Metrics that Matter: Le'Veon Bell's huge Week 10
This week in Metrics That Matter, we will be counting down the top-five Actual Opportunity weeks 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 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.
Last season, the top-five PPR weeks belonged to:
1. Le’Veon Bell (Week 14) — 51.8 PPR
2. Julio Jones (Week 4) — 48.0 PPR
3. Adam Thielen (Week 16) — 44.6 PPR
4. Odell Beckham Jr. (Week 6) — 42.2 PPR
5. Ezekiel Elliott (Week 10) — 40.9 PPR
Believe it or not, none of these games ranked very highly in Actual Opportunity. Most of these players reached these impressive totals on efficiency, rather than volume. Elliott’s Week 10 was most surprising. He had 21 carries, but only one from inside the 20-yard line (the 14). He rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He also saw two targets (83 and 53 yards from the end zone) that he turned into two catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.
This week we’ll be counting down the top-five Actual Opportunity weeks of the 2016 season, starting with No. 5. See if you can guess the top wide receiver week (No. 2 overall) and the top running back week (No. 1 overall). First person to get the answer correctly (player and week) in the article’s comments or by mentioning me on Twitter will get a shout-out in one of the next articles.
The fifth-best Actual Opportunity week of the 2016 season belongs to Le’Veon Bell, who put up 33.7 Actual Opportunity points and 34.3 PPR points against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10.
Bell put up more receiving Actual Opportunity points (18.2) than rushing Actual Opportunity points (15.5), which was something he did in 50 percent of his games last season. This is one of the reasons why I have Bell atop my rankings this season. Receiving production from running backs in PPR leagues is of the utmost importance in terms of both a high weekly ceiling and high weekly floor. Since 2006, there have been 46 different instances where a running back posted an average of more than 18.5 fantasy points per game. Of these 46 instances, only two running backs ever averaged fewer than three targets per game (one was Elliott’s 2016.)
Bell’s 2016 season ranks 10th-best in running back targets per game since targets became a statistic (1992.) In terms of Actual Opportunity per game, Bell’s 2016 season ranks best among all players over the past decade (David Johnson’s 2016 season ranked second-best.) Over the past 10 seasons, Bell’s 2016 season ranks best among all players in PPR fantasy points per game (David Johnson’s 2016 season ranked second-best.)
Bell ranked second among running backs in rushing fantasy points per game, and would have ranked 30th among wide receivers in receiving fantasy points per game. When starting Bell in 2016, you were essentially getting the fantasy value of LeGarrette Blount and Kelvin Benjamin in one roster spot.
Last season in games Bell played, Bell averaged 93 percent of the team’s running back snaps, 94 percent of team’s running back carries, and 99 percent of the team’s running back targets. No other running back came close to either of these three numbers last season, and this has been a common theme for Bell throughout his career. This kind of usage (heavy involvement as a runner, receiver, and near the end zone) despite scoreboard or opponent easily keeps Bell atop my draft board heading into 2017.
As for Week 10, this is a perfect example of Bell’s potential. Bell played on 97 percent of the running back snaps and took all of the running back carries and targets. He saw two end-zone targets and two carries from the 1-yard-line, one from the 4, and one from the 9. In total, he saw six opportunities inside the 10-yard line. Despite totaling only 56 rushing yards, it was good for the 12th-highest-scoring running back week of the season. It’s also worth noting Bell made the most of his potential here, scoring 0.6 fantasy points over his expected total.