Fantasy News & Analysis

Snaps, Pace, & Stats: The speed of Week 6's games

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 22: Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates his first down in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 22, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Welcome to the Week 6 edition of Snaps, Pace, & Stats, where we examine trends in snap totals and no-huddle usage for fantasy football purposes. It is meant to be a 30,000-foot view of upcoming games, with the goal of identifying which matchups will – and which will not – be played on fertile fantasy soil.

Up in pace

Rank Week 5 Snaps 2017 Snaps/Game Opponent Wk 5 Snaps 2017 Opp Snaps/Gm
1 Pittsburgh (77) Arizona (69.2) Jacksonville (77) San Francisco (70.8)
2 Indianapolis (73) Philadelphia (69) Houston (73) Tampa Bay (68.8)
3 Kansas City (73) New England (67.8) N.Y. Giants (73) N.Y. Giants (67)
4 L.A. Chargers (73) Denver (67.3) San Francisco (73) N.Y. Jets (67)
5 Dallas (72) Houston (66.6) Green Bay (72) JAX / TEN (66.6)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals

The Buccaneers average 62 plays (24th-most), but increased their snaps in each of the last two weeks. The Cardinals allow the eighth-most snaps (65.4) and ensure game scripts will be pass-heavy. Both the Bucs (64.3 percent, fourth-highest) and Cardinals (league-high 67.8 percent) throw often in neutral situations (one-score games). Tampa Bay attacked the Patriots primarily through the air on Thursday night (66.7 percent) and wound up with a season-high 68 plays. Despite Doug Martin’s solid debut (fourth-highest Week 5 rushing grade), Arizona’s 10th-best-graded run defense (3.3 yards per carry, sixth-lowest) is an unappealing target.

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The Cardinals are a snap factory, both for opponents and themselves (league-high 69.2 per game). Facing the Bucs, who allow the second-most plays per game, won’t change that. Tampa Bay gives up the seventh-fewest yards per carry and Arizona’s clown-car backfield averages the fewest (2.6). Adding current-day Adrian Peterson won’t be a revelation. Considering the defenses rank seventh and eighth in passer-rating against, it isn’t a major leap to expect significant play volume. While this aids the PPR prospects of Cardinals players, their many snaps have been hollow. Arizona hasn’t scored more than 18 points since Week 1, and only the flatlining Dolphins average fewer points per play.

San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins

Buoyed by their second overtime game in as many weeks, the 49ers average the ninth-most snaps (65). Yet, the elevated snap volume comes more from an evolving offensive profile than a couple of extra drives. For the season, San Francisco ranks fifth in situation-neutral pass rate (63.6 percent), and since their Week 3 barnburner with the Rams, it’s jumped from 51.6 percent (19th), to 65.8 percent (fifth), to 70.4 percent (second). After two weeks, San Francisco ranked 24th in no-huddle rate (two percent) and 14th in seconds-per-snap pace (28.6). Since then they’re sixth in no-huddle rate (14.3 percent) and their seconds-per-snap (25.4) ranks third-quickest.

The 49ers also surrender a league-high 70.8 plays per game, which will boost a Washington offense that was decidedly low volume until they ran 72 snaps before their bye week. San Francisco’s funnel defense features the league’s worst-graded coverage unit, as well as an ascending front seven holding opposing ball carriers to a 3.6-yard average (ninth-lowest). With Washington’s rushing grade ranking second-lowest, and their best running back a passing game dynamo, Kirk Cousins will be busy. Considering the Redskins’ defense faces the 13th-highest pass rate in neutral situations, and is far more appealing to throw against without top cornerback Josh Norman, this matchup should be a shootout.

Low volume outlook

Rank Week 5 Snaps 2017 Snaps/Game Opponent Wk 5 Snps 2017 Opp Snaps/Gm
32 N.Y. Jets (51) Oakland (54.6) Cleveland (51) Carolina (57)
31 Jacksonville (53) N.Y. Jets (57.4) Pittsburgh (53) Philadelphia (57.8)
30 Oakland (54) Tennessee (58.6) Baltimore (54) Washington (58.5)
29 Chicago (56) Miami (59.3) Carolina (56) Houston (59.2)
28 Detroit (56) L.A. Chargers (60.8) Minnesota (56) Denver (59.5)

Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers

The Eagles average the second-most plays per game (69) and have a pass-happy reputation earned during the season’s opening weeks. After two games, they were the second-most pass-heavy offense in neutral situations (66.7 percent). Since then, however, they rank second-lowest (46.9 percent). Philadelphia operates at the league’s fifth-slowest pace (30.9 seconds per snap), which has helped them to surrender the second-fewest plays (57.8). While opponents throw against them at the league’s highest situation-neutral rate (68.4 percent), Eagles games have not overflowed with snaps. Their keep-away tendencies are a well-kept secret.

The Panthers may have awakened the last two weeks with 60 combined points, but they are not a high-volume offense (62.4 plays per game) and allow a league-low 57 plays per game. Their games average the second-fewest snaps, and Carolina operates at the NFL’s slowest pace (32.0 seconds per snap). Opponents skew pass-heavy against them, with the third-highest situation-neutral pass rate (63.2 percent), but the Panthers remain a ground-based offense when games are close (sixth-highest run rate). Throw in the Thursday night slop factor on top of the Eagles’ offense missing Jenga lineman Lane Johnson — but returning a healthy Fletcher Cox for the defense — and this matchup looks more interesting for real football than voluminous for fantasy.

Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

With Derek Carr expected back, it’s easy to have visions of a reignited Raiders’ passing game trading blows in a shootout. More relevant are Jack Del Rio’s visions of a reinjured Carr and if he’d be safer handing off all game. Oakland already averages the sixth-fewest passes (30.4), in part due to running the league’s fewest plays (54.6). Their low-volume offense has little to do with Carr’s recent absence, as they are miles from 31st. The Raiders operate at the sixth-slowest seconds-per-snap pace (30.3) and will almost certainly pound the ball against a league-worst-graded run defense allowing 5.0 yards per carry (fourth-worst). It wouldn’t be a novel idea, as the Chargers face the fourth-highest situation-neutral run rate (48.8 percent).

Los Angeles isn’t exactly pumping out the plays either, with their 60.8 per-game average ranking fifth-lowest. It includes a 73-snap Week 5 matchup in which play volume was boosted by the Giants’ up-tempo approach. The Raiders’ plodding pace won’t do them any such favors. The Chargers were helped to their first win by again feeding Melvin Gordon, and a similar strategy makes sense against a defense that’s allowed running backs 5.3 yards per carry over their last two games. Over the last three seasons, the first meeting of the year between these teams has averaged 63.3 points and the second game 32.3 points – but from a snap volume perspective, the matchup likely disappoints this time.

No-huddle notes

Rank Wk 5 No-Huddle % 2017 No-Huddle % Wk 5 Seconds/Snap 2017 Sec/Snap
1 N.Y. Giants (59.1) Detroit (36.9) Houston (22.9) N.Y. Giants (26.3)
2 Detroit (55.4) N.Y. Giants (33.3) Arizona (24.2) Cleveland (26.3)
3 Pittsburgh (31.2) Pittsburgh (21.1) Pittsburgh (24.3) Arizona (26.4)
4 L.A. Rams (25.4) Tampa Bay (20.6) L.A. Rams (24.3) San Francisco (26.4)
5 San Francisco (17.1) Cleveland (16.5) N.Y. Giants (25.7) L.A. Chargers (26.5)
  • The Rams have increased their no-huddle usage each game since Week 2, at which point their 4.4-percent hurry-up rate ranked 18th. It grew to 11.7 percent in Week 3, 20.6 percent in Week 4, and hit 25.4 percent on Sunday against the Seahawks. Jared Goff wasn’t helped much on his 13 no-huddle throws (55.6 passer rating) compared to his 34 other attempts (46.3 passer rating), but it shows Sean McVay’s growing faith in his young quarterback.
    His playcalling also shows a (perhaps questionable) faith in the passing game. While the Rams have the 10th-highest overall run rate (44.9 percent), in neutral situations it’s only 20th-highest (40.1 percent). With the score close against Seattle, McVay elected to throw at, by far, the Rams’ highest rate of the season (69 percent). He may want to slow things back down and recommit to Todd Gurley as the schedule becomes increasingly daunting.
  • The Giants cranked out a 59.1 percent no-huddle rate in their fifth loss of the season. It was a season-high by a good margin, and they did score in the 20s for the third straight week. The vaguely positive news ends there, however, as their receiver corps was wiped out by injuries. It stands to reason Ben McAdoo elects to slow things back down, at least for their Week 6 trip to Denver, and more likely for however long it takes to get some healthy wideouts acclimated with the offense. If the Giants are not volume-enhanced, they’re useless. Talking ourselves into Shane Vereen, Roger Lewis, or even Evan Engram by selling the theoretical hope of play volume is a thin argument against the bye-rested Broncos.
  • If Hue Jackson indeed decides to give DeShone Kizer an extended stint on the bench, it doesn’t appear as if it will affect the Browns‘ no-huddle usage. Kevin Hogan handled four up-tempo snaps after entering the game and acquitted himself well. He ran it once for six yards and completed all three attempts for 41 yards. Ricardo Louis caught two (37 yards) and Isaiah Crowell hauled in the other. It is by no means a groundbreaking development, but it’s a sign Jackson will put as much faith in Hogan as he did in Kizer – who misfired on both of his no-huddle throws – if the quarterback switch becomes indefinite.
  • The Steelers’ 31.2-percent no-huddle rate set a season-high, not that it played a large role in their loss to the pass-defense-dominant Jaguars. It did run their home hurry-up rate to 28.1 percent, versus 15.6 percent away from Pittsburgh. They average 73 snaps in home games and 62 on the road. None of this will make a lick of difference if their offense isn’t fixed, with many fingers pointed at Ben Roethlisberger. While it’s discouraging to see only scantly positive no-huddle splits unlike in years past, his completion percentage (64 versus 61) and yards per attempt (7.2 versus 6.3) are better from the hurry-up. In the end, the Steelers run/pass ratio was far more of an issue than their huddle/no-huddle ratio.
  • As expected, the Lions returned to the no-huddle upon returning to Detroit. Their 55.4-percent hurry-up rate was a season-high. Through five weeks, they’ve skipped huddles on 50.8 percent of snaps at home and only 15.3 percent on the road. While the Lions haven’t run many more plays in Detroit (plus-1.7 per game), their opponents average nearly 11 more (10.8). A difference of more than 12 snaps per game is nothing to sneeze at, and can be at least partly attributed to the Lions running a play every 26.8 seconds at home and every 33.5 on the road.
    Another reason for the increased volume at home is the Lions skew more pass-heavy in Detroit. In neutral situations, they’ve thrown 70.6 percent of the time, versus 54.1 percent during away games. Slowing the pace in New Orleans this week would work to their advantage. In fact, it did exactly that last season. The Lions didn’t use tempo (1.5-percent no-huddle), held the ball for a season-high 36 minutes and 52 seconds, and kept the Saints to their second-lowest play count (57) and point total (13) of the season. They may have ruined one or two DFS days as well. With their own offense sputtering, expect the Lions to attempt the keep-away strategy they used for most of last season.
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