I opened this page intending to write an article. Admittedly, I had a lot of questions for myself. The fantasy components were easy. I watched games all weekend. I took notes and knew what I wanted to talk about. Truth be told, the uncertainty was much more of…well…everything else.
How do you present yourself in your first article for a new site? Maybe readers knew you from previous sites? Maybe they had preconceived ideas of who you are or what you brought? But this is a new time, a new place. You’re in a new situation. Suddenly those ideas from years past mean very very little. And now this new situation is literally the only thing they can judge you on. The only reference points are the here and now.
Oh hey look, its week 1 as well! We’ve spent all offseason building analysis on players based on their 2021 production, and now with just ONE week of data we get to overreact and define exactly what things are going to look like for the next four months. Excellent. Nothing like forcing a parallel to this very article, am I right?
All joking aside, welcome to the inaugural feature of “The Stats You Need To Know.” This piece – derived from the Premium Research reports here at The Fantasy Playbook – is intended to entertain you, open your eyes to possible opportunities to get a leg up on your league, or maybe even influence your decision-making from a look-forward basis. I hope you have fun.
1. AJ Brown and Jalen Hurts had an incredible reliance on Yards After the Catch.
It’s well known that AJ Brown is one of the best young receivers in the league, especially when it comes to creating explosive plays with the ball in his hands. But this week exemplified that in spades, as Jalen Hurts had the lowest air yards per passing attempt in the league. To that same end, his receivers had the 4th highest average Yards After Catch.
A.J. Brown specifically had the 4th most Yards After Catch in the league while being amongst the shortest in depth of target.
To top it off, can you guess who led all Tight Ends in Yards After Catch this week? You’re reading this paragraph, so you probably already have a good guess. And you’re probably right, it was absolutely Dallas Goedert, with 52 of his 60 yards receiving came after the catch.
All that to say, I don’t know what this Eagles offense is going to look like going forward or if they’re going to be able to maintain their ability to create explosive plays with so few air yards, but it should be worth noticing moving forward.
2. The Denver running game is exactly the headache we all feared.
Go back to the early weeks of May. Was there a single more hyped player than Denver’s Javonte Williams? Melvin Gordon was a free agent, the team didn’t address the position in the draft, and all was good.
Fast forward just a few short months. Melvin Gordon re-signs his contract. There were certainly still some Williams truthers, but most analysts agreed that we were set for another year of time share work, extinguishing any amount of optimism for the true Williams breakout. Unfortunately…it’s all that and it might somehow be even worse.
If Week One is to be believed, this backfield is going to be a true 50/50 split in every sense. Neither player differentiated themselves from the other this week in any meaningful way. In fact, the most striking metric – the fact that Williams had 12 targets this game – can in part be countered by the lead in Gordon’s goal line opportunities and carries in the second half of a hotly contested game.
I don’t want to sound completely doom and gloom here, but this backfield sets up to be an absolute nightmare for Williams managers while being exactly what Gordon drafters were hoping for.
3. Quadzilla is here to stay.
I am, of course, talking about Packers Running Back AJ Dillon.
Simply put, Dillon did it all for the Packers on Sunday, and this bears watching for Aaron Jones managers. Now, Jones played more snaps than Dillon, clocking in at 37 vs the latter’s 31, but the Packers used Dillon with a purpose, giving him an opportunity – carry or target – on more than half of his snaps. Jones consequently only saw an opportunity on 27% of his snaps played.
If the Packers continue to use Dillon in high leverage situations and goal line situations over that of Jones (as seen below), the value of these two players could see a serious level of normalization.
Now, the analyst in me does expect this to normalize. Aaron Jones is simply too talented and the Packers are too desperate for pass-catchers to not utilize that proficiency in his game. But as far as week 1 stats go, the clear usage of Dillon over Jones was well worth noting to see if the usage continues.
4. Good luck predicting the New York Jets.
If you’ve ever done projections, you likely understand the idea of the wide funnel. The idea is that a team has so many reasonable pass-catchers that predicting a large target share for any specific individual is a fool’s errand. That is the 2022 Jets in a nutshell.
Sure, I understand that this was a Joe Flacco led offense and things could possibly clarify with Zach Wilson under center…but is that a reasonable expectation? I see that table and see, quite frankly, a mess. There are glimmers of optimism, such as Garrett Wilson having 3 targets within the opposing 10 yard line, but if this offense is going to be as low-volume as we fear, these targets are poised to cannibalize each other’s values and make predictions in the fantasy sense nothing more than a crapshoot. Wilson, talented as he may be, isn’t likely to change that in a needle-moving way.
And that, my friends, is going to do it for this weeks edition of “The Stats You Need To Know”! If you liked any of the tables or charts shown above and are curious about them for any team or player, they’re just one click away in the premium membership level.
This level of subscription will also give you access to not only every report above (as well as dozens more!), but a private discord server where we have a channel specifically dedicated to these reports, how to use them, and a direct way in which you can request features from me. I cant wait to see you there.
Until next week, go be a positive influence in the world.