Hoppen to Conclusions: Week 16 Insights and Analysis

Dec 23, 2021
Hoppen to Conclusions: Week 16 Insights and Analysis

Hello and welcome to the Week 16 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

  • My favorite game to target from a DFS perspective this week is the game in Minnesota where the Vikings will host the Los Angeles Rams. While the Rams by no means have been one of the faster teams this season, ranking in the bottom half of plays per game and pace the last five weeks, their offensive efficiency more than makes up for it. On the other side, the Vikings have been above-average in pace and plays all season, and Kirk Cousins is playing some of his best ball lately. Cousins has thrown for multiple touchdowns in each of his last seven games for a very solid 6.6% touchdown rate. This game also features a 49.5-point game total, tied for the highest of all games this week.
  • We get football on Christmas Day this Saturday, giving us a fun two-game DFS slate! However, one of these games offers a bit more appeal than the others and that's with the Arizona Cardinals hosting the Indianapolis Colts. The Cardinals, coming off of a disturbing loss, need to get right and I expect that will come with them playing fast. Arizona has operated with a 36% no-huddle rate in neutral scripts, the highest rate of the season. The only way we'll get a shootout, though, is if the Cardinals get out to an early lead. The Colts have been the slowest team in the NFL all season, but when Indianapolis has trailed by at least seven points in a game, they jump from last in seconds per play to 20th. Still not great, but at least they're pushing the ball a little bit more.

Team Pass Rates

  • Recently the New York Giants have become one of the pass-heaviest teams, ranking third in neutral-script pass rate since Week 11 (65%). Unfortunately, this has not benefitted the Giants' pass catchers, who will be receiving balls from either Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm for the rest of the season. But, there is one Giants player that I'm holding out hope for to end the season strong: Kenny Golladay. In his last three games (all with Glennon as the starter), Golladay leads the team with a 33% air yards share, 19% target share, and 80% routes run per dropback rate. He's topped 100 air yards in each of the last two games, but only has 68 total receiving yards to show for it. With Sterling Shepard (second on the team with a 14% target share) now out for the season and the Giants playing an Eagles team this week that ranks 24th in passing DVOA (per Football Outsiders), Golladay is set up to potentially have his biggest game of the season.
  • The Denver Broncos have made a fundamental shift in their playcalling since returning from their bye. In the ten weeks leading up to the bye, Denver ranked 15th in neutral-script pass rate (60%) and 17th in PROE (-1.4%). Since their Week 11 bye, Denver ranks 31st in neutral-script pass rate (45.7%, ahead of only New England) and 29th in PROE (-10.7%). They've still won two of their four games, so we shouldn't expect them to shift their philosophy that much as they close out the season in contention for a Wild Card berth. And while this has benefitted Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams, this has crushed the value of their wide receivers. Over the last four weeks, the Broncos have only recorded two double-digit PPR performances from all of their wide receivers, a sign of the trying times they're in.

Team Game Scripts

  • The Jacksonville Jaguars are a hot mess, but that hasn't stopped James Robinson from returning to elite-level usage. In his first game without Urban Meyer (and also without Carlos Hyde, who is out the rest of the season), Robinson logged an 84% snap share, a 15.7% target share, an 88% share of running back opportunities, and ran a route on 66.6% of dropbacks. Even if the Jaguars continue to lose (as they likely will), Robinson has firmly entrenched himself as an RB1 for the rest of the season.
  • On the flip side, the Kansas City Chiefs have returned to dominance, though in a different fashion, winning their last seven games. In that time, they've remained rather pass-heavy, but there has still been some room for running back value on this team. Since returning from injury in Week 12, Clyde-Edwards Helaire has returned to his lead role, hogging 61% of the backfield touches and earning a solid 3.3 HVTs per game. But the receiving work has been fairly split between him and Darrell Williams, who has just two fewer targets since Edwards-Helaire's return. This could limit Edwards-Helaire's ceiling, but receiving work has never been a big part of his game, so I wouldn't be too concerned.

Running Back Usage

  • There are a lot of people that come out of nowhere to have fantasy value each season, but Craig Reynolds truly came out of nowhere. From not playing all season to getting 40 total opportunities over the last two games, Reynolds has launched himself into fantasy relevance. Unfortunately, the volume that he's getting hasn't come with fantasy production. In those two games, Reynolds has just three HVTs and not a single touch inside the opponents' ten-yard line. Unfortunately, I don't expect this to change as Detroit struggles to get into the red zone and Reynolds has only run a route on 39% of dropbacks. In any case, he could fill in when running backs are a sparse asset.
  • For the first time this season, I fear for Alvin Kamara's role. Week 15 was the first game that Alvin Kamara played in which Taysom Hill was the starter and Mark Ingram was active. In this game, one that the Saints had a positive game script, Kamara handled only 55% of the backfield carries. His receiving role remained relatively intact by running a route on just over 50% of dropbacks and earning a 22% target share, but the Saints likely won't be passing much with Hill under center.

Wide Receiver Usage

  • With Corey Davis and Elijah Moore out for the season, that's left some opportunity (as bad as it may be) for some other Jets receivers. Jamison Crowder is the incumbent WR1 on the team and is the only player to have run a route on over 80% of dropbacks the last two weeks. Behind him, it's been a combination of Braxton Berrios and Keelan Cole. Cole is operating more as the team's deep threat with a 16-yard average depth of target while Berrios has been an up-and-down contributor. Berrios had ten targets in Week 14, but followed that up with just one target last week. I think Cole is the likeliest to have a big game based on his downfield tendencies, but all of these players only warrant DFS consideration.
  • Surprisingly, Julio Jones enters the Thursday night game with no injury designation after leaving last week's contest with a hamstring injury. The Titans are also hoping to get A.J. Brown back after missing three games on IR. In any case, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine has worked himself into a nice role. Over the last three weeks, Westbrook-Ikhine has a team-leading 39% air yards share and 18% target share while running a route on 91% of dropbacks. Tennessee still leans run-heavy, but Westbrook-Ikhine could offer some value in the showdown slate tonight.

Tight End Usage

  • Mark Andrews has been on a tear lately and is now the TE1 in PPR leagues. Andrews has performed highly despite missing Lamar Jackson this past week and most of Week 14. Over the last four weeks, Andrews leads the team in target share (29%), air yards share (43%), and PPR points per game (22.4). He's running a route on an elite 87% of dropbacks and 76% of his snaps have come with him lined up either from the slot or out wide (per PFF), an incredible mark for a tight end. Andrews will be talked about as a league winner with his late-season surge.
  • Dalton Schultz has continued to show that he has some fantasy value and is a crucial part of the Dallas Cowboys' offense. In Week 15 he scored the second-most PPR points in a game this season (20.7) on the back of a 0.22 targets per route run rate, his highest since Week 5 of this season. In fact, he's so important that he has a larger target share (14%) than Amari Cooper (12%) over the team's last three games. With Blake Jarwin still battling an injury, look for Schultz to maintain a solid role through the rest of the season.
About Author