Opportunity Index: Week 4
Recapping Results from Week 3
After each week this season I will dive into my Opportunity Index data and use it to analyze which committee running back you want to own, which wide receiver is due for positive (or negative) regression, which tight ends are in the best positions to succeed, etc. But first, if you don’t know what Opportunity Index you can read more about it here. Get familiar with it because I think it’s one of the most comprehensive, and useful, stats in the industry.
Get Opportunity Index Data HERE.
Last week, I outlined why the Dolphins passing game was so attractive, especially in a juicy matchup against Cleveland. They delivered as Ryan Tannehill threw for 319 yards and 3 TD, Jarvis Landry put up a 7-120-1 stat line on 12 targets, and even Devante Parker added a 3-51-1 line on six targets. I also correctly predicted that the Travis Benjamin/Tyrell Williams duo was much closer in term of fantasy value than the production suggested in Week 2. Last week Williams (6-69-0) out-targeted Benjamin (4-82-0) nine-to-six. My research also correctly predicted the Vance McDonald regression as his efficiency came crashing down to Earth with a 2-4-0 line on two targets.
Let’s get to the Week 4 data!
Some new faces are joining the top of the ranks in team OI market share and some of the biggest risers in Week 3 were Todd Gurley (37.9% market share), Ezekiel Elliot (32.1%), LeGarrette Blount (32.0%), and Melvin Gordon (31.8%).
Sell high on Christine Michael
It’s hard to sell on a running back in a situation as good as Michael’s is right now, but it may be more fragile than you think. First, his 104.4 percent OI rating (ranks 28th) could certainly be better and while he’s been an efficient runner overall (+0.10 +/- when running the ball) he’s been very inefficient in the red zone (-0.54 +/-) and goal line (-0.83 +/-) areas. That inefficiency has put a dent in Michael’s fantasy output as those are the most important — and easiest — to cash in on. Michael has also been inefficient in the passing game with a -0.09 +/- so far. It’s easy to see a severe time-share scenario if/when Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise get healthier so I’d sell high while you can.
Note: I’ll be referencing this +/- stat throughout my articles and what it tells us is how many fantasy points per opportunity a player performed better (or worse) vs. his expected output. So, for example, if a quarterback was expected to produce 0.54 fantasy points per opportunity, but instead he scored 0.86 that would give him a +/- of 0.32.
Isaiah Crowell set up for a productive weekend[the_ad id=”63198″]For those looking for running back to stream or looking or a cheap DFS play at running back Crowell is your guy. So far, Crowell has been one of the most efficient fantasy scorers on the ground with a +0.32 +/- and has maintained a relatively average OI (97.3%) despite some terrible game scripts for the Browns. This Sunday he gets a great matchup vs. the Redskins who has allowed eight rushing touchdowns in three games this season. If the Browns can keep this game close for four quarters, we could see a big game from Crowell.
Carlos Hyde a sneaky Week 4 start
Another interesting matchup this week is Hyde, who gets to play at home for the first time since Week 1 and faces a below average Cowboys defense. This season, Hyde’s been the sixth-most efficient rusher (+0.18 +/-) and has a solid 113.1 percent OI rating (ranks 21st) to boot. Similar to Crowell, Hyde will benefit if the 49ers can keep the game close for four quarters so that he doesn’t lose a lot of snaps to Shaun Draughn. If that happens, Hyde could turn his 51.2 percent team red zone market share and 54.8 percent team goal line market share into a multiple touchdown performance.
Messy Ravens backfield, Kenneth Dixon looming
So far the Ravens backfield has been one to avoid. Not only is it a two-headed monster with both Justin Forsett (39.3 snaps per game) and Terrence West (22.7) getting snaps, but they’ve also been horribly inefficient with a combined -0.22 +/- on the ground and -0.16 in the passing game. Keep your eye on Dixon, who could work himself into a valuable role once healthy.
Wide Receivers[wlm_nonmember]Jamison Crowder is your OI…..
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Jamison Crowder is your OI leader
It’s true. With a 162.9 percent rating, Crowder has the opportunity edge on every other wide receiver in league and not only does he dominate on a per-snap basis, but his team OI market share of 17.8 percent ranks 18th at the position and highest among Redskins pass catchers. For whatever reason, Cousins is targeting Crowder near the end zone a lot — he has a 30 percent market share of the team’s goal line opportunities — which has boosted his fantasy value especially in PPR leagues. I don’t see any trends pointing to this changing, so he’s worth buying until we see otherwise.
Unexpected market share leaders through three weeks
Typically when you think of the top market share leaders, it’s guys like Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, or A.J. Green. However, this year the top three market share wide receivers are Landry, Terrelle Pryor, and Tavon Austin. Those guys aren’t exactly oozing elite wide receiver talent. What’s the takeaway here? It’s useful to look at OI market share, but you should also consider the team’s they are on and quarterbacks that are throwing them the ball. In Landry’s case it’s not bad news, but with Pryor and Austin, their offenses and quarterbacks leave a lot to be desired.
Don’t panic on Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham and Sharpe are very different talents, but both are underwhelming in fantasy football through three weeks. For Beckham, he’s getting plenty of opportunities (125.5% OI), but his efficiency is down (-0.22 +/-) and it’s especially down near the red zone (-1.32 +/-) and goal line (-3.06 +/-). We should expect those numbers to creep up closer to zero over the course of the season, which makes ODB a decent buy low candidate.
Kyle Rudolph seeing major, major opportunity
The good news is we can easily explain why Rudolph is off to such a hot start in fantasy. Consider the following:
- His 163.3 percent OI ranks fourth among tight ends.
- His 20.2 percent market share of team opportunity ranks first (Greg Olsen is second with 17.2%).
- His 63.9 percent market share of team goal line opportunity ranks first by a whopping 33 percentage points (C.J. Uzomah is second with 30.9%).
Now that you’ve heard the good news it’s time for some GREAT news. Rudolph’s 11.9 fantasy points per game ranks second in the league and he’s doing it with a 0.00 +/-. This means he’s performing exactly as expected and if this opportunity is for real for the entire 2016 season, Rudolph is in for a big year.
Buy low on Jordan Reed
Reed currently ranks 10th overall with 9.0 fantasy points per game and owners who spent an early pick on him are likely frustrated with his lack of usage. Well, I’m here to tell you that this “lack of usage” is just a perception and Reed is still seeing plenty of opportunity to score (146.9% OI), just not where it matters most. I mentioned earlier that Crowder was seeing a huge amount of targets near the goal line and of course that has affected Reed negatively (6.2% market share of team goal line opportunities). This should correct itself as Reed is easily the superior red zone target to Crowder and with the Redskins and Cousins off to a slow start we should look for this to quickly change. This week might be the final week to buy low on Reed as a breakout game is on the horizon.
The top five OI rankings coming into Week 3 are Drew Brees (142.9%), Matt Ryan (132.7%), Kirk Cousins (125.0%), Ryan Fitzpatrick (123.4%), and Tannehill (114.7%). Cousins’ season is going to turn around soon — it has to — as he’s been insanely inefficient given the amount of opportunity he has seen. His -0.23 +/- ranks only worse than Fitzpatrick’s -0.45, although that might be a little skewed due to his poor, six-interception performance last week.
Jameis Winston and Cam Newton playing a lot of snaps
It will be interesting to see if the trend continues, but both Tampa Bay (77.7 snaps/game) and Carolina (77.3) have been playing a ton of snaps this season. More snaps equal a higher floor for quarterbacks, and we already know the immense ceilings these two possess. I expect this to keep up as both offenses like to play at a higher pace and will be able to do so while their primary running backs (Jonathan Stewart and Doug Martin) are sidelined.
Don’t talk yourself into Sam Bradford
It may be tempting to talk yourself into Bradford as a viable fantasy option just because in two weeks he’s enabled Stefon Diggs to have a monster game and then he led the Vikings to a road win vs. the Panthers. However, Bradford’s fantasy output hasn’t been great. His 15.1 fantasy points per game ranks 23rd and his below-average 84.0 percent OI rating ranks 28th.[/wlm_ismember]
Good luck in Week 4!
George has been playing fantasy baseball since he was a kid, filling out every Sporting News salary league card, but never sending one in due to his lack of a checking account. He still remembers the time he spot-started Storm Johnson and got a rushing TD out of it. Never forget.