Fantasy Football Dynasty Report for Week 5
Welcome back to the Dynasty Report!
In this weekly series, I will be highlighting the most impactful storylines from a dynasty perspective. While most of this article will focus on NFL players, this piece will also include a brand new segment called the Prospect Watch List. My goal is to provide you with an overview of some of the best prospects entering the league to help gauge the potential value of your dynasty picks. Since there are quite a few prospects to follow, I will focus on a different position each week. In today’s piece, we will take a look at the most productive Running Backs in College Football. In short, you can expect the following segments every week:
- Rookie Opportunity Dashboard: Overview of rookie performances in the NFL
- Dynasty Stock Report: Recap of the Risers & Fallers in the Dynasty Landscape
- Prospect Watch List: Production Profiles & Analysis for CFB Prospects
Rookie Opportunity Dashboard: Week 4
To keep the dashboard concise, I will only be highlighting the most fantasy-relevant rookies at each position every week. For reference:
- Expected Fantasy Points or xFP is a value that signifies volume and usage. We want to target rookies that rank highly in this metric, as it could potentially signal future opportunity and fantasy success
- Fantasy Points Over Expected or FPOE signifies efficiency relative to a player’s usage. FPOE is the difference between a player’s actual fantasy points and their expected fantasy value. This metric will usually regress closer to the mean (zero), which is why we isolate it from their baseline production (xFP) to determine which players we can rely on for fantasy
- Opportunity Share is the percentage of targets and rush attempts that a player accounts for on their team
Rookie Observations after Week 4:
- Dameon Pierce continues his breakout campaign, finishing the week as a top 10 running back in Half-PPR leagues. More on his usage and production in the Dynasty Stock Report.
- Breece Hall is the Jets’ RB1. This was the second week in a row in which Hall clearly outplayed Carter. In fact, his opportunity share of 36.5% nearly doubled Carter’s at 19.04%. He also averaged a higher target share (17.6%), rushing share (58.6%), and Expected Fantasy Value (19.7). It was only a matter of time before Hall finally took over, and the numbers clearly show that time is now.
- Chris Olave continues his ascent. Even without Jameis Winston, he led the Saints in Target Share (25%), Air Yards Share (44.1%), and Expected Points (12.2). Assuming this level of usage continues, Olave will retain WR2 value every week.
- George Pickens had another impressive game, receiving 32% of the Steelers’ targets. And even with the transition to a new quarterback, I would not be concerned. Pickens gained 69.6% of his receiving yards with Pickett under center. He also accounted for 59.2% of Pickett’s total passing yards this past week. Speaking of Kenny Pickett, it was good to see him produce on the ground, similar to his final year at Pitt.
- Since Week 3, Romeo Doubs has been the WR1 for the Green Bay Packers. He leads all Packers wide receivers in target share (24.2%), yards after the catch (44.5), and Expected Half-PPR points (10.6). Matt LaFleur has clearly made a concerted effort to get Doubs involved, and it has translated into WR2 production. To be fair, Christian Watson is just coming back from an injury. But based on the last two weeks, Doubs is likely the WR to roster from this team.
- If you read last week’s Dynasty Report, I briefly called out Alec Pierce’s usage as he averaged a career-high 47.3% air yards share. This week, that translated into another high-usage performance and a more productive fantasy game. He might just be the WR2 for the Colts going forward.
Dynasty Stock Report
Is Ja’Marr Chase a top-five dynasty wide receiver?
Is it outrageous to rank Tee Higgins just a few spots behind him?
Not at all.
Based on what we have seen over the last two years, one could make an argument that Higgins is quickly rising into that tier in dynasty ADP. While many assumed his production would taper off after the Bengals drafted the best wide receiver prospect we have seen in the last decade, Higgins only improved his fantasy value. Since the 2021 season, he ranks as the WR10 in fantasy points per game (13.1 half-PPR), only a few points behind Chase. And so far this year, Higgins has been the most productive wideout for their team. Since returning from the concussion that forced him to leave Week 1 early, Higgins has averaged a higher target share (25.5%) and more fantasy points (16.7) than Chase over the last three games. Surprisingly, both have averaged the same air yards share at 36.4%, though Higgins has clearly created more yards, touchdowns, and fantasy points with those opportunities. While I do think that Chase will eventually bounce back after three disappointing games, Higgins has shown that he has the talent and opportunity to be a WR1 on any given week. And at only age 23, tied to one of the most talented, young quarterbacks in Joe Burrow, he should remain one of the most valuable wide receivers in dynasty leagues for the foreseeable future.
Cole Kmet – Chicago Bears, TE
One of the most disappointing tight ends to start the year has been Cole Kmet, a player who I was fully invested in due to his breakout potential. After a season in which he ranked within the top 12 at his position in target share (17.7%) and opportunity share (9.4%), it only made sense for the Bears to make him a focal point alongside Darnell Mooney.
But through three games, Kmet has been far from involved in this offense, currently ranking as the TE44 in half-PPR points per game. To put that into perspective, there are three Kansas City Chiefs tight ends that are averaging more points than Kmet through four weeks. Even more surprising, he is averaging the 6th highest snap rate among tight ends (87.5%) but is only the TE37 in Routes Run. He is clearly on the field, but the Bears coaching staff are seemingly content with running the ball. And as you can see in the chart below, the Bears are averaging the lowest neutral situation passing rate on early downs at only 33.3%. As a result, the upside of all Chicago Bears’ pass catchers will remain limited until they install a more pass-friendly game plan. So while Kmet should still be a TE2 in dynasty ADP, one could argue that players like David Njoku and Irv Smith Jr are now more valuable fantasy assets due to their ability to contribute this season.
Dameon Pierce – Houston Texans, RB
While I was not extremely high on Dameon Pierce as a prospect due to his draft capital and below-average production profile, it was clear that the Houston Texans could at least provide a clear path to opportunity. And while Rex Burkhead initially took on the majority of the opportunities in Week 1, the Texans completely changed course and made Pierce their RB1 over the last three weeks. In that timespan, Pierce has averaged:
- 36.5% Opportunity Share
- 8.7% Target Share
- 87.5% Rushing Share
- 13.2 Expected Half-PPR Points
- +2.9 Fantasy Points Over Expected
As you can see in the chart below, his combination of usage and efficiency places him among some of the most productive running backs in the league. As a result, it is impossible to deny that his workload will translate into high-end RB2 value more often than not. Keep in mind, the Texans have a plethora of draft capital in next year’s draft (five picks in the first three rounds), which means they could add to their backfield in a very talented running back class. And while that could affect his dynasty value next off-season, it does not change the fact that Pierce, at the very least, will provide fantasy managers with top-24 production for the rest of the season.
One of the more devastating outcomes from Week 4 has been the confirmed season-ending injury for Javonte Williams as he suffered a torn ACL and LCL in the Broncos’ matchup against the Raiders. First off, and most importantly, hopefully, Williams can make a full recovery and return healthy at some point next season. From a fantasy perspective, considering the reported longer recovery time, this will likely affect Williams’ dynasty value heading into 2023 as he could miss some games to start the year. If you want a more detailed breakdown, I highly recommend reading Matthew Betz’s article titled The Impact of ACL Surgery on Fantasy Performance: Running Backs. For now, dynasty managers should continue to hold on to Javonte unless you are in desperate need of immediate running back depth on your roster. He will be only 23 years old next year and will still be under contract through the 2024 season. So while there are concerns about his initial return from the injury, he will hopefully be back to full strength next year.
Prospect Watch List: Week 5 – Running Backs
Bijan Robinson – University of Texas
The only Power 5 running back to average over 2.00 Yards per Team Play and over a 35% weighted dominator rating this season is none other than the RB1 of the 2023 class: Bijan Robinson. And if you have been following along this off-season, you likely already know how highly I think of Bijan as a prospect, ranking in the 97th percentile in my running back prospect model entering his Junior season. Even more impressive, his production profile just continues to improve as he is currently setting career highs in a variety of production metrics such as receiving yards market share (14.3%), rushing yards market share (66.6%), and yards per touch (7.2). So for dynasty managers who are approaching a rebuild this off-season, I would try to trade for as many 2023 first-round picks to give yourself multiple opportunities to draft near the top of this class. Because based on his production, potential draft capital, and athletic measurables, Bijan is likely the best running back prospect we have seen since Jonathan Taylor and Saquon Barkley.
Deuce Vaughn – Kansas State
Based on his production profile alone, Deuce Vaughn out of Kansas State should be much higher on everyone’s board. Vaughn has averaged over 2.00 yards per team play in each of his last two seasons and has never had a dominator rating of less than 30%, even in his true freshman season. He plays in the Big 12 and has averaged over 130 scrimmage yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game.
So why is he not within the top tier of this class? Vaughn only measures in at 5’6” and 176 pounds. Naturally, that is a massive red flag, which is why he is currently only projected as a day-three pick. But while his size is less than ideal, keep in mind that he has dealt with this his whole career while still finding ways to produce at an elite level in a Power 5 conference. Ironically, his closest comp will likely be Darren Sproles, who is also small in stature and produced at a high level at Kansas State. Nevertheless, Vaughn should be on your radar as we head into the off-season. Because if he does receive day-two draft capital to go along with his elite production, Vaughn could be an intriguing pick in the middle rounds of your rookie drafts.