Sets, Snaps and Stats: Week 5

Pat Thorman examines the fantasy impact of up-tempo offenses and other emerging trends after five weeks of NFL action.

| 3 years ago
sproles

Sets, Snaps and Stats: Week 5


sprolesThe weekly Sets, Snaps and Stats report is a summary of participation, formation, target and other data mined by PFF’s game charters. Used with PFF Fantasy’s own signature stats, our aim – as always – is identifying relevant trends to provide out subscribers with a competitive advantage.

Taking Tempo-Ture

Week 5 proved to be quite the bloodbath when it came to fantasy relevant injuries. Some have made more headlines than others, such as Michael Vick and Julio Jones. Yet it is another injury that may have wider reaching fantasy implications despite less name cache.

It appears that a sprained knee will keep Buffalo’s E.J. Manuel out for up to two months. While the Bills themselves were not lighting the fantasy world afire, their offense certainly possesses relevant players. More importantly, the Bills not only were running the second most plays in the league heading into Week 5, but they were at the top of the list in snaps surrendered.

Currently giving up the third most plays, it is fair to wonder if their ranking will continue to slide during Manuel’s absence. Buffalo had again been running the hurry-up (10 snaps) before he went down, but huddled for the rest of the game.  Backup Jeff Tuel entered and looked hopeless enough that they have since elevated Thaddeus Lewis from their practice squad and are starting him against the Bengals. Good luck, kid.

With underrated cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Buffalo’s ‘franchise’ designee, safety Jairus Byrd, both due back this week, the Bills’ defense will be considerably stiffer for opposing passing games. The run defense has thus far been solid, with a cumulative 11th place PFF grade of +11.5, and an improving three week trend consisting of +6.8 (at NYJ), +7.3 (vs BAL), and +10.1 (at CLE). If opponents cannot count on the sheer play volume afforded them in large part by Buffalo’s no-huddle tendencies, they become considerably less attractive to target for fantasy purposes.

Ranking

Week 3 Snaps

2013 Snaps (Avg/Gm)

Opponents (Avg/Gm)

1st

Philadelphia (77)

Houston (74.0)

Philadelphia (73.6)

2nd

Buffalo (75)

Buffalo (72.8)

Minnesota (73.0)

3rd

Baltimore (74)

Denver (71.4)

Buffalo (72.6)

4th

Denver (73)

Baltimore (70.4)

NY Giants (71.8)

5th

St. Louis (72)

New England (69.4)

Cleveland (70.8)

On the other hand we have Vick’s Eagles, who will be rolling with backup Nick Foles for the foreseeable future as the veteran’s hamstring heals up at an indeterminate pace. Vick was reportedly encouraged by how the injury responded to light testing, but playing that sort of guessing game with a 33 year old passer who relies on his legs is a fool’s errand.

Whether Vick or Foles is behind center, Chip Kelly’s squad will not be dialing back the offensive pace. They went up-tempo with Foles extensively during the preseason, and on Sunday ran 36 no huddle snaps with Vick, and 34 after he left the game. Philadelphia leads the league in opponents’ snaps, as well as fantasy points surrendered to wide receivers, and are fifth most generous to quarterbacks. PFF’s 23rd graded run defense has only given up the 14th most fantasy points to running backs. Considering that they have not yet faced many ferocious rushing attacks, we should expect this to change.

Touching quickly on Jacksonville’s opponents’ snaps surrendered, it is interesting that their weekly tallies in this department are 61, 61, 67, 70, and 72 in Week 5 – which was the fifth most of the week. They have, by far, the worst graded run defense (-32.2), eighth worst pass rush (-9.4) and 10th worst pass coverage (-9.9). PFF’s 32nd ranked defense has gotten no help from their offense, which has shown up-tempo tendencies with “backup” quarterback Chad Henne behind center. He ran the no-huddle during preseason games and again for 11 snaps last week, albeit while behind on the scoreboard. While nobody needs to be told to start their fantasy players against the Jaguars, this is a potentially drool-worthy development.

Also deserving mention, if you were in bed at the time, is the Chargers once again liberally sprinkled in the no-huddle throughout their Week 5 late-late game with the Raiders. 42 of their 69 snaps came in the hurry-up, good for a healthy 61 percent. And don’t look now, but Aaron Rodgers and the Packers went no-huddle on 64 percent of their 64 plays against the Lions. The fact that 32 of those plays came at the start of the game, before they blew it open, is also noteworthy. Their Week 6 matchup with Baltimore, another team who has gone no-huddle often, may be played at a breakneck pace.

Ranking

Week 3 Snaps

2013 Snaps (Avg/Gm)

Opponents (Avg/Gm)

32nd

San Francisco (43)

San Francisco (57.0)

Houston (55.2)

31st

NY Jets (47)

Oakland (58.8)

New Orleans (55.6)

30th

Dallas (54)

Miami (60.2)

Carolina (60.5)

29th

Chicago (54)

Dallas (60.6)

Atlanta (60.6)

28th

Oakland (55)

Chicago (61.4)

Indianapolis (60.6)

The Saints have given up the 25th most fantasy points to quarterbacks, 24th most to tight ends, 18th most to running backs, and 17th most to wideouts – due in no small part to their offensive efficiency. They do not run the hurry-up, yet still average the eighth most snaps (68.0 per game). Between plays their bench area resembles a Manhattan sidewalk at rush hour, with a dizzying array of personnel commuting into and out of the huddle. Despite playing on the road in Chicago, no fewer than 10 different non-linemen joined Drew Brees for at least a few Week 5 snaps.

This has allowed New Orleans to keep opposing defenses off balance and helped to produce an average drive that includes 6.1 plays and lasts just under three minutes (2:59), good for fifth and fourth most in the league, respectively. They take the seventh longest between plays (28.85 seconds) according to Football Outsiders’ pace stats, and it is no surprise then that they are also surrendering the second fewest snaps to opponents when the quality of their defense is taken into account. Counting on fantasy shootouts when the Saints are involved now appears to be a thing of the past.

The Texans and Panthers also demonstrate a strong correlation between snaps allowed and fantasy points surrendered. Carolina has given up the fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks, on average, and only Kansas City has been tougher on tight ends. Houston ranks 32nd in fantasy points against for wideouts, as well as 22nd for both quarterbacks and receivers.

It is noteworthy that Indianapolis has been fairly rough on opposing fantasy players, especially relative to their reputation. The 67 plays they surrendered to Seattle in a wild Week 5 matchup raised their average, but it might be time to adjust our outlook on them. The same cannot be said for Atlanta, whose average snaps against was significantly lowered due to the Jets running a measly 47 plays on Monday Night Football. Considering the way they made Geno Smith look, among plenty of other issues, the Falcons’ defense does not belong in the same conversation as the others on the fewest snaps surrendered list.

Since Taking Tempo-ture took a little longer this week, we will have a more abbreviated positional notes section below, after the jump. But first here are some Week 6 matchups that are interesting from a tempo/snap count perspective:

New York Giants at Chicago Bears

The lesser of the two New York teams is surrendering the fourth most plays to opponents and should be the cure for a Bears team that only got off 54 snaps in a home game against the Saints last week. This looks to be the second Thursday Night Football game in a row where the home team will pile on the points.

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Please note that penalty plays are removed from the snap totals and will differ from what is posted in our Premium Statistics game logs.

Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman

 



Pat Thorman is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and a Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner.

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