Hoppen to Conclusions: Week 5 Insights and Analysis
Hello and welcome to the Week 5 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 (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 ps 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
- Everything about this week's Eagles vs. Cardinals matchup screams points, points, points. I say this for a couple of reasons. First, as the chart above shows, these two teams rank in the top five in average plays per game. Additionally, these teams rank first (Arizona) and fourth (Philadelphia) in no-huddle rate this year, a sign that these teams typically like to move fast. While the Eagles' defense has been outstanding (rank first in defensive EPA per play allowed), the Cardinals' offense ranks sixth in offensive drive success rate (percent of drives in which the team gained a first down or scored a touchdown), so they have been able to move the ball at times. That said, I think the Eagles have enough offensive juice to be able to push this over the current point total and more.
- Action: bet over 55.5 points alt-total on FanDuel at +220 and stack this game in DFS
- Unfortunately, I don't think London is going to get as thrilling of a matchup this week as it did last week. While I voluntarily put my body through 26.2 miles of running hell, the Packers will face off against the Giants. Not only does Green Bay continue to play at a pace akin to a Londoner after a night at the pub, but they are also much less pass-heavy this year (-5% PROE) than last year (4.3% PROE). While the New York Giants are playing with a bit more tempo (3rd-highest neutral-script pace), they also lean more towards the run (-3.5% PROE), and when they do pass, they have rarely been able to generate any explosive plays (4.7% explosive pass rate ranks dead last among all teams).
Team Pass Rates
- The Buffalo Bills remain the pass-happiest team in the NFL, which usually provides a boost to the pass catchers on this team. However, outside of Stefon Diggs (currently the WR2 overall in PPR), Bills receivers and tight ends have failed to produce much. Starting with the receivers, Isaiah McKenzie is the only one to be averaging more than five targets per game, and he's only run a route on just over half of the team's dropbacks (53.9%). The other notable receiver, Gabe Davis, who was much hyped this offseason, has run a route on all but one dropback in the games that he's played (missed Week 2 due to an ankle injury). However, fantasy managers are anguished by his 0.09 targets per route run, which ranks dead last among receivers with at least 14 targets this season. Moving on to Dawson Knox, who is the TE23 in PPR after being drafted as a top-10 tight end this offseason. His role has changed slightly this year as the Bills have asked him to block more, sending him out to run a route on 63.4% of dropbacks compared to his 79.9% rate last year. While Knox made his hay on touchdown efficiency last year, one would have expected him to have earned more than the 4.2 targets per game that he's currently getting.
- The Philadelphia Eagles were off to a hot start from a passing perspective (at least relative to where they were last year) as they had a 4.0% PROE through the first three weeks. Then they played in the rain against the Jaguars and had a -15.4% PROE in Week 4, which led to just 25 passing attempts from Jalen Hurts compared to 50 (!!!) rushing attempts for the team. Deep-threat A.J. Brown still ended up with a solid day, hauling in five catches for 95 yards and nearly finding the end zone. But it was DeVonta Smith who was left behind with only three catches for 17 yards. I'm here to tell you not to worry, though, as Smith has yet to run a route on fewer than 92.7% of the team's dropbacks in a single game, and he is very clearly the team's WR2.
- Action: buy DeVonta Smith and start with confidence
Running Back Usage
- On Monday, the Falcons' starting running back, Cordarrelle Patterson, was placed on injured reserve and will be out until at least Week 9. That currently leaves backfield duties to a pair of rookie running backs: Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley. Huntley, who was elevated from the practice squad this week with prior concerns about Patterson's health, split carries evenly with Allgeier as they both got 10 carries on Sunday. Allgeier, however, did out-snap Huntley 40.4% to 23.1%. More importantly, Huntley had five red zone snaps compared to just one for Allgeier. This one game is obviously a small sample size, but given the fact that the Falcons have found an identity in running the ball (-8.3% PROE), both of these backs could provide some fantasy value. I give the slight lean to Allgeier as he had been involved in the offense prior to this week.
- Speaking of rookies, during Sunday Night Football, we saw a pair of rookie running backs get more involved. Isiah Pacheco finally got some meaningful snaps this week. I say meaningful because the majority of Pacheco's usage before this week came when the games were out of hand. He still only played on 21.2% of the team's snaps as this is a full-blown RBBC between him, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (56.2% Week 4 snap rate), and Jerick McKinnon (22.5% Week 4 snap rate). But, he had 11 carries this week (his second with double-digit carries), and six of them came in the first half of the game, while 10 of his 12 carries in Week 1 came in the fourth quarter. I'm encouraged by what I've seen from Pacheco, who currently leads the team with a 1.06 rushing yards over expected per carry, and this usage gives me even more optimism that he holds a ton of contingent value should Edwards-Helaire get injured.
- Action: add and hold Isaiah Pacheco
- After Week 1, it looked like Chase Edmonds had locked down the Dolphins' lead back role with 16 opportunities and a 65.6% snap rate compared to just six opportunities and a 37.7% snap rate for Mostert. That has since flipped completely, with Mostert earning 14 opportunities per game and a 60.6% snap rate while Edmonds is averaging just 7.7 opportunities and a 41.7% snap rate. What has been most shocking is that Mostert has been used more in the passing game - he has run a route on 55% of the team's dropbacks over the last three weeks with eight total targets. The thing is, Mostert should be scoring more as his fantasy usage indicates he should be scoring about 9.3 PPR points per game since Week 2, but he's averaging just 7.4 PPR points per game - I see a blow-up game coming for Mostert in the coming weeks.
Wide Receiver Usage
- Four weeks into the season, and we are starting to get some clarity on the Packers' wide receiver hierarchy. As it stands, Romeo Doubs and Allen Lazard are the top two receivers on the depth chart, and the data backs that up. Not only do Lazard (18.9% target share) and Doubs (18.4% target share) lead the Packers in targets, but they are the only two Packers players running a route on at least 75% of the team's dropbacks. I noted earlier that the Packers are leaning more run-heavy this year, but hopefully, as trust grows between these two and Rodgers, they become closer to flex options than just bench stashes. It also helps that these two play rather different roles as Doubs has a 5.2-yard average depth of target compared to a 13.8-yard average depth of target for Lazard.
- Week 4 was Michael Gallup's first game back in 2022 after tearing his ACL exactly nine months prior to the game. The Cowboys were not shy about immediately thrusting Gallup into a full-time role as he ran a route on 82.8% of Dallas' dropbacks. He was only targeted three times, but one of them was the team's only end zone target, and he hauled it in for a touchdown in the back of the end zone. Noah Brown will likely be who Gallup is competing with for targets most, but they and Ceedee Lamb should make up the majority of the team's 3WR sets. Hopefully, the Cowboys start passing a bit more when Prescott returns (-5.3% PROE so far this season), and if that's the case, Gallup could slot in as a WR3 in fantasy, given his talent and chemistry with Prescott.
- Action: add Michael Gallup
Tight End Usage
- The Indianapolis Colts are one of my least favorite teams right now, specifically because of how they've used their players from a fantasy perspective. Before I get to the tight ends, a quick note on Michael Pittman, who has been frustrating to have on teams but is still getting a strong workload as he is one of just 10 wide receivers to have at least 12 expected PPR points in every game that he's played. As far as the tight ends go, none of them are remotely startable, given it would be like throwing darts blindfolded, deciding who is going to have a good game. Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, and Jelani Woods all have one game with at least 10 PPR points but have failed to score more than 5.2 PPR points in any other game this season. Furthermore, none of the tight ends is running a route on more than 50% of the team's dropbacks. It's a complete mess that you should avoid at all costs.
- Action: fade all Colts tight ends
Darren Waller has been an equally frustrating tight end to have on your team as he's only pulled together two games with double-digit PPR points, which is fewer than you would expect for a player that was being drafted as a top-five tight end. What's just as maddening is that he has managed to score just 10.6 PPR points total in the past two weeks, both of which Hunter Renfrow did not play in. But I do think there is some hope for Waller in the future as his 13.1 expected PPR points per game ranks sixth among all tight ends. He's also still running a route on 78.6% of dropbacks, which is solid for a tight end. One just hopes that more targets start to come his way.
- Action: buy low on Darren Waller