Thursday Thoughts - Week 10
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
We are well into the third quarter of the NFL regular season, and while it appears we have mountains of data, we are starting to see teams adjust based on injuries, success, failures, or opponents. It’s important to remember that 8 or 9 games, depending on a bye, is not a significant amount of data. Mountains of data, in fantasy football, is said with tongue in cheek due to what is, in reality, a relatively small sample size, so you must contextualize the data. With some teams, like the Seahawks, we can affirmatively say that they are likely to continue letting Russ cook. Others, such as Washington, have adjusted their positional target rates based on Quarterback changes and injury. We went from Haskins to Allen and now we officially have Alex Smith starting against the Lions this week. This is going to affect positional target shares.
Credit to JJ Zachariason, @LateRoundQB, for posting this amazing visual on Twitter.
Clearly, Washington is targeting Running Backs at a significantly higher rate than Weeks 1-4. This paired with McKissic and Gibson being on the field more at the same time makes sense. Now that Alex Smith is the starter, it is possible we see the RB target share increase throughout weeks 10-13 (the next quarter. This bodes well for both Mckissic and Gibson because Washington simply does not have enough talent to siphon targets away from them. I think McLaurin will continue to be a stud, but it’s possible the backfield continues to demand more and more work. Why can we say this? Well, we know Scott Turner loves to target Running Backs (former Panthers OC). We also know Alex Smith has always been the dump-off king, and since he has been sacked on 8 of 57 dropbacks then we can reasonably assume they will increase the frequency of these short, quick passes that benefit Mckissic and Gibson. Not only is this based on seasonal trends, but also the habits of Alex Smith and Scott Turner.
Let’s look at a team like Minnesota, we already know they want to run the ball 100 times each game and just grind it out by hiding Kirk Cousins as much as possible. However, there has been a shift in target shares. The Tight End target share has jumped nearly 10%! Why does this matter? Well, it likely means that Jefferson and Thielen are slightly less viable than before. Early on, we saw them rotate blow up games, but now we see Irv Smith receiving more targets even though he only ran a few routes this past Sunday. We knew early in the season that the Vikings would have a concentrated offense, so even if they wanted to just run the ball, WR viability was there. Now we must contemplate how viable these Vikings WR’s are on a weekly basis. For DFS purposes, you could once depend on Jefferson or Thielen paying off. At this point, the data explains why we might not be able to bank on one of them for DFS ceilings anymore.
So, what exactly was the point of that borderline obvious breakdown? Well, it shows how quickly things can change in the NFL, and how important it is to be adaptable within the Daily Fantasy Sports ecosystem. In a world where a lot of sharp people constantly seek an edge, contextualizing data, and predicting what is to come is key to creating leverage.
Adapt to the in-season changes
Eliminate recency bias