Opportunity Index: Recap of Week 1
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.
If you’re too lazy to click on that link to learn the inner workings of the OI metrics, I got you covered. In a nutshell, here is what OI accomplishes:
- OI incorporates both the quantity and quality of opportunity.
- OI is proven to have a better relationship to fantasy points per snap than opportunities per snap.
- OI can prevent you from getting sucked into the dreaded internet stat hole.
So without further delay, let’s get into some Week 1 numbers.
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Alex Smith surprises with massive Week 1
If you thought Smith would lead all quarterbacks with 45 total opportunities then I have a bridge to sell you. However, if you want to see OI at work, you’ll notice that Smith’s 139% OI, while very good, only ranked sixth among all quarterbacks. Remember, not all opportunities are created equal!
Overall, Smith saw about half of the team’s red zone and goal line OI shares which is uncharacteristic for him, but it’s a good sign of what could be in store if the Chiefs defense isn’t as dominant as it was last year (it won’t be) and Jamaal Charles doesn’t come back 100 percent healthy (he won’t).
Jameis Winston is our top regression candidate
Winston put up a top-five week by scoring 25.9 fantasy points, but his 86.3% OI ranked just 25th among 32 quarterbacks. This means that Winston had to be uber-efficient to put up points and that’s exactly what he was. On a per-opportunity basis, Winston’s overall +/- was +0.32 fantasy points vs. expected, which was 0.20 more than the next-best quarterback (Matthew Stafford). That will come crashing down.
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 if Winston was expected to produce 0.54 fantasy points per opportunity, but instead he scored 0.86 that would give him a +/- of 0.32.
Buy low on Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kirk Cousins
We know that Fitzpatrick and Cousins aren’t elite quarterbacks, but the opportunity for fantasy points is definitely there. Last year, Fitzpatrick was one of the better performers near the goal line with a +/- of -0.50, which ranked eighth among quarterbacks. Last week versus the Bengals, Fitzpatrick had a nice 56.6 percent share of the Jets’ goal line OI score, but a +/- of just -2.51.
On the other hand, Cousins wasn’t that far behind Fitzpatrick last year with a +/- of -0.59 at the goal line and, like Fitzpatrick, he put up a real stinker in Week 1. Cousins posted a red zone +/- of -1.28 and goal line +/- of -3.78, which wasn’t helped by that late-game “interception” that the referees refused to review. I’m encouraged that Cousins was heavily involved near the goal line (44.4% team share) so it won’t take a lot for him to bounce back if that hold steady.
One of my favorite metrics, in addition to OI of course, is OI Team Share because it gives you a good idea of just how much of a workhorse a running back is on the team. Last year, the top 12 running backs in Team Share averaged a share of 27.8 percent. In Week 1 we saw 18 running backs top that mark.
Ryan Mathews an underrated bell-cow
Mathews came in as the top RB with a 172.5% OI despite all of the chatter that Darren Sproles (76.5% OI) would have a significant role in the offense. Mathews dominated the Eagles’ OI with a 32 percent share and had a whopping 83.4 percent of the team’s goal line share. Obviously, Mathews has a bad injury reputation, but while he’s healthy he looks to be locked into a huge role.
Devonta Freeman / Tevin Coleman in a timeshare
Freeman owners don’t want to hear this, but it looks as if Coleman is officially a big part of this offense as both players posted nearly identical OIs (Freeman 118%, Coleman 117%). That said, Freeman owners can at least take solace in the fact that he was way more involved at the goal line as Freeman received a 53.4 percent team share vs. Coleman’s zero percent.[wlm_nonmember]
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Isaiah Crowell holding off Duke Johnson
Without knowing how Josh McCown will change the landscape of Hue Jackson’s offense, it’s not looking good for Johnson after Week 1. Crowell not only put up a higher OI (123% vs. 103%), but he was also more effective with his touches. Crowell’s +/- of +0.33 bested Johnson’s -0.01 by a considerable margin and a large part of it was that Crowell saw 68 percent of the team’s goal line share when Johnson didn’t even sniff the red zone.
DeMarco Murray dominates as a true bell-cow back
There were reports that Mike Mularkey was going to use Murray as the Titans’ primary back, but because it’s Mularkey we needed to see it first. He stayed true to his word as Murray posted the ninth-highest OI Team Share (35%) and was the only running back to get touches inside the red zone and goal line areas. This is setting up to be a monster year for Murray.
Melvin Gordon: The best of times and the worst of times
Gordon (142.4% OI) pundits were rejoicing as he rushed in two touchdowns in the first half on Sunday, but then it quickly became the Danny Woodhead (129.4% OI) show. The worst part about it for Gordon is that the Chargers were up by as much as 17 point into the 4th quarter so this set up perfectly as a game where Gordon dominated touches.
Don’t let Gordon’s high OI fool you — since OI is a per-snap metric, Gordon’s is a bit inflated because he only played 23 snaps. Instead, Woodhead posted a 34.4 percent OI Team Share and even received a higher share of the goal line work (59.5% vs. 40.5%). Now, with Keenan Allen lost for the season again, I’d be trying to nab Woodhead in any and every league possible as this looks like a repeat of 2015.
A pair of slot receivers paced the league in OI in Week 1 — Jamison Crowder (199.4% OI) and Cole Beasley (193.0% OI) each received 10 and 12 targets, respectively. Even more surprising was Crowder’s role in the red zone (56.5% team share) and goal line (44.6% team share). However, both Crowder and Beasley performed worse than expected with a +/- of -0.76 and -0.51, respectively.
Amari Cooper vs. Michael Crabtree
Last season, it was Crabtree (93.7% OI) getting all the fantasy love as Derek Carr loved to look his way in the red zone while seemingly ignoring Cooper (122.6% OI). The script has flipped for at least one week as it was Crabtree getting shut out in the red zone and goal line areas (although he did have a sweet grab on the game-winning two-point conversion).
Will Fuller full of opportunity
Yes, the rookie out-targeted DeAndre Hopkins 11 to 8 and their OIs (160.3% vs. 81.6%) reflect that rather strongly. Despite the fact that Fuller also saw a higher share of red zone opportunity (42.4% share vs. 14.1%) Hopkins was still the more efficient WR posting a +/- of +0.43. That said, Fuller is clearly the second wide receiver opposite of Hopkins and that has plenty of value in and of itself.
Quincy Enunwa leads charge as third WR
Enunwa (106.4% OI) played 63 snaps on Sunday, which was easily the third-most among all wide receivers on the team. Hi above average OI and the fact that he was the only efficient WR on the team with a +/- of 0.40 means we could be seeing a lot more of him in the weeks to come. The Jets love to air the ball out and Enunwa should continue to see plenty of run on the field.
Marvin Jones the new man in Detroit?
Could we already be seeing a Jones (127.1% OI) over Tate (104.2% OI) takeover in Detroit? Not only did Jones post a higher OI, he saw 50 percent of the team’s goal line OI share. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to cash that opportunity in for a score, but it’s only a matter of time before the touchdowns start coming with that kind of usage.
As long as he’s healthy, you should expect Jordan Reed (215.4%) to be among the leaders in OI and he did it again in Week 1. Coming in a close second was Jason Witten (184.3%) who seemed to benefit from the rookie Dak Prescott’s conservative play. What was also encouraging was the fact that Prescott looked at Witten often in the red zone (59% red zone share).
Dwayne Allen can’t catch a break
With Coby Fleener out of Indianapolis we all thought it was going to be smooth sailing for Allen, especially in the red zone and goal line area. His 123.5% OI ranked 10th among tight ends with at least 30 snaps, but unfortunately he was outdone by another teammate this time — Jack Doyle (129.8% OI). Doyle was the most efficient tight end with a +/- of +2.59. Allen wasn’t too shabby himself (+/- of 0.89), but if he has to fight for high value targets with Doyle it will limit his week-to-week upside.[/wlm_ismember]
Thanks for Reading!
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.