In our series of Opportunity Reports, RotoViz will examine the weekly production of position groups through the lens of the Fantasy Efficiency App. A primer on how to use this app can be found in week one’s report.
We’re examining opportunity and efficiency using historical line of scrimmage data to establish the expected fantasy point value of attempts (and comparing actual fantasy points to that expected value).
Here’s a quick guide to the acronyms from the app:
- paEP – Passing Expected Points
- paFPOE – Passing Fantasy Points Over Expectation
- paFPOEPA – Passing Fantasy Points Over Expectation Per Attempt
Let’s get to some observations on the quarterbacks with a look ahead to Week 8:
Tannehill’s Unique Day
In Weeks 1-5, Ryan Tannehill led the league in paEP (even when you include his bye), averaging over 22 paEP per game. Since Dan Campbell took over, he dropped to 12.90 in Week 6 and just 6.40 on 19 attempts in Week 7. What gives? Well for one, the Week 7 result was largely because his receivers kept taking passes to the house from low EV spots on the field against the worst-tackling defense this side of The Little Giants.1 This led to Tannehill posting the highest single-game paFPOEPA (1.31) of any QB with at least five attempts since Andrew Luck in Week 13 of last season.2
A more in-depth answer to the volume question is provided in Kevin Cole’s great look at Lamar Miller yesterday, where he explains the change for this offense is likely more a product of opponent and game script the last two weeks than anything else. It’s also clear there was a lot of randomness in Tannehill’s Week 7 outcome, as he’ll probably never see a higher percentage of YAC-to-total-yards for the rest of his career. A few weeks ago I advised monitoring Tannehill’s opportunity and efficiency, and I think the major takeaway from all this is it’s nice to see Tannehill put up positive efficiency two weeks in a row, as he should be a strong option with a relatively high expected workload going forward.
Tom Brady saw a massive workload percentage Sunday, as the Patriots handed the ball off just five times. It’s no surprise he finished with the week’s most paEP, at 29.88 on 54 pass attempts. He was marginally inefficient, but was also the Patriots’ leading rusher, adding a TD on the ground. He’s back atop the season-long paEP leaderboard, as well as the overall fantasy points leaderboard for QBs. It’s hard to argue with him being the QB1 going forward.
An interesting contrast to Brady’s day was Philip Rivers‘. Despite throwing 55 passes to Brady’s 54, Rivers finished with nine fewer paEP at 20.85. This is likely due to the inefficiency of the offense as a whole for the majority of the Chargers’ game, as they worked from bad field position for too many of those attempts. Rivers was efficient when it counted,3 and still posted a strong day due to 9.59 paFPOE. This game was a microcosm for Rivers’ season thus far – despite leading the NFL in pass attempts by a healthy margin, Rivers is just third in season-long paEP. He’s offset that by being second in paFPOE. You don’t need me to tell you being top three in both opportunity and efficiency is good, but I just did it anyway.
Underrated Brian Hoyer
Brian Hoyer started Week 1, was benched, and did not play again until coming on in relief of Ryan Mallett in Week 4. Since then, he’s the NFL leader in paFPOE on the seventh-most paEP, despite ceding snaps to Mallett in both Weeks 4 and 5.4 Hoyer is fifth in the NFL on the season in paFPOEPA.5 On the season, Houston’s QBs have the most paEP of any team in the NFL.
We’re looking at a ton of opportunity in the offense plus strong efficiency for Hoyer. He’s only played two full games this year, but after Mallett’s release he looks to have plenty of job security. But Mallett’s release obviously wasn’t the only news affecting Hoyer this week, so let’s consider Arian Foster‘s injury for a moment. On the surface it would seem to guarantee the Texans will continue to be a pass-heavy team. When you dig a little deeper, you realize losing Foster is a big hit in the passing game. Despite limited playing time, Foster is currently second on the Texans in reFPOE with 19.74. There’s also this:
Hoyer has lost one of his most efficient targets, so it’s a safe bet his efficiency will suffer. I still think there’s enough expected volume here to believe Hoyer can be a valuable fantasy asset down the stretch, especially considering he’s probably free in most leagues. I’m acquiring him where I need QB help.
Kirk Cousins had a big day on Sunday, capped by the wonderful “You like that!” .gif.6 He posted a strong workload and slightly above average efficiency, with the second-highest paEP on the week (23.68) and 4.00 paFPOE. This was actually Cousins’ most efficient game of the season, as he generally sits right around his paEP mark.7 So let’s look at his opportunity and see if there’s anything here. In his seven games this season, he’s posted fewer than 15 paEP on three occasions, and more than 19 paEP on four occasions, with nothing in between. As might be expected, Washington has had positive game script in all three games where Cousins has seen lower opportunity, and negative game script in three of the four games where they’ve asked Cousins to do more. The average game script of his high-volume games is -5.8 while the average of his low-volume games is +3.9.8 In other words, if you can accurately project a negative game script for Washington, Kirk Cousins should be usable that week (since he tends to go where his opportunity goes).
With the benefit of hindsight, we can give Joe Flacco a pass for his horrible Week 1 (since we now know how good Denver’s D is). Since then, though, he’s led the league in paEP and posted 11.05 paFPOE. We expected Marc Trestman’s arrival in Baltimore to signify more passing for the offense, and it’s safe to say the volume has been there.9 That said, Flacco projects to have the third most difficult QB schedule through Week 16. With this kind of volume he should presumably have a high floor, though I’m not really counting on it. He’s not much more than a bench stash on a fantasy team with plenty of weapons elsewhere.
If not for Ryan Tannehill and his absurd 24.88 paFPOE, Andrew Luck would have been your efficiency leader in Week 7 with 14.89 paFPOE. Alarmingly, Luck’s 43 attempts in a comeback effort vs. the Saints only amounted to 15.43 paEP. Everyone and their uncle will tell you that Luck is/was a buy low, but in my experience even the owners themselves believe he’s still super valuable.10 He’s now tenth on the season in paFPOE despite missing some time, which is certainly an impressive feat, but nearly half of that came in Week 7 and New Orleans’ very beatable secondary. He’ll face the seventh most difficult schedule for the remainder of the season, according to The Buy Low Machine. At his best he can certainly beat a difficult schedule, but he’s still not someone I’m actively trying to get right now. That said, if you’re an owner, your best bet is probably to hold and hope he starts showing us some of what made him so good last season.
Alright, that’s it for this week guys. Thanks for reading as always. Don’t forget to tip your waitresses, and also check out the Fantasy Efficiency App for more information on these and other QBs.
- 246 of Tannehill’s 282 yards came after the catch, per PFF. (back)
- I suppose that’ll happen when you put up over 30 fantasy points on 19 attempts. (back)
- For fantasy players, at least. (back)
- Mallett accumulated 37 pass attempts of his own in those two games. (back)
- For QBs with at least 50 pass attempts. (back)
- Fantastic efficiency from Cousins there. (back)
- He’s -0.79 paFPOE on the season and his weekly values have all fallen between -5.01 and 4.00 paFPOE. (back)
- All game script info taken from footballperspective.com. (back)
- Although game script has certainly affected the Ravens, as well. (back)
- In one home league I got offered Luck last week for the low, low price of DeAndre Hopkins and Todd Gurley, and then got laughed at when I said I wouldn’t trade either of those guys for him, let alone both. Ah, home leagues. (back)