Each week, I’ll use my OPPO metric (OPportunity POints) to go through who had the most valuable opportunities of the week, who has been scoring less than their looks would suggest, and who has been overperforming with the opportunities they’ve been given. This season’s data can be found here.
Another week, another elite workload from Christian McCaffrey. He’s the proverbial straw stirring the drink for the San Francisco 49ers, as he handled 16 carries and drew 10 targets. Those opportunities were good for 20.2 points on 29.1 OPPO. He was expected to earn 8.0 catches, 125.0 yards, and 1.4 touchdowns. That’s the fifth-most expected reception total for any running back this season and easily his season high. It isn’t groundbreaking analysis to say that McCaffrey is an elite all-around back, but that’s what he shows, week in and week out.
CeeDee Lamb completed the three-peat by leading the league in OPPO in three straight weeks. He’s just on another level right now, seeing 14 targets (and a carry), good for 39.5 points and 30.1 OPPO. That’s the most OPPO since Week 7, and the most by a wide receiver since Week 5. He’s clicking with Dak Prescott and this Cowboys offense, and I don’t see any signs of that slowing down. His targets were expected to earn 8.6 catches, 114.8 yards, and 1.7 touchdowns. Lamb is firmly in the WR1 overall conversation and could be a league winner this season if this midseason run continues into the fantasy playoffs.
T.J. Hockenson has been one of the best tight ends in football this year (non-Travis Kelce division). He really stepped his game up over the last four weeks with Justin Jefferson out for the Vikings, and Week 10 was a perfect exhibition of the value he provides. He saw 15 targets this week, most by a tight end this season, and capitalized on those opportunities. His high target volume yielded 30.4 points on 26.3 OPPO, which was the second-most by a tight end this season. His expected line from those targets was 9.1 catches, 105.0 yards, and 1.1 touchdowns. Hockenson has established himself as a truly elite tight end this season, as he leads all tight ends in OPPO and is second in fantasy points per game.
Chuba Hubbard has been seeing a lot of run in Carolina but hasn’t really been able to capitalize. With Miles Sanders slowed by some combination of injuries and ineffectiveness, Hubbard has been seeing the majority of touches out of the Panthers’ backfield, but hasn’t done as much on the ground with those touches as he should have. This biggest knock: he has seen 1.5 expected touchdowns in the last month, but has 0 actual touchdowns to show for it. With the Panthers transitioning this backfield toward Hubbard, I’d look for some positive regression, and for him to put up points closer to his 13.0 OPPO per game.
Cooper Kupp seems like a shell of himself post-injury, and while I think that’s a major concern, he’s not this bad. He’s seen a healthy 8 targets per week over the last month but only has 8 total receptions to show for it (vs. 15.5 expected). Kupp’s expected stats are significantly better than his actual stats (98 yards vs. 196.8 expected, and 0 touchdowns vs. 0.6 expected), and I’d bet that his results start to catch up to his expected metrics, especially with Matthew Stafford now back under center. Kupp’s injury history (and the emergence of Puka Nacua as a certified capital-d Dude) will hold him back a bit, but he can still be a respectable starting wide receiver and put up double-digit points per game.
There have not been a lot of significantly underperforming tight ends over the last four weeks, but David Njoku offers room for improvement. It’s an interesting mix of over and underperformance for Njoku: he has earned significantly more yards than expected (215 vs. 165.1 expected) but has seen fewer catches and touchdowns (19 catches vs. 22.3 expected, and 2 touchdowns vs. 3.3 expected). He’ll likely end up somewhere in the middle, given similar opportunities, and I’d expect him to score closer to his 14.7 OPPO per game going forward.
Jahmyr Gibbs took the touches available from David Montgomery‘s injury and fittingly ran with them. Over the last four weeks, Gibbs has seen 17 carries and nearly 7 targets per game. That is a potent workload good for an impressive 21.9 OPPO per game. The “problem” is that his performance has significantly exceeded those expectations: he has put up 27.9 points per game, due to returning 1 more touchdown and 100 more total yards than expected. Gibbs is an extremely gifted back; he was a 1st round pick in the 2023 draft for a reason. However, regression in both performance and workload due to Montgomery’s return will affect Gibbs’ future touchdown totals. He’ll still easily be startable, but I’d expect point totals in the high-teens instead of the high-20 numbers he has been posting lately.
Noah Brown has been on a tear recently. He has averaged 20+ points per game over the last month, leading the way for an emerging Houston passing game. In the understatement of the year, those were unexpected performances from a relatively unheralded receiver, especially given that he owns the fourth-most valuable opportunity score through the air on his own team. The other three players (Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, Dalton Schultz, and Nico Collins) are all performing well, but Brown’s big-play prowess over the past two weeks has inflated his fantasy point totals recently. Of all metrics, the one primed to regress the hardest is Brown’s yardage: he has earned 382 yards in recent weeks compared to only 194.1 expected. He’s still a very useful player, but I would look for Brown to start putting up performances closer to his 11.1 OPPO per game in the future.
Dalton Kincaid has been a pleasant surprise on an otherwise disappointing Buffalo Bills team this season. Unfortunately for him and the Bills, I don’t think his current level of production is sustainable. He has earned nearly 17 points per game on fewer than 13 OPPO per game. That discrepancy in points stems from his overperformance outside of the red zone: he should be seeing approximately 1.5 fewer catches and 20 fewer yards per game. He’s technically overperforming touchdowns as well, but that variance is negligible. He’s still a startable tight end but should rank in the bottom half of the TE1 group.
Here’s where I call out players who didn’t earn a write-up but are still worth mentioning because of notable OPPO over the last four weeks:
RB: Javonte Williams (16.7 OPPO per game; RB6), Rachaad White (16.3; RB7), Derrick Henry (12.7; RB19), Tony Pollard (11.1; RB26), Bijan Robinson (9.9; RB31)
WR: Garrett Wilson (22.6; WR2), Nathaniel “Tank” Dell (20.2; WR5), Jordan Addison (16.0; WR13), Puka Nacua (14.0; WR21), Jakobi Meyers (8.6; WR57)
TE: Trey McBride (14.4; TE3), Cole Kmet (14.1; TE5), Sam LaPorta (12.6; TE10), Kyle Pitts (7.9; TE20)
Don’t agree? Think someone else has been even luckier/unluckier this season? Let me know at @blandalytics!
(Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire)