By The Numbers: Week 6 (Fantasy Football)
Fantasy football is a game of numbers. The goal is to outscore your opponent every week. The game film tells one story, but innovative statistics and analytics tell another. Have you ever wondered what stats you should review to understand how productive certain players can truly be?
What impact would that have on your fantasy football team? In essence that is the goal of this column. This article will provide you a line of sight regarding noteworthy stats and trends you should be aware of to dominate your league.
Past performance is not indicative of future production in fantasy football, but it can provide you a line of sight of what stats to pay attention to. This week we will focus on the quarterback, running back, and wide receiver.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE QB POSITION?
Did you know that nine QBs finished with 300 or more passing yards? Cam Newton led the way with 335 while Tom Brady finished with 303. Ben Roethlisberger led all QBs with 55 pass attempts but threw five interceptions and zero touchdown passes to finish with a QB rating of 38. Deshaun Watson led all QBs with five touchdown passes. Dak Prescott led all QBs in rushing yards with 37 and scored a rushing touchdown.
ALEX SMITH IS CURRENTLY YOUR TOP FANTASY QB
— Moody (@EricNMoody) October 9, 2017
Has Smith turned the page on his game manager mentality? I believe he has. Smith has averaged 31.6 passing attempts, 278.2 passing yards, and 2.2 touchdowns per game through five games. He is rewarding fantasy owners with elite production considering his average draft position in many leagues. Smith has thrown 11 touchdowns passes so far this season without a single interception.
DESHAUN WATSON IS A LEGITIMATE QB1
Deshaun Watson tied the NFL rookie record with 5 Pass TD.
(Ray Buivid in 1937, Matthew Stafford in 2009 & Jameis Winston in 2015) pic.twitter.com/OSVVUZOKsY
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 9, 2017
The only other QB with more fantasy points than Watson is Smith. What makes his fantasy point production even more impressive is that Watson has only started four games. This was the second straight week he has scored five touchdowns. Watson is currently averaging 29 pass attempts, 214.4 passing yards, and 2.4 passing touchdowns per game. He is also averaging 4.4 rushing attempts, 35.8 rushing yards, and 0.4 rushing touchdowns per game. Watson’s Week 5 performance against the Chiefs defense has confirmed his validity as an every week starter at the QB position. His touchdown rate will regress, but Watson still provides owners with a high floor with an average of 22.6 fantasy points per game.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE RB POSITION?
Ezekiel Elliott and Kareem Hunt tied for the most rushing attempts with 29. Leonard Fournette (181), Aaron Jones (125), Elliott (116), Hunt (107), and Melvin Gordon (105) were the only RBs with 100 or more rushing yards. Fournette (2) was the only RB to score more than one rushing touchdown. Le’Veon Bell and Andre Ellington tied for the most targets with 10. Bell (10) was the only RB with double-digit receptions. Ellington led the way with 65 receiving yards. Gordon and Charcandrick West tied for the most receiving touchdowns with two.
LEONARD FOURNETTE CONTINUES TO DELIVER FOR FANTASY PLAYERS
Only three players have run for a 90-yard TD against the Steelers:
Terrelle Pryor (2013)
O.J. Simpson (1972) pic.twitter.com/dNSb0zRldc
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 8, 2017
Fournette is currently averaging 21.8 rushing attempts, 93.2 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 2.6 receptions, and 25.6 receiving yards per game. Through five games he is currently the RB3 in PPR formats averaging 21.7 fantasy points per game. The Jaguars coaching staff prefer to win games by leveraging their elite defense in order to put the offense in positive game scripts in order to bludgeon their opponents into submission with Fournette and the running game. The Jaguars defense has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game (55.1) to opposing offenses. Fournette is a locked-in RB1 and rewarding fantasy owners who drafted him this past summer. The Jaguars have a very favorable upcoming schedule that includes matchups against the Rams, Colts, Bengals, Chargers, and Browns.
ANDRE ELLINGTON IS CRIMINALLY UNDERRATED
Andre Ellington’s Air Yard distribution since David Johnson’s demise. 20% MS Target is awesome. This year’s Theo Riddick. pic.twitter.com/z3xA5fmyPo
— Josh ADHD (@FantasyADHD) October 9, 2017
Ellington is averaging eight targets, 5.6 receptions, and 51.4 receiving yards per game. He is currently the RB21 in PPR formats and has rewarded fantasy players who drafted Ellington late or picked him up on the waiver wire. The Cardinals addition of Adrian Peterson only further strengthens his value. He has only averaged 2.6 targets, 1.9 receptions, and 15.3 receiving yards per game in 127 games since 2007. The probability is very low that Peterson will all of a sudden become a PPR dynamo. Ellington’s role will remain unchanged as Peterson will dominate the early down and goal-line carries. He can be viewed as an RB3 or FLEX options in PPR formats.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE WR POSITION?
Did you know that 10 WRs had double-digit targets? Antonio Brown led the way with 19 targets and 10 receptions. A.J. Green (189), T.Y. Hilton (177), Brown (157), Mike Wallace (133), Marquise Goodwin (116), and DeSean Jackson (106) were the only WRs with 100 or more receiving yards. Hopkins (3), Davante Adams (2), Cole Beasley (2), and Will Fuller (2) were the only WRs to score more than a single touchdown.
DAVANTE ADAM REMAINS A HIGH-END WR2 WITH WR1 UPSIDE
Packers teammates Jordy Nelson & Davante Adams rank 1st & 2nd, respectively, in receiving touchdowns since the start of 2016 pic.twitter.com/iD6Zq1isIU
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 9, 2017
Adams was underrated heading into the season. Many equated his fantasy success in 2016 to his high touchdown rate. One aspect that is often overlooked when evaluating players from one season to the season is their offseason development. When you watch the game film Adams’ has evolved and is currently averaging 7.8 targets, 4.6 receptions, 57 receiving yards, and 0.8 touchdowns per game. He is currently in a contract year and I believe this is his audition for the Packers No. 1 WR. Jordy Nelson‘s future may be as the Packers slot receiver. He had 35.7 percent of his catches for 39.6 percent of his yards and six of his TDs from the slot last year, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He averaged 2.75 yards per route run from the slot in 2016 according to Pro Football Focus. Nelson is constantly battling injuries and is not as explosive as he once was.
Adams is currently the WR8 in PPR formats and is just entering his physical prime. Age and athleticism are critical variables when evaluating the WR position in order to determine improvement or regression. Co-Founder of Apex Fantasy Leagues and RotoViz writer Mike Braude wrote an article last year about the peak age of an NFL wide receiver. He set a baseline at 1,200 yards from scrimmage and seven TDs. This provided a sample size of 150 players from 1990 to 2015. One big takeaway was that players age 25 to 29 accounted for 60.7 percent of the peak seasons in the sample.
Adams turns 25 on December 24th. He is just entering his physical prime and I believe he can finish as a top-four fantasy WR in 2017.
DEVIN FUNCHESS CONTINUES TO EMERGE AS A HIGH-END WR3
Devin Funchess' percentage of targets by week: 8% > 22% > 30% > 31% > 24%. Funchess is out-targeting Benjamin 17 to 10 in Panthers last two.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) October 9, 2017
Funchess is currently averaging 7.2 targets, 4.8 receptions, 53.8 receiving yards, and 0.6 touchdowns per game this season. He leads all Panthers receivers in targets over the last three weeks and leads the team in red-zone targets on the season. The injury to Greg Olsen opened up the door for Funchess to see more opportunities. He is currently the WR14 in PPR formats and has a mouthwatering matchup against the Eagles this week who are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing WRs.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
The purpose of this column is to make you a more informed fantasy player and put you in the best possible position to harness this intellectual capital into a league-winning team. What statistics stood out to you? Please leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter.
You can find me @EricNMoody, and I am always open to answering questions or discussing football. Please be on the lookout for this column every Wednesday during the regular season. Until next time!