FFStatistics Fantasy Trend Setters
For the lucky few that advance to the Fantasy Championship, after Week 15 is through, it’s onto Week 16 preparation. For the rest of the people that pour time and money in, there is no time like the present to start the 2019 Fantasy Season Preparation. Where better to start then to look at late-season trends and try and decide if you think they’re real or not. Is this Player A in the midst of a breakout? What about Player B, is this something we can trust moving forward? Player C, will he continue to get this kind of work or are their changes on the horizon. Of course like anything else, nobody is certain, no matter how much they want to be. This is a game we play based on a game that 22 other people play for 32 teams, 16 times a year… At minimum… That’s 704 people, again at a minimum, on any given week that there isn’t a team on bye. That’s a lot of variables. Then you toss in the refs for flavor. Add in some injury and a dash of suspension and coach speak. What do ya have? A perfect recipe for imperfect results. Just remember, trust the process. Whether your a game tape grinder or a statistician, you just don’t have control of the outcomes so all we can do is try and judge what is real or not. At this point in the season, there is a good amount of data to go off of but some trends happen late in the season. I’m going to focus this weeks article on a little of both the season long and end of season varieties.
Derrick Herny, RB Tennessee Titans
The Titans faithful are rejoicing. Is it because their team just won a few games in a row? Maybe… But possibly even more because of their third year running back.
Derrick Henry is having himself a heck of a run to end the season (Left). The truthers are out in force to say I told you so. This is not, however, the first time the big back has done this (Right). He hasn’t done it this well but as you can see in the three graphs from 2016-2018, he usually turns it on late. Maybe this is the breakout everyone has been waiting for. but Trent Richardson had some good games too and we know how that went. There are several factors that could play into these late-season surges. weather changes and Henry’s size make him no fun to tackle this time of year. Or maybe a team is out of the race and making business decisions. Maybe it Takes Henry a long time to get rolling, I don’t know, but I do know that whatever it is, is going to make people jump back on board like last year. Let’s see if we can find anything that tells us why.
Late Season Surges
- Game # 1-11 (Didn’t play in the ninth game), Avg. 7.3 Opportunities/ 35.7 Yards/ 0.1 TDs
- Game # 12-16, Avg. 10.4 Opportunities/ 53.6 Yards/ 0.8 TDs
Difference (+3.1 Opportunities/ +17.9 Yards/ +0.7 TDs)
A pretty decent step up in production.
- Game # 1-11, Avg. 11.5 Opportunities/ 52.3 Yards/ 0.3 TDs
- Game # 12-16, Avg. 13.4 Opportunities/ 61 Yards/ 0.6 TDs
Difference (+1.9 Opportunities/ +7.6 Yards/ +0.3 TDs)
Not as much as 2016 but still an uptick in production.
- Game # 1-11, Avg. 11.9 Opportunities/ 46.1 Yards/ 0.4 TDs
- Game # 12-16, Avg. 21 Opportunities/ 151 Yards/ 2.3 TDs
Difference (+9.9 Opportunities/ +105 Yards/ 1.9 TDs)
This year is a BIG! time uptick in production. Most of it the last two games. One of which he was still out snapped by Dion Lewis but he has far outproduced Lewis. Henry was force fed 34 opportunities in Week 15. Six more than his next highest amount and only the third time he has had 20+ opportunities in his career. What brought this massive workload and production increase this year as to the mild increase over the first two years? You’d think this should have already taken place if it was going to right?
vs JAX (TNF)- 17 Opportunities/ 238 Yards/ 4 TDs – The Jags seemed completely disinterested in tackling Henry and playing football in general. Wide open holes and poor tackling efforts led Henry to a 99-yard score as well as TDs from 54, 16, and three yards. Add in runs of 15, 14, 11, and 10 yards and what do you have? Well, besides the great final results? Nine other carries for a total of 16 yards. Can’t take anything away from it but the game was a bit fluky.
@ NYG- 34 opportunities/ 17 Yards/ 2 TDs – This game was a little more the traditional big game. 34 opportunities is a monster workload and the longest carry Henry had was 22 yards in Week 15. He had to work for these yards on a sloppy cold day. The weather a back like this is meant for.
Moving Onto Weeks 16-17
This is always fun. Let’s put in context just how insane these two out of nowhere games are. The 16 game pace he would be on is 408 opportunities, 3,264 Yards, and 48 TDs. Let that sink in then tell me he can keep it up… I’ll wait… No? Okay good, you haven’t lost your marbles. 408 opportunities aren’t out of the question if he gets an Ezekiel Elliot snap percent and workload but he is still currently a member of an RBBC. This last week was, however, the first time he had out-snapped his backfield mate Lewis for the first time since Week 3 and only the second time all year.
As you can clearly see, Henry has a pretty significant home/road split throughout his career. Well, look what he has coming next. Two home games against defenses that are not bad so to speak but they are not the Chicago Bears (We will talk more about them later). Although the colts just shut out the Cowboys and the Skins are actually ranked as the fifth best defense in fantasy but they have been beatable. Henry also has a strong defense behind him that can provide some short fields and extra red zone opportunities. Never a bad thing.
- vs WAS (18th Ranked Rush Defense, 0.8 rushing TDs allowed overall per game/ 1.0 TDs allowed on the road per game/ 0.6 allowed at home per game)
- vs IND (8th Ranked Rush Defense, 0.7 rushing TDs allowed overall per game/ 0.9 TDs allowed on the road per game/ 0.6 TDs allowed at home per game)
Christian McCaffery, RB Carolina Panthers
A lot of people might say that Julio Jones is the biggest example of touchdown regression this year but that title might just belong to Christian McCaffrey. Over the first six games of the season, “CMC” crossed the goal line just once. Since that point though, he has been a part of 13 touchdowns. I say “a part of” because he actually threw one in week 15. From Week 8 on though, the Panthers are 2-6 and have lost six in a row. You can see to the left just how much the touchdowns have affected his fantasy value in 2018. So our question is this. Is CMC the running back that averaged 20.7 touches a game (1 TD, Includes a career-high 28 carry game and another career high 15 targets/ 14 catch game) in the first six weeks of the year? Or is he the Fantasy Monster that we’ve seen over the last eight weeks. getting all the TDs running, receiving and now throwing them too. There are more than a few questions to be asked and answers needed for an accurate answer to this question so let’s begin with Cam Newton. He is after all the one that gets CMC the ball.
The Quarterback Question
So as you can see below, only Greg Olsen provides Cam a better passer rating when being targeted than McCaffrey. It’s not uncommon for the highest players in this category to be running backs or tight ends as they are generally running closer routes to the quarterback. Less likely to be intercepted of incomplete. One thing to take into account here is Cam Newton’s shoulder injury. He isn’t throwing the ball downfield as he has traditionally had. The “Death By 1000 Cuts” style hasn’t exactly been working for the Panthers lately but their options are limited as Cam Newton is. As Newton’s health improves, one would tend to think some of the downfield passing should return which could steal opportunity from CMC. Cam has also slowed his running as of late but that is ultimately when he’s more effective. His career high completion % (67.9%) is a result of his inability to throw deep, unwillingness to run (4.6 attempts over last 6 GM/ 9.1 over the first 8 GM, 1 TD since Week 3) as he has always been the goal line vulture and open field threat. Also a career-low low Yard per Catch of right around 10. All factors in CMC’s usage this year and especially of late. Cam attempted just one throw of 15 yards or more on MNF vs the Saints.
The Surrounding Weapons
Through the first 10 weeks (nine games) of the season, the Panthers rostered C.J. Anderson. The thought was that he would help to keep McCaffrey from a big workload. Keep him fresh and help keep his efficiency he showed from last year. Jonathan Stewart’s time had passed in Carolina and they needed another weapon. There is no Anderson to challenge for touches and the Panthers drafted Cameron Artis-Payne but clearly, he isn’t the answer as Payne has just two carries for two yards since the start of Week 11. Anderson averaged three opportunities a game (4.8 from Week 1-5) which doesn’t seem like a lot but it.s 27 extra opportunities McCaffrey didn’t get that now he is getting. It will be interesting to see what they do this offseason.
The injury Greg Olsen has been dealing with all year has also helped McCaffrey’s usage boost. Olsen has long been Newton’s safety blanket and without him healthy, McCaffrey has essentially taken that role. With the drafting of Ian Thomas, the youth movement is taking place and as Thomas grows in the offense, he should in all likelihood take the tight ends part of that role back.
They also have two good young wide receivers in D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, that are playing well for the Panthers and should only get better and become more and more involved. They both get chances in the running game as well.
Possible Coaching Move On The Horizon?
Only speculation of course at this point but with this late-season slide after the 6-2 start to the season and the fact that River Boat Ron has had to save his job before the possibility of a coaching change could be real and that would usually imply an offensive philosophy change. Your guess on that is as good as mine though.
As you can see above there have been a lot of factors that have played out and others yet to play out. Christian McCaffrey is a great player, that is not the argument here. Can he reproduce this eight-game stretch is and I think not quite? He will be good next year but scoring(throwing one) 13 touchdowns in eight games and holding that pace is a little ridiculous to expect. His value will be sky high and I won’t be willing to pay at his 2019 ADP. I’m predicting that now for myself. You will have to make your own call.
Jared Goff, QB Los Angeles Rams
As you Can see to the right, for the last two seasons, Cooper Kupp has been one of Jared Goff’s favorite targets. So much, in fact, this year that he leads the team in QB rating (134.4) when targeted and he was fourth on the team in 2017 (109.9). With all the Rams weapons healthy, LA has been relatively unstoppable.
Goff’s Season Split
Since the season-ending injury to Kupp though, there has been a somewhat noticeable drop in Goff’s performance. Let’s check the numbers…
Weeks 1-6, 9-10 (w/ Cooper Kupp)
- 1, @ OAK (18/33 for 233 yards, 2 TD, 0 Int, 97% of snaps)
- 2, vs ARI (24/32 for 354 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int, 100%)
- 3, vs LAC (29/36 for 354 yards, 3 TD, 1 Int, 97%)
- 4, vs MIN (26/33 for 465 yards, 5 TD, 0 Int, 96%)
- 5, @ SEA (23/32 for 321 yards, 1 TD, 2 Int, 55%) Kupp suffered a concussion in this game.
- 6, @ DEN (14/28 for 201 yards, 0 TD, 1 Int, 38%) Kupp was injured in this game, knee injury.
- 9, @ NO (28/40 for 391 yards, 3 TD, 1 Int, 100%)
- 10, vs SEA (28/39 for 318 yards, 2 TD, 0 Int, 83%) Kupp was again injured in this game, season-ending ACL injury.
-Average- 23.7/34.1 for 329.6 yards, 2.1 TD, 0.75 Int, 69.5 comp%, 13.9 Yard per Completion (Y/C), 9.66 Yard per Attempt (Y/A)
Weeks 7-8, 11-15 (w/o Cooper Kupp).
- 7, @ SF (18/24 for 202 yards, 2 TD, 0 Int) – 26th ranked scoring defense, 12th ranked pass defense.
- 8, vs GB (19/35 for 295 yards, 3 YD, 0 Int) – 17th ranked scoring defense, 9th ranked pass defense.
- 11, vs KC (31/49 for 423 yards, 4 TD, 0 Int) – 28th ranked scoring defense, 32nd ranked pass defense.
- 12 (BYE)
- 13, @ DET (17/33 for 207 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int) Det Lions- 18th ranked scoring defense, 11th ranked pass defense.
- 14, @ CHI (20/44 for 180 yards, 0 TD, 4 Int) Chi Bears- 3th ranked scoring defense, 10th ranked pass defense.
- 15, vs PHI (35/54 for 339 yards, 0 TD,2 Int) Phi Eagles- 16th ranked scoring defense, 31th ranked pass defense.
-Average- (23.3/39.8 for 274.3 yards, 1.67 TD, 1.16 Int, 58.5 comp%, 11.1 Y/C, 6.9 Y/A)
-Difference- (Completions -0.4/+5.7 Attempts, -55.3 Yards, -0.34 TD, +0.41 Int, -11% comp, -2.8 Y/C, -2.76 Y/A)
What to Make Of This
As you can see (left, prior to week 15) Goff is also considerably better at home this year. For the most part that has held true through this lack of production. This is also something to watch moving forward as in Week 15 this didn’t matter.
Goff is throwing the ball a few more times a game but throwing more hasn’t affected Goff in a positive way. Literally, every other one of these stats is worse w/o Kupp in the lineup and two of the three games he was injured in were subpar as well. The third game, Kupp was injured very late in the game.
Todd Gurley has been a little banged up as of late too so that surely hasn’t helped but it really seems like Jared Goff is counting the days till Cooper Kupp returns healthy from his ACL tear. He was his most trusted red zone weapon as well as the go-to guy on third downs. Missing that from your lineup can affect even the most potent offense even though it seems like it shouldn’t. Medicine has come a long way and Kupp should have no problem with a full recovery. Goff will get his boy back but in future, this is something to pay attention too.
George Kittle, TE San Fransisco Forty Niners
As you can see (Below), George Kittle, the second year stud for the Forty-Niners has been as solid as it gets for a tight end. This historically hasn’t been a common thing for tight ends to take off so quickly but it has become more common in recent years. All tight ends are prone to a down game from time to time. It’s just the nature of the position, unfortunately. In Week 15 Kittle brought in just three receptions, the first time he’s had fewer than four receptions in a game since Week 2. Kittle was also overthrown on a walk in touchdown or his day looks much better and nobody is disappointed with his semi-final performance.
The Niners will have their starting quarterback next year assuming full recovery from injury and Kyle Shanahan has used the tight end as a downfield weapon before as he did last year and with Jordan Reed in Washington at the start of his career. Kittle has been no different this year and the young tight end is a monster with the ball in his hands as he leads all tight ends and is second in the league. He trails only CMC by 14 yards. Travis Kelce is second among tight ends and almost trails Kittle by 200 yards. Only Kelce, Zack Ertz and Jared Cook even have 715 or more receiving yards at the position total. Heading into next season, Kittle should only keep improving and I will assume as much. My very early, way to soon rank for 2019, I think I will have Kittle as my number 2TE. Neck and neck with Zack Ertz, right behind the big KC tight end.
Kittles Career Half
On December 12th this year, taking on the Denver Broncos, George Kittle had himself a day. He used every bit of what he showed in his pre-draft workouts (Below) to dominate the Denver Broncos for 30 minutes.
Caught 7/9 Targets for 210 yards and scored once.
(Quarter/ Yards (AirYards)/ Notes)
- 13:04 in the first quarter/ 31-yard reception (17 AirYards)/ Kittle is lined up wide on this play. He comes in motion and sets up to the right of the line. At the snap, Kittle gets a free release and runs a 12-yard corner route. the defense lets him run free for a huge gain.
- 00:44 in the first quarter/ 52-yard reception (6 AirYards)/ Kittle runs a quick out and in on this play and then goes “Beast Mode” light as he weaves his way through defenders for the other 46 yards after the catch.
- 10:00 in the second quarter/ 85-yard TD reception (14 AirYards)/ Kittle shows off his speed on this play. He is lined up at tight end on the left side of the line and at the snap, again he is allowed a free release and runs a 10-yard slant. A defender completely blows the coverage as he gets caught up in no man’s land, not sure who to cover. Nick Mullins hits Kittle and it’s off to the races up the sideline for the score.
- Kittke also added in 13 and 18-yard receptions in the first half.
The Niners tight end did this all in the first half! He received only one target in the second half of the game. Too bad he couldn’t have gotten more but it’s hard to complain about 27 standard points from your TE slot. Don’t overspend on tight end but if you can get Kittle next year at a decent value you should end up happy like his owners were, for the most part, this year.
Chicago Bears DST
I’ll make this one quick. The Bears defense is a fantastic unit. They are ranked third in both total defense and defensive points allowed. 35 takeaways and a +13 turnover margin both lead the league. They’re taking it away as well as not being put in tough spots by their offense. Also, they lead the league in DST touchdowns with seven of them. Last but not least, they are fourth in the league in sacks only two behind league-leading Minnesota… DO NOT PAY UP FOR DEFENSE. I can’t stress this enough. See 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars currently ranked number 18 in fantasy and actually averaged 0.1 more points a game than this year’s Bears in their amazing 2017 season (2017 Jags 12.7/ 2018 Bears 12.6).
Where They Rank
The Bears are currently a Top40 player in fantasy. Right behind players like Travis Kelce, Joe Mixon, Phillip Lindsay, Adam Theilen, and Julio Jones.
Here’s a list of the players they outrank that I would take ten times out of ten over the Bears DST.
- David Johnson, RB Arizona Cardinals
- Michael Thomas, WR New Orleans Saints
- Juju Smith-Shuster, WR Pittsburgh Steelers
- Nick Chubb, RB Cleveland Browns
- Mike Evans, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- O’dell Beckham Jr, WR New York Giants
- Aaron Jones, RB Green Bay Packers
- Keenan Allen, WR Los Angeles Chargers
- Stefon Diggs, WR Minnesota Vikings
- TY Hilton, WR Indianapolis Colts
- A Lot Of Other Players…
Unfortunately, if you’re a smart fantasy player you will prob never see this defense on your team next year. First off because we should all just get rid of Kicker and DST in our leagues but secondly because somebody is going to take them way before they should ever be drafted. Don’t let it be you!
Ultimately the decision is up to you. Whether or not you decide to trust a trend lies on your shoulders but I hope I was able to steer you somewhat in the right direction to at least be careful not to trust too much, or too quickly. Monitor situations as we enter the playoffs, offseason, Draft, training camp, and all the way through pre-season to the start of a new fantasy campaign. Good luck to all that did make their championship and an early 2019 good luck to the rest! Enjoy Football no matter which side you’re on. It’s got its flaws but it’s still the best game around.