Trendspotting: Week 8

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

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 so far this season. 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 or one touchdown

This week, we have zero players who meet all of the criteria above. There are 11 players who meet each of the first three criteria. Of those, the two below have the fewest touchdowns (with two).

PlayerTDTgt/GmMS%TmAtt/GmMatchup
Greg Olsen 2 10.0 26.4% 38.7 vs ARI
Randall Cobb 2 9.2 23.1% 39.5 at ATL

Monitor Cobb's injury status. Missing practice with hamstring injuries isn't a promising turn of events, especially for quickness-based skill position players.

As you'll recall, last week wed segmented this section into a smaller time frame to account for lineup changes and other late-developing trends. Here are the players who meet the criteria over the last four weeks.

PlayerTDTgt/GmMS%TmPassAttMatchup
Greg Olsen 1 11.0 27.3% 121 vs ARI
Ty Montgomery 0 8.3 17.2% 145 at ATL

[return to top]


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
New York Jets 282.7 74.1 7.5 3.2 79.2% 20.8%
Carolina Panthers 282.0 89.5 7.8 3.3 75.9% 24.1%
Green Bay Packers 242.2 71.8 6.7 3.1 77.1% 22.9%

Green Bay doesn't technically meet all of the criteria. They're slightly too "good" at defending the pass on a Net Yards per Attempt basis, but that could be weighted by the fact that they played against Matt Barkley for the majority of last week's game. Tampa Bay

[return to top]


Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta (vs. Green Bay)

Notes

  • Green Bay is allowing 77.1% of its yardage via the pass, second-most in the NFL.
  • Matt Ryan's 8.5 Net Yards per Pass Attempt is a full 0.5 yards better than second place and 1.0 yards better than third place; NFL average is 6.5.
  • Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have been the only running backs to touch the ball for Atlanta this season.
  • They average 29.2 touches per game.
  • Green Bay has faced three running backs that would be considered "pass-catching" running backs (T.J. Yeldon, Theo Riddick, and Bobby Rainey); they have allowed an average of 5.7 receptions per game to those three.
  • Notable WR performances against Green Bay: Beckham Jr (5-56-1), M. Jones (6-205-2), Diggs (9-182-1).

Commentary

Green Bay is a statiscally good defense, but the level of their competition hasn't been incredibly solid. If they've shown a weakness so far, it has been against true target-hog wide receivers, particularly WR1s like Marvin Jones and Stefon Diggs. Julio Jones should have a field day. He'll be missing from the cash game plays below simply due to his multiplier, but he's this week's "raw points" special; he's a player you can probably afford who will be among the top scorers at his position. And even if he doesn't break 2.75x, he'll still get enough points to be worth using.

[return to top]


New England Patriots

New England (at Buffalo)

Notes

  • Buffalo is allowing 18.3% of its points via passing touchdowns, the lowest percentage in the NFL.
  • Buffalo is allowing 36.6% of its points via rushing touchdowns, the second-highest percentage in the NFL.
  • Buffalo is allowing 34.7% of its yardage via the rush, the fifth-highest percentage in the NFL.
  • Buffalo has allowed 2+ rushing touchdowns to running backs in three games
  • Since Tom Brady's return, New England has eight passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns.
  • LeGarrette Blount has all four of those rushing touchdowns; James White has three of the eight receiving touchdowns.
  • Buffalo has allowed 5+ receptions to 10 wide receivers (but no more than 7 receptions to any).
  • Buffalo's "DvP" (Defense vs. Position) ranking to tight ends looks good, but here is who they have faced, most recent to least: Vance McDonald, Lance Kendricks, Martellus Bennett, Darren Fells/Troy Niklas, Dennis Pitta/Crockett Gillmore.
  • Bennett's performance in Week 4 is 44% of the total tight end production allowed by Buffalo.

Commentary

Don't be afraid of Rob Gronkowski based on the "DvP" ranking; Buffalo has faced one tight end even remotely close to Gronkowski in skill, and that was Bennett. This should be a game where New England uses the pass to get ahead and the run to score the points, though. Buffalo has played New England tough in the past because it's Buffalo's "Super Bowl," but #NarrativeStreet can work both ways. New England will be seeking revenge for its only loss this season, which could mean getting ahead early and pounding Buffalo into submission. And if you don't believe in narratives, just consider that Buffalo is ravaged by injuries, including to their best player, LeSean McCoy.

[return to top]


Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City (at Indianapolis)

Notes

  • Indianapolis has allowed exactly two passing touchdowns in four straight games.
  • Indianapolis has allowed at least 2.9x value to quarterbacks in four straight games and five of seven.
  • Indianapolis has held zero quarterbacks under 2.3x value.
  • Indianapolis is allowing 14.0 receiving points per game to running backs, fourth-most in the NFL.
  • Indianapolis has allowed 3+ receptions to eight running backs in seven games.
  • Indianapolis has allowed 10 total touchdowns to running backs.
  • Spencer Ware has 30+ receiving yards in four out of six games. He has a touchdown in three games.
  • Indianapolis has allowed 100+ rush yards to three running backs in the the last three games.
  • Indianapolis has allowed 5+ receptions to five tight ends in seven games.
  • Indianapolis is allowing 69.6 yards per game to tight ends, third-most in the NFL.

Commentary

Travis Kelce has been basically absent from in the last two weeks. He's not injured (at least not enough to be known publicly), so it's likely that he's just a victim of game flow. A rainy game in Oakland that Ware dominated, and a low-volume, ball-control home win can do that to any pass-catcher. Kelce could be a "milk carton special" this week.

[return to top]


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay (vs. Oakland)

Notes

  • Oakland has allowed at least 3.9x value to four quarterbacks.
  • Oakland has allowed 100+ yards to three running backs and 139 to the Atlanta tandem.
  • Oakland has allowed 100+ yards to seven wide receivers, most in the NFL.
  • Mike Evans has been targeted on 32.7% of Tampa Bay's passes on the season, most in the NFL.
  • Evans has 12.3 targets per game on the season, most in the NFL.
  • Evans has been targeted on 39.6% of Tampa Bay's passes over the last four weeks (three games), most in the NFL.

Commentary

Last week, the Tampa Bay "chalk" all came in. This week, they have plenty of chalky plays again. The main differences this week are that a) Oakland, despite the stats above, is actually marginally better at stopping the run than San Francisco; b) "a" might be the case because they're so bad at stopping the pass. In other words, Winston and Evans are in play in all formats. Winston might be better in GPPs because Evans will have high ownership. And there's another quarterback in Winston's price range would could have similar production and be far less owned (spoiler alert; stay tuned!).

[return to top]


Denver Broncos

Denver (vs. San Diego)

Notes

  • San Diego allowed 315+ pass yards or 2+ passing touchdowns in its first five games.
  • San Diego has allowed fewer than 275 yards and only one touchdown in each of its last two games.
  • Trevor Siemian was one of the most recent two opposing quarterbacks.
  • San Diego has allowed 4+ receptions to eight running backs.
  • San Diego is allowing 17.2 receiving fantasy points to running backs, second-most in the NFL.
  • San Diego is allowing 8.7 receptions and 68.0 yards to running backs, most in the NFL.
  • Devontae Booker has 10 targets in the last three games.
  • Booker put up a 4-36-0 receiving line against Atlanta, who allows the most receiving points to running backs in the NFL.

Commentary

San Diego has also struggled against opposing WR1s (Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and T.Y. Hilton). But Denver isn't as prolific a passing game as those teams and is more likely to exploit San Diego's weaknesses in the ground game.

[return to top]


Carolina Panthers

Carolina (vs. Arizona)

Notes

  • In the last two weeks, Arizona is allowing an average of 215 passing yards and zero passing touchdowns.
  • In the last two weeks, Arizona allowed a total of 118 scrimmage yards to opposing running backs.
  • In the last two weeks, Arizona has allowed zero wide receivers to earn more than 70 yards.
  • Arizona played at home the last two weeks; they play on the road this week.
  • Arizona is allowing 32.7% of its points via rushing touchdowns, the fifth-highest percentage in the NFL.
  • Wide receivers to surpass 3x value against Arizona: Charone Peake, Jeremy Kerley, Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Robert Woods, Adam Humphries, Chris Hogan
  • The average DraftKings price of those players in those weeks: $3,357
  • Average value multiplier of receivers priced above $6,000 against Arizona: 2.1x.
  • Tight ends Arizona has faced this season, beginning in Week 1: Martellus Bennett, Cameron Brate/Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Nick O'Leary, Lance Kendricks, Blake Bell/Garrett Celek, Jimmy Graham.

Commentary

Most of what is above is the "Patrick Peterson Effect." He blots out WR1s, and secondary options out-perform their average production. Arizona's performance against tight ends is a red flag, but Carolina presents a whole new challenege. Greg Olsen is essentially their WR2, and they will scheme things that way. Shutting down the names listed in the final bullet above doesn't mean they cna shut down Olsen.

There's also a bit of a #NarrativeStreet component to this game. Perhaps Arizona is fatigued after playing five quarters of high-intensity football against a very physical team only to tie in a very disappointing fashion. They also played a late game and now will play at 1:00pm EST on the east coast. Because of this, I'm adding Jonathan Stewart to my GPP plays below. He's probably a long shot to hit the 3.75x we need there, but he's surround in price by a bunch of undesirable options. Frank Gore is $200 cheaper, but what's the difference between Gore and Stewart, really, other than Gore's ownership might be higher this week?

[return to top]


Green Bay Packers

Green Bay (at Atlanta)

Notes

  • Atlanta has allowed at least 3x value to five quarterbacks.
  • Atlanta has faced an average of 42.1 pass attempts per game, second-most in the NFL.
  • Aaron Rodgers has attempted at least 42 passes in his last three games (including 56 last week).
  • Atlanta is allowing 17.7 receiving fantasy points to running backs, most in the NFL.
  • After zero in the first four games, Ty Montgomery has 10 receptions in each of the last two games.
  • Atlanta has allowed 5+ receptions to eight wide receivers (but no more than 7 receptions to any).
  • Wide receivers to surpass 3x value against Atlanta: Tyrell Williams, Corey Brown, Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman, Mike Evans.
  • Wide receivers to miss 2x value against Atlanta: Travis Benjamin, Doug Baldwin, Kelvin Benjamin, Amari Cooper.

Commentary

Knile Davis should know the offense enough to play more snaps this week, but Green Bay clearly found something with Montgomery out of the backfield. Considering Atlanta's propensity for allowing running backs to burn them in the passing game, Green Bay would be foolish if they didn't continue their heavy usage of Montgomery as a running back. 

It's also worth mentioning Cobb's hamstring injury here. Secondary/slot receivers and tight ends have torched Atlanta this season, mostly due to the presend of Desmond Trufant shutting down WR1s. This game is a great spot for a healthy Cobb, but with his health in question, it makes Montgomery even better.

[return to top]


Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis (vs. Kansas City)

Notes

  • Kansas City has allowed 300+ yards and 3+ touchdowns in two of their past three games (the other was a very rainy day in Oakland).
  • Andrew Luck has reached at least 3.4x value in each of this last three games.
  • Luck has 320+ yards in all three home games.
  • Kansas City has allowed four total touchdowns to running backs and just two since Week 1.
  • Kansas City is allowing 109.0 rushing yards per game to running backs, tied for sixth-most in the NFL.
  • Frank Gore has 16+ rushing attempts in four of his last five games (and had 14 in the other game).
  • Kansas City has allowed 9+ receptions to three receivers in their last two games (and another receiver had seven).
  • T.Y. Hilton has 9+ targets in each game and 10+ in six of seven games.
  • Hilton has 7+ receptions in four of his last five games.

Commentary

It will be interesting to see how the return of Donte Moncrief (and in future weeks, Dwayne Allen) impacts the huge market share Hilton has been receiving for the last four weeks. But until we actually see otherwise, expect nine or more targets for him. And with how efficient he has been, he and Luck are always in play with that kind of volume. With the team total high and Indianapolis favored, Gore is in play for cash games at his modest salary. The opportunity is there to reach value on yardage and receptions alone, but if he falls into the end zone, he'll definitely get there.

[return to top]


This Week's Cash Game Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetTeamOpponent
Jameis Winston $5700 15.7 CAR vs. ARI
Andrew Luck $6800 18.7 IND vs. KC
Devontae Booker $3700 10.2 DEN vs. SD
Frank Gore $4700 12.9 IND vs. KC
Ty Montgomery $5300 14.6 GB at ATL
Davante Adams $4900 13.5 GB at ATL
Mike Evans $8100 22.3 TB vs. OAK
Greg Olsen $6500 17.9 CAR vs. ARI

[return to top]


This Week's GPP Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetTeamOpponent
Alex Smith $5800 21.8 KC at IND
LeGarrette Blount $5300 19.9 NE at BUF
Devontae Booker $3700 13.9 DEN vs. SD
Jonathan Stewart $4900 18.4 CAR vs. ARI
Ty Montgomery $5300 19.9 GB at ATL
Travis Kelce $4900 18.4 KC at IND

[return to top]


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 and a 20% hit rate on GPP Plays, 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 $7200 19.8 14.7 No
Andy Dalton $6000 16.5 23.3 Yes
Jacquizz Rodgers $4300 11.8 20.3 Yes
DeMarco Murray $7200 19.8 24.7 Yes
Mike Gillislee* $3000 8.3 2.0 No
Mike Evans $7800 21.5 29.6 Yes
Rob Gronkowski $7200 19.8 19.3 No

*recommendation was contingent upon McCoy being inactive; not counted towards totals below

  • Last Week: 4-for-6 (67%)
  • Season: 15-for-28 (54%)

GPP Plays

PlayerSalaryTargetActualHit?
Blake Bortles $6200 23.3 15.1 No
Tevin Coleman* $4900 18.4 14.4 No
Mike Gillislee** $3000 11.3 2.0 No
Tyrell Williams $4400 16.5 24.0 Yes
Marqise Lee $3200 12.0 20.7 Yes
Cameron Brate $2900 10.9 5.9 No

*left his game early due to injury; not counted towards totals below

**recommendation was contingent upon McCoy being inactive; not counted towards totals below

  • Last Week: 2-for-4 (50%)
  • Season: 13-for-26 (50%)

[return to top]


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