Volume matters most

If you play fantasy football, or any fantasy sport, you know how important statistics are. But with all of the data out there, it’s important to know what stats and metrics really matter. Do total rush attempts by a running back carry the most weight, or should you be looking at broken tackles? Does a player’s touchdown total translate year over year, or are targets a more stable indicator of future production? What are the most predictive stats when it comes to fantasy football?

Most fantasy analysts agree volume matters most. Every player’s fantasy upside is inextricably linked to the number of looks he gets. For receivers, the metrics that correlate strongest with PPR fantasy points are receiving yards, receptions, targets, yards after the catch (which is basically a subset of total yards), and touchdowns. For running backs, total yards correlate most strongly to fantasy scoring, followed by snaps, then touches, total touchdowns, and rushing yards.

On draft night, everyone was fighting over the same players in the early rounds. You wanted receivers who were expected to be focal points of their passing offenses, and you wanted running backs with clear three-down potential—the few remaining “bell cows” in the league. The more basic counting stats players can rack up the better. Now, it’s Week 11, the trade deadline has passed, and your roster should be set. If you’ve done your job, your decision is only about roster management.

Let me use my own home league team as an example. I’m scratching my head now, trying to decide who I will start and who I will sit in the running back positions, the wide receiver positions, the tight end position and the flex position. I lost last week because I made some bad decisions. I started Robert Woods (8.60) and Jerry Jeudy (10.80) but left JuJu Smith-Schuester (22.70) on the bench. I started Lamar Jackson (21.46) but left Tom Brady (31.84) on the bench. You get the gist.

This week, I must choose two running backs from the following list: Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliott, James Conner and Duke Johnson. Chubb is in as my RB1, and Johnson is benched. Neither Elliott, nor Conner is trustworthy, both having single-digit scores the past two weeks. Right now, I’m leaning toward Elliott – even though Conner has the better matchup – because I have no idea what’s going on in Pittsburgh. Conner only had 13 carries last week, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing 46 passes.

My wide receiver picture is even more murky. If Calvin Ridley returns, he’ll be my WR1. I may start Smith-Schuester in the WR2 spot after two straight 20 plus weeks. The once-steady Woods has scored in single digits in two of the past three weeks. This week’s matchup is against the Bucs, who have allowed the ninth-fewest points to wideouts. Jamison Crowder has a decent matchup against the Chargers and their bottom-10 secondary, but he had only two receptions last week.    

If I start Chubb (RB1), Elliott (RB2), Ridley (WR1), Smith-Schuester (WR2), that leaves Conner, Woods and Crowder as options for the flex.  It’s hard to sit Woods, but he’s been at five catches or less in four of his last five games. He’s also been held to 36 receiving yards or less in four of the last six. To make matters worse, he may be covered by a formidable cornerback in the Buccaneers’ Carlton Davis. I may go with Conner in a good matchup and potentially good game script in Jacksonville.

I also have a choice to make at quarterback.  I’m going to roll with Jackson because I don’t like Brady’s matchup against the Rams. Brady was fantastic in Week 10 against Carolina, and he’s now scored at least 23 Fantasy points in three of his past four games. But he’s had some struggles, including three games since Week 4 with 18 points or less. This is a tough Rams defense that that just held Russell Wilson to 248 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions last week.

At tight end, I have Rob Gronkowski and Dallas Goedert rostered. I started Goedert last week, and he got six targets, four receptions but only 33 total yards and no touchdown. That was 7.3 points. Gronk got less targets (3) and less receptions (2) but more yards (51) and a touchdown. That was 13.1 points. Brady’s favorite receiver has 10 end-zone targets in 2020, which is only one less than end-zone target leaders Tyler Lockett and Mike Evans. Gronk gets the start on my team.   

When you’re making your own roster decisions this week, you have to consider matchups, weather and other considerations. But volume matters most. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the stat leaders after 10 weeks. You will have some of them rostered, and this may influence your decision on starts and sits this week and going forward. Take note of the scoring leaders because some of these players will be available on the waiver wire and may be worth adding.     

TARGET SHARE LEADERS:

1. Adam Thielen  — 27.8%

2. Darren Waller — 27.5%

3. Keenan Allen — 25.8%

4. Stefon Diggs — 24.6%

5. DeAndre Hopkins — 24.4%

6. Travis Kelce — 23.8%

7. Robby Anderson — 23.6%

8. Allen Robinson — 23.2%

9. Alvin Kamara — 22.9%

10. Terry McLaurin — 22.8%

TARGETS PER GAME

1. Davante Adams  — 11.5

2. Keenan Allen — 10.8

3. Stefon Diggs  — 10.1

4. Allen Robinson  — 9.6

5. Jamison Crowder  — 9.6

6. Terry McLaurin  — 9.6

7. DeAndre Hopkins  — 9.5

8. Amari Cooper  — 9.2

9. Alvin Kamara — 9

10. Cooper Kupp — 8.9

AIR YARD LEADERS

1. DK Metcalf — 989

2. Stefon Diggs  — 956

3. Tyreek Hill  — 910

4. Calvin Ridley — 895

5. Allen Robinson — 895

6. Jerry Jeudy — 843

7. Robby Anderson — 801

8. Adam Thielen — 783

9. Terry McLaurin — 776

10. D.J. Moore — 775

RED-ZONE RUSHING LEADERS

Red-zone rushing attempts leaders

1. Derrick Henry — 44

2. Todd Gurley  — 42

3. Josh Jacobs  — 37

4. Darrell Henderson — 30

5. Dalvin Cook — 28

6. Ezekiel Elliott — 27

7. Kareem Hunt, Kenyan Drake, Alvin Kamara, James Conner, Ronald Jones, Jonathan Taylor  — 26

GOAL-LINE CARRY LEADERS (INSIDE THE 5)

1. Ezekiel Elliott — 16

2. Todd Gurley, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry  — 13

5. Darrell Henderson — 10

6. James Conner, David Johnson, Alvin Kamara, Josh Jacobs, Antonio Gibson, Jonathan Taylor — 9

RED-ZONE TARGET LEADERS

1. Tyreek Hill — 25

2. Mike Evans — 24

3. Davante Adams, D.K. Metcalf  — 23

5. Tyler Boyd  — 22

6. Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley  — 21

8. Darren Waller, Brandon Aiyuk — 20

10. Tyler Lockett — 19

END-ZONE TARGET LEADERS

1. Tyler Lockett, Mike Evans — 11

3. Adam Thielen, Calvin Ridley, Rob Gronkowski — 10

6. T.J. Hockenson — 9

7. Mark Andrews, A.J. Green, Tyreek Hill, Mike Williams, DK Metcalf— 8

END-ZONE THROW PASSING LEADERS

1. Russell Wilson — 41

2. Tom Brady — 35

3. Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert  — 28

5. Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan — 27

8. Josh Allen — 26

9. Lamar Jackson — 23

10. Patrick Mahomes, Gardner Minshew — 22

TOP FANTASY SCORERS (WEEKS 6-10) 

Quarterbacks (top 12): Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Carson Wentz.

Running Backs (top 24): Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey (hurt), Alvin Kamara, Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry, James Robinson, D’Andre Swift, Josh Jacobs, Antonio Gibson, Giovani Bernard, Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage, Nyheim Hines, Joe Mixon (hurt), Ronald Jones, Myles Gaskin (hurt), Todd Gurley, Miles Sanders, Wayne Gallman, Kareem Hunt, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, J.D. McKissic, Boston Scott, James Conner, Devontae Booker, Chase Edmonds.

Wide Receivers (top 24): Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen, Tyler Lockett, Christian Kirk, Justin Jefferson, Terry McLaurin, Tee Higgins, DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Curtis Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Diontae Johnson, Will Fuller, Tyler Boyd, Stefon Diggs, Jakobi Meyers, DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Ridley, DJ Moore, Brandin Cooks, Deebo Samuel (hurt), JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Tight Ends (top 12): Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski, Hayden Hurst, Logan Thomas, T.J. Hockenson, Darren Waller, Irv Smith Jr. (hurt), Trey Burton, Richard Rodgers, Harrison Bryant, Eric Ebron, Evan Engram, Jared Cook, Anthony Firkser, Hunter Henry.

Defenses: Miami, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Arizona.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter. ThomasLSeltzer1.

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