The XFP Report: Week 17


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The XFP Report: Week 17

Hello, and welcome to the Week 17 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 16 weeks of action, here are the top-25 players in expected fantasy points (XFP) per game:

The Top 25

Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
[FPG: 19.3, XFP: 16.1, Diff: +3.1]

Brown leads all players in targets per route run (0.32) and ranks behind only Cooper Kupp in fantasy points per route run (0.66). He’s seen at least 11 targets in three of his last four games, and has reached at least 90 yards in each of his last three games. He now ranks 5th among all WRs in FPG (19.3).

And it still seems as though there’s room for more. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans both played in five of Brown’s six games, forcing him into a part-time role, running a route on only 66% of the team’s dropbacks. But that number jumped to 84% last week with both WRs out. And Godwin is out for the rest of the season, while Evans is on the COVID-19 list and is not yet fully recovered from the hamstring injury which sidelined him last week.

In their absence, last week, Brown earned a 45% target share (10th-most by any player in any week this season), catching 10 of 15 targets for 101 yards. Most impressively, 71% of his targets came against Stephon Gilmore’s shadow coverage — Gilmore currently ranks as PFF’s 9th highest-graded CB in coverage.

This week, Brown faces a Jets defense that ranks 4th-worst in PFF coverage grade. They have no player of Gilmore’s caliber in their secondary. So, I suspect Tom Brady and Brown can and will do whatever they want this week. And, hopefully, that means winning you a championship.

And for those of you who don’t own Brown, or were already knocked out of the playoffs, he’s a near must-play in DFS this week, priced as just the WR18 on DraftKings ($6,100).

Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
[FPG: 17.7, XFP: 15.7, Diff: +2.0]

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 (18.0), ahead of Travis Kelce (16.9) and George Kittle (15.6). TE4 Rob Gronkowski is 36% off the position-high (13.2 FPG), and TE5 Darren Waller is 39% behind (12.9 FPG).

And Andrews continues to widen the gap. He’s finished as a top-5 fantasy TE in an astounding six of his last seven games. He’s seen at least 8 targets in each of his last nine games. And since Week 5, he averages 10.0 targets, 17.2 XFP/G, and 20.2 FPG. Those numbers lead all TEs over this span, and, among wide receivers, rank 9th-, 10th-, and 4th-best.

Even across the full season, Andrews would rank 7th among all wide receivers in FPG (17.7). There are few fantasy cheat codes as powerful as owning a fantasy TE who is putting up mid-range WR1-levels of production. So, it’s not surprising ESPN is showing Andrews to be the 2nd-most valuable commodity in all of fantasy, behind only Cooper Kupp.

And Lamar Jackson’s absence hasn’t slowed down Andrews at all. In fact, the reverse is true. Andrews has flashed an unreal ceiling this year, posting highs of 44.7, 38.6, 31.5, and 29.5 DK fantasy points. But the latter three scores have all come without Lamar Jackson.

And, so, maybe Andrews owners should be rooting against a quick return for Jackson. Jackson easily ranks worst in PFF pass grade since Week 6 (46.3), and Andrews is averaging 53% more fantasy points per route run without Jackson under center.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions
[FPG: 11.7, XFP: 12.1, Diff: -0.4]

St. Brown has seen at least 11 targets and gained at least 70 yards (or scored at least 15.0 fantasy points) in four straight games. He’s finished top-6 among WRs in fantasy points scored in three of his last four games. And, over this stretch, he averages 11.5 targets (4th-most), 1.0 carries, 91.5 YFS (9th-most), 18.0 XFP/G (7th-most), and 22.4 FPG (5th-most).

He’s run 64% of his routes from the slot over this span, and now gets a near-best possible slot matchup against the Seahawks. Seattle has given up the 6th-most FPG to opposing slot WRs (15.3), but they’re also the league’s top slot funnel defense, giving up a league-high 24% of their total receiving fantasy points allowed to slot WRs.

St. Brown is a strong value on DraftKings this week, priced as just the WR19 ($6,000).

Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals
[FPG: 11.7, XFP: 12.1, Diff: -0.4]

Ertz, like Mike Gesicki, has a TE-designation for fantasy but is basically an oversized full-time slot WR. He’s run a route on 83% of Arizona’s dropbacks over the last 8 weeks, with 63% of his catches coming from the slot.

Since joining the Cardinals in Week 7, Ertz is averaging 7.0 targets (19.1% target share), 12.1 XFP/G, and 11.7 FPG. Among all TEs over this span, those numbers rank 7th- (8th-), 7th-, and 4th-best.

And some of these numbers might be skewed against him, with Kyler Murray playing hurt and then missing time due to injury. And we should continue to expect a bit more from Ertz moving forward, with DeAndre Hopkins out for the remainder of the season and leaving behind an 18% target share.

Over the last two weeks, without Hopkins, Ertz has averaged 12.0 targets, 18.8 XFP/G, 64.0 YPG, and 13.4 FPG. (For perspective, Mark Andrews currently leads the position with 15.7 XFP/G.)

Ertz is a decent value in DFS this week, priced as just the TE9 on DraftKings ($5,200), in a perfectly neutral matchup against the Cowboys.

A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Tians
[FPG: 14.4, XFP: 15.2, Diff: -0.9]

In his return to action last week, Brown earned 16 targets, 200 air yards, 2 end zone targets, and 2 deep targets, good for 30.1 XFP. That ranked most among all WRs on the week, and 6th-most by any WR in any week this season. This also equated to a 53% target share (3rd-most by any WR in any week this season) and a 45% XFP share (2nd-most by any WR in any week this season). And Brown was highly efficient with that good volume, as he’s always been, catching 11 for 145 yards and a score, good for 31.5 fantasy points.

(Julio Jones, meanwhile, remained a non-factor; earning just one target for the second week in a row.)

This was rare volume for any WR, but — (sadly) — especially for Brown, who, for whatever reason, has always had to make due with less. Or, at least, in contrast to the WRs as productive as he’s been.

Since entering the league, Brown ranks 5th in 100-yard games (12), but he ranks just 56th in double-digit target games (5), with 3 of those games (60%) coming over Brown’s last five games.

Since entering the league, Brown has been the single-most efficient WR in fantasy, out-scoring his expectation (PAR) by +3.0 FPG, or 24%. He’s produced as a mid-range WR2, but on only mid-range WR4-levels of volume. Perhaps now we’ll finally see what he can do with high-end WR1-levels of volume.

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
[FPG: 26.0, XFP: 22.0, Diff: +4.0]

Kupp not only leads all WRs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns — the esteemed triple crown — but he’s pacing the league (leading by 20% or more) in each stat, and, most importantly, by FPG. He averages 21% more FPG (+4.5) than the next-closest WR (Davante Adams).

At $9,500 on DraftKings, he’s (merely) priced like a high-end WR1, but nothing quite like a WR on pace for the single-greatest fantasy season of all-time. His 28.1 DK FPG leads all players at all positions (including QBs). And is also the most by any WR in any season all-time.

And Kupp isn’t just the production king, he’s now also our XFP/G leader. He averages 22.0 XFP/G, which leads all players at all positions, and ranks 2nd-most by any WR in my database (spanning 14 NFL seasons). He’s sandwiched in between Calvin Johnson’s 2012 season (22.2) and DeAndre Hopkins’ 2015 (21.3).

If Kupp scores exactly 28.1 DK fantasy points this week (his per-game average), he’ll provide 2.96X value, which ranks best at the position. The next most-expensive WR (Deebo Samuel), in contrast ($8,700 vs. 22.1 DK FPG), would provide just 2.54X value.

And 28.1 fantasy points seems like a low bar this week, given Kupp’s drool-inducing matchup. Over the last six weeks, opposing WR1s are averaging 24.3 FPG against Baltimore, though they collectively average just 14.7 FPG in all other games.

In DFS this week, he’s nearly a lock-button play.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
[FPG: 8.0, XFP: 6.6, Diff: +1.4]

Penny, clearly, isn’t a bell cow. And the volume he’s seeing hasn’t been great. But it also hasn’t seemed to really matter.

Over the last three weeks, Penny has played on 52% of the team’s snaps, earning 69% of the carries and 31% of the targets out of the backfield. He averages 15.7 carries, 1.3 targets, 10.2 XFP/G (32nd), and 17.6 FPG (5th) over this span.

Although the disconnect between his XFP/G and FPG average makes me fearful of a looming regression to the mean, I doubt the regression will be coming this week. Seattle is favored by 7.0-points, against a Detroit defense that ranks 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+3.8) and 5th-worst in rushing FPG allowed (16.3).

Assuming Alex Collins is still out, Penny projects as a slight value on DraftKings, priced as the RB14 ($6,100).

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
[FPG: 19.8, XFP: 19.3, Diff: +0.5]

After a Week 9 loss against the Ravens, Vikings OC Klint Kubiak said Justin Jefferson was “deserving of more targets.” And, well, Kubiak has been true to his word.

Up to that point, Jefferson averaged just 9.1 targets and 15.6 XFP/G. Since then, those numbers are up 36% and 50% (respectively).

Over this span, Jefferson averages 173.3 air yards (most), 12.4 targets (2nd-most), 23.5 XFP/G (most), 117.0 YPG (most), and 23.3 FPG (3rd-most).

This week, Jefferson gets a Packers defense he demolished in Week 11, when he caught 8 of 10 targets for 169 yards and 2 scores.

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
[FPG: 15.1, XFP: 17.0, Diff: -1.9]

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. Now, in fact, he’s seeing the best target-volume of any RB in the league. Despite the handicap of a hyper-mobile QB — hyper-mobile QBs typically neglect their RBs in the passing game — Montgomery leads the position and leads his team in targets over the last four weeks (averaging 8.3 per game, up from 2.6 targets per game).

Over this stretch, Montgomery leads all RBs in fantasy points scored, averaging 19.5 FPG. He also ranks 6th in carries per game (18.3), 1st in targets per game (8.3), and 1st in XFP/G (25.2, +34% more than next-closest).

He’s finished 1st, 9th, 3rd, and 1st among all RBs in XFP over this span. And his 35.7 XFP in Week 16 was the 2nd-most by any RB in any week this season.

So, Montgomery is seeing the best volume of any RB in fantasy, and by a wide margin. And now he gets one of his softest matchups yet. The Bears are favored by 6.0-points against the Giants, who rank 8th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+2.3), and 9th-worst in YPC allowed (4.47).

He seems badly mispriced this week, as just the RB9 on DraftKings ($6,500).

Top Regression Candidates

Most Fantasy Points Negated by Penalty

1. Dawson Knox, TE (18.1)

2. Najee Harris, RB (16.1)

3. Dallas Goedert, TE (15.5)

4. Jonathan Taylor, RB (15.1)

5. Mark Andrews, TE (14.4)

6. Ja’Marr Chase, WR (14.0)

7. Josh Jacobs, RB (13.7)

8. Nick Chubb, RB (13.6)

9. Tyreek Hill, WR (12.1)

10. Derrick Henry, RB (12.0)

11. Austin Ekeler, RB (11.6)

12. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB (11.6)

RB Team XFP%

1. Alvin Kamara, RB (30.7%)

2. Derrick Henry, RB (27.8%)

3. Christian McCaffrey, RB (25.7%)

4. Jonathan Taylor, RB (25.4%)

5. D’Andre Swift, RB (24.9%)

6. Najee Harris, RB (24.8%)

7. David Montgomery, RB (24.4%)

8. Dalvin Cook, RB (24.0%)

9. Joe Mixon, RB (22.4%)

10. Elijah Mitchell, RB (20.7%)

11. Austin Ekeler, RB (20.5%)

12. Antonio Gibson, RB (20.1%)

RB Team Pos XFP% (The Bell Cow Stat)

1. Najee Harris, RB (89.1%)

2. Dalvin Cook, RB (80.6%)

3. David Montgomery, RB (80.3%)

4. Alvin Kamara, RB (78.4%)

5. Derrick Henry, RB (77.6%)

6. Austin Ekeler, RB (71.2%)

7. Elijah Mitchell, RB (69.6%)

8. Joe Mixon, RB (69.1%)

9. Leonard Fournette, RB (67.8%)

10. Chris Carson, RB (67.6%)

11. Jonathan Taylor, RB (67.4%)

12. D’Andre Swift, RB (66.8%)

WR / TE Team XFP%

1. Cooper Kupp, WR (27.3%)

2. Davante Adams, WR (26.5%)

3. Diontae Johnson, WR (26.2%)

4. Justin Jefferson, WR (24.2%)

5. Calvin Ridley, WR (23.7%)

6. Tyreek Hill, WR (22.7%)

6. D.J. Moore, WR (22.7%)

8. Brandin Cooks, WR (22.5%)

9. Keenan Allen, WR (22.1%)

10. Deebo Samuel, WR (21.7%)

11. Tyler Lockett, WR (21.5%)

12. Marquise Brown, WR (21.4%)

DFS Values (DK)

1. Michael Gallup, WR (3.04X)

2. D’Andre Swift, RB (2.97X)

3. D.J. Moore, WR (2.97X)

4. Marquise Brown, WR (2.90X)

5. Cole Kmet, TE (2.73X)

6. Michael Carter, RB (2.71X)

7. Antonio Brown, WR (2.65X)

8. Myles Gaskin, RB (2.65X)

9. David Montgomery, RB (2.61X)

10. Courtland Sutton, WR (2.59X)

11. Evan Engram, TE (2.59X)

12. Elijah Moore, WR (2.58X)

DFS Values (Last 5 Weeks)

1. A.J. Brown, WR (4.18X)

2. Elijah Moore, WR (3.96X)

3. Antonio Brown, WR (3.85X)

4. N’Keal Harry, WR (3.75X)

5. Antoine Wesley, WR (3.74X)

6. Zay Jones, WR (3.68X)

7. Jakobi Meyers, WR (3.68X)

8. Elijah Mitchell, RB (3.60X)

9. Cole Kmet, TE (3.56X)

10. Kadarius Toney, WR (3.50X)

11. David Montgomery, RB (3.50X)

12. D.J. Moore, WR (3.22X)

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.