Frank DuPont

Fantasy Fallout

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Friday Rundown

Friday, October 12, 2012

The following article is a guest post by Frank DuPont, author of Game Plan: A Radical Approach to Decision Making in the NFL. You can also follow Frank on Twitter.

This is a weekly feature I'll be doing here where I take a run through my stats based projection system and give you the things that stand out most to me.  Some of it will be interesting, some of it might border on obvious, and hopefully some small part of it will help you make decisions on guys to start or guys to target in trades.

Kevin Kolb, Bye Week Fill-In

The borderline Cardinals QB faces the Buffalo defense this week, which has allowed some other borderline QBs to go off (with apologies to Alex Smith for getting grouped in with the borderline guys).  The table below shows the results of Buffalo's games against the non-Tom-Brady quarterbacks that they've faced this year.  Kolb should make a great bye week replacement if you have Cam Newton or Drew Brees on a bye.


Mark Sanchez BUF 1 19 27 70.4% 266 3 1 9.85 10.41
Alex Smith BUF 5 18 24 75.0% 303 3 0 12.63 15.13
Matt Cassel BUF 2 23 42 54.8% 301 2 1 7.17 7.05
Brandon Weeden BUF 3 27 43 62.8% 237 1 2 5.51 3.88
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/12/2012.


Jeremy Maclin, Time to Get Things Going

I use a projection system that focuses on finding matchups between similar players against similar defenses and I call this system GILLESPIE (Game Level Similarity Projection).  Using GILLESPIE to forecast Jeremy Maclin's game against the Lions this week makes me believe that this will be the game that Maclin turns things around on the season.  The first table below contains a statistical summary of Maclin's season, along with a summary of the Detroit defense's stats against wide receivers and tight ends.  That table also contains my projection for Maclin's game this weekend.  The projection is based on the games shown in the second table below that include matchups which are roughly similar to Maclin's upcoming game against Detroit.  These were matchups of small to medium sized receivers who were doing ok, but weren't really lighting the world on fire in the season that the game occurred.  The receivers were averaging generally low yards/game and unimpressive yards/target.  In the games against the defenses similar to Detroit's defense though, the receivers all improved on their receiving yard averages by about 50%.  Whereas Maclin has been averaging about 40 yards and a half of a touchdown per game, I think a realistic expectation for him this weekend is 65-75 yards and maybe better than a coin flip's chance that he gets a touchdown.


Stat Summary Key: Targets/Game, Yards/Game, Yards/Target, Touchdowns/Game

All season summaries have been adjusted to remove the game in question from the season summary.

Season SummaryGame Projection
NameYrWt/AgePlayer SummaryDefDef SummaryRecsYdsTDsFPs
Jeremy Maclin 2012 198/24 6.5/41.2/6.3/0.5 DET 26/200.8/7.7/1.2 4.4 76.6 0.6 11.6


Comparable Matchups

Stat Summary Key: Targets/Game, Yards/Game, Yards/Target, Touchdowns/Game

All season summaries have been adjusted to remove the game in question from the season summary.

Season SummaryGame Results
NameYrWt/AgePlayer SummaryDefDef SummaryRecsYdsTDsFPs
Steve Johnson 2010 202/24 8.7/62.4/7.1/0.5 CIN 25.5/192.3/7.5/1.1 8 137 3 31.7
Travis Taylor 2002 210/24 7.5/49.5/6.6/0.3 ATL 24.6/187.5/7.6/1.3 4 127 1 22.6
James Thrash 2001 200/26 6.7/49.3/7.3/0.5 NYG 26/207.3/8/1.3 7 143 1 21.3
Mike Walker 2009 197/25 7.4/51.6/7/0.4 KC 25.2/204.4/8.1/1.4 6 147 1 20.7
Nate Burleson 2004 198/23 6.7/59.7/9/0.5 GB 25.1/195.4/7.8/1.2 2 110 1 18.1
Lee Evans 2005 202/24 5.7/42.4/7.4/0.4 CIN 26.1/197.9/7.6/1.2 5 107 1 16.7
Lance Moore 2008 190/25 7.4/55.2/7.5/0.6 KC 25.2/191.1/7.6/1.2 8 102 1 16.2
Mike Williams 2010 212/23 7.8/57.1/7.3/0.7 CIN 25.6/195.9/7.7/1.3 7 99 1 15.9
Donte' Stallworth 2005 197/25 7.8/53.6/6.9/0.5 NYG 26.9/194.4/7.2/1.1 8 141 0 14.1
Donte' Stallworth 2005 197/25 7.9/54.4/6.9/0.5 BUF 24.5/189.1/7.7/1.1 8 129 0 12.9
Donte' Stallworth 2004 197/24 7.3/50.4/6.9/0.3 ATL 25.2/196.7/7.8/1.1 2 62 1 12.2
Santonio Holmes 2011 192/27 6.5/40.8/6.3/0.5 JAC 25.8/196.6/7.6/1.3 3 42 1 10.2
James Thrash 2001 200/26 7.1/54.2/7.7/0.6 SD 25/191.7/7.7/1.4 5 74 0 7.4
Donte' Stallworth 2004 197/24 7.1/52.2/7.3/0.4 SEA 26.3/197.8/7.5/1.5 3 36 0 3.7
Brandon Lloyd 2005 188/24 6.8/47.7/7/0.3 PHI 25/193.5/7.7/1.2 3 17 0 1.7
Nate Burleson 2007 198/26 6.1/45.6/7.4/0.6 SF 25.9/195.9/7.6/1.5 2 10 0 1
Brandon Lloyd 2004 188/23 7.2/46.5/6.5/0.5 NO 25.5/206.8/8.1/1.2 1 7 0 0.7
Damian Williams 2011 199/23 6.5/41.9/6.5/0.4 JAC 25.4/192.8/7.6/1.3 1 5 0 0.5
Brandon Lloyd 2005 188/24 7.1/48.9/6.9/0.3 IND 26.1/195.1/7.5/1.1 0 0 0 0



Vick Ballard, Waiver Wire Bargain

Vick Ballard might actually be my favorite kind of waiver wire bargain.  We have no idea whether he'll be useful for the rest of the season, but we do know that he'll be in line for some rushing carries this weekend against a terrible rushing defense (Jets).  To me that's just a lot more attractive proposition than trolling the waiver wire each week, wondering if you should pick up Jacquizz Rodgers, because maybe this is his week.  The reality is that you would have already had to pick up Ballard off the waiver wire, so now you need to figure out if you can start him.


First, let's think about Ballard's unimpressive season to date.  He has about 40 yards on 20 carries.  That's like a Thomas Jones stat line.  But one thing to keep in mind is that about half of Ballard's carries have come against the Bears and the Vikings, which are two of the better run defenses in the league.  The other thing to keep in mind is that the remaining carries (not against MIN and CHI) comprise a pretty small sample.  I think it's a lot more realistic to expect that Ballard could have similar success to Donald Brown over a larger sample of carries.


The next thing to think about is the matchup that Ballard has against the Jets.  They've had a very difficult time stopping the run this year, and when you consider that the Colts passing game has been moving the ball, you start to see that there's a good chance that Ballard could finish with a very nice game this week.  Probably a reasonable expectation is 70 or more yards, and a better than 50% chance of getting a touchdown.


The table below shows the rushing games that the Jets have given up thus far in 2012.

Arian Foster NYJ 5 29 152 5.24 1
Frank Gore NYJ 4 20 64 3.20 1
Daniel Thomas NYJ 3 19 69 3.63 1
C.J. Spiller NYJ 1 14 169 12.07 1
Jonathan Dwyer NYJ 2 12 28 2.33 0
Isaac Redman NYJ 2 12 25 2.08 1
Reggie Bush NYJ 3 10 61 6.10 0
Lamar Miller NYJ 3 9 48 5.33 0
Kendall Hunter NYJ 4 8 56 7.00 1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/12/2012.


Darren McFadden, Good Matchup?

On the surface, Darren McFadden's matchup against the Falcons this week seems like a good one.  The Falcons are giving up 115 yards per game to opposing running backs, at almost a 5 yard/carry clip.  They're also giving up about 46 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs.  That seems pretty enticing on the surface.  But I think the problem with closing your eyes and swinging hard at this matchup is that it's pretty easy to see the Falcons getting up early in this game, which means that you'll be sitting there hoping for receiving yards from McFadden.  I would call this a good, but not fantastic matchup for McFadden.  I think it will be enough to give McFadden owners some relief from the disappointment they've felt to date, and I do think there's some chance that McFadden could have a big day, but I think a more realistic expectation is like 70 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards.  I think it's also difficult to try to estimate whether McFadden could score in this game because the Oakland offense has been so inconsistent to date.


Alfred Morris vs. the Minnesota Run Defense

Alfred Morris has been as good at running the ball this season as the Minnesota defense has been at stopping the run.  So this matchup looks like something of an "immovable objection meets the unstoppable force" kind of scenario.  It may be worth noting though that Morris has rolled up a good amount of his yards on bad run defenses (like NO and CAR), while Minnesota has also made much of their reputation against bad running backs (like Chris Johnson and Donald Brown). 


In any case, in my GILLESPIE projections, the Minnesota run defense is most similar to the Baltimore and Pittsburgh run defenses of the middle part of the last decade, while Alfred Morris is most similar to players like Rudi Johnson and Marshawn Lynch.  GILLESPIE says that if we follow the historical matchups between similar defenses and similar players, we should probably expect about a 25% reduction in Morris' production.  I think some part of Morris' production will also be dependent on whether or not RGIII plays, as the possibilities to pick up touchdowns are going to be lessened if RGIII does not play.


Matthew Stafford, No Relief in Sight

Here's a graph that shows the GILLESPIE projection for Matthew Stafford over the course of the season (based on 6 pts for passing touchdowns).


Week by Week GILLESPIE Projection – Matthew Stafford


There are a few important things to discuss from this graph.  First, you'll notice that the projection for Stafford's games to date is actually higher than the fantasy points Stafford put up in those games.  This is because GILLESPIE essentially doesn't believe that a QB can exist with Stafford's stats.  It doesn't believe it's possible to put up almost 300 yards per game and throw less than one touchdown per game.  So GILLESPIE is saying that over the long haul, Stafford should revert in terms of his touchdown rate.  His touchdown rate should improve.


But the problem for Stafford is that he has three upcoming matchups against very good pass defense in PHI, CHI, and SEA.  Those matchups probably make it unlikely that Stafford turns around his disappointing season any time soon.


I do think there is something of a cautionary tale provided by Stafford this year.  If you drafted him as a top four QB, you were drafting a QB primarily for his attempts, even though he hadn't been extremely efficient last year.  So basically, he was a better fantasy quarterback than he was a real life quarterback.  I think ideally when you burn a top 24 draft pick on a quarterback, that quarterback should legitimately be the kind of player that teams can't stop even when they try to.


Adrian Peterson, Trade Target?

I had Peterson's matchup against the Titans last week as his easiest of the year.  AP did ok in that matchup although he didn't score.  I liked Evan Silva's comment on twitter the other day that you can take advantage of the fact that AP hasn't been scoring and pick him up in a trade.  Here's some ammo to beat up your trade partner in the deal that you make for AP – he has four consecutive matchups against teams that allow less than 4 yards per carry.  The graph below shows the GILLESPIE projection for each week of AP's season.  So what does it mean for you if you acquire him and you get those four matchups against generally good run defenses (WAS, ARI, TB, SEA)? Well first, as Evan Silva points out, you're getting a margin of safety because you can expect some mean reversion in AP's touchdown numbers.  It might also be the case that AP might be less likely to have really huge rushing days.  But I think if we know anything about the Vikings at this point it's that they're extremely committed to the idea of using AP as their featured back and there just aren't that many of those guys around the league anymore.  So use Evan's logic on the touchdown regression and use the upcoming schedule to beat up the other owner on your trade.  Try to get a steal.

Week by Week GILLESPIE Projection – Adrian Peterson

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