Welcome, one and all! We’re now officially through week two of the 2022 NFL season and with every passing week, the trends we study become more and more “real.” The sample sizes grow that much larger and the charts have that much less white space.
I’m not a Mathematician, or quite frankly anywhere near it. Let’s just say that between Calculus and Physics in college, engineering wasn’t in my future. But I do remember some of that sweet sweet High School Geometry. I remember that two points create a line. And a line has a slope. That slope denotes trajectory. A direction if you will. Get where I’m going with this?
We now have two weeks’ worth of data points in the 2022 NFL season. And while I never want to use that as a conclusive way of pointing which way a player definitively WILL go, we officially have the basis by which to argue the formation of patterns.
Now, never let context and situational understanding escape your thought process when evaluating ANY data point, but nevertheless, here are a handful of fun statistics that were brought to light in week two of this season!
1. It’s Garrett Wilson’s world, and we’re just living in it.
I’ll admit – I was low on Garrett Wilson’s fantasy prospects in 2022. I loved the talent. But between an offense with question marks at Quarterback and a shockingly deep corps at pass-catcher (albeit without any true standouts), I thought it might be difficult for the rookie to carve out significant target volume.
Through two weeks, I don’t know if that could be more incorrect. And honestly, that’s much more a function of the “when” than the “how many.” I could throw stats at you about how Wilson is tied for the 9th most targets in the league or how he’s on pace for over 1,200 yards. But when you look at Wilson, it’s much more a question of how the team is using him that jumps off the page for me.
Look the chart below. All that green on the far right? That’s Garret Wilson. When the Jets are in close (within the opposing 10 yard line), he’s getting essentially all of the work. The only other player with targets in that space is the Tight End Tyler Conklin.
To make matters even more notable, of the five passes that Joe Flacco has thrown this year where the ball passed over the goal line while in the air – meaning no catch and run-in scores – Wilson has been the target for three of them.
Now, this could go both ways. First and foremost, these numbers are eye-popping and justify Wilson as a viable fantasy asset. The other side of the coin points to the idea that they are so outlandish that regression is coming. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. But at least as of week two, Garrett Wilson is a name to keep an eye on this season.
2. Through two weeks, Joe Mixon has 16% more opportunities than any other running back.
Joe Mixon is the definition of a three down back. Nobody is surprised to hear that. The surprising thing, however, is the degree to which the Cincinnati Bengals are leaning on him. Through two weeks, Mixon has a total of 59 opportunities – 8 more than the next highest player. And before you point out that he played in overtime in week 1, you should know that only 3 of his opportunities came in that period.
Mixon continues to be a guy I’m targeting as a buy-low option if a manager is concerned with his lack of touchdowns and the lack of productivity from the Bengals offense. At the end of the day, the volume is there and I think significantly better days are ahead, especially if his rezone usage normalizes to greater than the 5 opportunities he’s currently seen.
3. Through two weeks of play, the leagues completion percentage leader is…Geno Smith?
Geno Smith has looked far better than I was expecting. Through two weeks, he leads the NFL with an overall completion percentage of 81%.
But to make it even crazier, if you filter that metric to just first down across the league, his number goes UP to 88%, also highest in the league. Now, one can argue about an improper (read: short) deployment of players like DK Metcalf, but as it currently stands Smith is proving himself to be certainly more than many – myself included – expected coming into the season.
4. The Washington Commanders are rife with unpredictability.
Pop quiz! Of all Wide Receivers and Tight Ends, who leads the team in targets?
What about yards?
How about depth of target?
No for real, take a guess.
Still with me? Did you guess a different name for each of the above? Because you should have. Yeah, it’s a mess. Curtis Samuel leads the team in targets and receptions, Terry McLaurin holds the lead in receiving yards (ok ok he’s tied with Samuel, stay with me), Jahan Dotson has the most snaps, and Cam Sims has the highest depth of target.
The predictability of this pass-catching corps is going to be a mess, not just now, but all year. And this doesn’t even consider the angle that J.D. McKissic and Antonio Gibson are both very capable pass-catchers as well. In the short term, I’m inclined to follow the targets of Samuel, but eventually I wonder if the overall talent and pedigree of McLaurin and Dotson win out for fantasy value. Either way, if I was a fantasy manager for any of these players and had the opportunity to move them for reasonable value, I’d strongly consider that possibility.
And just like that, week two of Stats You Need To Know is in the books! If you liked the charts above and are curious about them for YOUR team, they can be recreated simply by putting them in the filter if you’ve signed up here at The Fantasy Playbook. It’s honestly that easy, just follow the link here!
Additionally, The Fantasy Playbook has a Discord channel where I make a point to stay active and answer start/sit questions or drop new reports upon request. It’s legitimately a blast. I cant wait to see you there.
Until next week, go be a positive influence in the world.