Home | Fantasy Football Strategy | Opportunity Index Week 12: Special Thanksgiving Edition

Opportunity Index Week 12: Special Thanksgiving Edition

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Opportunity Index: Week 12

Recapping Results from Week 11

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.

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Last week OI nailed the call on LeGarrette Blount, although his game could’ve been much bigger with some narrowly missed TDs, and pivoting off Martellus Bennett to Zach Miller (not Jack Doyle) was the right move. OI also got the benching of Zach Rudolph vs. Arizona right. Some calls I missed on were Isaiah Crowell vs. the Steelers, a bounce-back game for Michael Crabtree, and starting Robert Woods vs. the Bengals.

Special Thanksgiving OI Notes

Because I’m in the holiday spirit, I put together some quick OI notes for the Thanksgiving slate, mostly from a DFS perspective. Enjoy this special slice of OI pie!

Minnesota Vikings (19.75) at Detroit Lions (22.25) – Spread: Lions -2.5 | Game Total: 42
  • The Vikings defense ranks third (-1.06) and second (-3.28) in adjusted +/- allowed to opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers, respectively over the last six weeks. Fade Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate, and Marvin Jones.
  • The same Vikings defense ranks 25th and 17th in adjusted +/- allowed to opposing running backs in the passing game and tight ends, respectively. Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron make for solid players.
  • Ebron ranks fifth in OI share (14.9%) among all tight ends over the last three weeks and Theo Riddick’s 53.3 percent goal line OI share ranks seventh among all running backs. Anquan Boldin’s 12.1 percent OI share is sneakily good for a DFS punt play.
  • Kyle Rudolph continues to get ignored in the offense as he only saw three targets even with Stefon Diggs shut down last Sunday. Rudolph now ranks 24th among tight ends with a 9.4 percent OI share over the last three weeks. It should be noted that he had a touchdown wiped out by a penalty last week.
Washington Redskins (22.25) at Dallas Cowboys (29.25) – Spread: Cowboys -7 | Game Total: 51.5
  • Major regression alert! Over the last three weeks, Kirk Cousins leads all quarterbacks with a +0.21 +/-, but his 89.5 percent OI Rating ranks 29th out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks. That being said, Cousins is facing a Cowboys defense that ranks 32nd in adjusted OI allowed to opposing quarterbacks so it’s possible we see Cousins get a major boost in opportunity this week.
  • If you were thinking of fading Ezekiel Elliott you should think again. The Redskins come into Week 12 as the worst run defense over the last six weeks as their +1.55 adjusted +/- vs. opposing running backs ranks dead last in the league.
  • It’s tough to nail down where Cousins will go with the ball on a weekly basis (no Washington receiver has an OI share above 16.0%), but Dallas has been especially vulnerable to opposing tight ends with a -3.0 percent adjusted OI (ranks 28th) and 2.26 +/- (ranks 27th). Obviously, that means Jordan Reed is in a nice spot. On the other side, Jason Witten is much cheaper and has a similarly good matchup as the Redskins rank 31st and 21st vs. opposing tight ends in adjusted OI (-1.2%) and +/- (+1.07), respectively.
Pittsburgh Steelers (27.75) at Indianapolis Colts (20.25) – Spread: Colts +7.5 | Game Total: 48
  • You’re avoiding the Colts passing game because Scott Tolzien is such an unknown quantity coming into this week. However, Frank Gore has seen a 35.4 percent OI share over the last three weeks and the team could either choose to lean on him more or get Robert Turbin more involved.
  • Le’Veon Bell is a must-start, of course, but the secret to cracking the Steelers is how you play their passing game. Obviously, if you can fit Antonio Brown you do it, but I’m not forcing myself to play him. Pay close attention to the news around Ladarius Green as his OI share is almost identical to Jesse James’ (5.4% vs. 6.8%) despite James averaging 60 snaps per game vs. Green’s 10. If Green is let loose this week, he could put up a monster game.
  • One final note: DO NOT play Sammie Coates, who is currently fourth on the depth chart at the wide receiver position. Over the last three weeks, Coates has averaged just 16 snaps per game.

Running Backs

Start Benny Cunningham if you’re in a pinch

For the Zero RB crowd, if you’re in desperate need of a running back this weekend look at Benny Cunningham to save the day. For whatever reason, Jeff Fisher seems to think Todd Gurley can’t handle a full workload which has led to Cunningham getting 22.7 snaps per game over the last three weeks. It’s not just that, Cunningham has a higher OI Rating (133.2% vs. 106.3%), more pass targets (13 vs. 8), and greater share of goal line OI (28.1% vs. 17.0%). If you think the Saints get out to a big lead on Sunday (currently seven-point favorites) then Cunningham is a consistent play. If you believe the game stays relatively close, then I’d love to target Gurley.

Jordan Howard the last man standing

jordan-howardLook, I get it. The Bears offense is a massive dumpster fire these days. That doesn’t mean there isn’t fantasy value to be had here. Over the last three weeks, Howard has the eighth-highest OI share (32.8%) among running backs and now with no Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, or Zach Miller, the Bears offense will likely be the Howard show with the occasional act from Jeremy Langford. The Titans rank 30th in adjusted +/- allowed (+0.54) to running backs in the passing game and Howard is coming off a game where he saw eight targets.

Melvin Gordon ready to pick up where he left off

Hopefully, you didn’t forget about Gordon over his bye week because over the last three weeks he leads all running backs with a whopping 48.6 percent OI share. Yes, he accounts for nearly half of his team’s opportunity. Usually, opportunity is enough to make the argument, but Gordon also gets a great matchup against a Texans defense that ranks bottom 10 in adjusted +/- allowed to running backs both on the ground (+0.48) and in the passing game (+0.14). Fire him up in DFS with confidence.

Spencer Ware a contrarian DFS play

The one area where the Broncos defense hasn’t dominated this season is against running backs so if the Chiefs have any prayer of competing on Sunday night it will come through Ware and possibly Charcandrick West or some Tyreke Hill trickery. The Broncos rank 19th in adjusted +/- to opposing running backs on the ground (+0.30) and 17th vs. running backs in the pass game (-0.16).

Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers

Russell Wilson déjà vu
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This season is setting up very similarly to 2015 where Wilson is starting to take over the league with his efficient passing attack. Over the last three weeks, Wilson ranks third in OI share (37.6%) and +/- (+0.13) despite rushing the ball just 10 times. This usage is only going to increase now that the Seahawks lost C.J. Prosise for the season. Both Jimmy Graham (+1.17 +/-) and Doug Baldwin (+1.60 +/-) have been super-efficient as a result, but it’s Jermaine Kearse (-0.84 +/-) who leads the team in OI share at 14.2 percent (24.0% goal line OI share).

Target the Raiders passing game

The Panthers 2016 season is nearly over, and it’s because their pass defense has been a complete mess all year. That’s not a good sign with Oakland’s efficient passing game coming into town. Over the last three weeks, Carr has faced the Broncos, had his bye week, and played the Texans in Mexico City. This week he faces a Panthers defense that has allowed a +0.50 adjusted +/- to opposing quarterbacks (ranks 26th) and +1.49 vs. opposing wide receivers (ranks 28th). This is an explosion spot for this pass offense.

Colin Kaepernick continues to rack up points

The Dolphins are usually a terrible team to target because they play at such a slow pace, but given the 49ers are the league’s fastest-paced team I think Kaepernick is OK in this spot. Over the last three weeks, Kaepernick ranks fourth in OI share (37.6%), fifth in +/- (+0.04), and sixth in fantasy points per game (22.5).

Time for Eagles pass catchers to step up

The Eagles are down to just Wendell Smallwood at the running back position so we should expect an uptick in usage for everyone in the passing game. That’s great news for the Eagles because they get to face a Packers defense that has struggled mightily vs. the pass over the last six weeks (32nd vs. wide receivers and 23rd vs. tight ends). If you’ve been holding onto Dorial Green-Beckham this is the time to throw him in your lineups. Also, Zach Ertz ranks second in OI share, which makes him a great option this week as well.

Tight Ends

Stack Kaepernick with Vance McDonald
If you’re looking for a contrarian stack in DFS, McDonald has a nice matchup against a Dolphins defense that ranks 26th in adjusted +/- (+2.21) vs. opposing tight ends. McDonald is getting more involved in the offense as he’s averaged 44 snaps over the last three games and ranks ninth in OI share (13.6%), second in +/- (+0.58), and seventh in fantasy points per game (11.7)

Will Tye time?

Tye has the top matchup for tight ends this weekend as he draws the Browns, who rank dead last in adjusted +/- allowed (+5.19) over the last six weeks. Furthermore, Tye’s 13.7 percent OI share ranks seventh among all tight ends over the last three weeks, and his 26.7 percent goal line share ranks first. He’s greatly underperformed his expected value with a -0.59 +/- (ranks 22nd out of 27 qualifying players) so he’s a great bounce-back candidate.

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About the author

George Fitopoulos

​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.

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