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Top Ten Takeaways From Week 7: The TE Opportunity Report

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The idea of these reports is to leverage the fantastic Fantasy Efficiency App to give us some sense as to which players are producing more (or fewer) fantasy points than expected based on their usage. Here’s a brief primer:

Using the line of scrimmage it’s possible to estimate what an average player would do with a target based on the field position, and we can measure every target versus that average. reFPOE is the number of fantasy points a player had above the expected average. reFPOEPT is reFPOE on a per target basis.

Here the top ten takeaways from Week 7’s action:

  • There’s a popular narrative out there that Martellus Bennett starts fast, but then his production tapers off over the course of the season. Proponents of that theory are looking vindicated, as after a borderline-elite first month of the season, Bennett has now performed below expectation for the third week in a row. Over that same span he was sixth in targets and fifth in expected points, meaning his role is still very valuable. So the question is: should owners hang tight or is now the time to bail before the bottom drops? Well, after looking at the historical data on Bennett, I’m recommending the former. For his career, he has performed above expectation between weeks 8-17. What’s more, his reFPOEPT of 0.12 over those weeks is identical to his career reFPOEPT: 0.12. If you move the career window to weeks 9-17, Bennett’s reFPOEPT actually improves to 0.16. Bottom line, there doesn’t appear to be any convincing empirical data to support Bennett being someone that inherently fades down the stretch. This is a good player receiving a top-five workload. Stay put.
  • On the other hand, if you can sell Delanie Walker then it may be prudent to do so. Walker’s season totals still look good (he’s fourth in targets, fifth in expected points, and has performed above expectation) but things are trending down. For starters, Walker performed below expectation on Sunday for the second week in a row. But what’s more alarming is his workload, which had been perhaps his greatest asset. Over the last three weeks Walker has 17 targets, only four more than John Carlson and Levine Toilolo. And while his career reFPOEPT of 0.1 is technically above expectation, it doesn’t imply that he’ll be able to consistently transcend the general ineptitude of the Titans offense and Clipboard Jesus. If I can get top 5-8 TE prices for Walker right now I’m cashing out.
  • Owen Daniels had a great week, finishing third in targets, first in target market share, second in expected points, and best of all: performed above expectation. I’ve written about Daniels before, so I won’t say too much now. Instead I’ll just leave this here:

TE buy low machine 2014

  • Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet is kind of a fun story. In his first start on Sunday he finished with the seventh-most targets and performed well above expectation with an reFPOEPT of 1.08. And I’m completely ignoring all of that. Look, maybe there will be some big sea change with the Seahawks offense now that Percy Harvin has proven to be too much of a headache.1 But if you combine the 2014 target totals of Helfet, Zach Miller, and Luke Wilson you get 27. That would rank Zaker Wimifet 22nd in TE targets on the season (one spot below Coby Fleener). The Seahawks just aren’t a team you should be looking to for consistent TE production.
  • Gavin Escobar turned in a ridiculous reFPOEPT of 5.37 on Sunday. That obviously isn’t close to sustainable, but it certainly bodes well for his future. Escobar’s career has gotten off to a slow start, but if he’s still available in your dynasty league now may be the time to pounce. Both James Todd and Jon Moore have championed James Hanna over Escobar as a dynasty stash, citing Hanna’s superior athletic profile. That may win out over time, but thus far the results on the field have favored Escobar. The two players now have similar career target totals, but while Escobar is sporting a robust career reFPOEPT of 0.87, Hanna has performed below expectation with a career reFPOEPT of -0.19. You might suspect Escobar’s number is over-inflated based on this past game, so it’s worth noting that his reFPOEPT for the 2013 season was 0.57. Perhaps most importantly, he’s clearly ahead of Hanna on the depth chart (Hanna has one target in 2014). As long as Escobar can keep producing efficiently, there’s little reason to doubt he’s the Cowboys TE you want to stash.
  • A week after what looked like the Jace Amaro coming out party, the Jets TE situation fell back into a quagmire. Amaro still out-targeted Jeff Cumberland, but only 5 to 4, and Amaro performed below expectation while Cumberland performed better than expected. I had high hopes for Amaro and still like him quite a bit long-term, but it’s probably best to just completely write-off this situation for 2014. We’re heading into the some of the most consequential weeks of the fantasy season and it just doesn’t look to be worth the headache.
  • After a rough couple of weeks, Larry Donnell recovered with seven targets and an above expectation performance. The targets are the real key, as Donnell had received three targets in the previous two weeks combined. It’s possible that Donnell’s target variability is somewhat matchup based, as Weeks 5 and 6 (Atlanta and Philadelphia, respectively) were distinctly negative while his Week 7 opponent (Dallas) has been a plum matchup for TEs all season. If that is the case, then let’s turn again to the Buy Low Machine to get a sense of Donnell’s ROS outlook:

TE Buy Low ROS

Based on that schedule, I’m inclined to hold.

  • Filling in for rookie Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew saw six targets and was eighth in expected points. He also performed horrendously, turning in the fourth-lowest reFPOE of the week. As I’ve written previously, this whole TE situation is a stay-away in 2014, but this week only further served to reiterate that point.
  • Charles Clay finished sixth in expected points and performed above expectation for the first time all season. That may have been due to a favorable matchup with the Bears, or Ryan Tannehill suddenly looking extremely competent. But Clay has received a decent workload on the season; he’s 17th in TE targets, ahead of Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz (all three players have had their byes). I’m not suggesting you rush out and pick up Clay, but keep an eye on him. If his and/or Tannehill’s turnarounds are legit, then his workload says he could be startable in medium-sized leagues.
  • Julius Thomas had an awful game, performing below expectation with an reFPOEPT of -0.82 on 6 targets. Sell immediately. To me 🙂

  1. See what I did there?  (back)

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