10 Interesting Fantasy Football Stats
As I mentioned in the Week 10 Power Ranks, this was a pretty boring week in the NFL. So many games weren’t competitive, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some very interesting stats and trends that we can look at. We’ll take a look at a surprising run defense, slobber over the Rams a little more, and start taking a little peek into the 2018 draft season. No, it’s not too early and yes, I am being serious about taking notes for next season. Let’s get to work!
1. We’re in the middle of a very weird WR season
If you’ve been thinking you’re not getting much from your WR position this year, you’re not crazy.
WRs with 130+ PPR points through Week 9, by year. pic.twitter.com/YhfYUtg8Ls
— Russell Clay (@RussellJClay) November 7, 2017
Fantasy players have seen a major drop in production from the position as a whole. Sure, some of the drop off from 2016 to 2017 is injury(Odell Beckham) to the receiver or QB(Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson). Still, this is a pretty massive drop-off for one position. Offenses as a whole haven’t been quite as sharp as recent years and even though most offenses are pass-heavy, this can lead to the ball being more evenly distributed than it has been in the past. This seems like more of a blip on the radar, but the owners who went receiver heavy at the start of their draft likely aren’t totally happy right now.
2. Tight End is an even bigger advantage than usual
A couple weeks ago, we discussed what a great season TE Zach Ertz was having. It turns out that he, Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce are providing owners with a big advantage every week.
If you combine WR and TE scoring (PPR Points), Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and Rob Gronkowski would be WR5, WR6, and WR7 in PPG.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) November 8, 2017
Considering the state of the tight end position, these three are a borderline cheat code. Having what amounts to an extra wideout every week while your opponent is just hoping Tyler Kroft can find the end zone has to feel good. I’m usually not a proponent of taking a TE early in the draft, but this is an important note to make for the 2018 season. No, it’s never too early to start noticing trends for next year. It’s part of staying at the top of your league.
3. Rams Coach Sean Mcvay should be Coach of the Year
It’s a crowded field this season. McVay, Doug Pederson, Todd Bowles, Mike Zimmer, and Sean Payton could all make claims. Still, the turnaround that we’re witnessing from the Los Angeles offense is nothing short of astounding.
Crazy: 40% of Todd Gurley's carries this year have gained 5+ yards. In 2016, just 27% of his attempts gained five yards. NFL average is 32%.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) November 7, 2017
Part of it can be chalked up to offensive line improvements and adding receivers to help Goff out. Even with that, to see this amount of difference in one season is just crazy. Oh, and WR Sammy Watkins has been barely utilized to this point in the season. He’s the most skilled receiver on the team and has been the FOURTH option behind Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Todd Gurley. They’re still the highest scoring offense in the league by 1.5 points ahead of the Eagles. Seeing this offense continue to evolve is one of the best storylines of the second half of the season.
4. T.Y. Hilton is a pain to own, but….
His totals are actually pretty good, considering the circumstances. We all know that losing Andrew Luck has been a tough blow. However, Hilton is still putting together a top-10 season yet again.
TY Hilton's 16 game pace (in a Luckless season)
•1248 rec yds
Highly volatile, but impressive stats considering situation.
— Curtis Patrick (@CPatrickNFL) November 6, 2017
GM Chris Ballard deserves a ton of credit in pulling QB Jacoby Brissett from New England before the season started. He gets even more points for only having to give up WR Phillip Dorsett. Look at how badly Green Bay’s season has been derailed since QB Aaron Rodgers has gone down. QB Bett Hundley has been an unmitigated disaster since taking the reigns. Brissett may not be anything special in the league, but at least he can get the ball to his receivers. I’m not trying to say Hilton has been fun to own because he hasn’t. You can only start him in a good matchup. At least when you do that, you can feel confident Hilton is going to smash.
5. Darius Slay is one of the best CBs in football
There seems to be a debate over this point almost every week on Twitter. That’s not exactly the best spot to go to have a calm and rational discussion, but Slay should be at the point where it’s not up for discussion if he’s a shutdown corner or not.
per PFF, in 6 games shadow coverage (64%+ routes each) vs. OBJ, Julio, Kelvin, Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, and Jordy, Darius Slay's given up just 13 catches, 193 yards, 1 TD (TD was Kelvin) https://t.co/7KRjcEQVhw
— Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) November 8, 2017
I won’t put too much stock into the Jordy Nelson part since Hundley is the QB. The rest of those matchups are very difficult and Slay excelled in all of them. I would likely still start a receiver against Detroit and just hope they can move him off of SLay for at least some of the game. It’s just worth noting that Slay should be feared. The people who don’t think he’s a shutdown corner seem to be missing the amount of work Slay puts in every game.
6. RB Carlos Hyde is paying off
I will admit I turned out to be wrong in my draft season analysis of 49ers RB Carlos Hyde. He currently sits inside the top 7 at the RB position in both standard and PPR formats. Coming into the season, I didn’t want to draft him in part because of the rumors that were swirling about him not doing well in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Another part of that was I didn’t believe Hyde would be a part of the passing game.
Carlos Hyde leads #49ers in targets (34) w/ Beathard at QB. Next closest: M. Goodwin (22). Hyde now 2nd among RBs in targets this year.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) November 8, 2017
It’s been difficult for the 49ers to stay with the running game very often this season. They’re typically behind on the scoreboard and that leads them to throw the ball more than they should. Fortunately for Hyde and his owners, Hyde is getting a ton of targets and is keeping his fantasy value afloat even on a very poor team. He’s one of the better backs in the NFL right now.
7. Always take a QB late in your draft
This is a tired and true method for me, but it’s ringing true again this season. It’s almost never worth sinking an early pick into the QB spot because of the abundance of options that are available.
Josh McCown is averaging more fantasy points per game than Marcus Mariota, Philip Rivers, Derek Carr, and Matt Ryan.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) November 6, 2017
Not only this, but the top 12 QBs include Alex Smith, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz. Players like Tyrod Taylor and Jacoby Brissett are just outside the top 12 signal callers. None of these players were high priority draft picks. there were multiple leagues that I play in that didn’t pick up Smith until around Week 4. If you play in a 2 QB or Superflex league, the calculus changes. If you’re in a simple 1 QB league, just be patient in 2018. There will always be a Josh McCown or Jared Goff every single season.
8. The Bengals offense is broken
The Cincinnati offense is fresh off a game where their star WR A.J. Green got kicked out of the game and they ran just 37 plays…for the entire game! This offense is having a hard time getting anything done in 2017, including finding the end zone.
Bengals are averaging 1.6 offensive TDs per game this season. That's their worst mark since 1.1 back in 2008.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) November 7, 2017
Some of that can be chalked up to losing TE Tyler Eifert for the season. He’s one of the best red zone threats in football. However, he shouldn’t make this much of a dent in the offense. We’re all still waiting for the Joe Mixon breakout. The #8 overall pick, WR John Ross, can’t find the field even when he’s healthy, and there’s no other real threat to help out Green. Defenses can just smother him. If Green can get loose this weekend, you may want to consider dealing him away. His schedule still includes at Denver, versus Pittsburgh, at Minnesota and versus Detroit. That’s not the easiest sledding for an offense that can’t score.
9. Beware the Browns run defense?
I know, it’s kind of crazy that we’re talking about the Browns doing something well. It’s gone largely unnoticed, but Cleveland is actually playing the run extremely well this season.
The #Browns allow 2.9 yards per carry (league-low, by 0.5 yards), and haven't allowed more than 66 rushing yards to any RB this season.
— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) November 8, 2017
That’s very impressive from a defense that everyone thinks you can target at will. Am I saying I would bench a Jordan Howard in Week 16 if I was playing for a title? No, I probably wouldn’t. However, it’s wise to temper expectations if your running back is going against Cleveland the rest of the way. For anyone who says teams are just passing on the Browns and they don’t have to defend the run as much, Pat blows up that theory as well.
They face the fifth-most rushing attempts by RBs per game (25.5). You can't fake how well they've done for a half-season.
— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) November 8, 2017
10. The Bills run defense may be vulnerable
In their last game versus the Jets, Buffalo got destroyed on the ground to the tune of 194 yards given up. Why the sudden shift? It has a lot to do with the recent trade of DT Marcel Dareus.
In case you're wondering what happened to Buffalo's run defense last week… https://t.co/RAimbf6BAn
— Doug Farrar (@BR_DougFarrar) November 7, 2017
Could this be an outlier performance against a divisional opponent on a short week? Sure. It could also be the new normal for the Buffalo defense. Dareus wasn’t the best fit in Buffalo anymore and had his issues there. Maybe it was a lack of motivation. He certainly showed up in his first game as a Jaguar, and Buffalo sure missed him in their first game without him. The Bills face a big challenge this week in the two-headed monster of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. We’ll see how they respond after getting worked by Matt Forte and Bilal Powell.