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.
Christian McCaffrey is the most valuable offensive player in the Bay Area, as he put up 28.6 points on 30.3 OPPO. The 49ers are leaning heavily on him with their quarterback depth crumbling since he’s the perfect safety valve for any passer who may be lacking in talent and/or experience. He saw 17 carries and 10 targets this week, and these opportunities were expected to yield 6.9 catches, 119.1 yards, and 1.9 touchdowns. McCaffrey is dangerous anywhere on the field, but it’s interesting for him to see 1.3 expected receiving touchdowns (2nd most this season, behind Austin Ekeler last week). He’s the only player San Francisco trusted near the endzone this week, earning 2/3 of their expected touchdowns.
Garrett Wilson has been quiet for most of the season but had a thunderous return these last two weeks. He performed way above expectations last week but had a legitimately great game this week with 24.2 points on 31.3 OPPO (4th most by any player this season). Mike White has been consistently looking his way, with Wilson earning 15 targets this week. The expectation for those targets was 8.7 catches, 147.5 yards, and 1.3 touchdowns. Hopefully, their valuable chemistry continues and Wilson can capitalize on his talent and yield weekly elite performances going forward.
It was a bit of a down week for TE, as Cade Otton paced the position with 14.2 points on 17.2 OPPO. In a week where Tampa Bay threw 50+ passes, he capitalized on a quiet game from Mike Evans. Otton saw 10 of those passes, which were expected to yield 7.1 catches, 60.3 receiving yards, and 0.7 touchdowns. Even though he severely underperformed his yardage, he made the most of his endzone targets by catching a touchdown. In his last two games, he’s seen 11.1 OPPO per game and is a worthy starter at a depleted positio
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.
D’Andre Swift looks healthy and is reestablishing himself at the top of Detroit’s running back depth chart. Despite seeing only 8.5 carries and 5 targets per game, those looks have been valuable. He’s underperformed by roughly 1 touchdown in the last four weeks and may have left a few catches out on the field. He’s too talented to be performing below expectations, and I’d expect him to see him put up numbers closer to his 14.9 OPPO per game. He’s been seeing better opportunities than Jamaal Williams, and now’s the time to make them count.
Nico Collins has been quietly seeing a ton of opportunities in Houston. He’s been putting up startable point totals on an inept offense, but that looks like it could be his floor. With the 36 targets he’s seen over the last four weeks, he was expected to score ~1 more touchdown and nearly 90 more yards. Even with an unsettled quarterback position, the Texans throw the ball more than average. Between that pass volume, and his ability to earn targets, I’d look for Collins to be an even more valuable fantasy contributor and score closer to his 16.6 OPPO per game.
With his injury (hopefully) behind him, Mark Andrews is returning to top-tier tight end usage. Over the last four weeks, he’s seen ~7 targets per game and he’s done a good job of bringing them in, but not at doing damage with them: his catches are in line with his expectations, but he’s been expected to have ~10 more yards per game and should also have a touchdown in the last month. The further he gets from his injury, the more I’d trust him to be able to meet and potentially exceed these expectations. If his target volume continues, I’d expect his 13.3 OPPO per game going forward. That 13.3 OPPO per game is below his season average for points scored, so some regression from the change in quarterback is already accounted for (and Andrews should still see plenty of looks since he’s easily the best receiving option in Baltimore).
The Cowboys’ backfield has been on fire recently. We featured his backfield partner here in Week 10, but Ezekiel Elliott deserves his own shoutout. Despite being the #2 running back on his own team (both by OPPO and by total # of opportunities), Elliott is still averaging over a touchdown per game in the last 4 weeks. Though he has caught every target he’s seen (which should regress down), he isn’t featured in the passing game and that limits his upside. Zeke has seen more of their goal line carries, but it’s nearly a 50-50 split on the total number of carries, and that is not where you want a ground-bound running back to be. I think he’s been fortunate with his touchdowns (he’s expected to have 2 fewer in the previous 3 weeks!) and has even been exceeding his yardage totals (though only by ~7 yards per game). I’d expect numbers closer to his 12.6 OPPO per game in the future, which is RB19 and pretty impressive for someone who appears to be the 1B in Dallas’ running back committee.
I would describe Amon-Ra St. Brown‘s performance as “a talented player who is exceeding expectations, but is still expected to be great”. When looking at his expectations, he’s spot-on for touchdowns, but has been massively overperforming his yardage, thanks to also substantially overperforming his catches. His level of talent makes a few more catches understandable, but he’s averaging almost 2 more catches and nearly 40 more yards per game. His 20.2 OPPO seems like a more-than-reasonable estimate of his future performance and is WR3 overall. He’s a great player who I still expect to be great, only at a more reasonable level.
We move from Sun God to Tight End God, as Travis Kelce has been turning in absolutely elite fantasy performances. He’s been Patrick Mahomes‘ only consistent receiving threat all season, which is a valuable place to be. He sees elite volume at the position (most targets in the last four weeks) and has done a good job of turning targets into catches (2nd in both catches and expected catches). The issue (as with most tight ends featured here) is that he’s been converting touchdowns at a higher rate than expected (in addition to higher-than-expected yardage). I wouldn’t predict a tight end to consistently average over 15 yards per catch (Kelce’s season average is 12.5), and the targets he’s seen generally result in over 2 fewer touchdowns. He is still the undeniable top dog at the position, but I’d be wary of expecting him to continue averaging 20+ points per game, based on the opportunities he’s seen. Expecting something between that and his 14.2 OPPO is a happy combination of expected performance and his stratospheric talent level.
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: James Conner (17.0 OPPO per game; RB6 overall), Zonovan Knight (15.9; RB10), Nick Chubb (12.0; RB24), Cordarrelle Patterson (8.7; RB36)
WR: Terry McLaurin (15.8; WR15), Tyler Lockett (14.1; WR22), A.J. Brown (13.1; WR24), Courtland Sutton (11.0; WR38)
TE: Dalton Schultz (11.1; TE4), Cole Kmet (9.9; TE10), Dawson Knox (7.3; TE19), Taysom Hill (5.8; TE29)
Don’t agree? Think someone else has been even luckier/unluckier this season? Let me know at @blandalytics!
(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)