 0.231 targets per route run rate. He immediately steps in as a TE1 with this usage and will hopefully get to a full set of routes as he becomes further removed from his injury.
- Cole Kmet is starting to have the sort of breakout that many expected entering the season. Kmet has earned at least eight targets in two of his last three games, which has propelled him to at least 14 PPR points in those two games. He also ran a route on 86% of routes on Thanksgiving, his second-highest rate of his season. Unfortunately, he faces a Cardinals defense this week that is second-best against tight ends in DVOA, but if this level of usage continues then that may not matter.