RotoViz Hacks: Using the Screener to See Total Team Running Back Opportunity

I’m going to try to post more stuff about unique ways that you can use the apps on the site to increase your knowledge of what’s going on in the NFL each week, and while the title of this post would also make a great team name for a RotoViz golf team, when you see “RotoViz Hacks” in a post headline you can take that to mean it will show you some way to use the apps.

Today I’ll use the Screener app to get a picture of total fantasy work available to a team’s running back position. Let’s start with the Screener settings that I’m going to use. Here’s a screenshot where I’ve highlighted the key things to pay attention to when constructing this query. First, I’ve set the Seasons Slider at 2016, so I don’t have to look at past season results. Then I deleted three positions from the Display Positions box, so all I’m left with is RB. This is important because I’m going to look at the team level, so I don’t want QB runs muddying the water. Then in the Display Variables box I’ve specified that I want ruEP and reEP. Those stand for Rushing Expected Points, and Receiving Expected Points. You can think of Expected Points as being like Carries Plus, or Targets Plus. They reflect opportunity, but adjusted for game situation. A carry from the 1 yard line is worth more fantasy points than a  carry from the 50 yard line.



Then I click “Search the Database” and the output is displayed at the bottom of the app. In this case I want to look at Team Level, so I click that tab. The other important thing that I can do now is to download the data. The Screener has a lot of functionality, but sometimes you’ll want to get the data into Excel so you can work on it.


Once I download the data I just need to add ruEP and reEP columns together to get total fantasy opportunity for a team. The resulting table is at the bottom of this post. Note that in the column headers the characters “Q1” are appended to the variable name. That just means it’s from the first query in the app. If you wanted to run one query for Week 1, and another for Week 2, you could do that and still look at the results side by side. The second query would have Q2 appended to the variable names.

There are a few things that you can see from this table, like the sky high potential that Melvin Gordon might now have as the lead back in SD. They have the third most total EP. You can also see that MIA is once again near the bottom of the league in RB opportunity. Between their low total opportunity and the muddy situation there, it’s definitely possible that FAAB money spent on Kenyan Drake or Isaiah Pead could be wasted. I was somewhat excited to see that Ka’Deem Carey was eating into Jeremy Langford’s role during MNF (I have Langford on three teams, but every single one of my Zero RB teams could benefit if I’m able to snag an under the radar guy who takes a lead spot in his backfield). However, the Bears are also low in total EP. If you add in that they’ll likely have a backup QB and they also have a muddy depth chart, any FAAB money spent on Carey could also be wasted.

EP is backward looking and it’s just an approximation of the amount of fantasy points available on average for the plays that a team ran. But it is a good way to quickly come to an understanding about how much work is available. This is just one way you can use the Screener to quickly understand what’s happening in the NFL.

OFF SEAS ruEP.Q1 reEP.Q1 Total EP
NYJ 2016 37.90 22.00 59.90
PHI 2016 43.60 13.50 57.10
SD 2016 36.70 20.40 57.10
DEN 2016 36.80 18.70 55.50
OAK 2016 28.00 23.30 51.30
ATL 2016 29.20 21.90 51.10
PIT 2016 30.00 20.50 50.50
ARI 2016 31.30 19.00 50.30
DET 2016 26.10 23.70 49.80
NO 2016 15.60 33.70 49.30
SF 2016 35.10 14.10 49.20
NE 2016 29.80 19.10 48.90
HOU 2016 31.80 16.60 48.40
NYG 2016 30.50 17.90 48.40
BAL 2016 23.90 24.20 48.10
SEA 2016 25.70 21.60 47.30
TEN 2016 19.60 27.30 46.90
CIN 2016 18.10 27.80 45.90
DAL 2016 30.60 15.00 45.60
IND 2016 16.10 27.60 43.70
JAC 2016 16.40 24.40 40.80
KC 2016 16.30 23.90 40.20
TB 2016 18.50 20.70 39.20
CLE 2016 19.20 19.30 38.50
BUF 2016 23.00 15.30 38.30
CAR 2016 24.60 13.00 37.60
CHI 2016 24.00 12.60 36.60
MIN 2016 21.60 12.30 33.90
GB 2016 25.70 6.50 32.20
MIA 2016 13.20 18.90 32.10
LA 2016 19.00 10.90 29.90
WAS 2016 15.60 9.80 25.40
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