Each week, I’ll use my OPPO metric (OPportunity POints; data found here) 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 the opportunities they’ve been given.
Austin Ekeler put up 25 points on 28.7 OPPO from one of the most fascinating running back games I’ve seen. He saw 15 targets, but only 5 carries. That’s the 2nd-most targets by any running back this season (behind only his 16 in Week 6), and his target-carry difference of 10 is the most by any running back this season (by 3!). These opportunities were expected to yield 10.8 catches, 84.3 yards (only 21.3 rushing yards), and 1.6 touchdowns. Everyone knows that Ekeler is a weapon in the Chargers’ passing game, but it’s still very impressive how he manages to get his touches, even when the team abandons the run game. He’s easily the most game script-proof running back in the league.
Stefon Diggs had another monster week, with 21.7 points on 29.1 OPPO. That OPPO amount is top-10 on the season (for any position), and his second WR1 finish (he also led in Week 2). In one of the few games he actually underperformed his opportunities, Diggs saw 15 targets. The expected result of those targets was 10.1 catches, 116.7 yards, and 1.2 touchdowns. He’s been putting up numbers in the dynamic Buffalo passing offense, is WR2 overall on the season by OPPO, and is also one of the most consistent receivers week-to-week (lowest fantasy point variance & OPPO variance of the Top 5 wide receivers).
Welcome back to Travis Kelce Corner! The best tight end in football delivered again this week, putting up 15.7 points on 17.7 OPPO. This was another high-value target game for Kelce, as he only saw 8 targets, but they were expected to yield 4.8 catches for 41.1 yards and 1.5 touchdowns. He pulled off the same low target/high xTD game in Week 5, and his chemistry with Patrick Mahomes around the endzone has been paying off all year. Kelce is obviously the #1 Red Zone target in Kansas City’s explosive passing game and leads the league in touchdowns AND receiving xTD as a result (12 and 8.7, respectively).
Now that we’re past the halfway point of the season, I’m going to look at OPPO over the last 4 weeks for over- & under-performers, instead of across the whole season. This should keep the information more relevant by focusing more on recent player performances and opportunities. Both timeframes are still available on the Google Sheet.
Dalvin Cook has been fine recently, but I’m sure that’s not what anybody wants to see from him. He’s supposed to be one of the league’s elite backs, and his expected stats agree with that assessment. He’s seen 16 carries and over 4 targets per game over the last 4 weeks, and I think he has room to really capitalize on that usage. He’s left a bit of everything on the table: he’s underperformed in catches, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns while being close to expected in rushing yards and slightly overperforming his receiving touchdowns. I’d expect him to see him put up numbers closer to his 16.6 OPPO per game, which is solidly an elite, Top-10 running back.
While his teammate was covered here in Week 8, Mike Evans is now the recipient of unfortunate recent results. While Tampa Bay’s offense hasn’t clicked like most fantasy managers would have hoped, Evans has been seeing almost 9 targets per game and was expected to put up over 70 yards per game from them over the last four weeks. That is quality usage, and he just needs to bring in a few more of those targets to really boost his value. Evans could plausibly improve every category (catches, yards, and touchdowns), and I’m looking for him to perform more like his 14.1 OPPO per game than the 8.2 points per game he had been seeing.
I touched on this a bit when discussing his tight end-best OPPO last week, but T.J. Hockenson has been leaving points on the table. He’s been performing as a very good tight end, but he has room to be an elite option at the position. Hockenson has seen over 8 targets per game in the last 4 weeks and has been doing a pretty good job of turning them into catches and yards. Where I’d look to see him improve is around the endzone. He has 1 touchdown for 2.7 expected touchdowns in the last month, and I’d expect him to put up his 15.4 OPPO per game going forward by capitalizing more on those valuable looks.
OPPO stud Josh Jacobs has been grinding defenses to dust all season. He saw the most opportunities of any player in the league this week (33 carries and 7 targets!), but he still massively overperformed them (48.3 points on 26.1 OPPO). As we’ve seen from Joe Mixon, it’s pretty easy to overperform when you have a dominant week. Just because I expect his point totals to come down doesn’t mean that I expect Jacobs to be bad, or even average. He’s the bell cow back for Vegas, and he’s still the RB2 overall by OPPO over the last four weeks. I would look for him to return a more realistic 20.2 OPPO per game, rather than his recent 25.4 points per game pace.
It feels like all Christian Watson does is make big plays. He has 22 targets and 14 catches over the last four weeks, which is higher than his 11.6 expected catches but not wildly so. What is wild is that those catches have resulted in 289 yards and 6 touchdowns. That’s a full 4 touchdowns more than expected, in addition to 90 yards more than expected. He’s been the recipient of some dimes from Aaron Rodgers, which helps explain his 19.8 points per game. The issue is that I don’t think he’s even used as the #1 guy on his own team. Allen Lazard was featured last week in the underperformers section and is still leading Watson in all OPPO categories (expected catches, yards, and touchdowns). I think Watson will be a useful player, but I’d look to get numbers closer to his 11.0 OPPO per game going forward.
In a crowded San Francisco offense, George Kittle has been doing the best he can with the opportunities he sees. The problem is that he just doesn’t get many of them; he’s only seen 4 targets per game over the last four weeks. It’s hard to do much of anything on that little volume (for some context: Travis Kelce has seen 10+ targets per game and T.J. Hockenson has seen over 8 per game in the same stretch). If you have Kittle, you’re obviously starting him; tight end has been decimated by injuries, and you probably invested a good deal to get him. I would just be wary of expecting much out of him each week. His 6.9 OPPO per game may not be what you’re hoping, but it’s what I would expect from him based on how the 49ers are using him recently.
I wanted to have a space to call out players that don’t have a write-up but are still worth mentioning because of notable OPPO over the last 4 weeks.
RB: Tony Pollard (16.9 OPPO per game; RB7 overall), Jeff Wilson (14.4; RB13), Alvin Kamara (11.7; RB26), Travis Etienne (10.8; RB31)
WR: Amon-Ra St. Brown (17.9; WR6), DeAndre Hopkins (15.0; WR14), Nico Collins (14.6; WR15), Tyler Lockett (10.4; WR44)
TE: Foster Moreau (10.0; TE11), Gerald Everett (6.8; TE23), Taysom Hill (4.3; TE38), Tyler Conklin (4.2; TE40)
Don’t agree? Think someone else has been even luckier/unluckier this season? Let me know at @blandalytics!
(Photo by Rich Gabrielson/Icon Sportswire)