The 3 and Out uses the Weekly Stat Explorer to uncover significant workload changes, league, team, and player-specific trends, and hidden but powerful statistics. Note that metrics and statistics referenced in this article are sourced from the Weekly Stat Explorer. As a result, offensive rankings, for example, are based on tool specific calculations and may not agree with rankings from other sources.
1. Surprisingly Useful Players
Tarik Cohen ranks 14th among RBs in the Utility Scores calculated by the Weekly Stat Explorer (WSE). While it’s not completely surprising to see Cohen stringing together a solid sophomore campaign, a ranking this strong is sure to raise some eyebrows. Cohen started off the season slowly, scoring just 21 points between Weeks 1 and 3.
After exploding for 30 points against Tampa Bay, Cohen’s points per game (PPG) soared to 15. He’s finished inside the weekly top-12 three times and the top-24 five times. Controlling 17 percent of Bears’ targets, he’s an ideal PPR back.
While Cohen’s slow start may have been enough to scare off some owners, it’s become increasingly apparent that Chicago’s new coaching staff is aware of the weapon they have in the speedy back. Cohen’s snaps and red zone opportunities have stacked up nicely against Jordan Howard’s since Week 4.
Interestingly, Cohen has not been game-script dependent. In fact, his fantasy points trend counterintuitively: his highest point total of the season came in the Bears’ largest win and he posted his lowest total in the team’s biggest loss. As illustrated by his Game Script Graph, Cohen has been successful in close games.
This is encouraging for Cohen’s long-term prospects and is evidence that the Bears have found a multi-faceted approach for deploying their explosive young back. It’s also worth noting that Cohen’s success has not been tied to the absence of Allen Robinson. In fact, Cohen’s targets per game have been significantly higher when Robinson is in the lineup — 6.2 with Robinson compared to 2.5 without.
Despite playing with three quarterbacks this season, George Kittle has consistently produced. The second-year tight end has finished as a weekly TE1 in 70 percent of games played and amassed 10 or more points eight times this season. The down weeks have been few and far between and as a result, Kittle ranks fifth in TE Utility.
Kittle is drawing seven targets per game, fourth highest at the position, and has by and large been the most important part of the 49ers’ passing game. His target share has dipped below 20 percent in just three games and he’s seen a red-zone target in 80 percent of weeks.
Tyler Boyd was solid as a rookie, scoring 124 fantasy points on 54 receptions. After a sophomore slump, drafters soured on Boyd, forgetting how strong of a profile he possessed coming out of school. Currently, he ranks 16th in WR Utility and PPG and has finished as a WR1 in a third of games. He’s also gone for 25 or more points three times and has finished as a WR3 or better in 67 percent of games played.
Boyd has been efficient, besting his average expected PPG by four points per game over the course of the season. A major reason for this has been his ability to find the end zone and rack up yardage. He ranks 16th in TDs per game with 0.6 and 17th in yards per game with 76. Despite sharing the field with A.J. Green, Boyd’s eight targets per game rank 22nd among WRs. We’ll learn more about his ability to be the main receiver in his offense if Green misses time. But one thing is clear, Boyd will be a sought-after WR2 in 2019 drafts, and rightfully so.
2. Rest of Season Strength of Schedule
- Owning Ravens players down the stretch should be a nice way to ensure a baseline level of production. The team opposes a favorable schedule at every position.
- We’ve talked about Russell Wilson and company turning things around in the second half of the season and the trend should continue. Last night, they outlasted the Packers and remain in the playoff hunt. Look for Wilson and the Seahawks’ passing game to remain strong against a soft schedule.
- Todd Gurley doesn’t need any help, especially from an SOS perspective, to vie for 2018’s fantasy MVP award. One thing is sure, however: his rest of season SOS will not preclude him from doing so. Kareem Hunt, on the other hand, faces a grueling lineup of opponents. Of course, if you own him, start him!
- Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas should close things out with a flurry of points.
3. The Bears DST Has Been Killing It
If you’re a DST streamer that focuses solely on matchups and hasn’t been paying attention to overall DST standings, you’re likely unaware of just how good Chicago’s DST has been. The team ranks inside of the top-six in all categories tracked in the WSE and has been a top-12 DST in 67 percent of games. Further, the team has gone for 10 or more points in all but three of its games, and given its plum upcoming schedule should close the season off with a flourish. The trade deadline has passed in most leagues, but if the team that owns Chicago needs a positional piece you could do away with, the Bears just might be the final piece of your championship puzzle.