Welcome to week 4, fantastic managers! If you are new to this series of articles, I will use my Expected Fantasy Points model to determine which players relied on volume or efficiency to produce for fantasy. In short, the two measures we will use each week are:
Why are these measures important? Basically, the fantasy production rooted in volume (or xFP) is generally sustainable from week to week. We want to target players who rank very well in this metric. On the other hand, players who rely on efficiency (or FPOE) are much more volatile from week to week. For a more detailed breakdown of my model, be sure to check out my Week 1 series intro!
Let’s dive in for week 4!
Data reproduced with kind permission of nflfastR
Wide receivers: fantastic use and efficiency
DeVonta Smith – Philadelphia Eagles
Remember week 1 when it felt like the draft DeVonta Smith was a colossal mistake?
Admittedly, I, too, was mildly apprehensive when the overtaking offense was all about A.J. Brown in Week 1. However, Smith is just too talented as a receiver to go completely out of the way for fantasy purposes. And of course, we’ve seen his production improve steadily. Smith is the WR8 in fantastic use over the past two weeks, on average 13.6 points expected per game. And although it is only the WR15 in target share (29.3%) during this period, Smith was heavily used on the ground, compiling the fifth most passing yards among wide receivers with 261. On top of that, he was also one of the most efficient wide receivers, scoring +5.6 points above expectations per game since week 2.
Additionally, this offense continues to transition into a more passing-heavy regimen. So far, the Eagles have had the 12th-largest increase (+4.5 percentage points) in the year-over-year neutral success rate; they’re clearly making an effort to use their most dynamic weapons on offense. And while there will be games where Brown is the most featured receiver, Smith will continue to hold significant advantages in what is shaping up to be one of the best offenses in the league.
Romeo Doubs – Green Bay Packers
The WR1 role for the Green Bay Packers was one of the most anticipated position battles of the season. And based on the ADP (average draft position), the fantasy managers clearly expected Allen Lazard or even Christian Watson emerge for this team. To our surprise, a different receiver broke last week as Romeo Doubs was by far the WR1 for Aaron Rodgersbecoming the first Packers receiver to make the top-12 this season.
Looking at its use, you will notice that its Expected Fantasy Value was quite low (9.67), only ranking WR48 in use in Week 3. This was partly due to the location and depth of his opportunities, as six of his eight targets were within five yards or less of the goal line. melee. In other words, the Packers used him in short-range situations and allowed him to create yards after the catch. And since my expected point model prefers deeper targets (which historically generate more fantasy points), it attributes most of the Doubs’ production to efficiency.
Although usually a red flag, the Doubs still received eight opportunities and continue to build confidence with Aaron Rodgers. Therefore, he needs to be picked up in all leagues, although I would wait another week before plugging him into your rosters to see if this trend continues.
Running Backs: Fantastic Use and Effectiveness
Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans
Entry of week 3, Derrick Henry was going in the wrong direction as the Tennessee Titans were far from the effective offense we’ve grown accustomed to over the past two years. This clearly affected at Henry’s fantastic outing as he was RB31 for two weeks while only making up 32.7% of the team’s total opportunities. To put that into perspective, Henry hasn’t averaged less than 39% opportunity share since the 2018 season. Even more alarmingly, he’s only received one target in two games. Therefore, it was clear that the Titans needed to involve him more if they wanted to end their losing streak.
And in week 3 they clearly made an effort to fix that error as Henry explained 49.1% of total team opportunities and 23.1% of their targets against the Raiders. As a result, he ended the week with a Fantastic expected value of 17.5ranking fifth among running backs.
Going forward, I wouldn’t be surprised if his Week 3 usage becomes the norm, as the Titans will have to rely on Henry if they want to stay competitive every week.
Chase Edmonds – Miami Dolphins
As mentioned in my intro to the series, we need to keep an eye out for players who rely too heavily on efficiency (FPOE) to produce as they risk regressing each week. And while Khalil Herbert and Saquon Barkley stand out in the chart above, you can argue that it was probably an outlier game for both of them. Barkley has shown consistent volume each week, while Herbert should be the workhorse if David Montgomery must have run out of time.
The same cannot be said of Chase Edmonds, who was only rated RB50 in use (5.02 xFP) in Week 3. He received just seven opportunities against the Bills, but converted two to rushing touchdowns. Obviously, this type of efficiency is not sustainable.
In addition, Rahim Mostert has averaged a higher fantasy use value (7.56 xFP) and break rate (56%) over the past two weeks, implying that Edmonds has clearly been downgraded to RB2 in this offense. So don’t chase the points and keep Edmonds on your bench, especially against a Cincinnati defense that has allowed the league’s seventh-lowest rushing yards per attempt this season.
Narrow ends: fantastic use and efficiency
Tyler Conklin – New York Jets
One of the most surprising players so far this year has been Tyler Conklin. In three games this season, he has averaged 90.3% of shots And one expected fantasy value of 9.7 points. In other words, Conklin received consistent volume, making him one of the most reliable tight ends to start the season.
Of course, now that we finally have the confidence to launch it, Zach Wilson is set to return and could drastically change the target distribution for this offense. Either way, that doesn’t change the fact that Conklin is in the top 10 at his position in terms of slot rate and route participation, meaning he’ll likely remain heavily involved. As a result, he should still be listed in most leagues as his volume may remain unchanged.
Quarterbacks: fantastic use and efficiency
Ryan Tannehill – Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill finally had a rebound game last week. However, unlike Derrick Henry who produced due to his volume, Tannehill only kicked the ball 27 times and relied heavily on his efficiency to finish in the top 12. To provide more context, his fantasy value expected of 12.8 ranked QB27 on the week. In other words, if Tannehill hadn’t scored on a “stealth quarterback” from the one-yard line, he would have finished outside the top 24, leaving the fantasy managers disappointed for a third game in a row. And given that the identity of this offense is centered around Henry, Tannehill will be hard to trust your lineups from week to week.
Unless you’re in a SuperFlex league, Tannehill is best kept on waivers as other players provide a higher fantasy production base.
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