Seven Stats & Expectation Trends for Week 10 (Fantasy Football)
We are fresh out of the single digits! Week 10 looms, and with it a chance to tack another win onto your record. Here are seven things I think could help this week; all data is from nfllfastR.
Run, Run, Run
In Week 9, we saw a number of prodigious quarterback rushing performances: Patrick Mahomes had some clutch scrambles on Sunday Night Football, Josh Allen saved his fantasy day with a couple of scores, and Justin Fields, the QB1 on the week, ran for a (regular season) record of 178 yards. Altogether, QBs averaged more points from rushing (3.8) this week than any other week since 1999. The same goes for the relative size to passing output: for every point scored through the air, quarterbacks scored 0.35 points on the ground, also a 23-year high.
This spike was mostly thanks to a jump in yardage, which was helped by Fields’ incredible week: signal-callers scrambled for 27 yards on average, a whopping 7.5 yards higher than the next highest week (again, since 1999). Now, while these eye-popping numbers are certainly helped by some outliers, there is a broader trend: 2022 as a whole is the highest year in terms of QB-rushing fantasy output on record. The lesson is simple and clear: to harness true upside at the position, make sure that you roster a mobile quarterback!
I built a simple model that takes into account targets, air yards, and defensive prowess and predicts what we expect WRs to score on the week. Then, we can see which wideouts score more, in a sense overachieving given their workload. Here are the leaders:
The top two names on this list, Tyreek Hill and Cooper Kupp, don’t mean much: we expect them to be overachieving since they are much better than the average NFL wideout. Indeed, just three touchdowns on the season, as the Ballers noted on Thursday’s podcast, is an underachievement for Tyreek, who has already surpassed 1100 yards! No, much more actionable is Cole Kmet in third. The Chicago Bears‘ tight end turned six targets into 41 yards and two scores, finishing as the TE2 on the week. It’s true that the Bears’ offense has been resurgent, but it’s difficult to trust Kmet as a sustainable starting option: this was his first week inside the top 10 at the position, and Justin Fields had a season-high 28 pass attempts. Cole Kmet can probably be left on your waiver wire unless the trends continue.
On the other side of things, here are the top ‘underachievers’:
The sad saga of Kyle Pitts continued: Marcus Mariota threw seven passes toward the highest-drafted TE of all time, but Pitts only manage to convert that into two catches for 27 yards. Unfortunately, even with 16 targets over the past two weeks, I don’t think Pitts has returned to the tier of must-start tight ends: the Atlanta Falcons are still a team that wants to run the ball (more on that later), and their aerial attack leaves much to be desired. Now, you could do worse than starting Pitts this week: he draws the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football, the team he dominated en route to a TE3 finish just two weeks ago.
More intriguing to me are the appearances of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin; they had 11 and 10 targets respectively, and both have had double-digit targets now for three weeks in a row. It’s been ugly in Tampa Bay, but these are talented WRs getting lots of volume from the great Tom Brady. They are buy-low candidates, in my opinion, especially Godwin, the WR45 (!!) on the year.
Big Play Bros
There’s nothing like watching your player house an 80-yard touchdown, and then rushing to your fantasy app to watch that wonderful score update. Still, it’s important to not rely on these sorts of outbursts; steady volume promises more solid fantasy output. As such, here are players ranked by the percent of their points that come on the best 5% of their plays (so, if a player has had 80 plays, then the percent of points from their top four plays). Here are pass-catchers, only considering points through the air:
There’s a lot going on in this chart, but one name to highlight is Jerry Jeudy, who sits near the top. Despite the difficulties in Denver this year, Jeudy has maintained decent fantasy output, including three top-20 WR finishes in his last five weeks. Unfortunately, nearly 30% of that output has come on just a handful of plays, and Jeudy is as boom/bust as they come, with four weeks outside of the top 40 this season. He’s a potential trade-away candidate, especially with Courtland Sutton and Greg Dulcich soaking up targets. On the other end of the spectrum is Diontae Johnson who, despite averaging 9.5 targets a game, is the WR43 on the season. That’s helped by the fact that, as the Ballers mentioned on Thursday’s podcast, he is yet to find the end zone! I think Diontae is worth a roster spot in your league, especially with Chase Claypool out of town; that volume is too much to ignore. Next, the same chart for signal-callers:
Kyler Murray is a surprise 2nd on this list, but that result is less relevant because of his rushing baseline. More concerning is Matthew Stafford: nearly 50% of his passing output has come from just a few big plays, mostly to Cooper Kupp. It’s been an incredibly disappointing season for Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams: he’s the QB24, with one finish inside the top 10 (as the QB10), and no weeks with over 20 points scored. It’s hard to fade recent Super Bowl champions, but he can be avoided, even in super-flex leagues. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes continues to astound me: a player known for his big-play capability is last on this list.
Let’s Get It Started
First down play-calls are ‘tone-setters,’ and it’s important to measure which teams like to throw, and which teams prefer to grind it out. This plot tells us just that, with the yardage per passing attempt on the y-axis:
It’s no surprise to see the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans all the way to the left; they share the coaching philosophy of ‘establishing the run.’ Interestingly, they are both above-average on first-down passes, but that’s probably due to a small sample size (and their opponent not expecting it!). Pass-catchers on these teams can probably be avoided in nearly all situations; these teams just don’t like to throw the ball. Kyle Pitts would be the only potential exception, as discussed above.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit on the other side of this chart as the most pass-happy team on first down. This does not bode well for Leonard Fournette, who I am trying to trade away after a marked decline in opportunities; it is good news for Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as discussed above. Finally, it’s not surprising to see the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills as other pass-heavy teams, but it is somewhat of a shock to see the Indianapolis Colts up there. Perhaps this is a function of the Colts so often trailing, and missing Jonathan Taylor, but it makes me a little uneasy as this year’s 1.01 is set to return from injury.
In a similar vein, here are teams’ passing proclivities in various game situations:
The Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all insist on throwing the ball at a high rate, even when leading late into the game. That’s bad news for the running options on all of these squads, all of which have been underwhelming. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a prime example: he hasn’t been inside the top 30 at the position since Week 4. Here are teams on the other end of the spectrum:
We continue to hammer this point: the Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, and Tennessee Titans insist on running the ball even when down. We know Derrick Henry is an elite fantasy option, but Cordarrelle Patterson is probably startable just about everywhere, and Justin Fields should continue to have a ‘field day’ with his enormous rushing upside.
So much of fantasy football goes unseen. Here are rushers that ‘almost scored’ in the last few weeks, which counts as being tackled inside the five on a drive they did not eventually score on:
Jamaal Williams has had a resurgent year. He’s past his bye and is the RB13 on the season, despite ‘almost scoring’ three times in the last three weeks. With D’Andre Swift recovering from injury and a Detroit Lions team that appears to be in the process of tanking, either for a high draft pick or a pursuit of Lamar Jackson, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dan Campbell just fed the veteran Williams the rock. In a similar vein, here are fantasy points that we expected a player to score but a defensive pass interference was called instead:
The Dolphins WR duo Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill have been just superb this season, which we’ll see more about in the next section, and they were almost more superb last week, had DPI not hampered some of their production. More interesting to me is Mike Evans, who we see time and again having plenty of volume without the elite fantasy output. He’s one of my top trade targets going forward. Last thing – did you also do a double-take when you saw Chase Claypool in the Chicago Bears‘ bar?
Who is slacking?
This last section is purely for catharsis. We know fantasy scoring has been down this year, and these are the teams to blame:
There’s a lot more density to the left (scoring decline) than to the right! The Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Los Angeles Rams have all seen massive drops in fantasy output. These were elite fantasy offenses in 2021, and have sunk to average or below-average in 2022. The Cowboys should return partially to form with Dak Prescott back in the lineup, but it’s been tough sledding for managers that drafted Bucs and Rams. On the flip side, the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets lead the league in YoY improvement. We can break out these improvements by position:
The single biggest YoY change of any position group is the Miami Dolphins‘ WR corps; Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are currently both in the top five at the position (WR1 and WR5, respectively). This has been refreshing in a brutal environment: we see many teams with drastic drop-offs at the WR position, including the Cowboys, Bucs, Rams, Titans, Cardinals, Ravens, Giants, and Steelers. QB fantasy production has also been mostly down, with Justin Fields being the only really significant improvement from last year.
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