Stealing Signals Week 7: NFC Advanced Stats
Stealing Signals provides your Week 7 look at snaps, touches, game flow, efficiency, and everything in between. Also, check out the AFC.
If I don’t touch on a specific player you’re looking for information about, check past iterations in the archives of this series.
Snap Notes: Nelson Agholor – 77% (tied season high); Torrey Smith – 56% (second straight season low); LeGarrette Blount – 48% (season high); Corey Clement – 16%
Key Stat: Nelson Agholor – 25.2 reFPOE (sixth most in NFL)
On top of dominating targets in a way no other tight end is (0.26 target share), Zach Ertz has suddenly become a touchdown machine. Ertz came into the season having caught TDs on a weak 3.6 percent of his career targets. Through six games, he’s sitting at a robust 7.5 percent TD rate and has already tied his career high in TDs for a season (four). This is because the Eagles have featured him in the red zone – Ertz has the fourth most expected fantasy points inside the 20, second among TEs, and his eight targets have totaled 24 reEP.
Nelson Agholor continued to distance himself from Torrey Smith as the WR2, both in playing time and productivity. The snap margin between the two in Week 6 was the widest we’ve seen this year, and Agholor came out of it with a 7-4-55-1 line. Since he first out-snapped Smith in Week 4, he has been substantially more involved in the offense.
Agholor has scored two 50-plus yard TDs this year, and his four TDs and 25.2 reFPOE1 make him look like a sell. On the flip side, his WOPR2 of 0.39 over the past three weeks indicates his role has expanded and he’s the clear third option behind just Ertz and Alshon Jeffery in a good passing offense right now.
While his season-long 9.4 aDOT is lowest among all Eagles WRs and suggests the profile of a player that likely won’t sustain big plays, Agholor leads the team with four targets inside the 10, and he’s actually been inefficient in that area, catching just one TD. It all adds up to probable efficiency regression — his reFPOE is sixth most in the NFL — but expanding overall opportunity to offset some of that.
The Eagles project to play the most difficult WR schedule and second most difficult QB schedule the rest of the season, per the Buy Low Machine. They draw Washington on Monday night, with Josh Norman’s status up in the air, and Denver in three weeks. That makes Agholor worthy of a sell call, depending on what the return package looks like.
Alshon Jeffery leads the offense with a 0.59 WOPR and his -8.6 reFPOE is probably due for some positive regression. He’s someone I’d likely look to buy, if not for the schedule, which puts owners in a tough spot.
For Carson Wentz, the recommendation is probably also a hold, or perhaps a sell if you get great value. The schedule is much more neutral for TEs, suggesting we could continue to see Ertz thrive as the lead passing option. Wentz has taken a step forward as a passer in nearly every statistical measure in his second season, but is also running more. His 133 rushing yards have nearly matched his 2016 total of 150 and have added to his fantasy floor.
You also have the pace of the offense to consider, and the Eagles are tied for the most offensive plays in football. They’ve been in a lot of plus scripts at 5-1, which has the effect of boosting play volume, but Wentz hasn’t thrown for more than 31 passes for four straight games, and that type of run lean typically keeps the clock moving and limits play volume. Ultimately, they seem content running a faster-paced offense, which boosts everyone to a degree.
Wentz looks unlikely to finish as a top-five fantasy QB due to the schedule, but is a fine option if you pair him with a streamer and avoid some of the toughest matchups.
Also, at RB, note LeGarrette Blount played a season high in snaps, but Wendell Smallwood is likely to return in Week 7. He was leading the backfield in snaps before his injury.
Signal: Team – fast pace (evidenced by running the most total plays despite a rushing lean)
Noise: Nelson Agholor – 25.2 reFPOE
Snap Notes: Christian McCaffrey – 74%; Jonathan Stewart – 33% (season low)
Key Stat: Christian McCaffrey – 78.3 receiving PPR points (only 12 RBs have scored more total rushing and receiving points)
We’ve been harping on Christian McCaffrey’s receiving usage most of the season, and his 14-10-56-1 line in Week 6 was a boon for fantasy owners. He struggled to do anything rushing, but wasn’t as bad as Jonathan Stewart, who ran for -4 yards on eight carries. Stewart also had bad drops on both of his targets, the second of which was a bubble screen on a play where they motioned him out wide early in the third quarter. The juggled drop essentially handed over an interception.
With the rushing attack stalling and Stewart showing no ability to mix in on passing plays, McCaffrey played a ton of snaps and Stewart played his lowest snap share of the season. I’m not taking those snap rates as an indication the rookie will have a feature role going forward, as this might have just been situational. It does bear watching, particularly whether McCaffrey starts to pick up more carries.3
McCaffrey’s 50 targets and 37 receptions lead both the team and all NFL running backs. His seven red zone targets are second to Melvin Gordon among RBs, and three of those have come on plays that began inside the five, a situation where no other RB in the NFL has multiple targets so far.
There are degrees to passing-game usage for RBs, and McCaffrey’s level is phenomenal for fantasy. He continues to have a high PPR floor and hasn’t finished below eight points this year. He has also broken 20 points twice in six games, both times without rushing for even 20 yards. You have a player who is a legitimate asset right now with hardly any rushing value, which indicates the potential for monster upside should a rushing role develop.
Signal: Christian McCaffrey – monster receiving usage
Noise: Jonathan Stewart – 33 percent snap rate
Snap Notes: Darren Fells – 57% (third straight week out-snapping Eric Ebron); Eric Ebron – 51%
Key Stat: Team – 81 offensive snaps, 17 drives
The Lions head on a bye after one of the wildest games of the NFL season in New Orleans.
This game was so stupid. pic.twitter.com/lerbkGFA3o
— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) October 16, 2017
Three Saints defensive scores created negative game script and also kept turning the ball back over to the offense. The Lions’ 81 offensive plays and 17 drives were 10 and four more than their previous season highs.
Golden Tate suffered a shoulder injury that is reportedly going to cost him multiple weeks, which would mean lingering beyond the bye. That would be a plus for the other low-aDOT targets in the offense, primarily Theo Riddick given the timeshare that has developed between Darren Fells and Eric Ebron.
Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones led the Lions in targets with 14 and nine, respectively, and Marvin posted a 6-96-1 line that was easily his best output of the year. The name to add is Kenny Golladay, who was questionable for most of the week despite being made inactive. It seems likely the team held him out knowing the bye was looming and an extra two weeks of rest would ensure no recurrence of the hamstring injury he’s been dealing with.
Golladay looked like a star after Week 1, but was relatively silent in a Week 2 win where Matthew Stafford threw just 21 passes. He was injured in Week 3, but after the first three games had the second highest target share among Detroit WRs at 14 percent. The elevated targets for the Joneses in Week 6 should deflect some attention away from Golladay, who makes for a good stash if he’s available. The Lions draw a tough WR matchup with the Steelers in their Week 8 game out of the bye, but then get plus matchups with Green Bay and Cleveland in Weeks 9 and 10.
Signal: Ameer Abdullah – the 17-plus touches have evaporated in negative scripts the last two weeks, exposing the hollow workload
Noise: Matthew Stafford – 52 pass attempts (heavily game script aided; attempts had previously been down this year)
New Orleans Saints
Snap Notes: Josh Hill – 68% (season high); Mark Ingram – 66% (season high); Michael Hoomanawanui – 58% (tied season high); Ted Ginn – 52% (season low); Alvin Kamara – 42% (highest rate since Week 1); Brandon Coleman – 37% (-36% from previous season low); Willie Snead – 30%; Coby Fleener – 25%
Key Stat: Mark Ingram – five carries inside the 10
Pardon the extensive snap notes, but there are notable trends at each of the major skill positions. First of all, Willie Snead re-entered the mix with a 30 percent snap share. The team kept to their word about easing him back in, and he’s a hold for now until we get more data. As a result, Brandon Coleman played nearly half the snap rate of his previous season low. He’s not worth holding, as this is probably his best-case scenario going forward, but it’s more likely we see Snead continue to siphon his snaps.
Ted Ginn played a season low, but his 52 percent wasn’t far off from the 59-68 percent range he’d played in the first four games. He also had a strong game, catching all four targets he saw for 66 yards and a 20-yard score. He was also tackled at the one on a 13-yard gain, and nearly had a multi-TD game.
At TE, the trend we have been discussing continued. Josh Hill started and dramatically out-snapped Coby Fleener. Rich Hribar noted on Twitter last week that Fleener led all TEs in routes per snap, and per PFF Fleener did still run the most routes among Saints TEs in Week 6, but only by the slimmest 15 to 14 margin over Hill, with Michael Hoomanawanui also running nine. Hoomanawanui actually picked up the production with a 3-2-27-1 line. It’s a situation to avoid.
Alright, the RBs. Mark Ingram played a season-high snap rate and was a monster. He had a 51-yard run to start the Saints’ second drive of the game and got back-to-back carries from the one-yard-line on the first two plays the Saints ran inside the 10, early in the second quarter. Later in the quarter, he got consecutive carries from the six-, three-, and two-yard lines that resulted in a second rushing score. The Saints only ran one other play inside the 10 all day,4 so Ingram was clearly their preferred option in close.
Alvin Kamara also saw a stark upswing in snaps and did get a red zone carry in the third quarter from the 16, which he took for 14 yards down to the two-yard-line. Kamara posted 75 rushing yards on 10 carries and caught all four of his targets, while Ingram caught all five of his.
Probably the most important note on the RB usage was the Saints not signing another RB after the Adrian Peterson trade. They’ve often used a three-back rotation, but ran with these two, fullback Zach Line, and special teams player Trey Edmunds, who didn’t play an offensive snap in Week 6. They’ve since promoted Daniel Lasco from the practice squad, so his Week 7 role will be worth keeping an eye on.
Kamara’s day will go a bit overlooked, but plus game script will likely belong to Ingram going forward, and Kamara still played a solid snap rate and has high-reception upside in games the Saints are chasing.5
The two backs won’t combine for 44 touches in many (if any) more games this year. But there has always been a ton of RB opportunity in this offense, and going forward we’re probably looking at a low-end RB1 (Ingram) and a solid RB2 (Kamara).
Signal: Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara – strong workloads
Noise: 44 combined touches for the RBs is probably a little noisy
Snap Notes: Laquon Treadwell – 57% (seasonal average – 56%); Michael Floyd – 49% (seasonal average – 48%)
Key Stat: Jerick McKinnon – 36.6 combined rushing and receiving EP over the past two weeks (fourth among RBs)
With Stefon Diggs out, Laquon Treadwell out-snapped Michael Floyd, but Jarius Wright (38 percent) and Stacey Coley (21 percent) were the ones who saw substantial increases in playing time. Treadwell posted a decent 3-3-51 line, but the two appear to be sharing snaps.
I noted before Dalvin Cook’s injury that the dominance of Diggs and Adam Thielen in the passing game, coupled with Cook’s performance, meant there was little room in the offense for productive secondary players. In this game without Diggs, Thielen posted an impressive 13-9-97 line, and more notably, Jerick McKinnon appears capable of doing a decent Cook impersonation.
Extremely tight battle raging on right now in the Minnesota backfield. pic.twitter.com/P5McZSQ09E
— Anthony Amico (@amicsta) October 16, 2017
McKinnon took a screen pass 27 yards for a score and added a three-yard rushing TD in Week 6. He’s the RB2 over the last two weeks. While plus efficiency has contributed, he has amassed the 10th most ruEP and fifth most reEP among RBs. His combined workload, as measured by EP, is fourth among RBs. Notably, he got the Vikings’ only rush inside the 10 in Week 5, and then scored from in close in Week 6 after Latavius Murray was stopped for a one-yard loss two plays prior.6
Thielen and Diggs are both in the top six in the NFL in receiving yards per game, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the yardage for a team that has thrown for the 12th most yards per game. When Diggs gets back to full strength, things might again tighten up for Kyle Rudolph, who has posted back-to-back decent performances.
Signal: Jerick McKinnon – strong workload, two of three team inside the 10 carries over past two weeks
Noise: Jerick McKinnon – 16.9 total FPOE over the past two weeks
Green Bay Packers
Snap Notes: Aaron Jones – 65%; Ty Montgomery – 30%
Key Stat: Five skill position players averaging 9.5 total EP or more
Expected points (EP) is measured by the line of scrimmage of the snap where a rush attempt or target takes place. Because the Packers are an efficient offense, they run a lot of plays in opponent territory, and rack up EP. At least when Aaron Rodgers is healthy.
Right now, their skill position players average the fifth most total EP per game. That has been split pretty evenly among the main five or six options in the offense.
The question of how good Brett Hundley is will be a notable one for the offense, but there’s almost no way the overall EP in the offense won’t drop. We were already dealing with difficulty predicting who would be the star(s) and who might be a dud in a given week, but when a pie that’s split five or six ways all of the sudden reduces in overall size, that’s a problem.
Count me out on Martellus Bennett. He’s the first off the island; the other weapons will need to get fed first. But even between Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb, things are not looking great. And that’s not to mention what appears to be a timeshare between Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery in the Packers’ backfield after Jones led substantially in snaps in Montgomery’s first game back from injury.
The key here is that even if Hundley can make this offense run, there were already concerns about how everyone could get theirs when it was at full strength. Rodgers was the answer to the riddle of how that might all work out, and it was entirely because he is exceptional.
Everyone’s going to see through trying to sell Packers players right now, but I’m still trying to get 80 cents on the dollar. If you can’t get a deal done this week, at least the Packers draw the Saints before their bye, so there’s some hope Hundley can make the offense look decent in a plus matchup.
Signal: Too many mouths to feed if no Aaron Rodgers
Noise: Ty Montgomery – was probably limited intentionally, and should have had a touchdown reception if not for what was essentially a replication of Dez Bryant’s infamous no-catch in Green Bay years ago
Snap Notes: Chris Thompson – 61% (highest single-game snap share for any WAS RB this season)
Key Stat: Chris Thompson – 16 carries (career high), four receptions
Chris Thompson was the story of Washington’s 26-24 win over San Francisco. Coming out of the bye, Washington played him on 61 percent of the snaps in a game they never trailed. That’s not passing-back usage.
Rob Kelley was out. Samaje Perine played 34 pecent of the snaps, down from the 44 percent he played in Kelley’s other missed game in Week 3. For Thompson, the 16 carries were easily a career high.
Having said that, Thompson was ineffective as a runner, totaling just 33 rushing yards for a 2.1 YPC in what was a plus matchup against San Francisco’s weak rush defense. He did break 100 yards receiving on just four catches, so the flash was there. We’ll see how this plays out going forward, particularly after Kelley returns, but there’s definitely reason for optimism about an expanded role.
From the department of variance, Perine caught a TD on just his fourth target of the season. He wound up with 12 touches, but the snaps tell the story. If he isn’t playing when Kelley’s inactive, there’s little reason to hold him.
Josh Doctson also scored but played a season-low 26 percent of the snaps. Jay Gruden reportedly said he “didn’t get as many reps as I would like” and they would “actively expand” his role. The team said similar about Jamison Crowder over the bye, and he tied with Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Reed, Ryan Grant, and Thompson for the team lead with five targets, while Vernon Davis added four. Kirk Cousins had a 330-yard, two-touchdown day and no WR or TE broke double digits in PPR points.
Signal: Chris Thompson – snaps, usage; Too many mouths to feed in the passing game
Noise: Samaje Perine – receiving TD saved his day
San Francisco 49ers
Snap Notes: Carlos Hyde – 78% (highest rate since Week 2); Matt Breida – 24%
Key Stat: Carlos Hyde – 18 touches
A week after Matt Breida out-snapped and out-touched Carlos Hyde, who had previously had one of the strongest workloads in the entire NFL, the 49ers went right back to riding Hyde. Hyde dramatically out-snapped Breida, out-touched him 18 to six, and scored two one-yard TDs. There appears to be a belief the 49ers were showcasing Hyde for a trade,7 something they were reportedly seeking last week.
I don’t really have much in the way of speculation here, other than to say that the trade deadline is a couple weeks away and if this is really a showcase it’s possible Breida would take over a more substantial role later, whether the trade happens or not. Until we hear more, Hyde should be in starting lineups while Breida should definitely be owned.
Pat Thorman noted some really interesting pace stats on Twitter.
#49ers allow a league-high 70.8 plays/gm.
Since Week 2 they also run league-high 73.3 plays/gm & increased no-huddle rate 4 straight weeks.
— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) October 16, 2017
Part of this might be due to the 49ers playing five straight games that have been decided by less than a field goal, but the increased use of no-huddle is a positive for fantasy owners.
The move from Brian Hoyer to C.J. Beathard came in Week 6, and Beathard played reasonably well. Aldrick Robinson scored a late 45-yard TD, but was in on just 21 percent of the snaps and ran just 12 routes.8 Marquise Goodwin, who also operates as a deep threat, played 85 percent of the snaps and ran 45 routes.
George Kittle had another solid game, posting an 8-4-46 line while playing 92 percent of the snaps. He and Beathard played together in college.
i’m worried ppl might forget that cj beathard & george kittle both went to iowa so if it seems like someone is forgetting please remind them
— Peter Overzet (@peteroverzet) October 17, 2017
Signal: Team – playing at an elevated pace
Noise: Aldrick Robinson – way behind Marquise Goodwin in usage indicators
Snap Notes: Tanner Gentry – 95%; Tre McBride – 72%; Benny Cunningham – 1% (had been over 20% two straight weeks)
Key Stat: Team – 54 rush attempts, 17 pass attempts
The Bears-Ravens game was dreadful.
The Bears ran the ball 54 times, giving Jordan Howard 36 carries and Tarik Cohen 14. Benny Cunningham had been cutting into Cohen’s workload but they suddenly stripped him of all his playing time; he played just one offensive snap. That’s an obvious plus for Cohen going forward, but his value is still very low relative to where it was after the first few weeks of the season.
Mitch Trubisky had two completions in the first half, six at the end of regulation, and finished the day with eight. Kendall Wright played a season low in snaps, but that was in part because of all the running. The two TEs both played over 69 percent of the snaps for the second straight week, limiting the need for Wright in the slot.
Both TEs caught a TD, but Zach Miller’s came on a pass from Cohen on a trick play that was probably the most interesting thing that happened in this game.
Tanner Gentry led the WRs with a surprising 95 percent snap share and should be owned in deeper leagues, despite being only targeted once. Tre McBride played a lot as well, but every time the team thought about targeting him they just ran the ball instead.
Jordan Howard had a really good game with 167 rushing yards.
Signal: John Fox reminisces about the 1950s (but seriously, there’s signal here)
Noise: Probably the part about the 54/17 run/pass ratio (there’s also noise)
Snap Notes: Devonta Freeman – 74% (season high); Tevin Coleman – 32% (season low)
Key Stat: Austin Hooper – 9-7-48 receiving line
The Falcons went into the bye with a loss at home to the Bills and came out of it with a loss at home to the Dolphins.
Before the bye, I speculated on the team trying to get Tevin Coleman more involved. He did match Devonta Freeman with nine carries each, but Freeman again dominated snaps. Freeman was more efficient this game and is obviously a plus RB in his own right, but Coleman has been otherworldly overall.
Coleman did score his first rushing TD in Week 6 and got both of Atlanta’s inside the 10 carries, an area Freeman has dominated touches.
The big note here is Atlanta draws New Orleans in Weeks 14 and 16, with Tampa Bay in between. Tampa Bay is better against the run than the pass, but this is a plus fantasy playoff schedule for RBs. Both statistically and on film, Coleman looks like he has Jamaal Charles burst. This discussion is centered on him and not Freeman because of the difference in acquisition cost – the TDs have made Coleman massively more available in trade.
You might have to pay a little more than Coleman’s current value, but you’re locking in pretty solid production as it stands, and he’d probably be expected to out-produce his 12.6 PPR point average in the plus matchups of the fantasy playoffs. The less likely outcome is that he’s a league-winner, but you can make a relatively cheap investment right now in a player who has legitimate top-five overall playoff upside if something were to happen to Freeman.9 If your team is stacked and you’re winning games, that’s exactly the kind of player you want as your top bench asset or last starter.
Julio Jones was somehow out-targeted by both Austin Hooper and Taylor Gabriel, despite predictably posting substantially better efficiency numbers.
Hooper has now seen 16 targets in the last two games with Mohamed Sanu leaving one early and missing the other. He had just six targets total in the first three games with Sanu on the field. The team is struggling, and it’s pretty easy to see some of that is related to not getting the ball to the best offensive weapons. I’m not buying the usage bump for Hooper.
The Jones stuff is a broken record – obviously teams can scheme to take him away, but at some point you have to make a more concerted effort to find ways to get him the ball. He has 37 targets in five games, and seven per game for the most physically gifted WR in the NFL just isn’t cutting it.
He’s another buy low if you can swing it, as the schedule is even better for WRs and he has yet to score. The Falcons’ Week 7 opponent New England has been a fantasy boon for opposing offenses, so get those offers out there this week.
Signal: Tevin Coleman – :eggplant emoji:
Noise: Julio Jones – 7.4 targets per game has to be expected to increase
Snap Notes: Adrian Peterson – 74 percent; Andre Ellington – 20% (season low)
Key Stat: Adrian Peterson – 7-76-1 first quarter rushing line
Adrian Peterson made his mark with Arizona quickly, rushing for a 4-54-1 line on the first drive of the game, with all four carries going for eight yards or more. He added two more solid carries on the second drive, and was at 7-76-1 by the end of the first quarter. He wound up with an impressive 26-134-2 line, but was pretty boring for the final three quarters.
Arizona was up 31-0 by the early third quarter, before Tampa Bay came roaring back and made the final scoreline close. The script was in his favor, and three of his 26 carries came inside the 10, with two coming inside the five. Color me a bit skeptical outside the red zone carries, though, as the bulk of his rushing efficiency came on the first two drives, and the script inflated the rushing attempts. I think both the apparent return to elite form and the presumed huge workload his rushing line implies are in question.
Andre Ellington saw just one target and didn’t log a touch, ending a streak of PPR dominance. Was it because of Peterson’s acquisition?
Just 2 of Ellington’s 41 targets on the year have now come while Arizona has had the lead. Going to be frustrating when we miss the script. https://t.co/6Bo0XhkBmW
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) October 16, 2017
It’s likely the script played a bigger role than Peterson, who didn’t see a target himself. When Arizona finds itself in more pass-happy situations, Ellington should still retain value.
John Brown was also impacted by the game script. He posted a solid 4-3-64-1 line but played just 52 percent of the snaps10 as TEs Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas both played season high snap rates in run formations.
Signal: Adrian Peterson – two inside the five carries, one TD
Noise: Andre Ellington – zero touches (heavy plus game script)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Snap Notes: Ryan Fitzpatrick – 79%; Doug Martin – 53% (second-highest single game share for a Bucs’ RB this year)
Key Stat: DeSean Jackson – only player with 100 or more Air Yards in each of his team’s games this season
Down 21-0 after three drives, the Bucs lost Jameis Winston early in the second quarter. He’s expected to be ready for Week 7, but Ryan Fitzpatrick took over and played 55 of the 70 offensive snaps, leading a furious second-half comeback to close a 31-point deficit to within five.
Doug Martin again handled the bulk of the RB work, getting 14 of the 17 RB carries. All four of Jacquizz Rodgers’ touches came in the fourth quarter, while Charles Sims rotated in on passing downs in the earlier quarters. Martin officially touched the ball just once in the fourth, scoring on fourth-and-one from the one-yard line, but he also scored on a two-point conversion attempt earlier in the quarter. He’s the locked in lead back with goal-line work but was out-targeted five to two by Sims.
The targets split sort of how you’d expect – Mike Evans, Cameron Brate, DeSean Jackson, and Adam Humphries all saw between six and eight, and no one else but Sims saw more than three. Evans had a rough matchup with Patrick Peterson but scored a long fourth-quarter TD after Peterson left the game to salvage an otherwise inefficient day. Jackson is now the only player in the NFL with 100 or more Air Yards in every game, which speaks to a profile of consistent deep usage but also consistent target involvement.
When you play around with the Buy Low Machine, the Bucs don’t have any particularly difficult matchups the rest of the way, so all of the core offensive weapons continue to look like solid acquisition targets. Here is the QB schedule, for example.
I gave a more extensive rundown of the Bucs’ receiving options a couple weeks ago.
Signal: Doug Martin – all the RB carries through three quarters, goal-line work
Noise: Mike Evans – don’t sweat the three catches on eight targets
Los Angeles Rams
Snap Notes: No substantial shifts from prior trends other than Cooper Kupp (61%) returning to his earlier-season rate
Key Stat: Team – 249 total yards
The Rams went into Jacksonville in a matchup of two of the more surprising teams early in 2017 and got the win. But they did it differently than their other games, as they struggled offensively and scored two special teams TDs.
The Jaguars have an awesome defense, and the Rams were traveling cross-country. Understandably, after returning the opening kick for a TD and adding a punt block TD late in the second quarter to push the lead from three to 10, the Rams were comfortable taking the air out of the ball and relying on Todd Gurley.
They didn’t convert a first down on their first three drives, but Jared Goff did put together a drive late in the first where he went four-for-five for 50 yards and a TD. Goff only wound up 11 for 21 for 124 yards, in large part due to the script and lack of pressure being applied by Jacksonville’s offense.
That was the other theme here – Leonard Fournette scored on a long TD run on the first play from scrimmage, but neither of these teams sustained anything in the first half, and they were content punting back and forth. There were 11 first-half punts while each team only had one drive in the first half where they converted more than one first down.
Anyway, we didn’t learn much new about the Rams, as Gurley ran 23 times for 116 yards and the passing-game options were all underwhelming on account of the lack of volume. Robert Woods led in targets, receptions, and yards. Gerald Everett got the TD from the four-yard line, an area that’s been overwhelmingly Gurley’s domain but was bound to regress a bit simply because NFL teams can’t be too predictable.
Signal: Schedule’s been tougher last two weeks, offense has still looked functional enough to compete in games
Noise: Jared Goff – 21 pass attempts, 124 passing yards (special teams TDs impacting that)
New York Giants
Snap Notes: Roger Lewis – 89%; Tavarres King – 85%; Orleans Darkwa – 50% (season high); Travis Rudolph – 43%; Wayne Gallman – 28% (-11% from last two weeks); Shane Vereen – 22% (season low)
Key Stat: Orleans Darkwa – 21-117 rushing line
Orleans Darkwa got the start for the Giants, but Wayne Gallman did mix in with two carries on the first drive. The Giants grabbed an early lead and were content playing slow. A second-quarter interception return gave them even more reason to rely on their defense. In the end, the Giants ran 54 offensive plays to the Broncos’ 81, threw just 19 passes, and ran 32 times.
The Darkwa-Gallman split seemed like a “hot hand” situation, though it’s obviously notable Darwka started.
Going forward, Darkwa’s in the driver’s seat for RB touches. Gallman has shown some receiving ability, though, and the two of them combined for four targets and three catches while Shane Vereen wasn’t targeted and played his lowest snap share of the season. Vereen’s never going to be a plus game script guy, but he’s not worth holding right now.
Evan Engram was targeted on seven of Eli Manning’s 19 pass attempts, and went 5-82-1. He’s a locked in TE1 right now. Roger Lewis led the outside WRs in snaps, and Tavarres King played substantially more than Travis Rudolph. None of the WRs were targeted more than three times as Engram got fed, and the volume was down in the plus game script.
Sterling Shepard is expected to return soon, and the targets will likely flow through Engram, Shepard, and Lewis, with King looking like a deeper league name to watch, at least based on the playing time and until we see a game where the Giants actually throw a reasonable number of passes.
Signal: Orleans Darkwa – got the start and seemed to earn a higher share of opportunity with his play
Noise: Passing game volume overall and WR targets specifically
The Cowboys return from a bye with all the talk centering on Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and the legal drama unfolding. He’ll play in Week 7, but his long-term status is still uncertain.
Most Notable Signals
Too many mouths to feed in Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers; Chris Thompson’s snap share, rush attempts; Orleans Darkwa starting, earning 20 carries; Doug Martin all the RB carries through the first three quarters; Ameer Abdullah – hollow workload
Nelson Agholor – 25.2 reFPOE, tough upcoming schedule; Giants’ lack of WR targets; Andre Ellington’s zero touches (game script); Ty Montgomery – probably limited intentionally, had a near-miss TD
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- Receiving Fantasy Points Over Expectation (back)
- Weighted Opportunity Rating, which factors in both targets and Air Yards. (back)
- He has just 17 over the last four games after 21 in Weeks 1 and 2. (back)
- Two-yard TD pass to Hoomanawanui. (back)
- Ingram certainly won’t be scripted out, and both backs appear script-proof to a degree. (back)
- Those have been the only three inside the 10 rushes for the Vikings over the past two games. (back)
- At least according to my Twitter mentions. (back)
- Per PFF. (back)
- As always, no one is rooting for injury. Freeman’s an awesome player to watch with massive upside of his own; he’s also priced like it, because he’s the lead back and getting the bulk of goal-line work. (back)
- Down from 80 percent in Week 5. (back)