Sets, Snaps and Stats: Week 9

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

| 4 years ago

Sets, Snaps and Stats: Week 9

jordan-cameronThe 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.

Raw snap data is a valuable tool that offers a macro view of what transpires on a weekly basis. However, by themselves these statistics can be misleading and must be accompanied by deeper examination.

Take, for example, the Chicago Bears. Before their atypical Monday Night Football game against the Packers they had averaged 60.6 plays per game, which would rank second to last in the league. Without a closer look it would be impossible to know that they are one of an exclusive handful of teams to support high-end fantasy starters across all positions.

Jay Cutler plus Josh McCown would equal the 11th ranked quarterback, Matt Forte is the second highest scoring running back, Martellus Bennett is the eighth ranked tight end despite battling injury, and wideouts Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery come in eighth and 13th, respectively. The Bears have also had their bye week. While many teams spread out their touches, Chicago has chosen to concentrate them among these four weapons. Forte takes 81.9 percent of running back handoffs and 90.1 percent of targets, Bennett gets 94.4 percent of tight ends targets, with Marshall and Jeffery combining for 92.2 percent of receiver looks.

Denver is the only team that supports more fantasy weapons, and they average the most snaps in the league. The Broncos run 10.3 more snaps than the Bears on a weekly basis, average 6.4 yards per play, and have scored over 100 additional points. However, Chicago is the only team in the bottom half of the league in snaps per game that averages six yards per play. If those 75 MNF snaps were not an anomaly, watch out.

The Bears have shown no signs of altering this offensive philosophy, and despite McCown’s strong play will benefit from Cutler’s impending return. Other than a trip to Cleveland, their December schedule is filled with defensive creampuffs. Targeting these five players – especially Bennett, whose perceived stock seems to have dipped – is extremely advisable.

Also advisable is using the data below as a jumping off point instead of the basis for conclusions. After all, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.


Week 9 Snaps

2013 Snaps (Avg/Gm)

Opponents (Avg/Gm)


Cincinnati (93)

Denver (72.6)

Philadelphia (74.6)


Oakland (92)

Buffalo (71.6)

New England (71.4)


Buffalo (77)

Houston (70.6)

Miami (70.9)


Chicago (75)

New England (70.3)

Minnesota (70.3)


Pittsburgh (73)

Washington (69.5)

Cleveland (70.0)

The Bills were back to their up-tempo ways against the Chiefs and nearly pulled off the upset. A week after scrapping the no-huddle while attempting to keep the Saints offense on the sidelines, they used it on nearly a quarter of their Week 9 snaps (23.4%). Still a far cry from what they were doing when E.J. Manuel was healthy, we can expect them to continue ramping the pace back up. That likely means more plays surrendered. Currently giving up the sixth most snaps, their average came down over the last three weeks while allowing 60.7 snaps per game. When they were predominantly up-tempo during the season’s first six weeks they surrendered 74.5 plays on average.

The Patriots’ play count crept back above 70 and it had a lot to do with an increasing emphasis on the no-huddle. They went up-tempo on nearly 30 percent of snaps (29.6%) a week after that figure was 25.8 percent. We should expect them to more closely resemble the high-powered outfit of recent seasons once they return from their bye. The reintroduction of key targets, including passing down back Shane Vereen, will aid in this regard. Consider this the last call to grab Vereen off of waivers if he happens to be available. Also of note is the fact that New England has surrendered 80.3 plays per game over their last three and their banged up defense is again accommodative to opponents.


Week 9 Snaps

2013 Snaps (Avg/Gm)

Opponents (Avg/Gm)


Atlanta (48)

San Francisco (59.1)

Houston (55.4)


Kansas City (54)

Minnesota (60.8)

Carolina (59.6)


Green Bay (55)

Dallas (60.8)

New Orleans (60.9)


Philadelphia (57)

Seattle (61.4)

St. Louis (61.1)


IND/NYJ (58)

Arizona (61.5)

San Diego (61.1)

The Packers went no-huddle on five plays during their first drive against the Bears one week after shelving their up-tempo ways during a road game against the Vikings. Unfortunately Aaron Rodgers was done for the night, and so was the no-huddle. Green Bay’s 55 plays represented a season low and it is fair to wonder if their anticipated Eddie Lacy-centric game plan will be able to support many other viable fantasy options until their quarterback returns.

Dallas and Minnesota both beat their seasonal snap averages, but not by much. In a game most figured would produce plenty of fantasy points, their matchup turned out to be disappointing. It was the second week in a row that the Cowboys played an opponent that prompted expectations of fantasy fireworks, and both times the fuse was not lit until the second half. For a supposedly high-powered offense they seem to take a long time to get cranked up, and it is reflected in their third-from-bottom place average snap figure.

Now on with the rest of this week’s Sets, Snaps & Stats, after a look at a few notable games from a snaps and tempo perspective:

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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.

  • Samuel Dobbs

    Is Welker and Marshall enough compensation for Brees?