Hello, and welcome to the Week 16 XFP Report. If you’re unfamiliar with XFP, I’ll get to that in a little bit.
But basically, every week we’re going to be telling you which players are seeing the best volume for fantasy, as measured by Expected Fantasy Points (XFP). We’ll be telling you who the best buy-low and sell-high candidates are, as 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?
Premium subscribers can access XFP (and 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 15 weeks of action, here are the top-25 players in expected fantasy points (XFP) per game:
The Top 25
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
[FPG: 13.5, XFP: 13.7, Diff: -0.1]
Last week, with Carlos Hyde out (concussion protocol), Robinson played on 84% of the team’s snaps, earning 18 of 19 carries and 6 of 8 targets out of the backfield. He totaled 18.6 XFP, which ranked 4th-most at the position, and he scored 18.8 fantasy points, which ranked 5th-most.
And, well, it looks like Robinson is back. Or, at least, back to bell cow-status. And, I suspect, he’s going to retain that role even when Hyde returns from injury.
#Jaguars interim HC Darrell Bevell on RB James Robinson: "James Robinson is our starting running back and he will be played as such."— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 16, 2021
And as such, he’s an easy must-start this week and every week moving forward. But especially this week.
This is easily one of the best matchups of Robinson’s career. Jacksonville may actually win this game, as they’re only 1.0-point underdogs. And if they do win, that would be just the 3rd win of Robinson’s career (in 28 games). And despite that massive handicap (of living almost exclusively in negative gamescript), and the handicap of a moronic coaching staff (which nonsensically forced Robinson into a committee alongside Carlos Hyde), he has remained one of the most productive RBs in fantasy. He averages 15.7 FPG across his career, just 0.1 less than D’Andre Swift. But in this week’s matchup against the Jets, we should be expecting maybe 50% more than that.
Against RBs, the Jets rank: worst in total FPG allowed (33.9, +4.5 more than next-closest), worst in rushing FPG allowed (20.8), 2nd-worst in receiving FPG allowed (13.1), 3rd-worst in YPC allowed (4.62), and worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+11.8). That final stat is 59% more than the next-closest defense, 286% more than the defense ranking 5th-worst, and is the highest stat I’ve ever seen allowed by a defense this far into a season.
Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons
[FPG: 12.4, XFP: 11.1, Diff: +1.2]
Updating our blurb from last week:
Over the last four weeks, Gage ranks 7th in FPG (19.0), scoring 18.2, 23.0, 10.4, and 23.1 fantasy points in these games. His worst performance, understandably, came in his toughest of these four matchups. In Week 14, Gage caught 4 of 6 targets for 64 yards (10.4 fantasy points), against a Carolina defense which ranks 7th-best in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (10.7).
Gage runs 51% of his routes from the slot, and the majority of the opponents he’s faced have been exceedingly stout against the slot. In fact, Gage might have had the toughest strength of schedule of any player in fantasy.
Only 4 of his 11 games have come against opponents who did not rank top-12 in FPG against slot WRs. In those games, he averages 8.0 targets and 17.9 FPG. Or, 8.8 targets and 19.1 FPG if you want to count Week 13 as a top-20 matchup. (Wes Huber would. Tampa Bay’s slot CB Sean Murphy-Bunting sat out of their Week 2 matchup, but was eviscerated by Gage in Week 13.)
This week’s matchup is pretty soft. The Lions rank 13th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (13.2) and 9th-worst by fantasy points allowed per target (1.91). Against outside WRs they rank 6th- and 11th-best (respectively).
Bonus: We see something similar with Jakobi Meyers. He averages 7.3 targets per game and 7.9 FPG against defenses ranking top-12 in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (9 such games). In all other (5) games he averages 8.2 targets per game and 13.3 FPG. Unfortunately, he gets another bottom-12 matchup this week against the Bills.
Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
[FPG: 17.1, XFP: 15.7, Diff: +1.4]
It looks like there’s still a Big-3 at the TE position, only this time the names have changed. Andrews leads all TEs in FPG (17.1), just slightly ahead of Travis Kelce (17.0) and George Kittle (16.9). TE4 Rob Gronkowski is 19.5% off the position-high (14.3 FPG), and TE5 Darren Waller is 32% behind (12.9 FPG).
And Andrews continues to widen the gap. Andrews has finished as a top-5 fantasy TE in 5 of his last 6 games. He’s seen at least 8 targets in 8 of his last 8 games. Since Week 5, he averages 10.0 targets, 17.3 XFP/G, and 19.6 FPG. Among all WRs, if over the full season, those numbers would rank 7th-, 7th-, and 6th-best.
And Lamar Jackson’s absence hasn’t slowed him down at all. He’s flashed an unreal ceiling this season, posting highs of 44.7, 38.6, and 31.5 DK fantasy points. But the latter two scores have come the last two weeks with Tyler Huntley handling 94% of the team’s dropbacks over this span. Andrews has clearly been Huntley’s favorite receiver, targeting him on 25.6% of his throws (vs. 23.5% with Jackson), and Andrews’ fantasy point per route average jumps 46% with Huntley under center.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
[FPG: 12.4, XFP: 13.8, Diff: -1.5]
As a rookie in 2018, Barkley led the position in total fantasy points, averaging 24.1 FPG. He totaled the most fantasy points by any rookie all-time, and the 15th-most fantasy points by any running back in any season ever.
2019 didn’t go as smoothly. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3, and it was clear he was rushed back just a bit too soon. From Weeks 3-14 Barkley averaged only 3.06 YPC and 13.6 FPG. Across Barkley’s other five games he averaged a whopping 27.1 FPG along with a ridiculous 6.74 YPC.
2020 was even more disappointing. He saw a whopping 15 carries and 9 targets in Week 1, and then suffered a season-ending ACL injury on the first play of the second quarter in Week 2.
And now 2021 is looking a lot like that rough stretch in 2019. He wasn’t quite 100% to start the year, recovering from the ACL surgery, and then suffered an ankle injury in Week 5. He only missed 2 games, but it’s clear (and by his own admission) he’s not quite 100% and might not be for the remainder of the season.
We already have a fairly robust sample of Barkley not playing particularly well whilst fighting through an ankle injury. And it’s clear he’s not playing particularly well now, falling 4.3 FPG shy of his expectation over the last four weeks. The injury is a key issue, but so is the dumpster-fire nature of this Giants offense, now led by either QB Jake Fromm or Mike Glennon.
And so, while Barkley’s profile is enticing — a generational prospect, who leads the position in target share over the last four weeks (18%), averaging 14.0 carries, 6.5 targets, and 17.2 XFP/G (9th-most) over this span — I think it would be unwise to view this current iteration of Saquon Barkley as comparable to the Saquon Barkley of old. (For instance, over the last three weeks, Barkley has gained only 3 more rushing yards than Devontae Booker on 20 extra carries.)
Instead, I think the Barkley we have on our rosters now is just a mid-range to low-end RB2 for fantasy (despite the fact that he’s seeing low-end RB1-levels of volume). Or, at least that’s how I’m viewing him until proven otherwise.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
[FPG: 14.7, XFP: 15.3, Diff: -0.6]
I can’t ever seem to get Brandin Cooks right. He flopped in four straight pillow-soft matchups (Weeks 9-13), and then smashed against Seattle (Week 14).
Seattle looked like a brutal on-paper matchup as they ranked top-4 in FPG allowed to outside WRs, but bottom-4 against slot WRs. Cooks had run just 30% of his routes from the slot at that point, but that jumped to 62% against the Seahawks. And that, in turn, flipped this from a bottom-4 to a top-4 matchup. He took advantage, scoring 21.1 DK fantasy points (most since Week 3), with 83% of his receiving yards coming from the slot.
Last week was also tricky. If we knew he would be moved to the slot, it’d be a top matchup, as the Jaguars rank 11th-worst against slot WRs. If not, it would be fairly tough (well below average), as he’d be drawing shadow coverage from CB Shaquill Griffin on the outside. But Houston again (smartly) moved Cooks around the formation to take advantage of more favorable matchups. And it worked again; he scored 32.2 DK fantasy points. Only 59% of his routes came from the outside, and 72% of his total receiving yards came from the slot.
This has definitely helped bolster Cooks’ numbers and helped to make him more matchup-immune. But Cooks is also benefiting from Davis Mills’ return. Cooks has been targeted on 25.7% of his routes with Mills under center, as opposed to just 19.5% with Tyrod Taylor under center. Cooks now averages 16.0 FPG (~WR12) and 15.8 XFP/G in Mills’ full games started and finished, as opposed to just 11.7 FPG (~WR40) and 12.8 XFP/G with Taylor.
Unfortunately, this week’s matchup is tough no matter where he lines up. The Chargers rank 9th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (-1.5). They rank best in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (9.1) and 11th-best allowed to opposing outside WRs (19.4).
Through the first 9 weeks of the season, Marquise Brown averaged 18.8 FPG, which ranked 6th-best. Since then, he averages just 11.7 FPG (35th). I’m not quite sure what’s going on with him, but we can’t blame it on a lack of volume… Brown has seen at least 7 targets in 7 of last 7 games, averaging 12.1 targets, 129.1 air yards per game, and 20.9 XFP/G. Over this span, those numbers rank 3rd-, 4th-, and 4th-best. He’s averaging 6.9 fewer FPG than his XFP implies (PAR), which also ranks worst over this span. Through his first 5 games, he was out-scoring his expectation by 7.1 FPG (3rd-best)… So, what’s gone wrong? I initially wanted to blame this all on poor QB-play, as Lamar Jackson easily ranks worst in PFF pass grade since Week 6 (46.3). And that’s definitely part of the problem, but Mark Andrews ranks well above average in PAR over this span (+1.0). And, well, obviously, Brown has been significantly less efficient than Andrews despite playing with the same Qbs… John Proctor thinks Brown is still ailing from the thigh injury he suffered in Week 10. And that could definitely be the cause. He had scored at least 19.0 fantasy points in 6 of 8 games up to that point. But last week was the first time since then he’s reached even 13.5 fantasy points since then, scoring 15.9.
Devin Singletary has been a full-on bell cow in each of his past two games. Over this span, he’s played on 87% of the team’s snaps, while handling 87% of the carries and 100% of the targets over the backfield. In Week 14’s loss, he turned 4 carries and 7 targets into 14.9 fantasy points. In Week 15’s win, he turned 22 carries and 1 target into 16.6 fantasy points… In the 10 career games Singletary has played on at least 75% of the team's snaps, he averages 14.2 carries, 4.3 targets, and 13.7 FPG. And, unfortunately, that’s about what we should expect for Singletary if he continues to maintain this bell cow workload. There just isn’t much upside for him on an extreme pass-heavy team where the QB serves as the team’s primary goal-line back.
Laquon Treadwell has hit 50 receiving yards in four straight games, averaging 7.0 targets (team-high) and 60.0 receiving YPG (1.75X more than next-closest) over this span.
Through 7 games, DeVante Parker averages 8.6 targets, 106.4 air yards, 14.4 XFP, and 12.9 FPG. Across the full season, those numbers rank: 18th, 12th, 24th, and 30th… Though, granted, Jaylen Waddle missed last week’s game, and the bulk of his production and volume came early in this season, which we can argue came before Waddle’s breakout as the team’s alpha WR1… Since Week 9, WR Jaylen Waddle is averaging 87.2 YPG, 9.2 targets per game, 16.1 XFP/G, and 18.7 FPG. Among all WRs, those numbers rank 4th-, 8th-, 13th-, and 6th-best over this span.
Amari Cooper has failed to hit double-digit fantasy points in 4 of his last 5 games. He ranks 34th in XFP/G (12.5); CeeDee Lamb ranks 11th (16.4) and Michael Gallup ranks 13th (15.3).
In the four games Leonard Fournette missed last season, Ronald Jones played on 63% of the team’s snaps, averaging 19.7 carries, 3.8 targets, 123.0 YFS, and 18.8 FPG…. Following Fournette’s injury in the 3rd Quarter of last week’s game, Jones played on only 47% of the team’s snaps, handling 6 of 9 carries (67%), and 2 of 4 targets (50%) out of the backfield. If I had to guess, I’d assume Jones is locked into the bulk of the team’s carries, but will split passing-down duties with Ke’Shawn Vaughn until Giovani Bernard returns. Still, that should be an extremely valuable role… Tampa Bay’s running backs rank 2nd in XTD/G (1.1), 4th in XFP/G (26.8), and 2nd in targets per game (9.1, with 79% of that coming on early downs). And, at least as a runner, Jones is a good bit better than he ever seems to get credit for. Among all RBs with at least 250 carries over the past two seasons, only Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor, and Miles Sanders rank better in YPC (5.00).
Until further notice, Rondale Moore is just Kliff Kingsbury’s new Andy Isabella. And Antoine Wesley is a starter in 3WR sets. Without DeAndre Hopkins (and Kyler Murray) in Weeks 9-11, Wesley ran a route on 76% of the team's dropbacks, averaging 2.7 targets, 2.3 catches, and 35.3 YPG. For perspective, Moore ran a route on 54% of the team’s dropbacks… Last week, without Hopkins, Wesley (83% route share) continued to play over Rondale Moore (30% route share). And, interestingly, he played over A.J. Green as well (68% route share). And Wesley also saw the best volume on the team. Christian Kirk (12) and Zach Ertz (11) saw more targets, but Wesley led the team in XFP, on the back of 9 targets, 80 air yards, 1 end zone target, 2 deep targets, and 2 targets inside the 10-yard-line. But he didn’t do much with that valuable workload, scoring just 4.9 fantasy points. And that’s a problem, or the problem. Wesley’s role is certainly very good, but he might not be any good.
Drew Lock has targeted Noah Fant on a team-high 28% of his throws this season (40 total attempts). That drops to just 15% with Teddy Bridgewater under center…. Courtland Sutton earned a 22% target share last week, his highest since Jerry Jeudy rejoined the team in Week 8. He earned a 26% target share with Drew Lock in 2019.
Antonio Brown hasn’t played since Week 6, but averages 19.1 FPG, which ranks 6th-most among all WRs across the full season… In games all 3 WRs were active, Brown led in FPG (19.1), well above Mike Evans (15.8) and Chris Godwin (14.7). However, he ranked third in XFP/G (14.7), closely behind Evans (16.4) and Godwin (15.9). But keep in mind, Brown was averaging 19.1 FPG, while running a route on just 66% of the team’s dropbacks… With Chris Godwin (and probably Leonard Fournette) out for the remainder of the season, and Evans questionable for Week 16, Brown needs to be viewed as nothing less than a low-end WR1 this week.
Several weeks ago, we asked, “What’s wrong with David Montgomery?” And the answer was, “He’s not seeing the same target-volume he saw last year.” But that’s no longer the case. Despite the handicap of a hyper-mobile QB — hyper-mobile QBs typically neglect their RBs in the passing game — Montgomery leads his team in targets over the last three weeks (averaging 8.0 per game, up from 2.1 targets per game). Over this span, Montgomery averages 16.7 carries, 8.0 targets (most), 21.7 XFP/G (most), and 18.1 FPG (8th-most).
Over Green Bay's last 3 games (following Aaron Jones' return from injury), A.J. Dillon totals: 43 carries, 6 targets, and 5 opportunities inside the 5-yard-line. Jones totals: 29 carries, 6 targets, and 1 opportunity inside the 5-yard-line.
Amon-Ra St. Brown is the only receiver with at least 11 targets in each of the last 3 weeks. Over this span, he ranks 4th in targets per game (11.7), 8th in YPG (83.0) 12th in XFP/G (17.5), and 5th in FPG (21.2, low of 15.3)… He’s run 67% of his routes from the slot over this span. The Falcons rank 12th-worst in FPG allowed to slot WRs (14.4) and 2nd-worst in FPG allowed to outside WRs (24.3)… The team is likely to get RB D’Andre Swift back this week, but TE T.J. Hockenson is out for the remainder of the season. St. Brown has averaged 3.1 FPG lined up as a RB over this span, so the return of Swift (18% target share) will hurt him a little bit, but I’m still viewing him as a high-end WR2 this week.
Top Regression Candidates
Most Fantasy Points Negated by Penalty
1. Najee Harris, RB (16.1) 2. Jonathan Taylor, RB (15.1) 3. Mark Andrews, TE (14.4) 4. Ja’Marr Chase, WR (14.0)
5. Josh Jacobs, RB (13.6)
5. Dallas Goedert, TE (13.6)
7. Nick Chubb, RB (12.7)
8. Tyreek Hill, WR (12.1)
9. Derrick Henry, RB (12.0)
10. Austin Ekeler, RB (11.9)
11. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB (11.6)
11. Kenny Stills, WR (11.6)
RB Team XFP%
1. Alvin Kamara, RB (30.4%)
2. Derrick Henry, RB (27.8%)
3. Christian McCaffrey, RB (25.7%)
4. Jonathan Taylor, RB (25.3%)
5. D’Andre Swift, RB (24.9%)
6. Najee Harris, RB (24.7%)
7. Dalvin Cook, RB (24.0%)
8. David Montgomery, RB (22.4%)
9. Joe Mixon, RB (22.3%)
10. Elijah Mitchell, RB (20.7%)
11. Austin Ekeler, RB (20.5%)
12. Leonard Fournette, RB (20.0%)
RB Team Pos XFP% (The Bell Cow Stat)
1. Najee Harris, RB (89.5%)
2. Craig Reynolds, RB (89.4%)
3. Dalvin Cook, RB (80.6%)
4. David Montgomery, RB (78.6%)
5. Alvin Kamara, RB (78.1%)
6. Derrick Henry, RB (77.6%)
7. Darrell Henderson, RB (74.8%)
8. Austin Ekeler, RB (71.2%)
9. James Robinson, RB (70.6%)
10. Elijah Mitchell, RB (69.6%)
11. Joe Mixon, RB (68.4%)
12. Leonard Fournette, RB (67.8%)
WR / TE Team XFP%
1. Cooper Kupp, WR (26.6%)
2. Diontae Johnson, WR (26.5%)
3. Davante Adams, WR (25.7%)
4. Tyreek Hill, WR (23.9%)
5. Justin Jefferson, WR (23.8%)
6. D.J. Moore, WR (22.7%)
7. Keenan Allen, WR (22.6%)
8. Brandin Cooks, WR (22.5%)
9. Tyler Lockett, WR (22.0%)
10. Marquise Brown, WR (21.3%)
11. Deebo Samuel, WR (21.3%)
12. D.K. Metcalf, WR (21.0%)
DFS Values (DK)
1. Antonio Brown, WR (3.0X)
2. Marquise Brown, WR (3.0X)
3. D.J. Moore, WR (2.9X)
4. Cole Kmet, TE (2.8X)
5. Courtland Sutton, WR (2.8X)
6. D’Andre Swift, WR (2.8X)
7. Diontae Johnson, WR (2.8X)
8. Dan Arnold, TE (2.8X)
9. Marvin Jones, WR (2.8X)
10. Najee Harris, RB (2.7X)
11. Brevin Jordan, TE (2.7X)
12. Chase Claypool, WR (2.7X)
DFS Values (Last 5 Weeks)
1. Zay Jones, WR (3.7X)
2. Jakobi Meyers, WR (3.4X)
3. Cole Kmet, TE (3.4X)
4. Brevin Jordan, TE (3.1X)
5. Gerald Everett, TE (3.1X)
6. Laquon Treadwell, WR (3.1X)
7. David Montgomery, RB (3.0X)
8. Josh Jacobs, RB (3.0X)
9. Marquise Brown, WR (3.0X)
10. Diontae Johnson, WR (2.9X)
11. Jared Cook, TE (2.9X)
12. Justin Jefferson, WR (2.8X)