News & Analysis

Week 11 breakout candidates and potential projection-beaters

By Tyler Loechner
Nov 16, 2017

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Nov 9, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back J.D. McKissic (21) warms up prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy points per opportunity continue to be a fantastic way to identify players who are in potential breakout spots based on matchup and their own fantasy efficiency.

It’s always a bit sad once we reach the double-digit Week xx numbers, because it means the NFL regular season is more than halfway over. But on the bright side, we have plenty of data with which to work and make strong predictions.

For example, the article you’re about to read is based on data collected from over 51,000 pass routes run and nearly 7,000 rushing attempts this year. Running backs, wideouts, and tight ends have combined to score over 13,000 fantasy points Weeks 1-10. Not bad.

So how is it all divvied up?

As usual, this article will seek out players who have been making the most of their opportunities, and opponents who have been giving up a ton of fantasy points per opportunity. PPO is a fantastic stat to use for identifying potential blowup spots for fantasy players.

Here is the PPO against data through Week 10:

Below some players that are prime to break out in Week 11, according to the PPO data. (To see individual player PPO scores on a weekly or season-long basis, check out the Fantasy Stats section in our Tools lab.)

Running backs

Melvin Gordon draws the Bills, who have rapidly become a top team to target with running backs. The Bills rank last in PPO given up to running backs on the ground, thanks in no small part to the Saints in Week 10 (five running back touchdowns). But Buffalo was bad before last week — in fact, we highlighted them in this exact space a week ago as a run defense to attack. (And it worked.) Gordon ranks eighth in PPO scored among running backs. Rookie Austin Ekeler has seen an increased role, but we shouldn’t be so quick to bury Gordon because of it.

Orleans Darkwa could have an unexpected big game in Week 11 against the Chiefs, who have given up the second-most PPO to the position on the ground. The Chiefs have given up a rushing touchdown in four straight games, and opposing backfields have topped 100 rushing yards in four of their past five.

The Rams are weak against running backs, so this sets up as a nice week for Jerick McKinnon and/or Latavius Murray. Los Angeles’ 0.72 PPO given up to running backs on the ground ranks fourth-worst in the NFL. McKinnon ranks seventh among qualifying backs (50 percent snap threshold) in individual PPO scored.

J.D. McKissic will be Seattle’s primary receiving back in Week 11 with C.J. Prosise headed to IR. It’s a good matchup against the Falcons, who have given up the eighth-most PPO to opposing backs via the air this year. McKissic’s 7.9-yard average depth of target ranks second among all running backs who have seen at least 10 targets this year. (Prosise is the one ahead of him.)

Wide receivers

Brandin Cooks is in a blowup spot against the Raiders in Week 11. Without Chris Hogan in Week 10, Cooks saw a season-high 10 targets. The Raiders have given up the fifth-most PPO to opposing receivers on the year.

The Texans have been atrocious against receivers this year, giving up a league-high 0.28 PPO to the position, including seven touchdowns over the past three weeks. This sets up as a great spot for Larry Fitzgerald, whose 84 targets ranks fourth in the NFL.

The always-overlooked Jeremy Maclin is actually in a good spot for a breakout game this week against the Packers, who have given up the third-most PPO to opposing receivers on the year. Maclin ranks tied for 21st among wideouts in individual PPO scored.

The two guys Maclin is tied with in individual PPO are actually teammates Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. The Dolphins duo should find room to roam against the Buccaneers, who have given up the second-most PPO to wideouts this year. Landry’s 92 targets are good for third in the league this year, while Parker has collected an elite 2.08 yards per route run.

Tight ends

It’s no secret, but Travis Kelce should put up monster numbers against the Giants in Week 11. New York has given up the most PPO to enemy tight ends this year. On an individual basis, Kelce’s 0.49 PPO ranks second among all tight ends who have seen at least 15 targets.

Tyler Kroft has been a boom-or-bust tight end, but he should boom in Week 11 against the Broncos, who have given up the third-most PPO to opposing tight ends this year, behind only the Giants and Browns. Kroft sports a decent 0.39 individual PPO, tied for 22nd at the position.

Like Kroft, Jason Witten has been similarly boom-or-bust. He gets a solid matchup against the Eagles this week, who have given up the 11th-most PPO to tight ends.

Cameron Brate, who ranks 12th among tight ends in individual PPO, has been quiet for a few weeks now, but he has breakout potential against the Dolphins, who have given up the seventh-most PPO to the position this year.

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