It is an interesting feeling being on this side of the fantasy football wall. The data domination article had a productive week 2, but the Dede Westbrook “must play” landmine was a tough pill to swallow. It is always the goal to hit 100%, but this is obviously not realistic. Within the constant refinement process hopefully I can avoid such significant misses in the future. WE ARE ON TO WEEK 3.
Last week, we discussed a week 2 approach centered around overreactions. As we move forward in the early half of the season one of my favorite approaches is to compare pre-season beliefs versus the present situation and for any gaps have the opponents up until this point forced those changes in the way the players/team is viewed. Incorporating that difference with an outlook moving forward can often lead us to fantasy championships. This idea will bleed into many of my data points in the next few weeks to great context to how we can use the information.
- Mike Evans Bounce Back (Source:AirYards.com and SportsInfoSolutions)
Chris Godwin looks to have taken over for Mike Evans as the primary pass catcher of choice in the Tampa offense, but the numbers aren’t telling the exact story. Scheme wise there is something to be said that in Bruce Arians vertical offense Evans is going to stretch the boundary to push the coverage deeper and Godwin will work the second level leading to a higher efficiency. This is true. However, Evans is still a central portion of this offense, and they can be viewed as a 1a-1b duo. Evans currently has the 3rd largest discrepancy between his air yards and receiving yards in the NFL. He has been targeted 13 times to Godwin’s 15. Evans current ADOT is 18.0, which is a career high. He will be facing off with Janoris Jenkins (44% success rate – 76th in NFL). This matchup is ripe for a correction.
- Pace-of-Play: Tortoise Vs. Hare (Source: Football Outsiders)
Hare: Panthers (#1 neutral Pace-of-Play: 22.9 sec/play) vs. Cardinals (#2 neutral Pace-of-Play: 24.33 sec/play) – My fear is that the Panthers attempt to slow it down if Cam Newton doesn’t play. If they don’t, Kyle Allen has a ton of weapons at his disposal against a very poor defense in a pace up game. We have discussed the Cardinals secondary in the previous versions of this article. The situation has not changed.
Tortoise: Raiders (#30 neutral Pace-of-Play: 32.21 sec/play) vs. Vikings (#26 neutral Pace-of-Play: 31.21 sec/play) – The Raiders have a run funnel defense (5th in adjusted line yards) and the Vikings are obsessed with running the ball. The Raiders will struggle to move the ball themselves and this game looks like it has the makings of a low scoring affair. The spread set at 9 points, which seems to be an over reaction to the Raiders losing to the best team in the NFL at home. I’m not advising to sit Dalvin Cook, but temper expectations for the week.
- Philadelphia Defensive Injuries (Sources: SportsInfoSolutions)
The Eagles are currently the most injured team in the NFL. Their defense is built on the ability to control the line of scrimmage, and with three defensive linemen listed on the injury report including Tim Jernigan (broken foot), the protection afforded to an average secondary by an elite defensive line is disappearing. The Lions have a top 10 offensive line and have only allowed 3 sacks this season. The Lions are 2nd in the NFL in play action yards per play. Detroit pass catchers could be in for a sneaky day again after getting out of last weeks pace down scenario versus the Chargers.
- Seattle Offensive Line Regression (Sources: Football Outsiders)
In 2018, the Seahawks surprised with a complete offensive line turnaround. It seems that turnaround was short lived and the 2019 version might be regressing to the mean. The Seahawks are currently the 3rd worst offensive line in adjusted sack rate. The New Orleans Saints are 1st in adjusted sack rate defensively and are generating pressure on 37.1% of opponent drop backs. We saw on MNF what happens when a defense spends the entire game in the backfield. If you remove the long rush from both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny’s totals in week 2 the combined yards per carry was 2.78 yards. It might feel like a simple play in DFS and season long to plug in the running backs on a home favorite, but as the Saints likely attempt to shorten the game sans Drew Brees this might not be the week Seattle gets going.
- Josh Allen Continues His Success (Source: Sharp Football Stats)
Cincinnati’s pass defense is an NFL worst in explosive pass rate allowed at 18% of all passing plays through week 2. Josh Allen is one of the best deep ball throwers in the NFL, and captains an offense designed to take chunk plays. The Bengals put up a respectable performance in week 1 on the road in Seattle, but the mirage is going to subside. Cincinnati is one of the worst teams in the NFL talent wise, and for once it isn’t Andy Dalton’s fault. I expect the Bills to put it on the Bengals in week 3, and this could be a defense we can take advantage of the rest of the way.
- Kyle Shannahan Has San Francisco Clicking (Sources: Football Outsiders and SportsInfoSolutions)
The Niners run game exploded last week against a Bengals defense primed to be one of the worst in the league. The Steelers secondary has been abysmal in allowing back to back 300 yard passers. The way Kyle Shannahan meshes the run/pass options (avg 12.8 play action yards per play), and the inability of the Steelers to communicate between the 2nd and 3rd levels looks like a match made in heaven for Jimmy Garropolo. The Steelers added Minkah Fitzpatrick, but it is unlikely he will be able to stop the bleeding with only a week of practice on a defense that is continuously making alignment and communication errors. The 49ers do have to deal with replacing all world left tackle Joe Staley, but have allowed pressure on only 13.8% of drop backs. Garropolo can be streamed with confidence.