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Five Interesting Performances: Week 4

Week 4: Five Interesting Performances

So far in 2018, there has been an offensive explosion the likes of which we haven’t seen before. Week 4 was no exception and full of interesting performances. Here is five that made me take a second look…

Cooper Kupp, WR LA Rams

(I talked briefly about Cooper Kupp in my “Rapid Reaction” following the game but I wanted to go a little deeper now that I’ve had time to re-watch the game.)

In Week 4, under the lights of Thursday Night Football Cooper Kupp shined pretty bright. The Rams took on a team coming off an embarrassing loss to the Buffalo Bills but most people chalked it up to looking ahead to this matchup. Well, the defense might still have been looking forward as they surrendered 38 points. 38 points that went to all the main players in the Rams attack. The player that benefited most from Jared Goff’s career day was none other than their slot receiver. Kupp brought in nine receptions on 11 targets for 162 yards and two TDs. The best final line he’s had in his short career. Only once in 19 career games has he had a higher Yard per Target (14.73 Y/T) and Yard per Reception (18.0 Y/R) then he did Thursday.

He led The Rams dynamic wide receiver trio in Yards per Route Run (Y/RR) with 4.76 (Cooks 3.41/ Woods 2.89). All this while running the majority of routes from the slot (76.1% – prior to Week 4) and having two other wideouts on his team put up 100 plus yards. This was the first time we’ve seen all three weapons firing on all cylinders. Kupp’s day included a big-time 70 yard TD on which he weaved through the middle of the defense and cut upfield where he separated from the defense. A perfect pass and TOUCHDOWN! The other TD, a perfectly placed ball over two defenders and the young receiver hauled it in for the score. Goff continuously found him for chunk play after chunk play. Here’s a list of His targets from the Vikings game…

Week 4 Targets:

Target Number/ Quarter/ Down and Distance/ Location/ Yards/ Result (longest to shortest/ TDs, Red Zone, and End Zone Targets in Bold)

  • 3/ Second Qtr./ 2nd and 5/ Own 30/ 70 Yards/ TD
  • 8/ Third Qtr./ 1st and 10/ Own 37/ 27 Yards/ First Down
  • 6/ Second Qtr./ 1st and 10/ Min 19/ 19 Yards/ TD
  • 5/ Second Qtr./ 2nd and 5/ Own 34/ 11 Yards/ First Down
  • 7/ Second Qtr./ 1st and 10/ Own 27/ 11 Yards/ First Down
  • 10/ Forth Qtr./ 1st and 10/ Own 49/ 11 Yards/ First Down
  • 1/ First Qtr./ 1st and 10/ Own 36/ 10 Yards/ First Down
  • 2/ First Qtr./ 1st and 10/ Min 22/ 8 Yards/ 2nd and 2
  • 9/ Third Qtr./ 1st and 10/ Min 19/ -5 Yards/ 2nd and 15
  • 4/ Second Qtr./ 3rd and 3/ Own 32/ Incomplete – Goff hit on play.
  • 11/ Forth Qtr./ 3rd and 10/ Min 10/ Incomplete – Pass Defensed (End Zone Target)

Kupp had 7 receptions for 10 or more yards. Five receptions that resulted in a first down, with two that went for a TD. His lone reception for less than eight yards may have been for negative yardage but the Rams were in the red zone. This is still a positive for his future outlook. The more opportunities near the end zone the better. One of his two targets he couldn’t haul in was an end zone target. Kupp was a defender’s hand away from an even bigger day.

2018 Season 

16 Game Pace – Catch 96/128 Targets, 75% Catch %, 1,392 Yards, 16 TDs

Since Week 1, Kupp’s production has gone up each week. Yards, Yards per Reception, and Yards per Target have all seen increases in each contest.

  • Yards Week 1 – 4 (52, 63, 71, 162)
  • Y/R Weeks 1- 4 (10.4, 10.5, 17.75, 18)
  • Y/T Weeks 1 – 4 (5.78, 10.5, 11.83, 14.73)

On The Way Up

Prior to Week 4, Kupp was already seeing upticks in…

  • Snap Share – He is on the field for 22% more of the snaps last year (98.1%/76.1%).
  • % of Routes Run – Running a route on 10.6% more of those snaps (96%/85.4%).
  • Target Share – Receiving 4.1% more of the team’s targets (23.9%/19.7%).
  • RedZone Target Share – Getting 2.3% more of the targets in the red zone (31.8%/29.5%).
  • YAC – Getting .6 more Yards After Contact (YAC – 4.5/ 3.9).
  • Catch % – Catching a higher percentage of his targets (75%/ 66%).
  • TD % – Catching a TD on double the percentage of his targets (16.7%/8%).

These increases tell us two things. Firstly, the trust the team and the quarterback have in Kupp is growing more and more every week. Secondly, he’s growing as a player and becoming a more productive wideout. Everything is not up from last year though as his EndZone Target percentage (20%/-4% from ’17), Air Yards per Target (4.4/-.9 from ’17), Yards per Route Run (1.92/-1.5 from ’17), and Average Depth of Target  (8/-1.5 from ’17) are all slightly down from 2017. This type of thing should be expected. Running a higher percent of routes from the slot can be a cause for all of these. After Week 4 through these four metrics will all increase.

Rest Of Season

So do I believe this can continue? Can Cooper Kupp catch 90 plus passes, for nearly 1400 yards, and 16 TDs? My short answers are yes, maybe, and no. This is probably going to be the best game he has all year. In no way is this me being negative. I’m being realistic. So 88.8% of the targets on the Rams go to four players (Gurley – 14.9%/ Cooks – 24.6%/ Woods – 25.4%/ Kupp – 23.9%). Hence, he’s going to be heavily involved.

Thursdays Game shows us he has the potential to get the yardage but slot receivers run shorter routes by the nature of the position. They also run them closer to the Center where a lot of tacklers await. That will make it tough. The 16 TDs is the easiest to doubt his potential for. There’s just too many weapons getting the ball on a consistent basis. Kupp should be an every week starter in every league except maybe an eight-teamer though. You want a part of this offense.

Andrew Luck, QB IND Colts

So you were worried about Andrew Luck’s shoulder? You thought he couldn’t throw it deep? Well in Week 4 he did his best to ease your concerns.

In 65 minutes of football, Luck let the ball fly 62 times in Week 4. This is the most passing attempts the quarterback has ever had. This was surprising to me. Luck has never been shy about throwing the ball downfield. Furthermore, the Colts even Left him in for the end of the game Hail Marry. Last week they didn’t trust him to do this and brought Jacoby Brissett in to make the final heave. It seems like the shoulder has healed up. Certainly, it took overtime to get there but its still a very positive sign for Luck going forward.

Week 4: The Final Line

Luck’s final line in week 4 is as such. He completed 40/62 passing attempts. As a result, the Indi QB threw for 464 yards and 4 TDs and 0 INTs. All Season highs in ’18.  Most noteworthy for me is the increase in attempts. A 33.4% increase from his Weeks 1-3 averages to week 4. As I stated above, 62 attempts are not only a season high. it’s a career high.  So again, it would appear he’s healthy.

16 Game pace after Week 3 – 453.3/661.3, 3530.7 Yards, 26.6 TD, 16 INT

16 Game pace after Week 4 – 500/744, 4504 Yards, 36 TD, 12 INT

So you can see above. Weeks 1-3 it seems like Luck was holding back. This was not the case in week 4. With little to no running and a strong defensive line, Luck was forced to throw repeatedly. Along with the obvious season high in attempts and completions Luck also had season highs in Yards (464), TDs (4), QB Rating (108.5), Yards per Attempt (6.1), Adjusted Yards per Attempt (6.3), Yards per Completion (9), and TD% (4.8). Robert Turbin could return and give the Colts a physical running presence that they currently lack. He is not the type of running back that will make all the difference though. I believe Luck is ready to take flight.

2018 Rest Of Season

Week 4 was a reminder of the man that used to lead the league in air yards. There was zip on the ball we hadn’t seen in two seasons and volume we had never seen. The injury to Ty Hilton will need to be monitored as he is not expected to be available for Week 5 (hamstring). But we saw a bit of the explosiveness that fantasy owners had been waiting for. Even in a week with a season-low in targets and receptions (6/4), Luck was able to connect with Hilton for 115 yards and a 19.7 Yard Per Target that is greater than Weeks 1- 3 combined.

So All Is Well?

Not exactly… The lack of a running game through the first quarter of the season is definitely an issue. Luck had 62 attempts but this is not a model for success for any quarterback. Let alone one that essentially missed two years due to shoulder injuries.

Furthermore, the Colts offensive line is nothing to marvel at. Their ranked 22 (per ProFootballFocus) with a left tackle position that has been a revolving door so far in 2018. Not good I’d say. But Luck was able to overcome and put up some big-time production. We will see if this continues in the coming weeks. For these two reasons combined with the injury concern that was eased, but is still present things can change at any moment. With one hit or too many throws for the shoulder to handle, the panic will immediately return. But as it stands right now. Luck should be again considered a locked in every week starter…

…Like he once was.

Corey Davis, WR TEN Titans

The Corey Davis truthers are rejoicing. The second-year wideout finally had the breakout game they had waited for.

The Breakout

Davis’ day was the highest volume of usage he’s had in a game so far in his young career. First of all, he had by far the biggest yardage game of his career with 161. This is more than his first three games of ’18 combined. The previous high in yards was 91 in Week 15 last year. Yes, this happened in an overtime game but it was still a big positive sign for Davis’ Rest of Season (ROS) outlook. Another big-time plus from this game for his ROS is the number of targets he received. 15 targets! A career high. The absence of Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews will more than likely assure this number stays high. Maybe not 15 every week but double digits should not be out of the question.

Davis also had career highs in receptions (9), Yards per Reception (17.89), and Yards per Target (10.73). The climax of Corey Davis Day in Tennessee came in overtime. With 5:05 left in OT. Marcus Mariota hit Davis for the game winning touch down. A fantastic leaping catch with two defenders in the area that he was able to control to the ground.

Big Play Ability

So as you can see below Davis continuously pulled in big play after big play against the Super Bowl champs.

(Corey Davis 10+ yard receptions/ Longest to shortest/TD in bold) – Target Number/ Quarter/ Down and Distance/ Location/ Yards/ Result

  • 5/ Third/ 1st and 10/ Own 25/ 51 Yards/ First Down
  • 1/ First/ 3rd and 3/ Own 25/ 28 Yards/ First Down
  • 2/ First/ 1st and 10/ Own 25/ 25 Yards/ First Down
  • 4/ Third/ 3rd and 1/ Own 34/ 20 Yards/ First Down
  • 3/ Second/ 1st and 10/ Own 25/ 17 Yards/ First Down
  • 9/ OT/ 3rd and 10/ Phi 10/ q0 Yards/ Game winning TD

Davis also hauled in another catch in OT to convert a 2nd and 1. Also, he was big on third down for the Titans with there third down conversions. The final conversion resulted in the game-winning score.

Should We Expect This Moving Forward

Finally, what to expect. The fact that Davis had career highs in so many statistical categories is only the first good sign he had. Also, there is the Titans run game. The tandem of Tennessee backs hasn’t been much of a threat on the ground. Neither Derrick Henry or Dion Lewis has rushed for more than 75 yards (Henry 56, Lewis 75). Another big factor in Davis’ ROS value is Mariota looking healthy. He hasn’t been the greatest deep ball QB as we see in this heat map (Red the least amount of Attempts, Green the Most)…

…But it was working on this day. This is one of the biggest reasons Davis will boom or bust. If Mariota can keep getting healthy and stay that way. A big if, I know but if the Titans’ QB can manage to play the rest of the season Davis should be able to have a few more big games like this. Also be the Titans’ target hog like he was in Week 4 (34.8% target share).

Calvin Ridley, WR ATL Falcons

On November 26, 2017, Julio Jones caught 12 passes on 15 targets for 253 yards and two TDs. This is the last time number 11 for the Atlanta Falcons crossed the goal line. In that span, Jones has seen 93 targets, caught 51 of them and compiled 907 yards. That’s over 100 yards a game without scoring once. It’s so strange that the law of averages hasn’t even things out and let him get one TD. As confusing as it is because they do target him in the red zone, it is what it is at this point. Eventually, Jones will score but in the meantime, the rookie wideout from the ATL is thriving.

A Touchdown Machine

In Weeks 2 through 4 Ridley has been nothing short of spectacular. He is averaging 6.3 targets and five receptions, a 78.9% catch rate, 17.6 Y/R and 13.89 Y/T to go with 88 yards a game. Those numbers alone would be impressive for a rookie. Even more so because the potential Hall of Famer who gets most of the targets that he plays with is still a monster. But there’s another stat that’s just as impressive if not more so. The stat that Jones owners crave. The touchdown, and Ridley has six of them in three games.

Ridley’s TD receptions

(Longest to shortest) – Week number/Quarter/ Yards

  • 3/ Second/ 75 Yards
  • 4/ Forth/ 30 Yards
  • 3/ First/ 18 Yards
  • 2/ Second/ 11 Yards
  • 4/ Second/ 11 Yards
  • 3/ Third/ 9 Yards

So you can see above that Ridley has the potential to score from all over the field. But the work in the red zone is what I find most interesting. Four of his TDs came from inside the 20 Yard line. Most notably three from the 11-yard line in. It’s a little surprising as we see here…

Generally, To thrive in the red zone you have to be tall and have some leaping ability. Ridley showed the speed at the combine but no ability to jump. Never the less he’s getting it done. This is a big deal. This tells us Matt Ryan trusts the young wideout when it matters. This can be a tough thing to achieve for any rookie and the fact that Ridley has done it so fast is a great sign moving forward.

Will He Keep Scoring?

So should we expect this moving forward? Coming out of college He was on the top of many peoples WR draft rankings. But the short answer, no. Obviously two Tds a game is unsustainable. We know this from there literally never being a wide receiver that has done it before. This doesn’t mean he will be unproductive though. It just means temper your expectations a bit. I know the three-week stretch has been fantastic for your teams. Julio will score though and the Falcons starting running back will return as well. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are always threats to score from anywhere on the field.

Jameis Winston, QB TB Bucs

So we’re looking at the whole of Jameis Winston’s and Marcus Mariota’s career above. As you can see if you were just looking at the finishes, Marcus Mariota definitely looks like the better quarterback so far in their young careers. But Winston had a stretch to end the 2017 season the likes of which Mariota has never seen.

2017 Weeks 13-17 Totals

Over this stretch, Winston was the number one fantasy quarterback. He did this while completing 123/183 attempts for a 67.21 completion %. He totaled 1584 yards, nine TDs, and five INTs. Also, Winston gave you a little on the ground with 18 rushing attempts for 84 yards and another TD.

Week 4 Line

Now Winston was brought in for an extremely tough situation. The Buccaneers were down to the Chicago Bears 35 to 0 at halftime. Ryan Fitzpatrick had done so much over the first three weeks of the season that it seemed like he would have to get injured to lose the starting job. But no, he just had to put up the first half like this…

Completed 9/18 attempts, 50%, 126 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

Now Winston’s wasn’t terrific but with the scenario, he was given (Down 35 – 0) and being that this was his first real game action we can forgive him. Parts of his game were actually very good.

Completed 16/20 attempts, 80%, 145 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

So as we look at this the only real issue is the turnovers. But in the past, Winston hasn’t been the greatest when it comes to protecting the ball. So again not surprising. What was surprising though was his 80% completion percentage. This is 18.9% higher than his career average. Some of this can be attributed the Bears defense playing a little safe in the second half as they had the big lead. Also though, the amount of weapons the Bucs have in 2018 is the best he’s had. Three legit wideouts, and a tight end that he loves in Cameron Brate would help any QB. The OJ Howard loss will hurt as he was proving to be an explosive playmaker but Brate will perform well enough to keep tight end a reliable weapon for Jameis. The volume will also be no problem as Tampa lacks both a running game and a defense. Maybe not the number one QB but I see Winston as an every week starter moving forward.


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