Metrics that Matter: Johnson's huge opportunity in a 6-6 tie
(“Metrics that Matter” is an every-weekday feature highlighting some of the top stats and key takeaways from PFF Senior Fantasy Analyst Scott Barrett.)
Whoa, where is that drumroll coming from? Oh, right, we’re counting down the top-five Actual Opportunity games of the 2016 season.
If you’re unfamiliar with Actual Opportunity, I highly recommend reading the introduction here. Essentially, with Actual Opportunity we’re building out a player’s expected fantasy points based on the opportunity they saw in any given week or over the course of a full season. Each week during the regular season I’ll look at players by their Actual Opportunity numbers in an attempt to identify players who may be undervalued or overvalued relative to their expectation and their DFS salary.
After covering the second- through fifth-best player-weeks, the only one left is the top Actual Opportunity game of last season. Shoutout to our reader Alec O. (@Alec_FF) for guessing this one correctly; it was a tough one. The top Actual Opportunity game belongs David Johnson in his Week 7 game against Seattle.
Here’s the top five in its entirety:
5. Le’Veon Bell (Week 10) – 33.7 AO/34.3 PPR
4. Odell Beckham Jr. (Week 16) – 35.8 AO/26.0 PPR
3. Antonio Brown (Week 10) – 37.0 AO/34.4 PPR
2. Doug Baldwin (Week 16) – 37.5 AO/37.3 PPR
1. David Johnson (Week 7) – 37.7 AO/25.1 PPR
In Week 7, Johnson scored 12.6 points below his expectation. Let’s dig deep to find out what went wrong:
Rushing (33 carries)
Receiving (11 targets)
Johnson saw a monster workload this week, totaling 113 rushing yards on 33 carries (3.4 yards per carry) and eight receptions and 58 receiving yards on 13 targets. This tied for the 25th-most touches of any player in any game ever. Unfortunately, as evident by the final score (6-6), there weren’t any touchdowns in this contest. The opportunity to score was there for Johnson, however. He saw an end-zone target he failed to convert. He saw a carry from the 5-yard line but was stopped short on the 1, and then failed to convert the following carry from the 1-yard line. The poor rushing efficiency numbers shouldn’t be too surprising considering Seattle ranked second-best in yards per carry allowed to opposing running backs (3.41) last season.
Among all skill position players last season, Johnson posted the second-best season of the past decade in terms of Actual Opportunity per game (Le’Veon Bell’s 2016 ranked first.) In terms of PPR fantasy points per game, he again ranked second-best this past decade (Bell again ranked first.) Johnson’s 120 targets in 2016 ranks fifth-most by a halfback in any season ever. Among all players in 2016, it ranked 25th-most. Oh, and he ranked second-most in total carries. This heavy usage, regardless of gamescript, not only meant Johnson had the safest floor in the game, but also the highest ceiling. Last season, he had six games of 30 fantasy points or more (next-closest running back only had three) and only one game of fewer than 15 fantasy points (Week 17, when he left the game early with an injury.)
As it stands, based on workload and efficiency, Johnson should be a lock to be selected within the first two picks of your 2017 fantasy draft.
Here’s how Johnson’s 2016 season looked in terms of Actual Opportunity vs. PPR fantasy points by week: