Welcome to Week 11, fantasy managers! If you are new to this article series, I will be using my Expected Fantasy Points model to determine which players relied on volume or efficiency to produce for fantasy. In short, the two metrics that we will use each week are
Expected Fantasy Points (or xFP)
Fantasy Points Over Expected (or FPOE = Actual Points - Expected Points)
Why do these metrics matter? In short, fantasy production rooted in volume (or xFP) is much more sustainable week to week. As a result, we want to target players who rank highly in this metric. On the other hand, players who rely on efficiency (or FPOE) are much more volatile on a weekly basis. For a more detailed breakdown of my model, be sure to check out my series primer from Week 1!
Let’s dive in!
Wide Receivers: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
Amon-Ra St. Brown - Detroit Lions
After a scorching hot start in his first two games of the season, Amon-Ra St. Brown’s production cooled off as he battled through an ankle injury earlier this year. And when he finally returned in Week 7, he was ruled out relatively early in the game due to a possible concussion.
However, outside of the games in which he was limited to injury, St. Brown has actually received consistent volume this year. In games with over a 70 percent snap share, he is averaging an elite 33.3 percent target share and 10.5 targets per game. And this past week against Chicago, he set a season-high in target share at 44%, finishing the week as the WR9 in half-PPR leagues.
Going forward, with their defense allowing the most yards per game this season (416.2), I fully expect St. Brown’s elite usage to continue as Jared Goff will need to rely on him for the team to stay competitive most weeks.
Kadarius Toney - Kansas City Chiefs
It was never a question of talent when Kadarius Toney was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, as he flashed elite efficiency in his brief time with the New York Giants. Instead, his health was the primary concern, dealing with a variety of knee, ankle and hamstring injuries dating back to his rookie season.
This past week, however, we finally saw a glimpse of his upside in a high-powered Chiefs offense. Despite only receiving 44 percent of the offensive snaps, Toney was heavily utilized, totaling seven opportunities. Interestingly, he was mainly used as a short-yardage option, which is why he only ranked as the WR35 in Expected Fantasy Points. While we ideally want to see receivers used as downfield threats (leading to more high-value opportunities), it is hard to argue against Toney’s efficiency, considering he is one of the most dangerous players after the catch.
So, even with a lower ADOT (average depth of target), he has the athletic ability to break tackles and create yards after the catch. I also expect his role to evolve as he becomes more familiar with the playbook, which will only raise his upside in one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
Running Backs: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
D’Onta Foreman - Carolina Panthers
Who needs Christian McCaffrey when you have D’Onta Foreman on the roster?
All jokes aside, it has been a pleasant surprise to see Foreman become the featured running back for this team, especially after fighting his way back from a torn Achilles earlier in his career. And based on his usage over the last four weeks, he should be a staple in your lineups as we approach the fantasy playoffs. Since Week 6, Foreman is the:
RB14 in Expected Fantasy Points (13.9)
RB10 in Fantasy Points Over Expected (+3.4)
RB7 in Opportunity Share (37.2%)
In other words, Foreman has been a focal point for the Panthers, averaging high-end RB2 usage over the last four weeks. The only negative in his profile is his target share of 6.7 percent. As a result, if the Panthers are trailing significantly, Foreman’s usage could be limited if he is not involved in the passing game. Assuming they do not find themselves down 35 points again as they did in Week 9 versus the Bengals, I expect Foreman to be heavily involved, providing fantasy managers with FLEX-level production most weeks.
Tony Pollard - Dallas Cowboys
Fantasy football managers who were waiting for Tony Pollard to finally be unleashed got their wish in Week 8 when Ezekiel Elliott was sidelined due to a knee injury.
And needless to say, he did not disappoint.
Over the last three weeks, Pollard is the RB2 in half-PPR leagues, averaging an absurd 26.8 points per game. While he certainly showcased some of his efficiency by generating multiple breakaway runs that turned into touchdowns, Pollard also proved that he can handle a true workhorse role. In Week 10, he received 87% of the snaps, 37.8% of the team’s total opportunities and 14% of their targets, finishing the week with 20.3 fantasy points.
It will be interesting to see how Mike McCarthy manages this backfield when Elliott returns because, based on his performance over the last few weeks, Pollard is clearly the most explosive running back on this team.
Tight Ends: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
Cole Kmet - Chicago Bears
As you can see in the FPOE column above, several tight ends relied on touchdowns to finish within the top 12 this past week, such as Lawrence Cager, Noah Gray and Harrison Bryant. Naturally, these players are more volatile for fantasy football because of their limited usage (xFP).
Cole Kmet, on the other hand, is a player who has received impressive volume and is quickly becoming an every-week starter for our fantasy teams. While he did score four touchdowns over the last two weeks, heavily boosting his fantasy production, he has also averaged 6.5 targets per game. In fact, since Week 9, his Expected Fantasy Value of 10.7 ranks fifth among tight ends, behind only Travis Kelce, Dalton Schultz, T.J. Hockenson and Kyle Pitts.
As a result, if his thigh injury does not force him to miss any games, Kmet should be locked in your lineup against a Falcons defense that only ranks 22nd against fantasy tight ends this season.
Quarterbacks: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
Matt Ryan - Indianapolis Colts
To everyone’s surprise, Matt Ryan returned to the starting lineup in Jeff Saturday’s first game as a head coach. And while he did finish the week as the QB4, we may need to temper our expectations going forward.
First off, we saw the Colts pass the ball significantly less with their new head coach, averaging the ninth lowest early-down, neutral situation passing rate at 43.9 percent. To provide context, they ranked 13th in the league at 54.8% with Frank Reich at HC. As a result, we saw Ryan pass the ball a season-low 28 times this past week. In addition, had he not scored on a quarterback sneak on their first drive, his fantasy production would be far less impressive. And considering he is not known for his rushing ability, we need Ryan to throw the ball around 40 times per game to generate as many passing yards as possible.
However, if the new coaching staff prefers to rely on Jonathan Taylor (which would make perfect sense), Ryan’s fantasy upside will be very limited going forward.