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Trendspotting: Week 10

Examining player and team-based trends that could identify valuable DFS options

A Special Message

Happy Veteran's Day to all of the brave men and women who serve our country. This is always an important day, but with the events of this week appearing to further divide our nation, we all need to find common ground in celebrating our vets and commending them for their service. What's happening in the United States right now may not stand the test of time as our most prosperous and peaceful era, but we still have it much better than many around the world. Veterans helped make it that way and keep it that way. 

So if you're a veteran, thank you for all that you've done, all that you're doing, and all that you'll continue to do.

If you're not, thank you for reading this, and please go out of your way to thank a veteran the next time you see one. 

God Bless America. 

Reader's Guide

  • Green text is a good matchup for that team's offensive players.
  • Red text is a bad matchup.
  • When a player's name is green, it means that he exceeded 2.75x value on his DraftKings salary that week.
  • If a name is red, it means that player was under 2x his value.
  • All reference to fantasy points assumes DraftKings scoring rules unless otherwise specified.
  • All stats reference the full 2016 season, unless otherwise specified.
  • All fantasy points rankings in the matchup graphics are on a per-game basis to account for bye weeks.

This week, we'll discuss the following topics:

Targets Lead to Touchdowns

In this section, I'll attempt to identify potential regression candidates whose workloads suggest they should have earned more touchdowns. This week (and going forward), I'll be using only the most recent four weeks as the examination period. The qualifications here are:

  • at least seven (7) targets per game
  • at least 20% of their team's Target Market Share
  • on teams in the top one-third of the NFL in passing attempts per game
  • zero touchdowns if the team has played three games in the four-week period, or one touchdown if they've played all four weeks
PlayerTDTgt/GmMS%TmAtt/GmMatchup
LeVeon Bell 0 9.7 23.8% 40.7 vs. DAL
Allen Robinson 1 10.0 23.7% 42.3 vs. HOU
Larry Fitzgerald 0 11.3 21.7% 52.3 vs. SF
Allen Hurns 1 8.2 19.5% 42.3 vs. HOU
Willie Snead 0 8.2 19.5% 42.3 vs. DEN

Robinson was on the list last week and scored but still remains via the criteria above. Perhaps he's "less" of a candidate. Snead was also on last week's list, and despite dipping slightly below 20% market share, I've left him on here. Out of the five players on last week's list, two (Robinson and Mike Wallace) scored touchdowns.

The most notable player on the list is once again LeVeon Bell. It could be argued that he has touchdown regression coming in the form of receiving and rushing. Hurns may not play this week due a concussion, so monitor his status.

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Funnel Watch

A "funnel" defense is one with a stout run defense but a suspect (or worse) pass defense. These units "funnel" production to the exterior and deep parts of the field (places where passing games focus) and away from the short middle (where the running game typically occurs). The following table should help illustrate funnel defenses.

  • Top 1/3 in the NFL in Yards per Rush Attempt allowed
  • Bottom 1/3 in the NFL in Net Yards per Pass Attempt allowed
  • Top 1/3 in Percentage of Yards Allowed via Rush (looking for low percentage figures here)
  • Bottom 1/3 in Percentage of Yards Allowed via Pass (looking for high percentage figures here)
TeamPaYd/GmRuYd/GmNYd/AttYd/Rush% PassYd% RushYd
Green Bay Packers 250.0 75.8 6.9 3.3 76.7% 23.3%
Carolina Panthers 286.0 77.5 7.1 3.3 78.7% 21.3%
New York Jets 273.8 81.0 7.1 3.5 77.2% 22.8%

Narrowly missing the list were Pittsburgh (missing only on yards per rush, 17th) and San Diego (missing on yards per pass attempt, 15th). 

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Arizona Cardinals

Arizona (vs. San Francisco)

Notes

  • San Francisco has allowed 2+ touchdown passes in five straight games and six of eight.
  • San Francisco is allowing 241 passing yards per game, 22nd-most in the NFL. Prior to last week's 323-yard performance by Drew Brees, San Francisco's average allowed was 229 yards.
  • San Francisco has allowed a 100+ yard rusher in seven straight games.
  • San Francisco has allowed a 138+ yard rusher in five straight games.
  • San Francisco has allowed 60+ rushing yards to a team's second-string running back in three straight games.
  • San Francisco has allowed 5+ receptions to nine wide receivers in its last seven games.
  • San Francisco has allowed 2+ touchdowns to three wide receivers in its last four games.
  • Notable performances against San Francisco to receivers who play a portion of snaps out of the slot: M. Thomas (5-73-2), Woods (5-44-1), Fitzgerald (6-81-2), Beasley (3-66-0), Baldwin (8-164-1).
  • San Francisco has allowed 50+ yards to one tight end in its last five games.

Commentary

Outside of cheaper players whose roles expanded mid-week due to injuries to teammates, I can't think of a play this season as "can't-miss" as David Johnson is this week. Outside of an early injury, the only thing that could hold Johnson back is Arizona winning by so many that they manage his reps for the majority of the second half. Even if that happens, it's likely that he would have played a role in creating an ugly game, so that's not a reason to avoid him.

I'm not confident enough to make him an "official" selection, but if anyone is going to do the heavy lifting as a receiver, it's Larry Fitzgerald. He's a nice GPP leverage play off of Johnson. You can tell yourself a story where Johnson gets stuffed at the goal line, and a pass play is dialed up for Fitzgerald to score. He did score twice against San Francisco in the first meeting.

I'm certainly not recommending this as a sane and rational decision, but what if everything goes to script here and Arizona is winning big? A quarter-plus against San Francisco for Andre Ellington could continue the 60+ rush yards to second-stringers stat. If you're of the mind that fading Johnson and being super contrarian elsewhere is the only way to get to the top of a GPP, I'm #JustSayin'. If the bullets above didn't do it for you, maybe this will.

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New England Patriots

New England (vs. Seattle)

Notes

  • Seattle has allowed 250+ passing yards in five straight games.
  • Seattle has faced and average of 41 passing attempts in its last five games.
  • Seattle has allowed 85+ rushing yards to a running back in four of its last six games.
  • Seattle is allowing 26.9% of its points via rushing touchdowns, the 11th-highest percentage in the NFL.
  • LeGarrette Blount averages 5.4 more PPR fantasy points per game when New England is a favorite of seven or more points.
  • Seattle has allowed 6+ receptions to five wide receivers in its last four games.
  • As seen above, Seattle is 4th in the NFL in terms of fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
  • Not shown above, but shown by Football Outsiders, Seattle is 23rd in the NFL in DVOA against tight ends.

Commentary

Seattle is still a good defense, but they aren't the elite unit they used to be in recent memory. While their raw numbers look great, they haven't faced an offensive juggernaut like New England. And with the Patriots, all roads lead back to Tom Brady. He's still a safe play this week due to being at home, playing a team on a short week, and being a big favorite with a high team total. The last points make Blount an intriguing possibility. 

I'm including Rob Gronkowski in my "GPP Plays" section below. The 3.75x marker on his price tag is super steep, and I'm far from certain he makes it there. But playing him is likely to be a differentiator from many. In many weeks, we call out "raw points" plays as being more important that points-per-dollar plays, but raw points and unique points are what sets players apart from GPP fields.

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San Diego Chargers

San Diego (vs. Miami)

Notes

  • Miami has allowed fewer than 225 passing yards in four straight games.
  • Miami has allowed fewer than two passing touchdowns in three straight games.
  • Miami is allowing 37.3% of its yardage via the rush, the fourth-highest ratio in the NFL.
  • Melvin Gordon is averaging 26 carries per game over the last four games. All other San Diego rushers are averaging 3.0 per game combined.
  • Dontrelle Inman has 22 targets in the last three games (18% of the team's market share).
  • Inman played 76 of 80 snaps last week after the injured Travis Benjamin played just seven due to injury; his 76 led the team.

Commentary

Miami began the season offering up plenty of fantasy points to WR1s. That has changed of late, but some of it is due to regular-roastee Byron Maxwell simply committing pass interference penalties instead of giving up yards and touchdowns. There could be some regression to be had there. If Benjamin misses the game with his knee injury (which is expected after no practice on Wednesday or Thursday and a bye week coming up), Tyrell Williams should see more targets. As we noted last week, Williams has been inconsistent with his performances, but that has been opponent-driven.

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Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh (vs. Dallas)

Notes

  • Pittsburgh is scoring 58.7% of its points via passing touchdowns, the third-highest percentage in the NFL.
  • Dallas is allowing 51.4% of its points via passing touchdowns, the fifth-highest percentage in the NFL.
  • Dallas is allowing 25.5 pass completions per game, fifth-most in the NFL.
  • Pittsburgh is scoring 16.3% of its points via rushing touchdowns, the ninth-lowest percentage in the NFL.
  • Dallas is allowing 12.9% of its points via rushing touchdowns, the fifth-lowest percentage in the NFL.
  • Dallas has allowed 4+ receptions to a running back in three of its last four games.
  • Dallas has allowed 45+ receiving yards to four running backs
  • Notable performances against Dallas by secondary/slot receivers: Matthews (11-65-1), Montgomery (10-98-0), Cobb (7-53-1), LaFell (8-68-2), Kerley (6-88-1), White (6-62-0), Crowder (6-39-1), Cruz (4-34-1).

Commentary

With a 50-point projected game total and the team favored, the points for Pittsburgh will have to come from somewhere, and it appears they'll come via the pass. Volume will be there for Ben Roethlisberger, as will improved health and his beloved Heinz Field. LeVeon Bell is more due to score a touchdown than almost anyone in the NFL; Antonio Brown is elite and is a great "raw points" play in any given week; and Eli Rogers emerged as the second receiver last week after Sammie Coates committed another brutal drop. 

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Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta (at Philadelphia)

Notes

  • Philadelphia allowed 0 passing touchdowns in its first three games.
  • Philadelphia has allowed 2+ passing touchdowns in four of its last five games.
  • Philadelphia is allowing 49.7% of its points via passing touchdowns, seventh-most in the NFL.

Commentary

The stats are limited here due to Philadelphia's Jekyll and Hyde season. But a game with a high projected total and small spread points to Atlanta scoring points. And Matt Ryan is the central figure and recurring theme for the Falcons offense, making him the premier play this week, However, if Jacob Tamme is out once again, Austin Hooper makes for a nice punt play. 

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Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia (vs. Atlanta)

Notes

  • Atlanta has allowed 3+ passing touchdowns in five games, including four in each of its last two.
  • Atlanta has allowed 4+ receptions to eight running backs and 6+ to four of those.
  • Atlanta has allowed 7+ total receptions by running backs in seven of nine games.
  • Atlanta is allowing 16.0 receiving fantasy points per game to running backs, most in the NFL; the 7.9 receptions per game allowed to running backs are second-most.
  • Darren Sproles has seen 67% (20/30) and 64% (16/25) of Philadelphia's running back touches in the last two games.
  • Atlanta has allowed 5+ receptions a tight end six times and have allowed 5+ total tight end receptions in seven of seven games in which they played a team that targeted its tight end(s) at least once; Green Bay didn't generate one target to their tight ends in Week 8.
  • Atlanta has allowed six touchdowns to tight ends, tied for second-most in the NFL.
  • Atlanta is allowing 5.3 receptions per game to tight ends, tied for 10th-most in the NFL.

Commentary

Sproles has taken over as the lead back, for all intents and purposes. A player with his anticipated workload at his low price tag is always in consideration in any format - especially in full PPR scoring like DraftKings. Philadelphia's wide receiver talent is thin behind Jordan Matthews. That in combination with Atlanta allowing a lot of volume to all positions leads me to a hunch play on Zach Ertz. We'll see if he appears later (ok, I'll tell you; he does).

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas (at Pittsburgh)

Notes

  • Pittsburgh has allowed 250+ passing yards in seven of eight games.
  • Pittsburgh has allowed at least 2.9x value to five quarterbacks.
  • Pittsburgh is allowing 15.2 rushing fantasy points per game to running backs, eighth-most in the NFL.
  • Pittsburgh is allowing 13.0 receiving fantasy points per game to running backs, fifth-most in the NFL.
  • Pittsburgh is allowing 14.4 receptions per game to wide receivers, seventh-most in the NFL.
  • Pittsburgh as allowed at least 2.75x value to three tight ends (two of which were min-priced backups).

Commentary

At his price, Ezekiel Elliott is likely to be overlooked. Many would rather pay the extra money for Johnson or save money for players like Bell or Gordon (or Sproles if going really cheap). Any time an elite talent is being scrolled past like that, he's a prime GPP candidate. While I won't call him out to hit the GPP marker desired in this column, I felt compelled to mention that he's intriguing. Dez Bryant is another "raw points" player for GPPs. He may not hit 3.75x, but he's very useable in a nice matchup that should be a shootout, and players around him (and below him) in price are likely to be more popular.

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Chicago Bears

Chicago (at Tampa Bay)

Notes

  • Tampa Bay has allowed 4 passing touchdowns in each of its last two games.
  • Tampa Bay has allowed at least 3x value to three quarterbacks in its last three games.
  • Tampa Bay is allowing 53.3 receiving yards per game to running backs, fifth-most in the NFL.
  • Tampa Bay has allowed 8+ receptions to four wide receivers.
  • Notable performances against Tampa Bay by WR1s: J. Jones (8-111-1), Cooper (12-173-1), K. Benjamin (5-70-0), D. Thomas (6-94-1)
  • Since 2014, Alshon Jeffery has averaged 4.2 more fantasy points per game when Jay Cutler plays.

Commentary

Tampa Bay's pass defense is not very good. Last we saw Cutler, he was performing admirably against a defense that looked untouchable for the first five weeks of the season. Even the one WR1 that didn't meet value against Tampa Bay still had five catches and 70 yards. 

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This Week's Cash Game Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetTeamOpponent
Tom Brady $7400 20.4 NE vs. SEA
Matt Ryan $7300 20.1 ATL at PHI
Jay Cutler $5300 14.6 CHI at TB
LeVeon Bell $7700 21.2 PIT vs. DAL
Darren Sproles $4300 11.8 PHI vs. ATL
Tyrell Williams $5700 15.7 SD vs. MIA
Dontrelle Inman* $3400 9.4 SD vs. MIA
Alshon Jeffery $6600 18.2 CHI at TB
Austin Hooper** $3100 8.5 ATL at PHI

*if Benjamin is out

**if Tamme is out

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This Week's GPP Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetTeamOpponent
Ben Roethlisberger $6800 25.5 PIT vs. DAL
Jay Cutler $5300 19.9 CHI at TB
LeGarrette Blount $4900 18.4 NE vs. SEA
Darren Sproles $4300 16.1 PHI vs. ATL
Dontrelle Inman $3400 12.8 SD vs. MIA
Eli Rogers $3500 13.1 PIT vs. DAL
Rob Gronkowski $6900 25.9 NE vs. SEA
Zach Ertz $3700 13.9 PHI vs. ATL

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Looking Back

In order to keep myself honest and not just dish out wild prognostications with no repercussions, I'll list my Cash Games and GPP Plays from last week's column . I'm going to aim for a 55% hit rate on Cash Game Plays (with a target of 2.75x per $1,000) and a 20% hit rate on GPP Plays (with a target of 3.75x), as those tend to correspond with cut lines in those contest types. Players who left their game due to injury or had notable injury situations that would have decreased confidence in playing them will be noted and won't count towards the final total.

Cash Game Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetActualHit?
Philip Rivers $6500 17.9 18.7 Yes
Aaron Rodgers $7800 21.5 27.2 Yes
Dak Prescott $6100 16.8 23.9 Yes
Charcandrick West $4400 12.1 10.4 No
Ezekiel Elliott $7900 21.7 22.7 Yes
Ty Montgomery $5800 16.0 12.1 No
Michael Thomas $5500 15.1 24.3 Yes
Antonio Gates $3000 8.3 18.5 Yes
Jason Witten $3700 10.2 30.4 Yes

*left his game early due to injury

  • Last Week: 7-for-9 (78%)
  • Season: 32-for-57 (56%)

GPP Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetActualHit?
Colin Kaepernick $5600 21.0 27.2 Yes
Mark Ingram $4800 18.0 34.1 Yes
Charcandrick West $4400 16.5 10.4 No
Tyrell Williams $5000 18.8 18.5 No
Donte Moncrief $5800 21.8 14.5 No
Antonio Gates $3000 11.3 18.5 Yes

*left his game early due to injury

  • Last Week: 3-for-6 (50%)
  • Season: 16-for-45 (36%)

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Questions, comments, suggestions, and other feedback on this piece are always welcome via e-mail hester@footballguys.com