There’s a good chance zero members of your league are using advanced statistics when making fantasy football decisions. Heck, even real NFL teams are lagging way behind their NBA and MLB counterparts in analytics.
Now is an excellent time to get ahead of the curve. We’re not going to try to digest every little metric that’s out there, mostly because we don’t want the opposite sex to completely disown us. But there are a few stats out there that can really, really help:
SNAPPING TO ATTENTION
Tracking snap counts and offensive personnel groupings is so simple that it doesn’t even deserve to be called a “metric.” It’s still amazing how often this is overlooked. Darren Sproles piled up 266 yards and two touchdowns in the first two weeks of last season, but he only played on 36.5 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps. Those in the know sold him quickly. On the other side of the coin, Charles Johnson went from zero snaps in Weeks 1 through 4 to 25.8 percent in Week 8 and then up to 53.1 in Week 11. It was easy to see he was progressing toward a full-time role down the stretch and therefore worth an add.
Everyone knows the NFL is about matchups. Due to cornerback play, a fair projection for DeAndre Hopkins could be 5-50-0 one week and 9-150-2 the next. Instead of slaving over tape every week or getting fooled by standard box scores, use the Passer Rating When Thrown To and Catch Percentage Allowed stats for defensive backs. You would have known to pile stock into Hopkins when he squared off with Blidi Wreh-Wilson in Week 13 last year (9-238-2) and the aforementioned Charles Johnson when he broke out against Darrin Walls (4-103-1).
It’s fun to own guys that make plays deep down the field like DeSean Jackson, Martavis Bryant and Vincent Jackson. It’s not fun when these very volatile assets leave holes in your fantasy week. If you’re in a PPR (point per reception) league, you need to realize there’s a direct correlation between PFF’s aDOT (average depth of target) metric and catch rate. Jarvis Landry, Julian Edelman, Golden Tate and Keenan Allen are examples of guys that see targets close to the line of scrimmage and therefore can be counted on for a high floor of weekly receptions.
MLB Pickups of the Week
1. Arodys Vizcaino, RP, Braves – Closer Jason Grilli (Achilles) is out for the year and interim man Jim Johnson will likely be traded at the deadline. Vizcaino is next up.
2. Adam Eaton, OF, White Sox – The entire White Sox team is bound to progress toward the mean after a disappointing first half. Eaton is their leadoff man.
3. Erasmo Ramirez, SP, Rays – Promoted out of the bullpen thanks to injury and impressed. Nine straight outings without giving up more than one run despite a weak arm.
Like many rookie tight ends, Austin Seferian-Jenkins was useless in fantasy last year. There’s a good chance that will change this year, especially after the 6’5/262 Mount Seferian was reportedly “uncoverable” during OTAs. He’s entering an offense led by new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who previously coaxed an outlier season out of Marcedes Lewis and then heavily utilized Tony Gonzalez. Seferian-Jenkins also gets a big quarterback upgrade in Jameis Winston, who helped underwhelming Nick O’Leary win the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end at Florida State last year. ASJ will see a ton of room over the middle with Mike Evans/Vincent Jackson drawing double teams on the outside.