Welcome to Stat-o-Matic where we will look at some advanced stats around the NFL. As a disclaimer, I am using this space to play around with some numbers and present some interesting findings. But, by no means is this validated or predictive data. I hope that it will lead to meaningful discoveries or it could inspire you to go down your own rabbit hole. We’re going to explore together, crunch some numbers and see what pops out. Stats courtesy of PlayerProfiler.com.
Whetting The Appetite
While scouring all the various stats available to me, I came across a metric for QBs called Supporting Cast Efficiency (SCE). This is a single number obtained by aggregating the weighted production premiums of all the running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends on a team. Naturally, my next question was “what exactly is production premium?”
Production premium isolates a player’s situation-agnostic fantasy efficiency. It compares all of a particular player’s opportunities (carries, targets, etc.) to the average fantasy points that are typically scored in certain game situations (yard line, down, and distance). This metric discounts for non-standard situations such as 2-minute drills, clock-milking, and garbage time. Positive values indicate that a player is more efficient than the average player, while negative values indicate that a player is less efficient than his peers with similar opportunities in similar situations.
Setting The Table
I wanted to see how skill position players surrounding the best fantasy QBs faired in this metric. I sorted all QBs with at least 175 attempts by fantasy points per game and then by SCE. For each QB I sought out their top 3 fantasy relevant teammates and recorded their production premium with positional rank for reference.
As we near the end of this fantasy season I think this is worthwhile to zoom out and get a feel for the offensive environments around the league. As the offseason hits and players move around, think about what type of environment they came from and what awaits them where they land. The same goes for the NFL draft, as an interesting prospect who lands in an uber-productive offense should be very appealing.
Of course, I have yet to determine how this SCE number is related to the QB. Does great QB play elevate the efficiency of everyone around him? Or does excellent play from all a QBs weapons make him a fantasy star? Most likely, it is a marriage of those two concepts. As fantasy gamers we should want to invest in productive offensive environments as much as possible.
You’ll notice many running backs have negative production premiums, and this is because on the whole a rush is worth less than a reception for anyone. RBs that have passing game work will almost always be more efficient on a per play basis, so some of these RBs may not be bad players but simply used in an inefficient way on their team.
For this week, I will take a look at the top 10 QBs by fantasy points per game.
Feast Your Eyes
Lamar Jackson: FPPG 27.5 (rank 1); SCE +12.46 (rank 5)
|Mark Ingram, RB||Marquise Brown, WR||Mark Andrews, TE|
Production Premium +18.5;
(Positional rank 16)
|+12.8 (23)||+18.4 (4)|
This Baltimore offense is humming on all cylinders. I am not a film junkie, but when you watch this offense it’s so clear that the option component just opens up tons of space for the ball carriers. Last week against San Francisco it seemed like Jackson was running through 5 yard wide holes every time, similar to the openings Todd Gurley used to enjoy for the Rams in 2017-18.
Defenses just haven’t figured out how to account for all the possible options each play and Jackson has done a flawless job with sleight of hand in the backfield and making correct decisions. When players have space to operate, good things will happen. With an entire offseason to study film, defenses should tighten up against Baltimore in 2020, but for now I don’t see this thing slowing down.
Russel Wilson: 22 (2); +10.55 (6)
|Chris Carson, RB||Tyler Lockett, WR||DK Metcalf|
|-10.8 (47)||+24.8 (10)||+8.6 (32)|
Rusty gonna Rusty, as he once again is a top scorer at the QB position. While Chris Carson hasn’t helped a ton through efficiency, Tyler Lockett has been awesome (when healthy). Even the rookie DK Metcalf, who many described as “raw,” is producing fairly effectively. Because Wilson is a known stud, I have no problem saying much of this Seattle goodness is attributable to him elevating his teammates.
Dak Prescott: 21.6 (3); +13.46 (4)
|Ezekiel Elliott, RB||Amari Cooper, WR||Michael Gallup, WR|
|-5.6 (42)||+33.3 (6)||+9.9 (29)|
Wow! Another foundational running back who has wimpy efficiency! SPOILER ALERT – this will be a trend. Dak has been a fantasy revelation this year. Amari Cooper is awesome, although could he be limping to the finish line because of injuries. Michael Gallup brought his production premium number up from -15.8 as a rookie to a strong +9.9 in his sophomore campaign. Given that his QB remained constant, this could be evidence of true individual growth by Gallup. I think his emergence has really opened up the offense and I, for one, love to see it.
Deshaun Watson: 21.5 (4); +15.13 (2)
|Duke Johnson, RB||DeAndre Hopkins, WR||Will Fuller, WR|
|+26.2 (8)||+5.6 (37)||+13.4 (21)|
Deshaun Watson will be a locked in top 5 QB for years and has nice pieces around him. Duke Johnson is listed ahead of Carlos Hyde because despite volume concerns, he’s the more fantasy relevant member of the backfield. Most of you reading this probably know, but Duke is #good. He is #1 in yards per touch, #5 in breakaway run rate, and #11 in yards created per carry, yet is 36th in weighted opportunities. Ok, this is not a Duke Johnson post.
Hopkins and Fuller are great (when Fuller is healthy), although Hopkins has been used in strange ways this season. DHop’s average target distance is 2 yards less than 2018 and his yards per route run is down a full yard. Regardless, I am not worried about DHop yet, and this remains an exciting offensive environment. To conclude, I will beat a dead horse and ask wouldn’t it be nice to see Houston leave Hyde (-17.5 production premium) on the sideline and just feature Duke Johnson? What’s the worst that could happen? An injury? Really hate coaches sometimes.
Patrick Mahomes: 21.4 (5); +7.48 (10)
|Damien Williams, RB||Tyreek Hill, WR||Travis Kelce, TE|
|+7.9 (28)||+11.0 (26)||0.0 (12)|
When a down season at 24 years old still finds you sitting at QB5 you know you’re special. Of course Mahomes’ total points are lacking because he missed a few games, but per game he’s still among the best. Much maligned Damien Williams actually shows out well in this metric, but KC RBs will always be efficient due to scheme. His main issue for fantasy has been volume, which unfortunately took a hit with the LeSean McCoy signing.
Hill and Kelce have both fallen in efficiency compared to 2018, but the whole offense was due for some regression. Kelce being at a neutral production premium is surprising but his volume is unmatched so no harm done for fantasy. I would feel very comfortable investing in the Chiefs once again, and if they draft a RB fairly high he should probably be the rookie 1.01.
Matthew Stafford: 29.8 (6); +2.95 (18)
|Kerryon Johnson, RB||Kenny Golladay, WR||Marvin Jones, WR|
|-20.7 (61)||+31.2 (8)||+21.2 (12)|
I was a major Lions fader prior to the 2019 season, but Stafford, Golladay, and OC Darrell Bevell have made me look quite foolish. To my surprise, Bevell combined a run heavy approach with downfield shots and it worked beautifully. Golladay has really shined taking over as the lead option in Detroit, capitalizing on the most deep targets of any receiver in football. Jones has also been flat out great producing like a solid WR2 for us.
Kerryon’s future is now cloudy with a 3rd season ending injury in as many years dating back to Auburn. I think this offensive formula can work and would be interested if a young, new back was heading to Detroit in April. I think there could be snaps for the taking even with Kerryon returning healthy.
Josh Allen: 19.7 (7); +5.16 (13)
|Devin Singletary, RB||John Brown, WR||Cole Beasley, WR|
|+15.5 (20)||+13.9 (20)||+8.9 (31)|
One of the most shocking developments of the 2019 season has been the consistent quality production of Josh Allen. Thought to be a boom/bust roller coaster, he has actually combined stability with upside: never finishing outside QB23 and turning in 6 top 12 finishes. His supporting cast has also been solid if not spectacular. The last thing associated with Allen would have been efficiency, but here we are.
The “unathletic” rookie Devin Singletary has shown why elite collegiate production can trump measurables. Free agent additions Brown and Beasley have also carried their weight, making this one of the most surprising offenses in football. We all knew some splash plays would come but the fact this has been an all-around quality unit defies the odds.
Kyler Murray: 18.9 (8); -5.43 (26)
|David Johnson, RB||Christian Kirk, WR||Larry Fitzgerald, WR|
|+16.4 (18)||-9.7 (61)||+1.7 (45)|
Woweeee. So, I’ll save you the trouble of looking: yes, Murray is the only QB in the top 10 with a negative SCE. And it’s not a little negative, its a lot negative. Arizona is a truly confounding situation with Murray giving quality fantasy production and no one else around him doing anything well. David Johnson comes in with a nice metric but we know he is now useless (probably due to injury, but we can’t be certain), and Kenyan Drake has taken over.
Christian Kirk has just been horrific, there is no way around it. Some of this could be the result of him playing in the slot for the first part of the year. He struggled mightily in that position and had stepped up some since moving more outside. Even as a rookie with objectively terrible QB play he wasn’t this inefficient! All we can hope for is that it took a little while for a new regime to use him appropriately. Fitz is still chugging along at 36 years old, producing a little better than the average guy, not bad old man.
The Cardinals were one of my full stans this offseason and I won’t quit this team yet. I think they still have to inject some quality players into the offense, namely on the OL, and I anticipate some increased efficiency next season.
Aaron Rodgers: 18.4 (9); +5.28 (12)
|Aaron Jones, RB||Davante Adams, WR||Jimmy Graham, TE|
|+29.8 (6)||-1.9 (49)||-5.2 (17)|
This is a fairly ugly group surrounding ARod. Aaron Jones has been magnificent and one of the most efficient scorers in fantasy. That’s both a blessing and a curse because it means his volume probably doesn’t match his point total. We love to see this when we can project some increased work, but alas, Jamaal Williams remains.
Perusing the offense, it’s really just Jones, a neutered Davante Adams and not much else. I struggled to even find a third fantasy relevant player, but settled on Graham who is 4th on the team in yards, behind the retired Marquez Valdes-Scantling. There is just not a lot to be excited about in this offense. One thing this tells me is that there is absolutely room for a rookie playmaker (WR or TE) to come in an contribute immediately.
Matt Ryan: 17.7 (10); +4.75 (15)
|Devonta Freeman, RB||Julio Jones, WR||Austin Hooper, TE|
|-2.4 (39)||+6.7 (35)||+30.3 (3)|
Ryan is getting by for fantasy with volume. He is 4th in attempts, racking up tons of yards during garbage time in losses. We may be nearing the end of Devonta Freeman’s tenure with the Falcons as they have an out built into the contract after this season. He really hasn’t been good since they signed him to a then-record contract. Huh, shocking.
Julio is on the wrong side of 30 but still a fantasy producer to date. Hooper is enjoying a true breakout season performing at the top of his position. I only did 3 players per team but another piece for Atlanta is Calvin Ridley who checks in with a production premium of +19.1 (14), which is promising. Less promising is the fact he’s already 25 years old. I think this Falcons team may be on the verge of a massive reconstruction and would be wary of trusting this infrastructure in 2020.
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