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Expected fantasy points: The top fantasy usage through Week 4

Sep 22, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (18) makes a touchdown reception against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Rams won 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, and welcome to Week 5 of XFP – the Expected Fantasy Points Report. If you’re unfamiliar with expected fantasy points, I offered up an in-depth explanation earlier this offseason.

Every week we’ll be 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 was for fantasy. We can contrast this with fantasy production to measure efficiency.

In layman’s terms, expected fantasy points measures the exact worth of a player’s volume – “how many points a player should have scored” given his workload, based on what the average player would have scored.

Through four weeks of action, here are the top-25 players in expected fantasy points (XFP) per game:

[Note: Full-season XFP is now available for download in spreadsheet form. We’ll be releasing it each week in our PFF Elite Facebook Group. If you’re not already an Elite subscriber I highly recommend joining.]

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

(XFP: 23.3, PPR: 28.0, Diff: +4.7)

McCaffrey totaled 28.3 XFP in Week 4, the sixth-highest total of the season, immediately behind his Week 1 (28.5). He now leads all players in both expected (23.3, 4.6 more than the next-closest running back) and actual fantasy points per game (28.0). As I argued Monday, McCaffrey is easily the single most valuable commodity in fantasy football. If we ignore a meaningless Week 17 game last year where he played on just 14% of his team’s snaps, McCaffrey has now scored at least 25.0 fantasy points in 10 of his last 12 games. Over this span, he’s averaging 30.0 fantasy points per game. Only four times in NFL history has a running back averaged 30.0 or more fantasy points per game in a single season.

Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

(XFP: 18.7, PPR: 27.3, Diff: +8.5)

Through four weeks, Ekeler ranks second in XFP per game (18.7), second in fantasy points per game (27.3), first in fantasy point differential (+8.5), and second in PFF grade. Well, I suppose it was fun while it lasted. With Melvin Gordon returning to the team, and as the “starter,” Ekeler’s value plummets, but by how much? Ekeler currently holds a 73% XFP market share over Los Angeles’ backfield. If Los Angeles opts for a 60/40 split in Gordon’s favor, we can expect 15.3 XFP per game for Gordon and 10.2 XFP per game for Ekeler. For perspective, those numbers would rank 12th-best and 30th-best respectively.

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