Seven Stats & Expectation Trends for Week 7 (Fantasy Football)
Lucky number seven! Finally – and for the only time this season – the week number matches up with the title of this article. Let’s get to the seven things I saw that can help you win. All data is from nflfastR.
If you’ve been tuning into the primetime matchups, you might have a sense that offensive football has been slower this season. That inkling is correct: fantasy scoring through Week 6 is at a five-year low, down about 10% from 2021. This decline has occurred across positions. While it’s often felt like the year of the WR, wideouts are down 8.5% in scoring compared to a 4% decline for RBs. Quarterbacks make up the bulk of the suffering, down 14%.
It’s not just scoring that has felt…icky. Compared to last year, we’ve seen 74 fewer touchdowns, 28 more sacks, 232 fewer completed passes, 80 more negative yardage plays, 206 fewer plays run, 16 more lost fumbles, and 48 more punts. This is partly due to offensive design: teams are throwing the ball slightly less (58.2% vs. 58.9%) and, more significantly, are not throwing it as deep. There are 7.6 air yards per attempt in 2022, the only number below eight yards in the last 17 years. Another factor on the opposite side of the ball: defenses are catching up. Most of the top-end picks this year were defensive players, and the two-high scheme has been increasing in popularity, often to great success.
This has all added up to a widespread feeling of frustration on your fantasy roster. It’s unlikely that we can expect a significant reversal this season. 2017, a recent low output year through Week 6, was just as bad from Week 7 on. Still, I’ll remind you that periods of uncertainty are usually good for attentive fantasy managers. Stay plugged in, and the results will start to shake out. When the going gets tough, we get going!
This chart shows which players have scored the most (and the least) of their total fantasy output from their five biggest plays:
Gabe Davis is an absurd outlier here, with nearly 80% of his production coming from just five snaps. He has just 14 catches on 26 targets this year, and yet has managed to turn that into the WR14 on the season. This is the definition of boom/bust, and while the ‘boom’ happened against the Kansas City Chiefs this week on a 34-yard touchdown, the other side of the coin will have its day. In a way, it already has. Davis was the WR66 and WR86 in Weeks 3 and 4. Yes, he’s uber-talented and the second option on the best offense in football, but I’m trading him away now, especially if you can get a deal done this week and skirt the bye.
Michael Pittman Jr., on the other extreme, is also worth mentioning. Historically, we may have viewed him as a big-play type profile, but that hasn’t been the case this year. Perhaps chalk it up to the unexplosive nature of the Indianapolis Colts, but Pittman has seen his production come from slow and steady involvement (52 targets and the WR18). Of course, I don’t expect that trend to continue: Pitty City is bound to break a few long touchdowns, and he’s a great trade target moving forward (especially with Jonathan Taylor on the mend and ready to draw attention from the defense).
Here are teams that love to pass the ball, even in a positive game script:
No surprise that the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs are atop this list, but I did a double-take when the Minnesota Vikings showed up. That’s good news for Adam Thielen, who has had three WR2 performances in the last four weeks, but not so much for Dalvin Cook, who has just five targets since Week 3. It’s also good news for Justin Jefferson, although that doesn’t matter much since he’s an elite option no matter what.
On the other end are the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. While the Cowboys should take to the skies more with Dak Prescott‘s return, we know that Kyle Shanahan’s Niners like to run teams into the ground. That’s been the case even without starter Elijah Mitchell, who should return to a pretty favorable fantasy situation.
Now for the opposite: teams that insist on running even when losing.
Interestingly, three of the top four teams, the Tennessee Titans, New York Giants, and Atlanta Falcons, have records of .500 or better and are in contention for their respective divisions. That means they are winning with this run-heavy formula, and it ensures a robust workload for Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, and whoever the Falcons trot out there until Cordarrelle Patterson returns. The Chicago Bears, of course, have not been finding as much success with this formula, and their aerial options can be avoided. Darnell Mooney has seen a minor bounce back, with two WR3 performances in three weeks (like I said, very minor), so he’s a trade-away player if you can manage it.
On the other end of this chart are the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These teams sling it when trailing, which is good news for their pass-catchers and bad news for the Dolphins’ backfield. It’s fine for Leonard Fournette, who is heavily involved in the passing game, with 36 targets and 32 catches this season.
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:
JuJu Smith-Schuster had his first big game with the Chiefs, posting 113 yards and a score. That was on only five targets though, and it would be unrealistic to expect that sort of production going forward. Indeed, JuJu already has four games with eight targets this season, with a weekly WR34 finish as the best mark to show for it.
Yes, Ja’Marr Chase was a bigger overachiever on the week (132 yards and two TDs on ten targets), but we expect that from the uber-talented second-year wideout. He’s a must-start every week. Here are the underachievers:
Romeo Doubs leads this group, with nine targets from Aaron Rodgers materializing to just four catches and 21 yards. The Green Bay Packers are obviously struggling, and need someone in the WR room to step up. It looks like Rodgers has been throwing Dobbs’ way, and if that continues he could become a great FLEX option over the rest of the season. Austin Ekeler also makes this list, which is hard to do as a running back. He saw sixteen targets on Monday Night Football, which turned into just 47 yards. He’s currently the RB1 on the year and a top-5 option in all of fantasy football.
One Man’s Trash is Often Fantasy Treasure
This chart tells us which RBs are most prolific when their team is in total control (95% win probability or better):
Naturally, we see James Cook and Isiah Pacheco atop this list; they are backups on excellent teams. Perhaps the more interesting name is Rhamondre Stevenson, with nearly 15 points, or about 2.5 per week. That’s nothing to sneeze at, and it could be salient. Rhamondre is widely considered a top-5 option at the position if Damien Harris continues to miss time. He was the weekly RB1 in Week 6 and is averaging 17.6 points over the last month. It’s possible that such an edge would be in jeopardy when the New England Patriots aren’t blowing teams out. Fortunately for Rhamondre managers, that should be the case over the next three weeks, with the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, and Indianapolis Colts on the schedule. The back half of the season is much more challenging for the Pats though, and Week 10 (during their bye) could be a great time to deal Rhamondre.
Also, it’s funny that three 49ers made the cut here, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo!
As mentioned above, we’ve been seeing far more punts this season. Here are the leading teams:
The Washington Commanders have punted almost a mile this season, most notably during their Thursday night snoozefest against the Chicago Bears, who are third on this list. That’s a very bad sign for an offense, especially a fantasy offense. It’s likely that all Commanders are out of your lineup, even Terry McLaurin and Brian Robinson, with Taylor Heinicke coming off the bench in relief.
This table tells us which players have the highest share of their NFL team’s fantasy points:
Although we haven’t seen the fantasy explosions we’re used to, it’s been a great season so far for Christian McCaffrey. He’s currently the RB4 and leading the league with 32.7% of the Carolina Panthers‘ points. Part of that is because of the lack of production from the rest of the Panthers, but a third of a team’s points is nothing to sneeze at. We’re all hopeful that CMC gets traded to a more exciting offense, but even if the market falls through, you can start him without worry. Whatever points the Panthers manage to put up, he’ll have a hand in it.
Another name to note is Lamar Jackson, formerly atop this list. It’s been a lackluster few weeks since back-to-back 40-point performances, and yet Lamar is still scoring an insanely high percentage of the Ravens’ fantasy output. That’s good news: the offense is still running through Lamar, and the spike weeks should (hopefully) return.
With the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams on bye this week, you might be desperate for a plug-and-play D/ST. Here’s how defenses stack up:
And, perhaps more importantly, the offensive scoring in recent weeks:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are sort of a no-brainer. They rarely give up big plays and face the hapless Carolina Panthers who, outside of CMC, don’t have much damage potential on offense. Still, they might be rostered in your league. A deeper option is the Houston Texans. They’ve been surprisingly stout on defense, are coming off of a bye, and face the Las Vegas Raiders, who are below average at every position, save running back (thanks to the Josh Jacobs renaissance). It feels odd to start the Texans against a non-divisional opponent, but it could pay off this week.
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Super informative. Thanks!
Thanks for reading Jmac!
Commanders have not and will not play the broncos
Good catch, fixed!
didn’t know “James” Cook changed his name to “Jared”, good to know, lol
Good catch, fixed!