The Usage Report: Week 15


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The Usage Report: Week 15

Hello, and welcome to the Week 15 Usage Report, formerly known as the XFP Report, but for you long-time readers it’s the exact same article with a different name. If you’re unfamiliar with XFP, I’ll get to that in a little bit.

What is this article?

Every week we’re going to be telling you which players are seeing the best volume for fantasy, typically measured by Expected Fantasy Points (XFP). We’ll be telling you who the best buy-low and sell-high candidates are, typically measured by Points Above Replacement (PAR), or the differential between actual- and expected fantasy points. This is an especially effective approach in DFS, where players are typically priced by production rather than volume, though PAR will regress to the mean. And (at the end of the article) we’re going to be telling you who the best volume-per-dollar DFS plays are.

What is XFP?

You can access our full XFP database (which includes other advanced stats like air yards, deep targets, end zone targets) here.

Expected fantasy points (XFP) is flat-out the best and most comprehensive way of measuring a player’s volume. It’s telling you – based on a player’s unique usage – how many fantasy points that player should have scored. It’s telling you how many fantasy points a perfectly league-average RB, WR, or TE would have scored with that same exact volume. It looks at every individual carry by down and distance and distance from the end zone and every individual target by depth of target and distance from the end zone, and then cross-references each carry and target to each carry and target with those specific qualifiers over a multi-year sample to tell you what exactly those carries and targets are worth (historically).

Expected touchdowns (XTD), same thing. RBs score from the one-yard line on 54% of their attempts. RBs score from the 17-yard line only 3.6% of the time. So why ever use “red zone carries,” which treats both carries the same, as a fantasy stat? I have no idea.

Why doesn’t everyone point to XFP in their fantasy research? I have no idea. Once you have XFP and XTD you can contrast that with a player’s actual fantasy points or actual touchdown total to tell you how efficient a player has been (PAR). This is especially useful in highlighting regression candidates, buy-low targets, and mispriced players for DFS.

Through 14 weeks of action, here are the top 30 players in expected fantasy points (XFP) per game:

The Top 30

Click here to see the full list.

Stat of the Week: Backfield XFP%

Rather than highlight a single individual player, today I wanted to highlight a single statistic – backfield XFP%. What this metric tells us is how dominant a running back’s usage is within his own backfield. For instance, Derrick Henry has handled 88% of Tennessee’s RB carries and 51% of Tennessee’s RB targets, equating to 75% of Tennessee’s backfield (total RB) XFP. In other words, the Titans’ backfield is dominated (75%) by Henry, with 25% of the work going to some combination of Dontrell Hilliard, Hassan Haskins, and Julius Chestnut.

Obviously, the larger the share a RB has over his team’s backfield XFP, the more fantasy points we should expect them to score. But also – and this is an often overlooked point – RBs ranking highly in backfield XFP% also tend to be the most consistent producers week-to-week. For instance, a RB who ranks highly in backfield carry share but not backfield target share may rank highly in backfield XFP% one week (a lopsided victory), but then fall behind the team’s preferred scatback the next week (a blowout loss). But RBs who rank in backfield XFP% across a full season – or across multiple games with differing gamescripts – tend to be the top producers as well as the most consistent producers.

This is a valuable metric – particularly in spotting usage trends before anyone else – but it’s not perfectly predictive of fantasy points scored. For instance – because Detroit RBs collectively average 28.3 XFP/G, well above Baltimore’s 17.3 XFP/G – 100% of Baltimore’s backfield would be equivalent to 61% of Detroit’s backfield. For this reason, I’ll sometimes instead refer to team XFP% when discussing a RB. Anyway…

In the chart below, I’ve highlighted the players who have seen the biggest changes in usage (measured by backfield XFP%) since Week 8.

Going team-by-team, here’s my analysis:

By all appearances, it seems as though James Conner is fully back to being a highest-end bell cow, reprising the role he had last year when he averaged 23.6 FPG (2nd-most) over the final 10 weeks of the season… Over his last four games, Conner has played on 91.1% of the team’s snaps (most by any RB over this span) while handling 90.7% of the backfield XFP (also most), and averaging 19.3 carries, 4.8 targets, 18.4 XFP/G (5th-most), and 20.6 FPG (3rd-most). I’d want to bet on this continuing, and bet on Conner rounding out the 2022 season as a top-6 fantasy RB… And, by the way, I wouldn’t be at all concerned over Kyler Murray’s season-ending ACL injury. If anything, that should be viewed as being beneficial to Conner. Over the last two seasons, Conner averages 22.8 DK FPG across the 6 games Colt McCoy has attempted at least 10 passes. In all other games, Conner averages just 14.1 DK FPG.

In Week 13 we saw Buffalo debut their 3-way RBBC, with James Cook atop the totem pole, leading the backfield in both carries and targets. In Week 14 this was still a 3-way RBBC, but this time Devin Singletary returned to RB1 status (56% backfield XFP%), well ahead of Cook (26%) and Nyheim Hines (17%).

Since Week 7, D’Onta Foreman ranks 3rd in carries (135), 4th in rushing yards (600), and 1st in 100-yard games (4). That sounds great, but I think these numbers – and his public perception – are a lot better than he deserves credit for. To me, he’s just a gamescript-dependent committee back who has run a little hot on positive gamescript in recent weeks. Since Week 11, Foreman has handled just 49% of the backfield XFP (to Chuba Hubbard’s 39% and Raheem Blackshear’s 12%)… Although this is indeed pretty discouraging, I could see myself starting him as a low-end RB2 this week, favored by 2.5 points up against a Steelers defense that just gave up 186 rushing yards (6.6 YPC) to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards last week.

After two weeks off (due to a concussion), Joe Mixon played on only 58% of the team’s snaps (down from 68%) while handling just 55% of the backfield XFP (down from 75%). It remains to be seen – and I don’t yet know the answer – whether this was a perhaps well deserved demotion or if Cincinnati was just being conservative with their star RB in his first game back.

Since Week 11, Tony Pollard ranks 2nd in FPG (23.0), but only 13th in XFP/G (15.2). Over the same stretch, Ezekiel Elliott ranks 8th in FPG (17.4) and 7th in XFP/G (16.3)… Elliott has seen an increasing role in recent weeks (at Pollard’s expense), commanding 43%, 52% , and then 66% of the backfield XFP. And I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Basically, Elliott will continue to see better volume each week, but Pollard should probably have the higher projection; he’s out-scored Elliott in 3 of their last 4 games together, and leads all players at all positions in PAR (+5.1). But, regardless, both RBs should be viewed as top-15 fantasy options this week, and probably every week moving forward.

By XFP, Latavius Murray has handled about two-thirds of Denver’s backfield in each of his last three games, and that’s about where I’d project him this week and every week moving forward. Sure, Mike Boone is now on I.R, but Boone also missed in Week 12, and Murray’s role remained capped at 68%, with Devine Ozigbo and Marlon Mack handling the other 32%.

D’Andre Swift has led Detroit’s backfield in XFP in three straight games, but he’s handled just 49% of the backfield XFP over this span, working in a 3-way RBBC alongside Jamaal Williams (32%) and Justin Jackson (18%). The good news is – because Detroit ranks 2nd in team RB XFP/G (28.3) – this is actually a somewhat valuable role. Swift ranks 9th in XFP/G over this span (16.9), despite ranking just 35th in snap% over this span (43%).

Dameon Pierce has handled just 59% of the backfield XFP over the last three weeks, down from 69% over his prior 4 games. He suffered an ankle injury halfway through the fourth quarter of last week’s game, which will further sideline him for an additional 1-2 games. In his absence, I’d guess Rex Burkhead will handle something like 70% of the backfield XFP to Dare Ogunbowale’s 30%. But I wouldn’t expect much in the way of production or efficiency from these two RBs, as both profile more as scatbacks rather than workhorse RBs. Or, perhaps most likely, Houston will soon sign another RB who can immediately handle a dozen or more carries per game until Pierce returns.

Jonathan Taylor remains a highest-end bell cow and an easy mid-range RB1. The Colts' offense is a train wreck, and the offensive line is shoddy at best, but Jonathan Taylor is seeing the best usage of his career. Since the Nyheim Hines trade, Taylor ranks 3rd in XFP/G (18.9), 7th in FPG (18.5), and 2nd in backfield XFP% (83%). Prior to that, he ranked 12th in XFP/G (15.7), 26th in FPG (12.2), and 10th in backfield XFP% (64%).

I’m not really sure what’s going on with Travis Etienne – his best usage has come over the past two weeks, alongside the worst production of his short career. Over this span, he ranks 1st in backfield XFP% (90.9%), while averaging just 5.9 FPG. I’m expecting an eventual regression to the mean, but maybe not this week against a Cowboys defense that’s giving up the 4th-fewest FPG to opposing RBs (19.4).

Everyone is going to be drooling over Isiah Pacheco this week, favored by 14.0 points up against a Houston defense that’s given up the most rushing FPG to opposing RBs (21.5). But I worry DFS players will be overrating his touchdown upside. (See below.) Over the last two weeks, Jerick McKinnon has handled 63% of the backfield XFP and 88% of the backfield XTD.

Cam Akers has clearly regained control of the Rams backfield, handling 68% of the backfield XFP over the last two weeks. But I think this is mostly irrelevant; because Akers is horrible, as is the rest of this offense. Los Angeles also ranks worst in team RB FPG (14.5) and team RB XFP/G (16.1), and just once all season has a Rams RB scored more than 13.2 fantasy points.

Raheem Mostert handled 62% of the backfield XFP in Week 14. But prior to injury, Jeff Wilson earned 4 of the team’s 6 backfield touches. So, assuming everyone is at full health, I’d still be viewing Wilson as the lead back in a 60/40 committee.

Dalvin Cook’s usage remains amazing, and it’s very weird he seems totally incapable of converting that good (actually phenomenal) usage into fantasy points… Since Week 8, Dalvin Cook averages 17.1 carries, 4.1 targets, 17.9 XFP/G (5th-most), and 15.0 FPG (14th-most). Over this span, he’s played on 80% of the team’s snaps (3rd-most), while handling 82% of the backfield XFP (2nd-most)… How is it possible a player of his caliber is capable of seeing top-5 volume across any 7-week sample, while still only returning RB2-levels of production? I don’t know. But I think there are only two possible explanations for this: 1) He’s been incredibly unlucky, and is due for a massive regression to the mean. 2) He’s an abysmal fit for the Kevin O’Connel (rather than Kubiak) scheme. The former explanation seems far more likely to me.

After Rhamondre Stevenson’s injury last week, Pierre Strong handled 65% of the backfield XFP to Kevin Harris’ 35%. But I think this is a rare instance where backfield XFP% is totally useless. Because Harris handled 100% of the backfield touches until a 3rd quarter fumble. From there, Strong handled every RB touch but one… So, if Stevenson and Damien Harris both sit out this week, what will this backfield look like? I have no idea. But if Harris is in Bill Belichick’s doghouse, it’s possible we see Strong deployed as the bell cow.

Over his last four games, Alvin Kamara has handled 95%, 87%, 91%, and then 42% of the team’s backfield XFP. In Week 14, Kamara played on just 10 more snaps than Mark Ingram, but Ingram bested him 12.5 to 9.3 in XFP… Kamara now averages just 8.9 FPG over his last 5 games. And it’d be one thing if he was underperforming on a bad offense in spite of his typical RB1-levels of volume. But it’s another thing to then also cede nearly 60% of the work to a 33-year-old Ingram. The only explanation I can muster is that Kamara must be playing through some sort of very serious injury. After all, throughout his career, Kamara has only ever been the single-most efficient player in fantasy, or fighting through an injury… Nonetheless, mea culpa on what was easily my worst call of the 2022 season.

After leading all RBs in backfield XFP% throughout the first 13 weeks of the season (83%), Saquon Barkley handled just 41% of the backfield XFP in Week 14, splitting work with Gary Brightwell (33%) and Matt Breida (26%). However, this was somewhat to be expected, as Barkley was just a 50/50 gametime decision to play in Week 14. But it’s unclear to me when we can expect Barkley to return to a full-time role, or full-time effectiveness. Since Week 11, Barkley averages just 54.0 YFS/G and 2.87 YPC.

Even with Michael Carter back, Zonovan Knight led the Jets in backfield XFP for the third game in a row. Ty Johnson was demoted (0 snaps), while Knight handled 17 of 22 carries and 2 of 8 targets out of the backfield, resulting in 53% of the backfield XFP (to Carter’s 47%)… It’s possible the Jets were just easing Carter back following his ankle injury. But I think it’s more likely Knight simply earned this new role, now serving as the team’s primary early-down runner to Carter’s sctaback-plus role.

Miles Sanders hit a season-high in rushing yards last week (144), while also exceeding 30.0 DK fantasy points for the third time this season (2nd-most among RBs). That’s the good news. The bad news is, he’s still glaringly capped at just two-thirds of the backfield XFP. Since Week 6, he’s handled only 59% of the backfield XFP (high of 68%). And if we treat Jalen Hurts as a RB, then he’s handled just 40% of the backfield XTD as well… As the clear RB1 on one of the best offenses in football, he needs to be viewed as a fringe-RB1 at worst. But you should continue to expect high-volatility (week-to-week) throughout the remainder of the season.

Without Kenneth Walker last week, Travis Homer was the clear RB1, handling 73% of the backfield XFP. But – in a game Seattle trailed throughout – this amounted to just 9 of 10 carries and 3 of 5 targets out of the backfield. Fortunately, this probably doesn’t matter at all, as Walker is expected back for Week 15.

It’s a nearly perfectly even split, but Rachaad White has bested Leonard Fournette in XFP in back-to-back games. But because the split is nearly perfectly even, and because Tampa Bay’s offense is so dysfunctional, there’s not much upside for either RB.

Brian Robinson has bested Antonio Gibson in XFP in back-to-back games, resulting in a roughly 60/40 split in Robinson’s favor. Over this span, Robinson averages 19.5 carries, 2.5 targets, and 118.0 YFS/G. He’s also played his best football over this stretch, averaging 5.15 YPC, up from 3.35 YPC. And I think we should expect a similar performance this week, up against a Giants defense Robinson just played (prior to their bye). And a Giants defense that’s giving up 153.8 rushing YPG (5.17 YPC) to opposing RBs over their last 4 games.

Quick Hits

Derrick Henry is – by far – the single most game script-sensitive player in fantasy. Since 2018, he averages +12.2 more DK FPG in wins (24.7) than losses (12.5). Henry has reached 30.0 DK fantasy points 15 times in his career, with all of those games coming in wins. And his career-high in a non-overtime loss is just 25.5 DK fantasy points. So, I suppose that’s at least a little concerning, given that the Titans are 3.5-point underdogs this week… But then again, Henry is also one of the most matchup-sensitive players in fantasy. Since 2018, Henry averages 26.2 DK FPG against defenses ranking bottom-7 in rushing FPG allowed. In all other games, he averages just 18.0 DK FPG. And, so, I suppose it’s good news for Henry that the Chargers rank dead-last in YPC allowed (5.52) and 2nd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (18.0)… Basically, a bet on Henry feels like a bet on Tennessee to win. But that’s a bet I want to be making this week (via GPP exposure), because if Tennessee is able to maintain a lead, a slate-breaking performance from Henry feels somewhat inevitable.

Last week, Justin Jefferson led all players in XFP (26.6), air yards (238), and targets (15). On this good volume, he recorded 11 receptions, 223 yards, and zero touchdowns (33.3 fantasy points)… Jefferson’s 1,500 receiving yards currently leads the league, and he’s on pace for 1,961 (just 3 yards shy of Calvin Johnson’s all-time record)… But as good as Jefferson has been, he’s run a little unlucky in the touchdown department. For instance, he ranks 3rd in end zone targets (15), but ranks just 11th in receiving touchdowns (6). And his 6 receiving touchdowns are also well off of the average among all 1,500-yard WR seasons (10.5)… So it’s a scary thought. But if Jefferson was just perfectly neutral in touchdown luck, instead of extremely unlucky, it’s almost scary to think how much more dominant he’d be.

Although fantasy owners have been rightfully viewing Jerry Jeudy (and, really, every player on the Broncos) as a bust, his numbers are actually pretty impressive if you adjust for injury. For instance, Jeudy has 8 games with over 50 receiving yards. And yet, he’s only played in 7 healthy games, or 7 games with a snap share of at least 60%. In those games, he’s averaging 7.7 targets (~WR26) and 17.2 FPG (~WR10).

DeVonta Smith has seen 8 or more targets in 5 straight games. A.J. Brown has seen 8 or more targets only once over his last 6 games. Since Week 10, Smith ranks 18th in FPG (15.3) and 20th in XFP/G (14.3), ahead of Brown in both categories… This season Brown is averaging 29.5 FPG against defenses ranking bottom-7 in FPG allowed to opposing WRs. He’s hit at least 28.5 DK fantasy points in 3 of these 4 games. In all other games he averages just 12.5 DK FPG (high of 19.5).

Someone once told me that “targets are earned.” But… Diontae Johnson ranks 6th among all WRs in targets (113), and since Week 8, has seen almost twice as many targets as George Pickens (46 to 24). Among all 67 WRs with at least 50 targets and across the full season, Johnson ranks dead-last in YPT (5.7) and passer rating when targeted (53.2). Pickens, meanwhile, ranks 17th- and 22nd-best. And – by the way – Johnson doesn’t just rank worst in YPT, his 5.7 YPT average ranks 11th-worst of any WR with as many targets since targets became a stat in 1992… One must think/hope that OC Matt Canada eventually comes to his senses, and starts scheming more volume towards Pickens (at Johnson’s expense).

Don’t sleep on JuJu Smith-Schuster, who hit a season-high in target share (26%) last week. If we assume he was still making his way back to full health in Week 13, then… He averages 23.8 DK FPG over his last 4 fully-healthy games. And has seen at least 8 targets in 7 of his last 8 fully healthy games.

Corey Davis suffered a concussion last week – and our injury expert believes he’ll need to sit out at least one more week. In his absence, Elijah Moore played on 82% of the team’s snaps (behind only Garrett Wilson, and most for Moore since Week 4). He also earned a team-high 9 targets… So, if Davis sits out this week, Moore is finally meeting all 3 of the requirements on our checklist (from several weeks ago): 1) Zach Wilson is no longer starting. 2) Moore is finally seeing, or at least finally saw, a full-time workload. 3) He’s finally back to his natural position in the slot (65% last week)… Could this be it? Could this finally be the week Elijah Moore helps me take down the Milly Maker? Even if not, at least he’s affordable; priced at just $3,600 on DraftKings.

Titans TE Chigoziem Okonkwo currently ranks 3rd in YPRR (2.78), behind only Tyreek Hill (3.61) and Justin Jefferson (2.95). He hit a season-high 57% route share in Week 13, but then dropped back down to 50% last week.

Over his last 7 full games, David Njoku is averaging 7.4 targets, 66.7 yards, and 15.1 FPG. If over the full season and among all TEs, those numbers would rank: 3rd-best, 2nd-best, and 2nd-best (+1.9 FPG more than Mark Andrews). In other words, he’s a clear Oligarch to me, and one with massive league-winning potential should Deshaun Watson start to look anything like his old self.

Last week Evan Engram scored 42.2 DK fantasy points – the 20th-most by any TE in any game all-time. Over his previous 48 games, he eclipsed 16.0 DK fantasy points only once (high of 20.9).

Since Week 7, Mike Evans ranks 5th in XFP/G (18.8), but just 40th in FPG (11.2)… Had he never suffered the wrath of some evil gypsy and been cursed with the worst luck of any player in fantasy, he might actually be returning WR1-levels of production.

An unbeatable DFS cheat code: “Always play Amari Cooper at home. Never play him on the road. Always do the reverse with Donovan Peoples-Jones.”

Top Regression Candidates

Bell Cow Tight Ends

Fantasy Points Negated by Penalty

1. Travis Kelce, TE (17.9)

2. Stefon Diggs, WR (16.7) 2. A.J. Brown, WR (16.7)

4. Mike Evans, WR (16.4)

5. D.K. Metcalf, WR (16.1)

6. Chris Godwin, WR (14.0)

7. Isaiah Hodgins, WR (13.9)

8. Brandin Cooks, WR (12.1)

9. Amari Cooper, WR (10.4)

10. K.J. Osborn, WR (10.4)

Backfield XFP% (The Bell Cow Stat)

1. Alvin Kamara, RB (79%)

2. Saquon Barkley, RB (79%)

3. Dalvin Cook, RB (75%)

4. Derrick Henry, RB (75%)

5. Josh Jacobs, RB (74%)

6. Christian McCaffrey, RB (74%)

7. Joe Mixon, RB (73%)

8. Jonathan Taylor, RB (71%)

9. Austin Ekeler, RB (71%)

10. James Conner, RB (68%)

Team XFP%

1. Derrick Henry, RB (29%)

2. Christian McCaffrey, RB (28%)

3. Tyreek Hill, WR (27%)

4. Saquon Barkley, RB (27%)

5. Cooper Kupp, WR (27%)

6. Justin Jefferson, WR (27%)

7. Davante Adams, WR (26%)

8. Austin Ekeler, RB (26%)

9. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB (25%)

10. Stefon Diggs, WR (25%)

XFP per Team Play

1. Tyreek Hill, WR (0.32)

2. Cooper Kupp, WR (0.32)

3. Justin Jefferson, WR (0.31)

4. Austin Ekeler, RB (0.30)

5. Davante Adams, WR (0.30)

6. Christian McCaffrey, RB (0.29)

7. Stefon Diggs, WR (0.29)

8. Josh Jacobs, RB (0.29)

9. Derrick Henry, RB (0.28)

10. Ja’Marr Chase, WR (0.27)

DFS Values (DK)

1. Marquise Brown, WR (3.4X)

2. Diontae Johnson, WR (3.2X)

3. Leonard Fournette, RB (2.9X)

4. Courtland Sutton, WR (2.9X)

5. Evan Engram, TE (2.8X)

6. Zonovan Knight, RB (2.8X)

7. Greg Dulcich, TE (2.8X)

8. Hayden Hurst, TE (2.8X)

9. Zay Jones, WR (2.7X)

10. Mike Evans, WR (2.7X)

DFS Values (DK, Last 5 Weeks)

1. Nico Collins, WR (3.6X)

2. Zay Jones, WR (3.3X)

3. Marquise Brown, WR (3.2X)

4. Evan Engram, TE (3.1X)

5. Rachaad White, RB (3.0X)

6. Nelson Agholor, WR (2.9X)

7. Chris Godwin, WR (2.9X)

8. Josh Jacobs, RB (2.8X)

9. Keenan Allen, WR (2.8X)

10. Dalton Schultz, TE (2.8X)

Scott Barrett combines a unique background in philosophy and investing alongside a lifelong love of football and spreadsheets to serve as Fantasy Points’ Chief Executive Officer.