Opportunity Report: Proceed to Draft With Caution in NFC East

Kenny Hyttenhove (@kennyqbl) tries to find value in the wide receiver sparse NFC East.

Dallas Cowboys

 

 

The Dallas Cowboys were 11th in the league in offensive plays run with a total of 1022 plays. This puts them at around 63.9 plays per game.

 

 

 

 

When looking at how game script dictates the offense, the Cowboys were just about the definition of the league average. Overall, Dallas threw the ball on just 57% of their offensive plays which was ranked 23rd in the league. The Cowboys were not a high volume passing offense, although when they added Amari Cooper in the middle of the season their passing volume did increase. Before Cooper joined the team, the Cowboys threw on 56% of their plays or about 33.3 pass plays per game. After they acquired Cooper, the passing play calls increased to 58% or about 39.6 pass plays per game.

 

 

 

 

Cooper averaged just over 8 targets per game in his time in Dallas last season. He was fairly efficient finishing just above the league median (for wide receivers with at least 33 targets) in yards per route run (Y/RR) with 1.85 Y/RR. Where Amari Cooper truly stands out is his yards of the catch per reception (YAC/REC). Cooper averaged 6 YAC/REC in 2018 which ranks him 19th in the NFL for receivers with at least 24 targets. He also received 26% of his team’s targets within the opponent 10-yard line with a total of eight targets. No other wide receiver had more than five, which indicates he is the guy they want to get the ball to near the endzone if they are throwing.

 

 

 

 

Amari Cooper is not the only receiver that benefited from the increase in passing volume in the second half of the season. Michael Gallup was a focal point of the offense when analyzing air yards. From the time that Cooper joined the team, Gallup earned just three air yards less per game than Cooper. Unfortunately for Gallup, he was not nearly as efficient as Cooper as he averaged just 1.18 Y/RR. Gallup’s average depth of target (ADoT) of 13.9 yards placed him in the 89th percentile for qualifying receivers. As a result, he only saw a Catchable Target Rate of 67.6% which, according to playerprofiler.com, was good for 101st in the league. An increase in efficiency, volume and opportunity give Gallup the potential to be a solid receiver. He would be worth a flyer in the 11th round where his current ADP has him according to fantasypros.com. It’s also worth remembering that the Cowboys will have a new Offensive Coordinator and play-caller in Kellen Moore. We do not know his tendencies, but we know the Cowboys want to get more aggressive and explosive on offense which means moving the ball downfield through the air.

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles

 

 

Philadelphia was a top ten offense in 2018 when it comes to passing volume. They finished eighth in the league in offensive plays by running 1037 in total.

 

 

Of their 1037 plays, 639 were passing plays. Throwing the football made up 62% of their offensive calls which was ninth in the league. As prospective fantasy owners look to draft Eagles pass catchers, they can rest easy knowing that the offense will not fall prey to game script. Philadelphia threw the ball no matter what the score dictated, including throwing the ball 56% of the time when up by more than one score. No need to fade parts of the passing offense when Philadelphia is projected to win.

 

 

 

 

For such a high volume passing offense, the Eagles top wide receivers in 2018 barely topped the league average in targets per game. The offense ran through Zack Ertz in 2018. Nelson Agholor finished the season as Philadelphia’s most targeted wide receiver with 97 targets. However, Agholor’s production dropped considerably after Alshon Jeffery returned in Game 4. Jeffery finished the year as the number one receiver for the Eagles in targets per game with almost nine per game. Neither receiver is very efficient as both receivers were below the league median in yards per route run. One bright spot in both receiver’s games is their usage within the opponent’s 10-yard line. Jeffery was targeted seven times and converted on three of them for touchdowns. Agholor received six looks within the 10 and was able to convert two into six points.

 

 

With the return of Desean Jackson and the Eagles willingness to get Dallas Goedert more involved, Agholor may see his volume decrease this season. Keep a close eye on his usage early in the year, if his efficiency continues to be below average on lower volume, his path to irrelevancy looks clear.

 

 

Washington Redskins

 

 

The Washington Redskins ran the fifth least offensive plays in the league last season. Of their 967 total plays, 553 were passing plays. That makes up 57% of their plays which is below league average and ranks 22nd.

 

 

 

When looking closer at game situations, the Redskins liked to throw the ball when they were down and playing within one score. As soon as they played with more than a single score lead, they threw the ball only 45% of the time. The good news is, the Redskins are on projected to win 6.5 games this season.

 

 

The bad news is, there is not much to choose from when attempting to get a piece of the passing volume in Washington. When looking at target share, Josh Doctson finished the year with the most targets. However, when compared to the league average, Doctson was just that, average. He and Paul Richardson averaged about five targets per game in 2018. Both receivers were very inefficient when measured by the metric yards per route run. Richardson averaged 1.11 Y/RR and Doctson averaged 1.04 Y/RR respectively.

 

 

 

 

Doctson was given the most opportunity as he finished in the 94th percentile in air yards. He finished the season with a Receiver Air Conversion Ratio (RACR) of just .43, meaning he converted 43% of his air yards (intended passes) into receiving yards. This is an incredibly low-efficiency level as it is no surprise that rumors have been floated that Doctson is on the trade block. If you want to find a way to get some of this offense’s volume onto your fantasy squad, steer clear of Doctson and Richardson. If it were me, I’d stay clear period, but it may be worth watching to see who Case Keenum or eventually Dwayne Haskins has a rapport with and pick them up off the waiver wire. As of this writing, Trey Quinn has been rumored to have possession of the slot receiver role and would be the best bet to take over the role vacated by Jamison Crowder.

 

 

New York Giants

 

The New York Giants ranked 25th in the league in the number of plays run by the offense by running only 984 plays. This equates to 61.5 plays per game.

 

 

 

 

The Giants ran the eighth-most passing plays in the NFL throwing the ball 630 times. This made up 64% of their offense which is well above league average. In fact, the Giants threw the ball above league average no matter the score. This bodes well for fantasy owners willing to invest in the receiving corps.

 

 

 

Of the wide receivers remaining on the roster for 2019, Sterling Shepard is the only receiver worth investing in. Shepard averaged 6.7 targets per game and finished the season with a total of 107 targets. After Odell Beckham Jr. was injured, Shepard averaged 7.4 targets per game. Shepard matched Beckham in targets within the 10-yard line with eight targets. He also was able to convert four of them for touchdowns. However, Shepard was just average in the efficiency department with 1.45 Y/RR and 4.6 YAC/REC.

 

 

 

Looking at air yards, Shepard maintained his role within the offense throughout the year. Despite the two week dip in Games 9 and 10, Shepard averaged 69 air yards per game. Although the Giants added Golden Tate, Shepard should still maintain this volume and has a real opportunity to step into a number one role. He will have to improve his efficiency numbers this season, but with the possible increase in volume off-setting the inefficiency, he will be a solid play. If the quarterback situation improves even slightly, Shepard stands to benefit even more. He’s worth the risk at current ADP in the 7th round.

2 responses to “Opportunity Report: Proceed to Draft With Caution in NFC East”

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