In Week 11 of the NFL season, rookies were the talk of the town. Whether they were good or bad, the young guys dominated headlines. We saw players we thought we could trust let us down, some players that just broke through the door of the fantasy landscape, and players we knew had it in them, finally come through. This was definitely a week to look not only at the “Now” but toward the future as well. In honor of the debut of “TheYouthMovementPodcast,” the newest podcast to join the FFS family. We’re going to take a look at some rookies that everyone should be looking at as the fantasy season winds down. Get your notepads out and let’s scout a few of the guys making a name for themselves in 2018, in this weeks FFStatistics…
Five Interesting Performances
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR Green Bay Packers
Marques Valdez-Scantling was entering Week 11 looking like he was in a big-time spot. He was coming off a five-game stretch in which he averaged 4.2 receptions on 6.8 targets for 72.2 yards and just under half a touchdown (0.4 TD). That’s a pace of 67 receptions on 109 targets for 1,155 yards and six touchdowns. Not too bad…
Weeks 5-10 (Week 7 Bye)
- @ DET- Caught 7/10 targets, 68 yards, and scored once.
- vs SF- Caught 3/6 targets, 103 yards.
- @ LAR- Caught 2/5 targets, 45 yards, and scored once.
- @ NE- Caught 3/6 targets, 101 yards.
- vs MIA- Caught 6/7 targets, 44 yards.
- @ SEA- Caught 1/3 targets, eight yards.
Vales-Scantling saw his fewest targets and receptions since Week 4 when he had the same amount of targets and receptions. His lone catch went for 38 in that game though. He had more AirYards on that one catch (31) than he did in the whole of Week 11 (14). So what changed for the receiver?
Process > Result
So I wanted to look a little past the boxscore here. Sometimes it doesn’t tell the story.
As crazy as it might seem, MVS has actually played on three more snaps over the last two games than Davante Adams. This was, in fact, the fourth time in the last six games that this has happened.
As you can see above there is only a difference of eight snaps between the two receivers. So, MVS is playing about as much as Adams in an Aaron Rodgers led offense without Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb active. Jimmy Graham also exited this game early with an injury. Where was the usage? Seattle has been a better defense than expected but they also haven’t faced a Hall Of Fame list of quarterbacks either. Seattle’s pass defense is ranked 12th in the league which isn’t bad but you would think that Rodger’s would have been able to get MVS more involved.
Mis-Cast In The Slot
So MVS has bookended a solid stretch with two one reception, three target games. Even though they are the same outside of the yards, they are not really the same if that makes any sense. I’ll explain, don’t worry.
(Quarter/ Score/ Time/ Location/ Down and Distance/ Alignment/ Route/ Est. Yards of Separation at the point/ Yards (AirYards)/ Result/ Notes)
Week 11 Targets/ @ Seattle
- First/ 14-3/ 1:34/ GB 34/ 1st and 10/ Outside/ 12 yard Comeback/ 1/ 0 (10)/ Inc/ Ball thrown to far up and away.
- Fourth/ 24-27/ 5:05/ GB 25/ 2nd and 10/ Slot/ 3 yard out/ 5/ 8 (3)/ 2nd and 2/ MVS caught this short out route then had to cut inside and run about 25-30 yards to gain the five yards after contact he got.
- Fourth/ 24-27/ 4:23/ GB 33/ 3rd and 2/ Slot/ 3 yard out/ 5/ 0 (3)/ Inc/ From a distance this ball just looks like a bad throw from Rodgers. When looking into the play a little closer a Seattle defender was in front of the Packers quarterback and was able to get a hand up. Rodgers had to hold the ball just a split second longer than he would have liked to be able to get the ball past the defender’s hand causing a low throw.
Week 4 Targets/ @ Buffalo
- Second/ 13-0/ 0:18/ Buf 49/ 2nd and 10/ Slot/ 3 Yard Out/ 3/ 0 (2)/ Inc/ This was just a bad throw by Aaron Rodgers. MVS had separation and the ball was thrown to far low and away from the receiver.
- Third/ 19-0/ 4:36/ Buf 36/ 4th and 3/ Outside/ 5 Yard Dig/ 0/ 0 (4)/ Inc/ The defender jumps the route here and the Packers are lucky it didn’t result in six points the other way.
- Fourth/ 19-0/ 4:09/ GB 34/ 3rd and 3/ Motions from the slot to the outside/ Go/ 1/ 38 (31)/ First Down/ On a 3rd and 3 with a three-score lead Rodgers went for it all here. The throw was to MVS’s inside shoulder a little too far and his momentum took him to the turf. Seven YAC.
So targets from the slot have been proven to be more valuable than targets on the outside. The receiver runs shorter routes making less time for the ball to travel from QB to WR. Fewer AirYards for the ball to travel makes for a higher catch rate. With Randall Cobb injured, MVS has been moved largely into the slot so shouldn’t the tall fast receiver be able to take advantage here?
Well, what we failed to realize is that the Seattle Seahawks are somewhat beatable on the outside, they are one of two teams to not allow a touchdown from the slot position in 2018. With Green Bay leading through a large portion of the game, they didn’t need to pass a lot early. Also with Aaron Jones running well and Davante Adams wrecking the Seattle cornerbacks, there just wasn’t a lot of usage left for Valdez-Scantling.
So Seattle is one of the teams at defending the slot. Well, the opponent in Week 12 is not. Minnesota has good outside coverage but they are not the greatest on the inside. The Vikings defense is getting back to its 2017 form but MVS should be able to rebound here with Xavier Rhodes on Adams.
R.O.S. Schedule (Week/ Opponent/ Def Rank (Pass Def Rank)/ Notes
- 12/ @ Min/ 5 (7)/ Rhodes should be on Adams.
- 13/ vs ARI/ 17 (4)/ Peterson on Adams.
- 14/ vs ATL/ 28 (28)/ Terrible defense all around due to an abundance of injuries.
- 15/ @ CHI/ 3 (11)/ Cobb had a monster game playing from the slot. Caught 9 passes for 142 yards and a score in their last game.
- 16/ @ NYJ/ 18 (16) Been better than the i
- 17/ vs DET/ 19 (13) “Snacks” Harrison has improved their run defense by around 2 yards a carry.
The Packers have a couple tough matchups in Minnesota and Chicago but the weakness of those defenses is the passing game. The rest of the games are beatable matchups. MVS should be able to bounce back this week and moving forward. Don’t expect this again though. With all the injuries and Equanimous St Brown looking lost, I have him as a WR3 with high-end WR2 Upside.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR New Orleans Saints
Well, now that was exciting! The truthers have been waiting for this. Tre’Quan Smith brought in 10 receptions on 13 targets for 157 yards and a score. Smith had more targets and yards this week that he had in the previous four weeks combined (13,85). He also had 1 fewer reception than the previous 5 weeks combined (11). So if you look at Smith’s combine metrics web graph, it appears that the specialty for the young wideout is running fast and jumping high. Well in Week 12, he did just that. I’m not going to focus on the balls he caught though. I’m going to look at the deep balls he didn’t catch I’ll do my best to tell you why this is actually a positive.
Week 11 Incompletions/ Process > Result, Again
(Quarter/ Alignment/ Route/ AirYards/ Notes)
- First/ Bunch formation to the right, Smith is the furthest outside/ He runs a 10 yard out. Hesitates off the line than turns on that speed at the top of the route/ 3 AirYards/ This is a big deal because it was the oh so valuable End Zone target. In to double coverage even! Smith Tweeted following the game. He stated that Drew Brees asked him if he knew why he got this target. “Because I trust you” was the QB’s answer… Enough said… Brees was looking for Smith to use that leaping ability I mentioned before.
- First/ Outside to the right, Goes in motion across the field. Left slot/ Smith runs a three-yard slant that he carries up the field./ 20 AirYards/ Tre’quan is getting deep shots early in games! But I thought the passing game was going to take a dip when the two-headed RB monster got rolling… Nope! Also, it is easy to see when he turns on the speed. Has shown great acceleration.
- Second/ In the slot to the left/ Smith ran something in between a 10-yard slant and a dig (Starts like a slant but he flattens out)/ 17 AirYards/ He is even getting deeper targets when Tayson Hill is in the game. This wasn’t a pretty target but still important to note.
The fact that Smith has earned the trust of the future Hall of Famer is a huge deal. Brees is playing possibly the best ball of his career. He is averaging 25.7 completions on 33.4 attempts for an unreal 76.9%. His 25 touchdowns in 2018 are already two more than ’17 (23 TD) and his quarterback rating is a jaw-dropping 126.9. Brees’ previous high was a 109.6Rate in his Super Bowl-winning 2009 season. You want the receivers that this man is tied too. Especially if he is going to get a target share as he did in Week 11 (43%). This obviously is expecting a little much. Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are going to get their work but this game could be the start of a trend. Even the one trick pony Ted Ginn Jr had value with the Brees high-value targets.
Week/ Opponent (Pass Def Rank)
- 12/ vs ATL (29)
- 13/ @ DAL (10)
- 14/ @ T.B. (28)
- 15/ @ CAR (20)
- 16/ vs PIT (7)
- 17/ vs CAR (20)
There are definitely some beatable matchups coming for the Saints. With how the Saints are playing every matchup might be beatable. I have Smith as a high-end WR3 with a TON of upside any given week moving forward.
The Gus Edwards and Alex Collins Situation, RB Baltimore Ravens
Well, this was unexpected. Even more so when you realize Alex Collins started this game and scored an early touchdown. Edwards just put up 115 yards on 17 carries and added in a touchdown and a 2pt conversion. So what happened here? We know the Ravens have a habit of playing multiple backs every week but usually, the snap count’s are similar between the two lead backs but a third player always gets a few snaps.
Edwards just played in more snaps in Week 11 than he had in all the other games he’s been active, combined (Week 6 through 9 -31/ Week 11 – 48).
Alex Collins Who?
Collins started the game and had seven carries for 18 yards and a score. After he scored, Collins owners thought they were going to river dance their way to a great fantasy day right alongside Collins. He had five carries by the 1:26 mark in the first quarter. Only once more though did he touch the ball before the half. worse for Collins still, only one touch in the second half. Something made the Baltimore coaching staff make the switch though. John Harbaugh expressed his excitement for a running back that got north and south and got up the field. So I watched Alex Collins Touches from Week 11. The coach was definitely taking a shot with that comment because Collins left some production on the table. Remember that a four-yard hard run is better than dancing behind the line only to gain a yard.
Week 11 Touches That Could Have Been More
- 12:54 First Qtr/ 2 Yard Carry- If Collins plants his left foot and cuts hard to the right, there was more than two yards to gain here. Maybe it was only another yard or two but every yard matters.
- 12:09 First Qtr/ No Gain- This is a weird formation. There are three linemen in front of Jackson and Collins. Three players out wide on each side. At the snap, Collins can pick from two open holes. Neither side was going to be a big gain unless he broke a tackle but instead, Collins studder steps and by the time he is done a defender has ahold of him. There were three to five yards left on the field.
- 1:45 First Qtr/ Collins ran straight into the pile here. If he had cut to the left he would have been in a one on one situation.
- 3:38 Second Qtr/ 5 Yard Carry – Collins gains five yards here but he might have been able to score. Collins takes the handoff up the middle and about three yards past the line of scrimmage, he cuts to the right. Directly into a tackler and right as the hole in front of him, had he kept going forward, opens up. Collins would have been in a one on one tackling situation again.
Alex Collins can break tackles and he runs hard but that’s about it. He did show good acceleration the edge on his touchdown run but I can definitely see where the coaches were coming from. There’s very little lateral movement and he has some wiggle but it’s in super slow motion though. He needs to put his head down and go.
To say that I have a ton of faith in Edwards would be a lie but you have to definitely think he should get the crack at the lead role again. Remember though, this is the Ravens and last week was the first time all year that only one back played on 34% or more of the snaps. Edwards blew that number away playing on 62% of the snaps last week. I wouldn’t rush to start Gus Edwards just yet unless you have to have a back, but I would give him an add or at the least a look. With how excited Harbaugh was, maybe a new workhorse has arrived… Maybe…
Lamar Jackson, QB Baltimore Ravens
A Rushing Machine
Lamar Jackson had himself a day to remember in Week 11. Not that it was a huge fantasy day. So what made this day so memorable? 27 carries for a rookie quarterback, that’s what. This was the most rushing attempts by a quarterback, well, ever! The previous high was 22 from Tim Tebow in 2011. The biggest difference between the two 20+ rushing attempt games? The yards. Tebow gained just 67 yards on his 22 carry day (3.045 YPC) while Jackson had 117 yards on his 27 carries (4.33 YPC). Jackson is widely regarded as the best running quarterback we’ve ever seen. that’s saying something with guys like Cam Newton still in the game and Randall Cunningham having played in the league as well.
As you can see in these two opportunities/ production charts, you can see that running quarterbacks are generally going to outperform their opportunity because their propensity to take off with the ball. Also, a running Qb is incredibly valuable in a four-point per passing touchdown league. When they rush in a score, its extra points for your team. Even Tim Tebow was a valuable fantasy asset in his day. Rushing yards are worth more than the passing yards (1 point for 10 yards rec/rush – 1 point for 25 yards passing).
The Effect On The Offense
The Baltimore Ravens have thrown the ball more than any team in the league except two. Joe Flacco hasn’t thrown fewer than 34 passes in a game this season and is averaging 42.11 attempts per game. Below is a graph showing where Joe Flacco has thrown his targets over the course of his career.
This is bad for all the wide receivers on the Ravens except maybe Willie Snead. As far as fantasy goes, if Jackson is going to run the ball 20+ times and the backs will combine for 20-25 more. Then what’s left for the guys on the outside. this offense is doing a complete 180. They were the leader in passing attempt per game prior to Joe Flacco getting injured. Jackson threw the ball just 19 times, completing 13 of them for 150 yards and an INT. Joe Flacco hasn’t completed fewer than 22 passes and hasn’t thrown the ball fewer than 34 times all year
M Crabtree Targets(P/G) – 8,4 T/G (Received three TGT in week 11) – Crabtree could still be viable in the red zone but I wouldn’t rely on that.
J Brown targets(P/G) – 7.4 T/G (Received one TGT in Week 11) – Brown won’t receive many deep balls in the offense they ran in week 11.
W Snead targets(P/G) 7.7 T/G (Received eight TGT in week 11) – With Jackson being an average passer, Baltimore should be running a lot of short, quick passes. Perfect for Snead’s value as he is in the slot a lot. He could be the most valuable wideout moving forward if Jackson starts moving forward. Something to watch though.
This is a good thing for whoever takes over the backfield. A lot of run-pass option plays. Also, running backs tend to run shorter routes. Perfect for bailing out the QB. Jackson didn’t complete anything to the running backs in his first start but I would look for the Ravens to open up the offense a little more if he gets another start. They ran a lot of RPO’s which directly involved the running back at the beginning of the play as the ball carrier or decoy. Not great for pass catching.
Pretty much what goes for Snead, goes for the TEs with Jackson. There’s just too many for one of them to be useful right now.
If Jackson starts the rest of the season I have him as a low-end QB1/ high-end QB2. His rushing provides a safe floor. He shouldn’t bust for your team just because of that alone. Of course, yes he is probably a below average passer but he can run as well as any signal caller we have seen.