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FFStatistics Five Interesting Performances: Week 8

So, another week in Fantasy Football has come and gone. It’s crazy to think we’re at the halfway point of the regular season and even further in the Fantasy Season. Week 8 definitely answered some questions for owners. At the same time though it still leaves us with plenty of questions to ask. In this edition of the FFStatistics Five Interesting Performances, I’m going to do my best to answer some of these questions for you. Let’s see if we can figure some of these situations out.

Five Interesting Performances: Week 8

Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore, RBs Miami Dolphins

Has Drake Taken Over?

On Thursday Night, long waiting fantasy owners got the game they expected to see many times this year but have usually been left wanting. Kenyan Drake had himself a day against the Houston Texans. He scored twice and came up just shy of 100 yards on the day (95 Total –  58 Rushing/ 37 Receiving). Drake has come on of late (Four TDs in four games.). In this game, he gave owners that are still starting him a big-time reward scoring 21.5 standard league points (22.5 .5PPR/ 23.5 Full point PPR). This has to make you feel good if you held on to the Dolphins running back.

So what about the other half of the Miami duo? Was this another step toward the end for the man should be called the “Energizer Bunny” because he just keeps going? He was definitely out produced in this game by the much younger Drake. Gore had just 58 yards in the contest and failed to find the end zone for the fourth straight game (Seven of eight overall.). Just a mere 5.8 points in a standard league (6.3 in .5 PPR/ 6.8 in Full PPR). Drake outscored Gore for the third time in four games. Certainly, it appears that the changing of the guard is in full effect. But is it really?

The Usage

{Snap %/ Snap Count/ Total Opportunities (Targets – Receptions – Rush Attempts)/ Red Zone Attempts/ Short Yardage Opportunities/ Negative Yardage Plays}/ Percent of Opportunities per Snaps Played

Kenyan Drak – 56.1%/ 37/ 14 (2 – 2 – 12)/ 1/ 1/ 2/ 37.8%

Frank Gore – 43.9%/ 29/ 14 (2 – 1 – 12)/ 0/ 2/ 2/ 48.3%

So, as you see above if you were just to look at the fantasy points and the stats following the game it clearly sways they view of the RB tandem. Take a closer look into the game and it might give you just a little bit different view. Clearly, Drake does have the current advantage but it still isn’t as big of an advantage as the final line would hint at.

The two backs had the exact same amount of opportunities and roughly the same amount of rushing yards. They each had two targets and actually, Gore caught another pass that was called back due to penalty. Drake absolutely made the most of his chances scoring both on the ground and through the air. Let’s take a closer look at both of his touchdowns though. They were both a little… Let’s say flukey…

First Touchdown

With 4:58 in the first quarter Drake was able to punch in an easy walk in 12 yard TD around the right side. Now nothing about this run was a fluke but should it have ever happened? The answer is probably no. Prior to Drake crossing the goal line, the Texans thought they had held the Dolphins to a Field Goal. On the successful FG attempt, a very questionable flag was thrown giving Miami a fresh set of downs. As a result, Drake gets you a 7.2 point play.

Second Touchdown

At the 4:55 mark in the third quarter Drake crossed the goal line for the second time of the game. He caught a 28-yard pass for the TD. So why was this play flukey? Well, it was thrown to him by Danny Amendola… That’s definitely not who normally throws the passes although maybe he should be. He threw a pretty nice touch pass to Drake but this isn’t something to expect on the regular. At the snap, Drake acted like he was going to block and the pass went to Amendola. As the defenders drifted to their right, Drake went to their left and was wide open down the sideline for the score.

What To Expect

So finally, what does the outlook moving forward appear to be? Well, to be honest, I’d really expect more of the same. I know that’s not what the Drake owners want to hear but even though the younger back has been producing more for you in fantasy, the Dolphins don’t make decisions based on the same things we do. In competitive games or games that the Dolphins are the underdog, I’d tend to give Drake the advantage. Games that Miami is favored, Gore will tend to get more work and it doesn’t appear this will change any time soon. It’s worked for the backfield to go this route as opposed to the reverse they were doing at the beginning of the season.

Moving forward Drake is a low-end RB2 to flex in a tough matchup in my opinion. The ol’ man Frank Gore is still Flex play viable in a good matchup but I’d sit him in a tough one. Drake will definitely be better moving forward. Just don’t expect this every week from the tandem.

James Conner, RB Pittsburgh Steelers

Another 30+ Point PPR Performance

In Week 8 James Conner came through for his Fantasy Owners in a big way. With 212 total yards (146 rushing/ 66 receiving), five receptions on six targets and two scores, Conner had his fourth game netting 30 or more PPR fantasy points of the season. In fact outside of a Week 4 game against one of the leagues top defenses in Baltimore, Conner hasn’t put up single-digit PPR points all year. This game wasn’t interesting because he overcame a tough matchup. In Week 1 Conner had just shy of 200 total yards and two scores against this same team. It wasn’t interesting because he broke a record or made the play of the year. It was interesting to me because he’s just been good. Very good, Le’Veon Bell good. In a different way, yes, but the production can absolutely be compared to the Pro-Bowlers.

How Good Has He Been, Really?

Below are the 2018 season for James Conner and the 2017 season for Le’Veon Bell. These graphs show you the percentage of games that each player finished in the Top five, top 12, and so on. Remember when looking at these that Conner has only played seven games this year. In contrast, Bell played 15 games last year. Each game will have slightly less impact on the overall number for Bell as the production is more spread out. Bell Had seven total games (All with 25+ PPR Points.) where he finished inside the top five at running back. Conner has three such finishes in less than half the season. Also, Bell had five games with 30+ PPR points and if you remember from above, Conner has four. So Far…

 

How Can You Take This Mans Job?

Now a lot of people have said this is a one-man job. For good reason though as Mike Tomlin has shown in his past he likes using only one back. We’ve even seen a scenario like this before, right? DeAngelo Williams was great for the Steelers in 2015. Which is correct, Williams was great for Pittsburgh when he received the starting role in 2015. As you can see below, though Williams was a very productive back he was nowhere near the point producer Conner has been on average. Even Bell has only outdone what Conner has done once in a season (2016).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is also a bit of a different situation than that was. Williams was in the twilight of his career and the Steelers couldn’t wait to get Bell back from injury. James Conner is their guy. Drafted by the team in the third round in the 2017 draft they obviously liked what they saw. Then there is the story. Conner has overcome cancer and the team and city are behind him. Then toss in the Le’Veon Bell holdout. The team has been trying to trade him per reports and we really just don’t know what’s gonna happen when or if he returns. My advice would be to hold Conner. Unless you can get a haul for him. Even if Bell does return to the Steelers, I just don’t see how you can sit this man down.

David Njoku, TE Cleveland Browns

What Happened?

Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 Passing Defense Heatmap (Prior To Week 8)

 

 

 

 

 

So, as you can see above the weakness of the Steelers passing defense should have played right into David Njoku having a solid day. Pittsburgh has been giving up a high completion rate on passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Furthermore, they are well below average on passes in the deep middle of the field. These are the areas that a tight end generally does his damage. Lastly, the Browns were down big in this game and in a game script that should be good for the pass catchers. They should have been able to attack the Steelers as other teams have.

2018 Game Log: Pittsburgh vs The Tight End Position

  1. @ Cle – Caught 4/7 Targets for 25 Yards. (Njoku – Caught 3/7 Targets, 13 Yards)
  2. vs K.C. – Caught 7/10 Targets for 109 Yards and two TDs.
  3. @ T.B. – Caught 9/12 Targets for 108 Yards and one TD.
  4. vs Bal – Caught 10/12 Targets for 99 Yards.
  5. vs Atl – Caught 10/13 Targets for 85 Yards.
  6. @ Cin – Caught 6/7 Targets for 54 Yards.
  7. vs Cle – Caught 3/4 Targets for 34 Yards and One TD. (Njoku – Caught 0/0 Targets)

But they were unsuccessful. In fact, Njoku gave you absolutely nothing. Not even a target. He has had a zero reception game before but he at least received three targets in that one. After four straight solid performances fantasy owners had begun to trust him. This was a big time let down for them. As you can see above though the Steelers has only held a team collectively at the tight end position to less than 54 yards twice (In Bold). Both of These were against the Browns. It appears that Pittsburgh just knows how to defend the position when facing this NFC North rival.

Moving Forward

Njoku’s four games prior to Sunday had people locking him in as a middle TE1. His average game during that stretch is catching 5.5/9 targets for 57 yards and half a TD. In contrast, we can compare Njoku to Rob Gronkowski. In Gronk’s previous 4 games, he has an average of 66.8 yards a game while catching 4.3 of his 5.8 targets a game. He has not crossed the goal line since week one which is now the longest streak of his career, “six games.” Now I am not comparing the two players at this point in their careers, I am simply using this to show the volatility of the position. The smallest signs of life get people excited and at the first sign of failure, people panic.

In my opinion, Njoku is a TE1 moving forward. He has outperformed Rob Gronkowski in the previous four games and this is no small feat. This is the TE position though, and sometimes you are going to have to take your lumps. If somebody panics and drops him or is in a hurry to trade, and you are currently streaming the position, I would make a play for him.

Latavius Murrey, RB Minnesota Vikings

Coming Through In A Tough Matchup

New Orleans Saints 2018 Rushing Defense Heatmap (Prior To Week 8)

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday The Minnesota Vikings took on the number one rushing defense in the league. The New Orleans Saints prior to Week 8 were giving up less than three yards every time opposing backs take a handoff. Latavious Murray was able to tote the rock 13 times for 56 yards in a game where the Vikings trailed the entire second half. Eight of them coming in that sane half. He was able to punch in a goal-line carry as well when he skied high over the top of the pile. Finally but every bit as important to his day was the 6 targets he received. Murray caught five of them for an additional 39 yards to bring his total to 95 for the day. Four of these receptions came in the fourth quarter on the Vikings final two drives when they absolutely had to score.

The Day Could Have Been Bigger

Even with the tough matchup, the Vikings running back could have had an even bigger day. Three other backs carried the ball for Minnesota on Sunday night and though the three only totaled six carries. One of these came on the goal line on the Vikings first TD drive. Later in the game, they again found themselves on the goal line. This was in the fourth quarter in hurry-up mode but Murray owners would have been ok with one crack at it. We’re not going to be the “Week 8 angry Todd Gurley owners” though.

So Is this a James Conner/Le’Veon Bell “Light” situation? It might be. Murray didn’t start out very hot but has picked it up as of late. Over the last three weeks, he is the RB5 in standard scoring leagues (RB6 in 1/2 Point/ RB7 in PPR).

Fantasy Rankings Through Week 8

Standard               1/2 Point               Full Point

  1. T. Gurley              Same                     Same
  2. K. Hunt                Same                     Same
  3. M. Mack              S. Barkley               Same as 1/2
  4. J. Conner             M. Mack                 Same as 1/2
  5. L. Murray             J. Conner                J. White
  6. S. Barkley             L. Murray               J. Conner
  7. T. Cohen              J. White                  L. Murray

     Sammy Watkins, WR Kansas City Chiefs 

Was It Just His Turn?

The amount of weapons the Kansas City Chiefs has might seem like a lot. and it is but for fantasy It’s kind of a three-man show. Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill tend to hog up all the consistent work. All three are one of the top options at their position. Somebody else always has a decent day but it’s been a tough thing to try and predict. Well, the fourth weapon in Week 8 was someone who has the talent to be the WR1 for a lot of teams around the league.

Denver Broncos 2018 Passing Defense Heatmap (Prior To Week 8)

 

 

 

 

 

Denver Broncos 2018 Rushing Defense Heatmap (Prior To Week 8)

 

 

 

 

 

Sammy Watkins had himself a day, folks! By far the best fantasy day of his 2018 season. Only one other time this year had he gotten 100+ yards. Likewise, a TD. This though was the first time he had put the two together and even added a second TD for any owners still starting him. His final line was 107 yards on 8/9 targets with two scores. This game was a little odd in that Denver has been getting gashed this year in the run game outside of the game that got Mike McCoy fired in AZ. Their passing defense hasn’t been great but it has been better than their run defense. Kareem Hunt was lined up for a big day but was only able to total 50 yards. He saved his day with five receptions and a fantastic, tackle breaking, defender hurdling TD reception.

If Tyreek Hill Is Out

As you can see below In Andy Reid’s coaching history, only once has his WR2 out-touched his WR1. Not that this is uncommon around the league but it,s been six years since then and the reception numbers haven’t been to close. So for this to continue, we would need Tyreek Hill’s current groin injury to keep him out an extended period of time. With the things Hill does well, they might want to be careful with him. At the least Watkins should be a viable option for one more week I would think, but he is usable as long as Hill is out. Keep an eye on the practice reports in the coming weeks.

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