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 is the closest thing to a guarantee in football. If he’s healthy, the Chargers are going to feed him the ball in every way they can. Even on a week with a light workload (for him; it was still 15 carries and 8 targets), he earned 24.4 points on 26.5 OPPO. Those opportunities were expected to yield 6.9 catches, 91.4 yards, and 1.7 touchdowns. On the ground, through the air, for big plays, and for touchdowns near the endzone. He truly does it all for Los Angeles, and that versatility makes him one of the most valuable fantasy players in the league.
Another week, another huge game from Justin Jefferson. He’s been overperforming his reception and yards expectations all season, while also performing far below expectations in touchdowns. This week was more of the same, as he earned 34.3 points (without scoring a touchdown) on 29.6 OPPO. He tied for the most targets in the league this week, with 15, and those targets were expected to yield 8.6 catches, 148.3 yards, and 1.0 touchdowns. It’s fascinating how he keeps overperforming his scoring expectations while underperforming on touchdowns. Great players find a way to make it work, and he is definitely making it work for the Vikings.
Evan Engram had himself a massive week, with 39.2 points (most by a tight end this season!) on 22.9 OPPO. Trevor Lawrence only had eyes for him, as he fed Engram 15 targets (2nd most by a tight end this year). Those targets were expected to result in 10.4 catches, 99.7 yards, and 0.4 touchdowns. That low expected touchdown value shows that Engram was featured early and often during drives, or far from the goal line. If he keeps up that usage (and performance), he’ll be the story of the fantasy playoffs.
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’Onta Foreman still looks to be at the head of Carolina’s depth chart. Even though he’s been outperformed over the last four weeks by Chuba Hubbard, Foreman still has a comfortable lead in the value of his opportunities. He’s seen roughly 19 carries per game, which is an elite, bell-cow amount, though he isn’t featured in the passing game at all (2 targets, total). His rushing yards performance has been spot-on (211 actual vs 210.9 expected), but he should have seen 2 more touchdowns over the last 3 games. Those touchdowns can make or break a week, and it looks like the last few weeks have broken anyone who started him. I’d expect to see him put up numbers closer to his 12.0 OPPO per game, and be a solid Flex candidate, who can hopefully convert his carries into touchdowns going forward.
Christian Kirk has been a clear 2nd option this season for the Jaguars (or 3rd this week, with Engram’s explosion), but that doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable in fantasy. He’s likely been putting up solid points on your bench, but his workload shows that he could be a starter He’s seen 8 targets per game, but has been kept out of the endzone despite those targets being expected to yield 1.7 touchdowns. The Jaguars frequently play from behind and have a quarterback who was considered a generational talent when he was drafted. Those two things, plus his expected stats, all point to some positive regression from him, likely toward his 14.5 OPPO per game.
You broke my heart, Tyler Higbee. An early-season OPPO darling, Higbee saw his opportunities plummet, along with the Rams’ playoff chances. He went from a locked-in starter to someone who is likely available on your waiver wire right now (or should be, based on his performance). All that is a weird preface to saying I like Higbee going forward, but I wanted to illustrate how mercurial opportunities can be (to say nothing of actual performance). He’s been underperforming in every facet, and with the Rams missing the biggest target hog in football (Cooper Kupp) and a quarterback looking for checkdowns in an unfamiliar offense, I’d expect Higbee to put up a scoreline that looks like his 8.7 OPPO per game, which is borderline startable.
The Eagles can do anything on offense, including making Miles Sanders an RB1. Sanders has been averaging almost 100 yards and over 1 touchdown per game. 15 carries per game is definitely a path to success, but his expectations are that he should’ve gained ~100 fewer yards. The Eagles may have the scheme to get him running lanes that wide, but I would argue that averaging almost 6 yards per carry is unsustainable. That impressive yardage total leads to his overperformance (more yards generally result in more touchdowns) and should regress. He may not come all the way to it, but expecting his 12.4 OPPO per game may be the conservative approach toward his projections moving forward.
Richie James looks like the #1 receiver in New York, but he’s been seeing #2 opportunity. Just over 5 targets per game are not very impressive, even though his 13.3 points per game are. He’s more than doubled his touchdown expectation, in addition to slight overperformances in catches and yards. 9.2 OPPO seems like a fair estimate of his future performance and is more than reasonable given that nobody outside of Saquon Barkley looks like an impactful player for the Giants.
Austin Hooper has been on the fortunate end of tight end performances over the past four weeks. He’s overperformed across the board, as his catches, yards, and touchdowns are all due for some regression if his current usage continues. The Titans’ 1st, 2nd, and 3rd options on offense are all Derrick Henry, and then Hooper still has to compete with Robert Woods for looks. I’d expect his stats to all come down a bit, and for him to put up a line closer to his 7.7 OPPO per game, instead of his current 10.7 points per game.
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: Samaje Perine (16.4 OPPO per game; RB6 overall), Najee Harris (13.0; RB19), Jerick McKinnon (11.0; RB28), A.J. Dillon (8.6; RB37)
WR: Keenan Allen (20.3; WR2), Zay Jones (18.7; WR9), CeeDee Lamb (13.8; WR25), Tyler Boyd (6.5; WR80)
TE: Greg Dulcich (9.6; TE10), Austin Hooper (7.7; TE17), Taysom Hill (7.4; TE19)
Don’t agree? Think someone else has been even luckier/unluckier this season? Let me know at @blandalytics!
(Photo by Michael Goulding/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)