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The 3 and Out: Opportunity Changes and Play Ratio Shifts

The 3 and Out uses a number of RotoViz Apps to uncover significant workload changes; league, team, and player-specific trends; and hidden but powerful statistics.

Welcome back to the 3 and Out! This week, we’ll be dividing the season into two equal parts, Weeks 1-3 and Weeks 4-6, and identifying players with the largest changes in workload as well as the teams with the biggest shifts in play volume and pace.

Significant Workload Changes

Wide Receiver

  • Mike Williams saw 15 targets before missing Week 4 with a back injury. Since returning in Week 5, he’s drawn 23 targets.
    • Williams has failed at being even remotely efficient in 2019 and is averaging three points below expectations each week.
  • Chris Godwin is on fire. He opened the season with 19 targets and 47 points in Tampa Bay’s first three games.
    • Since then, he’s been targeted 35 times while scoring 98 fantasy points.
      • Godwin might slow down, but a top-five WR finish seems to be firmly in his grasp.

  • Fifty-six percent of Will Fuller’s 2019 fantasy points were scored in Week 5. He followed up this epic 54-point performance with a comparatively underwhelming nine points in Week 6.
    • However, it’s important to note that Fuller failed to convert a handful of high leverage passes that could have made his outing against the Chiefs substantially more fruitful.
      • Fuller was targeted just 17 times in Weeks 1-3 but saw 31 over the last three games.
  • Keenan Allen’s 2019 got off to a roaring start. He scored 88 points in Weeks 1-3. Unfortunately, he’s averaged just seven points since then and hasn’t scored more than 10 points since Week 3.
    • This drop-off coincides with a decrease of eight targets per game!
  • Tyler Lockett was targeted nine times per game and scored 62 points in 2019’s first three games.
    • His target volume has plummeted to less than five since. In turn, his per-game average has dropped to 12 points.
      • Fortunately for Lockett owners, he’s managed to remain efficient.
        • Lockett ranked No. 1 among WRs in fantasy points over expectation in 2018 and ranks ninth in the current season.

Tight End

  • Dallas Goedert was targeted just two times per game through Week 3. Since then, he’s seen a minimum of three targets per game and is averaging more than four and a half.
    • Unfortunately for Goedert, whose seeing just seven air yards per target, only two of his 18 targets have come in the red zone.
  • Greg Olsen is looking forward to Cam Newton’s return.
    • Newton played in Weeks 1 and 2. Olsen drew nine targets in both of these games.
      • With Kyle Allen under center, Olsen has drawn only five targets per game.

Running Back

  • Chris Carson has finished as an RB1 in 50% of games this season.
    • This is unsurprising as his workload has steadily increased and only Christian McCaffrey has carried the ball more times.
      • Through Week 3, Carson recorded 20 rushing attempts per game.
        • In the three weeks since he’s averaged 23 attempts per game.
  • Leonard Fournette averaged 14 fantasy points and carried the ball just 43 times in Jacksonville’s first three games.
    • In Weeks 4 through 6, he capitalized on 72 carries, an increase of 10 per game, by accumulating 68 fantasy points.

  • It’s a tough pill for Miles Sanders owners to swallow but Jordan Howard has enjoyed an increase of six carries per game when comparing Weeks 1-3 to Weeks 4-6.
    • Sanders has earned two times the target share of Howard but seeing as the two backs have combined for just four targets per game since Week 4, this discrepancy hasn’t offset the significant variance of in rushing share of 22%.
  • Ronald Jones has looked like the better Buccaneers RB and this has impacted Peyton Barber’s workload.
    • To be fair, Jones recorded 10 rushing attempts per game in the season’s first three weeks and has averaged 10 since.
      • However, Barber averaged nearly 15 rushing attempts per game in Weeks 1-3 but has averaged just eight since.
        • This means that his share of Tampa Bay rushing attempts has fallen from 49% in Weeks 1-3 to 38% in Weeks 4-6.

Team Rush to Pass Ratio

  • The Cardinals and Steelers have made the biggest shifts in pass-to-rush ratio of all teams in the league.
    • The Cardinals rushed on just 25% of plays in the season’s first three games.
      • Since then, the team is rushing on 46% of plays.
        • Interestingly, this hasn’t had a dramatic impact on David Johnson’s rushing attempts per game.
          • He’s averaged just one more carry per game across Weeks 4-6.
            • However, Chase Edmonds has seen a significant increase from one and a half rushing attempts per game to six.
    • The Steelers, surely impacted by Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury and Mason Rudolph’s concussion, shifted from rushing on 28% of plays to 49%.
      • Of course, a sloppy Monday night game in which the Chargers put Pittsburgh ahead early helped to drive this increase.
  • Washington rushed on 24% of plays in Weeks 1-3 but increased to 44% in Weeks 4-6.
  • As noted in the prior section, Carson has seen an increase in rushing attempts and Lockett a decrease in receiving targets.
    • As you might expect, the Seahawks distribution has shifted significantly.
      • The Seahawks rushed on 39% of plays between Week 1 and 3. However, the team did so on 54% of plays between Weeks 4 and 6.
  • The Rams ran on 40% of plays in Weeks 1-3 but this percentage dropped to 26% since.
    • Some of this shift can be explained by the absence of Todd Gurley and the team’s struggles against the Buccaneers, 49ers, and Seahawks.
      • This is worth highlighting for owners of the team’s WRs as LAs big three combined for 25 targets per game while winning in the first three games of the season.
        • In the team’s three losses, Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods combined for 27 targets per game.
          • You could, and it would likely be fair to, question whether this minor increase is worth paying attention to.
            • I’d argue that it is, as it reminds us that there are simple things we can look at to break ties between similar players when setting our lineups on Sunday mornings.
  • It’s hard not to overreact to Stefon Diggs’ three-touchdown Week 6 performance. However, keep in mind that the Vikings still rank last in passing attempts per game.
    • To the team’s credit, its ratio has shifted. Minnesota rushed on 56% of plays in Weeks 1-3 but decreased to doing so on 45% of plays between Weeks 4 and 6.
      • This shift raised the teams passing volume from a measly 21 passes per game in Weeks 1-3 to 33 per game in Weeks 4-6 which places it ahead of 13 teams and tied with three in passing attempts per game in this stretch.
        • This certainly doesn’t mean that Diggs becomes a lock for 10 targets per game, as even in the team’s aerial renaissance he averaged only seven, but it should make his owners feel a little bit better about starting him.
Image Credit: Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Chris Carson.

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