As we were getting ready for bed last night, my wife and I were discussing plans for the day, things we still had to do, etc. Obviously most of it was focused around holiday planning, with her family coming into town and us trying to split time amongst them and others. We often joke that since we don’t yet have kids, we’re the ones that have to bounce around between the houses of 37 different Aunts and Uncles and my family and everyone in-between… but as soon as we have kids, that leverage had better shift towards us and everyone instead come to us rather than us to them.
But naturally I mentioned this piece in my “to-do” items, and asked her to help me brainstorm an intro to the piece. I hate intros. I’m not great at them. They’re often choppy and end too abruptly as I suddenly take the hardest of right turns into the actual data of the article. Its a numbers piece and I’m trying to shoehorn in a story.
Her response for an intro? And I quote:
“Thank you Jesus for Santa. Thank you Santa for letting us have football all day Saturday and Sunday. Amen Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.”
Perfection. Nailed it.
Welcome to The Stats You Need To Know – Week 15 edition.
Since Week 10, the Falcons have given up 33% fewer receptions to the Wide Receiver Position than any other team.
Yes, this metric is slightly skewed by the fact that they had one fewer game in the sample size, on account of their week 13 bye. But even through that lens, this team is giving up just under 6.8 receptions per game to the position (34 receptions over 5 weeks). The second best team – the New York Jets – are still relinquishing 7.1 receptions to the position.
The only receiver in this stretch to have more than 60 receiving yards is New Orleans’s Rashid Shaheed who was able to get behind the defense for a long catch and run in week 15 from Taysom Hill – a play that had 33 air yards and 35 yards after the catch.
As a fun aside – they’re also tied for second in receptions given up to Tight Ends over that same period (16).
Since the return of Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight has twice as many opportunities on fewer snaps.
Despite playing fewer snaps than Michael Carter in both weeks 14 and 15, Knight has 32 opportunities to Carter’s 16. The majority of these opportunities come in the form of carries on first and second down (Carter has the lead in 3rd down opportunities 4-1).
Knight is admittedly coming off of his worst game against the suddenly incredible Detroit run defense (see last week’s article for more on them), but has tremendous matchups down the stretch for the fantasy playoffs in Jacksonville (12 rushing TDs given up) and Seattle (14 rushing TDs), followed by the much tougher Miami in week 18 should your playoffs extend into that week.
The only point of hesitation surrounding Knight is his usage in the passing game; a measure that could mislead managers if they’re not careful. Through his four games, Knight has a total of 10 targets. Of those targets, the average depth is actually 3.2 yards behind the line of scrimmage, meaning that his usage is almost exclusively dump-off passes, rather than being split out from the backfield. This isn’t an inherently terrifying measure, as having any involvement in the passing game is a boon for fantasy success, but it does significantly lower the ceiling on a player getting such a strong workload.
The emergence of Trevor Lawrence is lifting the entire pass-catching corps.
Entering their week14 matchup against the Tennessee Titans, Evan Engram was Tight End 16 in fantasy scoring. Following his performance in that game, he vaulted to Tight End 5. Its a neat statistic that speaks for the wasteland that is the Tight End position, but even moreso it speaks to the recent emergence of Trevor Lawrence and this Jacksonville offense.
Since coming back from their bye in week 11, the Jacksonville receiving options have been a moderately tight target funnel through Zay Jones, Christian Kirk, and Evan Engram each having over 30 targets in that span.
The most surprising of the group is likely that of Zay Jones, who you see has not only the lead in targets among the group, but also leads the team in endzone targets (targets in which the ball crosses the goal line while in the air) once the team is in the red zone.
The final element of surprise for the Jacksonville offense comes via the surprising lack of usage of Running Back Travis Etienne all season, but especially over the last four weeks. To date, Etienne only has 37 targets on the season, a stark contrast to the versatility of the runner coming out of Clemson. Since the bye, Etienne has two games with three targets, and two games with zero targets.
And that’s going to do it for this week. As always, thank you for taking the time to make it through this piece. We encourage you to join our discord community and dig in on these reports yourself. Everything you see above can be sliced and filtered to fit your needs and allow you to learn key metrics about your favorite teams or players.
Have a safe and happy holiday season.
Oh and go tell your Amazon delivery driver they’re awesome.