Frank DuPont

Fantasy Fallout

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Friday Rundown

Friday, November 9, 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 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.

The Argument for Taiwan Jones… Sort of…

Here’s what we know about Taiwan Jones right now: He’s been buried on the Raiders depth chart behind Darren McFadden, Mike Goodson, and apparently even Marcel Reece.  He has one fumble on 17 career carries.  Jones ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the 2011 Combine.  He averaged almost eight yards per carry at Eastern Washington (I didn’t check, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t play Alabama at all).  Marcel Reece will handle most of the work on passing downs.


To me, the only thing that matters out of the above facts is Jones’ 40 time.  I can dismiss the rest of it for a guy that only cost you a waiver claim, and has the potential to provide outsized benefits.  Before you get too excited, I would say that you shouldn’t be starting Jones this week and you might toss him back to the waiver wire if you need that roster spot next week.  I’m not saying that I think it’s likely that Jones becomes a stud tomorrow, I’m only going to argue that the kind of stud that he could become (if he becomes one) would be extremely valuable, and that value would be related to Jones’ speed.


My basic argument is that Jones fits into the mold of the smaller, faster running backs that coaches tend not to trust right away.  I think he fits into the Jamaal Charles/C.J. Spiller/Chris Johnson mold.  I’m not saying that he’ll have the same kind of career that those running backs have had, as there are always going to be areas where they differ and those areas might be extremely important.  I’m just saying that he’s similar enough for us to pay attention.  Let’s look at Jones’ weight and 40 time compared to the backs I’m comparing him to.


PlayerWeight40 Time
CJ Spiller 196 4.27
Jamaal Charles 200 4.38
Chris Johnson 191 4.24
Taiwan Jones 195 4.33


Now here are the career yards per carry of those running backs:


CJ Spiller 5.4
Jamaal Charles 5.8
Chris Johnson 4.8
Taiwan Jones 4.4*

*Jones has a very small sample of just 17 career carries


The fact that Jones has been buried on the depth chart is important for his fantasy football value.  But it doesn’t necessarily indicate that much about his talent.  With the exception of Chris Johnson, all of the running backs on that list had a difficult time gaining the trust of the coaching staff.  During the 2009 season, the Chiefs coaching staff only gave 2nd year running back Jamaal Charles a chance when Larry Johnson was suspended.  This was despite the fact that LJ had averaged less than three yards per carry through the first seven weeks of the season.  The Chiefs coaching staff kept a guy on the bench (and that guy would become one of the best running backs in the league), so they could play the extremely washed up Larry Johnson.  A discussion of Charles’ fantasy outlook in November of 2009 probably would have focused on how the coaching staff didn’t trust him.  In fact, most of the objections to the idea that Taiwan Jones could be good, would have also been applied to Jamaal Charles.  The Chiefs offensive line would not have looked very good before Charles began ripping off runs for almost six yards per carry.  Charles had also been fumble prone and in fact has never really improved his ball security.


I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter at all that Taiwan Jones is apparently fumble prone or that the coaches don’t trust him.  It is after all worth noting that Chris Johnson is easily the least fumble prone back on my list of small/fast guys and he is the only one out of the group to ever top 300 carries in a season.  But I am saying that being fumble prone and not having the trust of the coaches probably matters less than we might think.  Ball security can improve for young running backs and sometimes coaching staffs are eventually forced to play these fast guys (both Spiller and Charles got their biggest opportunities when the coaching staffs had no other choice).  To me this is a “signal vs. noise” issue.  Out of the factors that could affect whether Jamaal Charles could become a stud running back, the trust of the coaching staff and his fumbling problems turned out to be noise, while his sprinter speed turned out to be the signal that could foretell his fantasy future.


You shouldn’t be starting Jones unless he’s your only option, because at this point we really have no idea what the carry split with Marcel Reese will be.  But pay attention on Sunday because if Jones does get an opportunity, I think his ceiling is extremely high.  At a minimum, you should make sure that if he is available in your league, that you pick him up before Sunday’s game.  If Jones finishes the game with something like 12 carries for 90 yards, then you should pay attention to next week’s practice reports.  If Jones fumbles his first carry and never sees the field after that, it’s probably safe to drop him on Tuesday.


Malcom Floyd – Start of the Week

My GILLEPIE projection system, which focuses on finding historically similar matchups for the week’s upcoming games, rates Malcom Floyd as having the best shot among wide receivers at out-producing his season averages.  GILLESPIE says that the 2012 Buccs defense is similar to the 2011 Patriots defense, which wide receivers were lighting up on a weekly basis.  To be fair, you don’t need a system like GILLESPIE to know that the Buccs defense is likely to give up some big games to wide receivers.  A simple run through their box scores would tell you that.


Here is a table which shows the matchup summary for Malcom Floyd against the Buccs defense, along with my projection for Floyd’s box score.


Summary Statistics: Targets per Game/Yards per Game/Yards per Target/Touchdowns per Game

Season SummaryGame Projection
NameYrWt/AgePlayer SummaryDefDef SummaryRecsYdsTDSFPs
Malcom Floyd 2012 225/31 6.2/63.6/10.2/0.2 TB 31.4/272.2/8.7/1.4 5.63 93.95 0.58 12.87



The following table shows the historical matchups that went into providing the projection for Floyd’s game.  You can see that the 2011 New England defense was extremely similar to the Buccs defense in terms of how many yards they give up per target and how many touchdowns per game they give up to wide receivers and tight ends.


Summary Statistics: Targets per Game/Yards per Game/Yards per Target/Touchdowns per Game

Season SummaryGame Results
NameYrWt/AgePlayer SummaryDefDef SummaryRecsYdsTDSFPs
Jabar Gaffney 2011 205/31 7.1/57/8/0.3 NE 30.9/264.3/8.5/1.3 6 92 1 15.2
Brandon Marshall 2011 230/27 8.7/71.4/8.2/0.3 NE 30.9/265.3/8.6/1.3 7 156 1 21.6
Vincent Jackson 2011 230/28 6.7/62.3/9.3/0.5 NE 31.2/266.9/8.6/1.3 10 172 2 29.2
Brandon Marshall 2011 230/27 8.6/72.5/8.4/0.4 NE 30.1/259.1/8.6/1.4 7 139 0 13.9
Dwayne Bowe 2011 221/27 8.9/71.5/8.1/0.3 NE 30.3/268.1/8.8/1.5 7 87 0 8.7
Vincent Jackson 2011 230/28 6.9/64.3/9.4/0.4 GB 30.9/254.5/8.2/1.6 7 141 3 32.1
Reggie Wayne 2011 198/33 8.4/60.3/7.2/0.3 NE 30.4/261.1/8.6/1.3 5 55 0 5.5
Darrius Heyward-Bey 2011 210/24 8.3/66.2/8/0.3 NE 30.9/267/8.6/1.4 4 115 0 11.5
Santana Moss 2011 200/32 7.8/45.7/5.8/0.3 NE 30.9/264.3/8.5/1.3 3 81 1 14.1
DeSean Jackson 2011 175/25 6.7/63.4/9.4/0.3 NE 29.9/258.4/8.6/1.4 4 73 0 7.3
Antonio Gates 2011 255/31 6.4/56.8/8.9/0.5 GB 30.9/254.5/8.2/1.6 8 96 1 15.6
Mike Wallace 2011 199/25 7.1/74.9/10.5/0.5 NE 29.9/262.5/8.8/1.4 7 70 0 7
Terry Glenn 2005 195/31 7.3/66.1/9.1/0.5 SF 28.6/239.6/8.4/1.5 5 137 0 13.7
Reggie Wayne 2005 198/27 7.5/65.3/8.8/0.3 SF 29.1/248.3/8.5/1.5 6 75 0 7.5
Steve Johnson 2011 202/25 8.3/60.7/7.3/0.4 NE 30.5/263.8/8.7/1.3 8 94 1 15.4
Plaxico Burress 2011 226/34 5.9/38.2/6.5/0.5 NE 30.7/265.1/8.6/1.4 3 39 1 9.9
Darrius Heyward-Bey 2011 210/24 8/69/8.6/0.3 GB 30.9/262.5/8.5/1.8 5 78 0 7.8
Dez Bryant 2011 220/23 6.9/60.9/8.9/0.6 NE 30.7/264.7/8.6/1.4 4 78 0 7.8



Victor Cruz – More High End Fantasy Production Ahead

Victor Cruz’s role in the Giants offense, where he is the best option and the injury to Hakeem Nicks means that the 2nd best option is an open question, along with the Giants favorable run of upcoming schedule, should allow Cruz to continue his run as a top 10 fantasy wide receiver.  Below is a graph that shows my weekly GILLESPIE projection for Cruz.  Upcoming matchups against Cincinnati, Washington, and New Orleans are positive matchups for Cruz.


Victor Cruz Weekly PPR GILLESPIE Projection

Ryan Mathews – Fantasy Turnaround Probably Not Coming this Week

I can’t think of a better way to describe Ryan Mathews’ fantasy season to date than the word “gross”.  First Mathews had the broken collarbone, which meant that when you drafted your fantasy team you had no idea when he would be back.  Then Mathews fell into a disgusting time share with a group of running backs who aren’t ever going to be honored with their own episode of “A Football Life”.  Things aren’t probably going to get better this week as Mathews faces the Buccs defense, which invites teams to forget about the run and just pass for 300 yards per game.  Below is a graph which shows my weekly GILLESPIE projection for Mathews.  You can see that the better matchups on the schedule have already passed.


One thing that I would say as sort of a caveat about Mathews’ fantasy value is that his usage has a lot more to do with his value than his matchups do.  If Norv Turner were to decide that Mathews was going to be used like a real feature back going forward, I do think he would be a top five to six fantasy back on a weekly basis.


Ryan Mathews Weekly GILLESPIE Projection

Another Positive Matchup for Willis McGahee

The Panthers defense is allowing over 160 yards from scrimmage per game to opposing running backs.  That’s good news for Willis McGahee, who has been effective both as a runner and as a receiver this year.  It also looks like any threat to McGahee’s carries from back-up Ronnie Hillman should be minimal.  While Hillman carried the ball 14 times against the Saints two weeks ago, the back-up saw just one carry last week.  If you have McGahee on your team, the reality is that he’s a valuable running back for you, and would have less value in the trade market as other owners would likely not assign to McGahee the value he’s producing each week.  So McGahee is probably more valuable on your team than he is in a trade.


Eli Manning – A Short Term Solution at QB

Eli Manning has been pretty disappointing over the past month, but that disappointment could turn melt away over the next month based on Manning’s schedule.  The graph below shows my weekly GILLESPIE projection for Manning.  You can see that with the exception of the bye week, Manning has mostly good matchups over the next five weeks.  If you need to do something bold in order to get into the playoffs, one thing you might consider is trading away a good quarterback in exchange for Manning and a good running back.  Manning will provide a short term serviceable QB1, and then you can worry about what you do if you actually get into the playoffs later.  Kick that can down the road.


Eli Manning Weekly GILLESPIE Projection

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