Which Players Should Have Scored The Most Points in 2019? (Fantasy Football)
What if we were to base 2019 fantasy football finishes solely on opportunity? Who would be the best? Would the answers shock you, or would it leave us saying “duh” the entire time? With fantasy drafts coming soon, I wanted to answer those questions.
Every passing attempt, rushing attempt, and target has an expected value, and it’s different for each position. Quarterbacks averaged 3.03 fantasy points per rushing attempt inside the five-yard line, while running backs averaged 2.67 fantasy points on those same opportunities. There are differences with every position.
So, I went back through all the information I had available and figured out where every snap took place. Based on where every pass attempt, rushing attempt, and target happened, here’s a look at which players had the most opportunity in 2019.
|Opp Rank||Player||TotalOpp||Actual Finish||Diff|
|20||Gardner Minshew II||253.26||19||1|
It’s pretty crazy to see Tom Brady atop this list, but understand that he threw 613 passes with a league-leading 99 of them in the red zone, including 45 of them from inside the 10-yard-line. Kyler Murray ranked second with 23 pass attempts inside the five-yard line and actually finished with negative points on his three carries in that area of the field, which should’ve netted just over 9.0 fantasy points.
As you can see, Patrick Mahomes is pretty special. Despite missing two full games and totaling No. 23 in opportunity, he still finished as the No. 7 quarterback. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins overcame a lot by finishing as the No. 15 quarterback, as his opportunity suggested he should’ve finished outside of QB2 range.
|Opp Rank||NAME||TotalOpp||Actual Finish||Diff|
|23||Mark Ingram II||170.91||8||15|
|29||Ronald Jones II||139.02||26||3|
This chart shows that if you can predict the volume, you probably have a good shot at predicting running back production. Sure, there are outliers in Raheem Mostert (whew), Mark Ingram, and Derrick Henry, but most are just a few spots from the opportunity they received. Le’Veon Bell was the only running back who finished top-14 in expected fantasy output, but outside the top-14 producers.
There were underperformers lower in the ranks, too, but you can potentially find value there because those players are unlikely to perform as poorly in 2020. Someone like David Montgomery comes to mind. He had the 15th most expected fantasy points among running backs. That’s phenomenal volume, and the Bears did absolutely nothing to change that this season. The same can be said about Tarik Cohen, who ranked 27th in expected points.
Frank Gore‘s role on the Bills should’ve netted the No. 35 running back finish, so if Zack Moss can be average (or above average), he should have flex value. Meanwhile, Devin Singletary‘s opportunity is not great. He’s not getting carries/targets when they matter most (in the red zone), and the Bills already said Moss will take over Gore’s role.
|Opp Rank||Name||TotalOpp||Actual Finish||Diff|
|12||Odell Beckham Jr.||187.96||26||-14|
|21||DJ Chark Jr.||167.09||16||5|
It would appear that wide receivers aren’t nearly as predictable as running backs, even if you can guess their projected targets. Remember that there was just one running back who had top-14 opportunity but finished outside the top-14 running backs? Well, there were six wide receivers who did that.
If the giant number 32 didn’t stand out, that’s just how much higher A.J. Brown finished from where he was expected to based on opportunity. Did you notice the wide receivers around him? He had similar opportunity to Anthony Miller, Auden Tate, and even Alex Erickson. That’s brutal. So, if you’re expecting a breakout in 2020, he needs a TON more volume. No other receiver finished even 20 spots higher than expected.
It may have shocked you to know that Curtis Samuel should’ve finished as the No. 16 wide receiver based on his opportunity. Sure, the quarterback play was bad, but his opportunity wasn’t too far behind his teammate D.J. Moore, who finished as the No. 18 wide receiver. Other standouts at the bottom of the list were Tyler Boyd, Christian Kirk, Jamison Crowder, and Odell Beckham Jr.
The bottom line here is that if you want to take a shot on a wide receiver breaking out despite having what is perceived to be less opportunity, he has a better chance of hitting than a running back or tight end. Wide receivers are somewhat unpredictable in this study.
|Opp Rank||Player||TotalOpp||Actual Finish||Diff|
|30||Irv Smith Jr.||67.00||35||-5|
If there’s anything you should learn from these charts, it’s that opportunity matters more to tight ends than maybe any other position. Running back is close but seeing no tight end who was top-12 in opportunity veer more than three spots in either direction is something to latch on to.
After seeing this, you likely understand why I’m lower on Jared Cook than most. Current ECR is TE9 while his ADP is TE8. Knowing he ranked 16th in opportunity last year, and that they added Emmanuel Sanders to the team, it’s tough to see him finishing even top-12 this year. On the flip side, T.J. Hockenson played just 12 games, and was on pace for 110.1 expected points, which would’ve ranked 12th among tight ends. Natural progression in his career could mean that he’s being severely undervalued as the TE16 in ECR and TE15 in ADP. Also, you clearly don’t want to buy in to Kyle Rudolph or Darren Fells again in 2020.