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 four 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 (in regulation only, overtime excluded) 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 pass rate over expectation (PROE) to its red-zone pass rate. 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.
- 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
- Lucky us, we get to see the Indianapolis Colts in primetime for the second week in a row as they visit the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. But this game may actually provide a little more excitement than Monday night's primetime fixture for the Colts. Both the Cowboys and Colts rank in the top three in pace over expected (a new metric I created that will soon be available in our Team Stat Explorer) this season. While the fast pace is generally a sign of a potential shootout, both of these defenses have played quite well as they each rank in the top seven in EPA per play this season and over the last four weeks. Dallas has stepped it up on offense lately, ranking second in EPA per play since Week 8 and posting at least 28 points in each of their four games played. But the Colts' offense (again, a privilege to get to watch in primetime again), is what has me staying off of the over for this game. I doubt Indianapolis will want to attack Dallas through the air since Dallas has the number-one ranked defense by Football Outsiders' DVOA, making Jonathan Taylor the only Colts player I would really want to start in this game.
- The game I'm most looking forward to watching this Sunday is the Shanahan Scheme Showdown (trademark pending) between the 49ers and Dolphins. These two teams are red hot as they are both riding win streaks of at least four games and have at least a share of the lead in their division. That said, there are a couple of reasons to believe this won't be the shootout that many people might be hoping for. First, these two teams both play with little urgency, ranking in the bottom ten in pace over expected (POE). In fact, the Dolphins are the 2nd-slowest in POE, running a play more than three seconds slower than expected, on average. What has helped Miami is that they have the league's top-ranked explosive pass (15+ yards) rate, thanks to the combo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. However, San Francisco's defense remains one of the top units in the NFL. The 49ers rank first in yards per game and yards per play allowed while being top six in both total EPA per play and passing EPA per play allowed. This is a classic case of unstoppable force meets immovable object. Finally, with the familiarity that each team will have with the opponent's offensive scheme, it could be tougher to move the ball at will like these teams have been. It should be a thrilling game, but I lean towards the under here.
- Action: bet under 46.5 (-107) on PointsBet
Team Pass Rates
- The Los Angeles Rams are currently crawling their way into the offseason, doing whatever they can to get to the end of the season as quickly as possible. In addition to draining the clock a ton, the Rams have also started to become a run-first team. Since Week 9, the Rams' -10.1% PROE ranks 28th among all teams. A lot of this has to do with Matthew Stafford's injury, but his health uncertainty coupled with leading receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson being injured leads me to believe the Rams will continue with this run-heavy approach. This also leaves Van Jefferson and Ben Skowronek as the top wide receivers - between the two of them, they have just one game with at least a dozen PPR points this season. You may not have a better option at tight end than Tyler Higbee, but he's coming off of a game in which he didn't have a single target. Higbee still ran a route on 85.3% of dropbacks, which was his 2nd-highest mark of the season, so you can hang your hat on that if you're desperately grasping for tight end production (like every non-Kelce manager is). Play a Rams player at your own risk.
- Action: fade all Rams players in DFS and season-long leagues
- Another team that has shifted its playcalling recently is Tennessee. Similar to the aforementioned Rams, the Titans' passing trends have aligned with the health of their starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. After missing two games (and the Titans throwing it a combined 26 times in those games), Tannehill and the Titans have a -0.8% PROE, which is a high mark for a team historically insistent on pounding the rock with Derrick Henry. Treylon Burks has also worked his way back from injury, seeing an increase in his route rate since returning from a four-game absence himself. With this, he now has more targets (20) in his last three games than he did in his first four games (16) and has at least 70 receiving yards in back-to-back games. If Tennessee's pass rate continues to hold steady, Burks could be in for a great second-half breakout.
- Action: buy Treylon Burks
Running Back Usage
- The New York Jets' running back situation is filled with confusion right now. On Sunday, recently-acquired James Robinson was a healthy scratch, and then starter Michael Carter suffered a low ankle sprain during the game and is now considered day-to-day. This left cleanup duties to Zonovan Knight and Ty Johnson. Knight led the backfield on Sunday with 17 total opportunities, four high-value touches, and a 45.9% snap rate. Johnson looked like passing-down back, playing 91.7% of the team's third-down snaps, but he only ran one more route than Knight did. Overall, Johnson had just seven opportunities, but five of them came when New York had at least a 14-point lead. Long term, I would rank the Jets backs as Carter (barring no long-term injury), Knight (great opportunity in relief of Carter), Robinson (healthy scratch, not a great sign), and Johnson (just a guy). As long as Mike White remains the starter, this backfield has a ton of value with the high rate of passes that he throws to the running back position.
- This season, Todd Bowles has made a lot of questionable calls. One of those includes continuing to play an aged Leonard Fournette over rookie Rachaad White. White hasn't been overly efficient this year (-0.53 RYOE per carry and -0.09 EPA per carry), but he's been better than Fournette (-0.53 RYOE per carry and -0.09 EPA per carry). He also has been more explosive, with an explosive rush rate of 9.3% compared to 8.1% for Fournette. But, with Fournette on the shelf in Week 12, White got his first look at a featured back role. This week he was given 14 carries (second-most this season), which was 77.8% of the running back carries, a season-high for him. He also played on 60.9% of the team's snaps, another season-high for the rookie. That said, against the worst rushing defense in the league, White amassed just 64 rushing yards. Where he made his day for fantasy was as a pass catcher, as he hauled in all nine of his targets on a season-high 46.7% routes run rate. Those nine targets were the second-most for a Bucs running back this season, and that's likely where White's fantasy value will continue to come as long as Fournette is out. I wasn't encouraged enough by White's performance that I'd want to buy, but his workload is strong enough that I wouldn't be selling either.
- Action: hold Rachaad White
Wide Receiver Usage
- The Las Vegas Raiders have been missing both Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow for several weeks now, opening up the door for Mack Hollins to step up as the Raiders WR2. However, his role has pretty much stayed the same with and without these players. His routes run rate has risen slightly from 88.9% through Week 9 to 94.9% in the last three games. He's also earning just over one target per game more at 6.7 targets per game, which has been good for a 17.9% target share. Where he's seen a decline is in his end zone targets, of which he doesn't have a single one in the last three games (he had seven in the first eight games). With the Raiders wanting to continue to highlight Josh Jacobs, they have -3.2% PROE this season (19th in the league). The good thing about Hollins is that it seems like his usage will be stable, even when Waller and Renfrow return. He has four games with at least a dozen PPR points and four games with fewer than seven PPR points, making him a boom-or-bust flex option.
- Action: add Mack Hollins as a flex option
- If I told you that Patrick Mahomes leading the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns but doesn't have a single wide receiver ranked in the top 30 in PPR points per game, would you believe me? You better, because that's the case 12 weeks into the season. A large factor in this is that the Chiefs continue to have one of the least concentrated passing attacks in the league. Outside of Travis Kelce, only Juju Smith-Schuster has a target share above 15%. In fact, Kansas City has eight players with a target share between 5% and 15%, which is tied for the sixth most in the league. It's tough to sit any of these players because any one of these players can have a spike week with one flick of the wrist from Mahomes, but between Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman, they have produced just five combined games with at least 19 PPR points. Finally, you can put to bed any hope of Skyy Moore breaking out this year. Moore hit a season-high 42.1% routes per dropback rate in Week 11, but that was when both Smith-Schuster and Hardman were out, and Justin Watson has more games with a route rate above 50% (three) than Moore does. Despite earning six targets in each of the last two weeks, he can safely be kept on the waiver wire.
Tight End Usage
- Last offseason, the New England Patriots made some splashes by signing both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith in free agency. Since then, neither has really done much from a fantasy perspective outside of a few spike weeks. That includes this past week, when Henry scored 15.3 PPR points, just the second time he's had a double-digit PPR performance this season. This came on a five-target night (tied for second-most this season) in which he ran a route on 75.6% of the team's dropbacks (third-most this season). These would be solid numbers if extrapolated across a full season, but this was just one night. Meanwhile, Jonnu Smith doesn't have a game with more than four targets or has run a route on more than 55% of the team's dropbacks, so he's a complete afterthought. The tight end streets are dire, but I guarantee you that you can find a better option than either guy in New England.
- Action: sell Hunter Henry
George Kittle has had a very feast-or-famine season so far. After starting the season missing the first two games and then scoring fewer than 10 PPR points in his first three games back, he rattled off three straight games with at least a dozen PPR points. Now, he had his best performance (24.4 PPR points) sandwiched by two games with fewer than 5 PPR points. So what's going on here? Well, he had a target share of at least 16% in each of his first six games played, but now has just one such game in the last three games when all of Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk have been healthy, and given a full workload. That said, he's still consistently running a route on over 75% of the team's dropbacks. It's not so bad for Kittle that I'd be worried about sitting him, but expectations need to be tempered with so many other options available in San Francisco.
- Action: hold (don't buy or sell) George Kittle