In this new weekly column, I’ll be picking out five of the most important stats that I think fantasy players NEED to know.
I watch every game every week to collect our advanced data, and while watching, I often make notes of things that I’m eager to dig into once all of our data is fully compiled. Sometimes this will be player or team performance-based metrics, and other times this will be player usage-based metrics.
All of the stats I’m referencing today can be found using the Fantasy Points Data Suite, and I promise there is so much more to find than just these five stats.
1. Sam LaPorta’s 31.8% First-Read Target Share in Week 3 was higher than any single week First-Read Target Share posted by T.J. Hockenson with the Lions last season.
The Lions have found their future stud TE since trading away Hockenson to the Vikings last season. Hockenson’s highest first-read target share was 31.3% with the Lions last year. LaPorta has already beaten that mark, and he is only three games into his career. Hockenson’s highest route run per dropback rate last season was 79.5%, and LaPorta has hit 79.4% and 78.4% each of the past two weeks after only a 50% rate in Week 1.
LaPorta is currently leading all tight ends in YPRR by a wide margin. He is also 6th in Air Yard Share, 3rd in Target Share, 2nd in FP/RR, and 4th in XFP/RR. With the Lions lacking secondary receiving options behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, it is hard to argue wanting another tight end on your team besides Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews.
2. Tank Dell has a 2.44 YPRR vs. Zone coverages and a 7.01 YPRR vs. Man coverages
The list of WRs that had at least a 2.4 YPRR vs. both Man and Zone coverages last season included Christian Watson, AJ Brown, Stefon Diggs, Justin Jefferson, and Tyreek Hill. Obviously, Dell has played only three games, but he is putting himself in elite company.
Even if Dell’s YPRR in Man regresses, which it will, he still can be surrounded by the likes of Amari Cooper, DK Metcalf, and CeeDee Lamb. Dell has run more routes than Nico Collins in back-to-back weeks and had at least 20% of the first-read targets in each of the past two weeks. Dell is at least a WR3 right now, with the potential to be even more with the Texans letting C.J. Stroud sling the ball.
3. Najee Harris is 2nd in the NFL with an 11.4% explosive run rate among RBs with at least 15 carries.
I know people have been clamoring for Jaylen Warren to overtake Harris for the RB1 role in Pittsburgh, just like we all were when Tony Pollard was stuck behind Ezekiel Elliott. The problem is Harris is legitimately outplaying Warren right now (at least on the ground). The Steelers' running game as a whole has been pitiful this season, with a 0.63 adjusted yards before contact per attempt ranking 29th in the NFL. If they do figure out their run-blocking issues though, I would expect Najee to continue to be the guy.
Harris is beating Warren in explosive run rate, yards before and after contact per attempt, and yards per carry. Warren has a slight edge in stuff rate and missed tackles forced per attempt, but Najee is very close behind.
They are currently splitting the passing work about 50/50, but Najee has doubled Warren in rushing snaps and red zone snaps. Barring an injury to Harris, Warren isn’t going to have much flex appeal in this offense.
4. The Miami Dolphins have averaged 2.51 Yards Before Contact per Attempt when seeing 7 or more defenders in the box.
The Dolphins rushing attack is much improved from last season. In 2022, they averaged 1.48 yards before contact per attempt, which ranked 13th in the NFL. When facing heavy boxes this season they are not only beating their own 2022 overall number, but also every team in the NFL last season – the Ravens led the NFL in 2022 at 2.06 yards before contact per attempt.
It is very unlikely for the Dolphins to continue to be as dominant on the ground as they have been, but there absolutely will be fantasy points scored by this rushing attack which we got very little out of in 2022.
5. Andy Dalton’s 74.1% catchable ball rate is 11% higher than Bryce Young’s 63% catchable ball rate, which ranks dead last in the NFL
Dalton was quietly one of the better quarterbacks in 2022. He ranked 1st in catchable ball rate, 1st in accurate throw rate, 1st in completion percentage over expectation, and 16th in average depth of target.
In one game this season, Dalton has a 12.1% deep throw rate compared to Bryce Young’s 5.6% deep throw rate, and a 60% first-read throw rate compared to Young’s 46.5% first-read throw rate. That means Dalton is more willing to give his receivers chances and also get the ball out quickly to his first read. If we see Dalton’s accuracy and completion percentage over expectation rise similar to last season, he could make some of the Panthers’ receivers usable in fantasy.