Hoppen to Conclusions: Week 2 Insights and Analysis

Sep 21, 2022
Hoppen to Conclusions: Week 2 Insights and Analysis

Hello and welcome to the Week 2 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.
  • 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

  • One game to stay away from this Sunday is the matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. This game features two of the three slowest teams in pace and two teams in the bottom half of plays per game so far this season. With a game total of 43.5, only four games on the main slate have a total lower than this matchup. While the Ravens played outstanding in Week 2, posting 38 total points in a stunning loss, the Patriots have mustered just 24 total points through two weeks. Everything about this matchup screams "avoid," and I'm going to do just that wherever possible.
  • Two of the worst teams entering the season - the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears - both face off in a Week 3 matchup that likely won't see much air time on NFL Red Zone this Sunday. Though both teams appearing in the top five in neutral-script pace may make it seem like this is a matchup to attack, both teams are in the bottom half in plays per game for a reason. Both the Texans and Bears offenses have been as bad as advertised, with a 53.7% and 45.6% success rate, respectively. Begrudgingly, David Montgomery remains a solid play here with the decent workload and the Texans ceding the NFL's 5th-worst explosive rush rate.

Team Pass Rates

  • Over the past two seasons with Tom Brady at quarterback, the Buccaneers have posted a pass rate over expectation of 6.6% (4th-highest) and 8.4% (2nd-highest). Now, after two games, Tampa Bay is down to -3.6%, which is 25th in the league. It is likely explained by the plethora of injuries that the Bucs have sustained to their offensive line and wide receiver groups, but that doesn't make them any more of a desirable offense to target. Brady hasn't been efficient enough to boost the pass-catchers either, as he's posted just 402 passing yards and two touchdowns in two games combined. It's tough to trust anyone in this offense right now.
    • Action: start only Mike Evans (while he's not suspended) out of the Bucs pass-catchers, drop Tom Brady
  • At this point, we might just have to accept that the 49ers are going to remain a run-first team and not blame the monsoon-like weather for their run-heavy approach in Week 1. Now, with Jimmy Garroppolo back under center for the rest of the season, their run-heaviness should continue, which gives a boost to Jeff Wilson. He is the last man standing after Elijah Mitchell and Tyrion Davis-Price have both suffered injuries that will keep them out for multiple weeks. Wilson is still likely to be in a committee (whether it's with Marlon Mack or Jordan Mason) as he's only secured 32.9% of the team's carries so far, but he does have seven red zone carries, which is third-most among running backs this year. Wilson will remain a solid RB2 option while he's healthy.

Running Back Usage

  • People waiting for a full AJ Dillon breakout may have to wait a little bit longer, but there are some encouraging signs surrounding his usage. Commanding a 52.8% share of the Packers' carries is solid and is up from his 46.3% rate in 2021, but Aaron Jones remains one of the most efficient rushers in the league. Jones' 4.28 rushing yards over expected per carry ranks second among running backs with at least 10 carries this season, so the Packers would be wise to continue using him. What should give Dillon's managers the most confidence is his usage in the passing game. He currently leads the Packers with a 15% target share and has a near-elite 0.29 target per route run rate. Green Bay is clearly not shy about using Dillon in every facet of the game right now.
    • Action: buy AJ Dillon if you have an RB-needy team, hold Aaron Jones
  • All offseason, fantasy football pundits scoffed at the thought of drafting Josh Jacobs no matter how far he fell. Well, now the people who did draft him are staring at a back that is being treated like the only one in the backfield. Jacobs' 85.3% share of all Raiders team carries leads the league, and he is the only player above the 80% mark. He's also the only Raiders running back to record a carry inside the opponent's 10-yard line, and he has been in on 73.9% of the team's red zone snaps, which ranks just inside the top 10 running backs. Unfortunately, Jacobs rarely sees the field on third down (13% snap rate on third down), but that's never been his role. But, his rushing role is strong enough right now to keep him firmly in the RB2 discussion.

Wide Receiver Usage

  • There was obvious risk with DK Metcalf going into the season, and his ADP reflected that. But he just isn't being used in the same way that he used to. Though he did have a long catch called back due to a penalty, Metcalf has a measly 6.2-yard average depth of target (aDOT) this season, which is down from his 13.14-yard career aDOT. However, in four games with Geno Smith under center last year, Metcalf's aDOT was still at 9.9 yards, and he led the team in targets over that span. He's currently not far behind Tyler Lockett (26.3%) for the team lead in target share at 22.8%. Not to mention, the Seahawks are seemingly a pass-first team with a 65.1% neutral-script pass rate - all it took was future Hall of Famer Russell Wilson leaving for them to turn into that. I remain bullish on the 4th-year wideout, and now he is likely much easier to acquire.
  • Not only is the New York Giants' 2-0 start a surprise, so is the use of their wide receivers. Heading into the season, Kadarius Toney and Wan'Dale Robinson led the charge as some of the most-hyped players. Now, they have been banished to the Shadow Realm, along with Kenny Golladay. The Giants' two leading receivers in target share are currently Sterling Shepard (25.9%) and Richie James (22.2%). I would like to believe that there's hope for both Toney and Robinson, but both sit below a routes-run rate of 25% through two games, so they're not even on the field. The aforementioned Shepard has made himself a notable fantasy football asset, running a route on 77% of dropbacks and leading the Giants with a 39.9% air yards share.
  • This final section is dedicated to the trio of rookie wide receivers who were the first three receivers taken in this past spring's NFL draft. All of Drake London, Garrett Wilson, and Chris Olave are showing, very early in their careers, why they were drafted so highly and that they have a chance to be their team's WR1 sooner rather than later. Starting with London, he leads the Falcons with an absurd 34.5% target share, which is also good for third-highest in the league. His 0.75 WOPR is also 6th in the league. Stud. Next is Garrett Wilson, who had his coming out party this week with a two-touchdown performance thanks to getting all three of the Jets' end zone targets. He's still only running a route on 65.1% of dropbacks, but that only means there's room for improvement, and his 2.17 yards per route run will help that. Stud. Finally, Chris Olave had an outrageous 334 (!!!) air yards in Week 2, the most that I've ever seen in my lifetime (don't fact-check me on that). Were those mostly due to a bunch of Jameis prayer throws near the end of the game? Yes. But they count all the same, and that is what you're going to get with the Jameis Winston experience: a quarterback who throws caution to the wind to the benefit of his receivers. Olave is also running a route on 84.9% of the Saints' dropbacks, which is the highest among these three receivers. Stud.

Tight End Usage

  • The majority of the press surrounding the Saints' tight end situation has been with regards to Taysom Hill. But if you take a deeper look, you'll notice that Juwan Johnson is actually getting more usage. Johnson is one of just 14 tight ends to be running a route on at least 75% of his team's dropbacks. Among those tight ends, his 10.1-yard average depth of target ranks third behind just Mark Andrews and Kyle Pitts thanks to noted gunslinger Jameis Winston. While his 16.4% target share leaves a bit to be desired, six targets per game is a solid threshold to hit for a tight end, making him worth a spot on your roster.
  • Pat Freirmuth was on the cusp of being drafted as a TE1 this offseason, but he looks every bit the TE1 for fantasy right now, making him a value if you were able to grab him later than that. Freiermuth ranks inside the top 12 in all of the major statistical categories that matter for tight ends - target share (3rd), end zone target share (1st), air yards share (7th), routes per dropback (11th), targets per route run (3rd). The Steelers, shockingly, also boast a +3.0% pass rate over expectation and 65.9% neutral-script pass rate, both above the league median. You've landed on a potential gold mine if Freiermuth is on your team.
    • Action: hold (and brag to your leaguemates about having) Pat Freiermuth
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