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 our first back-to-back positional OPPO champ! He continues to be the lone bright spot on a very underwhelming Chargers offense. He earned 36.7 fantasy points on 24.6 OPPO, as Justin Herbert keeps feeding him all the short passes he can catch (and he caught all of them this week). Ekeler was expected to earn 9 catches from his 12 targets, in addition to 100.6 total yards and 0.9 touchdowns.
Mike Evans paced all wide receivers this week, earning 18.6 points on a league-high 27.4 OPPO. It was a great game to be a Tampa Bay wide receiver, as they threw the ball nearly 50 times in their shocking loss to the Panthers, and Evans was the main beneficiary of that volume (with Chris Godwin also having a great OPPO game). His 15 targets were expected to earn 9 receptions, 149.5 yards, and 0.6 touchdowns.
Fittingly, George Kittle was the top tight end on National Tight Ends Day, with his 16.4 OPPO returning 21.8 fantasy points. Kittle took advantage of the slow incorporation of shiny new 49ers toy, Christian McCaffrey, and his team’s negative game script to earn 9 targets which typically yield 5.1 catches, 69.6 yards, and 0.7 touchdowns.
Now that we’re around the halfway point of the season, I’m going to look at OPPO over the last 4 weeks for over- & underperformers, instead of across the whole season. Both timeframes are still available on the Google Sheet. This should keep the information more relevant, by focusing more on recent player performances and opportunities.
Thankfully, Joe Mixon is doing better than the last time he was on this list. He’s been earning more points (14.3 -> 16.0) on less OPPO per game (22.8 -> 18.2), but is still underperforming. He’s been close to expected with his yardage and receptions, but he should hopefully see some positive touchdown regression going forward. As long as the Bengals keep giving Mixon all these touches, I’ll keep believing he can capitalize on them.
Even though Denver letting Russ (and… Brett Rypien) cook, Courtland Sutton is still waiting to heat up. He’s been getting his fair share of targets, but they just haven’t connected like they should. He’s 3.6 receptions under expected, but those have been valuable looks, as he’s earned 80.3 yards and 1.5 touchdowns less than would be expected from his targets. Going forward, I think he’ll start to find his stride and put up numbers similar to his 14.5 OPPO per game.
With bye weeks upon us, Evan Engram looks like a viable spot-start candidate. He’s put up respectable numbers for a tight end over these last few weeks, but he has some more room to improve. The biggest issue is that his looks generally should lead to another touchdown. That may not seem like a huge amount, but that’s 1.5 extra points per week, without factoring in any other improvements. Engram looks to be a fairly important part of Jacksonville’s passing game, and I think he can put up numbers like his 10.5 OPPO per game going forward.
Josh Jacobs is at the top of the food chain when it comes to eating up touches. He’s averaging 23 carries and 5 targets a week, which is elite volume for a running back. This outrageous volume is not commensurate with his results, however. All 6 of his rushing touchdowns have come in the last 4 weeks, even though the carries he’s seen typically only return 2.2. His 6.4 yards-per-carry over this period should also come down, likely closer to his career 4.4 yards average. He’s still an easy RB1, but I’d bank on him returning his 21.0 OPPO instead of his 33.8-point pace.
Mecole Hardman has been doing it all for Kansas City: rushing, receiving, and, most importantly, scoring touchdowns. Hardman has 4 touchdowns in the last 4 weeks, thanks to 3 touchdowns this week alone. This may be obvious, but 1 touchdown a week is not sustainable for someone barely earning 3 targets and a carry each week. His looks typically result in reduced stats across the board (catches, yards, touchdowns), and I’m more confident in him putting up a line like his 6.8 OPPO per game, rather than his touchdown-inflated 13.7 points per game
He may be coming up on GOAT-status, but Travis Kelce can still overachieve. I’m sensing a theme with Kansas City players scoring more touchdowns than you’d expect (Patrick Mahomes may be pretty good at that whole quarterbacking thing). Kelce leads all tight ends with 17.5 OPPO per game (a healthy 3.7 OPPO per game better than #2), but he’s turned that into 23.2 points per game. I know Kelce and Mahomes have chemistry and elite talent, but I’d expect to see lower (though still position-best) numbers from Kelce going forward.
Don’t agree? Think someone else has been even luckier/unluckier this season? Let me know at @blandalytics!
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)