News & Analysis

Fantasy leaders in Actual Opportunity through Week 14

By Scott Barrett
Dec 13, 2017

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Dec 10, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Rod Smith (45) runs past New York Giants linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (47) for a touchdown during a NFL football game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Week 15 Actual Opportunity Report. Actual Opportunity is our approximation of how many fantasy points a player should score based on workload. If you’re unfamiliar with Actual Opportunity and how it applies to fantasy football, you can read the in-depth explanation here.

Essentially, we’re using a 10-season sample of play-by-play data to calculate expected fantasy points from a player’s seasonal or weekly usage. We look at each target (by distance from the end zone and depth of target) and each carry (by distance from the end zone and down and distance) and add this up to determine how valuable a player’s role is for fantasy purposes. We can contrast this with fantasy production to measure efficiency.

In layman’s terms, Actual Opportunity is “how many points a player should have scored” given his workload, based on what the average player would have scored. “Expected fantasy points” will be used interchangeably with “Actual Opportunity” throughout this article.

Through 14 weeks, here are the top 35 active players in expected fantasy points per game. After that, we’ll look at some notable standouts:

Rod Smith, RB, Dallas Cowboys

(AO: 6.8, PPR: 9.2)

Smith was our single most efficient player in Week 14, totaling 9.3 expected fantasy points and scoring 33.0. He saw just six carries and five targets, with nothing coming inside the 15-yard line, but turned this into 160 yards and two scores. Alfred Morris, meanwhile, saw 19 carries, three targets, and all (four) of the team’s running back opportunities inside the red zone. He was fairly inefficient, scoring just 11.5, despite totaling 15.6 expected fantasy points. This week the matchup looks good again for Smith, who is the more capable receiver, up against an Oakland defense allowing the 17th-most rushing fantasy points, but the seventh-most receiving fantasy points to opposing running backs. Still, given likely gamescript (Dallas is favored by 3.0 on the road) and a more bankable workload, I’d still be more-inclined to play Morris over Smith.

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