Daily Fantasy NFL: Examining Team Tendencies Week 1

Our best tool at DFW is our NFL Sportsbook Projection Tool, which uses the spread and team margin of victory history to estimate how often a team is expected to run or pass any given week. Early in the NFL season, the projection is mostly weighted towards last seasons team tendencies, simply because there isn’t enough data to make accurate projections with just a few games. However, by looking at week 1 data, we make some educated guesses about a teams overall offensive strategy. In this article, I’ll go through that data and speculate on which teams will be pass or run heavy this season.

Washington Redskins: 78.18% Pass Percentage, 12.9% Above Spread Expectation

The Redskins lost by 22 points last week, which means we should expect them to have passed the ball a lot. But even accounting for margin of defeat, they were extremely pass heavy, especially considering they were very much in the game in this 1st half. This Redskins team has a terrible running game, arguably the worst in the league. Kirk Cousins played awful in this game, but advanced metrics thought he was a great QB last season. I expect Kirk and the Redskins to rebound considerably, and when they score points this season, it should come almost exclusively in the passing game. I love Cousins, Jordan Reed, and Desean Jackson in season long, and I love the Redskins passing game this week against a very bad Dallas defense at home. I expect them to be one of the most pass heavy offenses in the league.

Denver Broncos: 50.88% Rush Percentage, 7.2% Above Spread Expectation

The Broncos have an inexperienced QB, Trevor Siemian, leading their offense and consequently I expect them to run the ball a lot this season. Last week was no exception with C.J. Anderson producing an exceptional game against a stout Carolina defense.  Anderson is a real talent at RB and Gary Kubiak’s zone running attack is known to produce successful rushers. Anderson burst onto the fantasy scene as one of the top RBs in all of fantasy football just a few years ago, and I think he continues his success this season in what should be a conservative Broncos offense.

Philadelphia Eagles: 54.42% Pass Percentage, 7.8% Above Spread Expectation

I went into last week thinking Carson Wentz would be uniquely terrible at QB this season. I just don’t think an unprepared rookie from an FCS school would be remotely successful in his first season. Well, I’m either wrong, or the Browns have the worst defense of all time (Maybe it’s both?). Wentz played well last week. Given the Eagles won by 19 points and were ahead all game, they passed the ball a surprising amount. I’m not on the Wentz bandwagon, but I think there are two things to interpret from the Eagles passing tendency. First off, Ryan Matthews may not get as many carries as I initially thought going into this season. Secondly, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz may end up being good fantasy options this season.

San Francisco 49ers: 54.55% Rush Percentage, 0.3% Above Spread Expectation

The 49ers surprisingly dominated the Rams Monday night, and we got our first look at Chip Kelly’s offensive attack for his new team. It would be easy to look at this game and think, “Wow, the 49ers ran the ball a ton, Hyde will be awesome this year!” Not so fast. Hyde may in fact be good this year, but the 49ers were up the entire game and won by 28 points. Adjusting for margin of victory, they actually had an average rushing tendency. Chip Kelly’s offense was really pass heavy last year on the Eagles, and I suspect we will see a lot of passing when the 49ers do fall behind. We don’t have to look far for a game like that, the 49ers face NFC champion Carolina Panthers this week and are 13 point underdogs. Instead of looking at Hyde, we should look at the fantasy opportunity for a lot of scrub WRs on the team. Jeremy Kerley played mostly in the slot and got 11 targets last week, despite not even playing a full compliment of snaps. Kerley could end up being a really good fantasy option moving forward, as well as Torrey Smith, the only other good WR on the team.

New England Patriots: 46.97% Rush Percentage, 2.9% Above Spread Expectation

New England was by far the most pass heavy team adjusting for the spread last season, passing the ball 11.7% above spread expectation. Obviously, Tom Brady is not playing the first four games this season, so you would expect a less pass heavy Patriots offense with Jimmy Garappolo at the helm, but I still thought they would pass the ball a lot. Turns out that wasn’t the case. The Patriots offensive line is not in good shape, and Legarrette Blount is not exactly an elite RB, but for the next three games expect a lot of running with Blount, especially this week against a bad Dolphins rush defense.

Buffalo Bills: 50% Rush Percentage, 9% Above Spread Expectation

This is a bit skewed because the Bills have a running QB. Nonetheless, the Bills had the highest rushing tendency out of any NFL team last week considering they lost the game by 6 points. Fellow DFW author Nick Juskewycz made a great point about LeSean McCoy this season: he should have a lot more goal line touches without Karlos Williams on the team this year, and therefore should be improved in fantasy. In a run heavy Bills offense, expect McCoy to have some big games this season.

View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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