Trendspotting: Week 16

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

Mea Culpa and Thank You Very Much

Last week was a nightmare for my Cash Game and GPP picks. Don't worry; my DFS lineups also tanked. I'll do my best to improve this week, but I'm also getting the column to you earlier in the week to allow your pretty little eyeballs to see it sooner so you can digest it before it interferes with family time.

I'll be doing this article next week since DFS is a suitable game to play in Week 17 (don't get me started on Week 17 championships in season-long leagues). But since this is the last week of "traditional" fantasy football, I wanted to take the time to thank you all for subscribing to Footballguys and for reading my work. There are plenty of choices of fantasy advice sites around the internet, so we at Footballguys thank you for choosing us. And there are plenty of articles here at FBG, so I appreciate you navigating to mine and giving me a chance. If I gave just a couple people more good advice than bad this season, it's worth all of the hard work.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And if your religious views are such that you don't celebrate Christmas, Merry "Extended Time Off Work to Spend With Loved Ones."

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:


Oakland Raiders

Oakland (vs. Indianapolis)

Notes

  • Indianapolis allowed 2+ passing touchdowns in eight straight games from Week 4 to Week 12.
  • Indianapolis has allowed one passing touchdown in its last three games combined.
  • Quarterbacks faced by Indianapolis in its last three games: Sam Bradford, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick/Bryce Petty.
  • Indianapolis has allowed 100+ rushing yards to five players, tied for second-most in the NFL.
  • Running backs who have seen 18+ touches against Indianapolis have averaged 122.1 yards from scrimmage.
  • Prior to last week, Latavius Murray had seen 18+ touches in three straight, four out of five, and five out of seven.
  • Football Outsiders ranks Indianapolis as follows: 29th vs. WR1s, 7th vs. WR2s, 11th vs. Other WRs, 31st vs. TEs, 31st vs. RBs.
  • Notable WR1 performances vs. Indianapolis recently: Diggs (2-13-0), Hopkins (2-33-0), R. Anderson (4-61-1), A. Brown (5-91-3), R. Matthews (9-122-0), J. Nelson (7-94-1).

Commentary

Murray's touch total was decreased last week due to two first quarter fumbles. But the team went back to him, and he ran hard following his brief benching. We've seen shenanigans with fumbles and benchings in the NFL (Bill Belichick with Stevan Ridley in the past, Sean Payton with Mark Ingram this season). But this instance was refreshing to see a coach walk the line between telling his player that fumbles won't be tolerated but also ultimately deciding that using his best players is probably the best way to win. Novel concept, indeed.

Stefon Diggs isn't a prototypical WR1, running many of his routes from the slot; and Houston's passing game has been ineffective against even the softest opponents. Teams with actual passing attacks and actual WR1s have been exploiting Indianapolis all year. The hard part will be determining whether Indianapolis (and even Oakland themselves) treat Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree as the WR1. I knew things were bad for Cooper, but this was pretty shocking:

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Seattle Seahawks

Seattle (vs. Arizona)

Notes

  • Arizona allowed 10 passing touchdowns in its first 12 games.
  • Arizona has allowed seven passing touchdowns in its past two games.
  • Arizona has allowed at least 2.8x value to five quarterbacks in its last six games.
  • Arizona has allowed a top-10 fantasy quarterback performance in each of its last three games (two top-5s).
  • Arizona has allowed 10 touchdowns to running backs in its last seven games.
  • Arizona has allowed 7+ receptions to six wide receivers in its last six games.
  • Arizona is allowing 182.6 yards to wide receivers, fifth-most in the NFL.
  • Arizona has faced 71 targets to tight ends, tied for second-fewest in the NFL.
  • Arizona has allowed 363 yards to tight ends, fewest in the NFL.
  • Arizona has allowed one touchdown to tight ends, fewest in the NFL.

Commentary

Arizona's pass defense has been far from scary recently. Considering there are many palatable-to-elite quarterback options this week, Russell Wilson could be under-owned. His rushing upside, though not utilized as much this season, always gives him a GPP-like ceiling -- even when used "naked" (without one of his receivers). Though, with Arizona being so poor against non-WR1s (28th vs. WR2s, 13th vs. Other WRs), Tyler Lockett is an interesting play this week. 

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Green Bay Packers

Green Bay (vs. Minnesota)

Notes

  • Minnesota has allowed 300+ passing yards to zero quarterbacks, fewest in the NFL (i.e. every other team has allowed at least one).
  • Minnesota has allowed 85+ rushing yards to four running backs in its last eight games.
  • Minnesota has allowed at least 4.2x value to five running backs in its last eight games.
  • Minnesota has allowed one game of 100+ receiving yards, fewest in the NFL.
  • Minnesota has allowed 50+ yards to six tight ends.
  • Minnesota has allowed three touchdowns to tight ends in its last four games.
  • Minnesota has allowed at least 4.5x value to five tight ends in its last eight games.

Commentary

Almost anyone against Minnesota is GPP-only status due to the defense being so good, and Green Bay is certainly an offensive unit that is worthy of rostering. Minnesota's defense has been trending down slightly, particularly against the rush. It took injuries on the field to Eddie Lacy and James Starks (and then another off-the-field to Starks), but Ty Montgomery has been handed the reins of the backfield.

There's also this to consider about the prospect of Green Bay's offensive unit being so good that they're worth rostering regardless of matchup. Aaron Rodgers is coming off a "down" performance, which tends to result in lower ownership, but when going beyond the box score, you can see that Rodgers' day was close to being really good.

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Carolina Panthers

Carolina (at Atlanta)

Notes

  • Atlanta has allowed 375 pass completions this season, most in the NFL.
  • Atlanta is allowing 77.3 rushing yards per game to running backs, seventh-fewest in the NFL.
  • Atlanta is allowing 4.4 yards per rushing attempt, tied for fourth-most in the NFL.
  • Atlanta is facing 18.9 rushing attempts per game to running backs, third-fewest in the NFL.
  • Atlanta is allowing 7.0 receptions, 57.6 yards, and 0.36 touchdowns per game to running backs, all most in the NFL.
  • Atlanta is allowing 14.9 receiving fantasy points per game to running backs, the most in the NFL by 1.7 points per game.
  • Carolina targets over the last six games: Greg Olsen (43), Kelvin Benjamin (39), Ted Ginn (40)
  • Atlanta has allowed 50+ yards and/or a touchdown to five tight ends in its last seven games.

Commentary

As you can see from the running back-centric numbers above, the way Atlanta allows fantasy points to backs is very game flow-driven. We've discussed here in the past that they allow most of their production to running backs in the receiving game. However, their yards per attempt and yards per game numbers suggest they can be run on but that teams don't try often (likely because they're losing and passing instead). If Carolina can keep the game close, Jonathan Stewart should be able to be productive.

You saw how Ginn has led the team in targets over the past six weeks. But with Ginn, it's usually above what he does with those targets. This season, it turns out, Ginn is turning them into production.

There's also a little bit of #NarrativeStreet potential here with Atlanta having been the team that kept Carolina from a 16-0 regular season last year. 

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Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis (at Oakland)

Notes

  • Indianapolis scores 46.4% of its points via passing touchdowns, the eighth-highest ratio in the NFL.
  • Quarterbacks to throw for one or zero touchdowns against Oakland: Alex Smith (Week 14), Tyrod Taylor (13), Brock Osweiler (11), Blake Bortles (7), Smith (6), Joe Flacco (4).
  • Quarterbacks to throw for multiple touchdowns against Oakland: Philip Rivers (Week 15), Cam Newton (12), Trevor Siemian (9), Jameis Winston (8), Rivers (5), Matt Ryan (2), Drew Brees (1).
  • Oakland is allowing 174.5 yards per game to wide receivers, ninth-most in the NFL.
  • Oakland has allowed nine games or 100+ receiving yards, tied for most in the NFL (NY Jets and Tennessee).
  • Oakland has allowed 100+ yards to zero wide receivers in the last three games (though Travis Kelce got 100 recently in Week 14).
  • T.Y. Hilton average receptions-yards-touchdowns with Donte Moncrief active: 5.4 - 79 - 0.25
  • Hilton's average receptions-yards-touchdowns with Donte Moncrief inactive: 6.3 - 102.3 - 0.7

Commentary

Look at what Indianapolis tight ends have done with and without red zone stud Donte Moncrief this season.

Hilton has carried the load when Moncrief has missed games too. Unfortunately for everyone (except Moncrief), it looks like he will play this week, making this an "All Roads Lead to Luck" situation -- especially in Cash Games.

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Chicago Bears

Chicago (vs. Washington)

Notes

  • Washington has allowed an average value multiplier of 3.8x to the last eight starting quarterbacks it has faced.
  • Washington has allowed 300+ passing yards in its last three games and four of its last five.
  • Washington has allowed 300+ passing yards to seven quarterbacks, tied for most in the NFL.
  • Washington has allowed 2+ passing touchdowns in four of its last six games.
  • Washington has allowed 120+ yards from scrimmage to three running backs in its past four games.
  • Washington has allowed 1,432 rushing yards to running backs, sixth-most in the NFL.
  • Washington is allowing 4.5 yards per carry to running backs, fifth-worst in the NFL.
  • Washington's Football Outsiders rankings: 28th vs. WR1s, 29th vs. WR2s, 23rd vs. Other WRs, 27th vs. TEs, 8th vs. RBs, 24th overall.
  • Recent WR1 performances vs. Washington: K. Benjamin (2-20-0), J. Matthews (8-79-0), L. Fitzgerald (10-78-0), Bryant (5-72-0), Nelson (3-28-1), Diggs (13-164-0), Green (9-121-0), G. Tate (6-93-0).
  • Washington has allowed five touchdowns to tight ends, 10th-most in the NFL (and they still rank second-worst in fantasy points against).
  • Washington has faced 142 tight end targets, most in the NFL by a margin of 12.
  • Washington has allowed 106 tight end receptions, most in the NFL by a margin of 18.
  • Washington has allowed 1,093 yards to tight ends, most in the NFL by a margin of 72.
  • Washington has allowed 5+ receptions and 50+ yards to seven tight ends in its last seven games.
  • Zach Miller was put on Injured Reserved following Week 11.
  • From Week 12 forward, Daniel Brown's snap rate is as follows: 61%, 48%, 66%, 80%.

Commentary

The presence of Josh Norman makes WR1s against Washington a mixed bag of results. The Football Outsiders numbers show that it's far from a "lockdown situation," but the WR1s capable of running routes from the slot can avoid Norman and still produce. Meanwhile, teams with capable WR2s have generelly eschewed throwing to their WR1 and picked on Washington's other defensive backs.

Jordan Howard has been fantastic in his rookie season.

If looking for a total contrarian punt play, tight end Daniel Brown could be your guy. His season-high in targets is just six, but that came against Detroit -- another team that allows plenty of production to tight ends.

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San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco (at Los Angeles)

Notes

  • Los Angeles has allowed 3+ passing touchdowns in three of its last four games.
  • Los Angeles has allowed 2+ passing touchdowns in four of its last five games.
  • Los Angeles has allowed 300+ passing yards to seven quarterbacks, tied for third-most in the NFL.
  • Los Angeles is allowing 49.4% of its points via passing touchdowns, the fourth-highest ratio in the NFL.
  • Los Angeles has allowed 26 passing touchdowns, tied for fifth-most in the NFL.
  • Colin Kaepernick has 2+ passing touchdowns in four of his nine starts.
  • Los Angeles has allowed four receiving touchdowns to running backs, tied for second-most in the NFL.

Commentary

With the 49ers having basically just two fantasy assets that be described as even semi-relevant, there isn't much need to discusshow the Rams fare against wide receivers (pretty terribly) or tight ends (quite well). But if the last handful of games are any indication, Kaepernick is a decent floor play once again. The fantasy points he earns with his rushing ability seems to counteract the fact that his team doesn't score many actual points.

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This Week's Cash Game Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetTeamOpponent
Derek Carr $6800 18.7 OAK vs. IND
Cam Newton $6600 18.2 CAR at ATL
Andrew Luck $7000 19.3 IND at OAK
Colin Kaepernick $5700 15.7 SF at LA
Ty Montgomery $5900 16.2 GB vs. MIN
Frank Gore $4800 13.2 IND at OAK
Jordan Howard $6300 17.3 CHI vs. WAS
Michael Crabtree $6100 16.8 OAK vs. IND
Ted Ginn $4500 12.4 CAR at ATL
T.Y. Hilton $7800 21.5 IND at OAK
Jordy Nelson $7000 19.3 GB vs. MIN
Greg Olsen $5200 14.3 CAR at ATL

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This Week's GPP Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetTeamOpponent
Derek Carr $6800 25.5 OAK vs. IND
Russell Wilson $6300 23.6 SEA vs. ARI
Matt Barkley $5000 18.8 CHI vs. WAS
Frank Gore $4800 18.0 IND at OAK
Jordan Howard $6300 23.6 CHI vs. WAS
Tyler Lockett $4800 18.0 SEA vs. ARI
Ted Ginn $4500 16.9 CAR at ATL
Jared Cook $3000 11.3 GB vs. MIN
Daniel Brown $2500 9.4 CHI vs. WAS

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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?
Matt Ryan $7300 20.1 19.3 No
Derek Carr $6300 17.3 12.0 No
Joe Flacco $5700 15.7 14.1 No
Alex Smith $5400 14.9 12.6 No
Latavius Murray $5800 16.0 9.2 No
Kenneth Dixon $3800 10.5 9.6 No
Michael Crabtree $5900 16.2 18.0 Yes
Taylor Gabriel $5600 15.4 15.0 No
Demaryius Thomas $6300 17.3 16.1 No
Emmanuel Sanders $6600 18.2 7.8 No
Travis Kelce $5900 16.2 7.1 No
Kyle Rudolph $4300 11.8 17.7 Ye
  • Last Week: 2-for-12 (17%)
  • Season: 54-for-112 (48%)

GPP Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetActualHit?
Derek Carr $6300 23.6 12.0 No
Joe Flacco $5700 21.4 14.1 No
Eli Manning $5600 21.0 16.0 No
Trevor Siemian $5200 19.5 10.7 No
Latavius Murray $5800 21.8 9.2 No
Justin Forsett $3000 11.3 9.3 No
Adam Thielen $4800 18.0 0.0 No
Mike Wallace $4800 18.0 8.0 No
Sterling Shepard $4600 17.3 15.6 No
Demaryius Thomas $6300 23.6 16.1 No
Emmanuel Sanders $6600 24.8 7.8 No
Travis Kelce $5900 22.1 7.1 No
  • Last Week: 0-for-12 (0%)
  • Season: 26-for-96 (27%)

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