What’s On My Mind This Week
With Week 8 now fully behind us, it’s important to now start thinking ahead to the fantasy playoffs. … For those of us in more dire circumstances, on the outside looking in, it’s just as critical to think ahead to next season.
This is particularly true for dynasty leagues, where the next three weeks will offer the ripest time to exchange producing commodities for higher-upside assets in a down cycle. Players like Frank Gore, Jay Ajayi, Quincy Enunwa, Larry Fitzgerald, and Kenny Britt are ideal players to move for down-year or injured marquis players like Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, or Russell Wilson while their price is likely at the low point.
Another tactic is dealing depth from a playoff roster for players performing well below expectation to maximize your team’s ceiling in the fantasy playoffs. There are many useful tools on the web to identify schedules worth targeting for the highest-leverage portion of the season (I use the RotoViz Buy Low Machine most frequently). While some may argue (not incorrectly) that depth is the lynchpin to surviving the playoffs and winning championships, I believe in building the highest-scoring roster possible. Right now, I’ll take a chance on Ameer Abdullah being ready for Week 12 rather than sitting through marginal weeks from Mohamed Sanu, who I’m likely to never start.
Scattered Thinking About Week 8
Air Yard Overlay by Depth Chart
One of the bullet points in the original vision for Air Yard Overlay was to identify where defenses were weakest against position “archetypes.” For example, is a defense weak in general against wide receivers, or are they particularly vulnerable to a flanker on one side, or even a more niche profile such as the waterbug in the slot?
Without the power of Zebra data used for NFL Next Gen, we do the best we can with what is available from existing data sources. At this time, we have the intended target, air yards and pass direction metrics in our arsenal. Below you’ll find some examples of this. Before you dig too deep, let me explain the methodology behind the position profiles screened in the AYO.
Rather than follow the herd and copy a depth chart, I prefer to look at usage to determine which pass catchers receive the most investment from their respective offenses (QB + scheme). For this calculation, I’ve employed Josh Hermsmeyer‘s WOPR metric (Weighted Opportunity) to calculate which receivers hog the most resources. We derive WOPR as follows:
WOPR = 1.5 x Target MS + 0.7 x Air Yard MS
Because I like working on a zero-to-one scale, I have slightly modified Mr. Hermsmeyer’s WOPR with a simple scalar, like so:
WOPRmod = (1.5 x Target MS + 0.7 x Air Yard MS) / 2.2
I use Modified WOPR to determine the pecking order within an offense. On a week-to-week basis, this may vary in some offenses due to scheme (e.g. Amari Cooper vs. Michael Crabtree), or by matchup (e.g. whichever wide receiver is covered by Aqib Talib). Across longer timespans, Modified WOPR will identify which pass catchers emerge as go-to options for their offenses where injury has occurred (e.g. Robert Woods in place of Sammy Watkins).
The result of using a calculation to determine the breakdown of WR1, WR2, etc. against a defense puts some odd names within particular plots. This isn’t intended to confuse. Rather, I prefer the data tell me who the more important receivers have been this season, allowing me to compare (as much as possible) defenses on a 1-to-1 basis.
Here are some example “Depth Chart” Air Yard Overlay plots. Later in the article, you’ll find links to all of the the charts.
The Modified WOPR calculation isn’t perfect, however. At this time, it doesn’t aggregate WOPR on a weekly basis. In simple terms, it doesn’t account for injuries at the point where they occur. An example is Keenan Allen. In Week 1, he was the clear WR1 for San Diego, and should be on record as the WR1 the Kansas City defense faced. However, as you can see below, my calculation doesn’t account for this and inserts the season-long WR1 (Travis Benjamin) into the equation.
A huge part of the analytics process is checking frequently for sanity. Are my results representative of reality? In this case, it’s approximately 85.7% reality.
Hyperfocus on Week 9
Game Script Splits
I’ve uploaded GSS plots for the first eight weeks of the 2016 season. You can find them linked below.
Things I Notice in GSS:
Tampa Bay is doing a masterful Jacksonville impression on offense this season. They have massive (and early) point deficits, incredibly heavy pass volume, and a volume-soaked wide receiver in Mike Evans who buoys fantasy rosters everywhere with his garbage time production — at least until he falls over, exhausted from overuse.
Baltimore is apparently allergic to running the ball in the second half.
I don’t have any issues stacking Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman in lineups this weekend. With Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick likely out of the lineup for Dallas, and a high probability of Cleveland trailing by multiple scores, both receivers should see plenty of volume.
Air Yard Overlays
I’ve also created and uploaded AYO plots for the first eight weeks of the 2016 season. You can find them linked below. They are broken down into Offensive and Defensive AYOs, with slice plots for each position.
Things I Notice in AYO:
I am thoroughly bored watching the Philadelphia Eagles play offense. Doug Pederson (as expected) has excelled at neutering Carson Wentz and shackling the explosiveness of his offense. I detailed several weeks ago the stark contrast between Wentz and Dak Prescott from an air yards distribution perspective. Prescott’s profile has diversified in the weeks since, while Wentz’s profile hasn’t changed at all. If anything, it has shrunk in its diversification.
Matt Harmon noted this on Twitter, using Jordan Matthews’s Next Gen route mapping as proof of Philly’s shrinking playing field.
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) November 3, 2016
Here are my #HalfAssedNextGenStats Air Yard Overlays for Wentz and his wide receivers this season.
While the overall air yards profiles may look similar, the WR-specific air yards profile tells a different story. Here, Wentz is throwing a ton of quick screens and extended-handoff running plays to get the ball out of his hands quickly and avoid making decisions. Prescott, on the other hand, buys more time for his WRs and throws to them downfield. Keep in mind how Prescott played without Dez Bryant for over a month, and how Philly feasted on super soft pass defenses like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit early in the season.
In case you can’t tell, I don’t think the Eagles will do much offensively in the second half of the 2016 season.
Lies, DAAM Lies, & Statistics
DAAM (Defensive Adjusted Aggregate Metric) has been updated through Week 8. Matchups for Week 8 are posted below, separated by position. Positive DAAM represents a stronger offense and weaker defense. An average team will allow/produce 0.00 DAAM. Keep in mind the numbers below don’t account for venue (home vs. away), but are the general team strength across all of their 2016 games.
Based on the numbers below, I would dive deeper into the following fantasy options for an edge in Week 9:
- Dak Prescott
- Aaron Rodgers
- Drew Brees
- Andrew Luck
- Cam Newton
- Ben Roethlisberger
- DeMarco Murray (or Derrick Henry if volume is a concern for Murray)
- Terrance West
- Zeke Elliott (or Alfred Morris as a bye-week hail mary)
- CJ Prosise (PPR)
- AVOID PHI RB (Coachspeak)
- Isaiah Crowell / Duke Johnson (PPR)
- Melvin Gordon (PPR)
- Ty Montgomery (RB by proxy)
- Kenny Britt
- Allen Robinson 😵
- Tyreek Hill (Jeremy Maclin will likely see a lot of Jalen Ramsey)
- Kenny Stills and/or Davante Parker (NYJ Deep Ball Weakness)
- Antonio Brown & Sammie Coates (Big Ben getting-back-together sex)
- Jordan Matthews (faced Washington, Minnesota, & Dallas the past three weeks)
- Brandon Marshall
- Terrelle Pryor + Corey Coleman (volume + Claiborne out)
- Dez Bryant
- Michael Thomas (PPR)
- Ty Montgomery (RB by proxy)
- Randall Cobb (TE by proxy)
- Michael Crabtree (and Amari Cooper if Aqib Talib sits)
- Adam Theilen (TE by proxy)
- Cole Beasley (TE by proxy)
- Emmanuel Sanders (TE by proxy)
- Jarvis Landry (TE by proxy)
- Kyle Rudolph
- Hunter Henry
- Dennis Pitta
- Delanie Walker
- Jack Doyle
- Greg Olsen
- Travis Kelce (proper usage with Foles)
Asides & Errata
Thanks for spending your time on me this week. Hopefully the visualizations and ideas above provide some insight this week as you make selections.
As always, if you have questions about the data presented, please find me on twitter @FantasyADHD