#Trendspotting: Week 2 - The Full Monty

Examining player and team trends to 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 2017 season unless otherwise specified.
  • All fantasy points rankings in the matchup graphics are on a per-game basis to account for bye weeks.

Fans of last year's version of this column know that I examined a number of teams and players each week in this space. I used fantasy points against, points-per-dollar salary, and other metrics to unearth valuable plays each week. With only one week of this season in the books, doing a column in last year's style would be pretty boring and incomplete. So for this week (and possibly for the next couple as well), I'll be going away from last year's format until we are able to have enough data to make that a more fruitful use of time.

This week, we'll discuss the following topics:

Trend/Not a Trend?

Last year, we noticed some trends and exploited them. But teams make offseason adjustments, bring on new personnel and coaches, and attempt to improve. Let's take a look at some 2016 trends that either continued into 2017 or were flipped around and examine whether we think the 2017 version of each will continue.

Trend: Atlanta allowing receiving production to running backs

Notes

  • In 2016, Atlanta allowed 14.5 receiving fantasy points per game to running backs, most in the NFL (12.4% more than the second-worst team).
  • In the Super Bowl, James White scored 34.0 receiving fantasy points.
  • In Week 1, Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard continued the trend.

Commentary

This would appear to be a real thing. And considering Ty Montgomery and Aaron Rodgers are visiting Atlanta next, it wouldn't stand to reason that one week of adjustments can do more than an entire offseason could.

Trend: The New York Giants Are Poor vs. Tight Ends

Notes

  • In 2016, the Giants allowed the 12th-most fantasy points per game to tight ends.
  • That number includes allowing the fourth-most yards per game, a measure more predictable and repeatable than touchdowns, where the Giants were tied for sixth-fewest allowed.
  • In Week 1, the Giants allowed a 7-59-1 line to Jason Witten, the fifth-most fantasy points allowed to the tight end position.

Commentary

The Giants are strong at cornerback. It makes sense that teams use tight ends to avoid the perimeter and beat the Giants down the seams. This week, they play the Monday Night game, which means the matchup it isn't actionable in Main Slate play, but if Eric Ebron doesn't get off the shneid this week, it might not be happening.

Trend: New Orleans is #Bad at Everything Defensively

Notes

  • In 2016, New Orleans ranked 27th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 30th to running backs, and 27th to wide receivers.
  • In 2016, New Orleans allowed 72.9% of its total yardage via the pass, sixth-most in the NFL and 7.2 Net Yards per Attempt, second-most.
  • In Week 1, New Orleans allowed the fifth-most rushing yards to running backs and the most receiving yards to wide receivers.
  • In Week 1, New Orleans allowed the third-most fantasy points to the quarterbacks, the tenth-most to running backs, and the second-most to wide receivers.

Commentary

#Bad sounds about right. And now New England comes to town. Whether or not you believe in #NarrativeStreet or #AngryTomBrady doesn't matter. The situation is golden.

Crowdsourcing Trends

On Wednesday morning, I sought out some help with this section via Twitter (please give me a follow if you're not already). The responses were great. Here are a couple that intrigued me:

Author's note: no, Brian Jester is not my alter-ego. I do not talk to myself on twitter via multiple accounts. It's just a very funny coincidence.

Let's discuss the Green Bay defense and Atlanta offensive pace. In 2016, Green Bay was often part of my Funnel Watch section, which means they were great against the run and bad against the pass. They allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, the second-most to wide receivers, and 13th-most to tight ends.

But in Week 1, they held Russell Wilson to single-digit fantasy points, Jimmy Graham to single-digit yards, and every wide receiver to 10 or fewer fantasy points. This is the first trend presented here that seems like an outlier. Especially heading to Atlanta, the production Green Bay will yield should increase dramatically this week.

As for Atlanta, this change of pace was noticed and not welcome by the fantasy community. In 2016, Atlanta was a relatively slow team (23rd in seconds per play). But upon further examination (via FootballOutsiders Pace Stats), they were fast in the first half (10th) and in neutral situations (4th). It remains to be seen if the slow tempo was related to being on the road against a conservative team or part of a larger coaching philosophy (entirely possible with the offensive coordinator change). This is one where we'll have to stay tuned.

In 2016, Detroit allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and was one of just two teams to allow 2+ passing touchdowns per game. They shut down Carson Palmer and Arizona in Week 1, but Arizona is a team that has struggled in 1:00 pm EST starts.

This week will provide another data point for insight, but it might not be related to Detroit themselves. Taking on the Giants, whose offense was putrid in Week 1, Detroit may look good again. But Arizona could be a barometer as they travel to Indianapolis to take on the brutally terrible Colts. If Arizona struggles again (even sans David Johnson), Detroit's defense may be camouflaging their deficiencies via their poor opponents.

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#TrendBreaking

As the header suggests, some trends aren't here to stay. Here are some examples of players who rarely let a bad outing turn into two:

More Fun Roethlisberger Splits

We all know the home/road trends for Ben Roethlisberger, but here's another interesting look at a couple extremes.

Big Ben Big Splits

  • Since 2015, Roethlisberger has had five occasions where he played the week immediately following a miserable fantasy day. Note, the games with red circles over the weeks and black lines through the fantasy points indicate a return from a multi-week absence and are not counted in this total.
  • Those games, indicated by the blue circles, saw him average 24.06 fantasy points per game.
  • Despite the notorious home/road splits, three of those five games took place away from Heinz Field.
  • Astute observers will notice that Roethlisberger is incredibly boom/bust. He has had fewer than 12 fantasy points or greater than 20 points in 21 of those 27 games!
  • This isn't quite actionable this week, as Week 1 at Cleveland saw a rare middle ground performance. But it's something worth monitoring.

Julio Bouncebacks

Even without the monster 300-yard anomaly from last season, that's an average of 25.3 DraftKings points per game after a down week.

Touchdown Tom

The note below comes from Rich Hribar's fantastic Worksheet column.

Tom Brady has thrown three or more touchdown passes in each of the past five games in which he failed to throw a touchdown the week prior.

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Targets Lead to Touchdowns

You may recognize this section as a staple from last year's column. This week, we'll do things a little differently, again due to lack of sample. The most targeted players in Week 1 without a score are as follows:

Nowhere near that top five but still notable is Montgomery. Green Bay's converted wide receiver had four targets on Sunday and converted them into four receptions for 39 yards. Montgomery did not score a receiving touchdown. In fact, he has not scored a receiving touchdown since 2015 and only has two total in his career, both as a wide receiver. Why is this notable, you ask? Let's break this down, going back to Week 6 last season, the first game in which Montgomery was extensively used out of the backfield.

  • There are 33 running backs with 3+ targets per game in that span.
  • Montgomery has the most per game without a receiving touchdown.
  • The following backs also have zero receiving touchdowns and rank high in targets per game: Duke Johnson Jr, T.J. Yeldon, Todd Gurley, and Isaiah Crowell. These backs all have one glaring similarity: they play in bad-to-putrid offenses. Montgomery is the obvious "one of this is not like the other" in this group.
  • Montgomery also ran a high number of routes as a wide receiver in Week 1.

As a side note, Darren Sproles (62 targets since Week 6 of 2016, 1 touchdown) and LeSean McCoy (43 targets, 0 touchdowns) are also regression candidates for tallying a receiving touchdown.

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More Montgomery

You may have noticed a theme developing here. This is Ty Montgomery Week. If you read my work this preseason, you know I was high on his prospects. I even identified him as the clear workhorse in Green Bay. Week 1 only made me feel stronger.

More Notes

  • Montgomery has three games where he received greater than 15 touches. In those games, he has averaged 25.1 fantasy points.
  • Montgomery has three games where he received between 10 and 15 touches. In those games, he has averaged 15.3 fantasy points (with one including Minnesota's elite defense).

Montgomery

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