When analyzing football, deciding how far back you want your sample to go is a delicate balance. You want to include all of the relevant information but if you hold onto your priors for too long, you might play guys past their peak too often. Alternatively, letting your analysis of a player’s talent blind you is just as bad. You might miss the signal that, despite what your “eye test” is telling you, would’ve clued you in that something just isn’t happening. I’m looking at you, Jonathan Taylor rosterers. Either way, we’re at the point in the season that we’ve seen trends come and go and we need to decide what’s here to say as we enter the final third of the season.
I always like to check in with the personnel groupings to limit my player pool. Starting from a macro view and looking at this is so important. It helps you immediately eliminate some fringe wide receivers that you might have been considering. Green Bay, Cleveland, Minnesota, San Francisco, and New England all stick out as teams that you should only feature in lineups if you’re targeting their very top options. Those ancillary wideouts just simply won’t see the field enough to provide much value.
Leverage in Los Angeles
The Chargers are in the top-5 in running plays out of 11 Personnel. People will flock to Keenan Allen ($7,400) in a bounceback spot and Kallen Ballage ($5,600) in a revenge game. That will leave Mike Williams ($5,100) with a ton of leverage.
The Jets are exceptional(ly bad) at a lot of things. Defending the pass is no exception. On the season, they’ve allowed 10% of opposing pass attempts to turn into explosive plays.
Williams has accounted for at least 25% of their deep targets in every direction over the past few weeks. We’ve seen him absolutely destroy slates in the past and if he manages to find the end zone twice he could give you a huge leg up on the field in GPPs.
Denzel Mims ($3,300) is real close to min-price and is seeing a high snap share. It’s a somewhat thin play, but the correlation is there. Cheap correlation plays like that are hard to come by and it opens up plenty of salary flexibility through the rest of your lineup. Mims has seen 7+ targets in two of the last three weeks.
It’s Diontae Week
The Steelers aren’t shy about passing. Within one score, Pittsburgh leads the league in pass rate, sporting a 63-37 split.
If not for some injury issues, Diontae Johnson ($5,900) would likely be $1,000 more expensive. In his healthy games, he’s been a revelation.
In games that he’s started and finished, Johnson leads the team in targets. They’re using him all over the field and they’re successful when they’re doing it. The problem with playing him is that there’s not a lot to like on the other side thanks to the matchup and the Jaguars’ offense as a whole. Running him in a double stack with JuJu Smith-Schuster ($6,400) and Ben Roethlisberger ($6,700) is a good way to access the upside of this offense. You’re also gobbling up close to 50% of the target share with those two options.
The Return of Jameis
[Editor’s note: Shortly after posting, it was reported Taysom Hill is expected to be the starting quarterback against Atlanta.]
It’s hard to argue with this Atlanta – New Orleans game. It features the highest total on the slate. Check. It has marquee flex-eligible players. Check. But, most importantly, it gives us a chance to see our sweet prince Jameis Winston ($5,900) play once again. Alvin Kamara ($9,200) has been used early and often by the Saints.
Accounting for 26% of a team’s targets is no small feat for a running back. The shenanigans that Sean Payton pulls can be frustrating but Kamara has double-digit touchdowns on the year, so we can’t complain too much. There was news on Thursday that Kamara was dealing with an injury, but it appears he’ll be fine to play. Either way, Michael Thomas ($7,300) seems like a bargain as well. Assuming a full season of work, there’s no way Thomas would be at this price.
On the other side, we can play any of the usual suspects in Julio Jones ($7,500) or Calvin Ridley ($7,000), obviously. The name that intrigues me as a slightly lower-owned and a cheaper piece of that offense is Hayden Hurst ($4,400).
He’s only trailing the household names by a few targets so far this year. Hurst is on a streak of three weeks with at least seven targets. When the touchdowns come, Hurst is going to be a GPP winner.