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Opportunity Index: Todd Gurley Looks Poised For Big Week

Fantasy Stock Watch

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.

Opportunity Index: Week 5

Recapping Results from Week 4

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.

It was another week with successful calls — hey, maybe this OI data is useful after all — as I highlighted both Isaiah Crowell (19 touches, 142 yards, 1 TD) and Carlos Hyde (16 touches, 79 yards, 1 TD) as sneaky starts. I also recommended you buy low on Jordan Reed (10 targets, 9 receptions, 73 yards, 2 TD) and still think Odell Beckham Jr., despite another rough outing vs. a stingy Vikings defense, is a buy low based on his OI metrics.

Let’s get to the Week 4 data!

Running Backs

Our weekly check-in on the top bell-cow running backs as the market share numbers are starting to come down to more realistic numbers. The top 5 in team OI market share:

  • LeSean McCoy, BUF (40.6%)
  • Todd Gurley, LA (38.7%)
  • DeMarco Murray, TEN (36.8%)
  • C.J. Anderson, DEN (35.8%)
  • DeAngelo Williams, PIT (35.0%)

No surprises here although we should expect to see Le’Veon Bell usurp Williams in the top-five immediately. The good sign is Gurley’s usage (his 120.1% OI ranks 14th) as the Rams clearly know who they need to feed the rock. Speaking of Gurley…

Betting hard on Gurley in Week 5

Todd GurleyThe Gurley breakout game is coming and the time to buy is now or never (unless you like paying full price for things). Gurley’s coming off a rough three-game stretch where he faced Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Arizona, but this week he gets a Buffalo defense defense that looks to be softer vs. the run and he’s getting plenty of high leverage opportunities. He’s currently seeing 62.5 percent of the team’s red zone market share and 66.3 percent of the team’s goal line market share. Both of those marks easily rank in the top three.

Bilal Powell gaining ground on Matt Forte

It seems as if the Jets have realized Forte is a running back on the north side of 30 years old and they have a very capable second running back on the roster. After Forte dominated opportunity out the gate, Powell has gained 5.9 percentage points in OI market share over the last two weeks while Forte has lose 10.5 points. Their gap is still rather large (32.2% to 17.2%), but I expect that to close more and wouldn’t be surprised if we started to see Powell put up some more useful fantasy weeks starting this week at Pittsburgh.


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Mark Ingram with some rough luck

So far this season Ingram hasn’t seen a major change in workload. Yes, he’s not seeing as much work in the passing game, but his OI market share of 26.8 percent is right in line with his breakout season last year (26.7%). So why is Ingram averaging 1.2 fantasy points fewer per game this season? Well, it could have to do with John Kuhn vulturing not one, not two, but three touchdowns at the goal line last weekend. He also vultured a goal-line score in Week 3 so he’s turning into a repeat offender. Ingram’s scores will come, but currently, Kuhn’s 23.8 percent OI market share at the goal line is a major thorn in his side.

Trying to figure out Melvin Gordon

Gordon hasn’t been running the ball well this year, but his fantasy owners surely haven’t noticed — or have reason to care — because he’s still producing like an RB1 thanks to his opportunity. His 19.0 fantasy points per game ranks fourth in the league, but let’s take a closer look at Gordon’s breakdown of opportunities:

  • Non-Red Zone: Rush (58.9% of plays; -0.11 +/-) | Pass (16.7%; +0.04)
  • Red Zone (11-20 yard line): Rush (10.0%; -0.37) | Pass (2.2%; -0.86)
  • Goal Line 1 (6-10 yard line): Rush (4.4%; +0.80) | Pass (0.0%; 0.00)
  • Goal Line 2 (1-5 yard line): Rush (7.8%; +2.05) | Pass (0.0%; 0.00)

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.

I added some color coding just to help orient your eyes. As I expected, Gordon has been extremely inefficient outside the 10-yard line where he’s seen a total of 87.8 percent of his opportunity. On those plays he has averaged 1.3 fantasy points per opportunity below his expected output. However, in his other 12.2 percent of touches inside the goal line he has crushed his expected value by averaging 2.85 points per opportunity above his expected output. Long story short is Gordon could continue this monster season solely based on his opportunity, but the numbers also suggest his value could come crashing down very soon, which makes him a great sell high target.

Don’t rush to start DeAndre Washington

Obviously with the news of Latavius Murray being doubtful this week we’re all rushing to add Washington and start him without thinking twice. Well, I’m here to pump the brakes on that a bit. First, Murray’s OI market share of 18.7 percent is nothing to be excited about as it ranked 32nd best among running backs. Murray owners should consider themselves lucky he was returning top-25 value on a per game basis. Now that he’s out, we have a three person backfield of which we’re suppose to sort through and find a sure-fire starter? Here’s a quick breakdown of their playing time so far:

  • Jamize Olawale: 19.5 snaps/game, 33.3% OI, 3.9% market share
  • Jalen Richard: 13.5 snaps/game, 103.4% OI, 8.3% market share
  • DeAndre Washington: 12.8 snaps/game, 121.1% OI, 9.2% market share

A lot of people will point to Washington’s snaps being a bad sign, but I’m not going that direction. His OI is a great sign that the Raiders like to use him when he’s on the field so an increase in snaps should only help him put up big fantasy points. The part that I have an issue with is that there are three running backs that the Raiders seem to like and I think it’s a lot more likely we see them go with the hot hand vs. ride Washington for 15-20 touches per game.

Wide Receivers

Emmanuel Sanders turning into a legitimate WR1

Emmanuel SandersThere were a lot of skeptics on whether Sanders could maintain WR1 status with quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Well, I think the answer is a resounding yes as Sanders is not only the top wide receiver in Denver, but over the last two weeks his 23.5 fantasy points per game ranks second only to Jordy Nelson (who only played one game). Over that two-game span, Sanders has a whopping 26.4 percent team market share compared to Demaryius Thomas’ 12.9 percent. Sanders is our new OI leader with a 161.9 percent rating.

Alshon Jeffery ready to explode?

The move from Jay Cutler to Brian Hoyer may just be an upgrade, but at worst it’s a lateral move. The big upgrade, however, is Kevin White’s injury. Through four weeks, White was crushing Jeffery in terms of opportunity. White was rolling with a 147.1 percent OI rating (third-best) compared to Jeffery’s 82.9 percent rating. Also, White had an OI market share of 18.5 percent (10th-best) vs. Jeffery’s 12.2 percent. Some can be explained away by Jeffery’s lingering injury issues, which still seem to be with him. However, he should see a major uptick in opportunity just by default so now is the time to buy him.

No really, ODB is fine, take your hand off the panic button

Another week, another blurb about ODB. There’s a lot of negative buzz going around Beckham Jr. this week thanks to sideline tantrums that are becoming fairly routine every weekend, but most importantly he hasn’t scored a touchdown yet! Relax. His most recent game was a disaster vs. the Vikings, but we might be saying that about every wide receiver this season. Through four weeks, ODB has a healthy 18.1 percent OI market share and his co-wideouts Victor Cruz (11.2%) and Sterling Shephard (11.1%) aren’t very close. As long as ODB doesn’t self-destruct he should start scoring touchdowns and the fantasy production will be just fine. He ranks 10th in the league in team OI market share (goal line) at 19.9 percent.

Admiring Julio Jones’ Week 4 game

Some games are just special and deserve to be highlighted so that’s what I will do here. Jones put up 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, but what did it look like from a metrics standpoint? Spoiler alert: pretty damn good.

  • FPTS (1/2 PPR)
  • OI Rating: 225.9%
  • OI Market Share: 25.5%
  • +/- per Opp: +1.56

All that was done with Jones getting ZERO targets inside the red zone or goal line area. Take a bow, Julio. Well done.

Tight Ends

Cameron Brate is great

If you’re looking for a tight end to buy for practically free in every league look no further than Brate. With Austin Seferian-Jenkins out of the picture, Brate is in line for TE1 duties in Tampa Bay which is especially appealing since they are a pass-heavy offense. So far this season, Brate has played 47.5 snaps per game and put up the third-highest OI rating (154.6%). He also sports a healthy 29.4 percent market share of the team’s goal line opportunities and an overall market share of 12.5 percent, which ranks sixth among tight ends.

Jimmy Graham rocketing up the ranks

Almost everyone, myself included, left Graham for dead as he was coming off a pretty gruesome injury. However, he’s really come on strong the last two games so let’s take a look to see if it’s legitimate. The first thing that jumps off the page is that Graham’s 197.8 percent OI rating is off the charts and ranks second among tight ends over the last two weeks. Also his 16.4 percent market share is only worse than Greg Olsen (21.8%), Kyle Rudolph (19.4%), and Jordan Reed (17.2%) so nothing to turn your head at there. Where Graham has really over-performed is his +/-, which is at a whopping +0.63 right now. That should come down, but the fact that Graham is seeing this much opportunity is no fluke. I’m buying wherever I can and hoping someone is trying to sell high on a player who is producing despite not seeing much red zone/goal line work.


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Good luck in Week 5!

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