Welcome to Week 5, 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:
Expected Fantasy Points (or xFP)
Fantasy Points Over Expected (or FPOE = Actual Points - Expected Points)
Why do these metrics matter? Basically, fantasy production rooted in volume (or xFP) is usually sustainable week to week. 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 week to week. For a more detailed breakdown of my model, be sure to check out my series primer from Week 1!
Let’s dive in for Week 5!
Wide Receivers: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
After a slightly disappointing performance in Week 3, Tyreek Hill bounced back in a significant way as he finished as the WR4 in half-PPR leagues this past week. As you can see in the table above, nearly all of his fantasy production was driven by his usage (or xFP), setting a season-high in both target share (38.9 percent) and air yards share (44.8 percent) against the Bengals. In fact, this was the third time this season that Hill received double-digit targets. As a result, it should not come as a surprise that he currently leads the league in receiving yards (477) and is the WR4 in fantasy points per game (18.9).
However, with Tua Tagovailoa recovering from a devastating head injury, Hill will now be receiving passes from Teddy Bridgewater for the foreseeable future. And while that might seem like a massive downgrade, their connection in Week 4 was particularly encouraging. With Bridgewater under center, Hill received a 36.4% target share, clearly operating as the lead receiver over Jaylen Waddle.
As a result, you should feel confident in playing Hill this week knowing that he will still be heavily involved regardless of the quarterback.
Every now and then, Jamal Agnew comes out of nowhere and finishes the week as a top-24 wide receiver.
Week 4 was one of those weeks.
Kudos to the fantasy managers who were brave enough to start him as he helped you win your matchup with 19.0 half-PPR points. However, I would not get used to this performance as this was likely an outlier game. First off, Zay Jones could be returning this week, which will relegate Agnew back to his 12% average snap rate. Secondly, his efficiency (+9.78 FPOE) is clearly unsustainable as he generated only six targets and converted two of them into touchdowns. Even more shocking, he did all of this while only receiving 38% of the snaps.
To be fair, two of his six targets were inside the ten-yard line, which is exactly the usage we want to see for a wide receiver. However, unless we see an improvement in snap rate going forward, I would not bother picking up or starting Agnew as long as Zay Jones and Christian Kirk are healthy.
Running Backs: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
While Josh Jacobs has had his share of underwhelming games to start the season, we have actually seen his usage steadily improve over the last couple of weeks. After starting the year with a combined two targets in his first two games, Jacobs has averaged a 15.5 percent target share since Week 3 (11 total targets). As a result, my usage model has him ranked as the RB1 in xFP over the last two games, averaging an impressive 20.7 expected fantasy points.
To put that number into perspective, that is a 109% increase from his xFP in his first two games (9.9).
You might be wondering, "Why has Jacobs’ usage drastically improved?" As I mentioned previously the Raiders are using him more frequently as a pass-catcher. But beyond that, we have seen them throw the ball at a much lower rate. After leading the league in early down, neutral-situation passing rate in their first two weeks (68%), that number has dropped nearly 18 percentage points to 50%.
With these numbers in mind, Jacobs is one of my favorite trade targets due to his early bye week and lack of name value. He should not cost as much as a Derrick Henry or Joe Mixon would in a trade but could provide you with a similar RB1 upside on a weekly basis.
Breece Hall - New York Jets
Breece Hall is another running back whose usage continues to improve. After splitting snaps and opportunities with Michael Carter to start the year, Hall has slowly moved ahead of him in the depth chart over the last couple of weeks. And in Week 4, he received a season-high 66 percent of the snaps while accounting for 36.5% of the Jets’ total opportunities. For comparison, Carter’s opportunity share was only at 19% against the Steelers.
Even in the receiving game, Hall was clearly more involved as his target share of 17.6% doubled Carter’s at 8.8%. In addition, he also accounted for 60% of their opportunities inside the 10 — one of which eventually led to the game-winning touchdown.
In short, Hall is clearly the RB1 for this team. And because of his improved usage, he actually ranks as the RB3 in Expected Fantasy Points (19.1) over the last two weeks — behind only Josh Jacobs and Joe Mixon. Therefore, going forward, you can comfortably start him as an RB2, with the upside to finish as an RB1 if his efficiency improves.
Tight Ends: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
Robert Tonyan - Green Bay Packers
Ranking as a TE1 for the first time this season, Robert Tonyan has had an inconsistent start to his year. In four games, he is only the TE17 in target share at 12.7 percent and the TE22 in Expected Fantasy Points per game with 4.8. In other words, if Tonyan does not score a touchdown, it is entirely possible he finishes outside of the top 24 on any given week. And his performance against the Patriots truly exemplifies who he is from a fantasy perspective, finding the end zone on only two targets.
A few years ago, when the Packers were one of the most efficient and pass-heavy offenses, he was a fine starter for fantasy teams. However, with the Packers passing the ball at a lower rate, Tonyan is a much more volatile player than in years past. Unfortunately, he is nothing more than a bye-week filler unless we see his usage drastically improve.
Quarterbacks: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency
Jared Goff - Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions might be one of the most surprising teams so far this year as they currently lead the league in points scored at 35 per game. As a result, we have seen Jared Goff perform as one of the most productive fantasy quarterbacks, ranking QB5 to start the season.
Surprisingly, he is only 11th in the league in passing attempts at 151. But with those opportunities, he has averaged the eighth-highest adjusted yards (8.1) and EPA (13.5) per attempt, operating as one of the more efficient signal callers in the league.
Look, I get it.
Jared Goff does not have the same name value as Justin Herbert or Tom Brady. But with a plethora of receiving weapons at his disposal, he should continue to produce for fantasy, especially with the Lions' defense giving up the most points per game through the first four weeks.