With the full benefit of hindsight, digging into usage and opportunity can help us prepare for upcoming NFL weeks and strengthen our future roster construction. This weekly article will look at some of the standout performances – positive and negative – to determine what lessons we can learn moving forward.
As we evaluate the numbers behind the output, we will attempt to uncover whether we want to take it, and prescribe the performance as predictive, or leave it, and dismiss the results due to game script or simple variance.
The scoring in 2018 continues on a historic pace and Week 10 was certainly no exception. Once again more overs hit (7) than unders (5) with one game left tonight. I mean, even the Bills and Jets hit the over by 14 points in their match-up. RIP to all of those who rostered or streamed the Jets defense yesterday.
Here is an INCOMPLETE list of every team’s 2018 per game averages that rank first in NFL history:
Points per game
Yards per game
Yards per play
First downs per game
Completions per game
Passing yards per game
Touchdowns per game
Score % per drive
Plays per drive
Yards per drive
Points per drive
And there are countless more I could list to demonstrate what a monstrous offensive season this is. In fact, perusing the season totals for the history of the NFL, if 2018 were to end right now, this season would have the 36th highest number of touchdown passes in the 97-year history of NFL stats. We still have seven weeks to go. At the current pace, 2018 will have 40 more passing touchdowns than the next closest season by the time week 17 ends.
Counter-intuitively, this poses even greater challenges for DFS players. With so many productive offensive weapons that are producing at such a high rate, it inflates prices to the point where value is harder and harder to come by. In Week 10, that honor was bestowed upon Dion Lewis. While he had the volume, his team scored four touchdowns by three other players. Checking the right box on which value play hits has become so important as it has become a choose your own adventure up at the top of the pricing. Do you want your touchdowns today to come from Gurley, Gordon, Hunt, Connor, Elliott, Thomas, Hopkins, Adams, Thielen, Kelce, Ertz, etc? They all seem to score every week so there is smaller levels of separation between lineups with these studs.
Let’s dig in to see who might give us that edge in the remaining weeks in this scoring bonanza that is 2018.
Baker Mayfield – 216 Passing Yards/3 TDs, 6 Rushes/20 Rushing Yards
This was by far Baker’s most efficient game of the year, as he completed 17 of 20 passes for his 216 yards, averaging 10.8 yards per attempt. His next highest mark was 8.74 in week three. Credit to the new coaching staff for unlocking the running backs, which was apparently some kind of grand mystery to the Hue Jackson crew. Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb gobbled up seven of Baker’s 20 targets, with Jarvis Landry accounting for another five. These short-range, highly effective passes force the linebackers back in coverage that opens up the running lanes for Nick Chubb to grind out 176 yards plus another 35 for Mayfield and Johnson.
After the bye, the Browns have appealing match-ups in four of their next five against the Bengals (twice), Panthers, and Texans – all of whom are in the bottom half of defensive pass DVOA. I’m all in with Baker and this new offensive scheme.
Verdict – Take It
Joe Mixon – 11 Rushes/61 Rushing yards, 2 Targets/2 Receptions/24 Receiving yards
Talk about the definition of being game-scripted out of a contest. Mixon’s last touch was midway thru the fourth quarter when the Bengals had already pulled Andy Dalton for Jeff Driskel and were running out the clock down 51-7. The Bengals also wanted to get Gio Bernard some action so he ate into four touches on the ground and in the air.
This match-up against New Orleans (3rd ranked rush defense) and next week against Baltimore (5th) certainly pose problems, but these 13 touches represent a season-low for Mixon – in a more competitive game last week, Mixon touched the ball 24 times. There should be much more volume ahead and much friendlier match-ups await against the Browns (twice), Chargers, and Raiders.
Verdict – Leave It
Doug Baldwin – 5 Targets/5 Receptions/39 Receiving Yards
The season-long touchdown drought continue for Baldwin as he continues to be out-targeted by the likes of Tyler Lockett and David Moore. Interestingly, this is the third straight week that Baldwin has been at least third on his team in target share.
He has also trailed Moore and Lockett in air yards, aDOT, and yards after the catch. I have no way of knowing if this is due to a lingering knee issue or if there is more trust with his other receivers, but any deep threat ability with Baldwin is gone and any red zone opportunities have been sucked dry. Baldwin caught his first red zone pass of the season on Sunday, so now he has the privilege of being tied on Seattle with Brandon Marshall, who hasn’t been on the team in more than a month.
With the run game really kicking in and a three-headed monster developing with Chris Carson, Mike Davis, and Rashaad Penny, the Seahawks should look to continue to ground-n-pound teams. I fear we have seen the best of Doug Baldwin and he is just a complimentary piece at this point.
Verdict – Take It Easy, Baldwin. You will always have 2015.
The Price is Right: Week 10 Recap
Where I grade my value play selections from the previous slate.
Marcus Mariota – The two touchdowns by Derrick Henry were slightly titling to a DFS community that was stocking up on Lewis, Mariota and Davis. Overall very productive day that continued an overlooked trend – Mariota’s yards per attempt have done up every game this year and his passer rating has improved in each of the last five. He is clearly getting healthy at the right time. Grade: A-
David Johnson – There’s the DJ we all know and love. Welcome to the 2018 season and welcome to the circle of trust not that you have a coaching staff that believes you should actually touch the ball in various creative ways. Johnson had his highest number of targets and receptions on the year, combined with his second-most rushing attempts. His arrow is pointing straight up at the moment. Grade – A
Aaron Jones – Wow. I mean Jamaal Williams has to be just an afterthought at this point. Forget about a timeshare, Jones touched the ball 18 times to only three for Williams. If the Packers continue to unleash him like that, we may have to reevaluate how this whole Green Bay offense works. It may seem like the product of one huge 67-yard run, but the truth is seven of his 15 rushes went for six or more yards, including six of 10 yards or more. Grade – A+
Jordan Reed/Vernon Davis – Reed did end up starting and drew six targets that resulted in four catches for 51 yards. He did lead the Redskins in target share, but with an aDOT of only 6.3 yards, a player without a lot of after-the-catch ability is going to be hurt in the volume game. After some promising games, Davis only saw 3.8% of the targets. Grade – C