The XFP Report: Week 18

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The XFP Report: Week 18

Hello, and welcome to the Week 18 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 17 weeks of action, here are the top-25 players in expected fantasy points (XFP) per game:

The Top 25

Jakobi Meyers & Russell Gage

Very quietly, Meyers and Gage have had two of the toughest schedules of any player in fantasy. Meyers and Gage run (respectively) 61% and 49% of their routes from the slot, but the far majority of opponents they’ve faced are among the best teams at defending slot WRs. That doesn’t seem very fair, does it?

Meyers has faced a defense ranking top-12 in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs in 10 of his 16 games (63%). Against top-12 defenses, he averages just 6.9 targets per game and 8.3 FPG. In all other games (6), Meyers averages 8.2 targets and 14.6 FPG.

Gage has faced a defense ranking top-12 in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs in 8 of his 13 games (62%). Against top-12 defenses, he averages just 5.4 targets per game and 7.5 FPG. In all other games (5), Gage averages 7.6 targets and 15.9 FPG.

Good news! Both get favorable matchups this week.

Meyers gets a pillow-soft matchup against a Miami defense ranks 5th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (14.9). We like him as a low-end WR2 this week.

Gage gets a Saints defense that’s given up the 12th-most FPG to opposing slot WRs (14.3). We like him as a mid-range WR2 this week.

Zach Ertz & Christian Kirk

DeAndre Hopkins’ absence has led to a massively improved role for both TE Zach Ertz and WR Christian Kirk,

Over the last three weeks, Ertz averages 11.3 targets per game (25% target share), 78.0 air yards per game, 18.2 XFP/G, and 12.6 FPG on a 91% route share. Among all TEs over this span, those numbers rank best, best, 3rd-best, 2nd-best, 5th-best, and best.

Over the last three weeks, Kirk averages 9.7 targets per game (22% target share), 100.7 air yards per game, 15.5 XFP/G, and 16.4 FPG. Among all WRs over this span, those numbers rank 14th-, 27th-, 10th-, 20th-, and 12th-best.

Though Ertz has seen the better volume (+2.7 XFP/G), Kirk has been more productive (+3.8 FPG). I have a hard time picking between them this week, but, luckily, on DraftKings you can play both. And both are popping as enticing values this week — Kirk ranks just 17th among WRs in salary ($6,000), and Ertz ranks only 6th among TEs ($5,300). And both have excellent matchups. For Ertz, Seattle ranks 4th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (+3.6). For Kirk, who has run 73% of his routes from the slot over this span, Seattle has given up the 3rd-most FPG to opposing slot WRs (15.3).

Bonus: WR Antoine Wesley ($4,100) has also seen more work of late, as his route share has jumped from 31% to 72% over this span. He’s tied with A.J. Green in target share over the last three weeks (12%), and has three touchdowns over his last two games. But both both WRs are easily fadable this week. Wesley and Green have run (respectively) 85% and 96% of their routes from the outside over this span, and Seattle ranks 2nd-best in FPG allowed to outside WRs (15.5).

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR Detroit Lions
[FPG: 12.3, XFP: 11.9, 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 five straight games. He’s finished top-6 among WRs in fantasy points scored in four of his last five games. And, over this stretch, he averages 11.4 targets, 1.2 carries, 18.5 XFP/G, and 24.6 FPG. Among all WRs over this span, those numbers rank 5th-, 6th-, 6th-, and 3rd-best.

Those numbers are ridiculous for any WR, but almost unfathomable for a rookie WR. He’s scored 125.0 fantasy points over his last five games, which is a feat only two other WRs have accomplished as rookies — Randy Moss and Odell Beckham Jr.

On one hand, he’s been one of the top-5 most productive, and arguably the single-most consistent, WR over the last five weeks. And he’s no doubt still a little mispriced on DraftKings, as just the WR12 of the week ($6,800). But on the other hand, it’s plausible to assume he takes a slight step back this week.

St. Brown has run 69% of his routes from the slot over this hot-streak. Each of his last five opponents ranked bottom-16 in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs, but Green Bay ranks 12th-best (11.7).

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills
[FPG: 11.0, XFP: 11.2, Diff: -0.2]

Singletary was seemingly promoted to bell cow-status four weeks ago. Over this stretch, he’s played on 81% of the team’s snaps, while handling 83% of the carries and 89% of the targets over the backfield. He averages 15.6 carries, 4.3 targets, 15.8 XFP/G, and 18.3 FPG (low of 14.9) over this span. He ranks 5th by FPG over this span, but behind only Rashaad Penny by total fantasy points scored.

In Week 14’s loss, he turned 4 carries and 7 targets into 14.9 fantasy points. In Week 15’s 17-point victory, he turned 22 carries and 1 target into 16.6 fantasy points. In Week 16, a 12-point victory, he turned 12 carries and 6 targets into 18.8 fantasy points. In Week 17, a 14-point victory, he turned 23 carries and 1 target into 23.0 fantasy points.

Week 18 should be another lopsided victory for the Bills, and Singletary’s best matchup yet. The Bills will clinch the AFC East with a victory, and Vegas is expecting them to win by 16.5-points, while scoring 30.0 points (most on the week).

Against RBs, the Jets rank: worst in total FPG allowed (31.7), worst in rushing FPG allowed (19.4), 3rd-worst in receiving FPG allowed (12.4), 9th-worst in YPC allowed (4.46), and worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+10.6). That final stat is 46% more than the next-closest defense, 293% 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.

He’s a steal on DraftKings this week, priced as just the RB18 ($6,000).

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
[FPG: 15.8, XFP: 17.0, Diff: -1.3]

For whatever reason, DraftKings absolutely refuses to price David Montgomery like a high-end RB1, though that’s clearly what he’s been over the last five weeks.

Over this span, he averages 19.0 carries per game (6th-most), 7.0 targets per game (most), 23.7 XFP/G (most), and 20.2 FPG (3rd-most).

7.0 targets per game is a crucial stat. That alongside his 76% snap share this year (2nd-most) means he’s not at all gamescript-sensitive; he’s a true bell cow. And the numbers bear that out. He’s been incredibly consistent over this span, despite mixed gamescript, finishing 1st, 9th, 3rd, 1st, and 8th among all RBs in XFP over the last five weeks.

So, this week’s spread — 2.5-points in Minnesota's favor — shouldn’t be as important as the on-paper matchup, which is excellent. Minnesota ranks 5th-worst in YPC allowed (4.53), 8th-worst in rushing FPG allowed (14.9), and 10th-worst in total FPG allowed (24.7). Over their last five games, Minnesota ranks 8th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+4.8).

And yet, Montgomery ranks just 10th among RBs by salary this week ($6,800).

Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets
[FPG: 12.6, XFP: 13.4, Diff: -0.8]

Moore, reportedly, has a chance to play this week, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he does. I can see HC Robert Saleh wanting his electric young wideout to end his rookie season on a high-note.

Admittedly, he’s a little tough to trust, coming off a quad injury and then COVID-19 list. But that’s more than baked i to his salary on DraftKings, priced as just the WR43 ($4,700).

Otherwise, Moore has seen at least 6 targets in 7 straight games, and averages 8.1 targets and 17.7 FPG (WR9) over this span. Or, 9.0 targets and 20.1 FPG (WR3) over his last 5 games.

Of course it’s also a little worrisome he’s cracked 10.5 fantasy points just once with Zach Wilson under center. But he did accomplish that feat in their last game together, when he turned 12 targets into 20.6 fantasy points, and despite the handicap of running 58% of his routes against CB Darius Slay — PFF’s 4th highest-graded CB. Unfortunately, this week’s matchup looks just as tough, as the Bills rank best in FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (13.1).

Still, if he’s active, he’s probably one of the better values of the slate.

Quick Hits

Marquez Callaway has returned a 29.2% target share over his last four games, which ranks 7th-most over this span. Of course, on the sloth-paced and run-heavy Saints, that hasn’t amounted to much. But he has reached 95 yards in each of Taysom Hill’s last two starts, averaging 9.5 targets, 104.5 YPG, and 16.5 FPG.

Rashaad Penny is playing out of his dang mind. He’s hit at least 135 rushing yards (and scored a touchdown) in three of his last four games. Over this span, he’s averaging 17.3 carries, 1.8 targets, 125.5 YFS, 12.1 XFP/G (RB26) and 23.6 DK FPG (RB2)… His PAR — the disconnect between his XFP/G and FPG — of +9.2 (or +76%) is absurd and extremely impressive, but also a little worrisome. Still, he looks like a strong DFS value this week, priced as just the RB12 ($6,500). The matchup isn’t great — Arizona is favored by 6.5-points, and they rank 5th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (-3.1) — but it’s hard to look past how effective he’s been in recent weeks.

Last week, Kenny Golladay ran a route on 94% of the team’s dropbacks. He earned just 1 target and failed to haul it in. He’s been the single-least efficient WR in fantasy this year, falling 4.1 FPG shy of his volume-based expectation… The Giants made him the 6th highest-paid WR in the NFL this past offseason.

Javonte Williams was atypically hyper-inefficient in Week 17, falling 12.0-points shy of his expectation. Against a Chargers defense that went into the week ranking 3rd-worst in YPC allowed (4.63) and 3rd-worst in rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (19.1), Williams managed just 2.1 YPC and 4.2 fantasy points on 14 carries, 2 targets, and 4 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line (16.2 XFP)… And this came one week after Williams managed just 20 yards on 9 touches… Williams averages only 1.5 YPC over his last two games, though he averaged 4.4 YPC or better in 5 of his prior 6 games and 5.0 YPC overall… Poor QB-play and bad gamescript is partly to blame, but not fully responsible, as Melvin Gordon fared slightly better. So, I think it makes the most sense to blame this recent down-stretch on injury — he’s been limited in practice all week dealing with a knee issue.

Jonathan Taylor has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in 7 of his last 8 games. He has at least one rushing touchdown in 12 of his last 13 games. Over this span, he averages 21.8 carries, 3.0 targets, 141.2 YFS, 19.1 XFP/G, and 25.7 FPG. For perspective, that’s 32% more FPG than the next-closest slate-eligible RB (Alvin Kamara), who is just 12% (DK) and 13% (FD) less expensive… And Taylor’s Week 18 matchup is nearly flawless on-paper, favored by 15.5-points against a Jaguars defense that just gave up a 29-146-4 rushing line to New England RBs.

The Jets are “hopeful” Michael Carter can play this week, coming off of a concussion. He’s priced as just the RB41 this week ($5,000) but has been much closer to an RB1 than a RB4 when healthy. Since Week 7, he averages 13.8 carries, 5.9 targets, 18.2 XFP, and 16.1 fantasy points per four quarters. Those numbers would rank 18th-, 4th-, 9th-, and 12th-best among RBs over this span.

If you played the right CIN WR1 in DFS each week, you would have averaged 26.5 DK FPG at an average salary of $5,850 (~WR21). Or, over the last six weeks, 34.9 DK FPG at an average salary of $6,133 (~WR17).

Zay Jones has seen at least 7 targets in five of his last 6 games. Over this span, he averages 8.5 targets, 121.2 air yards, 14.9 XFP/G, and 11.3 FPG. Those numbers rank 18th-, 2nd-, 20th-, and 35th-best over this span… He’s reached 50 yards in each of his last three games, averaging 6.7 receptions and 79.0 YPG over this span. And Jones’ best game came last week, scoring 20.0 fantasy points, catching 8 of 10 targets for 120 yards…. This felt fairly easy to predict. The Colts rank 8th-best by FPG allowed to slot WRs (tough for Hunter Renfrow, though he was still productive) but 3rd-worst to outside WRs (favorable for Jones). Week 18 is a similar matchup. The Chargers rank best by FPG allowed to slot WRs (9.1), but middle-of-the-pack against outside WRs (20th-most, 19.7).

Since Week 8, Darnell Mooney averages 9.3 targets, 112.9 air yards, 15.4 XFP/G, and 14.2 FPG. Those numbers rank 12th-, 4th-, 15th-, and 19th-best over this span… And Mooney’s numbers (over this stretch) jump to 11.3 targets (WR4) and 17.2 FPG (WR13) with Andy Dalton under center… On DraftKings, Mooney is the WR18 by pricing ($5,900), and the matchup is nearly perfect, but HC Matt Nagy said on Wednesday Justin Fields is likely to start.

Top Regression Candidates

Most Fantasy Points Negated by Penalty

1. Dawson Knox, TE (18.1)

2. Jonathan Taylor, RB (16.1)

2. Najee Harris, RB (16.1)

4. Dallas Goedert, TE (15.5)

5. Josh Jacobs, RB (14.9)

6. Mark Andrews, TE (14.4)

7. Ja’Marr Chase, WR (14.0)

8. Nick Chubb, RB (13.6)

9. Tyreek Hill, WR (12.1)

10. Derrick Henry, RB (12.0)

10. Ezekiel Elliott, RB (12.0)

12. Austin Ekeler, RB (11.9)

RB Team XFP%

1. Alvin Kamara, RB (31%)

2. Derrick Henry, RB (28%)

3. Christian McCaffrey, RB (26%)

4. Jonathan Taylor, RB (25%)

5. David Montgomery, RB (24%)

6. Najee Harris, RB (24%)

7. D’Andre Swift, RB (24%)

8. Dalvin Cook, RB (23%)

9. Joe Mixon, RB (23%)

10. Elijah Mitchell, RB (21%)

11. Austin Ekeler, RB (21%)

12. Josh Jacobs, RB (20%)

RB Team Pos XFP% (The Bell Cow Stat)

1. Najee Harris, RB (89%)

2. David Montgomery, RB (81%)

3. Alvin Kamara, RB (80%)

4. Dalvin Cook, RB (79%)

5. Derrick Henry, RB (78%)

6. Elijah Mitchell, RB (71%)

7. Joe Mixon, RB (71%)

8. Austin Ekeler, RB (70%)

9. Leonard Fournette, RB (68%)

10. Chris Carson, RB (68%)

11. Jonathan Taylor, RB (67%)

12. James Robinson, RB (66%)

WR / TE Team XFP%

1. Cooper Kupp, WR (27%)

2. Davante Adams, WR (26%)

3. Diontae Johnson, WR (26%)

4. Justin Jefferson, WR (24%)

5. Calvin Ridley, WR (24%)

6. Brandin Cooks, WR (23%)

7. D.J. Moore, WR (23%)

8. Tyreek Hill, WR (23%)

9. Keenan Allen, WR (22%)

10. Deebo Samuel, WR (22%)

11. D.K. Metcalf, WR (22%)

12. Marquise Brown, WR (21%)

DFS Values (DK)

1. Antonio Brown, WR (5.0X)

2. Dan Arnold, TE (3.2X)

3. D’Andre Swift, RB (2.9X)

4. Marquise Brown, WR (2.9X)

5. Elijah Moore, WR (2.9X)

6. D.J. Moore, WR (2.8X)

7. DeVante Parker, WR (2.8X)

8. Najee Harris, RB (2.8X)

9. Diontae Johnson, WR (2.8X)

10. Cole Kmet, TE (2.8X)

DFS Values (Last 5 Weeks)

1. Elijah Moore, WR (6.0X)

2. Kristian Wilkerson, WR (5.4X)

3. Antonio Brown, WR (5.3X)

4. N’Keal Harry, WR (3.8X)

5. Kadarius Toney, WR (3.6X)

6. David Montgomery, RB (3.5X)

7. Jakobi Meyers, WR (3.3X)

8. Antoine Wesley, WR (3.2X)

9. Cole Kmet, TE (3.2X)

10. Robby Anderson, WR (3.2X)

Scott Barrett combines a unique background in philosophy and investing alongside a lifelong love of football and spreadsheets to serve as FantasyPoints’ Director of Analytics and Lead DFS Writer.