Trendspotting: Week 12

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

A Special Message

Despite the fact that I'm writing this before Thanksgiving, it won't post until after. So I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving enjoying the day with families, friends, and loved ones of all kinds. Thanksgiving often doesn't seem to get its due, but it's my all-time favorite holiday. In case you missed it, we did a fun little "Holiday DFS" game over on the DFS Roundtables this week. Give it a quick read.

But don't worry about the timing of my writing this article before Thanksgiving and covering Main Slate games. I'll check back throughout the weekend (particularly Friday) to update anything particularly relevant to the predictions/calls made here.

Due to the quick-turn nature of this week (and the desire to spend time with family -- both for me and for you readers), I'm leaving out the bullet point notes this week and just providing commentary and plays.

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
Emmanuel Sanders 0 10.0 27.0% 37.0 vs. KC
Terrelle Pryor 1 9.8 26.4% 37.0 vs. NYG
Jordan Matthews 1 11.0 25.9% 42.5 vs. GB
Michael Crabtree 0 9.7 24.6% 39.3 vs. CAR
Larry Fitzgerald 0 12.0 23.1% 52.0 at ATL
Davante Adams 1 9.2 21.0% 44.0 at PHI
Dontrelle Inman 0 8.3 20.8% 40.0 at HOU

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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 criteria are used to determine 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 265.6 91.1 7.5 3.7 74.5% 25.5%
New York Jets 260.5 85.4 6.8 3.5 75.3% 24.7%
New Orleans Saints 280.7 102.1 7.2 3.9 73.3% 26.7%
San Diego Chargers* 274.5 87.4 6.6 3.9 75.8% 24.2%
Carolina Panthers* 271.7 81.8 6.6 3.5 76.9% 23.1%

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Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta (vs. Arizona)

Commentary

Peterson has replaced Darrelle Revis as the cornerback to be feared most in the NFL. I'd never recommend not playing Julio Jones, but the matchup with Peterson could promote Atlanta to funnel a few of Jones' typical looks to other receivers. Jacob Tamme had season-ending surgery, leaving Austin Hooper as the team's primary tight end. Arizona has been excellent from a DvP perspective against the position, but their level of competition hasn't been the most difficult.

In the "completely unsurprising" file, Devonta Freeman averages 5.3 fewer PPR points per game when Tevin Coleman plays. A home favorite with a good running game against a team that's a bit of a "reverse funnel" with Peterson's elite coverage would typically be a great spot to play a running back. But Coleman is slated to return, which makes the Atlanta backfield rather unpredictable.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami (vs. San Francisco)

Commentary

San Francisco's defense is horrific, but Miami's offense isn't a powerhouse. This will be an interesting clash. Due to increased volume alone, though, Miami has some players worth rostering. Because the production they allow is mostly via passing touchdowns, which aren't as solid an indicator as volume and yards, Tannehill is more of a GPP play despite performing admirably in a plus-matchup spot against Cleveland earlier this season.

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Buffalo Bills

Buffalo (vs. Jacksonville)

Commentary

With Sammy Watkins not yet ready to return and Robert Woods doubtful at best with his knee injury, Buffalo has little in the way of accomplished passing game targets. Charles Clay led the team in targets in Week 11 and could do so again this week. Clay has played 142 of 150 offensive snaps over the team's past two games.

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Oakland Raiders

Oakland (vs. Carolina)

Commentary

Carolina has been scorched this season by perimeter receivers. Amari Cooper is as good a big-play receiver as there is in the NFL, and Michael Crabtree is always a touchdown threat. Derek Carr is someone I'll be looking to have exposure to this weekend.

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New York Giants

NY Giants (at Cleveland)

Commentary

Will Cleveland ever give us that surprise showing and get a win? Will they even play an opponent tough? It's difficult to just assume that will happen, so until it does, let's keep playing offensive players against them. Their DvP stats are tasty against just about anyone, but tight ends have really crushed them. Will Tye has played 76% of the team's snaps over the past three weeks, so he's someone who is on the field consistently. And at times, that's just about the only qualification needed to produce against Cleveland.

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Seattle Seahawks

Seattle (at Tampa Bay)

Commentary

Russell Wilson is doing hit typical mid-season "get hot" routine, and this year it aligns with a return to health. A cross-country road game can sometimes be tricky, but Tampa Bay's secondary (despite playing better lately) is still far from elite. They're also susceptible to players who can run seam routes and quickly access the middle of the field. Seattle has at least one of that type.

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Arizona Cardinals

Arizona (at Atlanta)

Commentary

Play David Johnson. Oh, you need more advice? This one might surprise you, but play Carson Palmer. He's been terrible, but his price has come down so much that he's more than stomachable (I'm almost certain that's not really a word). Atlanta can't help but to get in shootouts, and Arizona is capable of obliging.

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San Diego Chargers

San Diego (at Houston)

Commentary

Despite losing J.J. Watt, Houston is still a decent defensive unit. They get after the quarterback and can cover receivers. The one thing they don't do well is stop the run. Despite being on the road and the spread being quite close, I expect San Diego to control this game. They're coming off a bye week while Houston is playing on a short week after playing at above-mile-high altitude on Monday night. San Diego will wear them down with Melving Gordon and then use Gordon to lean on them after getting a lead.

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This Week's Cash Game Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetTeamOpponent
Carson Palmer $5300 14.6 ARI at ATL
Derek Carr $6100 16.8 OAK vs. CAR
Russell Wilson $6700 18.4 SEA at TB
Ryan Tannehill $5500 15.1 MIA vs. SF
Jay Ajayi $7600 20.9 MIA vs. SF
Rashad Jennings $5600 15.4 NYG at CLE
David Johnson $8900 24.5 ARI at ATL
Charles Clay $2700 7.4 BUF vs. JAX
Jimmy Graham $5300 14.6 SEA at TB

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This Week's GPP Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetTeamOpponent
Derek Carr $6100 22.9 OAK vs. CAR
Melvin Gordon $7000 26.3 SD at HOU
Jermaine Kearse $3000 11.3 SEA at TB
DeVante Parker $4700 17.6 MIA vs. SF
Michael Crabtree $6500 24.4 OAK vs. CAR
Austin Hooper $2800 10.5 ATL vs. ARI
Charles Clay $2700 10.1 BUF vs. JAX
Will Tye $3000 11.3 NYG at CLE

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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?
Tom Brady $7800 21.5 28.4 Yes
Andrew Luck $7200 19.8 19.7 No
Aaron Rodgers $7600 20.9 32.3 Yes
LeGarrette Blount $6400 17.6 15.4 No
LeVeon Bell $8800 24.2 37.1 Yes
Theo Riddick $5100 14.0 16.3 Yes
Golden Tate $5300 14.6 4.1 No
Odell Beckham Jr $8500 23.4 9.6 No
Martellus Bennett $3700 10.2 2.4 No

*left his game early due to injury

  • Last Week: 4-for-9 (44%)
  • Season: 39-for-73 (53%)

GPP Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetActualHit?
Kirk Cousins $5800 21.8 30.4 Yes
Marcus Mariota $6700 25.1 22.5 No
Frank Gore $5000 18.8 16.1 No
James Starks $4200 15.8 18.1 Yes
Donte Moncrief $6100 22.9 13.7 No
Golden Tate $5300 19.9 4.1 No
Sterling Shepard $4700 17.6 16.0 No
Eric Ebron $4100 15.4 16.1 Yes
Jordan Reed $5900 22.1 12.9 No
Delanie Walker $5700 21.4 7.6 No

*left his game early due to injury

  • Last Week: 3-for-10 (30%)
  • Season: 22-for-63 (35%)

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