Seven Stats & Expectation Trends for Week 10 (Fantasy Football)
In this series, I walk through seven trends that I’m seeing evolve as the season progresses. All data, unless otherwise specified, comes from nflfastR.
Math Behind the Matchups (Passing)
We can break down passing yardage by distance: checkdown, short, mid, and deep passes based on air yardage. Here are the leaders over the last three weeks for QBs and pass-catchers:
From here, we can analyze which defenses perform best against these different types of passes. This performance is vs. expectation: that is, it accounts for the strength of the opposing offense. We don’t want to punish a defense that gives up a large amount of yardage to the Kansas City Chiefs; we also don’t want to credit a defense that holds the New York Giants to a low passing total.
Here are my takeaways:
- If you had any concerns that T.J. Hockenson would flourish in a post-Kirk Cousins world, those doubts were assuaged in a 12-target performance last week. Hock is a bit banged up, but if he goes you can start him confidently with Joshua Dobbs under center…especially because Hock has been prodigious in short-yardage throws, and the New Orleans Saints, his Week 10 opponent, have struggled to contain checkdowns and short passes.
- Rashid Shaheed continues to pop on the ‘deep throws’ chart…and, I’m continuing to fade him this week. He put up a WR65 performance against the Chicago Bears — a surprisingly stout deep-ball defense — in Week 9, and gets the Minnesota Vikings, who aren’t too shabby against the deep ball, in Week 10. He’s a boom/bust play, and it feels like the bust cycle is more likely this week.
- The Baltimore Ravens are pretty tough against the deep ball but have been gouged against short- and mid-distance passes. That’s good news for Amari Cooper amidst the Week 10 divisional clash between the Ravens and Cleveland Browns. Yes, Cooper is the WR23 on the year (and past his bye, meaning that his PPG rank is even higher), so he’s probably being started in most formats. But maybe you have a stacked WR corp and are thinking of sitting Cooper; my advice is to keep rolling with him (despite the extremely fluky touchdown last week). He’s seen eight targets per game since the bye and gets it done over the mid-distance that Baltimore has a hard time stopping.
Math Behind the Matchups (Rushing)
We can break out yardage for rushers based on where the play took place:
And what defenses allowed:
The Chicago Bears have been surprisingly tough against center- and right-facing runs and the Carolina Panthers have been poor at rushing the ball except for center-facing runs. That’s not good news for Chuba Hubbard or (sigh) ‘My Guy’ Miles Sanders on Thursday Night Football. Miles is posting just over six PPG, Chuba just over seven, and both can be left on your bench…or, frankly, the waiver wire.
In this section, I use a simple regression model that uses air yards, targets, and defensive ability to predict how many fantasy points a player should score, and compare that to how many they actually score. An overachieving player might be one who catches a few TDs on only a couple of targets; an underachieving one sees a lot of targets (against a bad defense) and doesn’t do much with them. Here are the standouts:
It was a magical week for CJ Stroud and just about all of the pass-catchers for the Houston Texans. Unfortunately, the honeymoon probably won’t continue for Noah Brown, who turned a season-high six targets into a 6-153-1 stat line on the way to the WR2 overall finish. He’s probably worth stashing on your bench if you have space — especially in a dynasty league — but it’s just hard to trust him as a high-upside flex as the third target in this offense. Performances like Week 9 — five targets, three catches, and 57 yards — are much more likely.
On the other end of things, perhaps you were disappointed by the second game of the Will Levis era in Tennessee. DeAndre Hopkins swung from a vastly overachieving wideout (128 yards and three scores on just six targets) in Week 8 to a vastly underachieving wideout (11 targets for just four catches and 60 yards) in Week 9. The ‘truth’ is probably somewhere in the middle, and I’m confident rolling DHop out there as a low-end WR2 with the volume Levis is sending his way.
Big Play Mavens
Volume is an important aspect of fantasy: we generally want players who are seeing a lot of work vs. players who make a couple of big plays out of their few opportunities. Here are players ranked by how many points they’ve scored from their top 20% of receiving and rushing plays:
It’s probably not surprising that Tank Dell, the WR1 in Week 9, has been boom-bust this season: a WR1 and WR6 performance, but also four weeks at the WR47 or worse. With just four catches per game, he’s making his mark on big plays, and it’s important that you think about your specific matchups if you decide to start him. Roll him out when you’re the underdog, sure…but his floor is pretty low.
I’ll continue to bring up James Cook, who sits on the other end of the spectrum for rushers. Cook has just two touchdowns — one rushing, one receiving — on the season, but is seeing 15 opportunities per game in an explosive offense. I’m not ready to give up on him as an RB2 just yet. The volume is there!
Curse of Consistency
As alluded to above, consistency is an important factor to consider in fantasy. If you’re projected to win comfortably, there’s no need to take a risk on a boom/bust player…a steady floor is what you want. Vice versa if you’re an underdog: you need a home run to come out on top! Here’s the scoring for the least and most consistent players this season, based on the statistical variance of their performances:
I want to highlight D.J. Moore in the ‘least consistent’ category: he had back-to-back WR7 and WR1 performances in Weeks 4-5, but has been the WR40 three out of four games since then. That could certainly coincide with Justin Fields‘ injury and Tyson Bagent‘s reign, but you need to be aware that DJM — not traditionally thought of as a boom/bust guy — has been performing like it this season.
On the other end of the spectrum is a player that we might hope for big, high-ceiling games from…but has actually been incredibly steady! Rashee Rice has scored 8.7 points or more — solid output for a flex player — in four of the last five weeks (7.6 points was the other week). It doesn’t seem like that should be the case on just 4.6 targets per game this season, but he’s had a knack for scoring (four TDs) and it just feels like Mahomes is trusting him more and more on big plays. Rashee is going on bye in Week 10 and could even hit waiver wires; he’s a useful player to roster with the hope the workload goes up even further.
It’s interesting to look at which rushers have notched the most points during ‘garbage time’ or situations where their team’s win probability is 95% or more in the second half.
D’Andre Swift has had a remarkable comeback season: he’s the RB6 on the year heading into his Week 10 bye. But he also hasn’t eclipsed 15 PPG since Week 4, and he hasn’t been a top-10 RB since Week 2. He has been remarkably steady, but that also seems to stem from about 2.5 PPG in garbage time. The Philadelphia Eagles are playing the Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, and Cowboys after the bye…and probably won’t be needing to ‘grind clock’ that much in those games. Besides, there’s always the risk of Jalen Hurts vulturing rushing touchdowns (Swift has just one in the last five weeks).
Anyway, don’t hear what I’m not saying: Swift is a must-start if you roster him. But I wouldn’t mind trading high!
I enjoy analyzing players that have the highest share of their team’s fantasy output:
Shoutout to Russell Wilson, who lands fifth on this chart amidst a quietly solid fantasy season. Well, not that solid: he’s the QB15, although he is past his bye. I guess my argument is that Russ has been a very solid QB2 in SuperFlex leagues (just one game below 13.9 points this season) and clearly is racking up just about all the points the Denver Broncos have to offer (meager though that pie may be). He’s an interesting, non-flashy trade target (again, in SuperFlex leagues).
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