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Target and Snap Analysis Week 18 2016
By Jen Ryan
Targets and Snaps: Wildcard Weekend
Yes, your fantasy football regular season is over. No, that does not mean the game that we love is over. There is still daily fantasy to be played, and if you go looking for it, you may just find a playoff league or two. Ask the hardest working commissioner in fantasy football Scott Fish (https://twitter.com/ScottFish24/status/814975014025986048) about his playoff league, and tell him I sent you.
Whether you will be playing in any sort of fantasy contests this weekend or responsibly betting on a game or two, it is important to know the numbers. Let’s take a look at some target and snap data for the wildcard teams.
Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans
- Amari Cooper may be on the field for more snaps than Michael Crabtree, but it is Crabtree who leads the team in targets with a quarter of them going in his direction. He has also edged out Cooper over the past three weeks with 24% of the targets. With both of these receivers we must proceed with caution, as Connor Cook will make the first start of his professional career during Wildcard Weekend.
- Could there be something to the #BackupConnection, a theory developed by Scott Barrett of Pro Football Focus? If so, I’ll be looking at Andre Holmes as a tournament play this weekend. He had five targets to Cooper’s six in Week 17.
- Jack Del Rio mentioned Latavius Murray and his lack of involvement. Since his season-high 70% snap rate in Week 13, Murray’s snap count has decreased each week, culminating with a five carry performance in Week 17, his lowest of the season. If we believe Del Rio, we could see a healthy dose of Murray this weekend. The Texans have allowed 17 touchdowns to running backs this season.
- There is not a player on the Texans that remotely sniffs DeAndre Hopkins 98% snap count. Will Fuller is second on the team in snap rate, but he is consistently out-performed by C.J Fiedorowicz (60%). Much like the Raiders, we must proceed with caution; Brock Osweiler will be back under center for the Texans this weekend and he has facilitated a stagnant passing game all season.
- Fiedorowicz is the play with Osweiler and has been the most trust-worthy receiving option for him in terms of fantasy production.
- Lamar Miller has not taken a snap in two weeks. Prior to Week 16 and 17, he had back-to-back 20+ carry games for the first time since Week 3. If he is well rested and healthy, we can expect a full load against the Raiders, who have allowed 22 touchdowns to running backs and 71.8 points to the position over the past four weeks.
Final thought: This game has low-scoring affair written all over it. Osweiler has been abysmal this season, to put it lighty. Cook was inactive for the first 16 weeks of the season and we have to wonder how long his playbook-leash will be.
Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks
- If anyone is interested in taking a walk down Narrative Street then this is your friendly reminder that Golden Tate is playing in a revenge game. The Tate/Sherman matchup will be fun to watch, but if Tate moves around a little and draws Jeremy Lane from the slot, he could be dangerous, especially in the red zone. Tate sees 60% of the Lions’ targets from the 10-zone.
- The same logic can be applied to Anquan Boldin, who runs 82% of his routes from the slot. He has rendered Marvin Jones somewhat irrelevant and is a receiver to target this weekend. The Seahawks are a different monster at home, but they are allowing an average of 26 points per game over the past four weeks to the position.
- Zach Zenner may only account for 23% of the teams’ snaps this season, but that number is misleading. He was on the field for 76% of the teams’ snaps in Week 16 and that number jumped to 97% in Week 17.
- Doug Baldwin broke the bank in Week 16 when he was on the field for a season-high 93% of the teams’ snaps and saw 19(!) targets. Those numbers dipped to 70% snap rate and four targets in Week 17. Week 17 is vastly different than the Wildcard round and we will see a heavy dose of Baldwin, who leads the Seahawks with 23% of the teams’ targets. The Lions have allowed a league-high eight touchdowns to receivers over the last four weeks.
- Jimmy Graham has an alarming 8% of the teams’ targets over the past three weeks and has been out-targeted by Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse. Lockett went down in Week 16, and over the past two games Kearse has seen a combined 16 targets. The Lions have been stingy against tight ends over the past month, allowing 34.6 points and just one score.
- The Seattle run game in general has disappointed over the past few weeks with Thomas Rawls being dinged up. Fading the Seattle backfield could be the play here.
Final thought: With Seattle currently an 8 point favorite, I am buying into the passing game on both sides of the ball this weekend. The emerging Zenner has more appeal to me than the Seattle backfield. If Graham’s recent production worries you, take a shot on Luke Wilson as a contrarian play.
Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers
- Matt Moore quarterbacking this team is not necessarily a bad thing for the Dolphins. In three games with Moore, Landry has amassed 213 yards on 16 targets. He has four touchdowns this season, two of which were thrown to him by Moore over the past three weeks. Stills, a buzzing tournament play for this weekend, has scored in three straight games with Moore. Parker has nine receptions on 14 targets over the past three weeks and could be in play as well
- Dion Sims is also an interesting play this weekend. Though he doesn’t account for much of the target share in Miami, he is on the field for 72% of the teams’ snaps. Pittsburgh has allowed an average of 11 points to tight ends over their past four games.
- Ajayi will be a popular play this weekend and could see high ownership, as the Steelers are one of the teams he ran for over 200 yards on. He also just ran for 206 yards in Week 16 with Moore as the signal caller.
- Antonio Brown requires little-to-no analysis and will be one of the highest owned receivers this weekend (Byron Maxwell, who held Brown under 40 yards in their last meeting, will be out this week). The guy I am looking at is Eli Rodgers who should see an uptick in targets running out of the slot with Ladarius Green expected to miss this game. I expect the Pittsburgh Steelers to pour it on this weekend and go beyond their implied total of 29 points. The receivers should have a field day.
- Le’Veon Bell is another player that really does not require any analysis. I read something interesting on Bell earlier this week: he is projected to be the highest owned player of the entire weekend and you should either 100% play or fade him. I agree with that – I will either be all in or all out on Bell in tournaments. Cash games, however, he is truly a lock.
- As I just mentioned, Green will be out this week. Jesse James should dominate the snaps, but Xavier Grimble could be a factor. These two could cancel each other out and are nothing more than GPP plays.
Final thought: Call me crazy, but I see Moore as an ugrade to Ryan Tannehill. No one expects the Dolphins to pull this one out and Vegas is giving them a generous 10.5 points, but real football and fantasy football are different. The implication that they will be playing from behind gives Landry and Stills a major boost. As for the Steelers, they should run away with this and playing Steelers will cost you a pretty penny in your lineups this week.
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers
- The Yacht Club is another receiving corps that should provide plenty of scoring this weekend. Rostering Odell Beckham will leave you scraping in other areas but Sterling Shepard is a guy who, though he does not have Beckham’s ceiling, could have similar upside in this matchup. He has proven he can find the end zone and could benefit from any extra attention Beckham may receive. The Packers’ secondary has given up seven touchdowns over their past four games and 184 total points to receivers. This makes Victor Cruz worth a look in tournaments.
- The Giants recent committee approach to their backfield is a bit concerning, however Paul Perkins not only has more upside but he has, reportedly, been named the starter against the Green Bay Packers. He could be the wildcard play of wildcard weekend, and with Green Bay averaging 95 yards per game to backs over the past month, I wonder if Perkins could hit the 100-yard bonus in his playoff debut.
- Tight end is more interesting on the other side of the ball (we will get to that in a moment) but Will Tye is the only Giants’ tight end with a pulse at this point. He does get his fair share of targets and has seen 13 over his past two games, but his 47 yards in Week 17 were a season-high. Green Bay, for their part, has held tight ends to seven points per game in their past four.
- Per Pro Football Focus, Jordy Nelson is the only wide receivers expected to see shadow coverage this weekend. I am here to tell you that does not matter. He is simply matchup proof and can score at will. He led all receivers with 14 touchdowns this season and he has proven to have touchdown upside each and every week. The Giants’ secondary and defense in general is relentless and they have not allowed an opponent to score more than 28 points all season. They have held three of their last four opponents under 20 points. However, they have also allowed the receivers of their last four opponents to score 19 points per game. It should also be cautioned that they have given up one touchdown to receivers over that same time span. Nelson and Adams are the top and only options from the receiving corps this week.
- Ty Montgomery’s upside in this game is high and could be relied upon heavily to wear the Giants’ defense down. He has put up two duds in a row of single-digit fantasy points but if the weather is going to be frigid as expected, perhaps we see a heavy lean on him in the run game.
- Jared Cook is the most interesting tight end of this game. The Giants do not have many weaknesses on defense but they can be beat in the middle of the field and Cook could be a factor there.
Final thought: Of all the games this weekend, this game will most resemble old school football. The weather, the storied franchises, two Super Bowl champion quarterbacks. This has all the makings of one of the greatest football games of this season. Nostalgia aside, both quarterbacks and top receivers will be point factories in this matchup. The running backs on both side of the ball have a ton of upside and the projected frigid weather favors them.
Wildcard Weekend gives us the largest pool of players we will see for the remainder of the season. This is the week to find an edge, exploit some matchups, and take a shot on the Damien Williams’ of the world. Good luck this weekend!