News & Analysis

Week 16 Fantasy football analysis: Expected production so far

By Scott Barrett
Dec 19, 2018

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Sep 30, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) celebrate after a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, and welcome to the Week 16 (championship edition) Actual Opportunity report. This is our weekly look at the players with the most fantasy potential based on volume, and how effective they’ve been with it. If you’re unfamiliar with Actual Opportunity, you can read the in-depth explanation here.

Essentially, we’re using an 11-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 was 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.

After 15 weeks of action, here are the top 30 players in expected fantasy points per game:

Los Angeles Rams wide receivers

The production hasn’t been there for Josh Reynolds in recent weeks, but volume has been strong since the team lost Cooper Kupp in Week 10. Over this span, he averages 16.0 expected fantasy points per game, ranking 13th among all wide receivers. This is actually a good deal better than Brandin Cooks‘ 12.8 expected fantasy point average, which ranks 22nd over this span. Cooks is an especially risky start this week, with the potential to draw Patrick Peterson in shadow coverage. Robert Woods, meanwhile, will be safe in the slot – he’s run 71% of his routes from the slot over this span. Arizona ranks sixth-worst in fantasy points per game to opposing slot wide receivers. He’s also seen tremendous volume over this stretch, ranking fifth among wide receivers with a 19.0-point per game expectation.

Injury-related values

Frank Gore, Isaiah Crowell, Ito Smith, and Aaron Jones are out; Todd Gurley, Matt Breida, and Spencer Ware are day to day; and Lamar Miller is somewhere between questionable and probable. This has the potential to open up a ton of value for names like Kalen Ballage, Elijah McGuire, Tevin Coleman, Jamaal Williams, John Kelly, Jeff Wilson Jr., Damien Williams, and Alfred Blue. I’ll discuss each player in some depth below.

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