Danny Dimes Sets Fantasy Record in Rookie Debut
Daniel Jones set the quarterback record for most fantasy points in a rookie debut. Jones had a few “Danny Dimes” as a passer (9.3 YPA) -- the placement on his touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard was superb -- but what really caught my eye was his ability to take off from the pocket. Jones beat linebackers to the perimeter multiple times and was quick to realize the middle of the field was open for his second rushing touchdown. NextGenStats now credits Jones with having two of the four fastest speeds reached by a quarterback this season, and if he continues to use his legs, he should be in the mix in fantasy for the rest of the season. Jones belongs in the high-end QB2 discussion next week with Washington coming to town, but we’ll really learn what Jones has in Weeks 5 and 6 when the Giants face the Vikings and Patriots.
The Buy Low of the Century
Going into Week 3, Chris Godwin had an 11-174-2 receiving line, while Mike Evans was sitting at 6-89-0. The results were bad, but Evans was actually seeing WR1 opportunity if we looked beyond the box score. Evans had an insane 40% of the Bucs’ air yards, a sign he was due for a bounceback game if his usage continued. And Week 3 was the perfect storm for a bounceback game. The Bucs were projected for the fourth-most points on the week, and Rotoworld’s Ian Hartitz pointed out in his WR/CB matchup (read that each week) that Evans has seven inches and 38 pounds on Giants CB Janoris Jenkins. ... And man was it ever a bounceback game. Jameis Winston locked onto Evans right from the get-go. Evans hauled in a 21-yard touchdown on the first drive, a 3-yard touchdown on the second drive, and a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Evans went from a buy low to sell high in a span of two quarters. Regression was drunk, and I loved every minute of it. When the game was over, Evans had an 8-190-3 receiving line on a team-high 15 targets. Evans is a WR1 moving forward. He just might be more boom-or-bust than the Michael Thomas’ of the world.
Arizona’s Air Raid
There are many aspects of the Cardinals’ air raid I love. They entered Week 3 playing at the second-fastest offensive pace, and they were passing the ball more than any other team. In general, those are positives. But the exact passing-game design in Week 3 left a lot to be desired. Almost every Week 3 pass was thrown within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage -- check out this insane passing chart here -- and only 23% of the passes were intended for a receiver who typically plays outside (KeeSean Johnson 4, Damiere Byrd 4, and Michael Crabtree 2). Basically, all the Panthers had to do to stop Kyler Murray was to tackle his pass-catchers underneath. In the NFL, that happens more times than not. Coach Kliff Kingsbury needs to get Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk targets beyond the first-down marker, and he needs to find an outside receiver capable of making plays on the boundary. If neither of those things happen, then Murray’s fantasy upside will be determined by how willing he is to take off as a runner. I’ll be paying close attention to how this air raid adjusts because the Cardinals’ schedule really softens coming up.
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Danny Dimes Sparks Analytics vs. Film Debate
Another discussion to have is Daniel Jones as an NFL prospect because he was arguably the most polarizing prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. From an analytics perspective, Jones had holes. And that’s putting it lightly. Jones wasn’t accurate at Duke. Jones was bad against pressure. Jones’ advanced passing metrics were below average. Jones simply just didn’t fill up the box score like most early-round quarterbacks and that was in an offense that used a lot of college concepts. If we completely ignored what #FilmGrinders had to say about him, Jones probably would have been an undrafted free agent this spring. ... But ignoring film evaluations would have been (and still is) terrible process, even if you’re an analytics nerd. Take the World Series Champion Houston Astros for example. Their front office -- a group of spreadsheet nerds -- doesn’t ignore film. Instead, the Astros combine analytics with film. Who would have thought?!?! In particular, the Astros have their scouts input their film grades using numeric scales -- for example, a scout could grade a prospect’s curveball on a scale of 1 to 10 -- and then the front office puts those film-based numbers into their draft models, which include a prospect’s on-field analytics. This process gives the Astros a final grade for each prospect that incorporates both analytics and film. … When I replicated the Astros’ process in my Analytics Top 300 Big Board this offseason, I quickly learned how wrong the analytics community (definitely including myself) was on Daniel Jones’ evaluation because draft capital, which is primarily a film-based metric, matters a ton for the projecting NFL prospects. Jones went from a prospect who I thought was truly terrible to a prospect who was ranked by my draft model as the 14th overall prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. That only happened once I attempted to bake in film evaluations -- thanks Astroball -- and after watching Jones shred in his debut, I’m glad I changed my process.
MNF Preview From The Fantasy Football Worksheet
Bears (22.75, -4) @ WAS
Mitchell Trubisky looks terrible right now, but he did have two tough matchups to be fair. This week, there are no excuses. The Redskins have been exposed by Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott already, so Trubisky should return a top-24 finish as long as he can throw the ball at all. If he busts… Yikes.
Allen Robinson’s usage keeps him in the WR2/3 mix even with Trubisky playing Bortles-esque football. Robinson’s one-on-one matchup against slow-footed Josh Norman (4.66 40-time) doesn’t scare me as long as Trubisky locks onto ARob. … Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel aren’t seeing enough usage to be considered in fantasy. … Trey Burton also shouldn’t be considered coming back from an injury with a quarterback who might have worse accuracy than I do.
David Montgomery took over the backfield last week, and he gets a great matchup against the Redskins’ 30th ranked run defense (per PFF). Montgomery’s touch total and goal-line equity (see below) make Montgomery an RB2 this week and likely beyond. … Tarik Cohen was a slot receiver in Week 1 and a low-volume running back last week. His role is still being ironed out.
Redskins (18.75, +4) vs. CHI
Case Keenum isn’t a fantasy option against the Bears. C’mon man.
Terry McLaurin has WR1/2 usage. The rookie is fifth in air yards (277) and is tied for second with five red zone receptions. Will that continue? Probably not. But he’s clearly the best receiver on the Redskins and probably won’t fall off a cliff, especially if he gets college teammate Dwayne Haskins at quarterback soon. McLaurin’s matchup this week against Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller isn’t daunting, so he’s a boom-or-bust WR3. … Trey Quinn and Paul Richardson aren’t seeing enough volume to be fantasy starters, and the Bears Defense isn’t the matchup to get cute with. … Jordan Reed (concussion) is out.
Adrian Peterson needs positive game script to be a risky flex option (see chart above), and the Redskins are 4-point dogs against the Bears this week. AP’s usage should be similar to last week’s (see table above), so he’s a zero-floor RB3/4. … Chris Thompson is more interesting (by default). Thompson has the second-most targets (18) among running backs, and the Broncos opted to target their backs 14 times against the Bears last week. Thompson is a volume-based RB3 in PPR leagues.