Stealing Signals: Week 4, NFC

With three weeks down, we’ve reached a point where many teams have had stable enough situations to identify trends, while others have dealt with injury upheaval that have made it essential to carefully parse the data we have. Here are the actionable notes for the NFC for Week 4. Also check out the AFC. For situations where trends look to be strengthening, we’ll look at comments from prior iterations of this post liberally. That’s not to claim successes or failures; rather, it’s a reference point to recalibrate from and an attempt at limiting redundancy. We’ve covered a lot of ground here over the first couple weeks. Let’s get into it.

Los Angeles Rams

Snap Notes: Cooper Kupp – 59% three-week average Key Stat: Todd Gurley – 51.7 ruEP (most in NFL), -3.6 ruFPOE Thursday night football was something, huh? Todd Gurley scored three times in the first half, which stands on its own, but I do want to note the first came after an interception return to the 3. That’s one of those positive variance situations — the return could have easily gone for a TD — but of course it’s a small discount to what has been a massive early-season performance from Gurley. Through three weeks, the Rams are now the highest-scoring team in the NFL. While there are obvious positives to take from this, they’ve played three suspect teams (Indianapolis, Washington, San Francisco) all in their home state. It’s a tough sell to argue they’ll keep this up, but that doesn’t mean sell the whole offense off. Gurley’s an interesting case, with an obviously enticing workload. He’s averaging the most rushing attempts per game in the NFL (21), and has received so many high-value carries he’s actually produced below his league-leading rushing expected points (ruEP) despite four rushing TDs. I don’t think the quantity of high-value touches can continue, but he’s only a sell at the right price. Additionally, Gurley, Tyler Higbee, and Robert Woods are all averaging more than 80 percent of the weekly snaps, while Sammy Watkins has averaged 71 percent despite limited second-half work in the Week 1 blowout and leaving Week 3 early due to a concussion. He played 90 percent in Week 2. That has kept the passing opportunity concentrated as well. Rams Targets Week 3 Cooper Kupp has played between 58 and 60 percent of the snaps each week, which has opened up snaps for additional tight ends and players like Tavon Austin, none of whom have broken 50 percent in a game. If you can grant the Rams the potential to be even a league-average offense going forward, that’s big news for the main offensive options. Woods is the most underrated option here, as his efficiency hasn’t matched up with his team-leading 0.50 WOPR.1 Signal: Todd Gurley’s workhorse share of RB touches Noise: Leading the league in points  

San Francisco 49ers

Snap Notes: George Kittle – 47% after 95% and 88% in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively Key Stat: Carlos Hyde – 42.9 ruEP (second most in NFL), -5.6 ruFPOE
  1. Weighted Opportunity Rating, which combines targets and Air Yards.  (back)

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By Ben Gretch | @YardsPerGretch | Archive