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Fantasy Usage Model

The Fantasy Usage Model: Week 1

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: September 9, 2020, 6:12 pm ET

Now that good data is publicly available, we’re able to more accurately evaluate opportunity for fantasy players. In this column, you’ll get the results of my “Fantasy Usage Model”, which is simply how many PPR fantasy points an average NFL player in an average NFL offense would’ve scored with the same exact adjusted opportunity. Read Targets Aren’t Created Equal and Carries Aren’t Created Equal if you want to see the type of variables that go into this model, but think air yards, relation to the sideline, yards from the end zone, and scheme indicator metrics. It’s a “Buy Low Model” if you’re familiar with the concept (shoutout to the great Josh Hermsmeyer). After comparing my model’s results with each player’s actual box scores, I’ll highlight players who I think are values for the upcoming week. This last part of the process is the most important because I know the things my model doesn’t understand and I can add the much-needed context to give the best results by combining analytics with news, injuries, and film. As always, reach out to me on Twitter (@HaydenWinks) if you have any questions.

 

Fantasy Usage Model - WRs

2019 per-game fantasy usage and PPR data.

Player

Fantasy Usage

Actual PPR

Context

Michael Thomas

19.7 (WR1)

22.9 (WR1)

 

Davante Adams

18.1 (WR2)

19.4 (WR3)

 

Mike Evans

18.1 (WR3)

17.9 (WR6)

 

Julio Jones

17.7 (WR4)

18.3 (WR4)

 

DeAndre Hopkins

17.4 (WR5)

17.9 (WR5)

 

Julian Edelman

17.1 (WR6)

15.9 (WR10)

Fewer passes.

Allen Robinson

16.5 (WR7)

15.9 (WR9)

 

Keenan Allen

16.4 (WR8)

16.3 (WR8)

Fewer passes.

D.J. Moore

16.0 (WR9)

15.4 (WR16)

 

Tyreek Hill

15.9 (WR10)

15.8 (WR11)

 

Tyler Boyd

15.7 (WR11)

13.9 (WR25)

More competition.

Alshon Jeffery

15.7 (WR12)

12.2 (WR37)

Injured. Dusty.

Robert Woods

15.4 (WR13)

15.5 (WR12)

WR4 Usage Late.

Jarvis Landry

15.4 (WR14)

14.8 (WR22)

 

Chris Godwin

15.4 (WR15)

19.7 (WR2)

 

Sterling Shepard

14.7 (WR16)

14.2 (WR24)

WR23 Usage Late.

Cooper Kupp

14.5 (WR17)

16.9 (WR7)

 

Christian Kirk

14.3 (WR18)

12.9 (WR30)

Now the WR2.

Odell Beckham

14.2 (WR19)

12.6 (WR31)

Insert No. 2 WR joke.

Courtland Sutton

14.1 (WR20)

13.9 (WR26)

WR11 Usage Late.

D.J. Chark

14.0 (WR21)

15.1 (WR20)

 

Preston Williams

13.7 (WR22)

11.4 (WR43)

Now the WR2.

Kenny Golladay

13.5 (WR23)

15.5 (WR13)

Stafford returns.

DeVante Parker

13.5 (WR24)

15.4 (WR15)

More competition.

Amari Cooper

13.5 (WR25)

15.4 (WR14)

Healthier.

Michael Gallup

13.3 (WR26)

15.2 (WR18)

 

John Brown

13.1 (WR27)

14.6 (WR23)

Now the WR2.

Jamison Crowder

13.1 (WR28)

12.4 (WR34)

WR20 Usage Late.

Marvin Jones

13.0 (WR29)

14.9 (WR21)

Stafford returns.

Tyler Lockett

13.0 (WR30)

15.2 (WR17)

Efficiency outlier.

T.Y. Hilton

12.9 (WR31)

12.5 (WR33)

Better QB.

Golden Tate

12.8 (WR32)

13.8 (WR27)

 

Will Fuller

12.8 (WR33)

12.3 (WR36)

Now the WR1.

Curtis Samuel

12.5 (WR34)

10.7 (WR48)

 

Auden Tate

12.4 (WR35)

8.5 (WR64)

Now the WR4/5.

Terry McLaurin

12.2 (WR36)

13.7 (WR28)

More passes.

Calvin Ridley

12.1 (WR37)

15.2 (WR19)

WR15 Usage Late.

Larry Fitzgerald

12.0 (WR38)

11.1 (WR45)

Now the WR3.

John Ross

11.9 (WR39)

11.9 (WR42)

Now the WR3/4.

Sammy Watkins

11.7 (WR40)

11.1 (WR44)

 

Adam Thielen

11.5 (WR41)

11.9 (WR41)

Now the WR1.

Mike Williams

11.5 (WR42)

10.8 (WR47)

Questionable.

Cole Beasley

11.4 (WR43)

12.1 (WR39)

Now the WR3.

Dede Westbrook

11.2 (WR44)

10.4 (WR49)

Now the WR4.

Danny Amendola

11.2 (WR45)

9.4 (WR61)

 

Deebo Samuel

10.7 (WR46)

12.3 (WR35)

Questionable.

Nelson Agholor

10.6 (WR47)

8.5 (WR63)

 

DK Metcalf

10.5 (WR48)

12.6 (WR32)

Efficiency outlier.

Marquise Brown

10.5 (WR49)

11.1 (WR46)

Healthier.

Mohamed Sanu

10.4 (WR50)

7.9 (WR69)

Released.

Robby Anderson

10.2 (WR51)

10.1 (WR54)

 

Stefon Diggs

10.1 (WR52)

13.6 (WR29)

 

Anthony Miller

9.8 (WR53)

8.0 (WR68)

WR28 Usage Late.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

9.8 (WR54)

9.4 (WR60)

Big Ben returns.

Chris Conley

9.7 (WR55)

9.8 (WR58)

WR35 Usage Late.

Darius Slayton

9.7 (WR56)

12.1 (WR38)

 

Brandin Cooks

9.6 (WR57)

8.4 (WR66)

Now the WR2.

Randall Cobb

9.5 (WR58)

10.3 (WR50)

 

Emmanuel Sanders

9.5 (WR59)

10.1 (WR55)

 

Tyrell Williams

9.2 (WR60)

10.2 (WR52)

Injured reserve.

Zach Pascal

9.1 (WR61)

8.5 (WR65)

Now the WR4.

Diontae Johnson

9.0 (WR62)

10.2 (WR53)

Big Ben returns.

James Washington

9.0 (WR63)

8.9 (WR62)

Big Ben returns.

Phillip Dorsett

8.9 (WR64)

6.8 (WR76)

 

Taylor Gabriel

8.9 (WR65)

10.0 (WR56)

Released.

Alex Erickson

8.9 (WR66)

6.0 (WR86)

 

Hunter Renfrow

8.8 (WR67)

10.3 (WR51)

 

Demaryius Thomas

8.7 (WR68)

7.8 (WR70)

Released.

A.J. Brown

8.4 (WR69)

12.1 (WR40)

WR51 Usage Late.

Russell Gage

8.3 (WR70)

6.2 (WR83)

 

Keke Coutee

8.0 (WR71)

5.9 (WR89)

 

Albert Wilson

7.8 (WR72)

6.9 (WR74)

Opted out.

Breshad Perriman

7.7 (WR73)

9.9 (WR57)

Now the WR2.

Bennie Fowler

7.6 (WR74)

5.8 (WR90)

Released.

Corey Davis

7.5 (WR75)

7.4 (WR71)

 

Marcus Johnson

7.4 (WR76)

7.1 (WR73)

Released.

Jaron Brown

7.2 (WR77)

3.2 (WR124)

Released.

Paul Richardson

7.1 (WR78)

6.5 (WR80)

Released.

KeeSean Johnson

7.1 (WR79)

4.6 (WR99)

Now the WR5.

Kenny Stills

7.1 (WR80)

9.7 (WR59)

 

Steven Sims

7.1 (WR81)

6.8 (WR75)

WR52 Usage Late.

DaeSean Hamilton

7.1 (WR82)

4.0 (WR115)

Now the WR4.

Allen Lazard

6.7 (WR83)

6.1 (WR84)

 

Adam Humphries

6.7 (WR84)

7.2 (WR72)

 

Trey Quinn

6.6 (WR85)

4.3 (WR106)

Released.

Ted Ginn

6.6 (WR86)

5.2 (WR94)

 

Jakobi Meyers

6.4 (WR87)

4.1 (WR112)

 

Jakeem Grant

6.3 (WR88)

4.6 (WR101)

Now the WR3.

Bisi Johnson

6.3 (WR89)

4.6 (WR100)

 

Isaiah Ford

6.3 (WR90)

6.1 (WR85)

 

N'Keal Harry

6.2 (WR91)

5.5 (WR92)

Healthier.

Demarcus Robinson

6.2 (WR92)

5.7 (WR91)

 

Parris Campbell

6.1 (WR93)

5.4 (WR93)

Healthier.

Geronimo Allison

6.1 (WR94)

4.5 (WR102)

 

Mack Hollins

6.1 (WR95)

1.4 (WR148)

 

Damiere Byrd

5.9 (WR96)

6.5 (WR79)

Now the WR3.

Allen Hurns

5.9 (WR97)

6.0 (WR87)

Opted out.

Kelvin Harmon

5.8 (WR98)

4.2 (WR111)

Injured.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

5.8 (WR99)

4.8 (WR96)

 

Javon Wims

5.7 (WR100)

2.7 (WR131)

 

 

Week 1 Fantasy Usage Model Values

This will be the most awkward list of the year because I’m basing it off the previous year’s data and changes within his offense. After this, I’ll compare each player’s fantasy usage to his actual PPR points of the recent weeks.

 

Will Fuller (TNF)

DeAndre Hopkins’ WR5 fantasy usage and WR5 per-game production is gone, and Fuller is the guy to fill most of it. He’s the only receiver with Deshaun Watson chemistry, and more importantly, he’s healthy heading into Week 1. Fuller has averaged 15.4 PPR points in the 21 games he’s seen at least two targets with Watson, and we can project a big workload against the Chiefs. Houston is 8-point underdogs in a matchup with legit shoot out potential.

 

Julian Edelman

Fresh off WR6 usage in 2019, Edelman was priced near his floor all summer in best ball leagues. New England’s receiver depth chart is (somehow) worse than it was last season when Edelman was the WR10 in PPR points per game. A home matchup against the Dolphins and 20-year-old rookie slot CB Noah Igbinoghene awaits. I’m getting in some Edelman shares early in the year just in case his 34-year-old begins to break down late.

 

T.Y. Hilton

Hilton’s WR31 fantasy usage from 2019 likely increases with the Colts set up to pass the ball more. The offense was slow-paced and run-heavy with bridge quarterback Jacoby Brissett, and Philip Rivers wasn’t brought in to game manage. They’ll sling the ball a bit, and Hilton’s skill set is an ideal fit with Rivers’ style. In Week 1, Hilton catches a Jacksonville defense that’s lost almost all of their difference makers. CB Tre Herndon was an undrafted free agent three years ago.

 

Terry McLaurin

McLaurin surprised with WR36 fantasy usage and a WR28 per-game finish as a third-round rookie. There’s a path to much bigger volume in year two with a new coaching staff and little behind him on the depth chart. OC Scott Turner oversaw a Panthers Offense that was second in pass attempts last year, a signal that Washington will pass far more than they did last year (28th in attempts). I’m expecting top-15 usage for McLaurin, who had his second- (24.0) and third-best (23.5) PPR performances of last season against the Eagles.

 

Jamison Crowder

Crowder gets ignored because he’s a slot receiver on one of the worst offenses, but his volume is bankable. He was the WR28 in fantasy usage a season ago, including a WR20 usage stretch from Weeks 9-16 with a mono-less Sam Darnold. The Jets only have Breshad Perriman (knee) and Day 2 rookie Denzel Mims (hamstring) behind him, and those outside receivers missed time in training camp and don’t have chemistry with Darnold. Crowder’s matchup in the slot against CB Taron Johnson isn’t as scary as it looks on paper. He averaged 22.5 PPR points against these Bills in two contests in 2019, and 14.0 PPR points with Darnold in general.

 

Anthony Miller

Miller was the WR28 in fantasy usage from Week 9 on last season after Taylor Gabriel was removed from the offense. The Bears don’t have an established receiver behind Miller, so I’m expecting a bigger target total than the market. Detroit’s 31st-ranked defense against fantasy receivers is the cherry on top for underappreciated high-upside flex value this week. Among projected starters, Miller’s coverage corner allowed the 9th-most yards per route in coverage last season according to PFF.

 

Curtis Samuel

Samuel was misused by the last coaching staff, seeing uncatchable deep targets near the sideline from a quarterback that couldn’t throw. The new staff probably puts him into the slot more often where he can use his YAC skills as an underneath receiver, letting Robby Anderson run those volatile deep clear-out routes. Teddy Bridgewater isn’t a perfect quarterback, but his skill set fits well with Samuel, who was the WR34 in fantasy usage in 2019. The corner defending Samuel in the slot in Week 1 received the 4th-worst grade last year by PFF among 2020 projected starting corners.

 

Chris Conley

Jacksonville’s offense is going to be inconsistent, but Conley has a role as a secondary deep target alongside D.J. Chark and potentially second-round rookie Laviska Shenault. From Weeks 9-16, Conley saw WR35 fantasy usage with Gardner Minshew willing to take chances down the field. Those deep targets likely increase with OC Jay Gruden installing a more pass-heavy attack sans Leonard Fournette. In Week 1, Conley will battle CB Xavier Rhodes who is slower than Conley and looked like total dust a season ago. In fact, Rhodes was the 3rd-worst graded corner who projects to start this season per PFF. It's also worth mentioning that Conley was voted as one of three offensive captains for Jacksonville this season.

 

Robert Woods (SNF)

Woods was the WR12 per game last season on WR13 fantasy usage, largely on the back of a huge second half when the Rams Offense changed and lost Brandin Cooks. With McVay opting for more two-TE sets, Woods becomes the clear top receiver, especially if Cooper Kupp is occasionally subbed out like he was last season. From Weeks 9-16 last season, Woods was the WR2 per game on WR4 usage. Woods is in a good game environment to open the season -- at home in a potential shootout against the Cowboys.

 

Courtland Sutton (MNF)

Sutton was the WR20 in fantasy usage last season but really took off following the Emmanuel Sanders trade, coasting to WR11 fantasy usage late last season. The Broncos replace Sanders with rookie Jerry Jeudy, but Sutton remains the alpha receiver, especially early in the season. A home matchup against suspect CB Malcolm Butler sets up for a nice season opener. Remember that visiting teams struggle early in Denver with the altitude adding another advantage for Sutton.

 

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Fantasy Usage Model - TEs

2019 per-game fantasy usage and PPR data.

Player

Fantasy Usage

Actual PPR

Context

Travis Kelce

15.6 (TE1)

16.7 (TE1)

 

Zach Ertz

15.2 (TE2)

13.9 (TE4)

 

Evan Engram

14.8 (TE3)

13.7 (TE6)

More competition.

Austin Hooper

13.0 (TE4)

14.7 (TE2)

Fewer passess.

George Kittle

12.9 (TE5)

14.0 (TE3)

More passes.

Mark Andrews

12.1 (TE6)

13.4 (TE7)

Healthier.

Darren Waller

11.9 (TE7)

13.8 (TE5)

 

Hunter Henry

11.3 (TE8)

12.5 (TE8)

 

Greg Olsen

10.7 (TE9)

8.8 (TE12)

 

Tyler Higbee

10.0 (TE10)

10.7 (TE10)

TE4 Usage Late.

Jacob Hollister

9.6 (TE11)

8.2 (TE16)

Now the TE3.

Mike Gesicki

9.2 (TE12)

8.5 (TE14)

TE5 Usage Late.

Dallas Goedert

9.1 (TE13)

9.9 (TE11)

 

Jason Witten

9.0 (TE14)

8.7 (TE13)

Jarwin’s potential role.

Jared Cook

8.9 (TE15)

11.9 (TE9)

 

Gerald Everett

8.8 (TE16)

6.9 (TE24)

Now the TE2.

Eric Ebron

8.7 (TE17)

7.9 (TE17)

 

Jack Doyle

8.6 (TE18)

7.0 (TE22)

Better QB.

T.J. Hockenson

8.2 (TE19)

6.7 (TE25)

Healthier.

Noah Fant

7.7 (TE20)

6.9 (TE23)

 

Tyler Eifert

7.3 (TE21)

6.7 (TE26)

 

O.J. Howard

7.3 (TE22)

6.0 (TE29)

Now the TE2.

Vance McDonald

7.0 (TE23)

6.0 (TE30)

Now the TE2.

Cameron Brate

6.7 (TE24)

5.7 (TE31)

Now the TE3.

Jimmy Graham

6.6 (TE25)

6.6 (TE27)

 

Darren Fells

6.3 (TE26)

7.2 (TE21)

 

Kyle Rudolph

6.3 (TE27)

7.2 (TE20)

 

Dawson Knox

5.8 (TE28)

5.1 (TE36)

 

Irv Smith

5.7 (TE29)

4.8 (TE37)

More targets.

Ryan Griffin

5.5 (TE30)

7.5 (TE19)

Now the TE2.

Ben Watson

5.4 (TE31)

3.7 (TE43)

Retired.

Jordan Akins

5.3 (TE32)

5.6 (TE32)

 

Jonnu Smith

5.3 (TE33)

6.5 (TE28)

TE26 Usage Late.

Ricky Seals-Jones

5.2 (TE34)

4.2 (TE39)

 

Nick Boyle

5.2 (TE35)

4.4 (TE38)

 

Ian Thomas

5.2 (TE36)

2.2 (TE54)

TE25 Usage Late.

C.J. Uzomah

5.1 (TE37)

4.0 (TE42)

Now the TE1.

Hayden Hurst

5.0 (TE38)

5.4 (TE33)

Hooper had TE4 Usage.

Trey Burton

4.9 (TE39)

2.8 (TE48)

Injured.

Demetrius Harris

4.9 (TE40)

3.3 (TE46)

 

 

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Fantasy Usage Model - RBs

2019 per-game fantasy usage and PPR data from Week 9 through the Super Bowl only. RB roles change so much late in the season that I wanted to just look at the second half of 2019.

Player

Fantasy Usage

Actual PPR

Context

Christian McCaffrey

29.0 (RB1)

29.2 (RB1)

 

Leonard Fournette

21.0 (RB2)

16.4 (RB13)

Far more competition.

Alvin Kamara

19.7 (RB3)

17.5 (RB10)

 

Dalvin Cook

19.3 (RB4)

17.1 (RB12)

 

Ezekiel Elliott

19.2 (RB5)

19.5 (RB5)

 

Saquon Barkley

19.0 (RB6)

18.8 (RB6)

 

Damien Williams

18.5 (RB7)

20.3 (RB3)

CEH’s potential role.

Joe Mixon

17.9 (RB8)

18.2 (RB7)

 

Melvin Gordon

17.2 (RB9)

18.1 (RB8)

New team.

Nick Chubb

17.2 (RB10)

13.0 (RB24)

 

Miles Sanders

17.1 (RB11)

15.7 (RB14)

 

Derrick Henry

16.7 (RB12)

25.0 (RB2)

More receptions?

Le'Veon Bell

16.3 (RB13)

14.7 (RB20)

Coach hates him.

Kenyan Drake

16.3 (RB14)

19.9 (RB4)

 

Devonta Freeman

16.1 (RB15)

14.7 (RB19)

Released.

Chris Carson

16.1 (RB16)

15.1 (RB15)

 

Josh Jacobs

15.7 (RB17)

14.1 (RB21)

 

Aaron Jones

15.5 (RB18)

18.0 (RB9)

 

Todd Gurley

15.3 (RB19)

15.1 (RB17)

 

Devin Singletary

15.1 (RB20)

13.7 (RB22)

 

Austin Ekeler

13.9 (RB21)

17.3 (RB11)

Much bigger role.

James White

13.2 (RB22)

13.4 (RB23)

 

Mark Ingram

12.8 (RB23)

15.1 (RB16)

 

David Montgomery

12.1 (RB24)

10.3 (RB32)

Injured.

Tarik Cohen

11.8 (RB25)

11.3 (RB30)

 

Jaylen Samuels

11.8 (RB26)

8.1 (RB39)

Now the RB3/4.

Kareem Hunt

11.7 (RB27)

12.7 (RB25)

 

Phillip Lindsay

11.3 (RB28)

10.4 (RB31)

 

Boston Scott

11.1 (RB29)

10.3 (RB33)

More competition.

Carlos Hyde

11.0 (RB30)

9.6 (RB36)

Now the RB2.

Ronald Jones

10.8 (RB31)

11.8 (RB28)

Now the RB2.

Kalen Ballage

10.7 (RB32)

5.3 (RB58)

Released.

Marlon Mack

10.6 (RB33)

12.1 (RB27)

Now the RB2.

Patrick Laird

10.5 (RB34)

7.6 (RB41)

Now the RB3.

Adrian Peterson

10.4 (RB35)

11.6 (RB29)

Now the RB3.

Sony Michel

10.2 (RB36)

7.8 (RB40)

 

Duke Johnson

9.7 (RB37)

10.0 (RB34)

 

Bo Scarbrough

9.5 (RB38)

7.2 (RB44)

Injured.

Jonathan Williams

9.0 (RB39)

5.1 (RB59)

Released.

Tevin Coleman

8.8 (RB40)

6.7 (RB48)

 

Raheem Mostert

8.7 (RB41)

15.1 (RB18)

Now the RB1.

Benny Snell

8.6 (RB42)

7.3 (RB43)

 

Jamaal Williams

8.6 (RB43)

7.5 (RB42)

Now the RB3.

Brian Hill

8.5 (RB44)

6.7 (RB49)

 

Chris Thompson

8.5 (RB45)

6.2 (RB54)

Now the RB1.

Derrius Guice

8.2 (RB46)

12.7 (RB26)

Released.

Nyheim Hines

8.2 (RB47)

8.3 (RB38)

 

LeSean McCoy

8.1 (RB48)

6.1 (RB56)

 

DeAndre Washington

8.0 (RB49)

9.7 (RB35)

Released.

J.D. McKissic

7.9 (RB50)

6.2 (RB55)

 

 

Keep an eye out for my new column "The Fantasy Blueprint" on Thursday/Friday. It's a beast.