First and foremost, I’m back. After taking last week off for personal illness (all good now), it’s time to resume the weekly edition of The Stats You Need To Know.
Context is tough. Context when speaking to statistics can be especially difficult. Too often we want out metrics in bite-sized morsels, able to quickly discern and understand a metric and think it the end-all be-all. Tony Pollard is averaging 5.8 yards per carry this season? Great. Thats all I need.
An important push with this piece – as well as being a marketing tool – is hopefully to get us to all collectively go a step further. Statistics are cool and fun – but no number exists without context. No statistic is free from the influence of down, distance, score, or literally countless other influences.
As the numbers-driven analyst and author of a piece where I literally throw dozens of pure statistics at you, I often find myself having to think about this fact. My objective in this writing isn’t necessarily one that is going to tell you what to think, but rather how to think about numbers and what goes into each one.
Welcome to The Stats You Need To Know – Week 13 edition.
Austin Ekeler has 241 opportunities this season. How many do you think came on 3rd down?
Did you answer 32? Because the answer is a paltry 32. Noted pass-catcher Austin Ekeler has just 16 targets (plus 16 carries) on the down most commonly known for passing.
The target location seems fine, the field position metrics appear normal, and everything is there for Ekeler to be a factor in the passing game as has been the case in previous years. The only speculation could be that Ekeler has featured more prominently in a role in the pass-protection given the absence of Left Tackle Rashaan Slater, as he plays approximately 10 snaps per game on 3rd down – approximately 25% of his total deployment – a figure generally exceeding league averages for Running Backs.
James Cook has (finally) begun to carve out a role in Buffalo.
Early in the season, I think many fantasy managers were frustrated by the lack of usage for 2nd round pick James Cook. I certainly anticipated more of a timeshare with he and incumbent starter Devin Singletary (as well as Zack Moss at the time). Rather, the usage early was almost exclusively Singletary. Finally, the tide seems to be turning into much more the committee that was expected, as James Cook has begun seeing more work in both the receiving game as well as when the team is losing.
When filtering the Buffalo running back opportunities to only plays in which the team is losing AND just the last three weeks, we see that Cook is on the unfavorable side of a 16-7 split, but that four of his seven carries came in week 13, contrasted to Singletary’s zero.
Christian Watson is not just the Touchdown scorer that comes to mind.
When we think of Christian Watson, the first thing that comes to mind for many people (myself very much included) is his EIGHT touchdowns in four weeks. Its bonkers. And admittedly, I spent this weekend talking down about his play, specifically as it relates to the lack of sustainability in his output. What I haven’t paid attention to was the level of involvement Watson has shown across the board.
Since week 10, Watson has played over 200 snaps and leads the Packers in touchdowns (duh), but also in targets, receptions (tied with Lazard), receiving yards, first downs, and virtually every statistical measure.
Watson also drastically leads the team in red-zone targets over that same four week stretch, with 5 of Aaron Rodgers’s 9 targets (4 of 6 where the ball crossed the goal line while still in the air), and all 3 of his targets from within the 10 yard line.
And thats going to do it for this week! Slight programming note, you now only need a membership here at The FF Playbook to access these reports. Previously they’ve been behind the Pro-Bowl membership level, but we’ve recently made an adjustment to allow full access to all members, even those at the free level. This should allow these reports to get into more hands. As always, feel free to dig into the data an let us know of any morsels you uncover.
Until next week, go tell someone they’re awesome.