Hoppen to Conclusions: Week 2 Insights and Analysis
Hello and welcome to the inaugural 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.
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 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 upcoming Chargers vs. Cowboys game is ripe with fantasy opportunity. Both teams start the season among the top 12 teams in both total plays and neutral-script pass rate. They each also had above-average pass rates in Week 1, so expect a high-scoring and heavy passing affair.
- The Falcons put together a rather disconcerting effort in Week 1, putting up only six points against the Eagles. The silver lining was that they led the league in neutral-script seconds per play in that game and face a Buccaneers team that is sure to put them in a hole quickly.
- On Thursday night we get a doozy of a matchup between the Washington Football Team and New York Giants, two teams that are in the bottom third of plays run. With a quarterback change on deck for Washington and the lowest game total of the week at 40.5, I would avoid starting as many players from this game as possible. Antonio Gibson is the only player that I would be comfortable starting in redraft leagues.
Team Pass Rates
- Despite an abysmal pass rate and PROE, the Cincinnati Bengals were able to support two top-30 wide receivers in Week 1 (Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins). Some are suggesting that this was the Bengals easing Joe Burrow back into gameplay, but we should not expect this efficiency to continue. Ideally, Cincinnati bumps up its pass rate so as to support all three of their primary receivers.
- It's tough to see, but the Pittsburgh bubble covers that of Las Vegas. These two teams came out guns a-blazing in Week 1 and face each other in Week 2. Derek Carr's 550 air yards on Monday night were the highest total of his career, so maybe Jon Gruden has shifted from his ground-and-pound ways. Some of this was dictated by an early 14-point deficit but continued when the game got close. Pittsburgh had little success rushing the ball this week, so maybe more success changes that, but I am still optimistic that Pittsburgh continues its pass-happy ways.
Team Game Script
- The Packers spent nearly the entire game against the Saints with a win probability below 50 percent and the majority of the game with a win probability below 25 percent. Because of this, we should not overreact to any usage trends from Green Bay skill players from this game. They will have a chance to right the ship this week with a matchup against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football.
- The fact that the Indianapolis Colts spent a large portion of their game in a negative game script and Jonathan Taylor finished with 17.6 PPR fantasy points and seven targets, which is extremely encouraging. If he continues to stay involved when Indianapolis is chasing points, then he is in for a huge fantasy season.
Running Back Usage
- Behind Najee Harris, the only running back to see a 100% snap share, Darrell Henderson finished with the highest snap share among running backs. Recent acquisition Sony Michel only played three snaps on Sunday night. The Rams played with a lead for most of the night, but if Henderson has this big of a role the rest of the season then he will easily be an RB1.
- While Miles Sanders still has a firm grasp on the starting role in the Eagles' backfield, I would expect a 65/35 split between him and rookie Kenneth Gainwell for most of the season. Gainwell got the lone carry inside the ten-yard line, but Sanders had one more high-value touch thanks to his four receptions. Seeing eight total targets between the two of them is positive for those who thought Jalen Hurts at quarterback would dry up the running back opportunities.
- On Sunday we saw what would happen if someone in the Buffalo Bills' backfield was treated as a workhorse. With Zack Moss a surprise inactive, Devin Singletary handled 16 of the 20 opportunities for Bills running backs. Singletary also topped five targets for the fifth time since the start of last year while no other Bills running back has a game with more than four targets in that span.
Wide Receiver Usage
- Despite recording a high TPRR in Week 1, Rondale Moore may struggle to see the field in the near term. Early on, Moore (79% of snaps from the slot) will have to compete for snaps most with Christian Kirk (96% of snaps from the slot), who looked great on Sunday and found the end zone twice. Moore remains a hold for me on the hope that he starts to take away some of AJ Green's work, but it may take some time.
- Though I'm sure it will flip-flop throughout the year, Cooper Kupp was the Rams' WR1 this past week with a WOPR just under 0.8 (near-elite territory), the third-highest mark on the week. Kupp was the only Rams wide receiver with more than four targets as Robert Woods and Van Jefferson finished with just four and three targets, respectively. What's most concerning for Robert Woods managers is that he only ran a route on 67 percent of Los Angeles' dropbacks while Van Jefferson ran a route on 85 percent of dropbacks. This doesn't mean that Jefferson has eclipsed Woods, but that it may be closer than we think.
- Mike Williams found himself in a new role in Week 1 running more high-percentage routes. His 9.8 average depth of target (ADOT) in Week 1 was significantly lower than his career ADOT of 15.5. This was also just the fourth time that Williams had double-digit targets in a game. If he gets peppered with this many targets and maintains this role, he could quickly enter WR2 territory if he isn't already there.
Tight End Usage
- If you're desperate at tight end (and you likely are unless you drafted one of the top six tight ends), I think James O'Shaughnessy is worth a look on your waiver wire. He recorded eight targets on Sunday and appears in that top-right quadrant of the chart that we want to see. O'Shaughnessy also ran a route on nearly 80% of Jacksonville's dropbacks and the Jaguars will be passing a lot this season. You could do worse at tight end.
- Heading into the season, Adam Trautman was the presumed starter in New Orleans but Juwan Johnson stole the show with two red-zone touchdowns. I still believe that Trautman's usage (he had twice as many snaps as Johnson) and downfield-threat ability makes him a more viable option to have some consistency and be less reliant on touchdowns. Trautman was one of six tight ends this week to have an air yards share over 20% and actually led the team in targets with six.