Looking to 2017: 100 Fantasy Football Facts-Volume II

at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Our first volume of “100 Fantasy Football Facts” was published four months ago on March first. That was before the NFL Draft and was based strictly on returning players.

Now that the month of June is ending, and the team rosters and depth charts have completely changed, there is no better time to publish our second installment of “100 Fantasy Football Facts.”  We will publish our third edition right before the start of the season in September.

These are 100 completely true facts that will surprise and confuse fantasy football fanatics. The facts may or may not lead to the obvious conclusion, but the goal is to keep your fantasy football mind racing.

It’s one thing to have a grasp of analytics, but it’s another thing entirely to use those numbers as building blocks to some higher truth.

The question remains open for debate: does the data lead to the proper conclusion?

Here are 100 facts to give dedicated fantasy football junkies something to chew over as the summer months arrive.

(All statistical information was taken from PlayerProfiler. All average draft positions were from MyFantasyLeague).

Looking to 2017: 100 Fantasy Football Facts-Volume II

Peeling Back the Running Back Onion

  1. Among all running backs with at least 100 carries, the top five in yards per carry against a light defensive front were:  Jacquizz Rodgers (7.0 ypc), Mike Gillislee (6.6 ypc), Jordan Howard (6.3 ypc), Devonta Freeman (5.9 ypc), and Le’Veon Bell (5.9 ypc).
  2. Rodgers ran behind the second worst offensive line for run blocking efficiency, and Mike Gillislee ran behind the 11th worst offensive line for run blocking efficiency.
  3. Tampa Bay added tight end O.J. Howard in the first round of the draft and rookie wide receiver Chris Godwin in round three. Godwin is already impressing the coaches in minicamp. Tampa Bay also added veteran speedster DeSean Jackson via free agency. This should support an increase in the number of light defensive fronts Tampa Bay faces this season.
  4. Doug Martin is suspended for the first three games of the season due to a positive drug test last season. Jacquizz Rodgers is not suspended.
  5. Mike Gillislee only attempted 12.9 percent of his runs against light defensive fronts, which ranked 130th among all running backs.
  6. Former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount saw 24.1 percent of his runs against light defensive fronts last season. This is almost double the percentage (on a base of 198 more touches) that Mike Gillislee had.
  7. New England’s offensive line ranked 14th in run blocking efficiency, eight spots better than Buffalo’s offensive line. Mike Gillislee is now a member of the Patriots.
  8. Jacquizz Rodgers‘ average draft position (ADP) according to is 193.5 (Round 17). Mike Gillislee‘s ADP is 72.5 (Round Seven).
  9. Among all running backs with at least 100 carries, the top five in Yards Per Carry against a Stacked Defensive Front were: Terrance West (6.6 ypc), Mike Gillislee (4.7 ypc), LeSean McCoy (4.7 ypc), Latavius Murray (4.2 ypc), and Frank Gore (3.9 ypc).
  10. The only running back to appear in the top five on both lists?  Again, Mike Gillislee, who already has the inside track to the starting job in New England.

Hot Slot Machine

11.  Out of Anquan Boldin‘s 95 targets last season, 54.5 percent came when he lined up as a slot wide receiver. This was seventh most among all wide receivers.
12.  Out of Golden Tate‘s 135 targets last season, only 17.1 percent came when he lined up as a slot wide receiver. This was 47th most among all wide receivers.
13.  In Calvin Johnson‘s last NFL season (2015), Tate accumulated 56.7 percent of his targets and 61.6 percent of his receiving yards from the slot receiver position.
14. Evan Silva of Rotoworld reported that Golden Tate is seeing more slot work at Lions OTAs this Spring.
15.  Anquan Boldin had 15 red zone receptions last season, which was second among all NFL wide receivers.
16.  Golden Tate had nine red zone receptions last season, which ranked 17th among all NFL wide receivers.
17.  Last season, Golden Tate was first among all NFL wide receivers with 676 yards after catch. Yet, he ranked 37th at the position with only four touchdowns.
18.  Boldin ranked tenth among all wide receivers with eight touchdowns.
19.  Golden Tate‘s receptions the past three seasons:  99, 90, 91.
20.  Currently, Golden Tate‘s ADP is 44.5 as the 24th wide receiver, or barely a WR2.

Target Maven for Ravens?

21.  The Baltimore Ravens threw the football 712 times last season, the most in the NFL.
22.  Steve Smith, Dennis Pitta, Kyle Juszczyk, and Kamar Aiken combined for 321 targets and 222 receptions. All four of those players are no longer on the Ravens.
23.  Running back Kenneth Dixon is suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season due to a PED violation.  The Ravens did not draft a running back in this year’s draft, and only added pass-catching specialist Danny Woodhead to the backfield in the off-season.
24.  The Ravens also signed Jeremy Maclin this offseason.
25.  Besides Maclin, the most targets a Baltimore wide receiver has ever had in his career was Mike Wallace with 141 in 2013 at the age of 27.  Wallace turns 31 years old this year.
26.  If Wallace equals that 2013 target amount, that would increase his targets from last year by 24. Third year wide receiver Breshad Perriman had 66 targets last season. If we project him to reach 80 targets (not likely), that would still leave 283 available targets.
27.  If we add one fourth of Kenneth Dixon‘s targets (7.5), that makes a total of 290.5 targets from 2016 still available.
28. The most targets tight end Ben Watson has ever had in his career is 110 in 2015. Watson is now 37 years old.  If we project all Ravens tight ends to have 130 targets (not likely) that still leaves 160.5 available targets.
29. That leaves Chris Matthews (13 career receptions), Chris Moore (7 receptions), Kenny Bell, Michael Campanaro, and of course Danny Woodhead and Jeremy Maclin.
30. Every year Danny Woodhead has received 55 targets or more, he has finished as a WR2 or better in PPR formats.
31. Every year Jeremy Maclin has received 124 targets or more he has finished as a top 15 fantasy wide receiver or better.
32.  Danny Woodhead’s current ADP is 77.2 at RB29. Jeremy Maclin‘s current ADP is 102.9 or WR45.

Contested But Victorious

33. Among wide receivers with at least 100 overall targets and 20 contested targets, the following five players had the highest Contested Catch Conversion Rate:  Julio Jones (90.9 percent), Mike Evans (81.8 percent), Michael Crabtree (80.0 percent), Demaryius Thomas (78.6 percent), Davante Adams (76.9 percent).
34. According to MFL10, their respective ADPs are: Julio Jones 5.92, Mike Evans 7.04, Michael Crabtree 43.45, Demaryius Thomas 30.2, Davante Adams 35.5.
35. Michael Crabtree is the 23rd wide receiver off the board, yet finished as the 16th best PPR fantasy wide receiver in 2015, and the 12th best PPR fantasy wide receiver in 2016.
36. Davante Adams is the 19th wide receiver off the board. He finished with 75 receptions, 997 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Adams ranked as the WR9 in PPR scoring formats.
37. Adams ranked fourth among all wide receivers with 14 red zone receptions. Crabtree ranked seventh with 12 red zone receptions.
38.  Oakland’s Derek Carr ranked fifth among all quarterbacks with 92 red zone pass attempts. He also missed one game due to injury.
39.  Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ranked first among all quarterbacks with 115 red zone pass attempts.
40. How are two wide receivers, tethered to heavy red zone passing quarterbacks, in explosive offenses, being drafted on average in round four?

Prime Regression Candidates

41.  Number of games Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has missed in the past nine seasons? Zero.
42. From 2008 to 2015, Olsen averaged 5.6 touchdowns per year. Last season, Olsen only had three receiving touchdowns.
43. If Greg Olsen caught just two more touchdowns (still falling below his eight year average), he would have finished as the number one fantasy tight end ahead of Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce. #PositiveTouchdownRegression
44.  Over the past two seasons Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker has seen his receptions drop from 94 to 65, his receiving yards drop from 1088 to 800, but his touchdowns increase from six to seven.
45. Walker had a 25.8 percent Red Zone Target Share in 2016, ranking eighth among all tight ends. In 2015, his Red Zone Target Share was 28.6 percent which ranked second among all tight ends.
46.  Tennessee just signed Eric Decker, who is 2015 ranked first among all wide receivers with a 38.2 percent Red Zone Target Share.
47. Decker also ranked third in total Red Zone targets in 2014, and was first among all wide receivers in red zone targets in 2013.
48.  Delanie Walker ranked fifth in total PPR fantasy points by a tight end.  If he caught the same number of touchdowns as Greg Olsen (three), he would have fallen to 11th. #NegativeTouchdownRegression

Picking Up Where They Left Off?

49.  Over the last five weeks of the 2016 season, Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was sixth in fantasy points per game as per CBS scoring. He averaged 21.7 fantasy points per game in the four games he played.
50.  Taylor was benched in Week 17 by the Bills, to avoid a $30 million payout if he were to have gotten injured.
51.  Tyrod Taylor positional rushing rankings: carries (first), red zone carries (second), rushing yards (first), rushing touchdowns (first).
52. Taylor’s current ADP is 129.47, or the 18th quarterback selected.
53. The quarterback ranked fifth directly in front of Taylor?  Arizona’s Carson Palmer.
54. Palmer threw 11 touchdown passes over the final five weeks (one more than Tom Brady), and averaged 22.1 fantasy points per game.
55. Despite missing one game, Palmer tallied the fourth most air yards of any quarterback last season with 2,695. His pass attempt distance of 9.9 yards per attempt ranked fifth among all quarterbacks.
56. Palmer is only one year removed from a season where he finished sixth among all quarterbacks with 20.1 fantasy points per game.
57. In 2015, Palmer was also first in QBR (82.1), first in yards per attempt (8.7), second in passing touchdowns (35), and first in total air yards (2,897).
58. Palmer’s current ADP is 143.73 as the 21st quarterback selected. He is one spot behind Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles and two spots behind Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz.
59. Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce had a great 2016 season. He finished with the most fantasy points among all tight ends.
60. Kelce was first in receiving yards (1,125), yards after catch (634), and second in receptions (85).
61. Over the last five weeks of last season, Kelce was equally as good, ranking third among all tight ends in total PPR fantasy points with 79.
62. Kelce was still 23.3 fantasy points behind the top tight end during the last five weeks of the season, Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz.
63.  Over the last five weeks of the 2016 season, Zach Ertz had 40 receptions. That equates to eight receptions per game, which projects to 128 receptions for the season.
64.  Despite missing two games, Ertz finished fifth in tight end targets, receptions, and receiving yards.
65.  Ertz had a +30.5 percent Target Premium last season, which ranked fifth among all tight ends. He generated 30.5 percent more points per reception than the other Eagles pass receivers.
66. Travis Kelce‘s ADP 32.50 is good value. Zach Ertz‘s ADP of 103.5 is great value.

Towing The Line

67.  Over the past three seasons, only three offensive lines have consistently ranked in the top 10 in run blocking efficiency as per PlayerProfiler:  Dallas, Chicago, and New Orleans.
68.  The lead running back of each team respectively in fantasy points per game in 2016: Ezekiel Elliott (third), Jordan Howard (ninth), Mark Ingram (tenth).
69.  Howard did not start the year as the lead running back, but ended the season with eight games of 100 total yards or more in the last nine weeks. In the other game? Howard had 99 total yards.
70.  The lead running backs of each team in fantasy points per game in 2015: Darren McFadden (17th), Matt Forte (fourth), Mark Ingram (second).
71.  McFadden did not inherit the starting running back job until Week Seven. Over the last 11 games, he had 113 yards or more seven times.
72.  The lead running backs of each team in fantasy points per game in 2014: DeMarco Murray (second), Matt Forte (fourth), Mark Ingram (13th).  Ingram was still battling with Pierre Thomas (45 receptions).
73.  A team that as never ranked in the top ten in run blocking efficiency over the last three years? Miami.
74.  Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi‘s current ADP is 15.89 as the RB7. Jordan Howard‘s ADP is 16.14 as the RB8.
75.  There is no way one season of Jay Ajayi production should be valued over one season of Jordan Howard production with a consistent top 10 run blocking offensive line over the past three seasons.

Red Zone Relocation

76.  As per ProFootballReference, former Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata was tied for third most rushing attempts (17) inside the five yard line.
77.  Former Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray was only one attempt behind Asiata with 16 attempts.
78. Murray converted nine of those 16 attempts for touchdowns. He finished with 12 total touchdowns, tied for sixth among all NFL running backs.
79. Murray is currently listed as the top running back on the Vikings depth chart. If he gets the majority of touches and receives the goal line work from Asiata, he should easily reach double digit touchdowns again.
80.  Latavius Murray‘s current ADP is 138.6 as the RB46. There were only 10 running backs last year that had double digits touchdowns.

Chargers Red Zone Bonanza

81.  Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon tied with Asiata with 17 rushing attempts from inside the five yard line.
82. Los Angeles Chargers wideout Tyrell Williams had eight receiving targets inside the five yard line last season.
83.  In addition, tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry also had seven receiving targets inside the five yard line. That is a lot of red zone passing attempts for quarterback Philip Rivers.
84. Philip Rivers ranked fourth in passing touchdowns (33), fifth in passing yards (4,390), sixth in Deep Ball Attempts (79), and third in red zone attempts (102).
85. Philip Rivers current ADP is 117.82 as the QB15.

Why Choose if You Don’t Have To?

86. The common thought among fantasy owners is that owning a team backfield is a waste, since there can only be one running back worthy of starting on a team each week.
87. Last season, Devonta Freeman produced 12 RB2 or better weeks in PPR scoring formats.
88.  His teammate Tevin Coleman, produced eight RB2 or better weeks in PPR scoring formats.
89. Freeman and Coleman produced six weeks where they both produced RB2 or better weeks in the same game.
90.  Coleman missed three games, which made Freeman an automatic top fantasy start. Not only did both Falcons running backs produce, they served as each others insurance policy.
91. There are several backfields in 2017 that could provide similar value. Tennessee, Washington, New England, New Orleans, and Atlanta again are all viable options for the Team Backfield Drafting Strategy.

Bet On Cobb

91.  Jacob Rickrode of RotoViz, recently wrote an article explaining that over the last 12 seasons, on average there will be 12 NFL teams that fail to have a WR2 or better. He explained that if you successfully target the quarterbacks that produce multiple top 24 wide receivers, you can gain a huge fantasy advantage.
92.  Rickrode calculated that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has supported two WR2s in six of his eight healthy years.
93.  The current ADP of the Green Bay wide receivers are as follows:  Jordy Nelson 13.4 at WR6, Davante Adams 35.88 at WR19, and Randall Cobb 78.9 at WR39.
94. Last year, Cobb only played in 13 games yet finished 12th among all fantasy wide receivers with 10 red zone targets. Head coach Mike McCarthy already stated this month that he wants to get Randall Cobb the ball more this season.
95. At his current ADP, Cobb is being drafted as a WR4. As long as Rodgers stays healthy, there will be two Green Bay wide receivers who will be WR2s or better. Why not take a chance on Cobb in round seven?
96.  Cobb is currently being drafted after Tennessee rookie Corey Davis and Carolina Panthers Kelvin Benjamin.

Rookie RB Insanity

97. Last year, I wrote about tempering expectations for rookie running backs who were selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Over the last 11 seasons (2006-2016), the average production for rookie RBs is:  175.4 rushing attempts, 766 rushing yards, 27.5 receptions, 234 receiving yards, and 6.9 total touchdowns.
98.  That includes Todd Gurley‘s outstanding 2015 performance for the Rams:  1,294 total yards and 10 total touchdowns. It also includes Ezekiel Elliott‘s amazing 2016 for the Cowboys:  1,995 total yards and 16 total touchdowns.
99.  Are we really expected to believe that Gurley and Elliott are the new normal and not just outliers?
100.  There were two rookie running backs selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft: Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. Their current respective ADPs? 23.1 (RB11) and 33.3 (RB13).



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