NFL fantasy football Week 16 - Running back wide receiver mi

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2022-12-28 17:51

Running back, wide receiver upgrades, downgrades and mismatches

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NFL fantasy football week 16: Running back, wide receiver mismatches to exploit

Keep reading to see why Rhamondre Stevenson has a strong matchup this weekend.

Welcome back to the Next Gen Advantage, where each week we dive deep into the advanced statistics created through NFL Next Gen Stats player-tracking data to find little edges for fantasy managers. This week, were diving into Week 16 blocking matchups in the ground game, plus some receivers to target in the long-term, based on how open they were and how often they were targeted in 2022.

One tool we like to rely on in this space is our win rates: specifically, run stop win rate (and the converse, run block win rate) to evaluate matchups for running backs. While we have very good production-based matchup data (yards per carry against or fantasy points against), I think run stop win rate adds to the conversation. The way I think of it: Run stop win rate is process, and yards per carry against is result. Both are useful. So with that in mind, lets take a look at upgrades and downgrades for running backs this week, based on the RSWR of their opponents.

Upgrade:Rhamondre Stevensonvs.Cincinnati Bengals

The win rates thought the Bengals were already a nice matchup for opposing rushers, even though their 4.0 yards per carry allowed to running backs isnt bad at all, but they look like a particularly appealing opponent now.Sam Hubbardwillmiss timewith a calf injury, and thats a serious blow to their run-stuffing as Hubbard ranks sixth in run stop win rate among edge rushers this year. Its a break for New England, which has been, in run block win rates mind, the worst run-blocking unit in the NFL this season.

Upgrade:Raheem MostertandJeff Wilson Jr.vs.Green Bay Packers

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The metrics agree: The Packers have a hard time stopping the run. In addition to its 31st-ranked run stop win rate, Green Bay is also letting up 5.0 yards per carry to opposing running backs, fifth-highest in the league. Enter the Dolphins, who are average in terms of run blocking this season but also Mostert, fresh off a 136-yard rushing performance against the Bills. He and/or Wilson ought to be able to take advantage.

Downgrade:Royce FreemanandDare OgunbowaleatTennessee Titans

Eeeek. If youre still in the fantasy playoffs and rolling out one of these Texans backs in your lineup, its clearly already rough. Im only going to make it worse: The Titans are elite when it comes to stuffing the run.Jeffery SimmonsandTeair Tartboth rank in the top seven in run stop win rate among defensive tackles andDavid Long Jr. leads all linebackers in the category.

Downgrade:Latavius MurrayatLos Angeles Rams

Murray is coming off a huge Week 15 in which he ran for 130 yards and a touchdown, but that was against the Cardinals, who are 24th in RSWR. The Rams are a different story, even withoutAaron DonaldErnest JonesandBobby Wagnerrank second and seventh among linebackers in run stop win rate and should give Murray a tougher time in Week 15.

Its fantasy playoff season, yes. But for those in keeper and dynasty leagues, some managers are in full-on 2023 mode. And its never too early to identify values for next year. One aspect I wanted to look at: openness vs. target rate. We can use open score from ourreceiver tracking metrics-- which scores openness on all routes, not just targets -- and compare that with how often a player is targeted.

Whats the simple takeaway from this chart? Players below the linear regression line are not being targeted as frequently on a per-route basis as wed expect based on how open they get. And players above the line receive more targets than wed expect based only on their open scores. So, lets break down some potential targets based on this information.

Target:Courtland SuttonDenver Broncos

Im starting with Sutton because he has been banged up and therefore might be more acquirable in leagues without trade deadlines. Denver has been an absolute disaster this season, but one has to think changes are coming. Could a new offense and an offseason of rest helpRussell Wilsonand/or get Sutton more targets? I dont know, but if it does, Suttons stock could seriously rise. Hes at the high end of receivers in terms of getting open, and there are few receivers as open as he is who get targeted less frequently. I think its reasonable to bet that will change in a new offense. Plus, Suttons 21 catch score is a career low. I imagine there will be some positive regression in that department. That makes two ways Sutton can improve on his disappointing 2022. Ill be looking his way when I can for next season.

Target:Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

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Its obvious why Boyds target rate is lower than it should be: hes playing behind two elite receivers inJaMarr ChaseandTee Higgins. But he is so far below the line that I think hell still probably represent a value going forward. Boyd really didnt have any huge games while Chase was out this season, but I would bet on that changing if he has another chance as the No. 2, based on how well he gets open.

Target:Diontae JohnsonPittsburgh Steelers

There may be no player weve written more about in this space than Johnson. The RTMs consistently indicated that Johnson was getting open at an elite level despite the production not coming -- that is, until the last couple of weeks. Still, withKenny Pickettgetting another year under his belt and the possibility of a new offense in Pittsburgh lingering, the numbers indicate that in a different situation Johnson can be a fantasy star. If I have the chance, Im willing to make that high-upside bet.

Target:Josh PalmerLos Angeles Chargers

From an opportunity standpoint Palmer benefitted from injuries toKeenan AllenandMike Williams. But the second-year wideout also showed he has real ability with a 68 open score. And, if we assume a linear correlation between open score and target rate, we would expect a target rate of more like 23% than 19%. Over the course of the season, that adds up.

Seth Walder is in his sixth NFL season as a sports analytics writer at ESPN and previously covered the Jets and Giants for the New York Daily News.

NFL player tracking, also known as Next Gen Stats, is the capture of real-time location data, speed and acceleration for every player and every play, on every inch of the field. Sensors throughout the stadium track tags placed on players shoulder pads, charting individual movements within inches.