Welcome to Week 14, fantasy managers! If you are new to this article series, I will be using my Expected Fantasy Points model to determine which players relied on volume or efficiency to produce for fantasy. In short, the two metrics that we will use each week are
Why do these metrics matter? In short, fantasy production rooted in volume (or xFP) is much more sustainable week to week. As a result, we want to target players who rank highly in this metric. On the other hand, players who rely on efficiency (or FPOE) are much more volatile on a weekly basis. For a more detailed breakdown of my model, be sure to check out my series primer from Week 1!
Let’s dive in!
Data courtesy of nflfastR
Wide Receivers: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
Tyler Lockett – Seattle Seahawks
Tyler Lockett continues to be one of the most underrated wide receivers in the league. Through 12 games, he is currently on pace to exceed 1,000 scrimmage yards for the fifth straight season, averaging 69.7 receiving yards per game on a 23.6 percent target share. And over the last six weeks, Lockett has elevated his production into WR1 territory, ranking as the WR11 in fantasy points per game at 15.5.
Naturally, his touchdown efficiency stands out as he has found the end zone in five straight games, averaging the 5th-highest Fantasy Points Over Expected (+4.8) among wide receivers. While some of that efficiency will have to regress, the Seahawks do have a favorable schedule coming up, facing three teams that rank in the bottom 12 in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Therefore, I would not be surprised if Lockett can put together a few more productive games before the Seahawks face a much tougher matchup versus the Jets in Week 17.
Garrett Wilson – New York Jets
After struggling to produce earlier in the season, we have seen a resurgence from Garrett Wilson over the last several games. Since Week 10, Wilson ranks as the:
WR13 in Half-PPR points (15.4)
WR21 in Target Share (25.2 percent)
WR12 in Air Yards Share (39.5 percent)
WR11 in Expected Fantasy Points (13.9)
His production with Mike White under center has been even more impressive, albeit on a small sample size. Over the last two weeks, Wilson is the overall WR3 in half-PPR points per game (22.1) and the WR1 in Expected Fantasy Points with 18.9. While his improved production is heavily driven by his massive target share of 27.7%, we are also seeing the Jets pass the ball at a much higher rate. With White as their quarterback, they rank 12th in the league in neutral situation passing rate at 57%. And assuming the Jets continue to make Wilson the focal point of their offense, he should remain a top-15 wide receiver for the rest of the season.
Running Backs: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
D’Andre Swift – Detroit Lions
It has been a tumultuous season for D’Andre Swift, battling an ankle injury that forced him to miss three games earlier this year. And when he finally returned in Week 8, the Detroit Lions clearly made an effort to limit his opportunities while relying on Jamaal Williams to lead the backfield. However, we are slowly seeing his usage trend in the right direction as Swift is coming off of his most productive game since Week 2.
Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he received a season-high 28.6% opportunity share, totaling the 3rd-highest Expected Fantasy Value (17.1) among running backs this past week. In fact, the last time Swift exceeded 15.0 Expected Fantasy Points in my usage model was back in Week 10 of last season. This also comes after a Week 12 performance against the Bills in which Swift ranked as the WR17 in Expected Fantasy Points (13.6).
Look, I get it. Swift has been extremely difficult to trust in your lineups this season. However, based on his production these last few weeks, I do believe he should be locked in your lineups as the Lions have the seventh-easiest schedule for fantasy running backs going forward.
Samaje Perine – Cincinnati Bengals
With Joe Mixon recovering from a concussion, Samaje Perine has led the Bengals’ backfield over the last three weeks. In that timespan, he ranks as the RB3 in half-PPR leagues behind only Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard. In addition, from a volume standpoint, Perine has averaged the 2nd-highest Expected Fantasy Points (17.7) since Week 11, clearly operating as a focal point for the Bengals.
This also dates back to last season when Perine led the backfield against the Packers in Week 5, finishing as the RB17 in half-PPR leagues. Though Mixon is expected to return this week, fantasy managers should hold onto Perine as he has clearly proven to be one of the most valuable backup running backs in the league.
Mixon will hopefully remain healthy the rest of the way. But if he were to suffer another unfortunate injury, Perine would immediately slot in as an RB1 for fantasy managers with the potential to lead them to a championship.
Tight Ends: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
Cole Kmet – Chicago Bears
It took a couple of weeks, but we are now in the midst of the Cole Kmet breakout season. In his last five games, Kmet is the:
TE2 in Target Share (26.5 percent)
TE6 in Air Yards Share (26.8 percent)
TE8 in Expected Fantasy Points (8.8)
TE3 in Half-PPR points (12.1)
To put his fantasy production into perspective, the only tight ends who averaged more half-PPR points per game in that timespan are Travis Kelce and Dallas Goedert. Furthermore, his improvement in production is directly correlated to the transformation of the Bears offense, as they are no longer as run-centric as they were earlier in the season. After averaging a 38.4% neutral situation passing rate in their first eight games, that number has increased to 45.8% since Week 9. As a result, the Bears’ pass catchers have all seen a marginal improvement in volume and production, including Kmet.
However, it is important to note that the Bears are facing two of the toughest defenses against fantasy tight ends coming out of their bye week. And while that may limit Kmet’s upside, he should still be considered a low-end TE1 if he can maintain his usage from the last couple of weeks.
Quarterbacks: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
Jalen Hurts – Philadelphia Eagles
If you drafted Jalen Hurts, you are very likely heading into the fantasy playoffs as he has proven to be one of the best values in drafts this year. In 12 games, he is the QB2 in Expected Fantasy Points (21.9), averaging an impressive 245 passing yards and 50.8 rushing yards per game. In fact, those averages place him in rarified company. In the Super Bowl Era, only three other quarterbacks have averaged over 225 passing yards and 50 rushing yards per game in a single season (minimum 8 games played):
Assuming Hurts can maintain his current production, he would be the fourth quarterback to join this elite list.
From a fantasy standpoint, Hurts has finished as a QB1 in 81.5% of his games since 2021. In other words, because of his unique rushing upside, he has been one of the most reliable fantasy quarterbacks over the last two seasons.
So, despite a tougher schedule coming up — facing a stout Giants and the Cowboys defense to close out the year — Hurts has proven to be a matchup-proof quarterback and should retain his overall QB1 upside regardless of the opponent.
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