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.
For the majority of the season, we focused on finding diamonds in the rough and adding depth to our rosters. With the playoffs here, for many fantasy gamers, that’s no longer the focus. They need to determine which players to start, which to sit and identify those that can be relied on for floors or ceilings. Finally, we get to focus more of our attention toward the stars…
1. Wide Receivers
Touchdown Scoring Potential
- Julian Edelman is crushing it in the red zone. He’s seen at least one target per game in the red zone since returning in Week 5 and has been targeted multiple times in four. In fact, it’s hard to find a wide receiver who’s been more reliable with Edelman getting at least one look from within the twenty on a weekly basis.
- Tyler Lockett is a touchdown-scoring machine. The fourth-year WR has found the end zone every six targets. That’s absurd given that he’s been targeted 56 times. Lockett has scored nine touchdowns and ties with Adam Thielen as the third most prolific scorer in the league. Averaging 15 points per game (PPG), it’s hard to imagine many managers leaving him on the bench, but the odds of him scoring another one or two touchdowns this season are high.
- Josh Reynolds could be available in your league. He drew eight targets against Kansas City in Week 11, three of which came in the red zone. Additionally, after the Rams’ bye in Week 12, he was targeted five times against the Lions with two of these looks coming inside the 20. Despite the four-point performance, it was encouraging to see him remain utilized in the absence of Cooper Kupp.
- Kenny Golladay owners are likely disappointed that he’s produced just 22 fantasy points in the last two games, despite being the clear-cut WR1 in Detroit. While not ideal, these owners should keep in mind that Golladay saw 16 targets in these games and through the last six weeks only seven WRs have recorded more expected points.
- Adam Humphries owners are likely struggling to trust him as a starter, despite scoring 17 PPG since Week 8. Perhaps they shouldn’t be. In that same time frame, only 16 WRs recorded more expected points and just 15 saw more targets.
- Like Humphries, D.J. Moore has come on strong in the second half of the season. With Greg Olsen now sidelined, even more opportunity will open up for the rookie. In the last six games, Moore has recorded 62 expected points, which ranks 22nd. As an added bonus, he’s been getting looks as a rusher, boosting his total expected points to 67.
- Antonio Callaway owns the 21st highest average projection on the week. While he does project with a floor of 8.3 points, his ceiling of 19.0 is very encouraging. However, he’s recorded just six expected points per game since Week 9 (Cleveland was on a bye in Week 11) and has gone over 10 points just once in this timeframe. As a result, it seems more likely than not that he ends up scoring closer to his floor when facing the Panthers.
- Dante Pettis projects with a WR1 median projection and a top-five floor. While this looks crazy, it’s worth noting that Pettis scored 18 points in Week 12 and 30 in Week 13. He was targeted seven times in each of those games while recording 11 expected points. While these two performances are likely not his norm, they do speak to his potential.
- It’s weird to see Tyreek Hill project in the WR3 range. Since Week 8, Hill has averaged 13 expected points while scoring 21. Of course, his distribution of point totals has varied widely as well as his targets. Hill’s Week 14 opponent, Baltimore, certainly factors into his pessimistic projection. The Ravens are the second most challenging matchup for WRs and allowed only A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and Michael Thomas to score 20 or more points. Still, the potential for a monster is always there and it’s nearly impossible to conjure a scenario in which any team would not be starting him.
2. Running Backs
Touchdown Scoring Potential
- Peyton Barber has had an odd 2018. Nonetheless, he’s found the end zone three weeks running thanks to 14 red zone carries. His workload has steadily increased and his expected points have been impressive.
- It looks like Doug Martin will be healthy for Week 14 and could be usable. He’s scored two weeks in a row while recording eight red zone attempts. Since Marshawn Lynch was placed on injured reserve, Martin has controlled Oakland’s rushing game while enjoying a steady increase in expected points.
- To say that it’s been a down year for LeSean McCoy would be an understatement. McCoy is averaging an inefficient 10 PPG with an expectation of 12. He’s scored 15 or more points just twice while scoring only two touchdowns. He’s logged 10 red-zone carries in his last three games and one target. If the workload remains steady, he should eventually punch one in.
- Yes, Rex Burkhead is back in the fold but don’t be afraid to start Sony Michel. He recorded 17 rushing attempts in Week 13 with three coming in the end zone. While Burkhead, who earned seven attempts, will likely get more involved in the coming weeks, Michel will still get used in short-distance situations. Even if he cedes an attempt or two to Burkhead, New England has rushed 20 times, which ranks 4th, from within the five. Not to mention, Michel ranks 15th at the position in expected points per game.
- Mark Ingram ranks 25th in expected PPG with 11.9 and has been largely game-script dependent. After posting 25 and 22 points in Weeks 10 and 11, respectively, Ingram combined for just 13 in Weeks 12 and 13. Still, he was expected to score eight points in each of these games. The Saints are eight-point favorites against the Buccanneers. If there’s a week to be confident in Ingram this just might be it.
- Jordan Howard hasn’t eclipsed 10 points since Week 9. Meanwhile, Tarik Cohen has exploded for 19 PPG. Nonetheless, Howard did post 15 expected points last weekend on 16 carries. Unfortunately, harboring similar expectations for Week 14 could be a recipe for disaster.
- Tevin Coleman has been a major disappointment. Given the opportunity he was presented with, many thought it a foregone conclusion that he’d be a league winner. In contrast, Coleman ranks 23rd in PPG and has accrued 15 or more points in just a quarter of games. If you’re hoping to find redemption don’t hold your breath. With a high projection of 13 points, it seems unlikely that he breaks loose against Green Bay.
- It might be prudent for the four and eight Lions to shut down Kerryon Johnson for the remainder of the season. But if he does suit up, he’ll likely be a major contributor. With an average historical projection of 19 points, a floor of 12 and ceiling of 23, he forecasts as one of the week’s best options.
- Adrian Peterson has slowed down since the beginning of the season. While he did post 15 points against the Eagles, nearly the entirety of that production came on a 90-yard TD rush. His historical projection is picking up on the decreased workload and productivity, pegging him with a high projection of 14 points, median of 11 and floor of five. The Redskins are three and a half point favorites against the Giants, which does behoove the future Hall of Famer. Of course, it’s hard to know if the Redskins offense can even be competitive with their woeful options at QB.
3. Quarterbacks to Avoid or Target
We’ve talked about Matthew Stafford a couple of times this season. Let me remind you, once again, that the 2018 version of Stafford is one who cannot be relied on as a viable fantasy option. If you’re in a single QB league and are thinking about trotting him out there this weekend … think again. While Stafford has been a weekly QB1 in prior seasons, he’s been so just a single time in 2018. Perhaps even more troubling, Stafford’s gone over 20 points just twice. Beyond fantasy points he’s struggled, producing a 22nd percentile QBR and only three games with more than 300 yards passing. The Golden Tate trade and Marvin Jones injuries have only made matters worse. As a result, it’s not surprising that his historical projection against the Cardinals expects a 10 point performance.
Josh Allen has yet to prove that he is indeed a competent NFL QB. However, those who said he would never be a viable fantasy option, myself included, were dead wrong. Allen ranks 17th in utility and has eclipsed 25 points in 38 percent of games! That includes three QB1 performances. A major reason for Allen’s fantasy success is his ability as a rusher. Allen ranks 5th among passers in rushing yards and second in touchdowns with 389 and four respectively.1 In fact, rushing production has accounted for more than half of his fantasy output. This weekend, Allen will oppose the Jets and is expected to score approximately 20 points based on historical projections.
If you’re looking for upside, while counterintuitive for sure, Tom Brady is probably not the QB option to turn to. Brady has gone for 25 or more points just a single time this season and ranks 20th in utility. Further, his production has slowed significantly since the first half of the season.
Of course, a four TD game is always within his realistic range of outcomes, but this isn’t the Brady we’re used to. He’s failed to throw for a touchdown two times and passed for just one in four games. To phrase that differently, Tom Brady has thrown for one or fewer touchdowns in half of 2018 games. If you’ve yet to swallow what is a very large truth, Brady isn’t a must-start and you’re likely better off going with an alternative option like Jameis Winston.2
- Don’t forget that he’s missed time. (back)
- It might seem contradictory to identify Edelman as a WR with TD scoring potential and then lament Brady’s lack of TD passes. However, if Brady does throw a TD pass the odds are high that it goes to Edelman, and for Brady to be a successful fantasy option, one or two touchdowns might not be enough. (back)