Determining whether unexpected trends are anomalous or the new normal is a difficult task, especially to biased fantasy owners. Week two is a prime trading window because people begin to panic after their guys have consecutive bad weeks, and overpay for players with consecutive good weeks.
A deeper dive into the analytics should provide some clarity on who will bounce back, who is here to stay, and who has put up legitimately concerning stats. After observing offensive pace of play, air yards, and overall trends through week two, there are several fantasy assets heavily affected by team tendencies.
D.J. Chark – WR Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville is currently leading the league in air yards with the highest depth per target, the 4th most pass attempts, and by far the highest number of deep passes through the first two weeks (with 25 – league average is 12.3). D.J. Chark could be a buy candidate coming off of a bad game with an 80+% snap percentage each of the first two games and averaging nearly 17.5 air yards per target.
Jacksonville should continue to see negative game scripts, so there is no reason to believe that these metrics should alter much throughout the season. If he maintains his 136 target pace, he could be a weekly starter with big play upside.
Jonathan Taylor – RB Indianapolis Colts
Taylor only has a 50.3% snap percentage over the first two games averaging 3.3 YPC. He has guaranteed volume as the Colts run the ball straight up the middle the third most in the NFL despite losing their first two games, but they are generally low value touches. You will not be happy unless he scores, which is even less likely with the uncertainty regarding the Wentz injury.
Taylor may lead the league on touches inside the 20, 10, and 5 so far, but with no success up to this point, his upside feels limited with how this offense is currently performing. While regression would indicate that he should score soon, his snap percentage and how that offense is currently operating are concerning.
George Kittle – TE San Francisco 49ers
Kittle is on pace for 76.5 targets in 17 games, which is drastically lower than his 145 target pace from 2018, 130 pace in 2019, or even his 102 pace from last year. SF is 32nd in air yards on the season, and Kittle is averaging 1.9 air yards per reception. This is drastically lower than his 7.0 from last year causing fantasy owners to worry.
The good news is that he has a snap percentage of 94.5%, and SF is still averaging 5.07 yards per attempt. Kittle in his huge 2018 and 2019 seasons averaged 5.8 and 5.3 air yards per reception respectively, with 9.9 and 7.1 yards after the catch. With gadget plays bringing down the average depth of target for the 49ers, Kittle’s anomalous 1.9 air yards per catch will certainly increase. He is averaging 10 yards after the catch on the season showing that he still can be the George Kittle of old, and SF may need to rely on him with more difficult matchups than the Lions and Eagles ahead.
Calvin Ridley – WR Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta is 28th in deep passes and air yards, but 4th in offensive plays and 8th in pass attempts. High pace of play is generally indicative of success for the clear number one target in an offense, but Ridley’s role has also changed. Last year, Ridley averaged 12.2 air yards per reception on a 162 target and 1557 yard 17-game pace. This year, he is averaging 7.1 air yards per reception with a 17 game pace of 153 targets and 969 receiving yards. A drop-off of nearly 600 yards on only 10 fewer targets cannot be ignored, but obviously Atlanta’s schedule may have something to do with this.
Ridley should be consistent for fantasy with guaranteed target volume, but may not have as many boom games as previously anticipated. Some people still think of him as a top 5 fantasy wideout, so capitalizing on that may be more beneficial than holding him long-term.
Henry Ruggs III – WR Las Vegas Raiders
Was the big week a fluke or a sign of things to come? After removing overtime, Vegas still has the 3rd most deep passes, offensive plays, pass attempts, and the 4th most air yards on the season. Ruggs is currently on a 102 target pace, and averaging 14.9 air yards per reception. He may not be the most consistent option, but these metrics indicate that more boom games are coming his way.
Ja’Marr Chase – WR Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are tied for last in total offensive plays and are 29th in deep passes. Burrow last season averaged just over 41 attempts per game before the injury, but this year has thrown the ball 27 and 30 times in his first two games. If this persists, Chase, Higgins, and Boyd cannot all be fantasy relevant each and every week. Now might be the best time to sell the young superstar to someone excited about his touchdowns in the first two games and overall potential. He will not score every week, and the current passing volume of the offense indicates that he will need to have unbelievable efficiency to be consistent.
The good news is that he is on the field for over 91% of offensive snaps as a rookie, so he should have plenty of opportunity if passing volume increases. Hold him if you think the Bengals will start passing more, but the current metrics would indicate that he is a sell-high candidate.
Detroit – Wide Receivers
Detroit has the most pass attempts so far on the season. They will need to keep passing in negative game scripts to keep up with opponents, so there are some breakout opportunities among their receivers. Averaging 7 targets per game, Quintez Cephus may be worth a stash. Rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown may be worth a stash as well with Tyrell Williams on IR. Most of the targets go to Hockenson and the running backs, but 46 pass attempts per game means that there is plenty to go around.
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