News & Analysis

Week 15 Fantasy football analysis: Expected production so far

By Scott Barrett
Dec 12, 2018

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Dec 31, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) takes the field for action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, and welcome to the Week 15 Actual Opportunity report. This is our weekly look at the players with the most fantasy potential based on volume, and how effective they’ve been with it. If you’re unfamiliar with Actual Opportunity, you can read the in-depth explanation here.

Essentially, we’re using an 11-season sample of play-by-play data to calculate expected fantasy points from a player’s seasonal or weekly usage. We look at each target (by distance from the end zone and depth of target) and each carry (by distance from the end zone and down and distance) and add this up to determine how valuable a player’s role was for fantasy purposes. We can contrast this with fantasy production to measure efficiency.

In layman’s terms, Actual Opportunity is “how many points a player should have scored” given his workload, based on what the average player would have scored. “Expected fantasy points” will be used interchangeably with “Actual Opportunity” throughout this article.

After 14 weeks of action, here are the top 25 players in expected fantasy points per game:

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(AO: 10.4, PPR: 11.5)

In Week 14, Godwin totaled 10 targets and 17.8 expected fantasy points, but caught only one pass for 13 yards (2.3 fantasy points). His differential of -15.5 points in Week 14 is the single least efficient game by any player this season. However, Godwin deserves very little blame for his poor performance. Only one of his 10 targets was deemed catchable last week, and he caught it. Still, volume was incredible (he ranked 10th-best at the position in expected fantasy points) and has been incredible every time DeSean Jackson or Mike Evans have missed time. If Jackson is out again this week, Godwin is an ideal anti-recency-bias DFS play for Week 15. Updating last week’s stat, in the five games Jackson or Evans has missed over the past two years, Godwin averages 16.8 expected and 14.5 actual fantasy points per game. Across these five games, he’s also averaged 135.6 air yards, 8.8 targets, 1.4 end-zone targets, and 2.4 deep targets per game. Essentially, that’s good for low-end WR1 numbers.

Hyper-efficiency in Week 14

Whereas Godwin just posted our least efficient game of the season in Week 14, Derrick Henry, Amari Cooper, and George Kittle posted three of our four most efficient games of the season. Henry totaled just 12.9 expected fantasy points but scored 47.8, good for a +34.9-point differential. Right behind him was Cooper, with 20.0 expected fantasy points (seventh-best at the position) and 49.7 actual fantasy points, good for a +29.7 differential. And then was Kittle, who totaled 10.3 expected fantasy points and 34.0 actual fantasy points, good for a +23.7-point differential. The other game in the top four was Cooper in Week 12, who posted a +25.2-point differential. RIP to those of you who faced one of them in the playoffs.

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