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Five Things I Learned In 2018

Five Things I Learned In 2018

Well, the 2018 regular season is over now and man it was fast. A lot faster than I remember it going. Maybe it’s because I’m just getting older. They say every year goes by faster and faster. I wanted to take a step back and look at some of the things that happened this season. I started writing just five short months ago and I thought I knew some things back then. Some of those things, I had confirmed for me throughout the year. Others blew what I thought I knew out of the water.

The community I’ve been so fortunate to join has taught me so much. The whole team over at FFStatistics is fantastic and if your not already following their work you really should check it out in the new year. Make it a side part of your new years’ resolution to get better at Fantasy Football and win those championships. Here are some of the things that I will take away from 2018. One should always be trying to finetune their process and taking notes on what I learned is one of the first steps in my process. Maybe I can save you the time of doing a ridiculous amount of research and you can take away a little bit from this that helps you out going into next season and beyond.

 

1. You Can Only Control What You Can Control

This is something I already knew but it was just reiterated to me time and again in 2018.

“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.”

That’s a quote from my self in a piece I wrote two weeks ago and it holds true now for me more than ever. Oh, also in that number above (704). That’s if the kicker and punter don’t play and every position on special teams is filled by someone on the offense or defense. Remember to stay level-headed when it comes to fantasy. If your process is solid, things will generally balance out in the end.

Trust Your Process

Whatever your process comes down too, you have to believe in it. You can be a game tape grinder, a stat-head, or a combination of the both of them. Whichever fits your style you need to own it. Do your research. Watch that tape and make the best choices based on the information presented to you and be a sponge. Learn the game, study the number, and follow smart football people to fill in the blanks. Like I said earlier, I thought I knew something and I’m learning new things every day.

Adjust Your Process

Trust your process but never let it get stale. As the league evolves, allow yourself to evolve as well. Follow trends and collect data on them to try and figure out if it’s trustworthy. Don’t be a “Get off my lawn” fantasy player and just usher analytics away because it’s not game film. At the same time, I think you sell yourself short if you don’t utilize both of these to your advantage. Find out not only what happened but also why. But I will never tell someone their style is wrong. If it works for you, that’s great! I’m just saying to be open to change.

Process Over Result

This can often be one of the hardest things about fantasy. So many think if the player they slotted into their lineup scores less than the one they left on the bench. This is not the case if you made the right process play. A player who gets one great play and is able to score does not mean it was the correct play over the guy that received 20 touches. I give you exhibit A.

Week 14

  • Sony Michel and the Patriots @ MIA – 5.7 PTS. Michel was the primary ball carrier for the team that finished third in the league in rush attempts. They were taking on a team that gave up a lot to the running back position including the first time they played when Michel had 25 carries for 112 yards and both James White and himself scored. We expected more of the same. Michel received 20 touches in the game which is exactly what you want.
  • Derrick Henry and the Titans vs JAX – 47.8 PTS. Henry was taking on a top 5 overall defense on a short week. He hadn’t out-snapped Dion Lewis since Week 3 and only once all year to that point. Henry touched the ball 17 times and was still on the field less than Lewis by 23%.

Well, you know how the rest played out. Does this mean you made the wrong play starting Michel over Henry? Absolutely not, he just had himself a heck of a day. It took that day for Henry to pass Michel in the ranks even though Michel had missed time due to injury and also was the part of a committee backfield.

 

2. I Underestimated The Offensive Explosion In 2018

If you’re on FFStatistics.com, you have to have some love for stats. Well, I got some stats for you in this article.. In recent years, NFL offenses have seen more success than ever. Whether it’s the new rules that limit contact to a degree and handcuff defenders, smarter coaching, a lack of emphases on defense, or simply better players doesn’t matter so much. That all things to pay attention to but they are things we can’t control. What we can do is accept it and adjust accordingly as I talked about earlier. This is something that will more than likely continue for a while. The league usually corrects itself every few years but with the state of offense in the league and the way a defense has to be played, for the most part, this correction could take a while.

Comparing 2018 To Years Past

Let’s compare a few different years first and see how much has changed… Just to give you an idea of offense this season. In 2018 all the quarterbacks in the NFL had just slightly under a 2/1 TD/INT ratio (834/418). Also, there were 421 total players (Does not include passing TDs) that scored a total of 1,371 total touchdowns this year.  Both of those numbers blew me away.

The Year 2000

(Percentage made up of Rushing/ Receiving Touchdowns, Extra Points, 2-Point Conversions and Field Goals. Does not include Defensive/ Special Teams Touchdowns or Safeties)

  1. St. Louis Rams- 33.8 PPG/ 504 Total (26 Rush/ 37 Rec, 58 XP, 4 2Point, 24 FG)- 95.5%, Defense allowed 29.4 Points Per Game, Turnover Differential -10
  2. Denver Broncos- 30.3/ 485 (21/ 28, 53, 2, 26)- 86.6%, Defense allowed 23.1 PPG, Turnover Differential +19
  3. Oakland Raiders- 29.9/ 479 (23/ 28/ 45, 1, 23)- 90%, Defense allowed 18.7 PPG, Turnover Differential +17
  4. Indianapolis Colts- 26.8/ 429 (14/ 33, 46, 2, 26)- 95.6%, Defense allowed 20.4 PPG, Turnover Differential -7
  5. Minnesota Vikings- 24.8/ 397 (14/ 33, 45, 2, 22)- 99.5%, Defense allowed 23.2 PPG, Turnover Differential -11

2000 leader in points per game allowed – Baltimore Ravens – 10.3 PPG (165 total)

  • 10.1 points below league average points scored (20.4), 49.3% better.
League Wide Numbers in 2000 (31 Teams)

Offense- Total Points (9,939) Avg. Per Team (320.6) Avg. PPG (20.04)

Interesting Stats (Remember 31 teams in the league in the year 2000.)

  • Zero teams scored 35+ PPG, Two teams scored 30+ PPG (STL, DEN), Four teams scored 25+ PPG, 19 teams scored 20+
  • Eight teams scored between 15 and 19.9 PPG, Four teams scored fewer than 15 PPG
  • Four teams had 30+ TD passes (STL, IND, MIN, S.F.), 12 teams had between 20 and 30 TD passes
  • 15 threw fewer than 20 TDs, Two teams had fewer than 10 TD passes
  • 631 Total Passing TDs
  • Punt/ Kick Return TDs (30- 15/15), Defensive TDs (70- 19 Fum/ 51 Int), Safties (16)
  • 18/ 31 teams ran 1,000+ scrimmage plays (One team over 1,100)
  • Two teams averaged 400+ scrimmage yards per game (STL, DEN), 14 averaged less than 300
  • One team averaged more than 6.2 Yards Per Play (STL 7.0)
  • Avg. Penalties Per Team Accepted (Season 101.25, Per Game 6.32)

Defense-

Interesting Stats

  • Zero teams allowed 30+ PPG, Seven teams allowed 25+ PPG, 19 teams allowed 20+ PPG, 12 teams allowed less than 20 PPG, 3 teams less than 15 PPG
  • 18/31 teams faced 1,000+ plays against (One faced 1,100+)
  • Zero teams allowed 400+ scrimmage yards, Seven allowed 350+ scrimmage yards, 16 allowed 300-350 scrimmage yards, Eight allowed less than 300
  • 531 Total Interceptions
The Year 2006

(Percentage made up of Rushing/ Receiving Touchdowns, Extra Points, 2-Point Conversions and Field Goals. Does not include Defensive/ Special Teams Touchdowns or Safeties)

  1. San Diego Chargers- 30.8 PPG/ 492 Total (32 Rush/ 24 Rec, 58 XP, 1 2Point, 26 FG)- 96.3%, Defense allowed 16.8 Points Per Game, Turnover Differential +13
  2. Chicago Bears- 26.7/ 427 (14/ 24, 47, 0, 32)- 88.7%, Defense allowed 15.9 PPG, Turnover Differential +8
  3. Indianapolis Colts- 26.7/ 427 (17/ 31/ 47, 1, 26)- 97.2%, Defense allowed 22.5 PPG, Turnover Differential +7
  4. Dallas Cowboys- 26.6/ 425 (21/ 26, 49, 2, 20)- 92.9%, Defense allowed 21.9 PPG, Turnover Differential +1
  5. New Orleans Saints- 25.8/ 413 (19/ 27, 46, 2, 23)- 95.6%, Defense allowed 20.1 PPG, Turnover Differential -4

2006 leader in PPG allowed – Baltimore Ravens – 12.6 (201 total)

  • 8.06 points below league average points scored (20.66). 39.1% better.
League Wide Numbers in 2006

Offense- Total Points (10,537) Avg.  Per Team (329.28) Avg. PPG (20.66)

Interesting Stats

  • Zero teams scored 35+ PPG, One team scored 30+ PPG (SD), Five teams scored 25+ PPG, 16 teams scored 20+ PPG,
  • Five teams score between 15-19.9 PPG. No teams scored fewer than 15 PPG.
  • Two teams threw than 30+ (IND, PHI), 14 teams had between 20-30 TDs.
  • 16 teams had fewer than 20 TDs passes, One team had fewer than 10 Passing TDs.
  • 648 Total Passing TDs.
  • Punt/ Kick Return TDs (23- 15/8), Defensive TDs (81- 33 Fum/ 48 Int), Safties (12)
  • 17/ 32 teams ran 1,000+ scrimmage plays (No team over 1,100)
  • Zero teams averaged 400+ scrimmage yards per game, Five averaged less than 300
  • No teams averaged more than 6.2 Yards Per Play (PHI 6.2)
  • Avg. Penalties Per Team Accepted (Season 95.15, Per Game 5.94)

Defense-

Interesting Stats

  • Zero teams allowed 30+ PPG, Two teams allowed 25+ PPG, 20 teams allowed 20+ PPG, 12 teams allowed less than 20 PPG, 2 teams less than 15 PPG
  • 15/32 teams faced 1,000+ plays against (Zero faced 1,100+)
  • Zero teams allowed 400+ scrimmage yards, Three allowed 350+ scrimmage yards, 22 allowed 300-350 scrimmage yards, Seven allowed less than 300
  • 530 Total Interceptions
The Year 2012

(Percentage made up of Rushing/ Receiving Touchdowns, Extra Points, 2-Point Conversions and Field Goals. Does not include Defensive/ Special Teams Touchdowns or Safeties)

  1. New England Patriots- 34.8 PPG/ 557 Total (25 Rush/ 34 Rec, 66 XP, 0 2-Point, 29 FG)- 95.2%, Defense allowed 24.1 Points Per Game, Turnover Differential +25
  2. Denver Broncos- 30.1/ 481 (12/ 37, 55, 1, 26)- 85.8%, Defense allowed 19.9 PPG, Turnover Differential -1
  3. New Orleans Saints- 28.6/ 461 (10/ 43/ 57, 1, 18)- 90%, Defense allowed 25.8 PPG, Turnover Differential +2
  4. Washington Redskins- 27.2/ 436 (22/ 24, 50, 1, 24)- 95.6%, Defense allowed 19.2 PPG, Turnover Differential +17
  5. Green Bay Packers- 27.1/433 (9/ 40, 50, 2, 21)- 99.5%, Defense allowed 18.8 PPG, Turnover Differential +7

2012 leader in PPG allowed – Seattle Seahawks – 15,3 (245)

  • 7.45 points below league average points scored (22.75).  32.8% better.
League Wide Numbers in 2012

Offense- Total Points (11,651) Avg.  Per Team (364.09) Avg. PPG (22.75)

Interesting Stats

  • Zero teams scored 35+ PPG, Two teams scored 30+ PPG (NE, DEN), Nine teams scored 25+ PPG, 20 teams scored 20+ PPG,
  • Eight teams score between 15-19.9 PPG. One team scored fewer than 15 PPG.
  • Two teams threw than 40+ TDs (NO, GB), 18 teams had between 20-30 TDs.
  • 11 teams had fewer than 20 TDs passes, One team had fewer than 10 Passing TDs.
  • 747 Total Passing TDs.
  • Punt/ Kick Return TDs (31- 18/13), Defensive TDs (89- 26 Fum/ 63 Int), Safties (13)
  • 20/ 32 teams ran 1,000+ scrimmage plays (Three teams over 1,100)
  • Three teams averaged 400+ scrimmage yards per game, Four averaged less than 300
  • No teams averaged more than 6.2 Yards Per Play (NO, WAS 6.2)
  • Avg. Penalties Per Team Accepted (Season 100.4, Per Game 6.27)

Defense-

Interesting Stats

  • Zero teams allowed 30+ PPG, Two teams allowed 25+ PPG, 20 teams allowed 20+ PPG, 12 teams allowed less than 20 PPG, 2 teams less than 15 PPG
  • 15/31 teams faced 1,000+ plays against (Zero faced 1,100+)
  • Zero teams allowed 400+ scrimmage yards, Three allowed 350+ scrimmage yards, 22 allowed 300-350 scrimmage yards, Seven allowed less than 300
  • 468 Total Interceptions
The Year 2018

(Percentage made up of Rushing/ Receiving Touchdowns, Extra Points, 2-Point Conversions and Field Goals. Does not include Defensive/ Special Teams Touchdowns or Safeties)

  1. Kansas City Chiefs- 35.3 PPG/ 565 Total (16 Rush/ 50 Rec, 65 XP, 1 2-Point, 24 FG)- 94.7%, Defense allowed 26.3 Points Per Game, Turnover Differential +9
  2. Los Angeles Rams- 32.9/ 527 (23/ 32, 51, 5, 34)- 93.9%, Defense allowed 24 PPG, Turnover Differential +11
  3. New Orleans Saints- 31.5/ 504 (26/ 33, 52, 4, 28)- 98.8%, Defense allowed 22.1 PPG, Turnover Differential +8
  4. New England Patriots- 27.2/ 436 (18/ 29, 49, 0, 27)- 94.5%, Defense allowed 20.3 PPG, Turnover Differential +10
  5. Indianapolis Colts- 27.1/ 433 (13/ 39, 44, 4, 23)- 100%, Defense allowed 21.5 PPG, Turnover Differential +2

2018 leader in PPG allowed – Chicago Bears – 17.7 (283)

  • 5.65 points below league average points scored (23.3). 24.2% better.
League Wide Numbers in 2018

Offense- Total Points (11,952) Avg.  Per Team (373.5) Avg. PPG (23.3)

Interesting Stats

  • One team scored 35+ PPG (KC), Three teams scored 30+ PPG (KC, LAL, NO), 11 teams scored 25+ PPG, 25 teams scored 20+ PPG,
  • Six teams score between 15-19.9 PPG. One team scored fewer than 15 PPG.
  • One team threw 50TDs+ (KC), 1o teams had 30+ TDs, 20 teams had 25+ TDs, 23 teams had 20+ TDs
  • 9 teams had fewer than 20 TDs passes, One team had fewer than 15 Passing TDs, Zero had fewer than 10 TDs
  • 834 Total Passing TDs.
  • Punt/ Kick Return TDs (12- 7/5), Defensive TDs (69 – 24 Fum/ 45 Int), Safties (10)
  • 21/ 32 teams ran 1,000+ scrimmage plays (One team over 1,100)
  • Four teams averaged 400+ scrimmage yards per game (KC, LAL, TB, PIT) Five averaged less than 300 (Three teams within 1.4 yards per game of 300.)
  • Five teams averaged more than 6.2 Yards Per Play (NO Led League, 6.8)
  • Avg. Penalties Per Team Accepted (Season 107.65, Per Game 6.73)

Defense-

Interesting Stats

  • Zero teams allowed 30+ PPG (Two at 29+), Eleven teams allowed 25+ PPG, 27 teams allowed 20+ PPG, 5 teams allowed less than 20 PPG, Zero teams, less than 15 PPG
  • 16/31 teams faced 1,000+ plays against (Two faced 1,100+)
  • Two teams allowed 400+ scrimmage yards, 18 allowed 350+ scrimmage yards, 29 allowed 300-350 scrimmage yards, Three allowed less than 300
  • 418 Total Interceptions
Touchdown To Interception Ratio (2000-2018)

(Year- TD/INT (Total TD/Total Int), Rushing TDs, Change from previous)

  • 2000 (31 teams)- 1.18/1 (631/531), 412 RuTD
  • 2006- 1.25/1 (648/520), 424 RuTD, Changes: +0.07 TD/INT (+17 TD/-11 INT), +12 RuTD
  • 2012- 1.59/1 (747/468), 401 RuTD, Changes: +0.34 TD/INT (+147 TD/-52 INT), -23 RuTD
  • 2018- 1.99/1 (834/418), 437 RuTD, Changes: +0.4 TD/INT (+87 TD/-50 INT), +36 RuTD

Change from 2000 to 2018: +0.81 TD/INT (+203/-113), +25 RuTD

Difference Between The Top Scoring Defense/ League Avg. PPG (2000-2018/ Difference from the previous year.)
  • 2000 (31 teams) – Baltimore Ravens (49.3% Better)
  • 2006 – Baltimore Ravens (39.1% Better) – (-10.2%)
  • 2012 – Seattle Seahawks (32.8% Better) – (-6.3%)
  • 2018 – Chicago Bears (24.2% Better) – (-8.6%)
Total Points League-Wide
  • 2000 – 9,939
  • 2006 – 10,537 (+598)
  • 2012 – 11,651 (+1,114)
  • 2018 – 11,952 (+301)

As you can see above, the league has gone through a massive spike in the last few years and especially in 2018. A total of 228 total offensive touchdowns more were scored in 2018 when compared to the year 2000.  Interceptions have gone down by a significant margin as well. Like I briefly stated,  this could be attributed to one of many things or maybe a combination of them all put together. Smarter coaching, more strict restrictions on defensive play, better athletes or whatever it is, it has added some extra excitement to an already exciting game. Although the Refs involvement could be significantly lessened and few would complain. The increase you’ll see below may not seem like a huge jump but all it takes is one crucial call to effect a game.

Penalties By Year (2000-2018)

(Year- Per team/Per game)

  • 2000 (31 teams) – 101.25/ 6.32
  • 2006 – 95.15/ 5.94 (-0.38)
  • 2012 – 100.4/ 6.27 (+0.33)
  • 2018 – 107.65/ 6.73 (+0.46)

Skill Position Players That Scored 10+ Touchdowns

There were 22 players in 2018 to cross the goal line 10 or more times…

  • (21) Todd Gurley
  • (18) Alvin Kamara
  • (15) Saquan Barkley, Antonio Brown
  • (14) Eric Ebron, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, Melvin Gordon
  • (13) James Conner, Devante Adams, Christian McCaffrey
  • (12) Derrick Henry, James White
  • (11) DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Williams
  • (10) Nick Chubb, David Johnson, Travis Kelce, Tyler Lockett, Phillip Lindsay, Marlon Mack, Calvin Ridley
Years Past

2012 – 20 (Arien Foster led the league with 17 Touchdowns. No other player had more than 14.)

(Number of Touchdowns) Amount of players that scored that many TDs.

  • (17) 1 Arien Foster
  • (14) 1
  • (13) 3
  • (12) 5
  • (11) 4
  • (10) 6

2006 – 15 (This was a year to remember for LaDanien Tomlinson. He scored 31 total touchdowns. Six players scored more than 13 TDs.)

  • (31) 1 LaDanien Tomlinson
  • (19) 1
  • (16) 4
  • (13) 2
  • (12) 2
  • (11) 2
  • (10) 3

2000 – 18 (Players scored 10+ times in back when Y2K was a thing. Marshall Faulk had his best season with 28 total TDs.)

  • (28) 1 Marshall Faulk
  • (18) 1
  • (16) 2
  • (15) 2
  • (14) 2
  • (13) 2
  • (11) 4
  • (10) 4
Seven+ Touchdowns

There were 48 players in 2018 that scored seven or more times.

  • (10+) 22, as we covered earlier.
  • (9) Chris Carson, Tevin Coleman, Stefon Diggs, Kenyan Drake, Ezekiel Elliott, Mike Evans, Jordan Howard, Aaron Jones, Joe Mixon, Adam Thielen, Michael Thomas
  • (8) Josh Allen, Tarik Cohen, Alex Collins, Zack Ertz, Julio Jones, Adrien Peterson
  • (7) Tyler Boyd, Chris Godwin, Mark Ingram, Zay Jones, Anthony Miller, John Ross, Curtis Samuel, Juju Smith-Schuster, Robert Woods
Years Past

2012 – 53 Players scored more than seven touchdowns in 2012.

  • (10+) 20
  • (9) 6
  • (8) 13
  • (7) 14

2006 – 44 players crossed the goal line 7+ times in the 2006 season.

  • (10+) 15
  • (9) 11
  • (8) 8
  • (7) 10

2000 – 45 players in 2000 had seven or more TDs.

  • (10+) 18
  • (9) 11
  • (8) 8
  • (7) 8
Five+ Touchdowns

There were 103 players to score five or more touchdowns in 2018.

  • (7+) 48 players
  • (6) Sony Michel, TY Hilton, Cooper Kupp, AJ Green, Keenan Allen, 20 other players (25 Total)
  • (5) George Kittle, Deshaun Watson, Jarvis Landry, Lamar Jackson, Kenny Golladay, 25 other players (30 Total)
Years Past

2012 – There were 93 players that scored five or more touchdowns in 2012.

  • (7+) 53
  • (6) 12
  • (5) 28

2006 – 85 players in 2006 scored five or more times in 2006.

  • (7+) 44
  • (6) 24
  • (5) 17

2000 – there were 82 players that scored 5+ Tds in 2000.

  • (7+) 45
  • (6) 16
  • (5) 21

Quarterbacks and Passing Touchdowns

Quarterbacks have seen the biggest boost among fantasy-relevant positions. Scoring has gone up year to year but a lot of it has to do with teams getting a lot more players involved and using them in more creative ways to get them into favorable matchups and winnable situations. Quarterbacks and NFL offenses in general have seen the benefits…

Here’s how the Touchdown Passing breakdown looks for 2018 (Rookie QB*)

30+ Touchdown Passes
  • Patrick Mahomes (50)
  • Andrew Luck (39)
  • Russel Wilson, Matt Ryan (35)
  • Ben Roethlisberger (34)
  • Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Jared Goff (32)
  • Kirk Cousins (30)
25+ Touchdown Passes
  • Tom Brady (29)
  • Baker Mayfield* (27)
  • DeShaun Watson (26)
  • Aaron Rodgers (25)
 20+ Touchdown Passes
  • Cam Newton, Mitch Trubisky (24)
  • Dak Prescott (22)
  • Eli Manning, Carson Wentz, Matt Safford, Andy Dalton (21)
15+ Touchdown Passes
  • Derek Carr, Jameis Winston (19)
  • Case Keenum (18)
  • Sam Darnold*, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill (17)
10+ Touchdown Passes
  • Blake Bortles, Nick Mullens* (13)
  • Joe Flacco (12)
  • Marcus Mariota, Josh Rosen (11)
  • Josh Allen*, Alex Smith (10)
Other Quarterbacks To Throw A TD
  •  CJ Beathard (8)
  • Nick Foles (7)
  • Brock Osweiler, Lamar Jackson*, Jeff Driskel* (6)
  • Jimmi Garrappalo (5)
  • Blaine Gabbert (4)
  • Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy, Chase Daniel (3)
  • Kyle Allen*, Cosy Kessler, Sam Bradford, Matt Barkley, Tyrod Taylor (2)
  • Six more quarterbacks threw one TD.
Other Position Players To Throw A TD In 2018
  • WR – Odell Bechkam Jr (2), Kenny Stills, Mohamed Sanu, Emmanuel Sanders, Danny Amendola, Larry Fitzgerald, Albert Wilson (1)
  • RB – Christian McCaffrey, Tarik Cohen (1)
  • K – Matt Prater, Chris Boswell (1)
  • FS – Kevin Byard (1)

As you can see above, a total of 66 players threw a touchdown in 2018. 44 quarterbacks (Remember we only have 32 teams in the league), seven wide receivers, two running backs, two kickers and even a free safety all were able to show off some arm talent (Not really, but you know what I’m trying to say here.)  at least once this season. Patrick Mahomes actually outscored (52 total TDs -50 PaTD/ 2 RuTD) every team except the Rams, Saints, and of course his own team which led the league with 71 touchdowns. Mahomes, of course, was just the third quarterback to throw 50+ touchdowns in a season (Peyton Manning-55, Tom Brady-50) and just the thirteenth quarterback ever to throw even 40 touchdowns. Also, the KC quarterback set the all-time record for fantasy points in a season with 417.0 4-Point scoring leagues.

NFL offense has absolutely picked up but this still was something special from the second year starter. The question now is can the league correct itself or are we just going to keep going up?

2018, The Year To Bet The Over… Right?

So you might think you could use this offensive explosion to your advantage to pull one over on Vegas… Well, unfortunately for yours and everyone else’s wallets, Vegas always seems to at the worst come out even. They usually are on top of the trends in sports and it seems like the oddsmakers were pretty spot on in 2018.

When Line Is…

(Predicted Vegas Line/ Record/ % That Went Over)

2017 – Vegas saw the trend…

  • 0-35.5   /     NA     /     NA
  • 36-40.5/ 29-31-0 / 48.3%
  • 41-45.5 / 60-56-0/ 51.7%
  • 46-50.5/ 44-31-1  / 58.7%
  • 51+        /  9-6-0    / 60.0%

2018 – …and adjusted to it.

  • 0-35.5   /      NA     /    NA
  • 36-40.5/ 16-15-0   / 51.6%
  • 41-45.5 / 49-48-1  / 50.5%
  • 46-50.5/ 38-37-0  / 50.7%
  • 51+        / 27-25-0  / 51.9%

If your set on gambling on football, maybe just try DFS. Give your money to another person if you lose. Don’t make Vegas richer…

Since 2009 – It always seems to balance out…

  • 0-35.5   /    13-13-0   / 50.0%
  • 36-40.5/228-210-10/ 52.1%
  • 41-45.5 /577-606-18/ 48.8%
  • 46-50.5/ 388-364-7 / 51.5%
  • 51+        / 124-107-2  / 53.7%

Only 26 times since 2009 has Vegas predicted a game total of 35.5 points or less and none in the last three seasons. They know points are on the rise and so should we.

Wrap Up

2018 was the first year somebody actually gave a damn about something I said about football. It was the first year as a writer for the amazing folks at FFStatistics. I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of what is happening over there. I also took my first crack at doing some positional ranks. Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends were my focus and I put out my top ten lists (6 Point per PaTD, Standard). Here they are…

 

I think when looking back, the clear takeaway I had was my process wasn’t too far off. I won’t bore you with the formula I came up with and use to determine projections. It is though, how I came up with my ranks. Misses are going to happen and I think if I account a lot more for the elevated offense in the league going forward I’ll be able to dial in my process a little better. As well as accounting better for injury history. Not so much with young players but aging vets that have a significant injury history need to be accounted for better. I’ll never be 100% correct but I’m pleased with my first effort and can’t wait to dive into next year as we move forward.

3. Exercise Extreme Patience (When You Should That Is)

So the new season is starting. You’ve done your draft and you think its a league winning roster. If you draft like me, you go into the draft with a plan but make sure you’re always flexible. If the draft doesn’t go as you expect, you need to be able to adapt.

When I have a high draft position my goal is a stud running back and then depending on the way the draft goes, I like to grab my WR1 at the backend of the second round. proceed to fill your roster with wide receivers and running backs for the next half dozen rounds. Maybe a quarterback or a tight end next. Of course, always depending on the temperature in the room. Rounds 10-15 though are where I like to take a shot. an up and coming wideout on the verge of a breakout. A rookie running back with an aging vet in the way. Whatever your choice, sometimes you are forced to wait…

A Demonstration In Patience

I picked a few examples of players like this. Young players that we know are good but they just needed to get a chance at some opportunities.

Aaron Jones, RB Green Bay Packers

Pre Season ADP 111/ RB 44 (Finished RB15)

If you drafted Aaron Jones this season there was already a built-in level of risk as he was suspended for the first couple weeks of the season. High hopes were in place though as Jones had flashed in his first season at times, Jamaal Williams had been less than stellar and we could see a path to a lead back in an Aaron Rodgers led offense. This one took an added level of patience though as Williams just kept getting his work. Not even touches necessarily but he viewed as the better pass blocking RB by the coaching staff. Time and again, Fantasy owners, Packers fans and even Rodgers himself called for Jones to get his shot at the lead role. If you held on, you eventually were rewarded with a fantastic stretch from a much more talented RB then the one that shared the Green Bay backfield.

Green Bay Packers Snap Counts By Week (Week 7 Bye)

Weeks 1-6

  • Jamaal Williams (37/47/30/28/33/27)
  • Aaron Jones (0/0/17/29/22/19)
  • Ty Montgomery (23/26/20/20/29/26)

Week 7 Bye (They clearly came out with a change in philosophy.)

Weeks 8-15

  • Jamaal Williams (13/31/14/4/13/38/24/59)
  • Aaron Jones (32/43/42/44/40/39/42/7) Week 15, Jones suffered season-ending injury seven snaps into the game.
  • Ty Montgomery (6/ Traded to the Ravens)

If you started Jones from Week 8 on you had the number 10 RB in fantasy. From Week 10 through Week 15 (You were starting him even in a tough matchup against Chicago.) Jones was the RB5 in standard leagues trailing only Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiell Elliott, Saquon Barkley, and Derrick Henry. Another Running Back that was in a similar situation to start the season.

Nick Chubb, RB Cleveland Browns

Preseason ADP 112/ RB43 (Finished RB23)

Fantasy owners had been drooling about Nick Chubb’s potential since his freshman season at Georgia. He exploded onto the scene totaling 237 touches, 1,760 yards, and 16 touchdowns while averaging 7.4 yards per touch. He started his sophomore year with a furry before suffering a season-ending PCL injury. Chubb was in the midst of averaging the most yards per carry in a season ever with 8.1. Chubb was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and brought right into a committee. The rookie flashed early in the season with an insane three carry, 105-yard day with two scores. Chubb was again back to third in the RBBC the following week but the seeds were being sewn for his future. The coaches had seen his upside and eventually found a trade partner in Jacksonville for their starter Carlos Hyde.

Jacksonville was clinging to slim playoff hopes and trying to cover their bases at running back as Leanard Fournette was injured and the Browns capitalized. Chubb still had to deal with Duke Johnson Jr but it was clear who the lead RB is.

(Touches, Snaps) Per Week Post Carlos Hyde (Week 7-17, Week 11 Bye)
  • Nick Chubb (18,45/ 20,31/ 23,37/ 23,42/Bye/ 31,46/ 12,27/ 17,33/ 20,40/ 21,39/ 11,22) Fantasy Pointes per Game (14.5), Total (145.2), RB8
  • Duke Johnson Jr (5,35/ 4,23/ 10,36/ 7,17/Bye/ 3,18/ 2,20/ 2,18/ 8,26/ 8,32/ 5,37) Fantasy Points per Game (5.4), Total (53.5), RB43

Chubb looks to still be a part of an RBBC as the Browns did sign Johnson to a deal at the end of last season but the talent, usage, and production all look to be in his favor going forward. He also showed the ability to catch passes even though he wasn’t called on often but when given the chance he made plays including a big-time touchdown catch over the top of the defender on a wheel route to the left. The defender was in his face on a slightly underthrown pass but Chubb went up and reached over the defender to snatch the ball and maintain control as he crashed to the turf underneath the Bengals LB. Another player that can catch passes is Kenny Golladay.

Kenny Golladay, WR Detroit Lions

Pre Season ADP 143/ WR52 (Finished WR21)

Golladay is another player that started the season like jones. He had splashed in spots during his rookie year and came into the 2018 season with expectations but was stuck behind two veterans. As you can see below, with the exception of one week, Golladay was largely outperformed by his teammates. Quickly though the Lions realized their playoff hopes were nonexistent and it was time to make some moves. They had traded for Damien “Snacks” Harrison earlier in a steal of a deal but he wasn’t the only piece they needed. The Lions found a trade partner in Philly and coupled with Marvin Jones 2018 injury issues, Golladay was able to show what he’s capable of in a lead role.

Golladay Season Splits

Weeks 1-9

  • Caught 4.1/6 Targets, 65.4 Yards, 0.4 Touchdowns (48 Total Targets)

Weeks 10-16 (Injured, and sat out Week 17)

  • Caught 5.3/10.1 Targets, 77.1, 0.3 Touchdowns (71 Total Targets)

The Targets went way up but the catch rate way down. What could be the reasoning for this? Well, first off he started to get a lot more attention from opposing defenses. that’s going to play a part for sure. A larger part of this has to do with Matt Stafford. The Lions quarterback was banged up through most off the season but kept playing and had the worst production we’ve seen from him in a while. Heres a list of the numbers and where they rank in his career.

  • 367 Completions/ Fewest since 2014
  • 555 Attempts/ Fewest since 2010
  • 3777 Yards/ Fewest since 2010
  • 21 Touchdowns/ Fewest since 2012
  • 10.3 Yard per Catch/ Lowest since 2010
  • 6.7 Adjusted Yards per Attempt/ Lowest since 2012
  • 3.8 TD%/ Lowest since 2010
  • 50.9 Total QBR/ Lowest since 2014 (Oddly the year he made the Pro Bowl)

Stafford threw 27 Interceptable Passes this year which was fourth most in the league and number three in the league with 34 Danger Plays. All this helped add up to Golladay ranking 64th in the league in Catchable Pass rate. If he didn’t have such great body control, catch radius and the ability to just “go up and get it,” the catch % could have been lower. Trust the talent and Stafford is only going into his age 31 season, which by today’s standards isn’t old. A bounce-back could be in the future and Golladay could see the rewards.

Determining What’s Real And What’s Not

Derrick Henry, RB Tennessee Titans

Pre Season ADP 35/ RB18 (Finished RB13)

Weeks 1-11 RB36/ Wks 12-16 RB2 (12-17 RB2)

For three straight years, we have seen a late-season surge from the Titans third year running back. Granted this year was considerably better due large in part to a Thursday night drubbing of the once-vaunted Jacksonville defense that wanted no part of Henry especially on his record tiring 99-yard touchdown run. So what could be the cause of these late season runs that get everyone excited about Henry year after year? I’ve got a couple of theories that have kept me from and will keep me from buying into the hype.

Late Season Surges

2016

  • 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.

2017

  • 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.

2018

  • 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)

Theory

Henry is a BIG human being. 6’3″ and almost 250 pounds. He used that size and the decent speed he possesses to wreck the Alabama opponents during his college days. The thing about the NFL though is that everyone is big and fast. He isn’t head and shoulders above the competition like he used to be. I once saw Julius Peppers outrun Jerrick McKinnon if that tells you anything. At the time Peppers was in his 15th season and McKinnon was fresh off being labeled the athletic freak of the combine.

A player that big may take some time to get warmed up throughout the course of a game and facing an average of 7.4 defenders in the box (number one in the league) doesn’t help. Henry also needs a head of steam to really get moving. Once he is, he is hard to stop though. When you’re facing that many defenders on average, you’re going to have to wear them down. This is also a season-long theory as when you get to the end of the season, teams are beat up, tired, and sometimes not highly motivated like they might be late in the fourth quarter in a game they are trailing. When your that big and fast, and you have somewhat fresh legs, you can really do some damage.

Moving Forward

Unfortunately, the late-season surge of eight TDs in his final five games with three one-hundred yard efforts (one 200 yard game with four TDs) is going to shoot him back up the draft board and until I see some consistent usage and production at the beginning of the season, I will not be buying it. I’m more than willing to miss the boat on this player as I am unwilling to spend the kind of draft capital he will require for a player I won’t trust until the three-quarter mark of the season. Maybe Henry should be a mid-season trade target but who knows when that consistent early season production will come.

There will also be an offensive coordinator change which will make it interesting to see what the offense will look like going forward.

Wrap Up

To finish this off I realized I should always give young elite talent time. The skills that player poses will usually rise to the top. When a player has done similar things for a consistent stretch, we shouldn’t just assume the player will completely change his game. You want the player not to be consistently inconsistent. Young players are of course going to have ups and downs just like the vets still do. Trust in the untapped talent though. What made you so excited when they were drafted. Maybe Derrick Henry can continue this but I’m not going to live off one monster game…

 

4. When To Cut Bait And When To Hold On To A Struggling Star

Rob Gronkowski, TE New England Patriots

Pre Season ADP 21/ TE1 (Finished TE12)

This was possibly the most frustrating player in fantasy in 2018. Rob Gronkowski is possibly the most talented tight end in football history. The man is a big ol’ lumbering physical freak of nature as you all know. Injury has always been a concern for “Gronk” going back to his days in college with the back issues. But, as you also know, when he is on the field you play him… Right?

If you followed that theory this year though, it largely did not work out. Ye, he was a TE1 on the year but this is Gronk! TE12 is just not going to cut it for the draft capital you had to spend on him. Whether a second or third round draft pick or a big-time bid in an auction league,  you needed more for your team. After Week 1 you were even looking good with an 18+ point performance. You might have even been ok after Week 2 when the Pats took the loss against what at the time was thought of as the best defense in the league out for revenge after a tough playoff loss in 2017. You would soon find out though that the good times for Gronk would be few and far between for the rest of the season.

As you can see above, After Gronk had the big day in week one, he only crossed the 10 point threshold two more times and this resulted in his least productive season since his rookie year. The question is now, how do you know when to play a player like this? The simple answer is you don’t. Unfortunately, injury can’t be predicted and you just don’t know how well a player will respond after coming back from a serious injury or just something that seems minor. All players are different and as you can see below, being banged up all year doesn’t stop you from having a great stretch and returning some of that value or if you traded for the player because you had faith they would return to their old self. It paid off.

Doug Baldwin, WR Seattle Seahawks

Pre Season ADP 38/ WR15 (Finished WR50)

Weeks 10-17 WR19/ Wks 14-17 WR14

Doug Baldwin came into 2018 as the well-established WR1 In Seattle. The chemistry he and Russell Wilson have is undeniable. Injury though forced Baldwin out of Week one and he also missed the next two weeks. Upon returning, Baldwin took a bit to get rolling but his season took a steady incline for the rest of the year until a Week 17 game that Seattle ultimately didn’t have to win. You also shouldn’t be playing in Week 17 anyway so this shouldn’t have affected you. From Week 4 through Week 16 Baldwin was the WR 28 so flex-worthy in a 12 team league. He missed two more games this season but If you stayed with him, from Week 6 through 16, Baldwin was the WR23. An every week start outside of the two games he missed.

Now we get to the really good. From Week 9-16, Baldwin kept climbing to the WR16, one spot behind his teammate Tyler Lockett. So you kept starting him and what happened? Week 11-16, he approaches WR1 territory (WR13). Maybe you made it to the playoffs… WR# is what you were rewarded for your faith in the talent and situation. Baldwin finished 1.1 points behind NUK Hopkins and 3.1 points behind Antonio Brown for the top spot.

Sometimes you can see a direct correlation between a quarterbacks play and a wideout returning from injury. Good players are good players but when you gain back a talented piece it shows…

Russell Wilson, QB Seattle Seahawks

Pre Season ADP QB49/ QB4 (Finished QB7 in 6-Point per Passing TD/ QB9 in 4-Point per Passing TD)

Russell Wilson’s season kind of followed the same path as Baldwins. A struggle to start but after his favorite target returned, the season took off. Through the first three weeks of the season, Wilson was the QB24. With or without Baldwin, Wilson has traditionally been a slow starter and this year was no different. From the time Baldwin returned from injury Wilson started to climb as Baldwin did.

From Week 4 – 16, Wilson was the QB7. Week 4 was Baldwins first week back and the offense also made a big time commitment to run the ball. Did this stop Wilson? Not even close as from Week 5 -16, Wilson was only bested by Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers. Right about where he should be and you can see a direct tie to the return and health of his favorite target to the starting lineup. If you were patient, Both these Seahawks helped you out big time.

Wrap Up

This is so often a tough thing to practice but so easy to preach. This is a fantasy football article but fantasy baseball has taught me so much about not giving up to early on a player as injuries in baseball are extremely common and handled with kid gloves. Also, high upside players are so often starting a season in the minor league. If the word Baseball didn’t turn you off, It is a very good way to practice being patient. When a player though has an injury history like Gronk along with the position he plays and the beating he takes, sell sell sell. When players largely don’t have an injury history, hold on and see especially when they’re of the caliber of the two players above.

5. Defense Still Can Matter But Predicting It Is A Whole New Ball Game

There is a large part of the Fantasy community that believes defenses do not matter. Not that a good Offense can’t shut down a good defense, but that people put far to much weight into matchups with a perceived good defense. This plays into the “Start your studs” way of life. Certainly, I would rather lose with Julio in my lineup and have Adam Humphries on my bench despite the matchup. Also if you remember my quote from above, there are so many variables in a game. Your running back that doesn’t catch passes can always get a one-yard plunge after a pass interference or an injury can occur to a top cornerback and now your receiver that had a tough matchup is now running free. Or maybe your stud player is just good enough to overcome a good defense.

Finally, offenses are becoming more aggressive and innovative in getting their players into winning opportunities. We saw above that this is clear as day. the shift in the NFL is clear and even good defenses can be beaten whether on a team level or just the one player you were hesitant to start. There is a lot more to it than that but short version, you just don’t know.

Top Offenses That Were Held In Check

(Rank/ Points per Game/ Yards per Game/ Scoring Drive Success Rate/ Touchdown Rate/ Plays Per Drive/ Yards Per Drive/ Points Per Drive)

Kansas City Chiefs (35.3/ 425.6/ 52.6%/ 10.5%/ 6.0/ 39.8/ 3.12)

The Chiefs were relatively reliable as a whole pretty much all year. Individual players did have down games here and there but the team had the QB1, WR1, and TE1 in standard scoring. They also had Top 10 RB play all year with the exception of a week or two.

Down Weeks-Point Total

  • Patrick Mahomes – His worst week he was still a low-end QB1.
  • Tyreek Hill – (Wk 3-5.60/ 4-5.60/ 5-8.70/ 8-7.0/ 9-8.50/ 12-5.0/ 14-4.10/ 15-9.1)
  • Travis Kelce – (WK 1-0.60/ 6-6.10/ 10-4.60/ 14-6.10/ 15-5.40/ 16-6.20)
  • The RBs – WK 1-4.9/ 10-9.6)

It’s pretty clear that running backs might not matter in KC. Only two single digit point days and really only week one hurt you. As a whole, the three main starters throughout the season averaged 18.7 touches for 106.75 yards and 1.3 TDs per game.

Los Angeles Rams (32.9/ 421.1/ 48.6%/ 9.8%/ 6.0/ 36.7/ 2.66)

(Week/ Opponent/ Point total/ Notes)

  • 6/ Denver/ 23/ Todd Gurley did his usual thing here as he was fantastic. 30 touches for 225 yards and two scores. This left the passing game largely useless as well as the loss of Cooper Kupp early in the game. We saw that Jared Goff’s play is significantly different. Not just without Kupp but also on the road.
  • 14/ Chicago/ 6/ Another road game without Kupp for Goff provides less than poor results. Not even Gurley could overcome the Bears on this day.
  • 15/ Philadelphia/ 23/ Another two-touchdown game for Todd Gurley but on this day there were no 200 yards from scrimmage. 10 receptions for 76 yards will help though. Also, Goff for the third time didn’t throw a touchdown.
New Orleans Saints (51.5/ 379.2/ 51.8%/ 9.5%/ 6.2/ 36.1/ 2.96)
  • 13/ Dallas/ 10/ The Boys were able to get heavy pressure in Brees’s face in this game which caused big-time problems. Brees threw for 127 yards and one touchdown to Keith Kirkwood. No skill position player had more than 72 total yards. We will see this matchup again in the second round of the playoffs.
  • 15/ Carolina/ 12/ Another road game for Brees and another stinker put up. No player besides Alvin Kamara had more than 74 yards. Kamara had the only good fantasy day totaling 103 yards and a score.
New England Patriots (27.1/ 373.4/ 40.8%/ 9.2%/ 6.1/ 34.2/ 2.27)
  • 3/ Detroit/ 10/ Ther was no Julien Edelman in this game. This also might have been Matt Patricia’s only good thing he did coaching all year. James White who had just seven touches for 51 yards got the only Pats TD.
  • 10/ Tennessee/ 10/ Nobody of fantasy relevance scored in this game. Instead, the TD vulture James Develin punched one in. Julien Edelman had a solid PPR/ Okay standard day with nine receptions for 104 yards.
  • 15/ Pittsburgh/ 10/ The Patriots were fortunate to score one touchdown in this game. Chris Hogan caught a pass from Brady for a 63-yard touchdown. Hogan was the most open any receiver had gotten on any completion this entire season. Literally! Edelman had his usual solid PPR day with seven receptions for 90 yards. The running game was mostly ineffective. The Steelers were also held in check. They though provided a few decent Fantasy days. Antonio Brown had 49 yards and a score. Jaylen Samuels had a great day on the ground with 142 yards but didn’t score. He did though add 30 yards through the air. Vance McDonald caught the other Big Ben TD.

Some Defenses To Monitor For Matchups In 2019

(2017 Points Allowed/2018/ Improvement/ Quick Notes)

Dallas Cowboys (332/ 324/ -8)

  • Two of the best young linebackers in the league in Smith and Vander Esch.
  • Improved secondary including first time Pro Bowler Byron Jones.
  • A solid defensive line that includes two time Pro Bowler Demarcus Lawrence.

Tennessee Titans (372/ 329/ -43)

  • Showed huge improvement and the new-found running game (If it’s real), will help control the clock and keep the defense fresh.
  • Pro Bowl DT Jurrell Casey.

Seattle Seahawks (332/ 347/ +15)

  • Tied for fourth fewest RuTD allowed (9).
  • Young up and coming secondary led by Bradley McDougle and Shaquill Griffin.
  • Lost Earl Thomas for the season and KJ Write also missed a lot of time.
  • Bobby… Wagner… Nuf said…

Los Angeles Chargers (272/ 329/ +57)

  • Pro Bowlers Melvin Ingram and Derwin James.
  • Joey Bosa will be healthy.
  • Two time Pro Bowler Casey Hayward

Buffalo Bills (359/ 374/ +15)

  • Second in the league in yards allowed.
  • Great young Corner Back Tre’Davious white.
  • Play In the AFC East. Outside of the Patriots, it’s a division of sub-par offenses. They are young though, especially  the New York Jets.

 

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