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.
Fresh off of an injury, Saquon Barkley paced running backs in Week 6 OPPO. The Giants gave him 24 carries and 5 targets, which were good for 22.8 OPPO. Barkley, unfortunately, fell a bit short of those expectations, with only 13.8 points to show for those looks, which were expected to return 3.9 catches, 122.1 yards, and 1.1 touchdowns. New York will likely go as Barkley goes: if he’s underperforming, they’re likely to struggle (like they did this week). I’d be surprised to see him garner such a large workload in Week 7 given his injury history, but he should still be getting plenty of opportunities.
Stefon Diggs led the league in targets this week, which is a path to leading the league in OPPO. Diggs saw 16 targets that earned him 20.0 points and 25.5 OPPO. Week in and week out, he capitalizes on his connection with Josh Allen, with Week 6 earning 10.7 expected catches, 134.6 expected receiving yards, and only 0.2 expected receiving touchdowns. This week shows the benefits of Diggs: he’s so consistent and has such a high floor, that he’ll return 20 points, even in a week where he underperforms.
Fitting the apparent theme of the week, Sam LaPorta led tight ends in OPPO, while not quite living up to those expectations. Detroit threw the ball around this week (41 pass attempts), and LaPorta saw 11 of them come his way, earning only 7.6 points on 19.9 OPPO. Those targets were expected to earn 7.6 catches, 92.5 yards, and 0.5 touchdowns. This may be the first of many weeks where LaPorta is competing for the best opportunities in the league, as he appears to be joining that upper echelon of fantasy tight ends.
Josh Jacobs is a prime buy-high target. He’s RB9 by points per game over the last four weeks but is RB1 by OPPO. The Raiders feed him opportunities every week, with him averaging ~20 carries and 6.5 targets each week. He’s underperforming across the board, so I’d expect more of a general improvement, rather than a specific boost in a given stat. He’s down 3.6 catches, 74.7 total yards, and 1.5 total touchdowns, compared to his expectations. He’ll continue to be a focal point of Las Vegas’ offense, and I’d expect him to be around 20 points a week for the rest of the season, instead of the mid-to-high teens he’s at right now.
Losing Aaron Rodgers in Week 1 was a blow to his upside, but Garrett Wilson has still been a useful wide receiver with room to grow. The Jets passing game is in disarray with their current quarterback options, but Wilson is talented enough to transcend that. He has mostly been unlucky in the red zone, where his targets over the last four weeks were expected to return 2.3 touchdowns, compared to the 0 he’s scored. Otherwise, he’s done a fine job of catching the balls thrown his way (though he’s also left some yardage on the field). I’d look for him to start scoring closer to his 17.7 OPPO per game instead of the low double-digits he’s been putting up.
Kyle Pitts makes another appearance in the underperformer section, and I’m starting to consider naming this tight end portion after him. He’s actually performed at expectations regarding his number of catches (18 vs. 19.5 expected over the last four weeks) and touchdowns (1 vs. 1,3 expected). The problem has been his yardage. Based on the defensive fronts and locations of targets he’s seen, he was expected to return 276.9 yards but has only earned 192. I’d expect that yardage total to positively regress and bring Pitts into the conversation for best tight ends each week, with point totals in the low-to-mid teens (like his 13.9 OPPO per game).
Travis Etienne was my pick here before the Week 7 Thursday night game, and that game turned out to be another example of Etienne making the most out of his opportunities. Etienne’s best trait over the last four weeks: he’s been a touchdown machine. He scored two rushing touchdowns in both Weeks 5 and 6, in addition to two more in Week 7. That scoring rate is quite enjoyable if you roster him, but it isn’t sustainable. He’s still a very good running back, even after some expected regression (RB10 by OPPO), but I’d look for him to put up point totals closer to his 16.3 OPPO than the 21.4 points per game he’s been returning.
Nico Collins has established a strong rapport with C.J. Stroud and is now a valuable part of Houston’s passing attack. He’s really shown some big play ability, averaging 20 yards per catch over the past four weeks. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t expect that to continue, as his expectations are in line with a total that’s nearly half of that (180.8 yards per game, for 12.8 yards per expected catch). Collins only sees 5.5 targets per game, so he really needs to make them count to be a useful contributor in fantasy. I’d look for him to continue to develop chemistry with Stroud, while also expecting his actual performance to regress a bit. A weekly expectation in the low double-digits sounds right.
It has been a good few weeks to roster Cole Kmet. Even though he has been a no-brainer, starting-caliber tight end over the last four weeks (TE6 by points per week), I have my doubts that he can maintain that production with the opportunities he’s been seeing, especially given a quarterback situation that’s changing for the worse. There isn’t any specific outlier performance for Kmet, but one fewer catch per week, fewer yards, and maybe one fewer touchdown in a month can add up to the difference between being a weekly starter or a streamer (he’s TE13 by OPPO per game). Factor in the potential for Justin Fields to miss Week 7 (with a potential hindrance in performance afterward), and I’d expect Kmet to still be a startable tight end, but on the low end with points closer to his 9.6 OPPO each week.
Here’s where I can call out players who don’t have a write-up but are still worth mentioning because of notable OPPO over the last 4 weeks.
RB: Alvin Kamara (21.5 OPPO per game; RB2 overall), Isiah Pacheco (16.6; RB7), Bijan Robinson (14.0; RB16), Breece Hall (11.7; RB23), Jonathan Taylor (10.5; RB26)
WR: Adam Thielen (20.9; WR4), Marquise Brown (17.4; WR11), Puka Nacua (16.3; WR13), CeeDee Lamb (12.2; WR37), Gabe Davis (8.8; WR64)
TE: Jonnu Smith (11.5; TE7), Tyler Higbee (9.2; TE14), George Kittle (7.5; TE21), Michael Mayer (5.8; TE27)
Don’t agree? Think someone else has been even luckier/unluckier this season? Let me know at @blandalytics!
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)