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Booms and Busts - Starts and Sits for Week 7 Lineups

Week 6 in the NFL brought what may be one of the cleanest weeks of action to begin the season. With no catastrophic injuries affecting teams for the remainder of the year, the play on the field seemed to settle in as the more well-known players performed up to par. With big weeks from Derrick Henry and Julio Jones, along with others, it felt like all was right with the world. Now the question will be can they keep it up, or will we go back to the wild and wacky guessing game that is fantasy football?

Now that we are six weeks into the NFL season the crystal ball is becoming more clear. The cream always rises to the top and talent always finds a way. Which is what we are seeing if you look at positional rankings over the first six weeks. Players like Alvin Kamara and DeAndre Hopkins find themselves in their rightful places. But of course, there are outliers like Josh Allen and Robby Anderson taking full advantage of plus matchups to begin the season and it reflects in their rankings. The guessing game of the early parts of the fantasy season is out the window now and looking at matchups breeds success. Knowing which players are set up for big games while knowing which players are in for tough days and require benching is key for fantasy managers. With several weeks of data at our disposal, sifting through to set optimal lineups should be fairly easy.

Knowing positive and negative matchups is vitally important to a manager's success. That is what we provide for you here with the Woos and Boos of Week 7. I take a look at those under the radar plays that should be considered starting options for the week, while also pointing out the household names that could be in for disappointing weeks based on tough matchups.

 

Week 7 Woos

Matthew Stafford @ Atlanta Falcons

The beneficiary of "Who plays the Falcons?" this week will be Stafford. He has been an up-and-down performer to begin the season and is valued as a QB2 most weeks. But the offense has been without a fully healthy Kenny Golladay and the passing offense was struggling without him. Now with Golladay back, the Lions will be facing the worst defense in fantasy in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks (29.9 FPPG). The defense has continued to play horribly, allowing at least three touchdowns in each game except one (Week 5). Look for that to continue this week as the Stafford/Golladay connection is primed for a big day.

David Johnson vs. Green Bay Packers

I'm usually not one to promote playing David Johnson as I'm not very high on him as a fantasy player. But coming off a solid RB1 week against the Titans he is set up for success yet again in Week 7. He will be facing a Packers Defense that next to last in points allowed to the position (28.0 FPPG) and allows 6.8 FP over the average in scoring. They have had back-to-back weeks allowing multiple touchdowns to opposing RBs and we all saw what Ronald Jones did to this defense. Now the multi-faceted Johnson will get his turn and could turn in yet another RB1 scoring week for fantasy managers.

Tee Higgins vs. Cleveland Browns

Higgins continues to shine each week as the targets have been consistent since Week 3. He seems to be a big play waiting to happen as he is currently top-20 in air yards (525) and deep targets (9). This week he will look to take advantage of a Browns Defense that is near the bottom in points allowed to the position (30.5 FPPG). With the Bengals having plenty of weapons to cover on defense, Higgins should be able to see single coverage all day and I would count on another score in this matchup. I view him as a WR3 going into the week with WR2 upside and should be starting in all lineups.

Logan Thomas vs. Dallas Cowboys

Thomas re-emerged from his vanishing act in Week 6 as he found the end-zone for the first time since Week 1. There could be some sort of rapport between him and Kyle Allen as Thomas recorded a season-high 42 yards on four targets, finishing as TE9 on the week. This week he will look to take advantage of the porous Cowboys Defense, which is currently allowing 9.5 FPPG to the position. Thomas is the perfect candidate to start for managers that like to stream the position.

 

Week 7 Boos

Drew Brees vs. Carolina Panthers

My how the mighty have fallen. What used to be a perennial top-5 QB, Brees has been able to muster only two QB1 finishes on the season. He ranks 20th in passing yards (1,331) and 28th in air yards (1,010), showing that there is an unwillingness to take the shot down the field for the big play. This week could yet again be a struggle facing a Panthers Defense that is one of the best in the league in points allowed to the QB (14.6 FPPG). With Michael Thomas again in question for this offense in Week 7, starting Brees could be a risky proposition for fantasy managers.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire @ Denver Broncos

There are multiple factors here in play as I look at Edwards-Helaire for Week 7. Most fantasy managers will be starting him, or in a position to have to start him. But with Le'Veon Bell set to make his team debut, and facing a very stout Broncos run defense (12.1 FPPG, best in the league), Edwards-Helaire could struggle to find consistency. Sure, he recorded an RB1 finish a week ago (his first since Week 1) and is currently second in rushing yards (505). But he ranks just 16th in yards-per-carry (4.6) and 14th in evaded tackles (25). Look for the sure-tackling Broncos to bring him down early, eliminating his chances to get to the second level. He still will be played by fantasy managers in Week 7, but be sure to temper expectations.

Allen Robinson @ Los Angeles Rams

Robinson, bad quarterback play aside, remains the WR9 on the season. He requires plenty of targets to do his damage in matchups as his ability to get into the end-zone has just not been there (two TDs on the season). He is fourth in the league in receptions (40), third in air yards (674) but just 23rd in scoring. Expecting a quality start from him against a tough Rams secondary (16.3 FPPG, best in fantasy) will be a bit much to ask. He is another player that fantasy managers will be in a position to have to play, but the likelihood that he scores well enough to help you win will be minimal.

Tyler Higbee vs. Chicago Bears

Higbee has been by and large a disappointment for fantasy managers to begin the 2020 season. Aside from his three-score game in Week 2, he has not found the end-zone. The other statistics are not kind to him either. He ranks 21st in targets (21), 26th in routes ran (105), and 25th in red-zone targets (3). All showing a player that is inconsistently used in an offense that ranks 29th in the league in pass plays per game. This week he faces a tough road yet again as the Rams face a Bears Defense that allows just 7.8 FPPG to opposing TEs. With the poor play to begin the season, Higbee could be a player that most fantasy managers should be benching this week and use the waiver wire to stream a better matchup.



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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 6 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As this unique regular season continues to unfold, an expanding assortment of tools is available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the sixth installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This massive collection of data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 6 Target Leaders 

Wide Receivers Total Targets Targ/Game YPT
Allen Robinson 66 11 7.2
Amari Cooper 65 10.8 7.7
DeAndre Hopkins 61 10.2 9.9
Stefon Diggs 59 9.8 9.4
Terry McLaurin 58 9.7 8.4
Calvin Ridley 57 9.5 9.6
Robby Anderson 51 8.5 11.1
Keenan Allen 50 10 7.1
CeeDee Lamb 50 8.3 9.9
Adam Thielen 49 8.2 8.5
Tyler Boyd 48 8 8.7
D.J. Moore 48 8 9.9
Jamison Crowder 46 11.5 8.3
Cooper Kupp 45 7.5 8.3
A.J. Green 45 7.5 4.8
Darius Slayton 44 7.3 9.2
Odell Beckham 43 7.2 7.4
Marquise Brown 42 7 9
Brandin Cooks 42 7 8.7
Robert Woods 41 6.8 8
Will Fuller 41 6.8 11.1
DeVante Parker 40 6.7 9.1
D.K. Metcalf 39 7.8 12.7
Tyler Lockett 38 7.6 8.9
Tee Higgins 38 6.3 8.9
Keelan Cole 38 6.3 9.5
Tyreek Hill 38 6.3 10.1
Mike Evans 37 6.2 7.6
T.Y. Hilton 37 6.2 6.5
Cole Beasley 37 6.2 9.7
Emmanuel Sanders 36 7.2 8.4
Russell Gage 36 6 8
Julian Edelman 36 7.2 8.4
Justin Jefferson 36 6 14.9
Laviska Shenault Jr. 35 5.8 8
Greg Ward 34 5.7 5.6
Michael Gallup 34 5.7 10.9
D.J. Chark 34 6.8 7.8
Jerry Jeudy 33 6.6 8
Jarvis Landry 33 5.6 9.7
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 30 6 8
Darnell Mooney 30 5 6.5
Davante Adams 30 10 8.4
Julio Jones 30 7.5 11.7

 

Allen Robinson leads all wide receivers in targets for the second consecutive week (66). Amari Cooper is second (65), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (61), Stefon Diggs (59), Terry McLaurin  (58), and Calvin Ridley (57). Robby Anderson is next (51), followed by Keenan Allen (500, CeeDee Lamb (50), and Adam Thielen (49), while D.J. Moore and Tyler Boyd are tied with 48. Jamison Crowder is next (46), followed by Cooper Kupp (45), A.J. Green (45), Darius Slayton (44), and Odell Beckham (43). Marquise Brown (42), Brandin Cooks 42.  Will Fuller 41, Robert Woods, (41), and DeVante Parker (41), are the only other wide receivers who have eclipsed 40 targets.

Robinson also leads all wide receivers with 48 targets since Week 3. Cooper is second once again with 42, followed by McLaurin (41), Diggs (37), Hopkins (36), and a three-way tie with Boyd, Ridley, and Lamb at 35. Kupp and Anderson have collected 34 targets, while Crowder and Thielen are tied with 33 during that four-game span. Allen and Tee Higgins are next with 32, Fuller has captured 31, and both Marquise Brown and Justin Jefferson have been targeted 30 times. Jefferson’s recent surge in usage and production will be examined further in the 5 Things I Noticed section.

Robinson also leads to the position with 25 targets during the last two weeks, while Diggs is located directly behind him with 24. Crowder and the surging Travis Fulghum are in a tie for third (23). Cooks and Lamb are next (21), while Cooks’ teammate Fuller is tied with McLaurin at 19. D.J. Chark Anderson and Thielen are next (18), followed by Kupp, and Ridley in a tie at 17.  Five different receivers have also been targeted 16 times during that two-game span – Higgins, Moore, Jefferson, A.J. Brown, and Marquise Brown.

Crowder leads all receivers in targets per game (11.5) and is one of six receivers who is averaging 10+ - Robinson (11), Cooper (10.8), Hopkins (10.2), Allen (10), and Adams (10).

Justin Jefferson leads all receivers with a 14.9 yards per target average. Chase Claypool is the only other receiver with an average of 14+, followed by Metcalf (12.7), Julio Jones (11.7), and three receivers who are tied with an average of 11.1 - Anderson, Fuller, and Scott Miller. Michael Gallup and Travis Fulgham are next (10.9), followed by four receivers that are tied at 10.8 – Josh ReynoldsCorey Davis. Gabriel Davis, and Mecole HardmanTim Patrick and Kenny Golladay are tied at 10.7, while Tyreek Hill (10.1), Hunter Renfrow, and Christian Kirk (10.0), are the only other receivers who currently have an average of 10+

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers Week 5 Week 6 Changes
A.J. Green 1 11 10
D.J. Chark 4 14 10
Davante Adams INJ 10 10
Julio Jones INJ 10 10
Tim Patrick BYE 8 8
Breshad Perriman INJ 8 8
Amari Cooper 4 10 6
D.J. Moore 5 11 6
Julian Edelman BYE 6 6
Justin Jefferson 5 11 6
Adam Humphries COVID 6 6
Terry McLaurin 7 12 5
Robert Woods 5 10 5
DeVante Parker 3 8 5
Jerry Jeudy BYE 5 5
Marquez Valdes-Scantling BYE 5 5
Zach Pascal 2 7 5
Marcus Johnson 3 8 5
Jamison Crowder 10 13 3
Will Fuller 8 11 3
Keelan Cole 6 9 3
James Washington 4 7 3
Calvin Ridley 10 7 -3
Brandin Cooks 12 9 -3
Tyreek Hill 6 3 -3
Larry Fitzgerald 7 4 -3
Brandon Aiyuk 6 3 -3
Travis Fulgham 13 10 -3
Marquise Brown 10 6 -4
Jarvis Landry 9 5 -4
Odell Beckham 9 4 -5
T.Y. Hilton 10 5 -5
Allen Robinson 16 9 -7
Robby Anderson 13 5 -7
Darius Slayton 11 4 -7
Mike Evans 9 2 -7
Chase Claypool 11 4 -7
Jeff Smith 11 4 -7
Stefon Diggs 16 8 -8
Adam Thielen 13 5 -8
Gabriel Davis 9 1 -8

 

D.J. Chark captured 14 targets during Jacksonville’s Week 6 matchup with Detroit, which was the highest total for any wide receiver during the week. It was also his first double-digit target total since Week 14 of last season. Chark was one of 13 different receivers who collected 10+ targets during the Week 6 matchups. Jamison Crowder continued his streak of double-digit targets in every game this season while also attaining the second-highest total for the week (13). Terry McLaurin’s 12 targets placed him third, while four receivers were all targeted 11 times during Week 6 -Will Fuller, D.J. Moore, A.J. Green, and Justin Jefferson.

Robert Woods was among the six receivers who captured 10 targets, as he was joined by Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Travis Fulgham, and two receivers who returned after being sidelined by injury - Julio Jones and Davante Adams. Robinson, Cooks, Kupp, and Keelan Cole all received nine targets while a group of eight receivers was targeted eight times - Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, DeVante Parker, Tim Patrick, Marcus Johnson, Breshad Perriman, and Cincinnati teammates Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd.

Four different receivers experienced a week to week increase of +10 in their target totals. Both Devante Adams and Julio Jones had been sidelined during Week 5 and re-emerged to join the two other receivers who attained a weekly increase of +10 during their Week 6 matchups. They were joined by Chark who had been averaging five targets per game from Weeks 1-5. A.J. Green also experienced a surge of +10 by collecting 11 targets just one week after being targeted just once when the Bengals traveled to Baltimore.

Tim Patrick returned from his Week 5 bye and promptly captured eight targets in New England. That tied him with Breshad Perriman who easily established a new season-high by collecting his eight targets. Amari Cooper, D.J. Moore, and Justin Jefferson all attained a week to week increase of +6. They joined by Julian Edelman and Adam Humphries who did not perform in Week 5 but resurfaced to capture six targets in Week 6. The weekly totals for seven different receivers rose by +5 during their Week 6 matchups - Terry McLaurin, Robert Woods, DeVante Parker, Jerry Jeudy, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Indianapolis teammates Zack Pascal and Marcus Johnson.

Gabriel Davis established a career-high when he received nine targets in Week 5. However, Josh Allen only launched one pass in his direction during Buffalo's Week 6 matchup with Kansas City. The week to week decrease of -8 ties him with his teammate Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen. However, managers will not be concerned about the Week 6 results for either veteran.

Six different receivers experienced a week to week reduction of -7 -Allen Robinson, Robby Anderson, Darius Slayton, Chase Claypool, Jeff Smith, and Mike Evans - whose two targets in Week 6 tied his career-low.

 

Week 6 Air Yards

Wide Receivers Air Yards Cmp AY % AY aDOT
Calvin Ridley 836 453 39.5 14.9
D.K. Metcalf 717 374 44.5 17.5
Adam Thielen 696 358 43.3 14.5
Marquise Brown 673 275 45.8 16
Allen Robinson 665 343 32.8 10.2
A.J. Green 659 170 30.4 14.6
Stefon Diggs 637 420 35.1 11
Will Fuller 610 360 32.1 14.2
Tyreek Hill 580 259 34.6 15.3
Amari Cooper 569 273 26.6 8.8
Terry McLaurin 562 216 42.8 10
Darius Slayton 559 331 45 12.7
D.J. Moore 559 320 41.3 11.9
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 556 169 35.8 18.3
Odell Beckham 531 272 38.7 13.3
Michael Gallup 528 285 27.1 16
Robby Anderson 503 322 36.9 9.5
DeAndre Hopkins 494 317 30.5 8
Tim Patrick 474 259 26.2 16.3
CeeDee Lamb 471 310 22.1 9.6
Justin Jefferson 469 351 27.6 13
Tee Higgins 467 227 25.3 13.2
Brandin Cooks 456 255 26.2 11.4
Tyler Boyd 448 301 21.4 9.3
D.J. Chark 431 219 24.1 12.7
Jerry Jeudy 429 188 24.7 13.8
T.Y. Hilton 424 180 27.6 11.8
Keelan Cole 420 261 24.9 11.1
Keenan Allen 410 201 31.1 8.7
Darnell Mooney 408 166 20.7 13.8
John Hightower 400 65 19.5 21.2
Preston Williams 398 181 24.9 14.4
DeVante Parker 389 282 25.2 9.6
Mike Evans 387 209 22.6 10.5
Julian Edelman 386 230 37 10.7
Mike Williams 379 167 27.7 17.2
Christian Kirk 378 124 24.2 16.4
Scott Miller 374 201 19.3 16.3
Jamison Crowder 367 189 23.1 8
Julio Jones 359 227 16.5 12

Calvin Ridley continues to lead all wide receivers in air yards after six weeks of game action (836). He is followed by D.K. Metcalf (717), Adam Thielen (696), Marquise Brown (673), Allen Robinson (665), A.J. Green (659), Stefon Diggs (637), and Will Fuller (610). No other wide receivers have eclipsed 600 yards entering Week 7. Tyreek Hill is next (580), followed by Amari Cooper (569), and Terry McLaurin (562), while Darius Slayton and D.J. Moore are tied at (559). Marquez Valdes-Scantling is next (556), followed by Odell Beckham (531), Michael Gallup (528), Robby Anderson (503), DeAndre Hopkins (494), Tim Patrick (474), CeeDee Lamb (471), and Justin Jefferson (469).

Marquise Brown has emerged as the new league leader in percentage share of air yards (45.8). Slayton is second overall (45.0), followed by Metcalf (44.5), Thielen (43.3), McLaurin (42.8), and Moore (41.4). No other receivers have obtained an average of at least 40%. Calvin Ridley is next (39.5), followed by Odell Beckham (38.7), Julian Edelman (37.0), Anderson (36.9), Valdes-Scantling (36.0), Diggs (35.1), and Hill (34.6).

John Hightower leads all wide receivers in targeted air yards (21.3), followed by Valdes- Scantling (18.4), Mike Williams (17.6), Michael Gallup (16.8), Marquise Brown (16.4), Metcalf, and Scott Miller in a tie at 16.3. Christian Kirk is next (16.1), followed by Tim Patrick (16), Andy Isabella (15.8), Ridley (15.4), Preston Williams (15.3), and Hill (15.1). No other wide receivers have attained an average of 15+. Thielen spearheads a group of four receivers that are averaging 14+ through Week 6.

 

Week 6 First Downs

Wide Receivers First Downs
DeAndre Hopkins 31
Calvin Ridley 28
Amari Cooper 28
Tyler Boyd 27
Terry McLaurin 26
Stefon Diggs 25
Robby Anderson 24
CeeDee Lamb 24
Allen Robinson 23
D. J. Moore 23
Adam Thielen 22
Justin Jefferson 22
Keenan Allen 21
Darius Slayton 21
DeVante Parker 20
Will Fuller 20
D.K. Metcalf 19
Cole Beasley 19
Tyreek Hill 18
Cooper Kupp 18
Marquise Brown 18
Keelan Cole 18
Tyler Lockett 17
Russell Gage 17
Emmanuel Sanders 17
Mike Evans 17
Odell Beckham Jr. 17
D.J. Chark 17
Laviska Shenault Jr. 17

 

DeAndre Hopkins has maintained his league lead in first down receptions (31), while Calvin Ridley and Amari Cooper are tied for second (28). Tyler Boyd is next (27), followed by Terry McLaurin (26), Stefon Diggs (25), Robby Anderson (24). CeeDee Lamb (24), Allen Robinson (23), D.J. Moore (23), and Minnesota teammates Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson with 22. Keenan Allen and Darius Slayton are tied with 21 first downs, while DeVante Parker and Will Fuller each have 21 receptions for first downs. D.K. Metcalf and Cole Beasley are next (19), while four receivers are tied with 18 receptions for first downs - Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, Marquise Brown, and Keelan Cole.

Jefferson collected six receptions for first downs in Week 6, while Cooper captured five. McLaurin accumulated four catches while a collection of receivers collected three first down receptions in Week 6.

 

Week 6 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5 Team %
Calvin Ridley 8 4 2 26.67
Adam Thielen 8 4 2 38.1
Darius Slayton 8 5 2 28.57
Emmanuel Sanders 8 4 2 26.67
Russell Gage 8 4 2 26.67
D.J. Chark 8 3 1 21.05
Zach Pascal 8 4 3 25
N'Keal Harry 8 4 2 40
DeAndre Hopkins 7 3 1 33.33
Robby Anderson 6 2 1 26.09
Stefon Diggs 6 3 3 16.22
Amari Cooper 6 3 2 19.35
CeeDee Lamb 6 5 4 19.35
Allen Robinson 6 2 1 18.18
Will Fuller 6 2 1 26.09
Tyreek Hill 6 4 1 20
Cole Beasley 6 5 2 16.22
Keenan Allen 6 1 0 31.58
Julio Jones 6 2 1 20
Odell Beckham 6 5 4 33.33
Mike Evans 6 5 4 17.65
Sammy Watkins 6 5 2 20
A.J. Brown 6 3 0 24
DK Metcalf 5 4 0 17.86
Cooper Kupp 5 2 1 22.73
Tyler Lockett 5 4 3 17.86
Tee Higgins 5 3 3 17.24
Robert Woods 5 1 0 22.73
Travis Fulgham 5 1 1 22.73
Kenny Golladay 5 2 0 16.13
Preston Williams 5 4 3 19.23
Brandon Aiyuk 5 4 3 16.13
Trent Taylor 5 2 1 16.13

Entering Week 5, N’Keal Harry led all wide receivers with eight red zone targets. As we fast forward two weeks to the current leaderboard, Harry remains stagnant with his eight targets and is now tied with seven other receivers for the league lead - Calvin Ridley, Adam Thielen, Darius Slayton, Emmanuel Sanders, Russell Gage, D.J. Chark, and Zach Pascal. DeAndre Hopkins has collected seven targets, while 14 different receivers have been targeted six times inside the 20.

Five different receivers are tied for the league lead with five targets inside the 10 - Slayton, CeeDee Lamb, Cole Beasley, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and Sammy Watkins.

Lamb, Beckham, and Evans are tied for the league lead with four targets inside the five, while Pascal, Stefon Diggs, Brandon Aiyuk, Preston Williams, Tyler Lockett, and Tee Higgins, have all captured three targets in inside the five.

Julio Jones had only been targeted twice inside the red zone as he entered Week 6. But he registered more targets than any other wide receiver in Week 6 (4). Travis Fulgham, A.J. Brown, D.J. Chark, and Pascal all collected three targets inside the 20 during their Week 6 matchups.

 

Week 6 Snap Counts

Wide Receivers  Week 6 Snaps  Total Snaps Total Snap %
Michael Gallup 72/80.9% 417 89.84
Amari Cooper 79/88.7% 392 81.51
DeAndre Hopkins 48/77.4% 380 93.26
Terry McLaurin 70/95.9% 379 94.99
Tyreek Hill 67/91.8% 370 86.82
Robert Woods 57/95% 357 90.15
Adam Thielen 52/92.9% 350 92.11
Tyler Boyd 57/78.1% 348 77.85
Calvin Ridley 59/73.8% 346 79.18
Mike Evans 51/78.5% 344 83.7
Cooper Kupp 55/91.7% 343 86.62
D.J. Moore 64/94.1% 338 84.29
Allen Robinson 58/87.9% 338 83.87
Darius Slayton 40.83.3% 337 91.33
Zach Pascal 58/92.1% 324 81.41
Odell Beckham 48/84.2% 314 78.7
Damiere Byrd 55/96.5% 312 92.58
Stefon Diggs 51/96.2% 307 89.5
D.K. Metcalf BYE 304 95.6
DeVante Parker 46.82.1% 301 76.79
Marvin Jones 62/80.5% 301 88.01
Tyler Lockett BYE 300 94.34
Robby Anderson 59/86.8% 299 74.56
Kendrick Bourne 41/56.2% 299 72.93
T.Y. Hilton 59/93.7% 298 74.87
Brandin Cooks 63/87.5% 297 82.5
A.J. Green 58/79.5% 296 66.22
Larry Fitzgerald 38/61.3% 295 82.87
Will Fuller 66/91.7% 292 81.11
Keelan Cole 48/75% 292 73.37
Jarvis Landry 44/77.2% 289 72.43
Keenan Allen BYE 288 80.22
Brandon Aiyuk 62.84.9% 288 82.76
Tee Higgins 59/80.8% 288 64.43
Justin Jefferson 50/89.3% 287 75.53
Marquise Brown 62/84.9% 284 76.14
Dontrelle Inman 66/90.4% 280 70.18
Tre'Quan Smith BYE 279 83.28
Preston Williams 40.71.4% 275 70.15
Chris Hogan IR 274 82.78
CeeDee Lamb 60/67.4% 274 71.35
JuJu Smith-Schuster 42/64.6% 271 77.65
Josh Reynolds 50/83.3% 270 68.18
Russell Gage 51/63.8% 267 61.1
D.J. Chark 57/89.1% 266 80.12
N'Keal Harry 51/89.5% 266 78.93
Greg Ward 58/88.7% 266 62.88
Tim Patrick 59/92.2% 265 79.58
Jalen Guyton BYE 264 73.54
Demarcus Robinson 69/94.5% 263 62.32
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 53/84.1% 259 76.4

Michael Gallup now leads all wide receivers with 417 offensive snaps. His teammate Amari Cooper is second (392), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (380), Terry McLaurin (379), Tyreek Hill (370), Robert Woods (357), Adam Thielen (350), and Tyler Boyd (348). Calvin Ridley is next (346), followed by Mike Evans (344), Cooper Kupp (343), and two receivers who are tied at 338 - Allen Robinson and D.J. Moore. Darius Slayton is next (337), followed by Zach Pascal (324), Odell Beckham (314), and Damiere Byrd (312). Stefon Diggs and D.K. Metcalf spearhead a group of seven additional receivers that have been involved in at least 300 offensive of snaps from Weeks 1-6.

Metcalf leads the position in offensive snap count percentage (95.6), followed by McLaurin (95.0), Metcalf‘s teammate Tyler Lockett (94.3), Hopkins (93.2), Damiere Byrd (92.6), and Thielen (92.1). Slayton is next (91.3), followed by Woods 90.2, Gallup 89.8, Diggs (89.5), Marvin Jones (88.0), and Tyreek Hill (86.8). Jamison Crowder, and Cooper Kupp, are among the group of 17 additional receivers that have performed on over 80% of their teams’ offensive snaps.

Cooper led all receivers in offensive snaps during Week 6 matchups (79). His teammate Gallup was second with 72. McLaurin was next (70), followed by Demarcus Robinson  (69), and Hill (67), while Dontrelle Inman was tied with Will Fuller at 66. Julio Jones and D.J. Moore were next (64), while four receivers were tied with 63 snaps. Brandin Cooks, Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, and A.J. Brown. Three receivers were next with 62 snaps - Brandon Aiyuk, Marquise Brown, and Marvin Jones. Deebo Samuel and Jeff Smith were next 60, while a group of five receivers was tied at 59 - Tee Higgins, T.Y. Hilton, Tim Patrick, Calvin Ridley, and Robby Anderson.

Damiere Byrd led the position in snap count percentage for Week 6 (96.5). McLaurin was second (95.9), followed by Woods (95), Robinson (94.6), Moore (94.1), Hilton (93.7), Thielen (92.9), and Tim Patrick 92.2. Zack Pascal was next 92.1, followed by Fuller 91.7, Kupp (91.7), Inman (90.4), and N’Keal Harry (89.5). Justin Jefferson was next (89.3), followed by D.J. Chark (89.1), Cooper (88.7), Crowder (88.7), and a collection of four additional receivers that were involved in at least 85% of their teams’ offensive snaps during Week 6.

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. The Vikings enter their Week 7 bye while contending with the uncomfortable reality of a 1-5 record.

The numerous shortcomings that have permeated the team include an overly generous defense (ranked 28th) that has surrendered 413.7 yards per game - which is 72 yards higher than the 341.6 that their 14th ranked unit allowed during 2019. The vulnerable nature of Minnesota’s defense has not compelled Mike Zimmer to completely abandon his penchant for the ground game.

But the Vikings have risen slightly to 25th in pass play percentage (53.1%), after ranking just 30th with a 50.9% percentage during 2019. The Vikings are also ranked 21st in passing (235 yards per game). This is slightly above last season when the Vikings were 23rd while averaging 220.2 yards per game. Kirk Cousins is also averaging 29.2 attempts per game, which is slightly below the 29.6 attempts per game average that he attained during 2019. However, Minnesota’s top two receiving weapons are also commandeering an even 50% of Cousins’ targets. This has enabled Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson to function as highly productive resources for their fantasy GMs regardless of their team’s deficiencies.

 

In Weeks 1-2, Jefferson averaged 3 targets, 2.5 receptions, and 35 yards per game. But the 21-year old rookie delivered a statistical explosion in Week 3 (7 receptions/175 yards/1 touchdown) that has fueled his meteoric rise toward weekly WR2 status. He accumulated more receiving yards than any other receiver in Week 6 (166) and also tied for first at his position in receptions (9). Jefferson also resides at WR1 in scoring from Weeks 3-6 and has averaged 7.5 targets, 5.8 receptions, and 117 yards per game during that span. If you extract the results of his matchup in Week 5 versus Seattle (5 targets/3 receptions/23 yards) he has averaged 8.3 targets, 6.7 receptions, and 149 yards per game.

Jefferson was outside the top 70 in receiving yards entering Week 3 but has soared to fifth overall (537) after stockpiling 166 yards during Minnesota’s matchup with Atlanta. He has also averaged at least 18.4 yards per reception and 15.1 yards per target during three of his last four contests, which has propelled him to the league lead in yards per target average (14.9), and fourth overall in yards per reception (19.2).

None of this diminishes the numbers that Adam Thielen has attained through six matchups, as he is currently WR3 in scoring. The seven-year veteran also leads the league with seven touchdowns and is fourth in percentage share of air yards (43.3%). Thielen is also 10th in targets (49), 14th in receiving yards (415), and third in air yards (696). Regardless of the frequency with which Zimmer is willing to rely on Cousins and the passing attack, Thielen and Jefferson will not be contending with formidable competition for targets. This should sustain their current status among the league leaders in a collection of categories.

 

2. DeKaylin Zecharius Metcalf entered the NFL in 2019 after performing in a total of 21 games at Ole Miss.

Projections for his professional career contained a blend of excitement surrounding his unique blend of physical attributes that was offset by concerns regarding limitations in his experience, and his need for further development as a receiver. That contributed to Metcalf being just the ninth receiver to be selected during the NFL Draft.

Metcalf’s prospects for delivering a breakout season were discussed here last April.  The rationale was based upon his exceptional combination of size, speed, and athleticism that would enable him to explode into high-end WR2 territory. He has accomplished that, while his accelerated progression as a receiver has propelled him to the periphery of WR1 status. This has also fueled Metcalf’s emergence as arguably the NFL’s premier deep threat. His usage and production have exceeded even the most optimistic expectations entering the regular season, which provides the incentive for reviewing his accomplishments after five contests.

Metcalf entered Seattle’s Week 6 bye in a tie for 13th with 39 targets (7.8 per game). He was also second in air yards (717), third in percentage share of air yards (44.5), fifth in yards per target (12.7), and eighth in targeted air yards (16.3). Metcalf was also tied for 11th in first downs (19) and tied for fifth in targets inside the 10 (4). He had also joined teammate Tyler Lockett in placing among the top 10 in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement ratings (DYAR) for wide receivers.

Seattle's restructured offensive approach has also been beneficial in his statistical surge as the Seahawks have climbed to 11th in pass play percentage (60.9%). This represents a significant change from 2019 when the aerial attack ranked just 27th (54.0%). Russell Wilson is assembling touchdowns at a historic rate, as his 19 touchdown passes are just one short of the all-time record for the first five regular-season games.

A team-high 24.2 share of Wilson’s targets is being distributed to Metcalf, who was WR4 in scoring entering his Week 6 bye. Metcalf’s aforementioned 12.7 yards per target average is nearly four yards higher than his average as a rookie (9.0). His 22.5 yards per reception average is exactly 7 yards higher than the 15.5 he attained in 2019. Metcalf has also added an additional 42.9 yards per game when contrasted with last season 2019 (99.2/56.3). At his current pace, Metcalf would collect 125 targets, capture 70 targets, and stockpile 1,587 yards.

Tyler Lockett is also constructing a highly productive season even though he has been surpassed by Metcalf in targets, first downs, air yards, targeted air yards, percentage share of air yards, and yards per target. Lockett does lead the Seahawks in receptions (30), while his 68.4 yards per game average is still the highest of his career, However, it is Metcalf that has become Seattle’s most explosive and productive receiver. That will remain intact regardless of whether Seattle eventually adds Antonio Brown.

 

3. Several wide receivers returned to game action following their collective receiving very from injuries.

Julio Jones was leading the league in receiving yards (157), was second in air yards, and included among the top five in targets (12), and receptions (9), after Week 1. However, a protracted hamstring issue had limited him to eight targets, six receptions, and 56 yards from Weeks 2-5. It also created trepidation for many managers regarding the potential of Jones’ to deliver substandard numbers due to the lingering impact of his injury in Week 6. But he tied for eighth among all receivers in targets (10), and was third in both receptions (8), and receiving yards (137). He also accumulated 71 air yards, while averaging 17.1 yards per reception and a season-high 13.7 yards per target.

Davante Adams also re-emerged for the first time since Week 2, following a recovery from his hamstring injury. He attained a double-digit target total for the second time this season by capturing a team-high 10, and his season-long average of 10 targets per game ties him for sixth among all receivers. He also paced Green Bay in receptions (6) and receiving yards (61) during Green Bay’s matchup in Tampa. He should continue to stockpile targets and supply favorable numbers to fantasy GMs while performing as the focal point of the Packers' aerial attack.

Breshad Perriman also resurfaced in Week 6 to deliver what was easily his most productive outing since signing his one year, 8 million-dollar deal with the Jets. Perriman had been limited it came to 76 snaps, seven targets, five receptions, and 29 yards entering New York’s AFC East matchup with Miami. But he established new season-highs in targets (8), receptions (4), and receiving yards (62). The 27-year old Perriman also averaged 15.5 yards per reception and 7.8 yards per target against Miami, after averaging 5.85 yards per reception, and 4.7 yards per target prior to the contests. The Jets desperately need another receiver beyond Jamison Crowder to perform reliably, while anyone who invested in Perriman during the offseason would be ecstatic if that would transpire.

A.J. Brown was involved in his second matchup since his reemergence from a knee issue that had forced his absence in Weeks 2-3. He has collected 12 of 16 targets for 138 yards and three touchdowns since his return. Brown finished ninth among overall among all receivers with a 50.3% percentage share of air yards in Week 5 and was also 13th in target share (33.3) during that matchup with Buffalo. He has also averaged 11.45 yards per reception and 8.55 yards per target since resurfacing in the lineup. Even with Corey Davis scheduled to also return this week, Brown has reestablished his WR1 status on the Titans and should provide managers with the WR2 that they had envisioned during their draft process.

 

4. Many fantasy GMs have constructed rosters that contain Dallas receivers Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, or Michael Gallup.

If you are among them, then you might have overcome your initial concerns regarding Dak Prescott season-ending ankle fracture, and shifted into renewed optimism regarding Andy Dalton's prospects of keeping your wide receivers productive as the season advances.

Of course, that was before Dalton's calamitous performance in Week 6. Dalton's unsightly efforts included two interceptions, a 4.9 yard per attempt average, and a quarterback rating of 38.7.

However, it will be beneficial to examine the target distribution and production for Dallas receiving weaponry during Dalton’s initial start under center. Cooper was second overall in targets (55) as he entered Week 6. He was also second in receptions (39/7.8 per game), fourth in first downs (23), seventh in receiving yards (433/84.8 per game), and ninth in air yards (510). Exceptional newcomer CeeDee Lamb was 10th in targets while averaging 8-per game. He was also ninth in receptions (29/5.8 per game), and seventh overall with an 86.6 yards per game average. Lamb was also 16th in yards per target (16.8), 21st in air yards (394), 10th in first downs (20), and tied for the league lead with five targets inside the 10. Gallup was tied for 35th in targets (5.6 per game). But he was also 13th in air yards (453), third in targeted air yards (17.4), and seventh in yards per target (12.4).

Despite Dalton's deficiencies, anyone with Cooper or Lamb on their rosters has reason to be satisfied with their receiver's production. Both players collected 10 targets, caught seven of those passes, and combined for 143 yards. Cooper overcame a slow statistical start to eventually collect a double-digit target total for the fourth time this season, and the third time in his last four matchups. He also generated his second touchdown and attained a yard-per-target average of 11 + for the third consecutive game.

Lamb's 10 targets created a streak in which he has now attained a double-digit total in two consecutive matchups. His yards per reception average (9.1) was significantly lower than the 15.5 that he had averaged from Weeks 2-5. He also registered the lowest yards per target average of the season (6.4) after entering the game with an average of 10.7.

Gallup was targeted six times which essentially matched his season average. However, he tied his season-low in receptions (2) while his 23 yards were 46 fewer than his average of 69.6 prior to the matchup. He also dropped from 13th to 16th in air yards, and from third to fourth in targeted air yards. The results of the Week 6 outing also diminished his season-long yard per game average by nearly eight yards (61.8). Any continued struggles by Dalton could be most impactful to Gallup, due to his downfield usage. However, if you have been dependent upon any member of this trio for your fantasy points, there is no reason to alter your plan after one matchup.

 

5. The focus will now shift toward two receivers that have been mentioned recently in this column but still do not appear to be garnering the level of attention that they deserve among fantasy GMs.

Tim Patrick has leapfrogged presumed lead receiver Jerry Jeudy by commandeering WR1 responsibilities in Denver.

Courtland Sutton was originally expected to function as the Broncos' top receiver, but a torn ACL abruptly terminated his season. First-round selection Jeudy was the logical candidate to absorb the majority of targets following Sutton’s injury.

But Patrick has now garnered more receptions (20/17), and assembled more yardage (310/266) than Jeudy, even though his role did not expand until Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler also encountered injuries. Patrick also leads the Broncos in target share since Week 4 (25%), while Jeudy is second at 14.3%. Patrick is also leading the team in percentage share of air yards (35.1%), while easily generating the most air yards during that span (214). He has also averaged a team-high 14.0 yards per target during that sequence and is tied for third among all receivers with five receptions of 20+ yards. Even after Fant and Hamler return, Patrick should still operate as Denver’s WR1 and will supply fantasy GMs with a viable WR3 option.

 

Travis Fulgham was included in last week’s review, and his career transformation continued in Week 6. The former sixth-round pick was originally selected by Detroit in 2019. However, he did not register a reception as a Lion. But he eventually landed on the Eagles’ practice squad and was signed to their active roster in early October. His stock has soared since Week 5, as his production during the past two matchups has cemented him as Philadelphia’s primary receiving option. His ability to capitalize on his recent surge in usage has been timely for the Eagles, whose conga line of injured receiving options has been expanded following Zach Ertz’s ankle injury.

Fulgham has been WR3 in scoring since Week 5 and is third among all receivers with 23 targets during his last two contests. He also leads all receivers in air yards (124), is second in receptions (16), and is also second in receiving yards (227) during that span. He has also captured a 36.1% target share while averaging a 30.5 percentage share of air yards since his Week 5 emergence. That easily exceeds the second-highest share of both John Hightower and Zach Ertz, who were tied at 16.7%. Fulgham’s ascension into Philadelphia’s WR1 responsibilities should continue for the foreseeable future, which provides managers with a legitimate WR3 for their rosters.



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Fantasy Football Trade Targets - Week 7

The fantasy trade market is always a fun one to evaluate. Articles like this are essentially glorified "Who's Hot and Who's Not" pieces but the tables are turned to where sometimes, you want to trade for those that are cold and trade away those hot.

Now, six weeks into the season, we have several big-name players underperforming and others over-performing. The trade market has the most leverage possible early on in the year when owners are 0-6 or 1-5 with injuries flooding them (especially this year). The time to buy/sell is now and I am here to help.

If you like this piece or others like it,  follow me on Twitter @RotoSurgeon to catch on any relevant and/or ask questions. Best of luck!

 

Players To Trade For

J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

With Mark Ingram presumably out or limited for the next few weeks due to an ankle sprain, J.K. Dobbins has an opportunity to seize a larger workload in the Ravens backfield.

The Ravens' backfield as a whole is a mess for fantasy. Dobbins has been on the field plenty since Week 1 but is only averaging six touches per game. Gus Edwards is rumored to see an increase in touches as well but his role seems fairly established as an early-down grinder, particularly, late in games to eat first-downs and maintain leads. Given that Edwards has just three targets this season and 12 total in his three year career, it's fair to assume that he will not see a significantly substantive change to his role. It is very likely that Justice Hill is activated if Ingram is out. Hill will probably take on two-minute drills and obvious passing situations like last season.

Edwards is a tell for defenses that the Ravens want to run. The hard part is of course stopping their potent ground game thanks to super-human athlete Lamar Jackson at the helm. Nevertheless, even the Ravens have to keep defenses honest and have versatile options on offense. Dobbins spaces the field much more than Edwards and can even move out-wide to play some receiver. His snap-share probably does not exceed 50% sans Ingram but his touches could consistently hit low double-digits, which is all he needs in this offense to become a fantasy-viable starter.

Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

Adams is obviously not some diamond-in-the-rough but there is a window to buy at partially discounted value. After missing multiple weeks with a hamstring injury and now being five weeks removed from an extraterrestrial-like Week 1 performance, Adams can possibly be traded for with a WR like DK Metcalf who has not missed all season or Ronald Jones, a RB coming off of three straight 100-yard performances. There are plenty of avenues to get creative here but the main goal is to acquire Adams who could end the season as the WR1 in PPG scoring.

There is virtually no competition for targets in GB and even when hounded by secondaries, Adams is bound to win, especially in the end-zone where he has been a favorite target of Rodgers' throughout his career. The Packers' offense is not devoid of talent but even after missing two games, Adams still leads the team in targets (tied with Marquez Valdes-Scantling). Adams saw 10 targets in his first game back from injury and is underperforming his expected yards-after-catch per reception at the sixth-highest rate in the league. He is as dominant a WR as there is in the league and is in his prime of primes at age 27. The Packers' defense is horrendous (30th in DVOA) which will keep the offense moving through the air despite Coach LaFleur's desire to run.

It is not out of the question for Adams to hit a pro-rated end-of-year target total of 200, this type of player is worth buying even at full-cost.

 

Players To Trade Away

Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals

Although this sell is a little too obvious, it must be done. Drake's rushing line at half-time this past Monday night was 7 rushes, 20 yards, and one TD. The Cowboys' gave up in the second half, it was evident from DeAndre Hopkins' 60-yard catch and Drake's 69-yard TD run. There was no fight left in that defense after witnessing the demise of their offense thanks to Andy Dalton and their shoddy offensive line. The play-calling was horrendous, specifically, the 58-yard field goal call when down 25 points in the first-half.

Drake has been a black hole all season and is hardly used in the passing attack. His value in the past was driven by his usage as a receiver but now, in passing-downs, Chase Edmonds gets the call. Drake has totaled just eight (8!!) targets through six games which puts him on pace for the second-lowest total of his career (first being his low-usage rookie season). While Drake's snap-share has remained steady all season, Edmonds had been incrementally rising up until this past week where his services as a receiver were unnecessary. This backfield is not one that will be ran away with anytime soon but if Drake hits another skid, Edmonds will be right on his tail to pick up the slack. Take the value regained from this past game versus Dallas and try to move Drake. It will be hard due to the timing but there's no harm in trying.

Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team

*DISCLAIMER: Do not trade McLaurin until AFTER this weekend's matchup versus the Cowboys*

Scary Terry is a fantastic receiver on pace to have a great season, unfortunately, that pace is now derailed thanks to the decision to bench Dwayne Haskins and role out a QB duo of Kyle Allen and Alex Smith. While Allen is the starter for now, it is very possible that Smith takes over full-time if struggles continue. The splits here, although within a small sample, speak for themselves

McLaurin is faced with the gargantuan task of carrying the receiving load for a mediocre football team in complete flux, aiming at their future this season rather than the season itself. If he were to suffer a minor-ish injury, the team would probably shut him down as to not further the damage on their start wide-out. The risk with McLaurin outweighs the reward and luckily, he is coming off of a good enough game (12 targets, 7 receptions, and 74 yards) to sell with some semblance of value.



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Re-Evaluating the Rookie Running Back Class of 2020

We're six weeks into the 2020 NFL season and are starting to get some good ideas of what usage patterns are looking like.

Which means we probably have enough data now to start to re-evaluate where certain players stand in relation to other players. For example, we've got a better idea of how this year's rookie running backs are performing as rookies and what their 2020 value is for the rest of the season.

So, let's do that by ranking the top rookie running backs for fantasy re-draft leagues for the rest of 2020, then breaking down why the players rank where they do.

 

Rookie Running Back Redraft Rankings

I've put a lot of thought into the various nuances here and this is what I've ended up with as my ROS rankings in PPR leagues for the rookie backs.

  1. Jonathan Taylor - Indianapolis Colts
  2. James Robinson - Jacksonville Jaguars
  3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire - Kansas City Chiefs
  4. D'Andre Swift - Detroit Lions
  5. Antonio Gibson - Washington Football Team
  6. Joshua Kelley - Los Angeles Chargers
  7. J.K. Dobbins - Baltimore Ravens
  8. Zack Moss - Buffalo Bills
  9. Cam Akers - Los Angeles Rams
  10. La'Mical Perine - New York Jets

Apologies to the handful of guys who are not ranked, especially Darrynton Evans, who would leap up this list in the event of a Derrick Henry injury upon return from IR.

Now, let's talk about why these 10 guys rank where they do.

 

Re-Evaluating Rookie RBs - The Top Tier

Let's start with the player who is No. 1 in these re-rankings: Jonathan Taylor.

Yeah, yeah, yeah -- everyone told us for months that Taylor was the rookie RB1 and we just didn't believe it, which is how I ended up with so much Clyde Edwards-Helaire in dynasty and not enough Taylor.

But there was definite reason to not have Taylor as your redraft RB1. The main reason: his path to carries was crowded by the existence of Marlon Mack, while CEH had no competition.

Well, Mack's done for the season, and since Week 2, Taylor is eighth among running backs in red zone attempts with 16. This week, he saw 80 percent of Indy's carries, the second-highest percentage in the league behind Derrick Henry. Take out quarterback carries, and this past week paints a very clear picture of this backfield. Per Add More Funds:

image taken from AddMoreFunds

This is Taylor's spot moving forward, which makes him one of two rookie running backs with a very clear grip on a No. 1, workhorse-type role. Taylor is 100 percent the top rookie.

Second is someone who was on no one's radar until just before the season kicked off: Jacksonville's James Robinson.

When Jacksonville let Leonard Fournette go, things opened up with the Jags. Ryquell Armstead, Chris Thompson, and Devine Ozigbo were expected to compete for the lead role.

But nope, it was none of them who emerged. Instead, undrafted rookie James Robinson became the lead back.

Over the last three games, Robinson is ninth among running backs in snap rate, and he's second to David Montgomery in positional attempt rate at 95.45 percent, as Jacksonville's other most-used back by snap rate, Chris Thompson, is exclusively a receiving option and has two carries in the last three games to Robinson's 42.

Robinson isn't as talented and doesn't run behind as good of an offensive line as Taylor, but his usage on the ground and in the passing game makes him the clear No. 2 rookie running back for fantasy right now.

Next is where things start to get a little dicier.

I have Clyde Edwards-Helaire third for now, with D'Andre Swift fourth. But this was the decision that perturbed me the most as I was working on this piece. It ultimately came down to going with the player in the better offense, but it was close.

See, CEH is about to be in a timeshare with Le'Veon Bell. I'd guess the split breakdown with Bell goes more to Edwards-Helaire's side -- and that we see a good bit of Bell split out at receiver with Edwards-Helaire in the backfield. It's not like Bell is in his prime at this point, but he's still a capable back provided Adam Gase didn't permanently ruin him. He'll get opportunities, which cuts too much into Edwards-Helaire's workload.

D'Andre Swift almost earned the third spot in my ROS rankings, but I was worried that I was buying into recency bias just a little too much. See, Swift is coming off by far the best game of his young career, rushing 14 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns while catching three passes for seven yards. But while his touches and production rose, he still saw action on just 38 percent of snaps, plus Adrian Peterson received 15 carries and also found the end zone. This team won't be as efficient each week, which ultimately lowers Swift's floor. He's a clearly talented back, but I don't trust the opportunities as much as I do with CEH, even with the Bell addition factored in.

Fifth is Antonio Gibson, who suffers from "bad offense" syndrome. The Washington team plays from behind a lot, which is part of why they average just 23.4 run plays per game. Gibson's 55 carries rank 26th at the position, and the Washington offensive line ranks 28th in adjusted line yards per game. So while Gibson is his team's primary back -- he's had 64.71 percent of their running back carries over the last three games -- he's also limited by a terrible supporting cast, which has helped contribute to him not running for more than 55 yards in a game yet, though his three touchdowns this season has boosted his value.

 

Re-Evaluating Rookie RBs - Lower Tier

Sixth, we have Joshua Kelley. The Austin Ekeler injury is giving Kelley a short-term boost, and he'd probably drop below J.K. Dobbins if I did this exercise a month from now. But the short term matters when ranking rest of season value, as does the importance of his bye week being behind him. Kelley has lost some touches to Justin Jackson, but it's always good to follow where these touches come from. Kelley does have a team-high 10 red zone carries, while Jackson has none.

J.K. Dobbins is seventh and I'm probably undervaluing him a little, but the Ravens remain a tough team to project. Over the last three games, here are some attempt numbers for the team:

image taken from AddMoreFunds

Dobbins has trailed Gus Edwards and Mark Ingram in carries, even while surpassing Ingram in snaps. And with Lamar Jackson siphoning off 19.35 percent of the carries over that span, it's hard to love Dobbins right now, even after a season-high nine carries in Week 6. A Week 7 bye week also helps keep him under Kelley in my rankings, as does the fact that while he's the best receiving back on this team, there's still not a lot of running back receptions coming in this Ravens offense.

The final three ranked players come with a good bit of a gap between them and the first seven.

At eight is Zack Moss, who just played his first game since Week 2, getting five carries for 10 yards. Moss is barely playable in fantasy, but he does have one advantage: in Weeks 1 and 2, Moss had seven red zone attempts to Devin Singeltary's three. He's got touchdown upside, even if it's not a lot of upside.

Ninth is Cam Akers. I like Akers. I'm sure we all like Akers. But a seemingly healthy Cam Akers played just one offensive snap against the 49ers, despite rushing for 6.78 yards per carry in Week 5. If he gets opportunities, he has flex appeal, but he's ninth right now because we can't guarantee anything at all when it comes to chances, thanks to Sean McVay's unpredictable usage.

Rounding out the top 10 for now: La'mical Perine. Sure, he gets more touches than Akers, but his low ceiling makes it tough to justify him on your fantasy roster right now. He's backing up Frank Gore in an Adam Gase offense. There's nothing at all good about that, even if he had seven carries and two catches this week, and this team has a very tough upcoming schedule that will lead to pass-heavy game scripts.



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Slow Starters Ready to Break Out in Fantasy?

We are now more than a third of the way into the fantasy football season and a seemingly clearer picture is available across the landscape. After a pandemic-shortened offseason and lack of preseason exposure, there were plenty of worries headed into the first month specifically. Thus far, one of the most prevalent topics with regards to how the pandemic played a part in fantasy is injuries because that is the easiest connection to make between lack of training camp reps, allowing for limited ramp-up time for players.

While injuries are the most tangible, slow-starting players are also ones who may have been hurt by the limited reps. Several skill guys had their snaps/roles cut early on in the season (Joe Mixon for example), yet were brought along over the course of subsequent weeks. Every player's performance is affected differently. Some are due to the pandemic, others are due to a rough schedule. It is often hard to pinpoint but this piece takes the best possible approach to evaluating each player's position.

Here are five slow starters expected to bounce back this season. For any questions on this topic or any other post, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@RotoSurgeon) and shoot it through.

 

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

I'm not buying any of the Jalen Hurts hype coming from the internet. Wentz has not been perfect, but thus far, he is not the only problem in Philadelphia's offense. Currently, nine out of 11 offensive starters are out with injury. Plus, Wentz is dealing with a league-worst 16 drops from his pass-catchers.

The Zach Ertz injury is a blessing-in-disguise because a plodding TE is now removed from the equation, allowing for more dynamic players to take his place. Richard Rodgers will sub in for the interim and Dallas Goedert, upon return from IR, will then take over. Ertz has been terrible this season despite having a fruitful history as Wentz's safety blanket. He shrinks the field around him, forcing more attention elsewhere.

Losing Miles Sanders would prove costly if the Eagles were not facing the New York Giants this week and then facing off against Dallas' putrid defense afterward. Boston Scott and the backups should fill-in just fine. With a bye week right after, Sanders should be fully healthy for the stretch run to take control of the NFC East in the second half.

Jalen Reagor's timetable to return from his thumb injury lines up here as well along with DeSean Jackson and Lane Johnson. The Eagles are in the most advantageous position within the division, making it possible they even add a dynamic piece at the trade deadline given the plethora of receivers potentially available for trade. Wentz is currently QB15 in scoring with a ceiling around the top-six given his increased rushing. Wentz is running more, and more efficiently than ever with 6.1 yards-per-carry on 28 carries. He is on pace for a career-high 75 attempts and already has four touchdowns on the ground which make up for and negate the increased turnovers this season.

 

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

It is inconceivable that Akers only played one snap this past weekend versus the 49ers but it happened and Rams head coach Sean McVay's "game-flow" explanation was a non-answer. Akers was not drafted with their first pick in the 2020 draft and named starter out the gates to ride the bench. Either there was an issue in practice or Akers is still not fully healthy.

Despite playing 13 snaps in Week 5 and touching the ball nine times, it did not make much sense to keep him benched the next week, especially with McVay commenting on his increased involvement. Akers returned along a reasonable timeline from his rib cartilage injury, yet the "optimal recovery time" according to Inside Injuries of The Athletic is five weeks as to not re-aggravate the rib. Akers suffered the injury in Week 2 and we are now heading into Week 7.

Darrell Henderson has looked very good in a handful of games and mediocre in others. Nevertheless, he has the "hot-hand" and will continue to start until he is usurped or fails. Akers will have to be the one to usurp him and fortunately for fantasy GMs who are stashing him, he is quite capable. Henderson is seldom used on third-down and obvious passing-situations because of his limitations as a pass-blocker and receiver. This is where Akers could thrive and eat into the RB snaps.

Malcolm Brown has been a black hole when given touches since Week 2 but that is nothing new. Brown is averaging 3.7 yards-per-carry and 2.2 yards-per-target thus far, below-pedestrian numbers. If Akers' issue with getting on the field is due to the Rams' desire to unleash him on third-down and passing downs, there is a fantasy monster brewing that should have been unleashed earlier.

 

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

Hilton has been extremely disappointing early on, no one is arguing against that. The assumption coming into the season was that despite a clear decline for Philip Rivers, the fringe Hall-of-Fame QB would still be an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett as a passer. That, unfortunately, has not been very true as Rivers is looking like a shell of himself but the Colts are winning games on the back of their top-three defense. The addition of RB Jonathan Taylor in the second round of the 2020 draft was meant to spark the offense as well but he has been just as disappointing, if not more than Rivers given the high hopes that come with youth. All-in-all, the Colts' offense is bad.

Hilton's 6.5 yards-per-target on the season is a career-low and he has not found the end-zone yet through six games. However, he did have a TD called back this past week on a penalty far away from the play. He has six red-zone targets on the season and is still building rapport with Rivers. Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. are out for the foreseeable future and now Hilton is playing nearly every snap. Over the first four weeks, he did not play more than 80% of the offensive snaps in a single game, but these past two, he has played 95% and 94%, respectively. Hilton owns a 19% target share this season with a season-high 10 coming two weeks ago versus the Browns. He is still fast/explosive and has brighter days ahead given a very soft second-half schedule.

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

Hollywood Brown is one of the fastest players in the league playing on arguably the most versatile offense, and yet, his fantasy production is lacking in 2020. Part of the reason for this is Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' low-passing volume, and another is the lack of need for extensive receiving production.

Brown has just one red-zone target on the season and did not crack 80% of snaps through the first four weeks of the season but has 86% and 85% over the past two weeks, respectively. The Ravens have outscored opponents thus far by a margin of 75 points. In their one loss to the Chiefs, Brown was blanketed and then phased out from the game by being on the opposite end of a blowout.

Brown's home-run ability makes him a stereotypical boom-or-bust option but with a 26% target share and nine yards-per-target, he is just on the wrong end of touchdown variance with one on the season. He's a fantasy star on the cusp of breaking out.

 

Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns

Austin Hooper has ascended to fantasy relevance over the past few weeks but has yet to truly break out. After signing the largest free-agent TE contract ever, Hooper was expected to be a massive part of Cleveland's offense after a fantastic stretch in Atlanta. While a good bit of his production was driven by a high-volume passing offense next to Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Hooper held his own with a large target share and end-zone production.

Through the first three weeks of the 2020 season, Hooper totaled seven receptions on 10 targets for 62 yards and no touchdowns. Just this past week, he had five receptions on six targets for 52 yards with 57 yards the game prior. Snaps have not been an issue as he is on the field plenty but with David Njoku back in the mix, he has seen a dip below 80% over the past two weeks despite an increase in targets.

Fortunately, Njoku has once again requested a trade out from Cleveland, leaving Hooper and Harrison Bryant as the primary options at the position. Hooper played up to 98% of the snaps in games sans Njoku and will likely carry a massive share moving forward. He's building rapport with QB Baker Mayfield but there is work to be done.

Having only two red-zone targets thus far is disappointing, but that could change as the chemistry grows. Cleveland is being forced to throw more often than they'd like with star RB Nick Chubb out-of-commission. Hooper's role will continue to grow and it could hopefully blossom in the second half of this season.



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 6

This series continues into its sixth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value.

In Week 6, we saw performances such as Ryan Tannehill throwing for 364 passing yards, the Houston Texans running backs combining for 66 rushing yards, and the New York Giants wide receivers combining for 61 receiving yards. After these types of performances, it's important to look at each of these team's coaches and their play-calling tendencies to see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvements Ahead?

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

 

Houston Texans Running Backs

Tim Kelly

The Houston Texans fell to the Tennessee Titans last Sunday in a 42-36 overtime thriller. One area that could improve is the team's running backs. Against the Titans, the Texans running backs combined for 23 carries, 66 rushing yards, two receptions (four targets), 14 receiving yards, and one touchdown.

After this performance, on the season the running back room is averaging 17.5 carries, 67.67 rushing yards, 2.83 receptions (4.67 targets), 25.5 receiving yards, and 0.50 touchdowns (all rushing) per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Tim Kelly, has traditionally gotten out of his running back room in his time as an offensive coordinator. Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has had his running back room average 21.38 carries, 95.63 rushing yards, 0.50 rushing touchdowns, 4.94 targets, 28.81 receiving yards, and 0.19 receiving touchdowns per game in the 16 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season.

Based on this information, there should be some slight improvement from the Texans running backs going forward. Now would be as good time a time as any to acquire David Johnson or Duke Johnson shares in your fantasy leagues.

Fantasy players this impacts: David Johnson and Duke Johnson

 

Indianapolis Colts Running Backs (Run Game)

Frank Reich & Nick Sirianni

The Indianapolis Colts won a close game against the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday. In the game, the Colts running backs combined for 13 carries, 59 rushing yards, nine receptions, 11 targets, 82 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the running back room is averaging 24.67 carries, 94.67 rushing yards, 0.67 rushing touchdowns, 7.33 receptions (8.33 targets), 60 receiving yards, and 0.17 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what Colts head coach Frank Reich has traditionally gotten out of his running back room. Reich has had his running back room average 23.47 carries, 97.89 rushing yards, 0.61 rushing touchdowns, 7.16 targets, 42.09 receiving yards, and 0.18 receiving touchdowns per game in the 96 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In addition, in the 32 games that Nick Sirianni has been the Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator, the Colts running backs have averaged 23.34 carries, 106.66 rushing yards, 0.78 rushing touchdowns, 6.78 targets, 35 receiving yards, and 0.09 receiving touchdowns per game.

Fantasy players this impacts: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Wilkins

 

Minnesota Vikings Running Backs

Gary Kubiak

The Minnesota Vikings lost to the previous winless Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday. In the game, the Vikings running backs combined for 13 carries, 32 rushing yards, three receptions (five targets), 11 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the running back room is averaging 25.17 carries, 126.5 rushing yards, 1.33 rushing touchdowns, 3.83 receptions (five targets), 22 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, has traditionally gotten out of his running back room. The Vikings offensive coordinator has had his running backs combine to average 25.27 carries, 113.12 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 3.55 receptions (4.92 targets), 27.83 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns per game in the 349 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

While Sunday's performance was disappointing, over the course of this season the Minnesota Vikings running back room is still performing on the higher end of what we would expect from Gary Kubiak's running back room.

Fantasy players this impacts: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Ameer Abdullah, and Mike Boone

 

Denver Broncos Wide Receivers

Pat Shurmur

In Sunday's 18-12 victory over the New England Patriots, the Denver Broncos wide receivers combined for six receptions on 16 targets for 133 receiving yards and no touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the wide receiver room is averaging 10.2 receptions on 18.8 targets for 153.2 receiving yards and 0.6 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, has historically gotten out of his wide receiver room. Shurmur has had his wide receivers combine to average 20.36 targets, 150.47 receiving yards, and 0.88 receiving touchdowns per game in the 169 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Pat Shurmur's past tendencies suggest there is potential for a few more targets and receiving touchdowns per game for this group. With starting quarterback Drew Lock finally back from his injury, the Broncos wide receivers appear to be on the upswing.

Fantasy players this impacts: Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy, and K.J. Hamler

 

New England Patriots Running Backs (Run Game)

Josh McDaniels

The Patriots running backs combined for 15 carries, 41 rushing yards, nine receptions, ten targets, 79 receiving yards, and touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the Patriots running back room is averaging 22.4 carries, 111 rushing yards, 0.60 rushing touchdowns, 6.8 receptions (8.6 targets), 55 receiving yards, and 0.20 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, has traditionally gotten out of his running back room. Josh McDaniels has had his running backs combine to average 24.54 carries, 104.03 rushing yards, 0.87 rushing touchdowns, 7.1 targets, 44.98 receiving yards, and 0.28 receiving touchdowns per game in the 220 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Based on this information, we should expect the Patriots running backs to perform better on the ground than last Sunday. However, the season totals are right in line with what we would expect from a Josh McDaniels' running back room. There isn't much of a buy-low opportunity at the moment for this group.

Fantasy players this impacts: Damien Harris, James White, Rex Burkhead, J.J. Taylor, and Sony Michel

 

New York Giants Wide Receivers

Jason Garrett

In the New York Giants first win of the season (20-19 over the Washington Football Team), the team's wide receivers combined for five receptions on nine targets for 61 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.

After this performance, on the season the New York Giants wide receiver room is averaging 10.67 receptions (16.67 targets), 128 receiving yards, and 0.50 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what the Giants offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receiver room. Jason Garrett has had his wide receivers combine to average 11.43 receptions (18.88 targets), 160.30 receiving yards, 1.26 receiving touchdowns per game in the 208 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

This year's Giants will be one of the worst offenses directed by Jason Garrett, but there may be some improvement for this team's receivers in the coming weeks.

Fantasy players this impacts: Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate

 

Cleveland Browns Wide Receivers

Kevin Stefanski & Alex Van Pelt

The Cleveland Browns got decimated by the Pittsburgh Steelers, losing 38-7. In the game, their wide receivers combined for six receptions on 12 targets for 78 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.

After this performance, the wide receiver room is averaging 9.17 receptions (14.67 targets), 123.67 receiving yards, and 0.83 receiving touchdowns per game through the first six games of the year.

Now let's compare this to what the Browns head coach, Kevin Stefanski, has historically gotten out of his wide receiver room. Kevin Stefanski has had his wide receivers combine to average 13.47 targets, 128.21 receiving yards, and 1.05 receiving touchdowns per game in the 19 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season.

In addition, in the 16 games that Alex Van Pelt had been an offensive coordinator prior to the season, his wide receiver room averaged 16.25 targets, 111.56 receiving yards, and 0.81 receiving touchdowns per game.

Overall, there should be better performances than last Sunday for the Cleveland Browns wide receivers, but as a group their season totals are right in line with what we would expect from this offense.

Fantasy players this impacts: Jarvis Landry, Rashad Higgins, and Odell Beckham Jr.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers Tight Ends

Randy Fichtner

The Steelers dominated the Browns last Sunday, winning 38-7. Because they were in control most of the game, they didn't need to pass much and it resulted in below-average showings from the team's pass-catchers. One group that struggled, in particular, was the Steelers tight ends, who only combined for two receptions on four targets for nine yards and zero touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the Steelers tight end room is averaging 4.4 receptions on 6.4 targets for 42 receiving yards and 0.2 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what the Steelers offensive coordinator, Randy Fichtner, has traditionally gotten out of his tight end room. Fichtner has had his tight ends combine to average 6.09 targets, 47.72 receiving yards, and 0.28 receiving touchdowns per game in the 32 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Based Fichtner's previous coaching tendencies, it's likely that we see improved performances from the tight end group in the future.

Fantasy players this impacts: Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald

 

Chicago Bears Wide Receivers

Matt Nagy & Bill Lazor

The Chicago Bears won 23-16 over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, improving their record to 5-1. In the game, the Bears wide receivers combined for 12 receptions on 18 targets for 105 receiving yards and zero receiving touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season this wide receiver room is averaging 14.67 receptions (on 23.67 targets), 160.5 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown per game.

Now let's compare this to what the Bears head coach, Matt Nagy, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receiver room. Matt Nagy has had his wide receivers combine to average 18.35 targets, 145.25 receiving yards, and 0.85 receiving touchdowns per game in the 48 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In addition, in the 57 games that Bill Lazor had been an offensive coordinator prior to the season, he had his wide receiver room average 21.47 targets, 153.37 receiving yards, and 1.19 receiving touchdowns per game.

Seeing both of these coaches' data, there are likely to be better performances from this group than last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. But keep in mind the season totals for the wide receivers as a whole are actually running on the higher side of what we'd expect out these coaches wide receiver room.

Fantasy players this impacts: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Darnell Mooney, and Cordarrelle Patterson

 

Jacksonville Jaguars Running Backs

Doug Marrone & Jay Gruden

The Jaguars got trounced by the Detroit Lions on Sunday, losing 34-16. In the game, the Jaguars running backs took 12 carries for 29 rushing yards and had seven receptions for 39 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air.

After this performance, on the season the Jaguars running back room is averaging 15.17 carries, 63.17 rushing yards, 0.5 rushing touchdowns, 6.5 receptions (on 7.5 targets), 53 receiving yards, and 0.33 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now compare this to what the Jaguars head coach, Doug Marrone, has historically gotten out of his running back room. Marrone has had his running backs combine to average 23.40 carries, 94.15 rushing yards, 0.62 rushing touchdowns, 8.86 targets, 49.47 receiving yards, and 0.21 receiving touchdowns per game in the 144 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In addition, in the 133 games that Jay Gruden had been an offensive coordinator prior to the season, his running backs have combined to average 21.95 carries, 87.59 rushing yards, 0.54 rushing touchdowns, 5.27 targets, 34.65 receiving yards, and 0.16 receiving touchdowns per game.

Based on this information, the Jaguars running back room appears to be performing below what we would expect, in particular on the ground. James Robinson is looking like a good player to be investing more into.

Fantasy players this impacts: James Robinson and Chris Thompson

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receivers

Bruce Arians & Byron Leftwich

The Buccaneers dominated the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers, winning 38-10. In this game, the Buccaneers wide receivers combined for eight receptions on 14 targets for 71 receiving yards and one touchdown.

After this performance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their wide receiver room averaging 11.5 receptions on 16.67 targets for 152 receiving yards and 1.5 receiving touchdowns per game this season.

Compare this to what Tampa Bay head coach, Bruce Arians, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receiver room. Arians has had his wide receivers combine to average 22.15 targets, 178.39 receiving yards, and 1.12 receiving touchdowns per game in the 240 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In addition, across the 25 games that Byron Leftwich had been an offensive coordinator prior to the season, his wide receiver room averaged 21.52 targets, 186.64 receiving yards, and 1.36 receiving touchdowns per game.

Based on these previous tendencies, we should expect more targets and receiving yards for the Buccaneers wide receivers in the future, and a slight regression in receiving touchdowns per a game. The Buccaneers wide receivers are a strong hold in fantasy football leagues right now.

Fantasy players this impacts: Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, and Scotty Miller



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Week 6 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

Deshaun Watson led the way at the quarterback position in Week 6, finishing with 32 points. Six of the top-seven quarterbacks on the week, Watson, Ryan Tannehill, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz and Lamar Jackson were all involved in the same three games which were shootouts with at least 58 points scored. George Kittle had another huge game finishing as the No. 2 tight end on the week and other than that, the position was a disaster with Anthony Firkser, Trey Burton, Darren Fells, Adam Shaheen and Nick Boyle making appearances in the top-10.

The Vikings and Falcons Defenses are terrible on the back-end and as a result, Justin Jefferson and Julio Jones finished as the top-two wide receivers on the week. Keelan Cole was a bit of a surprise finishing as WR-8 on the week against the Lions, even though D.J. Chark led the Jaguars in targets. On the low-end, Odell Beckham Jr., Julian Edelman and Cooper Kupp had terrible weeks, all finishing outside the top-50.

Derrick Henry ripped off a 94-yard touchdown run which made him RB-1 on the week. Ronald Jones, James Conner and Myles Gaskin all finished inside the top-six at running back as the beneficiaries of positive game scripts. Generally, running back was a tough position in Week 6 as only 10 players exceeded 15 points. Now that Week 6 is behind us, let's take a look at some of these unexpected performances and evaluate whether these guys will continue to produce moving forward.

 

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

Week 6 Stats: 29-of-44 passing, 371 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT

The Colts went down 21-0 to the Bengals very early in Week 6 and as a result, Rivers needed to put the ball in the air a season-high 44 times. Rivers has now exceeded 30 pass attempts in just two games this season. The Bengals defensive line also lacked any consistent pass rush, which afforded Rivers adequate time to throw without forcing him to move around much.

Bottom Line: The Colts were basically forced to abandon the running game early in this contest, rushing the ball just 15 times in the entire game. Philip Rivers will not throw the ball enough to be fantasy relevant unless the Colts are big underdogs or find themselves behind like they did against the Bengals. Don't rush out to your waiver wire and pick up Rivers unless you're in a two-QB league.

 

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 6 Stats: 2 targets, 1 catch, 10 yards

The Buccaneers Defense had Aaron Rodgers under siege for the entire game and he was never able to get settled. Rodgers threw his first two interceptions of the season on back-to-back drives in the first half, one of which went for a pick-six. Tom Brady only needed to throw the ball 27 times for 166 yards in a game that the Buccaneers controlled from the start, and they didn't need to push the ball down the field much through the air. Regardless of the game-flow, Chris Godwin received seven targets compared to just two for Evans.

Bottom Line: In the games where Chris Godwin starts, Godwin has 20 targets compared to just 10 for Mike Evans. You may want to consider shopping Evans in trade deals because if Godwin remains healthy, Evans will be the clear No. 2 receiver in the Buccaneers passing game.

 

Marcus Johnson, Indianapolis Colts

Week 6 Stats: 8 targets, 5 catches, 108 yards

In Week 6 Marcus Johnson played 63.5% of the Colts offensive snaps due to injury and since Week 4, Johnson has played at least 47.2% of the snaps. In Week 5, a game that the Colts lost to the Browns, Johnson was only targeted three times, hauling in all of them for 53 yards. The Bengals used their best defensive backs to cover T.Y. Hilton and Marcus Johnson was the beneficiary of decent matchups in the secondary. The Colts went down big early and Johnson racked up big yardage as the Colts needed to abandon the running game.

Bottom Line: Marcus Johnson will be extremely boom-or-bust until Michael Pittman returns from injury. Once Pittman does return to the lineup, Johnson will return to the bench. This game will likely be Johnson's best of 2020.

 

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 6 Stats: 11 targets, 8 catches, 96 yards

I have personally watched every single snap of the Bengals 2020 season, and heading into Week 6, it appeared that A.J. Green had fallen off. In Week 6, Green looked like the player we remembered from 2017 and 2018. Green was running great routes, routinely beating the Colts defensive backs and he was able to get open with ease. Green simply looked different in Week 6 and played a season-high 79.5% of the Bengals offensive snaps.

Bottom Line: A.J. Green showed us that he's back in Week 6. If somebody grew impatient and dropped him in your league, he's definitely worth a waiver claim. If Green is on your roster, you may want to consider selling-high because although he looked good, he's on a team that's loaded with play makers and he may not see consistent volume.

 

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

Week 6 Stats: 14 carries, 116 yards, 2 TD, 4 targets, 3 catches, 7 yards

D'Andre Swift played just 37.7% of the Lions offensive snaps in Week 6. This means Swift touched the ball on 17 of the 29 snaps he played. Adrian Peterson played 35.1% of the Lions offensive snaps, while Kerryon Johnson played just 25.6%. The Lions are clearly looking to run more and throw less in 2020, as Matthew Stafford has only exceeded 31-pass attempts twice this season

Bottom Line: D'Andre Swift is clearly the best running back on the Lions roster, but the Lions appear to be using a full blown three-man committee at the position. If you have Swift on your roster, he's worth starting consideration, but don't overblow this game because he may be boom-or-bust until he starts playing more.

 

Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns

Week 6 Stats: 13 carries, 40 yards, 3 targets, 2 catches, 17 yards

The Browns were dismantled by the Steelers in Week 6 and had to abandon the running game fairly early in the contest. Hunt played 52.6% of the snaps compared to 29.8% for D'Ernest Johnson and 12.3% for Dontrell Hilliard. The Browns offensive line wasn't able to get much movement up front and they didn't have much success throwing either, with Baker Mayfield throwing for just 119 yards.

Bottom Line: The Browns offense didn't generate much of anything in Week 6 and ended up benching many of their players late with the game out of reach. Buy-low on Hunt, because complete implosions like this won't happen often.

 

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

Week 6 Stats: 2 targets, 0 catches

The Dolphins dominated the Jets and simply didn't need to throw much. Complicating matters for Mike Gesicki, Adam Shaheen and Durham Smythe, both of which are tight ends, each scored.

Bottom Line: If you have Mike Gesicki on your roster, he may frustrate you at times, but he's a big-play threat and a top-10 option at the position, so you just need to roll him out there.

 

Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans

Week 6 Stats: 9 targets, 8 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD

Jonnu Smith went down with an injured ankle and as a result, Anthony Firkser played a season-high 54.7% of the snaps. The Titans trailed for much of the day against the Texans, and as a result Ryan Tannehill threw the ball 41 times.

Bottom Line: Jonnu Smith's ankle sprain is considered to be minor, and if he plays in Week 7, Firsker will see his snaps fall back into the 30%-range. If you are counting on Jonnu Smith, you may want to add Firkser as insurance in the event Smith misses Week 7.

 

Trey Burton, Indianapolis, Colts

Week 6 Stats: 1 carry, 1 yard, 1 TD, 5 targets, 4 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD

Every time Trey Burton was tackled in Week 6 he looked like he wasn't going to get back up. Logan Wilson matched up well on Burton for much of the game, and Burton's touchdown reception was a spectacular catch with Wilson all over him.

Bottom Line: Burton's performance was rather fluky, especially because of the rushing touchdown. If not for the scores, Burton would have had a very underwhelming stat-line, and he should only be rostered and started if you're desperate.



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Booms and Busts - Surprise Starts and Sits for Week 6 Lineups

The hits keep on coming during the 2020 season of fantasy football. Each week that passes by seems to bring yet another major talent crashing down due to injury. This past week it was Dak Prescott that was lost for the season with a broken ankle. As much as this injury affects the outlook for the Dallas Cowboys, it is equally devastating for his managers in fantasy. Even with as deep as the quarterback position is viewed, an injury to a player the caliber of Prescott can be a catastrophic loss. The safety of having that spot filled every week is taken away and sends managers scrambling for a replacement. That replacement can come from a trade or most likely via the waiver wire. These types of moves bring strategy into play more for fantasy managers. As decisions now must be made more from a matchup standpoint as opposed to just plugging the player into the starting lineup.

After the first five weeks of the season, managers have a better understanding of good and bad matchups to take advantage of. The better defenses around the league are obvious, which can open the door for those under the radar plays against poor competition. At the beginning of the 2020 season, no one could have predicted the likes of Mike Davis and Travis Fulgham setting the fantasy world on fire, but here we are. It's what can make this game fun, while also make it maddening. The constant battle between who is good enough to be in the lineup and who should be left on the bench for the week. One wrong decision could be the difference between a win or a loss. Ultimately making that decision the difference between making the playoffs or not.

Knowing positive and negative matchups is vitally important to a manager's success. That is what we provide for you here with the Woos and Boos of Week 6. I take a look at those under the radar plays that should be considered starting options for the week, while also pointing out the household names that could be in for disappointing weeks based on tough matchups.

Week 6 Woos

Kirk Cousins vs. Atlanta Falcons

You always have to question yourself when you're high on a QB that has not put up a QB1 performance since the first week of the season. That is where we are with Kirk Cousins. But facing a Falcons Defense that is the worst in points allowed to the position (30.5 FPPG) can do wonders for a player's performance. In fact, the Falcons have surrendered at least four scores to opposing QBs in all but one game. Add in the possibility of Dalvin Cook missing this game and you could see Cousins put together his best game of the season. If you are looking for a QB this week with Russell Wilson and Drew Brees on bye, look no further than Kirk Cousins.

David Montgomery @ Carolina Panthers

Montgomery has struggled to get it going in 2020 with three of his five games finishing outside the top-30 in scoring at the position. But look for that to change in Week 6 as he faces a Panthers Defense that has been run all over to start the season. They are third in the league in points allowed to opposing RBs (27.4 FPPG) giving up at least one score in each game. Even though his rushing totals have been suspect, Montgomery has been picking up the slack in the receiving game (seven receptions in Week 5). If he can put it all together in Week 6, Montgomery is a lock to finish as an RB1.

Preston Williams vs. New York Jets

After weeks of disappointing results, Williams finally put together a solid effort in Week 5 (four receptions for 106 yards and a score). The production has yet to fully click, but he is top-10 in average depth of target (15.8) and inside the top-30 in air yards (348). Something has to give and that should be this week in a plus matchup against a very subpar Jets Defense that is allowing 23.8 FPPG to opposing wideouts. With the Dolphins offense playing well in recent weeks, take a shot with Williams as your WR3 in Week 6.

Austin Hooper @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Hooper started his Browns career very slowly with subpar performances during the first few weeks. But he has picked up the pace with back-to-back games with five receptions each. Even with the slow start, he is top-12 at the position with 17 catches on the year (speaking to how poor the position has been this year). Although the matchup may not be the best in Week 6 against the Steelers (5.7 FPPG allowed), you have to ride the hot hand if you are in need at the position. With the Browns possibly playing from behind in this game, Hooper may find himself as a vital piece to the makeup effort. Managers that like to stream the position could use Hooper as a valuable fill-in for Week 6.

 

Week 6 Boos

Tom Brady vs. Green Bay Packers

Brady's performances have been like clockwork to start the 2020 season. If the matchup is good, he has performed well. In three plus-matchups, he has three QB1 finishes. In two tough matchups, his best finish is QB19. That could be the case in Week 6, facing a Packers Defense that is 20th in the league allowing just 18.6 FPPG to the position. With other QBs out there with better matchups (Cousins, Fitzpatrick), managers may want to look elsewhere in Week 6 to fill this position in their starting lineups.

Joe Mixon @ Indianapolis Colts

Obviously, you will be starting Mixon in your lineups due to the workload he gets on a week-in-week-out basis (first in opportunity share at 85.5% and second in carries with 101). On the season, he has just one RB1 finish (RB1 in Week 4) with all other performances outside the top-24. Facing a stout Colts Defense will not help matters either (only 13.5 FPPG allowed). Managers must adjust expectations for this matchup as he will be likely starting for most due to lack of depth. But expecting an RB1 finish might be a stretch for Week 6.

Robby Anderson vs. Chicago Bears

One of the bright spots early during the 2020 season, Anderson has risen to become a weekly staple in fantasy starting lineups. He has been the most targeted receiver for Teddy Bridgewater, ranking third in the league in receptions (36) and fourth in yardage (490). But what has been hurting him is the lack of scoring (one touchdown back in Week 1). That could be the case yet again this week facing a Bears Defense that has allowed just one touchdown to opposing wideouts on the season (Mike Evans in Week 5). This may be a week for managers to look elsewhere to fill their WR3 role in the starting lineup.

Zach Ertz vs. Baltimore Ravens

Talk about disappointing and you have to look at the performance of Ertz to begin this season. The targets have been there (35) and he is first in routes run at the position (194). But the production has yet to catch up as he is 22nd in yardage (145) and has found the end-zone just once. Don't look for that to change in Week 6 as he faces the tough Ravens Defense that is currently allowing just 7.7 FPPG to the position. Ertz is a player that most owners keep in their lineups because of who he is, but until the production picks up you must continue to temper expectations.



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Fantasy Football Trade Targets - Week 6

The fantasy trade market is always a fun one to evaluate. Articles like this are essentially glorified "Who's Hot and Who's Not" pieces but the tables are turned to where sometimes, you want to trade for those that are cold and trade away those hot.

Now, five weeks into the season, we have several big-name players underperforming and others over-performing. The trade market has the most leverage possible early on in the year when owners are 0-5 or 1-4 with injuries flooding them (especially this year). The time to buy/sell is now and I am here to help.

If you like this piece or others like it,  follow me on Twitter @RotoSurgeon to catch on any relevant and/or ask questions. Best of luck!

 

Players to Trade For

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

Chase Claypool breaking out is the best thing that could have happened for Juju. Now, the Steelers finally have a field-stretching threat who can play the Martavis Bryant role in the offense and open up the middle of the field for Juju to operate. While the target share and fantasy production has been mediocre for the greater part of the past two seasons, the time has come to trade for Juju. His early-career production was definitely bolstered playing next to arguably the greatest receiver of this past generation in Antonio Brown but he did hold his own without him.

In 4 games with Ben and without AB prior to this season: Juju had 35 targets, 26 receptions, 333 yards, and 3 TDs. Two of those games were with Martavis Bryant who drew plenty of attention away from the line-of-scrimmage and the hope with Claypool is the same. Claypool is so big and fast that leaving him in man coverage with a smaller DB is foolish, he needs to be doubled downfield or else. Juju's strength is playing through contact, finding holes and breaking out plays with the ball in his hands. Diontae Johnson is a talented receiver due to return soon and also bolstered by Claypool but Juju is the primary beneficiary given his style of play.

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

Obviously, Cooper has been fantastic this season and trading for him last week would have cost an arm and a leg but after Dak Prescott's injury and Cooper's mediocre Week 5 performance, there may be a window open to take advantage of. While Andy Dalton is a downgrade from Prescott, he is still a capable NFL QB who will be playing in the best offense since 2015 with prime A.J. Green, Marvin Jones Jr, Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert and Mohamed Sanu.

Five years is a lot of time, and there has been plenty of mediocrity since, but Dalton's now been in Dallas all offseason and through the first month of the season. He should know the playbook well enough to operate the offense and have plenty of easy throws given the plethora of talent at WR. The Cowboys will feed Ezekial Elliot more than they had early-on with Prescott but they can only afford to do so to a certain degree given how poor their defense is (24th in DVOA). The passing volume will be there and Cooper can succeed with any competent QB under center, especially given the talent around him.

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

Swift is in a precarious position fantasy-wise as he has not played much, if at all particularly due to Adrian Peterson's arrival, but he has been fantasy-relevant scoring double-digit PPR points in three-of-four games thus far. Kerryon Johnson is slowly getting phased out of the offense and while Peterson remains as the main blockade, that could not matter so much if Swift takes on the lead job with Peterson playing more of a short-yardage role.

Swift has shown to be a fantastic receiving option out of the backfield (despite dropping the game-winner in Week 1) and has tons of rushing upside. He was the second RB drafted in 2020 for a reason and while the Lions have shown to be incompetent with the position for two decades now, Swift should be the one to buck this trend. He was dealing with a hip injury earlier in the season which may have lingered a bit. Now, coming off of the BYE, the Lions may feel a lot more comfortable with him taking on a larger load and playing much more comfortably in the offense. Not to mention, the Lions get an absolute smash matchup versus the Jaguars who have been gashed on the ground for over 300 rushing yards the past two weeks.

 

Players to Trade Away

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

Hopes of Ekeler returning anytime soon are fleeting. While he did post a video on Instagram recently where he was working out on a bike machine and claiming to be getting healthier, there is a huge hill to climb before getting back on the field. Ekeler's injury is fairly severe as he admitted that some of the tendon in his leg ripped off of the bone. Luckily, surgery is not required but the rehab process could last until the end of the season. With the Chargers sitting at the bottom of the AFC West with a losing record, there will be no rush to bring him back on the field in the second-half of the season when he is eligible to return from IR. Even if he does return within his six-week timeframe initially established, there is a ton of re-injury risk if he is not 100%.

This has nothing to do with on-field performance/regression whatsoever, he will be incredible on the field with a QB like Herbert who has been a massive improvement over Tyrod Taylor. Trade Ekeler away while the initial reports of his injury are more positive than they may turn out to be in a few weeks.

Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders

After a two-game absence, Ruggs came out and torched the Chiefs' secondary for two catches, 118 yards and a TD. Ruggs' is an incredible football player whose value will often not show up on stat-sheets like in Week 5. He is a field-stretcher who can operate on several sectors of offense but when you quarterback is Derek Carr, Ruggs is needed to take the top off of defenses and keep them honest. While Carr is justifiably labeled as a check-down artist afraid of throwing deep, he is *capable* of doing so, and when he does, Ruggs can, and will produce. However, In three games, Ruggs' hasn't seen more than five targets and given the type of offense Jon Gruden runs, it is unlikely that Ruggs' target share is respectively high anytime soon.

The selling point on Ruggs is that he is a home-run threat akin to Marqiuse Brown/Will Fuller and can win weeks with some WR1 performances. He still has some cache as the first WR selected in the 2020 Draft by a team bereft of pass-catching talent. However, Nelson Agholor and Hunter Renfrow have performed well, Bryan Edwards is returning soon, and Darren Waller is essentially the WR1 despite playing TE. Ruggs will have opportunities but they will be limited, making the margin-for-error quite slim.

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

To be absolutely clear, do not trade Montgomery until after this week's matchup versus the Panthers. He will probably have as good a game as any running back against their porous run defense. Montgomery's fantasy value is more perception-based than performance-based thus far but he is coming off of his second-best scoring week of the season. Pile on Week 6's presumed performance and you have some momentum to trade away.

Montgomery has been a terrible real-life running back since entering the league and a mediocre-at-best "workhorse" RB. There is still reason to believe that he could have a decent career but he has been mired by the surrounding offense along with his inability to run straight. With Tarik Cohen out for the season, Montgomery's immediate workload should be plentiful and that is another selling-point but it is not hard to imagine Chicago bringing in a complementary back. to alleviate some of the work and play the more valuable passing-downs. The Bears have already inquired about Le'Veon Bell and it is very possible they trade for a back prior to the deadline or sign someone off of the street if a viable one is cut.



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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 5 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As this unique regular season continues to unfold, an expanding assortment of tools is available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the fifth installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This massive collection of data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 5 Target Leaders 

Wide Receivers Total Targets Targ/Game YPT
Allen Robinson 57 11.4 7.4
Amari Cooper 55 11 7.7
DeAndre Hopkins 53 10.6 10
Stefon Diggs 51 10.2 10
Calvin Ridley 50 10 9.7
Keenan Allen 50 10 7.1
Robby Anderson 47 9.4 10.4
Terry McLaurin 46 9.2 9
Adam Thielen 44 8.8 8.3
Tyler Boyd 40 8 9.1
Darius Slayton 40 8 9.1
CeeDee Lamb 40 8 10.8
Odell Beckham Jr. 39 7.8 7.5
D.K. Metcalf 39 7.8 12.7
Tyler Lockett 38 7.6 9
D.J. Moore 37 7.4 10.3
Cooper Kupp 36 7.2 10.1
Marquise Brown 36 7.2 8.9
Emmanuel Sanders 36 7.2 8.4
Mike Evans 35 7 7.7
Tyreek Hill 35 7 10.4
A.J. Green 34 6.8 3.5
Jamison Crowder 33 11 10.2
Brandin Cooks 33 6.6 9.1
DeVante Parker 32 6.4 10.3
Russell Gage 32 6.4 7
T.Y. Hilton 32 6.4 7.2
Robert Woods 31 6.2 9.7
Greg Ward 31 6.2 5.5
Julian Edelman 30 7.5 9.8
Will Fuller 30 6 11.1
Tee Higgins 30 6 7.1
Cole Beasley 30 6 10.4
Sammy Watkins 29 5.8 7.7
Keelan Cole 28 5.8 7.6
Jerry Jeudy 28 7 8.4
N'Keal Harry 28 7 5.9
Isaiah Ford 28 5.6 6.2
Michael Gallup 28 5.6 12.4
Jarvis Landry 28 5.6 10
Laviska Shenault Jr. 28 5.6 9.6
Diontae Johnson 26 6.5 5.7
Kendrick Bourne 26 5.2 8.7
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 25 6.3 8.4
Darnell Mooney 25 5 6.4
Justin Jefferson 25 5 14.8
Larry Fitzgerald 25 5 4.9

 

Allen Robinson has now stockpiled 39 targets since Week 3, which is the most among all receivers during that three-game span. He has also collected at least 10 targets in eight of his last 11 regular-season matchups. His 16 targets in Week 5 tied his career-high which had originally been established in Week 7 of last season. It also propelled him to the league lead in targets for the year (57).

Amari Cooper is second overall (55), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (53), Stefon Diggs (51), Calvin Ridley (50), Keenan Allen (48), Robby Anderson (47), Terry McLaurin (46), Adam Thielen (44), and three receivers tied with 40 - Tyler Boyd, CeeDee Lamb, and Darius Slayton - who will be discussed further in the 5 Things I Noticed section. D.K. Metcalf and Odell Beckham Jr. are tied at 39, followed by Metcalf’s teammate Lockett (38), D.J. Moore (37), Cooper, (36), Marquise Brown (36), Emmanuel Sanders (36), and two receivers tied with 35 - Mike Evans, and Tyreek Hill.

A.J. Green has been targeted just 12 times during his last three matchups combined, after collecting 22 during Weeks 1-2. That raised his season total to 34, while Jamison Crowder and Brandin Cooks are next with 33. T.Y. Hilton, DeVante Parker, and Russell Gage are tied with 32, Robert Woods and Greg Ward, have been targeted 31 times, while Will Fuller, Julian Edelman, Cole Beasley, and newcomer Tee Higgins are the only other receivers that have reached 30 targets through the first five weeks.

Calvin Ridley has collected at least 10 targets in four contests which leads all receivers. Robinson’s three games of 10+ targets tie him with Cooper, Allen, Anderson, and Crowder - who has attained double digits in all three matchups that he has played in. McLaurin and Thielen have accomplished it twice, as Thielen has captured 23 targets during his last two contests (10/13).

Nelson Agholar leads all wide receivers with a 16.8 yards per target average. Justin Jefferson is second (14.8), followed by two receivers who commandeered their place within the fantasy landscape in Week 5 - Chase Claypool, and Travis Fulgham at 13.1. D.K. Metcalf is fifth (12.7), followed by Metcalf's teammate David Moore, and Michael Gallup with 12.4. Scott Miller is averaging 11.9 yards per target, followed by Stefon Diggs 11.5, Mecole Hardman (11.4), Josh Reynolds (11.3), Andy Isabella (11.3), Will Fuller (11.1), Gabriel Davis (11,0), and D.J. Chark (11.0). Lamb, Randal Cobb, and Corey Davis are next (10.8).

Carolina teammates Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore are among the 11 additional receivers that are averaging at least 10 yards per target. Moore's current 10.3 average is the highest of his career after he averaged 9.2 during his first two seasons. Anderson's average of 10.4 also exceeds his previous career-high of 8.3. There will be more discussion surrounding these two Panther receivers in the 5 things I Noticed section.

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers Week 4 Week 5 Changes
Chase Claypool BYE 11 11
Travis Fulgham 3 13 10
Stefon Diggs 7 16 9
A.J. Brown BYE 9 9
Brandin Cooks 3 12 9
Gabriel Davis 1 9 8
Mike Williams INJ 8 8
Allen Robinson 10 16 6
Emmanuel Sanders 9 14 5
D.K. Metcalf 6 11 5
Calvin Ridley 5 10 5
T.Y. Hilton 5 10 5
Deebo Samuel 3 8 5
Darius Slayton 7 11 4
CeeDee Lamb 7 11 4
Larry Fitzgerald 3 7 4
John Hightower 2 6 4
Darnell Mooney 9 5 -4
A.J. Green 5 1 -4
Olamide Zaccheaus 9 4 -5
D.J. Chark 9 4 -5
Sammy Watkins 7 2 -5
Zach Pascal 8 2 -6
Terry McLaurin 14 7 -7
Hunter Renfrow 8 1 -7
Scott Miller 7 0 -7
Isaiah Ford 10 2 -8
Keenan Allen 11 2/INJ -9
DeVante Parker 12 3 -9
Amari Cooper 16 4 -12

 

 

Robinson attained the highest weekly target total when he collected the aforementioned 16 targets during Chicago’s matchup with Tampa Bay. Diggs was also targeted 16 times during Buffalo's matchup in Tennessee, which was the second time that he has attained at least 13 targets during the last four weeks. Emmanuel Sanders had averaged 4.3 targets per game from Weeks 1-3. But he has captured 23 during his last two matchups, including his highest weekly total since Week 5 of 2018.

Philadelphia’s Travis Fulgham was originally selected by Detroit in Round 6 of the 2019 NFL Draft and failed to catch a pass for the Lions throughout all of last season. But fantasy GMs have quickly become acquainted with Fulgham after Carson Wentz launched 13 passes in his direction during the Eagles’ matchup in Pittsburgh. That tied him with Thielen and Anderson for the third-highest weekly total behind Robinson and Diggs. Cooks was next with (12), which resulted in his highest weekly total since Week 3 of 2019.

Five receivers collected 11 targets during their matchups - Metcalf, Slayton, Lamb, the Jets’ Jeff Smith, and Pittsburgh rookie Chase Claypool - who has become a scorching hot waiver wire target this week. Ridley, Marquise Brown, Crowder, and Hilton were the only other receivers to eclipse 10+ targets during Week 5. Among the collection of 14 receivers that reached double-digits, new season highs were established for Robinson, Anderson, Thielen, Cooks, Slayton, Lamb, Metcalf,  Smith, Hilton, Sanders, and Brown. The weekly totals for Claypool and Fulgham were also career bests.

Claypool's 11 targets following Pittsburgh's bye launched him to the largest week-to-week increase of +11. Fulgham’s 13 targets were generated one week after he collected three targets in Week 4. That difference of +10 was the second-largest week-to-week increase among all receivers. Cooks’ 12 targets were captured one week after he had been targeted just three times, which resulted in the third-largest increase for the week (+9). That also tied him with Diggs and A.J. Brown, -who performed for the first time since Week 1. Diggs' teammate, rookie Gabriel Davis, experienced an increase of +8 after collecting a career-high nine targets. That tied him with Mike Williams, while Robinson was next (+6), followed by Metcalf, Ridley, Sanders, Hilton, and Deebo Samuel, who all attained a rise of +5 in their week to week target totals.

Amari Cooper had accumulated 28 targets in weeks four and five, including the 16 that he captured last week. However, he was only targeted four times when Dallas hosted NFC East rival New York. That produced the largest week to week decrease of -12. The week five totals of DeVante Parker and Keenan Allen were both reduced by -9 although Allen’s back issue was responsible for his decline.

Isaiah Ford’s target totals have now fluctuated significantly during the past four weeks. After attaining nine targets in Week 2, his total dropped by =7 in Week 32. He was also targeted 10 times in Week 4 but received just two targets when Miami traveled to San Francisco. That created the decline of -8. The week to week totals for McLaurin, Scott Miller, and Hunter Renfrow all dropped by -7, while Zach Pascal’s two targets in Week 5 created a reduction of -6.

 

Week 5 Air Yards

Wide Receivers  Air Yards % Air Yards aDOT
Calvin Ridley 780 41.7 15.9
D.K. Metcalf 717 44.4 17.5
Adam Thielen 626 48.4 14.6
Allen Robinson 604 33.2 10.8
Marquise Brown 597 45.1 16.6
Tyreek Hill 569 37.7 16.3
Stefon Diggs 526 33.7 10.5
A.J. Green 512 28.8 15.1
Amari Cooper 510 27.7 9.3
Darius Slayton 497 44.2 12.4
Odell Beckham 490 39.6 13.2
Terry McLaurin 466 41.7 10.4
Michael Gallup 453 26.8 16.8
D.J. Moore 440 39.2 12.2
DeAndre Hopkins 437 31.2 8.2
Will Fuller 436 27.7 13.6
Robby Anderson 435 39 9.3
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 431 34.5 17.1
Keenan Allen 410 31.1 8.4
Brandin Cooks 397 28.1 12.8
CeeDee Lamb 394 22.7 10.1
T.Y. Hilton 394 33.1 12.7
Tee Higgins 382 25.5 13.6
Mike Williams 379 25.8 17.2
Mike Evans 375 25.1 10.7
Tyler Boyd 361 21.7 9
Jerry Jeudy 353 25.8 13.6
Julian Edelman 347 39.4 11.6
Tyler Lockett 345 24.9 9.1
Darnell Mooney 341 19.3 13.7
Scott  Miller 341 20.5 16.2
Christian Kirk 341 25.2 16.2
Preston Williams 340 24.1 14.8
DeSean Jackson 338 20.9 16.9
Justin Jefferson 329 24.1 13.2
Emmanuel Sanders 322 32.7 8.9
DeVante Parker 318 23.8 9.9
John Brown 302 27 13.1

 

Calvin Ridley has maintained his league lead in air yards (780) followed by D.K. Metcalf (717), Adam Thielen (626), and Allen Robinson (604). Marquise Brown is fifth overall (597), followed by Tyreek Hill (569), Stefon Diggs (526), A.J. Green (512), Amari Cooper (510),  and Darius Slayton (497), completing the top 10. Odell Beckham (490) is next, followed by Terry McLaurin (466), Michael Gallup (453), D.J. Moore (440), DeAndre Hopkins (437), and Will Fuller (436), Robby Anderson (431), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (431), and Keenan Allen (418) complete the list of receivers that have accumulated 400+.

John Hightower leads all wide receivers in targeted air yards (18.8). Mike Williams is second overall (17.6), followed by Gallup (17.4), Valdes-Scantling (17.2), Brown (16.9), DeSean Jackson (16.8), Ridley (16.4), and three receivers that are tied at 16.3 – Metcalf, Christian Kirk, and Scott Miller. Tyreek Hill is the only other receiver that has eclipsed 16 (16.1). Higgins and teammate A.J. Green are tied with 14.9, followed by Preston Williams (14.7), Thielen (14.5) Chase Claypool (13.9), and three receivers that are tied at 13.7 - Beckham, Darnell Mooney, and Gabriel Davis.

 

Thielen continues to lead his position in percentage share of team air yard‘s (48.4). Marquise Brown is now second (45.1), followed by Metcalf (44.5), Slayton (44.2), McLaurin (43.2), and Ridley (41.7). Beckham is next (39.6), followed by Edelman (39.4), Moore (39.2), Moore's teammate Anderson (39.0), Tyreek Hill (37.7), Valdes-Scantling (34,5), Diggs (33.7), Robinson (33.2), Hilton (33.1), Sanders (32.6), and Hopkins (31.2). Allen (31.1) completes the list of receivers that are averaging at least 30%.

 

Week 5 First Downs

Wide Receivers First Downs
DeAndre Hopkins 29
Calvin Ridley 25
Tyler Boyd 25
Amari Cooper 23
Terry McLaurin 22
Stefon Diggs 22
Robby Anderson 21
Keenan Allen 21
Allen Robinson 21
CeeDee Lamb 20
D. J. Moore 19
Darius Slayton 19
Adam Thielen 19
D.K. Metcalf 19
Tyreek Hill 18
Tyler Lockett 17
Cooper Kupp 17
Russell Gage 17
Emmanuel Sanders 17
DeVante Parker 17
Marquise Brown 16
Mike Evans 16
Justin Jefferson 16
Julian Edelman 16
Laviska Shenault Jr. 16
Sammy Watkins 16
Cole Beasley 16

DeAndre Hopkins leads are wide receivers with 29 first downs, while Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd are tied for second (25). Amari Cooper is fourth (23), followed by Terry McLaurin (22), Stefon Diggs (22), and three receivers that are tied with 21 first downs – Allen Robinson, Robby Anderson, and Keenan Allen. CeeDee Lamb leads rookies in yet another category with his 20 first downs, while Adam Thielen, Darius Slayton, D.K. Metcalf, and D.J. Moore, have all captured 19. Tyreek Hill is next (18), followed by five receivers that have collected 17 receptions for first downs - Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, DeVante Parker, Emmanuel Sanders, and Russell Gage.

 

Week 5 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5 Team %
Emmanuel Sanders 8 4 2 26.67
Russell Gage 8 4 2 32
N'Keal Harry 8 4 2 40
Darius Slayton 7 4 2 28
Adam Thielen 7 3 1 53.85
Calvin Ridley 7 3 2 28
Mike Evans 6 5 4 21.43
Keenan Allen 6 1 0 31.58
Sammy Watkins 6 5 2 22.22
CeeDee Lamb 6 5 4 26.09
Odell Beckham 6 5 4 37.5
Robby Anderson 6 2 1 28.57
DeAndre Hopkins 6 2 1 35.29
DK Metcalf 5 4 0 17.86
Tyler Lockett 5 4 3 17.86
Tyreek Hill 5 3 1 18.52
Zach Pascal 5 3 2 18.52
Allen Robinson 5 2 1 17.24
Stefon Diggs 5 2 2 15.63
Cole Beasley 5 4 2 15.63
DJ Chark 5 3 1 17.24
Trent Taylor 4 1 0 14.29
David Moore 4 1 0 14.29
Greg Ward 4 1 0 30.77
Chris Hogan 4 2 1 26.67
Tre'Quan Smith 4 1 1 13.33
Preston Williams 4 3 2 21.05
Hunter Renfrow 4 0 0 16
Cooper Kupp 4 1 0 22.22
Collin Johnson 4 3 2 13.79
T.Y. Hilton 4 0 0 14.81
Will Fuller 4 1 1 26.67
Amari Cooper 4 1 0 17.39
Tee Higgins 4 2 2 14.81
Anthony Miller 4 1 1 13.79
Brandon Aiyuk 4 3 2 14.29
JuJu Smith-Schuster 4 3 0 25
Julian Edelman 4 2 1 20
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 4 0 0 14.81
John Brown 4 2 1 12.5
Kenand ny Golladay 4 1 0 18.18

N’Keal Harry maintained his lead in red zone targets (8). However, he is now tied with Russell Gage and Emmanuel Sanders after the Week 5 matchups. Darius Slayton, Calvin Ridley, and Adam Thielen are next (7), followed by seven receivers that have collected six targets - Odell Beckham, Robby Anderson, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, CeeDee Lamb, and Sammy Watkins (6). Eight additional receivers are tied with five targets inside the 20 - D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Tyreek Hill, Zach Pascal, Allen Robinson, Cole Beasley, D.J. Chark, and Stefon Diggs.

Beckham, Evans, Watkins, and Lamb are tied for the lead with five targets inside the 10, while eight different receivers have been targeted four times  - Harry, Ridley, Sanders, Slayton, Metcalf, Beasley, Gage, Lockett, and Sanders.

Lamb, Beckham, and Evans are in a three-way tie for the league lead with four targets inside the 5.  Lockett has captured three targets, while a collection of 15 receivers have been targeted twice.

 

Week 5 Snap Counts

Wide Receivers  Week 5 Snaps Total Snaps Total Snap%
Michael Gallup 64/97% 345 89.84
DeAndre Hopkins 65/87% 332 93.26
Amari Cooper 42/64% 313 81.51
Terry McLaurin 54/100% 309 94.79
D.K. Metcalf 52/96% 304 95.6
Tyreek Hill 63/88% 303 86.82
Tyler Lockett 52/96% 300 94.34
Robert Woods 59/87% 300 89.29
Adam Thielen 81/93% 298 91.98
Darius Slayton 64/94% 297 92.52
Larry Fitzgerald 60/80% 295 82.87
Mike Evans 60/85% 293 84.68
Tyler Boyd 46/69% 291 77.81
Cooper Kupp 56/82% 288 85.71
Keenan Allen 12/17% 288 80.22
Calvin Ridley 48/74% 287 80.39
Allen Robinson 55/87% 280 83.09
Chris Hogan 45/65% 274 82.78
D.J. Moore 51/78% 274 82.28
CeeDee Lamb 36/55% 274 71.35
Zach Pascal 51/92% 266 79.4
Odell Beckham 63/86% 266 77.78
Jalen Guyton 65/92% 264 73.54
Kendrick Bourne 42/66% 258 76.56
Damiere Byrd BYE 257 91.79
DeVante Parker 53/79% 255 75.89
Stefon Diggs 60/83% 247 91.14
Jarvis Landry 56/77% 245 71.64
Keelan Cole 60/80% 244 73.05
Robby Anderson 47/72% 240 72.07
T.Y. Hilton 53/94% 239 71.34
Marvin Jones BYE 239 90.19
A.J. Green 28/42% 238 63.64
Sammy Watkins 26/36% 237 67.91
Justin Jefferson 70/80% 237 73.15
Preston Williams 40/60% 235 69/94
Brandin Cooks 48/83% 234 81.25
JuJu Smith-Schuster 57/76% 229 80.63
Tee Higgins 54/81% 229 61.23
Mike Williams 55/78% 227 74
Will Fuller 48/83% 226 78.47
Emmanuel Sanders 45/59% 224 66.77
Marquise Brown 54/86% 222 74

 

Michael Gallup has now led all wide receivers in offensive snaps for two consecutive weeks (345). He is followed by DeAndre Hopkins (332), Gallup’s teammate Amari Cooper (313), Terry McLaurin (309), D.K. Metcalf (304), Tyreek Hill (303), and two receivers that have performed on exactly 300 offensive snaps - Tyler Lockett, and Robert Woods. Adam Thielen is next (298), followed by Darius Slayton (297), Larry Fitzgerald (295), Mike Evans (293), Tyler Boyd (291), Cooper Kupp (288), Calvin Ridley (287), and Allen Robinson (280).

Metcalf (95.6), leads all receivers in offensive snap percentage, followed by McLaurin (94.8), Lockett (94.3), Hopkins (93.3), Slayton (92.5), Thielen (92.0), Damiere Byrd (91.8), and Stefon Diggs (91.1). Gallup (89.9) is next, followed by Robert Woods (89.3), Tyreek Hill (86.8), Cooper Kupp (85.7), Mike Evans (84.7), and Allen Robinson (83.1).

Thielen led the position in offensive snaps during Week 5 (81). His teammate Justin Jefferson was second (70), followed by Jeff Smith (68), Hopkins (65), Jalen Guyton (65), Gallup (64), Slayton (64), and three receivers that tied with 63 - Beckham, Hill, and Olamide Zacchaeus. Three receivers were also tied with 60 snaps (Evans, Fitzgerald, Keelan Cole). They were followed by Woods (59) JuJu Smith-Schuster (57), Deebo Samuel (57), and three receivers that were tied with 56 - Kupp, Landry, and Tampa Bay rookie Tyler Johnson.

McLaurin and Gabriel Davis led all receivers in snap count percentage during Week 5, by performing on 100% of their teams’ offensive snaps. Smith was third for the week (98.6), followed by Gallup (97.0), Zacchaeus (96.9), Aiyul (96.9), Lockett (96.3), Metcalf (96.3), Hilton (94.6), and Slayton (94.1). Thielen was next (93.1), followed by Guyton (91.6), Zach Pascal (91.7), Samuel (89.1), Hill (87.5), Robinson (87.3), Woods (86.8), Hopkins (86.7), and Beckham (86.3).

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. It has become increasingly clear that Robby Anderson has ascended beyond D.J. Moore as Carolina's true WR1 after five weeks of the regular season.

Moore entered the year in the aftermath of his 2019 breakout, in which he finished eighth among all receivers in yardage (1,175), and 10th in both targets (135) and receptions (87). He was also averaging 9.5 targets, 6.1 receptions, and 84 yards per game from Weeks 1-15, before a concussion, prematurely ended his season. This had vaulted him into high-end WR2 terrain which propelled his momentum as a Round 3 selection during the draft process. But fantasy GMs did not display a similar level of enthusiasm for drafting Robby Anderson after he signed with the Panthers during the offseason.

Anderson had finished 33rd in targets (96/6.0 per game) 43rd in receptions (52) and 37th in receiving yards (779) during 2019, although he tied for sixth in percentage of team's air yards (36.7). He appeared to provide Carolina with a downfield weapon who would primarily clear space for Moore by running deeper routes. But Anderson has thrived in the strategic approach of Matt Rhule and Joe Brady, and now enters Week 6 with 47 targets. That is 10 more than Moore and is also the league’s sixth-highest total. Anderson is also fourth overall in both receptions (36), and receiving yards (489), and has now paced Panther wide receivers in targets and receptions during each of their last three contests. That includes Week 5 when he also led Carolina in targets (12), receptions (8), and receiving yards (112).

Moore led the team in targets during their first two games, is 16th overall for the season (37), and is also 19th in receptions (22). However, he is also 10th in yardage (381), and 14th in air yards (440) - just three spots above Anderson (435). Both receivers are currently inside the top 10 in percentage share of air yards as Moore in ninth (39.2), followed directly by Anderson (39.0). However, Moore’s 57-yard touchdown in Week 5 was generated on a short reception in which nearly all yardage was generated after the catch. It was Moore’s first touchdown of the season - which ties him with Anderson.

Even though Moore’s current per-game averages (7.4 targets/4.4 receptions/76.2 yards), do not match his averages from 2019, anyone with the third-year receiver on their rosters should not become discouraged. He remains a WR2, and would still finish the season with 118 targets, 70 receptions, and 1,219 yards if he retained those averages over a 16-game schedule. Anderson has earned the distinction of WR1 status, as his combination of talent and opportunity should allow him to continue flourishing in Carolina’s restructured offense.

 

2. On the eve of last Sunday’s Week 5 matchups, several websites categorized “all Jet receivers” as “unplayable”.

This recommendation was due to the numerous deficiencies throughout the Jet offense, which was to be accentuated by the elevation of Joe Flacco under center. However, Crowder has repeatedly overcome the various hurdles that have permeated the Jet attack – both on and off the field. He was primed to enter the matchup having already navigated his team’s internal obstacles while accumulating 23 targets in just two contests. This should have provided fantasy GMs and analysts with sufficient confidence to keep him entrenched in the lineup, even though Flacco would be spearheading the offense.

Crowder remains the only wide receiver that has collected 10+ targets in every contest this season, as he caught eight of his 10 targets during New York’s Week 5 matchup with Arizona. That currently places him in a tie for 23rd among all receivers with 33 targets for the season, even though he was sidelined in Weeks 2-3. He is also 20th in yardage despite his two-game absence, after he assembled a season-high 116 against the Cardinals. He has now exceeded 100 yards in all three games (115/104/116). Crowder also vaulted to WR7 in scoring for the week, even though he was operating with Flacco.

Crowder’s usage and production in just three matchups have been sufficient to lead the Jets in targets (33), receptions (22), while he has also generated over 200 more receiving yards than any of his teammates (335). He is also sixth overall in yards after catch (170) and is averaging a career-high 15.2 yards per reception following his performance against the Cardinals.

The drama surrounding Le’Veon Bell provides yet another self-defeating development for the Jets, and the endless collection of issues that impact the franchise could compel fantasy GMs to overlook Crowder’s accomplishments this season. But that provides the rationale for including Crowder in this section. He has earned recognition for the excellent season that he is constructing amid the ugliness of his organization. There should be no hesitation in starting him, as he has become unrestricted by what could easily have been massive constraints in his production. He should be in all lineups moving forward. as savvy managers should know that they can place infinite trust in the sixth-year veteran.

 

3. The Packers were universally expected to bolster their wide receiving arsenal during the off-season.

However, it has been well documented that General Manager Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur eschewed the opportunity to provide Aaron Rodgers with additional options throughout free agency and the NFL draft. This initiated an eruption of widespread criticism, while also resulting in a Round 10 ADP for Rodgers.

Green Bay has risen to ninth in run play percentage (45.6%), after ranking 17th (40.2%) one year ago. However, the Packers also enter Week 6 bye with the league’s third-ranked passing attack (294.8 yards per game). Rodgers is QB6 in scoring, has constructed an exceptional 13:0 touchdown to interception ratio, and is second in touchdown percentage (9.4).

Rodgers accomplished this even though Green Bay ranks 24th in pass play percentage (54.4%), and has been without passing game centerpiece Davante Adams since Week 2. Adams was a strong candidate to lead the NFL in targets this season and achieved that in Week 1 (17 targets/42.5% target share). He should return this week to recapture his role as Green Bay’s target monster and could reprise his statistical surge from last season. Adams reemerged from a turf toe injury in Week 8 to finish second overall in targets (91) and receptions (58) from Weeks 8-17.

Allen Lazard generated a career-best 146 yards on eight targets in Week 3 but remains in the early stage of an extended absence following core muscle surgery. He still leads the Packers yardage (254), while Marquez Valdes-Scantling has garnered a team-high 25 targets (6.3 per game). Valdes-Scantling is also fourth among all receivers in targeted air yards (17.2), 18th in air yards (431), and 18th in percentage share of air yards (34.5). Valdez-Scantling also leads the team in target share (18.7) although that will change following Adams’ return.

Aaron Jones is second in target share (17.2). and entered his bye in a tie for third among all backs in targets (23). Third-year tight end Robert Tonyan has experienced a steady rise with his weekly target totals (0/3/5/6) which has propelled him to a 10.4 target share. Rodgers will continue to locate Jones and Tonyan as the season progresses. But Adams is easily the Packers’ primary receiver and should eventually resurface among the league leaders in each major category. Valdes-Scantling should be targeted with enough frequency to function as a WR3, even after Adams returns.

 

4. There were divergent opinions during the off-season surrounding the value for Giant wide receivers Sterling ShepardGolden Tate, and Darius Slayton.

Shepard was the first member of the trio to be selected during the draft process (ADP 112), although the fantasy community was split concerning which receiver would ultimately deliver the highest level of production.  But as the team enters their Week 6 matchup with division rival Washington, Slayton has separated himself by emerging as the most targeted and productive weapon among Daniel Jones’ trio of options at the position. The former fifth-round draft selection also collected the second-highest target total of his career in Week 5 (11), while his weekly total also tied him for eighth among all receivers.

He also eclipsed 100 yards for the second time this year, which matches the number of  100-yard performances that he delivered during his 2019 rookie season. Slayton is now 12th overall in targets (40/8 per game), fourth in percentage share of air yards (44.2%), 10th in air yards (487), 17th in receiving yards (365), and is also tied for 17th in receptions (23). He is also tied for fourth in red zone targets (7) and leads the Giants in each of those categories. Slayton also paces the team in target share (23.7), yards per reception (15.9), and yards per target (9.1). But while Slatyon's season is progressing favorably, the results have been disappointing for anyone who invested in Shepard or Tate during the draft process.

A toe injury has cemented Shepard to the sideline since he exited New York’s matchup with Chicago in Week 2. He has been limited to just 68 snaps, has collected just eight receptions, and currently remains on injured reserve. Tate’s usage and production also remain alarmingly short of expectations. The 32-year old has accumulated just 145 yards on 18 receptions and has failed to exceed 47 yards during any of his four matchups. His current per-game averages of 5.6 targets, 4.5 receptions, and 36.3 yards would result in season-long totals of 85 targets, 68 receptions, and 545 yards if Tate retained those weekly results during his remaining matchups. That would equate to his lowest usage and output since 2012.

The Giants currently rank third in pass play percentage (65.4%), and the team will not generate an effective ground game with their current components in their backfield.  This should preserve a consistent reliance on Jones and the passing game, with Slayton continuing to operate as the primary weapon in the aerial attack.

 

 

5. Henry Ruggs was one of three rookie receivers who delivered their most prolific outings of the season in Week 5.

Ruggs maximized his three targets by registering receptions of 46 and 72 yards during the Raiders' matchup in Kansas City. That resulted in astronomical averages of 59 yards per reception and 39.3 yards per target, while his 118 yards placed him eighth among all receivers in Week 5. He has been operating from the slot during 72% of his routes and is averaging 29.5 yards per reception and 16.1 yards per target. Ruggs’ exceptional speed blends favorably with his route running ability in allowing him to explode beyond defenders. Ruggs is also underrated as a competitive receiver who can prevail in contested catch situations. Volume is a concern, as he has averaged just 3.6 targets per game. But that is partially a byproduct of Ruggs playing through his knee injury in Weeks 1 and 2  If he can achieve sustained health Ruggs should justify the Raiders' decision to select him with the 12th overall pick in last April's draft.

Laviska Shenault led Jacksonville in targets (8), receptions (7), and receiving yards (79) during Jacksonville’s matchup in Houston. He has now collected 20 targets during his last three contests, which has elevated his season total to 28. That places him in a tie for the team lead with Keelan Cole. Shenault also leads the Jaguars in receptions (23) and receiving yards (270), after collecting 12 receptions and 165 yards in Weeks 4-5. Shenault is now averaging 11.7 yards per reception, after exceeding 11.3 in four of his five matchups, and has been involved in 63% of Jacksonville's offensive snaps- including his season-high 69.3% in Week 5. Shenault is also being deployed both outside and in the slot, and this versatility will blend with his physical style to expand his involvement in the offense as the season progresses.

The 6’4”, 240-pound Chase Claypool possesses the size and speed (4.42-40 yard dash) to create matchup nightmares for opponents. He had entered Week 5 with season totals of nine targets, six receptions, 151 yards, and one touchdown. But Claypool’s relevance skyrocketed when he led the Steelers in targets (11) receptions (7) and receiving yards (110) while averaging 15.7 yards per reception and generating three touchdowns. He also produced a fourth touchdown on the ground, while finishing WR1 in scoring for the week.  Claypool now leads the Steelers in receiving yards (261), and the 11 targets that he procured places his season total just six behind team leader Diontae Johnson, and only four behind JuJu Smith-Schuster. He is also third overall with an average of 20.1 yards per reception. Johnson experienced a back issue that forced him to the sideline in Week 5, but he remains Pittsburgh’s WR1. However, Claypool maintains the potential to remain relevant in the upcoming weeks, even though his production could be inconsistent.



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Should We Worry About Amari Cooper and the Dallas Receivers?

With Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott leading the way, the Dallas Cowboys' offense is stacked at the skill positions; however, the offensive line is a mess. Travis Frederick was a huge loss this offseason. The season-ending injury to Tyron Smith makes it even worse for anyone behind center. Andy Dalton is no Dak Prescott. He is not going to run for yardage and touchdowns. This means the run game will be important going forward. We saw this after Dak's injury last week as the first points scored were on a 12-yard run by Elliott.

Cooper has been far more consistent this season than he has in the past. No more is the boom or bust weeks where we do not know what to expect from him. We are now seeing steady weeks in which he finishes top-20 for fantasy. CeeDee Lamb has been a monster as a rookie. Again, Lamb went for over 100 yards in a game last week. Two passes on the final drive to Michael Gallup also show a connection is there between him and Dalton.

The new triplets in the Dallas offense do take a hit. Of course, Dalton is no Prescott, and this does remove some value. But not as much as you may think, as Justin Carter recently explained. Dalton is still going to throw the ball quite a bit. He will not average 400 yards per game like Dak was doing for the first month of the season. He is easily going to average the highest yardage per game of his career though - an average which to this point stands at 234.85 yards per game. While Dalton will be fine, we need to figure out what exactly we can expect from the pass catchers in Dallas.

 

Amari Cooper

After a career of inconsistency, Cooper has finally found his way this season in Dallas. With 39 receptions so far this season, he has established himself as the man for Dallas after signing his $100 million contract this offseason. Almost eight receptions per game is great for those playing in a PPR league format. For those still stuck in standard leagues, the 424 yards on those catches is a bit concerning for sure, as is only one touchdown catch.

Michael Gallup certainly takes the largest hit of the three main targets. Cooper also takes a hit though. No longer can we expect him to get eight receptions per game. Lamb could easily overtake him as the lead receiver with the offense going ahead the rest of the way. We also have nagging injury concerns with Cooper which we do not have with Lamb. This could cause him to lose even more of his potential output.

Of the top two receivers in the Cowboys' offense, Cooper is by far the riskiest. His tendency for inconsistency as well as his nicks and bruises could lead his managers to regret having him later in the season. If you are forced to keep him, he is still going to be good for you so do not be too concerned. He likely does not have the top-six upside he had under Prescott. He still has a comfortable top-18 WR potential the rest of the way. This can be extremely valuable, and he will still have a boom game at some point. On the other weeks, reign in your expectations and you will be happy with the production he gives you the rest of the way.

 

CeeDee Lamb

The rookie came into the season as an undersized prospect who has massive after-the-catch potential. He has only built on this through the first month of the season. With 29 receptions, 443 yards, and two TD so far, Lamb is on pace for a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He already has two games of at least 100 yards receiving and he has yet to have fewer than five receptions in any game thus far.

In a move only Jerry Jones could achieve, Lamb fell right into the lap of the Cowboys and they pounced. It has not disappointed. Either for them or Lamb managers for fantasy.

As the slot receiver for the Cowboys, Lamb will retain the biggest value moving forward with Dalton at the helm. With the offensive line issues, Dalton will be forced to get rid of the ball quickly. Some of these dump-offs will go to Ezekiel Elliott. The majority of the rest will go to Lamb.

Lamb has already shown he is a true NFL receiver. His placement in the offense has helped Amari Cooper become far more consistent in 2020. Dalton is a smart veteran. He will realize the importance of Lamb going forward if Dallas wants to remain competitive in the NFC East.

While most weapons may take a bit of a hit due to the Prescott injury, Lamb is the exception. His value will only rise as he gains even more targets than before. This will give Dallas two WR1s in this offense. Trading for Lamb, if possible, is a good move. He is the receiver you want to roster.

 

Michael Gallup

Gallup was the fantasy community's sleeper darling this preseason. So far, he has been the WR3 in Dallas behind Cooper and rookie Lamb. Going forward, expect this to continue. With Cooper still receiving the lead target share, Gallup and Lamb will be garnering the secondary targets. Lamb wins in this matchup. He is the slot receiver and with the offensive line being in shambles, the short routes will be the desired dump off. Gallup will continue to get a few shots per game downfield. But he is clearly the third option so proceed accordingly.

Initially this season, Gallup was seen as a possible WR target for fantasy as he is on a great offense and has a clear connection with Prescott. With the emergence of Lamb and the continued ascension of Cooper, Gallup should be considered only a flex play at best going forward. And if you can find a league mate who is a Dallas fan or is still a believer, make a trade with them. You will be much happier and less stressed for having done it, as he could let down in low-scoring matchups.

 

Dalton Schultz

TE Dalton Schultz has been surprisingly productive since the injury to Blake Jarwin. Last week? Not so much. With only one reception against a vulnerable Giants Defense, his upward trajectory may have taken a downturn. There are much better options at the TE position moving ahead in the season. Of all the players on the Cowboys offense, Schultz is the only one you can and should drop.

 

Conclusion

In regard to the Dallas wide receiving trio of Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb, you can stick with them in 2020. Just know they are still going to have good seasons, but the hopes of GREAT seasons are likely gone. As long as you know what to expect from them going forward, they will not disappoint.

With not only the triplets, but solid pass-catcher Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, expect the offense to continue to hum. Especially the passing game. This is important since the Dallas defense just gave up 34 points to the Giants. Yes, to Daniel Jones, folks. The defense does not look to be getting better any time soon. So, the output on offense will be important if Dallas wants to remain in the lead of a bad NFC East.

Another factor to consider is that even if you did want to trade them, it would be difficult. Everyone else in your league also saw Prescott get hurt. They have the same concerns you do which means you will not get a fair return in a trade for them.

Injuries can crush a season. This goes for real teams as well as fantasy teams. Not all injuries are created equally though. Some hurt more than others.

Dallas was extremely smart in signing Andy Dalton this offseason. Instead of this being a death sentence for the fantasy production on the Cowboys, it is a lesson. If you have a solid backup QB, you can still be relevant. Dalton keeps them relevant if not top tier.

Do not panic. Do not sell on the cheap. Things in Dallas will stay level for the most part. At worst, a slight decline is coming. At best, no decline comes as Dalton lives up to his reputation and plays up to his surrounding weapons.

Man, 2020 is a fun season, isn’t it?



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 5

This series continues into its fifth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value.

In Week 5, we saw performances such as Kyler Murray throwing for 380 passing yards, the Chiefs running backs combining for only 44 rushing yards, and the San Francisco 49ers wide receivers combining for 93 receiving yards. After these performances, it's important to look at each of these team's coaches and their play-calling tendencies to see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvements Ahead?

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

Seattle Seahawks Running Backs

Brian Schottenheimer 

The Seattle Seahawks had a dramatic come from behind victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football, winning 27-26. The Vikings dominated the time of possession in this game, so the Seattle Seahawks didn't get to utilize their running backs as much as they would like. The Seahawks running backs combined for 11 carries, 66 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, six receptions (seven targets), 27 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns in this victory.

After this performance, on the season the Seahawks running back room is averaging 18.8 carries, 82.4 rushing yards, 0.8 rushing touchdowns, 5.8 receptions (6.4 targets), 37.6 receiving yards, and 0.8 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, has traditionally gotten out of their backfield. Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has had his running backs average 25.34 carries, 106.54 rushing yards, 0.67 rushing touchdowns, 5.80 targets, 32.36 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns per game in the 176 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season.

Even with Russell Wilson's MVP campaign happening Brian Schottenheimer will get his running backs more involved in the future. We should expect much better days for the Seahawks running backs going forward.

Fantasy players this impacts: Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, and DeeJay Dallas

 

Kansas City Chiefs Running Backs

Andy Reid & Eric Bieniemy

The Kansas City Chiefs lost their first game of the season to the Las Vegas Raiders this past Sunday. One big issue that they experienced in the game was getting the team's running backs involved. The Chiefs running backs combined for 11 carries, 44 rushing yards, four receptions (13 targets), 55 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns in this game.

After this performance, the Chiefs running back room is averaging 19.6 carries, 82.2 rushing yards, 0.2 rushing touchdowns, 4.6 receptions (8.2 targets), 40.8 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their head coach, Andy Reid, has traditionally gotten out of their backfield. Andy Reid has had his running backs average 19.98 carries, 87.62 rushing yards, 0.65 rushing touchdowns, 6.73 targets, 42.94 receiving yards, and 0.29 receiving touchdowns per game in the 336 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Chiefs (5 games) 19.6 82.2 0.2 8.2 40.8 0
Andy Reid (336 Games Prior) 19.98 87.62 0.65 6.73 42.94 0.29
Eric Bieniemy (32 Games Prior) 18.88 82.88 0.81 6.09 43.38 0.47

In the 32 games that Eric Bieniemy has been the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, the Chiefs running backs have averaged 18.88 carries, 82.88 rushing yards, 0.81 rushing touchdowns, 6.09 targets, 43.38 receiving yards, and 0.47 receiving touchdowns per game.

Everything seems in line with what we'd expect from Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy's running back room except for touchdowns. Expect more touchdowns in the future for the Chiefs backs.

Fantasy players this impacts: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, and Darwin Thompson

 

Philadelphia Eagles Running Backs

Doug Pederson

The Philadelphia Eagles fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday and dropped to a 1-3-1 record. In the game, the Eagles running backs did the best they could to get something going against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers run defense, combining for 12 carries, 83 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, two receptions (four targets), 19 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns.

After this performance, on the season the Eagles running back room is averaging 18.8 carries, 79.6 rushing yards, 0.6 rushing touchdowns, 3.8 receptions (6.4 targets), 28.8 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns per game.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Philadelphia Eagles (5 games) 18.8 79.6 0.6 6.4 28.8 0
Doug Pederson Prior (112 games) 22.63 99.18 0.86 6.62 41.18 0.3

Now let's look at what Doug Pederson has gotten out of the position traditionally. Over the 112 games he coached prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, Pederson's running back room averaged 22.63 carries, 99.18 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 6.62 targets, 41.18 receiving yards, and 0.30 receiving touchdowns per game.

If you can still buy shares of Miles Sanders and the Eagles running game, now would be the time to do so.

Fantasy players this impacts: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Corey Clement

 

Washington Football Team Wide Receivers

Scott Turner

The Washington Football Team got demolished by the Los Angeles Rams. Their wide receivers, in particular, couldn't get anything going and only had five receptions on nine targets for 27 receiving yards and zero touchdowns.

This means that on the season the Football Team's wide receiver room is averaging 11.8 receptions on 18.6 targets for 137.2 receiving yards and 0.6 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Scott Turner, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receivers in the past. Scott Turner has had his wide receivers average 22 targets, 135.25 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game in the four games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season. While this is a small sample size that is hard to have a lot of takeaways, the one thing it does show is how much of an outlier Sunday's performance was. There will be better days than Sunday for this group.

Fantasy players this impacts: Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims, and Dontrelle Inman

 

Baltimore Ravens Wide Receivers

Greg Roman

The Baltimore Ravens wide receivers combined for eight receptions (17 targets), 94 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown in their dominant victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

After this performance, on the season the Ravens wide receivers room is averaging 9.8 receptions on 15 targets for 121.2 receiving yards and 0.4 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receivers in the past. Greg Roman has had his wide receivers average 15.90 targets, 126.49 receiving yards, and 0.82 receiving touchdowns per game in the 98 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season.

Based on this information, we should expect improved efficiency from the wide receivers' performance Sunday, but the season averages as a whole are around what we would expect from Greg Roman's wide receiver room.

Fantasy players this impacts: Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown, Miles Boykin, Willie Snead 

 

Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receivers

Zac Taylor & Brian Callahan

The Cincinnati Bengals got annihilated by the Baltimore Ravens, losing 27-3. The Bengals wide receivers combined for 10 receptions (17 targets), 122 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns in this loss.

After this performance, on the season the Bengals wide receivers room is averaging 15.8 receptions on 25.8 targets for 169 receiving yards and 0.8 receiving touchdowns.

Now let's compare this to what their head coach, Zac Taylor, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receivers in the past. Zac Taylor has had his wide receivers average 23.86 targets, 173.57 receiving yards, and 0.57 receiving touchdowns per game in the 21 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

In the games prior to this season that Brian Callahan has been the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, the Bengals wide receivers have averaged 24.25 targets, 172.25 receiving yards, and 0.56 receiving touchdowns per game.

Based on Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan's previous utilization of the wide receiver position, we should expect a bounce-back from Sunday's performance against the Baltimore Ravens, but the season stats as a whole for the Bengals wide receivers are right around what we would expect out of this group. Keep this all in mind when looking to buy or sell any of the Bengals wide receivers.

Fantasy players this impacts: Tee Higgins, A.J. Green, John Ross, and Tyler Boyd

 

San Francisco 49ers Wide Receivers

Kyle Shanahan

The San Francisco 49ers got annihilated by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, losing 43-17. In this game the 49ers wide receivers combined for seven receptions (18 targets), 93 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown.

After this performance, on the season the 49ers wide receivers room is averaging 7.6 receptions (14 targets), 96 receiving yards, 0.2 receiving touchdowns.

Now let's compare this to what their head coach, Kyle Shanahan, has traditionally gotten out of his wide receivers in the past. Kyle Shanahan has had his wide receivers average 19.94 targets, 162.49 receiving yards, and 0.90 receiving touchdowns per game in the 192 games he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season.

Based on this information, we should expect better performances from Sunday and the start of the season as a whole. In particular, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are strong buys right now and you should be doing your best to acquire them while their value is low.

Fantasy players this impacts: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Kendrick Bourne



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Week 5 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

Unlike Week 4 where 17 quarterbacks scored at least 20-fantasy points, only 11 quarterbacks reached that same mark in Week 5. Patrick Mahomes finished the week as the No. 1 quarterback on the week, while Ryan Fitzpatrick finished No. 2 in surprising fashion against a tough 49ers Defense. Travis Kelce finished Week 5 as the top tight end and Darren Fellas scored, giving him his annual appearance in the top-five. For the first time in 2020, Irv Smith Jr. finished as a TE1, playing a season-high 68% of the Vikings snaps, so things are looking up for him.

Chase Claypool, Travis Fulgham and Brandin Cooks finished as the top-three wide receivers in fantasy scoring in Week 5, let that sink in for a minute. Outside of those three guys, the wide receiver position was fairly predictable, but some duds were put up by Diontae Johnson and D.J. Chark due to injury. Marquise Brown finally had a big week with 19.8-points, and his day could have been even bigger as he narrowly missed hauling in a second touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson.

Mike Davis finished Week 5 as the No. 1 running back which was a little bit of a surprise and Todd Gurley took advantage of a great matchup, finishing right behind Davis at No. 2.  Chase Edmonds was a bit of a surprise finishing as the RB-7 on the week, but he did so off of just eight touches, relying on catches and a touchdown to come through. Now that Week 5 is behind us, let's take a look at some of these unexpected performances and evaluate whether these guys will continue to produce moving forward.

 

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 5 Stats: 19-of-30 passing, 183 yards, 3 carries, 10 yards

Joe Burrow was seemingly running for his life through the first three weeks of the regular season because the Bengals offensive line had a glaring deficiency at right guard and right tackle. In Week 4, the Bengals started Alex Redmond at right guard, and while he isn't a world-beater by any means, he's better than Fred Johnson. In Week 5, the Ravens Defense blitzed a lot, creating mismatches in the blocking scheme, and as a result Burrow was under siege for much of the day.

Bottom Line: With the game already well out of reach, the Bengals ran the ball with Joe Mixon on their final drive of the game instead of having Burrow drop back and throw in garbage time. Maybe the takeaway from Week 5 is that we cannot count on Burrow in weeks where the Bengals play a top-tier defense. In Week 6 the Bengals will face a stingy Colts Defense which will be problematic for both Burrow and Mixon, but things will get a little easier starting in Week 7. Even after this terrible performance, Burrow remains the QB-11 on the season, so don't panic if he's on your roster and hold steady.

 

Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 5 Stats: 11 targets, 7 catches, 3 TD, 3 carries, 6 yards, 1 TD

Diontae Johnson was injured early in Week 5 while returning a punt and as a result, Chase Claypool was the No. 1 target in Pittsburgh's passing game. In Week 3 when Diontae Johnson was similarly knocked out of the game against the Texans with a concussion, Claypool was targeted just four times and only hauled in one pass for 24 yards. Claypool played 76% of the Steelers offensive snaps in Week 3 and 69% in Week 5. Prior to Diontae Johnson getting hurt, Claypool's season-high snap count was 37%. James Washington has played at least 48% of the Steelers offensive snaps in each game this season, including 71% in Week 5 which was more than Claypool.

Bottom Line: Chase Claypool is definitely worth an add on waiver wires and should be considered even in shallower leagues. However, unless Diontae Johnson misses significant time, we need to wait and see whether Claypool has actually carved out a definitive role in this offense before he's trusted on a weekly basis.

 

Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles

Week 5 Stats: 13 targets, 10 catches, 152 yards, 1 TD

Carson Wentz has struggled so far in 2020 with many of his wide receivers out of the lineup due to injury. Travis Fulgham has been lining up at X for the Eagles over the last two weeks, and it appears Wentz is really starting to trust him. Fulgham played 60% of the snaps in Week 4 and 78% in Week 5. Fulgham is a 25-year old second-year pro out of Old Dominion which isn't exactly a football powerhouse, but he's very athletic and Wentz is starting to trust him.

Bottom Line: As long as Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffery continue to miss time, Fulgham is a viable option in all formats if you need help at wide receiver.

 

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans

Week 5 Stats: 12 targets, 8 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD

In Deshaun Watson's first week playing outside of Bill O'Brien's leadership, the Texans wide receivers had the following pecking order for targets: Brandin Cooks (12), Will Fuller (8), Randall Cobb (6) and Kenny Still (1). Tim Kelly had more control over the offense and play-calling duties which may benefit Cooks moving forward. Cooks did run by Jaguars cornerback Chris Claybrooks with ease on a deep-ball and his touchdown came on a long run after the catch.

Bottom Line: Prior to Week 5, Brandin Cooks was only targeted 21 times in the passing game and failed to score. This may be the start of something good for Cooks, but don't get too crazy, because the matchup against the Jaguars Defense was very good, and Cooks routinely ran by Jaguars defensive backs with ease.

 

Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons

Week 5 Stats: 14 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD, 5 targets, 4 catches, 29 yards

The Panthers Defense gives up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs on the season. Todd Gurley broke off a 35-yard touchdown run in this game which accounted for most of his fantasy points.

Bottom Line: Trade Gurley now. Gurley is not the same player he once was, the Falcons are bad and will be playing from behind for most of the year, and Gurley's trade value will never be higher coming off this soft matchup.

 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

Week 5 Stats: 10 carries, 40 yards, 8 targets, 3 catches, 40 yards

The Chiefs suffered an injury on the offensive line early in Week 5 which hurt their ability to run the ball. The Chiefs also fell behind a little bit in this one which forced them to throw the ball a lot. Even though the Chiefs had to abort the passing game earlier than they would have liked, Edwards-Helaire was on the field for 58% of the total offensive plays, including 49% of the pass plays.

Bottom Line: Trade for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He currently sits as RB-14 on the season and while he's coming off of an underwhelming performance, he has the sixth-most carries in the NFL. Things will get better.

 

Darrell Henderson, L.A. Rams

Week 5 Stats: 15 carries, 38 yards, 1 TD, 4 targets, 3 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD

Darrell Henderson has never played more than 49% of the Rams offensive snaps so far in 2020. In Week 5, Cam Akers returned to the lineup and played  19% of the snaps compared to 43% for Henderson. Henderson did lead the team in carries, but Akers was able to turn his 9 carries into 61 yards which was very efficient.

Bottom Line: Henderson didn't rack up a ton of yardage in Week 5 but he did score twice which salvaged his day. Beware of this Rams backfield, because nobody is playing a majority of the snaps which makes Akers and Henderson touchdown-dependent. You may want to consider trading Henderson if you can acquire a running back with a more solidified role or if you need help at another position.

 

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

Week 5 Stats: 6 targets, 5 catches, 91 yards

It's been difficult to predict when Mike Gesicki will come through for fantasy purposes. Through five weeks of play, Gesicki has only played at least 60% of the snaps twice. In Week 5, Gesicki played just 45% of the Dolphins offensive snaps, just 30 plays, but he was targeted on six of those plays. The Dolphins clearly view Gesicki as a pass catcher, but it's also clear that they view Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen as superior run blockers as they each play at least 33% of the snaps. Gesicki had a 70-yard catch where he got behind the entire 49ers Defense and while much of his fantasy production came from that one play, he remains a big-play threat at all times.

Bottom Line: If you have Mike Gesicki on your roster, he may frustrate you at times, but he's a big-play threat and a top-12 option at the position, so you need to roll him out there.

 

Gerald Everett, L.A. Rams

Week 5 Stats: 4 targets, 4 catches, 90 yards

Gerald Everett actually lined up on the perimeter for some of his snaps in Week 5 and the Rams designed a screen pass for him. On his longest catch of the day, the Redskins Defense seemingly lost him in coverage and he was able to make a short catch and take it for a long run. Everett was only on the field for 44% of the Rams offensive snaps compared to 82% for Tyler Higbee.

Bottom Line: Tyler Higbee is clearly out-snapping Everett, but the troubling part of Week 5 is that the Rams clearly dialed up some plays designed for Everett. Gerald Everett is not playing enough snaps to be consistently relied on, so you should only roster him if you're truly desperate at this point.

 

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

Week 5 Stats: 6 targets, 1 catch, 6 yards

Things are starting to look a little concerning for Zach Ertz. In Week 4, Ertz simply couldn't beat the 49ers defenders in coverage, the same 49ers defenders that Mike Gesicki torched for 90 yards. In Week 5, Ertz had trouble once again, and at this point, you need to start evaluating whether he belongs in your starting lineup.

Bottom Line: Explore other options on your waiver wire at tight end if you can, but don't cut Ertz. We need to see more before we decide whether Ertz's play has fallen off to the point where you can't roster him for fantasy. While this two week stretch is concerning, don't hit the panic button just yet.



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Booms and Busts - Surprise Starts and Sits for Week 5 Lineups

We are a quarter of the way through the NFL season and the major storyline continues to be the mounting injuries across the league. It seems as though each week there are several new injuries to vital producers in fantasy football. This is causing managers to traverse the waiver wire and reconstruct their rosters much sooner than they have in years previous. This has opened the door for some under the radar players to move of the rankings on the season. Players like James Robinson, Jerrick McKinnon, and Robby Anderson all find themselves ranked inside the top-12 at their respective positions. Something that we are seeing quite a bit of as the voids left by injuries must be filled by someone.

As you can imagine, the void left from injuries to studs in fantasy football leaves managers with tougher decisions to be made with start/sits each week. Instead of "sitting and forgetting" the starters, now more forethought must be put into decisions. This means paying closer attention to matchups that can affect a player's potential output. A player could be deemed a no-brainer start most weeks, but with a certain matchup, his value could be diminished, opening the door for a player on your bench. With how frustrating the 2020 season has been thus far, every avenue should be exhausted for fantasy managers to put forth their most optimal lineups.

That is what we are doing here as I bring to you my Woos and Boos for Week 5. Some players that you may not view as typical starters, but have advantageous matchups and should be plugged into lineups. While our Boos are players that are weekly starters with tough matchups and could be destined for letdowns this week.

 

Week 5 Woos

Teddy Bridgewater @ Atlanta Falcons

Yes, that's right. Coming off of his best game of the season (QB4), Teddy "Two Gloves" is primed for another solid effort in Week 5. Facing a Falcons Defense that is currently the worst in the league in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks (33.0 FPPG), Bridgewater should be viewed as a potential QB1 this week. The Falcons have allowed at least three touchdowns in each game played and with the Panthers playing sound football at the moment, I expect to see another multi-touchdown game here. If you are missing Aaron Rodgers this week with the bye, Bridgewater is the perfect candidate as a bye-week fill-in.

Chase Edmonds @ New York Jets

This may perhaps be the most sneaky play of the week. With Kenyan Drake continuing to disappoint, Edmonds is seeing an increased role in the offense. He finished at RB21 in Week 4, and now faces a Jets Defense that is among the worst in points allowed to the position (24.3 FPPG). Edmonds has had multiple receptions in each game and may be a solid Flex option in PPR formats regardless of Drake's performance in this matchup. If the Cardinals get out to a big lead, it is even better for Edmonds value as he will see more snaps late in the game to drive the team to victory.

Golden Tate @ Dallas Cowboys

Although Tate has been the face of mediocrity to begin the 2020 season (14 catches for 103 yards in three games). But Week 5 will be a get-right game for not only Tate but the Giants' offense as a whole. Facing the atrocious Cowboys secondary (36.4 FPPG allowed to the position), Tate should find plenty of open space to operate in all day. He is the perfect option to slide in as a low-end WR3 in PPR formats this week as a five-catch game should be viewed as the floor. Look for him to find the end-zone as well, making him a solid option to start for those managers currently dealing with the injury bug.

Mo Alie-Cox @ Cleveland Browns

In what was viewed as a prime matchup in Week 4, Alie-Cox was somewhat of a disappointment. The one catch performance was bailed out by a trip to the end-zone at the end of the day. He finds himself with another plus matchup in Week 5 as the Colts face a Browns Defense that is bottom five in points allowed to opposing tight ends (12.9 FPPG). The Browns have allowed a touchdown in three of four matchups, meaning good news for managers looking to start Alie-Cox this week. He should be viewed as a solid streaming option this week and should return low-end TE1 numbers in this matchup.

 

Week 5 Boos

Matt Ryan vs. Carolina Panthers

Ryan has been the epitome of Jekyll and Hyde over the first quarter of the season. Over the first two games, he was one of the top tier QBs in fantasy. But since Julio Jones got banged up, Ryan's performances have dropped dramatically (QB27 and QB25 over the last two games). Now he faces a surprisingly tough Panthers Defense in points allowed to the position (30th, 15.5 FPPG). With Jones likely to miss this week's game, Ryan should be viewed as a QB2 in fantasy. Putting most managers in a position to stream at the position for the week.

Miles Sanders @ Pittsburgh Steelers

The workload has been there, but the production has dropped in each of the last two games for Sanders as he has finished as no better than RB22. He may not fare any better in Week 5 as the struggling Eagles offense travels to face the stout Steelers Defense. The Steelers currently rank 31st (11.9 FPPG) in points allowed to the position and with the way the Eagles offensive line has struggled, Sanders could be in for a long day.

A.J. Green @ Baltimore Ravens

The time has come where we no longer view A.J. Green as a consistent starter in fantasy. The targets have been consistent (33 in four games) but the production has been less than stellar (14 receptions for 119 yards). He has yet to find the end-zone and is the third option in the passing game for the Bengals behind Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Add that to the tough matchup against a Ravens secondary that is allowing only 20.6 FPPG to opposing wideouts and it equals a sit for Green in Week 5.

Hunter Henry @ New Orleans Saints

Call this one a gut feeling but Henry is primed to disappoint in Week 5. The matchup is a good one against a Saints Defense that is currently one of the worst in points allowed to the position (16.3 FPPG). But without Mike Williams in the starting lineup, the passing attack has been funneled through Keenan Allen as Henry has been somewhat forgotten (just 10 targets over the last two games). Look for the Saints defense to try and stifle Herbert and the passing game with Austin Ekeler out for this game, meaning less operating space for Henry in this matchup.



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How Sean McVay Keeps Screwing With Fantasy Teams

Remember the halcyon days of 2018, when the Los Angeles Rams offense was just so easy to predict? Jared Goff was a QB1. Todd Gurley II was an RB1. Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks were consistent WR2 starts for fantasy managers, while Cooper Kupp played just eight games, but was also a consistent WR2 start when he was on the field. Plus, you knew to ignore the team's tight end position.

Not so much in 2020. Woods and Kupp are still every-week starters, but the rest of the team is full of inconsistency right now.

Let's look into some of the usage trends for the Rams and see how head coach Sean McVay is messing with your fantasy teams.

 

Jared Goff's Confusing Year

Per Pro Football Reference, Goff is the QB13 right now, which is exactly where he finished in 2019. But how he's gotten to QB13 has been a weird ride:

Not listed is a Week 3 rushing touchdown.

So, Goff has thrown the ball about the same amount in each game, but his adjusted yards per attempt has varied pretty widely, and he's had games of zero, one, two, and three touchdowns. Those scores are the biggest variable. In Week 2, he tossed two touchdowns from inside the five. Since then, the scores have all been of the longer variety, with yardage of 28, 25, 16, and 55. That his only Week 4 touchdown was a 55-yarder to Cooper Kupp in which about 40 of those yards were after the catch is concerning.

Goff is tied with Drew Brees for fewest intended air yards per attempts at 5.8, but he doesn't have the age-related reasons that Brees does. Goff was at 7.8 last year and at 8.8 in 2018 when he was a fantasy QB1. He's been less effective as he's thrown the ball shorter distances, which makes complete sense. And if that trend continues and is coupled by Goff not getting red zone touchdown passes, he's a streaming option at best moving forward.

 

What's Up With These Running Backs?

Over the last few years, the Rams backfield has been easy to figure out. Sure, there was that short stretch where C.J. Anderson was extremely good, but otherwise it's just been a backfield where Todd Gurley was the bell cow and you ignored everyone else. That worked, because Gurley was one of the league's best rushers.

But he's in Atlanta now, leaving the Rams with three running backs all trying to carve out roles: Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson Jr., and Cam Akers.

Akers has missed the last two games with a rib injury, but in the first two games with all three players available, the snap breakdowns were:

Week 1: Brown (60%), Akers (33%), Henderson (7%)
Week 2: Brown (54%), Henderson (38%), Akers (4%)

And then once Akers was out:

Week 3: Brown (49%), Henderson (49%)
Week 4: Brown (61%), Henderson (39%)

The big thing here is that while Brown has led the backs in snaps each week, he was trending down in terms of snap rate until a 12 percent jump this past week. It looked like Henderson was trending towards taking over lead back duties while Akers was out, but in the end, it really seems we know nothing here in terms of who to trust when it comes to workload. And while that's not McVay's fault -- the downgrade from elite running back to "three non-elite running backs" is tough to manage -- it does seem that how he's managing this backfield leaves fantasy managers unable to rely on it at all, which does suck for fantasy managers.

 

The Lack Of A Consistent WR3

While Brandin Cooks was in Los Angeles, we got so used to being able to start three Rams receivers in fantasy. Their heavy use of 11 personnel and light use of substitutions made for some pretty easy lineup decisions.

This year, the Rams are in 11 personnel 73 percent of the time, the same percentage as last year. But in 2018, that number was a league-high 89 percent of total plays.

So, it's no surprise that the No. 3 role here isn't consistently fantasy relevant.

It would help, though, if we knew who the third guy was.

Rookie Van Jefferson as targeted eight times in the first two games and played 45 and 38 percent of the snaps in those games. But just as it looked like Jefferson was sliding into that role, his snaps plummeted, as he's been on the field for just 11 total snaps the past two weeks and doesn't have a catch.

Josh Reynolds has had a weird ride too, with his snap rates looking like this: 51, 61, 90, and 53 percent. His nine targets in the last two games suggest that he's taking on a larger role now, but that role's only really been fantasy relevant once, which was the four-catch, 60-yard performance in the game where he played 90 percent of the snaps. If he can't get to that level of playing time, he won't be much of a fantasy option.

 

Tyler Higbee ?????

Higbee had three touchdowns in Week 2, but mostly he's been consistently getting not-many targets. He's gotten between 21 and 54 yards in each game and pretty clearly seems to not be the elite option that some thought he'd be.

Makes sense, right? McVay's offense supported a top tight end for a short time at the end of 2019 when Brandin Cooks was hurt and no other time, so it's actually pretty consistent for McVay's time as a coach that Higbee is mostly just putting up decent numbers and has only had one really "good" game.

Still, you have to think of Higbee as a low-end TE1 option with upside, even if consistency is going to be a week-to-week issue going forward.

Gerald Everett is also lurking here. An increase in 12 personnel has Everett's snap rates increasing, including to 58 percent last game. He has just four catches, though, and really is more of a roadblock to Higbee or Josh Reynolds than he is a standalone option.



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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 4 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As this unique regular season continues to unfold, an expanding assortment of tools is available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the fourth installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This massive collection of data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 4 Target Leaders

Wide Receivers Targets Targ/Game YPT
Amari Cooper 51 12.8 7.9
Keenan Allen 49 12.3 6.7
DeAndre Hopkins 46 11.5 8.6
Allen Robinson 41 10.3 8.1
Calvin Ridley 40 10 8.7
Terry McLaurin 39 9.8 9.9
Stefon Diggs 35 8.8 11.5
Tyler Boyd 34 8.5 9.4
Robby Anderson 34 8.5 11.1
Tyler Lockett 33 8.3 9
A.J. Green 33 8.3 3.6
D.J. Moore 32 8 9
Adam Thielen 31 7.8 9.2
Odell Beckham Jr. 30 7.5 7.9
Julian Edelman 30 7.5 9.8
DeVante Parker 29 7.3 9.6
Darius Slayton 29 7.3 8.1
Tyreek Hill 29 7.3 9.9
CeeDee Lamb 29 7.3 10.7
Jerry Jeudy 28 7 8.4
D.K. Metcalf 28 7 14.4
Cooper Kupp 28 7 10.6
N'Keal Harry 28 7 5.9
Russell Gage 27 6.8 7.7
Sammy Watkins 27 6.8 7.3
Greg Ward 26 6.5 5.6
Marquise Brown 26 6.5 9.3
Isaiah Ford 26 6.5 5.8
Mike Evans 26 6.5 8.8
Robert Woods 26 6.5 8.8
Diontae Johnson 25 8.3 6
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 25 6.3 8.4
Michael Gallup 24 6 11.5
Cole Beasley 24 6 10.8
Chris Hogan 23 5.8 4.3
John Brown 23 5.8 8.4
Jamison Crowder 23 11.5 9.5
Keelan Cole 23 5.8 8.4
Kendrick Bourne 22 5.5 9
Will Fuller 22 5.5 12.5
T.Y. Hilton 22 5.5 7.4
Emmanuel Sanders 22 5.5 8.3
Hunter Renfrow 22 5.5 9
Tee Higgins 22 5.5 6.9
Damiere Byrd 22 5.5 8.1
Scotty Miller 21 5.3 11.9
Danny Amendola 21 5.3 8.4
Dontrelle Inman 21 5.3 5
Brandin Cooks 21 5.3 6.6
Tim Patrick 21 5.3 10
Davante Adams 20 10 9.6
Julio Jones 20 6.7 10.7

Several prominent receivers were absent due to injuries (Michael Thomas/Davante Adams/Chris Godwin), while several others returned to their teams’ lineups (D.J. Chark/Jamison Crowder/Deebo Samuel). Other receivers encountered health issues during their matchups, or could not deliver their normal level of effectiveness while operating at less than 100% health. However, many receivers that remain unencumbered by any form of injuries are continuing to thrive.

Amari Cooper has surged beyond Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins to the league lead with 51 targets. Allen is now second (49), followed by Hopkins (46) and Allen Robinson (41). Calvin Ridley is fifth overall (4), followed by Terry McLaurin (39), and Stefon Diggs (35). The former Viking has also played an integral role in the sustained success of Buffalo’s passing attack which will be discussed In the 5 Things I Noticed section.

Tyler Boyd and Robby Anderson are tied with 34 targets, while Tyler Lockett and A.J. Green are directly behind them with 33. Anderson‘s teammate D.J. Moore has been targeted 32 times, followed by Adam Thielen (31) Julian Edelman (30), and Odell Beckham Jr. (30). DeVante Parker, Darius Slayton, Tyreek Hill, and newcomer CeeDee Lamb are tied with 29 targets, followed by four receivers that have captured 28 after four matchups - Jerry Jeudy, D.K. Metcalf, N'Keal Harry, and Cooper Kupp. Russell Gage and Sammy Watkins are tied with 27 targets, while five receivers are tied at  26 (Marquise Brown, Greg Ward, Isaiah Ford, Mike Evans, and Robert Woods).

Ridley, Cooper, and Allen are the only three wide receivers that have collected 10+ targets in three of their four matchups. Robinson, Hopkins, McLaurin, Anderson, Crowder, and Diontae Johnson have all accomplished it twice, as Crowder has managed that feat despite playing in only two matchups. Five receivers have been targeted 40+ times (Cooper/Allen/HopkinsRobinson/Ridley), while 15 receivers have collected at least 30. A total of 58 receivers have attained 20+ targets, including a group of six rookies – Lamb, Jeudy, Tee Higgins, Laviska Shenault, Justin Jefferson, and Darnell Mooney.

Two rookies have commandeered the top two spots in yards per target average. Justin Jefferson leads all wide receivers (17.4), followed by Gabriel Davis at 16.1. Seattle's David Moore is third (15.7), followed by teammate D.K. Metcalf (14.4), D.J. Chark (12.8), Will Fuller (12.5), Scott Miller (11.9), Randall Cobb (11.8), and Willie Snead completing the top 10 (11.7). Stefon Diggs and Michael Gallup are next (11.5) followed by Josh Reynolds (11.3),  Robby Anderson (11.1), and a group of nine receivers that are averaging 10+ yards per target.

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers Week 3 Week 4 Total  Changes
Jamison Crowder INJ 10 23 10
D.J. Chark INJ 9 16 9
Isaiah Ford 2 10 26 8
Damiere Byrd 3 10 22 7
DeVante Parker 5 12 29 7
Terry McLaurin 8 14 39 6
Robby Anderson 5 11 34 6
Justin Watson INJ 6 11 5
Adam Thielen 5 10 31 5
Chris Hogan 3 8 23 5
Christian Kirk INJ 5 14 5
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 4 8 25 4
Julio Jones INJ 4 20 4
Amari Cooper 12 16 51 4
Mike Evans 4 8 26 4
Emmanuel Sanders 5 9 22 4
Darnell Mooney 5 9 20 4
Zach Pascal 4 8 19 4
John Brown 2 5 23 3
Tim Patrick 4 7 21 3
David Moore 1 4 11 3
Zay Jones 3 6 10 3
Olamide Zaccheaus 6 9 16 3
DeAndre Hopkins 12 9 46 -3
Allen Robinson 13 10 41 -3
Cooper Kupp 10 7 28 -3
Cole Beasley 7 4 24 -3
Brandon Aiyuk 8 5 16 -3
Greg Ward 11 7 26 -4
Michael Gallup 9 5 24 -4
Chris Conley 8 4 20 -4
Justin Jefferson 9 5 20 -4
Tyler Boyd 13 8 34 -5
Jerry Jeudy 9 4 28 -5
Keenan Allen 19 12 49 -7
Calvin Ridley 13 5 40 -8
Tyler Lockett 13 4 33 -9

Cooper registered the highest target total among all wide receivers in Week 4 (16). It was also his highest weekly total since Week 7 of 2017 when he stockpiled 19 targets. It was the third time this season that he has collected at least 12 targets, and the 14th time in his career. Terry McLaurin’s 14 targets placed him second overall for the week, while also establishing a new career-high. He achieved a double-digit target total once during his highly productive rookie season, but he has now achieved it twice during his first four matchups of 2020.

Devante Parker tied with Allen by accumulating 12 targets during Week 4, followed by Robby Anderson (11) and five receivers that all collected 10 targets – Robinson, Adam Thielen, Jamison Crowder, Damiere Byrd, and Isaiah Ford. Six receivers also captured nine targets - (Hopkins, Chark, Emmanuel Sanders, Chicago’s Darnell Mooney, Atlanta's Olamide Zacchaeus, and Jeff Smith of the Jets. Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and Kenny Golladay spearheaded a group of nine receivers that were targeted eight times during their Week 4 matchups.

Several receivers resurfaced after being sidelined in Week 3 matchups, which created a surge in their week to week target totals. Jamison Crowder returned to collect a team-high 10 targets after being absent in Weeks 2 and 3 with his hamstring issue. D.J. Chark (chest) resurfaced after missing Jacksonville’s Week 3 matchup and led the Jaguars with nine targets. It was easily his highest total of the season after he only received a total of seven targets in Weeks 1 and 2 combined (3/4).

Two Dolphins collected a total of 22 targets as DeVante Parker overcame an ankle issue to capture a team-high 12. It also represented a week to week increase of +7. However, Ford’s weekly total rose by +8, after he captured a career-best 10 targets. He will be discussed further in the 5 Things I Noticed section as one of several enticing receivers that remain available on nearly all waiver wires. The weekly totals for Terry McLaurin, Robby Anderson improved by +6, while Adam Thielen, Chris Hogan, Justin Watson, Christian Kirk experienced increases of +5.

Tyler Lockett was averaging 9.7 targets per game entering Week 4, and was sixth overall with 29 targets. But Russell Wilson only launched four passes in his direction. This resulted in his lowest total since Week 13 of last season, while also creating the most significant week to week decline of -9. Calvin Ridley entered Week 4 in a tie for third with 35 targets and was the only receiver who had attained 10+ targets in each of his first three games. But a combination of his hamstring issue and excellent coverage from Green Bay's Jaire Alexander resulted in a season-low 5 targets. That also dropped his weekly total by -9.

Keenan Allen’s 12 targets were exceeded by just two receivers in Week 4. However, matching the career-high 19 targets that he attained in Week 3 was destined to be an arduous task, and his weekly total declined by-7. Tyler Boyd, joined Jerry Jeudy in experiencing a reduction of -5, while the weekly totals for Justin Jefferson, Greg Ward, Michael Gallup, and Chris Conley all declined by -4.

 

Week 4 Air Yards

Wide Receivers Air Yards Comp AY Team % AY aDOT
Calvin Ridley 667 305 38.9 17.6
Adam Thielen 486 247 46.1 15.7
Amari Cooper 477 264 29.9 9.5
A.J. Green 475 96 32.2 14.4
Allen Robinson 469 235 32.1 11.4
DK Metcalf 460 297 42.8 16.4
Marquise Brown 453 184 44.9 17.4
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 427 150 35.1 17.1
Odell Beckham Jr. 422 196 44.4 14.6
Keenan Allen 418 173 38.9 8.5
Michael Gallup 396 216 24.9 17.2
Stefon Diggs 388 331 33.2 11.1
D.J. Moore 384 245 42.2 12
Terry McLaurin 375 176 37.7 9.6
Tyreek Hill 368 186 36.5 12.7
Jerry Jeudy 353 159 26.4 12.6
Darius Slayton 351 200 37.3 12.1
DeSean Jackson 348 105 29.3 17.4
Scotty Miller 336 195 27.3 16
Julian Edelman 336 228 40.3 11.2
Tyler Lockett 335 223 31.2 10.2
Tee Higgins 328 119 22.3 14.9
John Brown 315 153 27 13.7
Robby Anderson 311 189 34.1 8.9
DeAndre Hopkins 307 212 30 6.7
Tyler Boyd 297 236 20.2 8.7
Tim Patrick 293 168 21.9 14
Julio Jones 288 155 16.8 13.7
Anthony Miller 287 119 19.7 15.1
CeeDee Lamb 283 206 17.8 8.8
Will Fuller 269 220 25.7 12.2
T.Y. Hilton 268 119 31.1 12.2
Justin Jefferson 266 218 25.2 13.3
DeVante Parker 264 214 26.5 9.1
Darnell Mooney 257 122 17.6 12.9
Diontae Johnson 252 82 31.6 9.7
Damiere Byrd 252 128 30.1 11.4
Mike Evans 247 164 20.1 9.5
Brandin Cooks 243 91 23.2 11.6
Mike Williams 243 85 22.6 17.4
Kendrick Bourne 240 127 27.4 10.9
Chris Hogan 227 63 23.6 9.9
Danny Amendola 222 94 19 10.1
Chris Conley 222 57 20.5 11.1
Christian Kirk 216 64 21.1 16.6
Zach Pascal 213 103 24.7 11.2
Emmanuel Sanders 210 152 28.3 9.5
Allen Lazard 208 153 22 12.2
DJ Chark 208 168 19.2 13
Dontrelle Inman 206 79 20.7 9.8
Cole Beasley 203 178 17.4 8.5
Jamison Crowder 202 102 21 8.8
Isaiah Ford 200 108 20.1 7.7

Calvin Ridley was leading all wide receivers in air yards by 226 yards after Week 3, and still has accumulated 181 more yards than second place Adam Thielen. Amari Cooper is third (477), followed by A.J. Green (475), Allen Robinson (469), D.K. Metcalf (460), Marquise Brown (453), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (427), Odell Beckham (422), and Keenan Allen (418). No other wide receivers have eclipsed 400 yards through four matchups.

Brown led all wide receivers in air yards during Week 4 matchups (210). Damiere Byrd was second (146), followed by Beckham (135), Thielen (133), Cooper (129), Robinson (129), Terry McLaurin (127), and Tee Higgins (125). D.J. Chark was next (124), followed by Darnell Mooney (120), and Tampa Bay teammates Mike Evans and Scott Miller (116).

Brown also leads all wide receivers in targeted air yards (17.7), followed by Michael Gallup (17.4), Ridley (17.3), Christian Kirk (17.2), and Valdes-Scantling (17.2). DeSean Jackson is next (16.8), followed by Thielen (16.5), Miller (16.3), Mike Williams (16.2), Higgins (16.1), and Metcalf (16.0). 10 additional receivers have attained a percentage of 13+. including Justin Jefferson and Tim Patrick - who will be discussed in the 5 Things I Noticed section.

Thielen leads his position in percentage share of air yards (49.1). Beckham is second overall (45.3), followed by Brown (45.0), D.J. Moore (42.7), Ridley (41.2), and Metcalf (41.1). Keenan Allen is next, (40.2), followed by Julian Edelman (39.4), Terry McLaurin (39.2), Darius Slayton (37.9), Tyreek Hill (35.9), and Robby Anderson (35.4). Valdes-Scantling, Stefon Diggs, and Robinson spearhead a group of nine receivers that are averaging a percentage share of 30+

 

Week 4 First Downs

Wide Receivers First Downs
DeAndre Hopkins 24
Tyler Boyd 23
Amari Cooper 22
Terry McLaurin 20
Calvin Ridley 19
Keenan Allen 19
Stefon Diggs 18
Robby Anderson 16
Allen Robinson 16
Julian Edelman 16
Tyler Lockett 15
Cooper Kupp 15
D.J. Moore 15
DeVante Parker 15
Russell Gage 15
Tyreek Hill 15
Mike Evans 14
CeeDee Lamb 14
Justin Jefferson 14
Sammy Watkins 14
Corey Davis 13
D.K. Metcalf 13
D.J. Chark 13
Adam Thielen 12
Odell Beckham 12
Keelan Cole 12
Will Fuller 12
Darius Slayton 12
Emmanuel Sanders 12
Cole Beasley 12

 

DeAndre Hopkins continues to lead all wide receivers in first downs (24) followed by Tyler Boyd (23), Amari Cooper (22), and Terry McLaurin (20). Calvin Ridley and Keenan Allen are next (19), followed by Stefon Diggs (18) Robby Anderson (16), Allen Robinson (16), Julian Edelman, and a cluster of six receivers that have all accumulated 15 receptions for first downs  - Tyler Lockett, DeVante Parker, Cooper Kupp, Russell Gage, Tyreek Hill, and D.J. Moore. Mike Evans, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, and Sammy Watkins are next with 14, while D.K. Metcalf, D..J. Chark, and Corey Davis are tied with 13.  Adam Thielen, Odell Beckham, and Will Fuller are among a collection of seven receivers that have registered 12 receptions, while a total of 17 additional receivers have caught 10+ receptions for first downs after four matchups.

 

Week 4 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5 Team %
N'Keal Harry 8 4 2 40
Calvin Ridley 7 3 2 31.82
Russell Gage 7 3 1 31.82
DeAndre Hopkins 6 2 1 35.29
Darius Slayton 6 4 2 27.27
Stefon Diggs 5 2 2 15.63
Robby Anderson 5 2 1 26.32
Keenan Allen 5 1 0 33.33
CeeDee Lamb 5 4 4 26.32
Cole Beasley 5 4 2 15.63
Sammy Watkins 5 4 2 25
Emmanuel Sanders 5 3 2 20.83
Zach Pascal 5 3 2 25
Amari Cooper 4 1 0 21.05
Allen Robinson 4 1 0 16
Tyler Lockett 4 3 3 19.05
Julian Edelman 4 2 1 20
Tyreek Hill 4 3 1 20
Adam Thielen 4 1 0 50
Mike Evans 4 4 3 16.67
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 4 0 0 14.81
Hunter Renfrow 4 0 0 16.67
John Brown 4 2 1 12.5
Tre'Quan Smith 4 1 1 16.67
David Moore 4 1 0 19.05
Tee Higgins 4 2 2 14.81
Anthony Miller 4 1 1 16
Kenny Golladay 4 1 0 18.18
Brandon Aiyuk 4 3 2 15.38
Chris Hogan 4 2 1 36.36
Preston Williams 4 3 2 28.57
Trent Taylor 4 1 0 15.38
Terry McLaurin 3 0 0 20
Cooper Kupp 3 0 0 21.43
Will Fuller 3 1 1 23.08
Robert Woods 3 0 0 21.43
DJ Chark 3 2 1 13.64
Davante Adams 3 2 2 11.11
JuJu Smith-Schuster 3 2 0 23.08
Chris Godwin 3 2 1 12.5
Marvin Jones 3 1 1 13.64
Adam Humphries 3 0 0 25
Chris Conley 3 2 1 13.64
Willie Snead 3 1 0 17.65

 

N’Keal Harry has captured the league lead with eight red zone targets, after collecting five during his last two matchups. Calvin Ridley and teammate Russell Gage are next with seven, while DeAndre Hopkins and Darius Slayton have each been targeted six times.

Rookie CeeDee Lamb is one of eight receivers that has captured five red zone targets. He is joined by Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders, Zach Pascal, Stefon Diggs, Robby Anderson, Russell Gage, and Keenan Allen. A collection of 19 different wide receivers have all been targeted four times inside the 20.

Harry is also tied with five other receivers with four targets inside the 10. He is joined by  CeeDee Lamb, Darius Slayton, Mike Evans, Cole Beasley, Sammy Watkins. Lamb leads all receivers with four targets inside the 5-yard line, while Evans and Tyler Lockett are next with three.

Lamb and Chris Hogan collected a league-high three red zone targets in Week 4. Amari Cooper, Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, and Kenny Golladay, were among the 11 receivers that were targeted twice inside the 20 during their Week 4 matchups. Lamb led all receivers with his three targets inside the 10 and was joined by Harry as the only wide receivers to collect more than one target inside the 5.

 

Week 4 Snap Counts

Wide Receivers  Week 4 Snaps Total Snaps Total Snap %
Michael Gallup 67/82% 281 88.36
Keenan Allen 50/94% 276 95.83
Amari Cooper 63/77% 271 85.22
DeAndre Hopkins 54/95% 267 95.02
Damiere Byrd 73/97% 257 91.8
Terry McLaurin 64/90% 255 93.75
D.K. Metcalf 55/87% 252 95.45
Tyler Lockett 56/89% 248 93.94
Stefon Diggs 56/92% 247 91.14
Tyler Boyd 58/77% 245 79.8
Robert Woods 54/95% 241 89.93
Tyreek Hill 53/93% 240 86.6
Marvin Jones 54/89% 239 90.19
Calvin Ridley 46/64% 239 81
CeeDee Lamb 62/76% 238 74.84
Larry Fitzgerald 53/93% 235 83.63
Mike Evans 54/71% 233 84.73
Darius Slayton 66/97% 233 92.09
Cooper Kupp 49/86% 232 86.57
Chris Hogan 68/88% 229 87.4
Allen Robinson 55/89% 225 82.12
D.J. Moore 55/71% 223 83.21
Tre'Quan Smith 62/89% 220 84.94
John Brown 52/85% 218 80.44
Adam Thielen 58/88% 217 91.56
Kendrick Bourne 50/68% 216 79.12
Zach Pascal 54/75% 215 77.06

N'Keal Harry

57/76% 215 76.8
A.J. Green 53/71% 210 68.4
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 61/97% 206 74.6
Tim Patrick 53/76% 206 76.58
Odell Beckham 58/77% 203 75.46
DeVante Parker 57/80% 202 75.09
Jalen Guyton 45/85% 199 69.1
Preston Williams 43/61% 195 72.49
Robby Anderson 44/57% 193 72.01
Julian Edelman 46/61% 191 68.2
Jarvis Landry 57/76% 189 70.26
Allen Lazard INJ 188 88.26
Brandin Cooks 51/94% 186 80.87
T.Y. Hilton 54/75% 186 66.67
Keelan Cole 50/74% 184 71.04
Dontrelle Inman 57/80% 183 67.28
Jerry Jeudy 48/69% 182 67.66
Emmanuel Sanders 51/73% 179 69.11
Will Fuller 50/77% 178 77.39
Tee Higgins 43/57% 176 57
Russell Gage 47/67% 176 60

Michael Gallup leads all wide receivers in offensive snaps (281). Keenan Allen is second (276), followed by Gallup's teammate Amari Cooper (271), DeAndre Hopkins (267), Damiere Byrd (257), Terry McLaurin (255), D.K. Metcalf (252), Tyler Lockett (248), Stefon Diggs (247), Tyler Boyd (245), and Robert Woods (241) completing the top 10.

Allen leads the position in snap count percentage (95.8). Metcalf is second (95.5), followed by Hopkins (95.0), New York Jet Jeff Smith (94.8) Lockett (94.0), McLaurin (93.8), and Slayton (92.1). Byrd is next (91.7), followed by Thielen (91,6), Thielen's former teammate Stefon Diggs (91.1), and Marvin Jones (90.2). No other wide receivers have eclipsed an offensive snap count of 90%.

Byrd and Smith tied for the lead offensive snaps during their Week 4 matchups (73). Smith’s teammate Chris Hogan was third (68), followed by Nelson Aguilar (67), Gallup (67), Slayton (66), and Zay Jones (66). Jamison Crowder was next (65), followed by McLaurin (64), rookie Brandon Aiyuk (64), and Cooper (63), while Tre' Quan Smith and CeeDee Lamb were tied at 62.

Byrd also was involved in the highest percentage of offensive snaps in Week 4 (97.3). Slayton was second (97.1), followed by Valdes-Scantling (96.8), Smith (94.8), Hopkins (94.7), and Woods (94.7). Allen (94.3), Brandin Cooks (93.9), Larry Fitzgerald (93.0), Hill (92.9), Diggs (91.8), Agholor (90.5), and McLaurin (90.1).

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. Buffalo’s passing attack has soared to second overall while averaging 316.3 yards per game. That is over 100 yards per game more than the Bills averaged during 2019 (201.8) when the team only ranked 26th. The potency of their passing game is even more significant when contrasted with 2018, as the Bills ranked just 31st while averaging only 174.6 yards per game. That was Josh Allen’s rookie season when he was operating with Zay Jones (102 targets/56 receptions/652 yards) and Robert Foster (44 targets/27 receptions/541 yards) as his most productive receivers.

General Manager Brandon Beane worked in coordination with head coach Sean McDermott to dramatically upgrade Allen’s weaponry by signing John Brown and Cole Beasley before the 2019 regular season. Beane and McDermott also provided Allen with his most dynamic option by extracting Stefon Diggs from Minnesota. The results have been outstanding, as Allen and the trio of receivers are performing proficiently, while the Bills deploy the pass on 61.1% of their offensive plays – which ranks 11th overall. The team was only 26th in that category just one year ago (54.3%).

Allen has already thrown for 1,326 yards, which places him second overall. He is also fourth in average completed air yards (7.9), while his completion percentage (70.9%) has risen sizably from his previous seasons (52.8%/58.8%). He has already exceeded his touchdown total from 2018 (10) and is steadily approaching his current career-high of 20 that was established last season. Diggs has made a fluid transition to the Bills while operating from the slot on 68.1% of the Bills’ offensive plays. He is currently tied for the league lead in receiving yards (403), yards before catch (334). and completed air yards (331), while he is also sixth among receivers in receptions (26), and is also seventh in both targets (35) and point per game scoring.

 

Diggs also leads the Bills in target share (24.3), and percentage share of air yards (33.2), although Brown is second at 27.0. Brown had paced the Bills in targets (115), receptions (72), and receiving yards (1,060) during 2019. But has dropped to third behind both Diggs and Beasley in targets (23) and yardage (194), and has fallen to fourth with 14 receptions. Beasley has collected 18 of 24 targets for 260 yards, while promising rookie Gabriel Davis has surged to the team lead in yards per reception (16.1) and yards per target (16.1). Anyone who was able to procure Diggs during Round 6 of their draft process should be ecstatic, as he should remain highly productive throughout the season.  Brown should now be considered an inconsistent WR3, while Beasley is best reserved for the flex. However, Davis should be secured on all dynasty rosters this week.

 

2. During Sean McVay’s first three seasons as head coach of the Rams, Los Angeles ranked 25th (55.8%), 24th (56.7%), and eighth (62%), in pass play percentage. But the 2020 version of McVay’s aerial attack currently ranks just 30th overall (48.9%). This strategic approach has elevated the Rams to third in run play percentage (51.1%). It also represents a sizable change from last season when McVay’s Rams only deployed the ground game on 38.0% of their offensive plays, which ranked just 25th overall. LA's decreased reliance on the passing attack has reduced the number of passing attempts for Jared Goff, who launched a league-high 626 throws in 2019 (39.1 per game). He is currently 21st in attempts (122) while averaging almost nine fewer attempts per game (30.5). That places him on pace for 488 attempts which will result in fewer opportunities for Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp than they collected last season.

However, both players are unchallenged as the Rams' top two receiving weapons, which will sustain their productivity despite the reduction in their targets and snaps when compared last season. Kupp is leading Los Angeles in target share (23.9%), followed by Woods (22.2%). Those shares easily exceed the percentages for Josh Reynolds (10.3%) and Van Jefferson (8.5%). The Ram tight ends became the source for significant discussion during the off-season. However,  Tyler Higbee is a distant third in team target share (12.8%) while Gerald Everett remains a complete non-factor at 4.3%. Kupp (17th) and Woods (18th) currently are adjacent in scoring, while Kupp is 18th overall in targets (28/7.0 per game). He is also averaging 5.8 receptions and 74.3 yards per game. Woods is currently 24th in targets (26/6.5 per game), while also averaging 4.8 receptions and 57 yards per game.

Kupp's averages in targets and receptions do not match the results from 2019 (8.4 targets/5.9 receptions per game). But his yardage per game is comparable to last season (72.6) and places him on pace for 1,189.

 

Woods averaged 9.3 targets, 6.0 reception, and 75.6 yards per game during 2019. His decline of 18.6 yards per game would also equate to 912 yards if it would be sustained over a 16-game period. That number would not match the result that GMs envisioned when they selected Woods. However, both Woods and Kupp are operating without a significant threat to their status as the most integral components within the restructured offense. That keeps them positioned firmly at WR2 status.

 

3. There was a reason for optimism regarding Philadelphia’s aerial attack during the offseason. The Eagles had ranked 11th in passing during 2019 (239.6 yards per game) while Carson Wentz overcame multiple injuries at wide receiver to finish at QB7. The team had also invested a first-round draft selection on Jalen Reagor, who would join a healthy DeSean Jackson in providing an explosive downfield element to the offense. But after four weeks, Philadelphia ranks 27th in passing (207.5 yards per game), Wentz is 16th in scoring. and he just operated with Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, and fifth-round pick John Hightower as his primary wide receiving targets during the team’s Week 4 matchup in San Francisco.

Attention has been focused on the puzzling but consistent struggles of Wentz who is fourth overall in passing attempts (160) but is also 14th in completions (97), and just 28th in completion percentage 60.6. He has also constructed a nightmarish 4-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while also plunging to just 33rd in both Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and also in Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). But Ward has emerged as Philadelphia’s current WR1, after pacing the team in targets (18), receptions (12), and receiving yards (110) during the last two contests. That target total places him seventh overall among all receivers during that span, while his numbers during that two-game sequence have also propelled him to the team lead in each category after four weeks (26 targets/18 receptions/146 yards).

Hightower had performed on just 10% of Philadelphia's offensive snaps in Week 2, but he has averaged 82.5% during the team’s last two matchups (79%/86%). However, that percentage will decline significantly after Reagor, Jackson, and Alshon Jeffery have resurfaced. Reagor averaged 12 yards per target while providing a glimpse of his ability to function as a dynamic vertical weapon in Weeks 1-2. But his thumb injury will keep him cemented to the sideline until at least Week 7. The 33-year-old Jackson was leading Philadelphia's wide receivers in snaps (120) and snap count percentage (52.2) before a hamstring issue sidelined him in Week 4. But he still presents a mixture of health concerns with the occasional productive outing.  Jeffery has yet to play a down following LisFranc surgery and has failed to demonstrate any reasonable form of reliability during the majority of his career. These factors could combine to warrant WR3/flex usage of Ward even after Jackson and Jeffery reemerge.

 

4. Many of you have been contending with uncomfortable roster decisions as a number of starting receivers have been sidelined by injuries. The absence of high-profile receivers has been particularly challenging when fantasy GMs attempt to locate alternative players for their lineups. However, there are also wide receivers that are experiencing a surge in usage and production as the result of the injuries. This elevates them into consideration as potential solutions to any difficult roster situations – even though several of these options may not be widely known.

Greg Ward has been mentioned in this section, and he is included in this collection of receivers that are rising in relevance. Tim Patrick was originally signed by Baltimore as an undrafted free agent in 2017. However, he did not enter the field until 2018. He averaged 7.5 targets and 60.5 yards per game from Weeks 13-17 before descending into irrelevance until Week 4. Patrick collected six of seven targets and generated a career-high 113 yards while averaging 18.8 yards per reception against the Jets. Injuries to K.J. Hamler and Noah Fant have combined with the absence of Courtland Sutton to create a path for Patrick to seize a consistent role in Denver’s depleted offense. He has the size (6’4”, 210-pound) and sufficient speed to operate efficiently on the perimeter while Jerry Jeudy functions predominantly in the slot.

Isaiah Ford is a seventh-round draft pick who entered 2020 with career totals of 36 targets, 24 receptions, and 244 yards. But he has overtaken Preston Williams as Miami’s WR2 and can provide a boost for anyone who is searching for flex options in deeper leagues. Ford is currently second on the Dolphins in targets (26) and target share (18.4) and is also third in receptions (15), receiving yards (151) air yards (200), and percentage share of air yards (20.1). Williams has caught just six of his 17 targets and has only manufactured 89 yards after four contests. He has also plunged to fifth in team target share 12.1, while Ford also attained a higher snap share than Williams in Week 4 (63% /61%).

Darnell Mooney was selected by Chicago in the fifth round of last April's Draft after he delivered a blazing 4.38 in the 40-yard dash during the NFL combine. His snap share has risen steadily from 34% during the Bears season opener to a season-high 74% in Week 4. That has improved his overall snap share to 58%, which is higher than the 52% of third-year receiver Anthony Miller. Mooney's target total has also elevated to the season season-high nine that he collected in Week 4 (3/3/5/9).

Mooney is now second only to Allen Robinson among Chicago wide receivers in targets (20), target share (13.0), receptions (13), and receiving yards (145). Miller has been a perpetual disappointment while Mooney's stock is on the rise. His current shoulder issue should be monitored, his prospects for delivering expanding target and yardage totals as the season progresses are legitimate.

 

5. The situation surrounding Atlanta’s trio of wide receivers has transformed dramatically after their seasons began with a promising sequence in September. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage were in a three-way tie for fifth in targets (12) following the Falcons’ season opener and were also tied for fourth with nine receptions. Jones was leading the NFL in receiving yards (157) while Ridley was fourth (130), and Gage was tied for sixth (114). Jones and Ridley were both among the top five in air yards, as they entered Week 2.

But the situation began to degenerate due to Jones’ protracted hamstring issue. He only caught two of his four targets in Week 2, then was sidelined during Atlanta’s Week 3 matchup with Chicago. However, Ridley did surge to the league lead in touchdowns (4), receiving yards (239), and first downs (16), and was fourth in targets (22) and third in receptions (16). Gage was eighth in targets (21), sixth in receptions (16), and third in first downs (12) while contributing to the team’s aerial attack from the slot.

But Gage encountered his own statistical decline in Week 3 when a concussion limited him to 12 snaps. Ridley was still able to commandeer a double-digit target total for the third consecutive week (13). He was the top point per game scorer, surged to the league lead in air yards (599), and was also second in receptions for first downs. Despite pregame concerns regarding the health of each receiver, Matt Ryan began the team’s Week 4 matchup with Jones, Ridley, and Gage in the lineup. However, the ever-changing outcomes for Falcon receivers shifted once again in Week 4, as Olamide Zaccheaus led the team in snap share (76%), targets (9), receptions (8), and receiving yards (86). Jones’ lingering hamstring issue prevented him from finishing the contest, while Ridley shockingly failed to garner any of his five targets.

Anyone with the Falcons’ primary receivers on their rosters has now been forced to remain flexible with their expectations. Ridley’s latest performance resulted in a drastic decline from his recent production and is likely an aberration. But it is uncertain how long Jones will be impacted by his injury. Anyone with Jones on their rosters can add Zaccheaus, as his role will temporarily expand.



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Fantasy Football Buy or Sell - Week 5

The fantasy stonks market is always a fun one to evaluate. Buy/Sell articles like this are essentially glorified "Who's Hot and Who's Not" but the tables are turned to where sometimes, you want to buy those that are cold and sell the hot. Buy-low, sell-high is the motto but also, sometimes it is ok to buy-high if you aren't buying as high as it could be. This sounds unintelligible but it makes sense in my head.

Now, four weeks into the season, we have several big-name players underperforming and others over-performing. The trade market has the most leverage possible early on in the year when owners are 0-4 or 1-3 with injuries flooding them (especially this year). The time to buy/sell is now and I am here to help.

If you like this piece or others like it,  follow me on Twitter @RotoSurgeon to catch on any relevant and/or ask questions. Best of luck!

 

Players to Buy

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

Sean McVay recently announced that rookie running back, Cam Akers, would be active for Week 5. As we know, Akers has missed the past two games with a rib cartilage injury which knocked him out of action early-on in Week 2. A rib injury is tricky given that they can be played through and are mostly pain-tolerance issues. Akers will likely wear extra padding on his chest to minimize impact but re-injury risk is possible

With Akers back in action, the Rams will hopefully clear up their murky backfield. As of right now, Malcolm Brown has been the lead back while Darrell Henderson trails along with all of the production. Henderson has not played more than 49% of the snaps in any game this year while Brown hasn't played fewer than 49%.  The Rams are either wary of re-injuring Henderson or do not see him fit to play a majority of snaps. Whatever it may be, there is clearly a reason that Akers was drafted with the first pick for them in the 2020 draft. They liked him enough to start out of the gates and while his role may be limited this week, there is plenty of opportunity to take on assuming that Brown's role is shrunk. Malcolm Brown has already been targeted more times through four games this year than in any season of his six-year career and in just 33% of the snaps in Week 1, Akers saw 15 opportunities to touch the ball. Akers is the lead back that the Rams want and his opportunity will be plentiful in a week or two. Buy Akers now while he's still "cheap".

Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

Hunter Henry is third in TE yards and fourth in YAC, you wouldn't know this by just going off of fantasy points where he is TE15 on the season! Unfortunately, Henry has not hit pay-dirt yet and is touchdown-less on the season. Luckily, touchdowns are fairly random and can regress in an instant. Tyler Higbee has three on the season and they all came in the same game. Higbee also has nearly 100 fewer yards on the season but sits 10 slots higher in rankings.

This is not anti-Higbee, more-so, pro-Henry. He's one of the most talented TEs in the league who has been hampered by injury throughout his career. While the price may not be too cheap given that he hasn't been unproductive, Henry is worth the long-term investment for potential buyers. TE matchups are not useful predictors for future performance, but he does get the Saints this coming Monday and they have allowed the most points to the position in the league. Get Henry ASAP.

Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

Michael Gallup has come out as the third-fiddle in the uber-talented Cowboys' receiving room. While most would have expected rookie CeeDee Lamb to take a backseat to the third-year WR coming off of a 1000-yard season, the opposite has come about. Lamb is looking like co-alpha with Amari Cooper while Gallup acts as more of a field-stretcher. While this is true, Gallup is 11th among all WRs in air yards and 4th in average distance of target (aDOT) among those WRs with at least 20 targets.

Gallup's time will come and it may be in clusters rather than consistent production. Nevertheless, those clusters can win you weeks by themselves. He's already had one boom week this year versus Seattle where he saw nine targets and produced six receptions, 138 yards and a touchdown. This week's matchup versus the Giants should be another one presuming that the sole skilled cornerback for the opposition, James Bradberry, opts to primarily cover Cooper or Lamb. Gallup's production at the end of the year will reflect that of a WR2 and right now his price may be that of a WR3. Acquire him for whatever is in your means and fair because every week from now you can throw him in your WR3 or FLEX spot and potentially get a winning boost.

 

Players to Sell

Jamison Crowder, New York Jets

With Sam Darnold out indefinitely with and Joe Flacco taking on the reins at QB for the Jets, Jamison Crowder's value takes a hit. Not so much because Flacco is a worse thrower than Darnold at the moment, but because of the unknown factor that is who Flacco will target. During his time in Baltimore, Flacco found a comfort zone with tight ends as his safety valve whereas Darnold favors the slot. In Baltimore, the target share to tight ends was above 22% from 2010 on while Darnold has only provided 18% through four games this year.

Crowder may not be the most appealing sell given his lack of name value and limitations but has had two massive PPR games in his two healthy games played this season. Crowder seldom finds the end-zone (12 TD over past 32 games) and relies on heavy volume to produce. His target-share could decline due to the return of Breshad Perriman (who Flacco played with in Baltimore) as well.

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions

Not D'Andre Swift, not Kerryon Johnson, but Adrian Peterson has been the RB in Detroit carrying the largest work-share on the ground. This has been one of the more odd developments of our historically ridiculous 2020 but it is not unprecedented. Just last year, we saw plodding vet Jordan Howard carry the load in Philadelphia while Miles Sanders waited in the wings and played a more complementary receiving role out of the backfield. Albeit, it did take a Howard injury for Sanders' role to expand.

While Peterson has actually played relatively well, we have to consider how long this will last given the possibility that Matt Patricia is possibly on his way out midseason. Peterson could see his role shrink in the second half of the season if the Lions continue losing. They *should* want to see more of what they got with their second-round rookie.Kerryon Johnson is a complete non-factor so he can be disregarded outside of a trade or cut situation.  Peterson's production thus far has been fantasy-relevant and given his workload, he could hold value in leagues with RB-thin waiver wires.

Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

In Phillip Lindsay's absence, Melvin Gordon has thrived (particularly in Week 4). Gordon has displayed every bit of what the Broncos paid for throughout the first quarter of the season and his role will remain heavy throughout the year. Lindsay is stepping back into his presumed complementary slot but could see a lower workload if Gordon continues to thrive. Lindsay is a great story being a hometown kid but the Broncos have yet to secure him long-term and they clearly saw enough limitations to the point that they signed Gordon in the offseason.

Lindsay is a mediocre receiving back and pass-blocker (arguably the worst in 2019) therefore, he will be off the field in most passing-downs. Also, touchdowns are hard to come by given that Lindsay is not a short-yardage/goal-line back. Outside of a Gordon injury, Lindsay will not see volume similar to last year, especially early-on post-turf toe. He is essentially the opposite of Cam Akers where you want to sell before he gets on the field rather than vice-versa. Lindsay's name-value could be appealing to a league-mate who is struggling at the RB spot and needs a starter for the next few weeks.



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Frank Ammirante's Rest-of-Season PPR Rankings

We're a quarter through the NFL season, so it's the perfect time to update my PPR rankings. These are tiered rankings organized by position. My rankings prioritize upside and downgrade injury concerns.

In this article, I'll identify players to consider trading away or acquiring to help you find trade targets and optimize your redraft lineups. These rankings account for overall volume and remaining schedule.

Below you'll find a few selections that will surely have you raising an eyebrow. Be sure to voice these concerns and come at me on Twitter @FAmmiranteTFJ! I can assure you that I'll be ready to provide insights behind these selections and we can engage in debate.

 

Quarterbacks

Tier Rank QB Previous Rank
1 1 Patrick Mahomes 2
1 2 Lamar Jackson 3
1 3 Kyler Murray 6
1 4 Russell Wilson 5
1 5 Dak Prescott 4
1 6 Josh Allen 11
2 7 Deshaun Watson 1
2 8 Cam Newton 15
2 9 Aaron Rodgers 14
3 10 Joe Burrow 10
3 11 Tom Brady 13
3 12 Matthew Stafford 12
3 13 Matt Ryan 7
3 14 Ben Roethlisberger 19
4 15 Carson Wentz 8
4 16 Daniel Jones 9
4 17 Justin Herbert 34
4 18 Drew Brees 16
4 19 Gardner Minshew II 22
4 20 Teddy Bridgewater 24
4 21 Ryan Tannehill 18
4 22 Jared Goff 21
5 23 Jimmy Garoppolo 17
5 24 Kirk Cousins 27
5 25 Baker Mayfield 25
5 26 Derek Carr 28
6 27 Tua Tagovailoa 33
6 28 Drew Lock 20
6 29 Nick Foles 32
6 30 Philip Rivers 30
6 31 Ryan Fitzpatrick 31
6 32 Sam Darnold 26
6 33 Dwayne Haskins 29
7 34 Mitch Trubisky 35
7 35 Jameis Winston 37
7 36 Jalen Hurts 36
7 37 Andy Dalton 38
7 38 Jarrett Stidham 40
7 39 Jacoby Brissett 39
7 40 Brett Rypien N/A

BUY HIGH: Josh Allen looks like a different passer this season, ready to join the elite ranks of the position. The addition of Stefon Diggs has been massive to Allen's growth as a quarterback. Pay the premium price to acquire Allen.

BUY LOW: Daniel Jones has really struggled this season, but the Giants have had a tough schedule. This will be a pass-heavy team that plays at one of the fastest paces in the league, so the fantasy points will be there. Jones has probably been dropped in your league.

SELL HIGH: Dak Prescott is one pace to shatter yardage records, but the Cowboys are playing at too fast of a pace, which is leaving their defense out to dry. Expect them to slow things down a bit and feed Zeke more. This team also loves to run in the red-zone, which caps Dak's upside. Sell high on the current QB1.

SELL LOW: Drew Brees is no longer the big-play passer that he once was. It's tough to trust a 41-year old quarterback to provide fantasy production, especially when quarterback is such a deep position. Currently QB23 in fantasy points per game, it's time to trade Brees for 40 cents on the dollar.

 

Running Backs

Tier Rank RB Previous Rank
1 1 Alvin Kamara 5
1 2 Ezekiel Elliott 3
1 3 Dalvin Cook 12
1 4 Aaron Jones 10
1 5 Derrick Henry 4
1 6 Clyde Edwards-Helaire 6
1 7 Christian McCaffrey 2
2 8 Joe Mixon 8
2 9 Josh Jacobs 7
2 10 Kareem Hunt 27
2 11 Miles Sanders 9
2 12 Jonathan Taylor 16
3 13 James Robinson N/A
3 14 Melvin Gordon 19
3 15 Chris Carson 22
3 16 James Conner 13
3 17 Kenyan Drake 15
3 18 David Montgomery 30
3 19 Todd Gurley 25
4 20 Antonio Gibson 18
4 21 Raheem Mostert 24
4 22 Devin Singletary 32
4 23 David Johnson 21
4 24 Myles Gaskin N/A
5 25 Le'Veon Bell 20
5 26 Ronald Jones II 38
5 27 Mark Ingram II 23
5 28 Leonard Fournette 26
5 29 Darrell Henderson 48
5 30 Cam Akers 17
6 31 Latavius Murray 40
6 32 D'Andre Swift 34
6 33 J.K. Dobbins 28
6 34 Damien Harris 42
6 35 Austin Ekeler 14
6 36 Joshua Kelley 49
6 37 Jerick McKinnon 79
6 38 Nick Chubb 11
7 39 Chase Edmonds 39
7 40 Devonta Freeman N/A
7 41 Mike Davis N/A
7 42 Alexander Mattison 41
7 43 Phillip Lindsay 47
7 44 James White 48
7 45 Zack Moss 29
7 46 Jamaal Williams N/A
7 47 Adrian Peterson N/A
8 48 Tony Pollard 44
8 49 Nyheim Hines 50
8 50 Duke Johnson 45
8 51 Rex Burkhead N/A
8 52 Malcolm Brown 50
8 53 Darrel Williams 53
8 54 Carlos Hyde 54
8 55 Giovani Bernard 55
8 56 Kerryon Johnson 31
8 57 Wayne Gallman N/A
8 58 Brian Hill N/A
8 59 Boston Scott 59
8 60 Darrynton Evans 60

BUY HIGH: James Robinson has come out of nowhere as an undrafted rookie for a rebuilding team to deliver RB1 production. He's become the bell cow of the Jaguars' backfield, even adding some receiving production. Jacksonville has the ninth-friendliest schedule for running backs.

BUY LOW: David Montgomery has the easiest schedule for running backs. The injury to Tarik Cohen could allow him to see more work in the passing game. Nick Foles is an upgrade at quarterback, so we could see more touchdown opportunities.

SELL HIGH: Kareem Hunt has been highly productive this season and now Nick Chubb is on the shelf, but the Browns seem to prefer to keep their committee in the backfield. Some people view Hunt as a top-five back going forward, so take advantage of this selling opportunity.

SELL LOW: Mark Ingram is stuck in a committee that has become a situation to avoid for fantasy players. There's a chance that the Ravens start to give more work to rookie J.K. Dobbins, who looks like the more dynamic player. Try to sell Ingram's big-name for a more appealing bench piece with upside.

 

Wide Receivers

Tier Rank WR Previous Rank
1 1 DeAndre Hopkins 13
1 2 Davante Adams 1
1 3 Michael Thomas 2
1 4 Amari Cooper 15
1 5 Tyreek Hill 3
2 6 Allen Robinson 11
2 7 Adam Thielen 8
2 8 Keenan Allen 28
2 9 Calvin Ridley 19
2 10 Tyler Lockett 22
2 11 D.K. Metcalf 18
3 12 A.J. Brown 5
3 13 Mike Evans 10
3 14 Odell Beckham Jr. 12
3 15 Kenny Golladay 14
3 16 Terry McLaurin 16
3 17 Stefon Diggs 26
3 18 Cooper Kupp 21
3 19 Robert Woods 20
3 20 D.J. Chark 17
3 21 Will Fuller 23
3 22 Tyler Boyd 24
4 23 D.J. Moore 6
4 24 Julio Jones 4
4 25 Chris Godwin 9
4 26 JuJu Smith-Schuster 7
4 27 Diontae Johnson 45
4 28 Marquise Brown 27
5 29 CeeDee Lamb 30
5 30 Robby Anderson 57
5 31 DeVante Parker 25
5 32 Justin Jefferson 63
5 33 Julian Edelman 36
5 34 Michael Gallup 31
5 35 Deebo Samuel 24
6 36 Jarvis Landry 41
6 37 Tee Higgins N/A
6 38 Jamison Crowder 44
6 39 Darius Slayton 57
6 40 John Brown 42
6 41 T.Y. Hilton 35
6 42 Jerry Jeudy 45
7 43 Laviska Shenault Jr. 56
7 44 Jalen Reagor 39
7 45 Christian Kirk 37
7 46 Marvin Jones 40
7 47 A.J. Green 34
7 48 Brandon Aiyuk 48
7 49 Cole Beasley N/A
7 50 Mike Williams 50
7 51 Golden Tate 51
7 52 N'Keal Harry 59
7 53 Mecole Hardman 43
8 54 Hunter Renfrow 66
8 55 Brandin Cooks 38
8 56 Emmanuel Sanders N/A
8 57 Russell Gage N/A
8 58 Scotty Miller N/A
8 59 Preston Williams 58
8 60 Corey Davis 68
8 61 Sammy Watkins 67
9 62 Allen Lazard 65
9 63 Parris Campbell 55
9 64 Alshon Jeffery 71
9 65 DeSean Jackson 47
9 66 Sterling Shepard 46
9 67 Michael Pittman Jr. 62
9 68 Tim Patrick N/A
9 69 Keelan Cole N/A
9 70 Anthony Miller 53

BUY HIGH: Amari Cooper is still the alpha WR1 in Dallas, posting over 25% target share and more than 30% air yards share, both of which lead the team. He's currently WR1 in PPR PPG and he should remain an elite option on a pass-heavy offense loaded with weapons.

BUY LOW: D.J. Moore has been a massive disappointment, but he still has over a 23% target share and more than 42% air yard share, so the production will come soon. Try to pry him off a fantasy player who thinks that Robby Anderson has supplanted Moore as the Panthers' WR.

SELL HIGH: JuJu Smith-Schuster still has the big name and his production has been inflated by his three touchdowns, but Diontae Johnson actually leads the Steelers in target share. There's a chance that Diontae has surpassed JuJu as Ben's favorite target.

SELL LOW: A.J. Green looks like a declining player, ready to be supplanted by promising rookie Tee Higgins. If you can use Green's big name to pick up an upside bench player like Chase Edmonds, I would fully support that move.

 

Tight Ends

Tier Rank TE Previous Rank
1 1 George Kittle 1
1 2 Travis Kelce 2
2 3 Darren Waller 5
2 4 Mark Andrews 3
3 5 Zach Ertz 5
3 6 Evan Engram 6
3 7 Hunter Henry 19
4 8 Jonnu Smith 15
4 9 T.J. Hockenson 12
4 10 Noah Fant 7
4 11 Robert Tonyan N/A
4 12 Hayden Hurst 14
4 13 Mike Gesicki 13
4 14 Jared Cook 19
4 15 Tyler Higbee 7
5 16 Dalton Schultz N/A
5 17 Mo Alie-Cox N/A
5 18 Rob Gronkowski 18
5 19 Eric Ebron 23
6 20 Dallas Goedert 17
6 21 Jimmy Graham N/A
6 22 Jordan Akins N/A
6 23 Logan Thomas N/A
6 24 Greg Olsen N/A
6 25 Chris Herndon 11

BUY HIGH: Jonnu Smith is breaking out before our very eyes, posting a 20.83% target share (3rd among tight ends), including 33.33% in the red-zone (2nd among tight ends). He's currently TE3 in PPR PPG and looks here to stay as a TE1.

BUY LOW: Evan Engram ranks second in targets among tight ends, but the production has not matched the volume yet. Luckily, he plays on a fast-paced, pass-heavy offense that has the second-easiest schedule for tight ends. Engram should get back on track this week against the Cowboys.

SELL HIGH: Robert Tonyan is generating tons of hype after his dominant performance on Monday Night Football. While I still consider him a TE1 going forward, try to take advantage of his big game and see if you can acquire someone reliable like Jonnu Smith.

SELL LOW: Tyler Higbee is just not receiving enough volume to put up TE1 numbers, ranking 22nd in targets among tight ends. While it's only been three games and he does have a three-touchdown performance under his belt, Higbee is someone to move right now - perhaps you can grab an upside wide receiver like Tee Higgins for Higbee.



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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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NextGen Stats - Wide Receiver/Tight End Breakdowns and Takeaways

I can't believe it. Months of waiting, painful empty weekends, and now a quarter of the NFL season is suddenly gone! But I'm not going to lie, I love the moment when the whistle blows to end the week on Monday nights. It is just the confirmation that we have another full round of data in our hands, and for a nerd like me, that's great. As a reader that likes this type of content, you might feel the same.

To gain the biggest edge in your fantasy football league, it's necessary to understand how to apply the advanced statistics being used in sports nowadays. Back in the day, it was all about wins and losses, passing yards, and touchdowns scored. It's not that those stats are now worthless, they just don't offer enough information to savvy analysts. While football is still in its infancy compared to baseball in terms of analytics, the evolution the sport has seen lately in those terms is notable.

Each week, I'll be tackling NFL's Next Gen Stats, bringing you data from the previous week's games with notable takeaways you should consider when assessing fantasy players for the upcoming week. In case you're new to the series, or Next Gen Stats altogether, I recommend you read our NGS-primer. Now, let's get to the data!

 

Week 4 - TE/WR Air Yards Breakdown - NextGenStats

If you remember the introductory post to the series, you already know Air Yards tells us the vertical yards on a pass attempt from the line of scrimmage to the point where the ball was caught by the receiver (or the catch failed to be completed.) I will be using mainly two metrics here: Average Targeted Air Yards (TAY), and %Share of Team's Air Yards (TAY%)TAY tells us how many air yards a receiver is thrown per target. TAY% measures the percentage of Air Yards a receiver was thrown at over the sum of his team's total Air Yards.

With four weeks in the books, we can (at least moderately) say that we have enough data to assess what and what not is going on at the wide receiver and tight end positions. This doesn't mean Air Yard values are already stabilized, not close to it, but it is highly probable that what we see in Weeks 1-4 stays mostly the same at least in the short-to-mid-term future, with high chances of staying on similar levels for the full season.

Today, I'll present each of the stats from the NFL's advanced metrics site, its correlation with receiver fantasy points, and a list of leaders and trailers in each category along with some notes and takeaways on both the players' and the metrics' impact on fantasy football as a whole.

So let's dive in. Note: The cutoff is set at 10 targets for both WR and TE.

 

Cushion / Separation

Correlation with Fantasy Points: negative-9% / 8%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • In a flip of what we saw over the full 2019 season, the SEP and the FP/G posted through four weeks of play correlate positively. Last season that wasn't the case, but so far (albeit on a very small sample of just four games) we're seeing the opposite to what happened last year. Don't get too high on it, as the relationship amounts to a virtually insignificant 9%...
  • Before we get deeper, let's give a shout-out to Demarcus Robinson for holding onto the highest SEP mark for another week, even with a low number of targets (11, min. set at 10 for W4) through four games. He's almost a full yard ahead of no. 2 Robert Tonyan and that's the same distance as there is between Tonyan and no. 7 George Kittle.
  • As always, plenty of tight ends made it to the top of the leaderboard. They get targeted mostly when they're open, and that's why five of the top 11 players in SEP play at that position. That doesn't mean they aren't all good enough to get separation on their own merits instead of always being left open by defenses, though (looking at you, Kittle).
  • There are 135 qualified WR/TEs in this week's rundown. Grouped by team, Kansas City is the squad with the highest SEP on average (3.9) yards, followed by Seattle (3.5) and Arizona (3.4).
  • On the other end of the SEP leaderboard, the Dolphins trail every other squad on average SEP among their receivers (2.0), with Chicago at 2.3 and Detroit at 2.3. Don't hate on Fitzpatrick, Trubisky, or Foles: those receiving corps are making things tough as nails for them all to complete passes on such tight spaces.
  • As is often the case, and as the first point of this section highlights, high or low SEP marks don't translate into more or fewer fantasy points. Green Bay receivers have the highest PPG average at 16.6 with a SEP of 3.3 but are followed by Minnesota's (16.5 PPG) with a SEP of 2.5...
  • While receivers can control their separation averages, they can't directly affect the cushion defenders give them. Although virtually not related to fantasy points in any way, the relationship is negative: more cushion, fewer PPG.
  • At the top of the leaderboard, your usual suspects: burners in the shape of K.J. Hamler (8.7 CUSH) and DeSean Jackson (8.1). More interesting, though, are the cases of elite players like DeAndre Hopkins (7.7) and Amari Cooper (7.4), as they can do it all and the cushion they are given is more related to their all-around abilities rather than just their deep-route running.
  • Through Week 4, only 28 receivers are averaging 15+ PPG. Of those, only Hopkins, Cooper, and Adam Thielen have CUSH marks above 6.7 (all 7.3+).
  • At the same time, only five players are averaging 15+ PPG while being given fewer than 5.0 yards of CUSH (Allen Robinson II, Robert Tonyan, Davante Adams, Terry McLaurin, and DK Metcalf).
  • Breakdown by teams: Denver (6.9), Carolina (6.8), and the Jets (6.5) receivers are given the largest CUSH on the league; Indianapolis (4.9), Green Bay (5.0), and Cleveland (5.0) the smallest. Not a coincidence the leading two teams have K.J. Hamler/Tim Patrick/Robby Anderson, while the trailing two feature the likes of Mo Alie-Cox/Robert Tonyan/Michael Pittman Jr.
  • As a curiosity: A.J. Green as the worst combined CUSH+SEP mark at just 6.0 yards. Defenders have closed on him, and he has been absolutely terrible at getting separation at the point of the catch. Forgettable season by the veteran on his comeback year.

 

Targeted Air Yards / % Share of Team's Air Yards

Correlation with Fantasy Points: 6% / 46%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • Opportunity trumps everything in fantasy football, and it can be seen in the highly related link between the percentage of yards a team/QB throws toward a player and the fantasy point he scores.
  • This is made clear by the table above, which I have sorted by Targeted Air Yards% (among teammates). Virtually every player (except MVS) shown at the top of the table (and in fact, every player with a TAY% higher than 34%) is averaging double-digit fantasy points through Week 4.
  • Oh, and this has yet to catch up in terms of correlation with fantasy points: last season the relationship ended at a positive 71% between TAY% and PPG, so we're still way behind that mark.
  • While Justin Jefferson has had a breakout during the past two weeks, he's miles away from reaching Adam Thielen's league-leading TAY% of 49.1 percent. Thielen is the only player getting more than 40% of his team's AY while keeping up a catch rate above 64%.
  • Speaking of Thielen, Minnesota's qualified receivers also have the highest TAY average of all teams at 14.9. Not only that, but the distance with the second-highest team (Denver, 12.2 TAY) is as big as that between Denver and no. 19 (!) Jacksonville (9.5 TAY).
  • All five Kansas City's qualified receivers (min. 10 targets) make up for 100% of the team's TAY%. They are the only team to reach that full percentage. Seattle's four players sit second at 95%, with Dallas (five players) and Tampa Bay (six) at 94%.
  • At the other end, Las Vegas' qualified receivers (three players, min. 10 targets) only account for 55.9% of the team TAY, followed by Tennessee (three) at 61.5% and the Jets (four) at 67.2%.
  • Those last two points highlight the difference between established offenses that always operate on the same terms and use the same players and squads that have suffered injuries and have needed to share the ball between many more players to start the year.
  • The relationship between aDOT (TAY) and fantasy points is almost nonexistent, but at least there is some positive correlation there. Not much, though, as six players have 16.8+ TAY marks and three of them are averaging 10+ PPG while the other three are below that mark...
  • Marquise Brown has the highest TAY (17.7) and also the third-highest TAY% (44.9) among all qualified players. He's both a deep threat and the most sought-after player by Lamar Jackson.
  • In a completely opposite situation, Michael Gallup ranks second in TAY (17.4) but his TAY% among Cowboys only gets to 26.4%. I mean, that's the secondary effect of playing in such a loaded offense that features all of Gallup, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott...
  • Only five of 35 qualified tight ends currently have aDOT marks above 10.0 yards per target. Of those, just two (Mark Andrews and Mike Gesicki) hold those values while having been targeted 20+ times through four games.
  • Even with a paltry 5.8 TAY Darren Waller has gathered 25.5 of Las Vegas' TAY%. Obviously, that's because he's been targeted a monster 40 times already, while no other tight end is over 33 targets (Kelce) in four games combined.
  • After his incredible Week 4 performance, George Kittle leads all WR/TEs in PPG with 24.7. Even with that, he only has a TAY% in San Francisco of 15.2%. Davante Adams is in a similar situation, having just 14.95% of Green Bay's TAY%. The common denominator: both have missed time, lowering their shares as they couldn't rack up AY while their teammates did.
  • Other than those two outliers, every WR/TE averaging 18+ PPG currently holds a TAY% of at least 20%. Again, the correlation is just at 41% through four games, while last season it ended at 71%, so expect the likes of Justin Jefferson, Darren Waller, Cooper Kupp, Keenan Allen, or Mike Evans (all with TAY% above 20% already) to improve their PPG averages through the next few weeks.

 

Receptions / Targets / Catch% / Touchdowns

Correlation with Fantasy Points: 74% / 62% / 35% / 80%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • Obviously, receptions trump targets in terms of fantasy-point production (in PPR formats, that is) because well, they hand out actual fantasy points. That's why 14 of 16 (87.5%) players with 20+ receptions are averaging 16+ PPG through four weeks of play.
  • Up to 37 receivers have logged between 15 and 19 receptions but only eight of them (21.6%) are averaging 15+ PPG.
  • All but four of 28 players averaging 15+ PPG have been targeted 20+ times. The four with fewer than 20 targets still putting up those PPG: DJ Chark Jr., JuJu Smith-Schuster, Allen Lazard, and Kenny Golladay (all missed time, which if it hadn't happened would have fostered them to the 20+ target group).
  • With 40 targets in 4 games, Darren Waller is the only tight end averaging 10+ per game, which tells you everything you need to know about Las Vegas' offense. Kelce is second at 33 with Engram coming in third with 30.
  • Five wideouts with 40+ targets, but with widely varying receiving numbers: only Cooper and Hopkins have catch rates above 65% while Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, and Calvin Ridley are at or below that mark.
  • Of the wide receivers with those 40+ targets through four games, expect some positive regression on the touchdown department for the top three as they only have one TD on the year. Just on pure volume, the scores will come without a doubt.
  • Just one player holding onto the perfect 100% catch rate through four weeks while having 10+ targets: Willie Snead IV, 10-for-10. His PPG average: a putrid 6.9...
  • Actual impressive catch rates: Kittle 95% (19-for-20, 24.7 PPG), DJ Chark Jr. 93.8% (15-for-16, 17.8), Davante 85% (17-for-20, 24.1), and Hopkins 84.8% (39-for-46, 21.2).
  • One thing is not like the others in the chart above: A.J. Green has 33 targets... and just 14 catches for a catch rate of 42.4% and an average of 6.5 PPG. Stinker of a season so far for him, being the only player with more than 28 targets and a catch rate below 51%.
  • Shouts out to Mike Evans and Robert Tonyan (what) for being the only players with more than a touchdown per game through four weeks. Evans, I can understand, but Tonyan has overperformed as hell with a TD rate of 35.7% per target (5 in just 14 targets, three scores in Week 4 alone).
  • Positive touchdown-regression tracker: Green, D.J. Moore, Edelman, and Engram have 30+ targets and no scores. Cooper, Allen, Hopkins, and Waller have 40+ (!) targets and just one TD.
  • Negative touchdown-regression tracker: Tonyan, Andrews, Jonnu Smith, JuJu, Chark, and Higbee all have 3+ TDs on 20 or fewer targets.

 

Yards / "Total" Yards (Air Yds + YAC) / "Air" Yards

Correlation with Fantasy Points (based on the 2019 season): 80% / 70% / negative-8%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • Nothing surprising here, as receiving yardage is factored into the calculation of fantasy points without much hard-math involved. Leaders in yardage average the most fantasy points, with touchdowns and receptions just being a weekly bonus to their tallies.
  • The race is hot at the top: three players with 400+ receiving yards already and all inside a two-yard gap. Oh, and it is not that no. 4 Hopkins is far from them with 397 himself...
  • Also: Kelce is the most ridiculous thing to grace a gridiron. That's it. That's the take.
  • Counting stats are nice, but what if we factor targets in? That changes the picture, vastly. Among receivers with 20+ targets, Justin Jefferson has the highest Y/T at 17.4 followed by DK Metcalf (ridiculous season), Will Fuller V, and Scotty Miller. Shouts out to the three non-DK guys for exploiting the game with nobody expecting it!
  • Here's to hope David Moore, Mo Alie-Cox, Andy Isabella, Willie Snead IV, and Josh Reynolds see more targets down the road. All of them are averaging 11.0+ Y/T but none has been targeted more than 13 times this season.
  • The Air Yards leaderboard is always bonkers. Four players with 264+ air yards through four weeks, but widely varying percentages in terms of how many of their total yards have come through the actual air: from Calvin Ridley's 85.4% to Amari Cooper's 65.3%.
  • Of 18 receivers with at least 200 air yards, only two (Justin Jefferson and DeAndre Hopkins) have YAC% of 35%+. That's the sweet spot: reliable targets downfield with the bonus upside after the catch.
  • Kudos to Isaiah Wright for pulling off the negative-AY feat with minus-5 air yards and 44 total yards on the season, generating 111% of his yardage after the catch. LOL
  • The most airborne of players: Kenny Stills with only 1.1 percent YAC%, followed by Preston Williams (9 percent) and K.J. Hamler (11.5). Adam Thielen is fourth (13.4) but it is not that he's needed to catch-and-run a lot to generate fantasy points as Kirk Cousins has thrown his way in the end zone a lot and he already has 4 TDs through four games.

 

Yards After Catch / Expected YAC / YAC Above Expectation

Correlation with Fantasy Points (based on the 2019 season): 18% / 8% / 24%

Leaders and Trailers: 

Leaderboard Notes:

  • Even though it's been four weeks already, I would advise not getting too lost in this data for the time being. Things will take a little bit more to stabilize as more reps are factored into the stat lines.
  • Jamison Crowder keeps being the no. 1 player over expectations, but as you know that is still the secondary effect of his Week 1 reception for a touchdown that absolutely skewed his +/- as he dodged the defense and added a ton of yards after the catch in a single play, boosting his overperformance.
  • Someone I trust more, though, is no. 2 Justin Jefferson. I was hesitant after his Week 3 performance, but he doubled down on it in Week 4, and with back-to-back great showcases I'm getting every Jefferson share I can put my hands on. Kid's legit, folks.
  • All players with a plus/minus of 2.5+ currently averaging 14+ PPG, with four of them almost at 18+. Bet on overachievers, they have the ability in them.
  • Only Davante Adams (-0.1) and Tyler Lockett (-0.3) have negative YACOE (+/-) while still averaging 20+ PPG.
  • At the other end, though, among the worst receivers on average PPG (below 4.6) only three (Deonte Harris, Van Jefferson, and Demarcus Robinson have positive YACOE marks. Those are middling names that have been targeted just 10 or 11 times, though.
  • Looking at receivers with at least 20 targets so far, we find 73 qualified players. Of those 73, 24 are averaging negative YACOE and are averaging 12.4 PPG. The remaining 49 have positive YACOE marks and are averaging 13.3 PPG.
  • In the same group of 73, there are 14 players at-or-below -0.5 YACOE and they are averaging 12.1 PPG. There are 21 players at-or-above 1.0 YACOE and they are averaging 13.5 PPG. The distance between both groups will keep rising, as the correlation should go up as we get deeper into the season (judging by 2019 stats).

That's it for today. Until we meet again next week, I hope you can crush your waiver wire, set up the best possible lineup, and get ready for another weekend full of fireworks!



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 4

This series continues into its fourth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value.

In Week 4, we saw performances such as the Arizona Cardinals wide receivers only totalling 67 receiving yards, the Cleveland Browns running backs taking 35 carries for 228 rushing yards, and the Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers catching 20 passes for 271 receiving yards. After these performances, it's important to look at each of these team's coaches and their play-calling tendencies to see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvements Ahead?

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

Dallas Cowboys Running Backs - Run Game

Mike McCarthy & Kellen Moore

The Dallas Cowboys lost 49-38 to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. While the passing game was great with Dak Prescott throwing for 502 passing yards, the run game did not perform to the level we have expected out of this team in the Ezekiel Elliott era. In this game, the Cowboys running backs took 15 carries for 70 rushing yards and a touchdown. Through the air, they had nine receptions on 10 targets for 87 receiving yards.

After this performance, on the season the Cowboys running back room is averaging 19.25 carries, 76.25 rushing yards, one rushing touchdowns, seven receptions (on 9.25 targets), 48.75 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now let's compare this to what their coaches, Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore, have traditionally gotten out of their backfield. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has had his running backs average 21.17 carries, 89.18 rushing yards, 0.57 rushing touchdowns, 5.38 targets, 31.44 receiving yards, and 0.10 receiving touchdowns per game in the 304 games he coached (as either a head coach or an offensive coordinator) prior to this season.

Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had only been an offensive coordinator for 16 games prior to this season. In this time, his running backs combined to average 24.19 carries, 113.25 rushing yards, 0.88 rushing touchdowns per game, 5.69 targets, 32.94 receiving yards, and 0.19 receiving touchdowns.

RB Room Carries RB Room Rushing Yards RB Room Rushing Touchdowns RB Room Targets RB Room Receiving Yards
RB Room Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Dallas Cowboys (4 games) 19.25 76.25 1 9.25 48.75 0.25
Mike McCarthy (304 games prior) 21.17 89.18 0.57 5.38 31.44 0.1
Kellen Moore (16 games prior) 24.19 113.25 0.88 5.69 32.94 0.19

Based on these coaches' previous history of utilizing the position, expect an increase in carries and rushing yards for the Dallas Cowboys running backs in the future.

Fantasy players this impacts: Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard

 

Detroit Lions Running Backs - Run Game

Darrell Bevell

The Detroit Lions lost to the New Orleans Saints 35-29. In the game, the Lions running backs didn't see as much usage or produce as many yards as we are used to seeing, putting up 18 carries, 67 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, five receptions (on seven targets), 33 receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown. Now on the season the Lions running back room is averaging 21.75 carries, 89.5 rushing yards, 0.75 rushing touchdowns, 4.75 receptions (6.25 targets), 43 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now compare this to Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and his running back room historically. In the 208 games he coached as an offensive coordinator prior to this season, Bevell's RB room averaged 24.06 carries, 104.92 rushing yards, 0.73 rushing touchdowns, 5.63 targets, 35.75 receiving yards, and 0.14 receiving touchdowns per game.

While we should expect better usage and yardage from Sunday's performance, overall the season totals are roughly in line with what we should expect from a Darrell Bevell offense.

Fantasy players this impacts: D'Andre Swift, Adrian Peterson, and Kerryon Johnson

 

Miami Dolphins Running Backs - Run Game

Chan Gailey

In Sunday's 31-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Miami Dolphins running backs ended up totalling 15 carries, 51 rushing yards, seven receptions, 58 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns. On the season the Dolphins running backs have combined to average 21 carries, 69.5 rushing yards, 0.75 rushing touchdowns, 6.25 receptions (seven targets), and 40 receiving yards per game.

Now let's compare this to Chan Gailey's historical production at the position. Over the 224 games he coached prior, Gailey's RB room averaged 24.57 carries, 102.93 rushing yards, 0.66 rushing touchdowns, 30.04 receiving yards, and 0.15 receiving touchdowns per game.

Based on Gailey's previous success at the position, Sunday's performance on the ground will be improved upon in the future.

Fantasy players this impacts: Myles Gaskin, Jordan Howard, and Matt Breida

 

Los Angeles Chargers Running Backs - Touchdowns

Anthony Lynn

The Los Angeles Chargers lost to Tom Brady's Buccaneers in a high-scoring matchup, 38-31. In the game, the Chargers struggled to get their running backs involved as they totalled 17 carries, 28 rushing yards, six receptions (on six targets), 40 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns. On the year, they are averaging 27.25 carries, 108.75 rushing yards, 0.5 rushing touchdowns, 6.5 receptions (6.5 targets), and 60 receiving yards per game.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Chargers (4 games) 27.25 108.75 0.5 6.5 60 0
Anthony Lynn Prior (62 games) 22.42 102.87 0.94 8.29 57.95 0.4

Meanwhile, in the 62 games Anthony Lynn coached prior as either an offensive coordinator or head coach, Lynn has had his running back room average 22.42 carries, 102.87 rushing yards, 0.94 rushing touchdowns, 8.29 targets, 57.95 receiving yards, and 0.40 receiving touchdowns per game.

Looking at these numbers, the Chargers running back room is currently running on the higher side of carries and rushing yards than what we'd expect from an Anthony Lynn offense. But the position group is also scoring significantly fewer touchdowns than we'd expect in Lynn's offense. Expect the Chargers running backs to improve in this area and score more touchdowns in future weeks.

Fantasy players this impacts: Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, and Joshua Kelley

 

Arizona Cardinals Wide Receivers

Kliff Kingsbury

Besides the Cardinals running backs, the Cardinals wide receivers struggled more on Sunday than we'd expect based on Kliff Kingsbury's previous production at the position. In the game, the Cardinals wide receiver room caught 14 passes on 20 targets for 67 receiving yards and one touchdown. On the year, the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver room is averaging 17.25 receptions on 23.75 targets for 175.5 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown per game.

WR Room Targets WR Room Receiving Yards
WR Room Receiving Touchdowns
Cardinals vs. Panthers (10/4/2020) 20 67 1
2020 Arizona Cardinals (4 games) 23.75 175.5 1
Kliff Kingsbury Prior (16 games) 23.69 168.44 0.81

Now compare this to the usage and production Kliff Kingsbury's offense put out last year. Last year, Kingsbury's wide receiver room averaged 23.69 targets, 168.44 receiving yards, and 0.81 receiving touchdowns per game. This tells us two things. Firstly, it tells us that based on Kingsbury's previous production, Sunday's poor performance by the positional group is a clear outlier. And secondly, it shows that the overall season averages of the Cardinals wide receivers are right in line with what we should expect in this offense.

Fantasy players this impacts: DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, and Andy Isabella

 

Chicago Bears Running Backs

Matt Nagy

The Chicago Bears went up against the Indianapolis Colts tough defense and struggled to score, only putting up 11 points. In the game, the Bears only utilized one true running back, David Montgomery, who could just never get going, totalling 10 carries, 27 rushing yards, three receptions (on six targets), 30 receiving yards, and a successful two-point conversion. This means that on the year the Chicago Bears running back room is averaging 16.75 carries, 73 rushing yards, four receptions (6.25 targets), 34.25 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Chicago Bears (4 games) 16.75 73 0 6.25 34.25 0.25
Matt Nagy Prior (48 games) 20.58 82.75 0.58 7.96 47 0.31

Now let's compare this to Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears head coach) and his running back room's production historically. In the 48 he coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, Nagy's running backs combined to average 20.58 carries, 82.75 rushing yards, 0.58 rushing touchdowns, 7.96 targets, 47 receiving yards, and 0.31 receiving touchdowns per game.

Looking at these stats and knowing that Tarik Cohen is out for the year, it's clear that David Montgomery has some untapped potential for the rest of the 2020 NFL season. Invest accordingly.

Fantasy players this impacts: David Montgomery and Ryan Nall

 

Philadelphia Eagles Running Backs

Doug Pederson

The Philadelphia Eagles ground out a tough win over the San Francisco 49ers in week 4's Sunday Night Football game, winning 25-20. In the game, the Eagles running backs combined for 18 carries, 38 rushing yards, three receptions (five targets), 32 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns. On the year, the Philadelphia Eagles running backs have combined to average 20.5 carries, 78.75 rushing yards, 0.25 rushing touchdowns, 4.25 receptions (on seven targets), and 31.25 receiving yards per game.

Carries Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Targets Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
2020 Philadelphia Eagles (4 games) 20.5 78.75 0.25 7 31.25 0
Doug Pederson Prior (112 games) 22.63 99.18 0.86 6.62 41.18 0.3

Now let's look at what Doug Pederson has gotten out of the position traditionally. Over the 112 games he coached prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, Pederson's running back room averaged 22.63 carries, 99.18 rushing yards, 0.86 rushing touchdowns, 6.62 targets, 41.18 receiving yards, and 0.30 receiving touchdowns per game.

Expect the Philadelphia Eagles backs to improve in future weeks. There's a very strong chance this is the cheapest you can acquire Miles Sanders over the course of the rest of the NFL season, so make your offers this week!

Fantasy players this impacts: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Corey Clement



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Will Bill O'Brien's Firing Change Anything In Houston?

On Monday, the thing Houston Texans fans had wanted for years finally came true, as the team fired head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien.

An exciting hire back in 2014 to replace Gary Kubiak after he'd helped steady a heavily sanctioned Penn State program, Texans fans eventually soured on O'Brien, whose uncreative playcalling and failure to win in the postseason became an issue. Things got worse when he took over the GM job, which culminated in some terrible personnel moves that we'll talk about in a minute.

So, does this move improve the prospects of the Houston Texans players from a fantasy perspective? Let's discuss.

 

How Did We Get Here?

The Texans are 0-4 and don't have a first or second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. That's why we're here.

Those picks were shipped away in various deals from GM O'Brien. The first-rounder was included in a trade with Miami for left tackle Laremy Tunsil. That would have been fine, but then this offseason they turned around and traded star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona in a deal that didn't bring back a first-round pick.

It did bring back a second in the 2020 draft, which O'Brien used on defensive lineman Ross Blacklock, whose highlight so far was punching an opposing player and getting ejected.

Meanwhile, Houston's own 2020 second was traded to the Rams in a deal for Brandin Cooks, who has not been a huge factor so far.

Their own 2021 second was part of that Tunsil trade.

This could all be made slightly better if Houston was winning. But O'Brien's gotten off to a horrendous start, looking overmatched as the team dropped those four games. A win in Week 4 over Minnesota could have saved his job, but losing to another winless team was the nail in the coffin for the O'Brien era. Romeo Crennel takes over as the interim head coach, and this offseason Houston will have the chance to find a head coach who can help quarterback Deshaun Watson take the next step.

 

How Does This Change Houston's Fantasy Outlook?

So, here's where I might deviate from a lot of people who are out there shouting things about how Deshaun Watson is free and things of that nature.

I don't actually think this improves the short-term outlook of the Houston Texans that much.

Crennel is taking over as the head coach. He's a defense guy, which means he won't have anything to do with the team's offensive playcalling, which will all fall onto the shoulders of offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.

The problem? Kelly was the play-caller for the first three games of the season before O'Brien took the role back over on Sunday against the Vikings.

Kelly is an O'Brien guy through and through. He started his coaching career as a defensive guy before he joined O'Brien's Penn State staff as a graduate assistant in 2012. In 2014, he went with O'Brien to the NFL, working as an offensive quality control coach, then an offensive line assistant, then a tight ends coach, and finally as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the past two seasons.

Kelly's links to O'Brien should be concerning to anyone expecting a quick turnaround for this Texans offense. Sure, there's always the possibility that he opens this playbook and we see Watson ripping the ball down the field, but it's hard to expect wholesale changes from a playcaller who has 1) been the play-caller in 75 percent of the games this season and 2) has never been an offensive coach outside of this specific system.

That's not to say the Texans offense can't improve. Watson has been a borderline fantasy QB1 this season when he was drafted to be a high-end QB1. Watson is likely to improve, as he's a multi-dimension quarterback who is currently ninth in air yards per attempt. When he's facing defenses that aren't as good as teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh, those intended air yards will be more likely to be converted into completed air yards.

But it's hard to know if that improvement will be from Kelly or just from Watson's talent, and no offense to Kelly, but I'd be hesitant to attribute anything to him.

One thing that I do believe is that things can't get worse under Kelly. O'Brien's play-calling was a serious issue in the waning minutes of his final Texans game. The team was first and goal at the four needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion, and they called consecutive runs up the middle then tried to run an option to the left with Watson and David Johnson. That all led to what was almost a miraculous fourth-down touchdown pass from Watson to Will Fuller V, but it was called back after review.

But Houston shouldn't have been in the position to have that final play overturned. You have one of the six or seven best quarterbacks on the planet. How do you call three runs play in a row in that situation? It was the worst potential moves that O'Brien could have done short of just kneeling the ball and intentionally losing

Kelly can't call plays worse than that one.

The best-case scenario for the O'Brien-less Texans in the short term is that Kelly mostly calls the same plays the team was calling before, but does so in a slightly smarter way. If that's how things shake out, the Texans players can reach the fantasy level we thought they'd be at when the season began.

That would mean Watson's a QB1. Will Fuller is a WR2. David Johnson is probably a WR2. But the rest of the offense -- Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills, Jordan Akins, Duke Johnson Jr. -- will still suffer from "too many mouths to feed" syndrome. They'll still be inconsistent plays who can go off one week and then post three fantasy points the next.

 

Looking Down the Road

Again, Houston's long term outlook is better now. They'll bring in an offensive-minded coach like Eric Bieniemy who can actually do some interesting things with the football. They'll figure out the logjam at wide receiver, likely by letting at least Stills go this offseason and potentially moving on from the oft-injured Fuller as well. This move is a big plus arrow for Watson in dynasty.

But forgive me if I'm not optimistic that this suddenly becomes a top-level offense in 2020. Kelly will either coach just like O'Brien or will coach like a better version of O'Brien. But all the things that made this offense struggle -- no true No. 1 receiver, a lot of offensive line issues, and a very good quarterback who might need to stop holding the ball so long -- are still present.

O'Brien's firing is the right move. But it won't necessarily pay immediate dividends for the Texans offense or for fantasy managers.



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Week 4 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

There were 17 quarterbacks that scored at least 20-fantasy points in Week 4 with Dak Prescott leading the charge. Teddy Bridgewater, Justin Herbert and Sam Darnold were some unfamiliar faces that cracked the top-10 this week, but other than those guys none of the big producers really surprised us. As a whole, tight ends weren't very productive in Week 4, with only nine players putting up more than 10-fantasy points. Zach Ertz, Tyler Higbee and Mike Gesicki are normally surefire TE1's and they all finished outside the top-20.

The wide receiver position was fairly predictable but there were a few blow-up performances. Odell Beckham Jr., Amari Cooper, D.J. Chark, Adam Thielen, Mike Evans and CeeDee Lamb all finished with more than 25-fantasy points, and another six receivers eclipsed 20-points. Tim Patrick was the biggest surprise within the top-10, seeing seven targets in Courtland Sutton's absence.

At running back Antonio Gibson popped inside the top-five for the first time, touching the ball 17 times in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The rest of the top-five was rather predictable, but RB-6 through RB-8 were Jerick McKinnon, Mike Davis and Latavius Murray, who are all backups that either started due to injury or saw additional work due to game-flow. Now that Week 4 is behind us, let's take a look at some of these unexpected performances and evaluate whether these guys will continue to produce moving forward.

 

Sam Darnold, N.Y. Jets

Week 4 Stats: 23-of-42 passing, 230 yards, 6 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD

Sam Darnold finished Week 4 as a top-10 quarterback, scoring 23.6 fantasy points. While Darnold did produce fantasy points this week, let's talk about how he got there. Darnold completed 54.8% of his passes, averaged just 5.5 yards-per-attempt and lost 54 yards on six sacks. Darnold scored 10.6 of his fantasy points on his 46-yard touchdown run which looked kind of awkward, because it almost appeared that the Broncos defenders thought he was going to slide and didn't go full speed to tackle him.

Bottom Line: Don't rush out to your waiver wire and grab Sam Darnold unless you're in a two-quarterback league and you need help. Darnold is playing poorly and he should only be used if you're truly desperate and he has a good matchup.

 

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

Week 4 Stats: 8 targets, 5 catches, 81 yards, 2 TD, 2 carries, 73 yards, 1 TD

The Cowboys Defense has given up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers and Odell Beckham Jr. absolutely destroyed them in Week 4. Beckham's stats were boosted by a 50-yard rushing touchdown where the Cowboys missed several tackles. Through four games, Beckham is on pace for 64 catches, 944 yards and 12 touchdowns. Nick Chubb is banged up and will miss some time, so the Browns may throw a little more in his absence.

Bottom Line: Odell Beckham Jr. may have some frustrating performances down the stretch because the Browns clearly want to run the ball, but he does have blow-up potential. If you believe in Beckham, then continue to roll him out there in your lineups, but if you're out, sell now because his value will never be higher.

 

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

Week 4 Stats: 16 targets, 12 catches, 134 yards, 1 TD, 1-2PT

The Cleveland Browns dropped 49 points on the Cowboys in Week 4 which forced Dak Prescott to throw the ball 58 times. Amari Cooper finished as the WR-2 in Week 4 and given the way the Cowboys defense is performing, there should be more of these performances down the road. Cooper is now the No. 1 wide receiver on the season in PPR.

Bottom Line: Amari Cooper can be frustrating at times because he seemingly disappears during some matchups, but 2020 appears to be Cooper's year. Cooper currently leads the NFL in targets with 51 and he's well ahead of CeeDee Lamb who is second on the Cowboys with 29 targets.

 

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

Week 4 Stats: 7 targets, 6 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD

Tim Patrick isn't playing just because Courtland Sutton went down, Patrick has been played 77% of the Broncos offensive snaps on the season and was seeing the field even when Sutton was healthy. The Jets secondary struggled in Week 4, and Patrick cashed in on his opportunities.

Bottom Line: If you're in a deeper league, Patrick is worth a roster spot on your team. While Jerry Jeudy is clearly the best and most-targeted receiver on the Broncos roster, Patrick has some appeal as a deep threat, and should see some targets each week, especially with Noah Fant banged up.

 

Jeff Smith, N.Y. Jets

Week 4 Stats: 9 targets, 7 catches, 81 yards

Sam Darnold has thrown the ball 5.7 yards-per-attempt on the season which is near the bottom of the league. Darnold loves throwing the ball to the short and intermediate areas of the field, but it seemed like he was taking plenty of deep shots to Jeff Smith in Week 4. Breshad Perriman was out of the Jets lineup and Smith played 95% of the snaps against the Broncos in Perriman's place.

Bottom Line: If Breshad Perriman continues to miss time, Jeff Smith may be viable, because he's the only healthy deep-threat on the Jets roster. Smith is actually worth an add in deeper leagues as long as Perriman remains out of the lineup.

 

Robert Woods, L.A. Rams

Week 4 Stats: 7 targets, 6 catches, 35 yards, 1 carry, 2 yards

The Giants Defense actually gave Jared Goff and the Rams offense some problems in Week 4, limiting them to 17 points. Goff only threw for 200 yards and equally distributed the ball to Cooper Kupp and Woods, throwing it to each of them seven times. Kupp had the better matchup in the secondary and he broke free for a long touchdown.

Bottom Line: Robert Woods had a bad game from a production standpoint, and if the Robert Woods manager isn't feeling it, you may want to consider buying-low. If you have Robert Woods on your roster, hold steady.

 

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 4 Stats: 25 carries, 151 yards, 2 TD, 6 targets, 6 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD

Joe Mixon played 83% of the Bengals offensive snaps and he dominated the Jaguars Defense. The Bengals started Alex Redmond at right guard and as a result, Mixon had running lanes and Joe Burrow wasn't under siege every time he dropped back to throw.

Bottom Line: If you held on to Joe Mixon through the first three weeks, congratulations, and continue to roll him out there in your lineups.

 

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Week 4 Stats: 17 carries, 68 yards, 1 target, 1 catch, 11 yards

Jonathan Taylor only played 46% of the Colts Week 4-snaps in a game that the Colts controlled from the start. Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins each had 9 carries, but they were only able to turn those carries into 39 yards which is horribly inefficient.

Bottom Line: Jonathan Taylor is clearly the Colts most talented play-maker but the lack of use is a little troubling. At times it seemed like there wasn't any rhyme or reason why the Colts deployed certain running backs in certain situations. While Taylor's usage is concerning, you cannot deny his talent, and he's a prime buy-low candidate.

 

Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints

Week 4 Stats: 14 carries, 64 yards, 2 TD, 2 targets, 1 catch, 19 yards

Latavius Murray played a season-high 41% of the Saints offensive snaps in Week 4 and carried the ball 14 times in a game where the Saints led for a majority of the time. The Saints were without their No. 1 receiver Michael Thomas and leaned on the running game to come away with the win over the Lions.

Bottom Line: If Alvin Kamara is on your roster, having Latavius Murray on your team is a necessity. If Kamara were to go down with an injury, Murray would be a surefire RB2. Murray does offer some stand-alone value, but he will usually be touchdown-dependent and should only be considered in deeper leagues while Kamara is healthy.

 

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Week 4 Stats: 15 targets, 15 catches, 183 yards, 1 TD

George Kittle is arguably the most physically gifted tight end in the league and he rarely comes off the field because he's such a good blocker. While Kittle has upside each week he plays, Week 4 was a perfect storm because the Eagles linebackers struggle badly in coverage. Kittle exploited this mismatch and put up one of the best single-game performances for a tight end in NFL history.

Bottom Line: George Kittle is great, but this will go down as his best game of the season. If another manager in your league is looking to pay a premium to get Kittle and you have decent tight end depth on your roster, you may want to consider selling-high if you need help at another position.

 



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Decline From Week 3

This series continues into its third week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically operates and compiled data to help make informed decisions throughout the regular season as well.

After a wild Week 3 where we saw performances such as the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers catching 26 passes on 36 targets for 405 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns against the Seattle secondary or the New York Giants running backs taking only ten carries for 17 rushing yards, it's important to look at their play-caller's history and see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for a decline in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Regression

 

Chicago Bears Tight Ends (Matt Nagy)

Last week versus the Atlanta Falcons, the Bears tight ends caught nine passes on 13 targets for 75 receiving yards and two touchdowns. This means that through the first three games, the Bears tight ends have 14 receptions on 25 targets for 130 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, and as a group, they are averaging 4.67 receptions on 8.33 targets for 43.33 receiving yards and a touchdown per game.

Meanwhile, Bears head coach Matt Nagy has had a solid TE room but definitely not that level of efficiency. Over the 48 games he was an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to the 2020 NFL season, his TE room averaged 6.69 targets, 49.06 receiving yards, and 0.35 receiving touchdowns per game. There is a decline coming for the Bears tight ends, in particular with receiving touchdowns.

Fantasy players this impacts: Jimmy Graham, Demetrius Harris, and Cole Kmet

 

Pittsburgh Steelers Running Backs (Randy Fichtner)

The Steelers running backs took 32 carries for 163 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. In addition, they had five receptions on seven targets for 47 receiving yards (and zero receiving touchdowns). On the year this group has combined for 77 carries, 398 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 12 receptions (on 18 targets), 71 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns. On a per-game basis, this is 25.67 carries, 132.67 rushing yards, 0.67 rushing touchdowns, four receptions (on six targets), 23.67 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns per game.

Now compare this to what offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has historically gotten out of his running back room. In the 32 games as an offensive coordinator prior, Fichtner had the Steelers running backs combining to average 20.13 carries, 81.09 rushing yards, 0.63 rushing touchdowns, 6.59 targets, 42.19 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game.

What this means is there is likely to be a dip in how much work these running backs get in the running game and it will result in fewer rushing yards than what the Steelers backs are currently getting.

Fantasy players this impacts: James Conner, Benny Snell Jr., and Anthony McFarland Jr.

 

Los Angeles Chargers Wide Receivers (Anthony Lynn)

The Chargers wide receivers combined for 17 receptions on 27 targets for 187 receiving yards and a touchdown last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. On the year they are averaging 12 receptions (20.33 targets), 144.33 receiving yards, and 0.67 receiving touchdowns per game.

Looking at how much production Anthony Lynn's offense has gotten out of the position prior to this season, we should expect worse numbers than they put up against the Panthers. In the 62 games Anthony Lynn coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to the 2020 NFL season, his wide receiver room averaged 18.35 targets, 156.66 receiving yards, and 0.85 receiving touchdowns per game.

Overall, the season numbers look in line with what we'd expect in an Anthony Lynn offense. Just don't expect Sunday's performance to be the new norm.

Fantasy players this impacts: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Jalen Guyton

 

Seattle Seahawks Wide Receivers (Brian Schottenheimer)

The Seattles Seahawks wide receivers had 15 receptions on 23 targets for 225 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. On the year, they are averaging 15.33 receptions, 20.33 targets, 228.33 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns per game.

Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had coached 176 games as an offensive coordinator prior to the 2020 NFL season. Over the course of these 176 games, his wide receiver room has averaged 18.31 targets, 140.48 receiving yards, 0.94 receiving touchdowns.

While Russell Wilson's MVP campaign is going to make these numbers higher than a typical year in Brian Schottenheimer's offense, there is regression incoming for this group.

Fantasy players this impacts: D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and David Moore

 

Green Bay Packers Tight Ends (Matt LaFleur)

Last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers tight ends had nine receptions on 10 targets for 104 receiving yards and two touchdowns. On the year they are averaging 4.33 receptions (on six targets) for 48.33 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown per game.

Head coach Matt LaFleur has been an offensive coordinator or head coach for 48 games (three seasons) prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season. In this time, he had his tight end room average 5.65 targets, 44.06 receiving yards, and 0.31 receiving touchdowns.

The performance last week was an outlier from LaFleur's previous production, with the team utilizing the position more with star wide receiver Davante Adams out. Going forward, expect a slight decline at the position, in particular with regards to receiving touchdowns.

Fantasy players this impacts: Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, and Jace Sternberger

 

Browns Running Backs - Touchdowns (Kevin Stefanski)

The Browns running backs took 35 carries for 154 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in week 3. In addition, they also combined two receptions on four targets for 20 yards and a touchdown. This means that on the season, the Browns running back room is averaging 30.33 carries, 167 rushing yards, 1.67 rushing touchdowns, 3.67 receptions (4.67 targets), 19.67 receiving yards, and 0.67 receiving touchdowns per game.

Now compare this to Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski's previous production at the position. In the 19 games Stefanski coached as an offensive coordinator or head coach prior to this season, his running back room averaged 26 carries, 123.21 rushing yards, 1.05 rushing touchdowns, 5.89 targets, 41.84 receiving yards, and 0.05 receiving touchdowns per game.

So what should we expect in the future? Surprisingly, the relative workload and yards seem sustainable so far this season based on Stefanski's previous reputation as one of the most effective coaches in the NFL at providing work for his running backs. But if there's one thing that seems unsustainable, it's the fact that the Browns runnings backs are averaging 2.33 total touchdowns per game right now. Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb will continue to be one of the most dangerous running back duos in recent history, but they are running on the high side of what we should expect over the course of the season.

Fantasy players this impacts: Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb

 

Cowboys Wide Receivers - Receiving Yards (Mike McCarthy & Kellen Moore)

The Dallas Cowboys wide receivers caught 26 passes on 36 targets for 4o5 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. On the year they are averaging 20 receptions on 29 targets for 295.67 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown per game (3 games).

The receiving yards per game are clearly in for regression. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore directed one of the best offenses in the league last year where Dak Prescott threw for 4902 passings yards and his WR room 'only' averaged 217.19 receiving yards per game. In addition, considering Mike McCarthy topped out at 229.19 receiving yards per game back in 2011 for the Green Bay Packers, it seems highly likely regression is in place.

Expect the Cowboys wide receivers to perform well all year as they have two the best coaches in the NFL at getting production out of their wide receiver rooms. Just do not expect the current level of production.

Fantasy players this impacts: Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb




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2020 Fantasy Football Advice Editor Note Featured Football NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 3 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As this unique regular season continues to unfold, an expanding assortment of tools is available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the third installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This massive collection of data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 3 Target Leaders

Wide Receivers Targets Targ/Game Yards/Targ
DeAndre Hopkins 37 12.3 9.6
Keenan Allen 37 12.3 7.2
Amari Cooper 35 11.7 7.6
Calvin Ridley 35 11.7 10
Allen Robinson 31 10.3 7.4
Tyler Lockett 29 9.7 8.9
Stefon Diggs 28 9.3 10.3
A.J. Green 28 9.3 4.1
Tyler Boyd 26 8.7 8.8
D.J. Moore 26 8.7 9.2
Diontae Johnson 25 8.3 6
Terry McLaurin 25 8.3 10.8
Jerry Jeudy 24 8 7.2
Russell Gage 24 8 7.8
Robby Anderson 24 8 11.6
Julian Edelman 24 8 10.8
Tyreek Hill 23 7.7 9.7
Odell Beckham Jr. 22 7.3 7
Darius Slayton 22 7.3 8.5
D.K. Metcalf 22 7.3 13.5
N'Keal Harry 22 7.3 6.6
Cooper Kupp 21 7 10.9
Adam Thielen 21 7 8.1
CeeDee Lamb 21 7 11
DeSean Jackson 20 6.7 6.1
Cole Beasley 20 6.7 11.4
Adam Humphries 20 6.7 6.8
Davante Adams 20 10 9.6
Sammy Watkins 20 6.7 7.8
Robert Woods 19 6.3 10.2
Corey Davis 19 6.3 10.8
JuJu Smith-Schuster 19 6.3 8.4
Greg Ward 19 6.3 5.7
Michael Gallup 19 6.3 12.9
Mike Evans 18 6 6
Brandin Cooks 18 6 7.7
Danny Amendola 18 6 6.7
John Brown 18 6 8.4
Marquise Brown 18 6 8.7
DeVante Parker 17 5.7 9.9
T.Y. Hilton 17 5.7 7.8
Marvin Jones 17 5.7 7.6
Allen Lazard 17 5.7 14.9
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 17 5.7 9.7
Keelan Cole 17 5.7 8.7
Kendrick Bourne 16 5.3 10.3
Julio Jones 16 8 11.3
Dontrelle Inman 16 5.3 4.8
Isaiah Ford 16 5.3 6.4
Chris Conley 16 5.3 5.5
Will Fuller 15 5 11.1
Chris Hogan 15 5 5
Larry Fitzgerald 15 5 5.6
James Washington 15 5 6.1
Tee Higgins 15 5 5
Justin Jefferson 15 5 16.3

DeAndre Hopkins is currently leading the NFL in targets for a second consecutive week. However, Keenan Allen vaulted into a first-place tied with the former Texan after stockpiling 19 targets during the Chargers’ Week 3 matchup with Carolina. Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley are tied for third (35), followed by Allen Robinson (31), Tyler Lockett (29), Stefon Diggs (28), A.J. Green (28), Green’s teammate Tyler Boyd (26), and D. J. Moore completing the top 10 with 26.

Terry McLaurin and Diontae Johnson have each collected 25 targets, followed by four receivers that are tied with 24 after their first three matchups – Robby Anderson, Julian Edelman, Russell Gage, and Jerry Jeudy. Tyreek Hill is next with 23, while Odell Beckham Jr., Darius Slayton, D.K. Metcalf and N’Keal Harry have all captured 22 targets. Cooper Kupp, Adam Thielen, and CeeDee Lamb have all been targeted 21 times, while DeSean Jackson (20), Cole Beasley (20), Adam Humphries (20), Sammy Watkins (20), and Davante Adams (20) are also on the list of 29 wide receivers that have been targeted at least 20 times through Week 3.

Ridley is the only wide receiver that has eclipsed double digits during all three of his matchups (12/10/13). Hopkins (16/12), Allen (10/19), Cooper (14/12), and Johnson (10/13) are the only other receivers that have collected at least 10 targets in two different matchups. Robinson, Lockett, Kupp, Boyd, and Greg Ward all attained a double-digit total for the first time this season. Rookie Quintez Cephus was one of 12 wide receivers to collect at least 10 targets in Week 1. But he was not targeted during Detroit’s Week 3 encounter with Arizona.

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers  Week 2 Week 3 Weekly Changes
Greg Ward 1 11 10
Keenan Allen 10 19 9
Kenny Golladay 0 7 7
Cedrick Wilson 0 7 7
KeeSean Johnson 0 7 7
Justin Jefferson 3 9 6
Hunter Renfrow 3 9 6
Chris Godwin 0 6 6
Isaiah Wright 0 6 6
Tyler Lockett 8 13 5
Tyler Boyd 8 13 5
Sammy Watkins 3 8 5
Will Fuller 0 5 5
Brandon Aiyuk 3 8 5
Olamide Zaccheaus 1 6 5
Allen Robinson 9 13 4
Cooper Kupp 6 10 4
Michael Gallup 5 9 4
KJ Hill 0 4 4
Brandon Powell 0 4 4
Robby Anderson 10 6 -4
John Brown 6 2 -4
Larry Fitzgerald 7 3 -4
Braxton Berrios 8 4 -4
Van Jefferson 5 1 -4
Steven Sims 4 0 -4
Julian Edelman 11 6 -5
Tyreek Hill 11 6 -5
DeSean Jackson 9 4 -5
Chris Hogan 8 3 -5
Mike Evans 10 4 -6
Damiere Byrd 9 3 -6
Josh Malone 6 0 -6
Stefon Diggs 13 6 -7
A.J. Green 13 6 -7
Isaiah Ford 9 2 -7
N'Keal Harry 12 4 -8
D.J. Moore 13 4 -9
Diontae Johnson 13 2 -11

Allen easily led all receivers in targets during Week 3, as the 19 passes that he collected were six more than any other player. His Week 3 target total also tied his career-high which was originally established in Week 13 of 2018. Allen’s usage and production with Justin Herbert under center will be examined further in the 5 Things I Noticed section.

Ridley, Robinson, Lockett, and Boyd all received 13 targets during their Week 3  matchups, while Cooper and Hopkins collected 12. Greg Ward’s 11 targets established a new career-best, as the second-year receiver’s previous high (9) was achieved twice during his 2019 rookie season (Weeks 14/15). Cooper Kupp was the only other receiver who collected at least 10 targets in Week 3. Hunter Renfrow, Michael Gallup, and a trio of rookies - Jerry Jeudy, Justin Jefferson, and Tee Higgins - all garnered nine targets. McLaurin, Metcalf, newcomer Brandon Aiyuk, Allen Lazard, and Chris Conley all captured eight targets during their Week 3 matchups.

 

Ward had entered Week 3 with a season total of eight targets and had been only targeted once in Week 2. That resulted in the largest week to week increase among all receivers in Week 3 (+10).  Allen’s rise of +9 placed him directly behind Ward, while Kenny Golladay made his season debut and collected seven targets. Cedric Wilson and Keesean Johnson also performed for the first time in Week 3 and matched Golladay's rise of +7.  Jefferson, Renfro, and Chris Godwin all attained an increase of +6, while Lockett, Boyd, Aiyuk, and Will Fuller expanded their weekly totals by +5.

All fantasy GM’s who have Johnson on their rosters are already aware that he experienced a concussion when Pittsburgh hosted the Texans. He left the contest during the second quarter after capturing two targets. Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that Johnson’s week to week decline of -11 would have transpired. D.J. Moore’s weekly drop of -9 is more concerning since he was involved in 88% of the Panthers’ offensive snaps.

N’Keal Harry was only targeted four times when the Patriots faced Las Vegas. This resulted in a decline of -8 after he had attained a career-best 12 targets in Week 2. A.J. Green and Stefon Diggs both experienced a drop of -7 after each receiver had been targeted 13 times in Week 2, then collected six targets in Week 3. The weekly totals for Mike Evans, Damiere Byrd, Josh Malone, and Russell Gage all declined by -6. However, Gage’s week to week reduction was also injury-related (concussion). The weekly totals for Edelman, DeSean Jackson, Tyreek Hill, and Chris Hogan all declined by -5.

 

Week 3 Yards-Per-Target

Justin Jefferson skyrocketed into the league lead with a 16.3 yards per target average. D.J. Chark (15.6) remains second despite missing his Week 3 matchup, followed by Allen Lazard (14.9), Gabriel Davis (14.3), Josh Reynolds (13.8), Randall Cobb (13.6), D.K. Metcalf (13.5), Michael Gallup (12.9), and Steven Sims (12.9) completing the top 10 at 12.9. Marquise Brown and Scott Miller are tied with an average of 11.9, followed by Robby Anderson (11.6), Cole Beasley (11.4), Julio Jones (11.3), and five wide receivers that are averaging 11+ - Chris Godwin, Will Fuller, David Moore, CeeDee Lamb, and Jarvis Landry. Cooper Kupp and Terry McLaurin spearhead a group of nine wide receivers that have attained a yards-per- target average of 10+.

 

Week 3 Air Yards

Wide Receivers Air Yards  Comp AY Team % AY aDOT
Calvin Ridley 559 305 41.9 16.9
A.J. Green 373 93 34.2 13.3
D.K. Metcalf 372 237 48.4 16.9
Adam Thielen 353 160 45.5 16.8
Amari Cooper 348 193 32.2 9.9
DeSean Jackson 348 105 33.2 17.4
Keenan Allen 342 149 38.6 9.2
Allen Robinson 340 148 30.8 11
D.J. Moore 332 211 48.9 12.8
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 313 120 33.1 18.4
Michael Gallup 312 189 28.9 16.4
Julian Edelman 293 199 52.3 12.2
Stefon Diggs 289 230 30 10.3
Odell Beckham Jr. 287 116 41.8 13.7
Jerry Jeudy 286 105 27 11.9
John Brown 278 121 28.9 15.4
Julio Jones 277 144 20.7 16.3
Tyler Lockett 267 205 34.8 9.2
Darius Slayton 265 169 35.7 12
Tyreek Hill 263 150 33.3 11.4
Diontae Johnson 252 82 31.6 9.7
Anthony Miller 252 108 22.8 18
Terry McLaurin 248 88 31.9 9.9
Mike Williams 243 85 27.4 17.4
DeAndre Hopkins 238 188 29 6.4
T.Y. Hilton 224 98 35.7 13.2
Scotty Miller 220 135 27.1 15.7
Brandin Cooks 213 91 27.7 11.8
Chris Conley 210 47 27.3 13.1
Robby Anderson 208 151 30.6 8.7
Allen Lazard 208 153 22 12.2

Calvin Ridley leads all receivers with 559 air yards, followed by A.J. Green (373), D. K. Metcalf (372), Adam Thielen (353), Amari Cooper (348), DeSean Jackson (348), Keenan Allen (342), Allen Robinson (340), D.J. Moore (332), and Marques Valdes-Scantling (313) completing the top 10. Michael Gallup (312), Julian Edelman (293), Stefon Diggs (289), Odell Beckham (287), Jerry Jeudy (286), John Brown (278), Julio Jones (277), Tyler Lockett (267), Darius Slayton (265), Tyreek Hill (263), Diontae Johnson (252) and Anthony Miller (252), have all eclipsed 250 air yards. 

Valdes-Scantling is currently the league leader in targeted air yards (18.4), followed by Anthony Miller (17.8), Thielen (17.7), Gallup (17.6), Jackson (16.8),  and Jones (16.7), while Metcalf and Ridley are tied at 16.5. Mike Williams is next (16.2) followed by K.J. Hamler (15.6), Scott Miller (15.6), the emerging Tee Higgins (15.1), and three receivers that are tied at 14.8 - John Brown, Mecole Hardman 14.8, and Chase Claypool. Beckham (14.2), and Marquise Brown 14.1 complete the top 20 in this category.

 

Julian Edelman leads all wide receivers in percentage share of air yards (51.2) for the second consecutive week. Moore is second overall (48.9), followed by Metcalf (48.4), Thielen (45.5), Ridley (41.9), Beckham (41.8), Allen (40.7), Marquise Brown (38.9), and Lockett (36.8), with both Slayton and T.Y. Hilton tied with 35.7. Hill is next (38.4),  followed by McLaurin (33.6), Green (33.3), Cooper (32.3), Valdes-Scantling (32.2), and Jackson (32.0). Four additional wide receivers have eclipsed a percentage of 30+ - Robby Anderson, Michael Gallup, Kendrick Bourne, and Stefon Diggs.

 

Week 3 First Downs

Wide Receivers First Downs
DeAndre Hopkins 21
Calvin Ridley 19
Tyler Boyd 17
Keenan Allen 16
Tyler Lockett 14
Cooper Kupp 14
Russell Gage 14
Stefon Diggs 13
Julian Edelman 13
Corey Davis 13
Terry McLaurin 12
D.J. Moore 12
Amari Cooper 12
Sammy Watkins 12
Allen Lazard 11
Robby Anderson 11
Allen Robinson 11
CeeDee Lamb 11
Tyreek Hill 11
JuJu Smith-Schuster 10
Davante Adams 10
Keelan Cole 10
Darius Slayton 10
Justin Jefferson 10
DeVante Parker 10
Cole Beasley 10

Calvin Ridley leads all wide receivers in first downs after the matchups of Weeks 1 and 2. However, DeAndre Hopkins has now advanced beyond him into the league lead (21). Ridley is second (19), followed by Tyler Boyd (17), Keenan Allen (16), and three receivers that are all tied with 14 receptions for first downs -  Cooper Kupp, Tyler Lockett, and Russell Gage. Corey Davis, Julian Edelman, and Stefon Diggs are all tied with 13, while Terry McLaurin, D.J. Moore, Sammy Watkins, and Amari Cooper have all captured 12 receptions for first downs. A group of six receivers is tied with 11 - Allen Lazard, Tyreek Hill, Robby Anderson, CeeDee Lamb, Sammy Watkins, and Allen Robinson, while a collection of seven receivers have all caught 10 receptions for first downs - DeVante Parker, Davante Adams, Keelan Cole, Darius Slaton, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cole Beasley, and rookie Justin Jefferson.

 

Week 3 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5
Calvin Ridley 6 3 2
N'Keal Harry 6 2 0
DeAndre Hopkins 5 2 1
Stefon Diggs 5 2 2
Keenan Allen 5 1 0
Russell Gage 5 2 0
Emmanuel Sanders 5 3 2
Robby Anderson 4 1 0
Tyler Lockett 4 3 3
Julian Edelman 4 2 1
Cole Beasley 4 4 2
Darius Slayton 4 3 2
Anthony Miller 4 1 1
Tee Higgins 4 2 2
Terry McLaurin 3 0 0
Allen Robinson 3 1 0
Cooper Kupp 3 0 0
Davante Adams 3 2 2
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 3 0 0
JuJu Smith-Schuster 3 2 0
Sammy Watkins 3 3 1
John Brown 3 2 1
Chris Godwin 3 2 1
Hunter Renfrow 3 0 0
Adam Humphries 3 0 0
Marvin Jones 3 1 1
Mike Evans 3 3 3
David Moore 3 1 0
Preston Williams 3 2 2
Zach Pascal 3 2 1
Trent Taylor 3 1 0

 

Calvin Ridley joins second-year receiver N'Keal Harry in leading their position with six red zone targets. Five receivers have all collected five targets - Hopkins, Diggs, Allen, Gage, and Emmanuel Sanders, while eight receivers have captured four targets inside the 20 - Anderson, Lockett, Edelman, Slaton, Higgins, Cole Beasley, Watkins, and Anthony Miller. 13 different receivers have received three targets inside the 20, including McLaurin, Robinson, Kupp, and Evans.

Beasley leads all wide receivers with four targets inside the 10 while six other receivers have captured three - Ridley, Lockett, Slaton, Watkins, Evans, and Sanders. Evans and Lockett also lead the position with three targets inside the five.

 

Week 3 Snap Counts

Wide Receivers Week 3 Snaps  Total Snaps Total Snap %
Keenan Allen 75/96.2 226 96.17
Michael Gallup 70/85.3 214 90.68
DeAndre Hopkins 61/93.9 213 95.09
Amari Cooper 65/79.3 208 88.14
D.K. Metcalf 73/96.1 197 98.01
Calvin Ridley 63/92.7 194 87.39
Tyler Lockett 74/97.4 192 95.52
Stefon Diggs 61/98.4 191 90.95
Terry McLaurin 64/98.5 191 95.02
Allen Lazard 59/95.2 188 88.26
Tyreek Hill 60/80 188 85.07
Tyler Boyd 54/75 187 80.6
Robert Woods 67/97.1 187 88.63
Marvin Jones 61/91.0 185 90.69
Damiere Byrd 66/95.7 184 89.76
Cooper Kupp 62/89.9 183 86.73
Larry Fitzgerald 56/86.2 182 81.25
Mike Evans 61/89.7 179 89.95
CeeDee Lamb 48/59.8 176 74.58
JuJu Smith-Schuster 58/72.5 172 82.3
Mike Williams 40/51.3 172 73.19
Corey Davis 55/73.3 171 78.44
Allen Robinson 64/78.1 170 80.19
D.J. Moore 45/88.2 168 87.96
Darius Slayton 51/98.1 167 90.27
John Brown 29/46.8 166 79.05
Kendrick Bourne 64/83.1 166 83
Sammy Watkins 65/86.7 165 74.66
Chris Hogan 51/79.7 161 87.03
Zach Pascal 56/93.3 161 77.78
Adam Thielen 61/93.9 159 92.98
Tre'Quan Smith 61/100 158 83.6
N'Keal Harry 46/66.7 158 77.07
A.J. Green 55/76.4 157 67.67
Jalen Guyton 63/80.8 154 65.53
Tim Patrick 53/84.1 153 76.88
Preston Williams 35/57.4 152 76.77
Robby Anderson 40/78.4 149 78.01
DeVante Parker 56/91.8 145 73.23
Julian Edelman 56/81.2 145 70.73
Odell Beckham 51/81 145 74.74

Keenan Allen has ascended into the league lead with 226 offensive snaps after three matchups. Michael Gallup is second overall (214), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (213), Amari Cooper (208), D.K. Metcalf (197), Calvin Ridley (194), Tyler Lockett (192), Stefon Diggs (191), Terry McLaurin (191), and Allen Lazard completing the top 10 (188). Tyler Boyd and Robert Woods are tied at 187, followed by Marvin Jones (185) Damiere Byrd (1840, Cooper Kupp (183), and Larry Fitzgerald (182). Six additional receivers have performed on at least 170 of the team's offensive snaps -Mike Evans, CeeDee Lamb, Juju Smith-Schuster, Mike Williams, Corey Davis, and Allen Robinson.

Metcalf leads the position in offensive snap percentage (98.0), followed by Allen (96.2), Lockett (95.5), Hopkins (95.1), McLaurin (95.0), Thielen (93.0), Diggs (91.0), Marvin Jones (90.7), Gallup (90.7), Darius Slayton (90.3), and Evans (90.0). No other wide receivers have been involved in 90% of the team's offensive snaps. However, Byrd, Tre' Quan Smith, Kendrick Bourne, and Chris Hogan are among the list of 21 receivers that have played on over 80% of their teams' offensive snaps.

The conga line of injuries that has dramatically depleted Philadelphia's receiving weapons has also created opportunities for several other Eagle receivers. Greg Ward will operate as the team's temporary WR1 this week, while rookie John Hightower has also elevated into an expanded role. He also led all wide receivers in offensive snaps during Week 3 (78). Ward was second (76), followed by Allen (75), Lockett (74), Metcalf (73), Gallup (70), Woods (67), Byrd (66), Watkins(65), and Cooper (65). McLaurin, Robinson, and Bourne were next with 64 snaps.

Smith led all wide receivers in snap count percentage in Week 3 by performing on 100% of New Orleans' offensive snaps. McLaurin was second (98.5), followed by Diggs (98.4), Slaton (98.1), Lockett (97.4), Woods (97.1), Allen (96.2), Metcalf (96.1), Byrd (95.7), and Lazard completing the top 10 at (95.2). Hopkins, Thielen, Will Fuller, and Zach Pascal were among the 10 additional wide receivers that were involved in at least 90% of their team's offensive snaps in Week 3.

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. Keenan Allen has thrived with Justin Herbert under center for two consecutive games after Tyrod Taylor spearheaded the Chargers' passing attack during their season opener. Allen was targeted eight times in Week 1 but only collected four of those passes for 37 yards. Taylor only completed 53.3% of his throws, generated 208 yards through the air, and ended the matchup with a quarterback rating of 25.6. His inaccuracy was a factor with Allen’s inability to garner a higher percentage of his targets.

The 28-year old Allen also averaged just 4.63 yards per target during his first game without Philip Rivers, and these results were unsettling for anyone who had secured Allen for their rosters.  But his numbers have improved considerably during two games with Herbert repeatedly launching passes in his direction. Taylor is still recovering from a collapsed lung and could recapture his starting role after he resurfaces with the team.

But Hebert has completed 69.5% of his passes, averaged 320.5 yards per game, and his propensity to target Allen has propelled a significant increase in the veteran receiver’s production. Allen accumulated a league-high 29 targets (14.5 per game) in Weeks 2-3, which is six more than any other receiver. He also leads his position in both receptions (20) and receiving yards (228) during that two-game sequence. Allen is fourth with four receptions of 20+ yards during those contests and has averaged 8.3 yards per target – which is nearly four yards higher than the average that he attained with Taylor guiding the offense.

Allen was also just WR60 in point per game scoring following Week 1. But he has now soared to WR9 and is WR2 behind Tyler Lockett during the combination of Weeks 2-3. Allen has also vaulted to seventh in air yards (342), and percentage share of air yards (38.6), and is second among wide receivers in target share (34.3). Allen also leads the Chargers in red zone targets (5) after collecting three targets inside the 20 during Week 3. He has performed as a high-end WR1 with Herbert as his signal-caller and should continue to flourish if the rookie remains under center.

 

2. A trio of rookie receivers planted themselves securely within the fantasy landscape during their performances in Week 3. Justin Jefferson had only been targeted six times during his first two matchups. But Kirk Cousins launched nine passes in his direction during Minnesota’s Week 3 encounter with Tennessee. This launched Jefferson's statistical explosion (7 receptions/175 yards/1 touchdown) after the former LSU Tiger had entered the game with just five receptions for 70 yards.

 

Jefferson’s yardage total easily led all receivers, while he finished among the top 10 in targets and receptions during Week 3's matchups. Jefferson is now tied with Adam Thielen for the team lead in receptions after three weeks (12), while the first-year receiver has soared to first in yardage (245). He is now fifth among all wide receivers with an average of 20.4 yards per reception and is averaging a league-best 16.3 yards per target among receivers with 10+ targets.

Brandon Aiyuk commandeered a team-high eight targets in his second game with San Francisco and collected five passes for 70 yards. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan had exchanged three draft picks in order to seize Aiyuk at 25th overall pick in last April’s NFL Draft. He had been affixed to the sideline during the team’s season opener (hamstring), while his involvement was limited in Week 2 (3 targets/2 receptions/21 yards). But he tied for 15th in targets during San Francisco’s matchup with the Giants, while operating from the slot on 58% of his offensive plays.

Tee Higgins was targeted nine times by Joe Burrow, which was second to Tyler Boyd’s team-high 13. Higgins also scored his first two touchdowns, while collecting five receptions for 40 yards. The steady progression in his usage and output is encouraging, as his rising snap shares (22%/65%/79%) and his expanding target totals (0/6/9) provide an indication that he has secured WR3 responsibilities behind Boyd and A.J. Green. The Bengals’ decision to relegate John Ross to healthy scratch status also underscores the upward trend in Higgins’ stock.

Jefferson now leads all rookies in receiving yards after his performance. However, Jerry Jeudy has garnered the most targets among rookies (24) while CeeDee Lamb has collected the most receptions (16).

 

3. Odell Beckham Jr.’s ADP of 31 during the recent draft process resulted in the seven-year veteran being selected before a large collection of receivers including five of the top seven scorers in the PPR format - Calvin Ridley, Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, D.K. Metcalf and Keenan Allen. Amari Cooper, Cooper Kupp, D.J. Moore, Robert Woods, Adam Thielen, Terry McLaurin, and JuJu Smith-Schuster are also contained on the lengthy list of receivers that have generated more fantasy points than Beckham after three matchups. 

Beckham is currently 18th in targets (22), but just 40th in receptions (11), and 36th in receiving yards (155). He is also 38th in scoring, as his production through three contests has been a source of frustration for many fantasy GMs that secured him with a third-round investment. However, his numbers are largely a byproduct of Cleveland's redesigned offense under Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland currently ranks 31st in pass play percentage (47.3%), as the Rams are currently the only team that is even less reliant on their aerial efforts (45.9%). When Baker Mayfield, does launch the ball, he is targeting his wide receivers on 54% on his attempts. This ranks just 26th overall.

Beckham is sixth overall in percentage share of air yards (41.8) and is also sixth in team target share (25.2). He collected a season-high 10 targets during Week 1. He also manufactured just 22 yards on three receptions during that matchup, although that can be partially attributed to Mayfield’s inaccuracy. But any optimism surrounding that initial target total has diminished, as Beckham has been targeted six times by Mayfield in both Weeks 2 and 3. His only touchdown of the season occurred on a 43-yard reception, and his unimpressive numbers would be even more problematic if that play had not transpired.

Some discouraged managers have considered trading Beckham. However, he will be the recipient of an enticing matchup this week. Dallas has surrendered seven touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, while also permitting Metcalf (110), Ridley (109), Woods (105), and Lockett (100) to generate 100+ yards. If Stefanski increases Cleveland’s deployment of the pass in order to exploit this matchup, then Beckham could deliver his most productive outing of the season.

 

4. Terry McLaurin has made a seamless progression from his stellar rookie season when his name could be located among the leaders in multiple categories. Washington selected McLaurin with the 76th overall pick in the NFL draft and he immediately became the team's most prolific receiver. McLaurin promptly collected 5 of 7 targets for 125 yards and a touchdown during his NFL debut, and ultimately finished sixth overall in percentage share of air yards (37.09), 10th in yards-per-target average (9.9), and 16th in targeted air yards (14.1). He also finished second in point per game scoring, targets (93/6.6 per game), and receptions (58), among first-year receivers – even though he missed two games due to injuries (Week 4-hamstring/Week 17-concussion).

McLaurin has transitioned fluidly into a revamped offense under new coordinator Scott Turner, without the benefit of normal offseason activities. McLaurin leads all wide receivers in yards after catch (174) and is second in broken tackles (4). He is also sixth overall in receiving yards (269), 11th in targets (25), and 14th in receptions (16). He is also tied for first with six receptions of 20+ yards and is also eighth in yards per reception (16.8). The 25-year old McLaurin has also operated on the perimeter during 74.2% of Washington's offensive plays while providing the team with a dynamic downfield presence.

McLaurin has already proven that he can remain proficient while quarterback Dwayne Haskins continues his learning curve, as Haskins is currently just 32nd in completion percentage (56.4%). Washington's remaining receiving weapons also contains no discernible competitor for targets, as Dontrelle Inman, Steven Sims Isaiah Wright, and rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden remain stationed below McLaurin on the depth chart. If he can sustain achieve sustained health, McLaurin will continue to his steady climb beyond high-end WR2 status.

 

5. Anyone who selected D.J. Chark in Round 5 during their draft process has been contending with disappointment in both his usage and output. He was Jacksonville’s undisputed WR1 at the onset of the season and led the Jaguars in yardage (109) and yards per target (15.6) through Week 2, However, he was just WR34 in point per game scoring and outside the top 70 in targets (7), while Keelan Cole led the Jaguars in targets (12), and receptions (11). He was followed by promising rookie Laviska Shenault (8 targets/6 receptions/72 yards) and Chris Conley (8 targets/5 receptions/54 yards).

But there is a reason for optimism if you invested in Chark, following the results from Week 3 - even though he was sidelined when Jacksonville hosted Miami (chest/back). The Jaguars’ passing attack was ineffective in his absence, while Conley failed to approach Chark’s proficiency as a reliable downfield option for Gardner Minshew.

Conley led the Jaguars in targets during the matchup (8) but only managed three receptions for 34 yards. Shenault collected five of his six targets for 33 yards, while Cole captured four of his six targets for a team-high 43 yards. Cole has now operated in the slot on 84.3% of his offensive plays, and leads Jaguar wide receivers in targets (17) receptions (15), and receiving yards (148). Cole registered his career-high in targets during 2017 (83) but only captured 42 receptions. But his current averages (5.7 targets/5 receptions/49.3 yards per game place him on track to establish new career bests in each category (96 targets/80 receptions/789 yards).

Conley has just one fewer target (16) but has only collected eight passes for 88 yards. His 50.0% catch rate is also the lowest of his career. He averaged a 38.5% snap share in Weeks 1-2 before performing on 80% of Jacksonville’s snaps during Chark’s absence. Shenault has accrued 14 targets, 11 receptions, 105 yards, and his involvement in the offense will rise as the season continues. Cole should remain a viable WR3 for fantasy GMs as the weeks advance, while Conley should be relegated to modest usage following Chark’s return. Chark’s managers can monitor his status, in hopes that he returns for Sunday’s matchup with Cincinnati.



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Fantasy Football Buy or Sell - Week 4

The fantasy stonks market is always a fun one to evaluate. Buy/Sell articles like this are essentially glorified "Who's Hot and Who's Not" but the tables are turned to where sometimes, you want to buy those that are cold and sell the hot. Buy-low, sell-high is the motto but also, sometimes it is ok to buy-high if you aren't buying as high as it could be. This sounds unintelligible but it makes sense in my head.

Now, three weeks into the season, we have several big-name players underperforming and others over-performing. The trade market has the most leverage possible early on in the year when owners are 0-3 or 1-2 with injuries flooding them (especially this year). The time to buy/sell is now and I am here to help.

If you like this piece or others like it,  follow me on Twitter @RotoSurgeon to catch on any relevant and/or ask questions. Best of luck!

 

Players to Buy

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

Three weeks into the season, we have two dud games from OBJ and one stud game. That ratio should ideally be flipped given his late third-round/early-fourth price tag in drafts. Unfortunately, there are negatives that will persist throughout the season (assuming he stays in Cleveland) and they include his QB and target volume via the offense. The Browns have been one of the most, if not the most efficient team at running the football and that will continue to limit the passing offense from a volume perspective. Baker Mayfield has only thrown 46 passes totals over the past two weeks. For reference, rookie Joe Burrow threw the ball 61 times in one game against the Browns alone. Along with the volume issues, Baker Mayfield has been one of the least accurate passers in the league thus far in 2020 in terms of "throws on target". He ranks 4th-worst in the NFL at 70.9%.

However, there is a bright side for the Browns' top receiver. He is now fully healthy after offseason hernia surgery and remains one of the most talented individuals in football who can turn nothing into something, whether it be in the middle of the field or outside. His target share is just over 25% and there is no way the rushing attack will be as efficient moving forward. While the Browns will lean more run-heavy than pass relative to the rest of the league, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt rank first and second in the league for rushing yards over expectation. Also, the Browns have yet to play in a "normal" game. They were blown out by the Ravens in Week 1 where Beckham was inaccurately targeted 10 times then over the past two weeks, the reason Mayfield was capable of throwing so infrequently was due to their cupcake matchups versus the Bengals and Washington. The Browns held a respectable lead throughout both games, leaving Beckham with just six targets in each outing. He will be closer to the eight target per game range moving forward and could see a significant boost in the upcoming matchups of Cowboys, Colts, and Steelers.

Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

The Texans' schedule thus far: Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers. Those teams respectively rank, 5th, 10th and 3rd in team defense according to 2020 DVOA. While three games is a small sample, those three teams in order were 14th, 5th and 3rd last year. Hard to mash together a tougher start to the year for Houston. In the meantime, Watson is QB21 on the season behind Derek Carr, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the recently benched Mitchell Trubisky. Watson will undoubtedly return to some semblance of form over the next few weeks as his schedule immediately opens up. The games up until their Week 8 BYE are Vikings, Jaguars, Titans and Packers. All four teams rank below average in DVOA this year, with the Jaguars and Packers towards the bottom of the barrel.

Watson has finished as QB5 (2019) and QB4 (2018) over the past two seasons and was first in QB points-per-game his rookie season prior to a season-ending knee injury. He will perform significantly better even without his number-one target, DeAndre Hopkins in town. While Hopkins did help Watson ascend to top-tier QB status, Watson deserves credit as well and is working with an interesting receiving corps that has remained shockingly healthy through three games. Specifically, there is no guarantee that Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks remain healthy for a large chunk of the season but you can't predict injuries (ignore Fuller's hamstring flare-up two weeks ago). With Watson's mobility and the Texans' defense doing him no favors, he is a sure-fire top-10 QB the rest of the way. The first month of the season should be considered a blip.

Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons

Hill’s snap% (34) was the highest since Week 12 last year and he led the team in RB targets (3) His targets+rushes last week (12) is more than double Weeks 1 and 2 combined (10). He is not some uber-talented RB he just happens to be the best one on a team that is desperate for production outside of their receiving corps. The Falcons have struggled to run the ball since Devonta Freeman's knee injury in 2018 and did their best with a "Hail Mary" signing of Todd Gurley this past offseason but that might be what they expected through three games. Hill is creeping up the depth chart and could very well take over soon if Gurley is to miss time or if he continues to flop as a receiving back.

Hill has a solid RB profile with a good build and solid hands to operate in the passing game. If he were to take over, no more than back-end RB2 production should be expected but given that he is widely available on waivers or for cheap, there is little-to-no risk to acquiring right now despite a breakout performance this past Sunday against the Bears.

 

Players to Sell

Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills

Singletary played the second highest snap-rate of his career last week versus the Rams but it came as a result of Zack Moss's toe injury. Yet, even as a workhorse, Singletary had a good, yet unspectacular game to justify any change in his season-long role. Moss will be returning soon given that this injury is not long-term and should eat into Singletary's workload. Moss is a different type of back than Singletary and will be leaned on in short-yardage and passing situations which are extremely valuable as we know.

The Bills want a shared backfield and that is why they drafted Moss so high and incorporated him early-on. Singletary has found success this season but has been matched up against two of the worst rush defenses in the league in the Rams and Dolphins (25th and 31st in DVOA). He was unspectacular versus the stout Jets run defense that ranks 3rd. Singletary should remain the lead back but his build is more-so that of a change-of-pace back who is a jack-of-all-trades rather than a master of one due to his frame and athleticism.

Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons

If we are buying one RB on a team (Hill) that means that we're selling another. Despite two fantasy-viable games from Gurley early-on, he just does not have the juice to hold onto his job if Brian Hill continues to play well. Gurley was drafted in round three across the board presumably as the workhorse in Atlanta and that has not been the case. In two of three games thus far, Gurley has only played half of the team's snaps and is a complete non-factor in the passing game. He has seven targets through three games, five of which came in game one where he accrued on yard on two receptions.

Gurley is no longer the Gurley of yesteryear as his arthritic knee is limiting his range of motion. This sort of hinderance on an athlete is debilitating and on top of it, the nerve issue could cause severe pain at any point in the season, resulting in missed time for the former MVP-caliber RB. The matchups over the next two weeks are spectacular and if you want to wait until after to sell, go ahead, but I would get rid of him sooner rather than later. Don't want to get caught holding the hot potato too long.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

As a caveat, do not sell until *after* the Falcons game this Monday. The Packers have a Week 5 BYE which leaves you plenty of time to field offers on Rodgers through that two-week period. Rodgers was fantastic in September and should remain a solid start throughout the entire season. The Packers' offense is off to their highest-scoring start ever with outings of 37, 42 and 43 points thus far. This offense probably remains towards the top of the league, however, even with the return of Davante Adams, it is tough to say that they will remain utterly dominant given how exploitable the teams they've faced thus far are. Not to call out Rodgers for stat-padding but they definitely have stuck it to the defenses they've faced thus far with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams running all over the Lions then Rodgers tearing apart a Vikings/Saints Defense that is a far-cry from recent years (both outside top-10 in DVOA).

The matchups throughout the rest of the season are not even very daunting but given that Green Bay wants to run the ball heavily with their deep, talented backfield, passing touchdowns may not be as plentiful as they have been. Rodgers, now 36, is not running as often as he has in the past. With only five carries through three games, Rodgers' rushing ballast may not exist moving forward.



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Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 3

This series continues into its third week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. After much research, I've developed a broad knowledge of how each team's play-caller historically operates and compiled data to help make informed decisions throughout the regular season as well.

After a wild Week 3 where we saw performances such as the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers catching 26 passes on 36 targets for 4o5 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns against the Seattle secondary or the New York Giants running backs taking only ten carries for 17 rushing yards, it's important to look at their play-caller's history and see if these performances are likely to continue, if they will change for the better, or if they will change for the worse.

This article will take a look at which of these areas are in line for improvement in future weeks. Let's dive in!

 

Improvement Ahead

These are the areas and positions that will likely improve in the coming weeks, based on the team's play-caller tendencies in the past.

 

New York Giants Running Backs

For the second week in a row, the New York Giants running backs land on this list of teams that should improve. Against the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Giants running backs were terrible. On the ground, they combined to take ten carries for 17 rushing yards, and through the air, they had three catches on six targets for 17 receiving yards.

But wait, there's more! On the year, the New York Giants running backs have combined for 40 carries, 72 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 14 receptions (on 22 targets), 127 receiving yards, and zero receiving touchdowns. There's nothing to say except the production out of this group so far this season has been abysmal.

Prior to this season, over the course of 208 games, Jason Garrett's running back room averaged 23.63 carries, 106.15 rushing yards, and 0.69 rushing touchdowns per game. Through the air over those 208 games, his running backs averaged 5.61 targets, 35.07 receiving yards, and 0.09 receiving touchdowns per game. This rushing attack is on pace to be the worst of Garrett's career, but even with