Fantasy Football: Digging Into the Numbers

Let’s take a look at some interesting fantasy numbers through the first six weeks of the year…

This is Amari Cooper’s average depth per target, which puts him ahead of only eight qualifying WRs in the league right now. The only legitimate WR below Cooper here is Jarvis Landry. Coming into the season, the knock on Landry was his lack of explosiveness – he was merely a possession WR who moved the chains, but did not break big plays. Much of that could be attributed to Miami’s ultra conservative offense. But it is a frustrating number for Cooper, who we know has deep play ability, as displayed in week 2 with his 68-yard deep bomb. Michael Crabtree has five more targets than Cooper this year and his average depth of target is almost double Cooper’s. In addition, Cooper has only one redzone target this year. All of this limits Cooper’s upside if the Raiders either won’t or can’t take deep shots to him. Coupled with that is the fact that Cooper will face a difficult slate the rest of the year with two matchups against the Chargers (3rd vs WRs) and games against: the Jets (9th vs WRs), Vikings (8th vs WRs), Packers (6th vs WRs), and Broncos (1st vs WRs). From here on out, Cooper only has a few plus-rated matchups.

That is how many RBs have more catches than Mark Ingram right now. For the record, those RBs are Theo Riddick and Devonta Freeman. Despite a paltry 3.5 YPC so far, Ingram is having a reliably productive fantasy season, especially in PPR leagues, being the goal line back and, for the first time in his career, the primary receiving RB on the Saints. Everyone expected C.J. Spiller to play the Darren Sproles role this season, but so far Mark Ingram is handling both roles: primary runner and catcher out of the backfield. Last season, Ingram had 29 receptions in 13 games. So far this season, he has 27 receptions.

Right now, Jordan Cameron’s reeling in 48% of his targets, which is better than only three TEs in the league. That is partially related to the fact that Cameron has the second highest average depth per target of any TE. Still, it’s not a good sign for Cameron owners when he’s not even catching half of his targets. This makes him more of a boom or bust TE most weeks with his value hinging on whether he snags a long catch or not.

That’s how drops Travis Benjamin has so far this year. Now, I know drops ultimately do not matter in fantasy, as there is no penalty for dropped passes (maybe in the most hardcore leagues there is), but among many fantasy owners there is still a sense of disbelief in Benjamin’s production. After the first few weeks of the season, everyone waited for the inevitable regression. Since then, Benjamin hasn’t been reeling in long TDs, but he has seen more targets and his production more reliable now. Benjamin is currently WR4 in standard leagues, and while he probably won’t finish that high, he is undoubtedly a legitimate fantasy starter every week. I know many of the best WRs in the league will often be atop the drops list just because of how many targets they receive, but I highlight Benjamin here to point that he is the only top 25 WR in fantasy to be without a drop.

So far, Anquan Boldin has 14 redzone targets, which is the second most in the NFL. Only DeAndre Hopkins has more redzone targets. Even more encouraging, Colin Kaepernick has the most redzone attempts in the NFL. Boldin is perennially underrated and the 49ers offense is a dumpster fire this season, but Boldin is almost always a solid flex play, who is the top target on his team and the main beneficiary in the redzone. He has only two TDs so far, but given how often Kaepernick throws his way near the endzone, it looks like a good bet that Boldin will see an uptick in TDs in the second half of the year.

In the past month, Josh McCown has averaged 27.2 fantasy points. The only QBs averaging more in that period are Andy Dalton and Tom Brady. McCown will go through a rough patch here with some brutal matchups, but if you’re in a position to look ahead to late in the year, nab McCown if you can. He draws the Ravens (32nd vs QBs) in week 12, the 49ers (30th vs QBs) in week 14, and the Chiefs (31st vs QBs) in week 16, the fantasy championship week.

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