Written by Timothy Lewis (@TrendsAndTakes) — November 19th, 2019.
Week 10 of the 2019 NFL season has come and gone! In other words, we have a 10-game sample size to spot trends and develop takeaways. Welcome to season three of this column! If you’re not familiar, I use this time to look at numbers and tell you what I make of them. This year, I will be offering additional Buy/Sell/Drop/hold criteria. Statistics are courtesy of advanced analytics goldmine, Player Profiler, and trusty dusty Pro-Football-Reference.
7.2 targets per game
33.2% red-zone target share
3.4 YAC per target
73.8% catch rate
Every season Crowder does one of two things: Pleasantly surprises or tanks expectations. We are trending toward “pleasantly surprised” so far in 2019. We know the style of player he is: A compiler of shallow targets with PPR appeal. What’s been undersold is his potential, even in standard leagues. It’s not difficult to project the games in which the Jets will be forced to play catch up. It’s likely the playcalling skews pass-heavy down the stretch, as the offense coalesces around Sam Darnold. The current ranking of 22nd in pass attempts per game is undoubtedly depressed by Luke Falk’s time under center. Outside of Crowder, the Jets’ receiving options include field-stretcher Robby Anderson, running back Le’Veon Bell, and nobody else of consequence. Promising tight end Chris Herndon has suffered yet another injury, likely punting his relevance for the season.
My take here is that Darnold has only gotten his feet wet in Adam Gase’s offense, and while there’s deserved criticism, neither man is as incompetent as they are often portrayed. The leap of faith is that Crowder could potentially fill the “Jarvis Landry role” from Gase’s days in Miami.
Verdict. Every young quarterback needs a security blanket. Red Zone usage indicates Crowder is that guy. It also indicates he could have sneaky touchdown upside ROS. BUY.
27% snap share in games Kamara plays
4.8 yards per touch (27th)
1.05 yards created per carry (41st)
Every team seems to like the idea of Latavius Murray more than the product they get. I say this with an eyebrow raised because having followed his career, I’ve found Murray to be a pretty good player. He possesses underrated hands, impressive size, and breakaway speed. It should be noted that he’s found success on each team he’s played for. Having put these sentiments forward, Murray will not at any point this season return the value of occupying the “Mark Ingram” role. While he’s demonstrated the potential, the Saints’ offensive distribution is more streamlined than ever.
Gameflow will determine Murray’s role. Despite having a positive game script most of the time, the Saints still rank 11th in pass attempts. They are notoriously prone to targeting the running back position, but the lion share of such opportunities belong to Kamara. In fact, Murray has yet to top 3 targets in a game Kamara played. This is what has occurred, not necessarily what will come. At 18th in rush attempts per game, I’d imagine that ranking climbs over the duration of the season. The Saints are an intelligently coached team that has found tremendous success running the ball in recent years.
Verdict: Alvin Kamara has a locked-in role that functions totally independent of game script. His role will not change in any capacity. That’s a positive if the Saints run the ball more with Drew Brees at the helm. I believe the larger sample size indicates they will after ranking 5th in rush attempts in 2018. I believe Murray will return RB3 numbers for the remainder of the season and increase his snap share, to minimal impact on Kamara’s value. HOLD.
3 straight games with a 65%+ snap share
Taking 40% of snaps from the slot
Dolphins are 11th in pass plays per game
A peek to the waivers at the tight end position might as well be a full-on dumpster dive. With Hooper, Kittle and Engram nursing ailments, the position is thinner than ever. This is all to say that the bar is not very high when it comes to pulling the trigger on a tight end. I’ve avoided recommending anyone from the Dolphins so far this season, but between trading assets and injuries sustained, this dreadful offense has become surprisingly streamlined. Rookie surprise Preston Williams is gone for the season, leaving the team with Devante Parker, Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns and Jakeem Grant at the wide receiver position. While his time in Miami hasn’t exactly been charmed, Mike Gesicki doesn’t have a lot of competition for Fitzpatrick’s targets.
With Gesicki’s rise in snap share and 6 targets in each of the last two games, the Dolphins appear intent on giving their second-year tight end some experience. The Penn State product blew up the 2018 athletic combine and has shown flashes of ability with a 6 reception 95-yard outing two weeks ago against the Jets. Young tight ends often struggle to produce but they also represent untapped potential.
Verdict: This is a tank season for the Dolphins. Ryan Fitzpatrick will throw a lot of passes and an increasing number will go to Mike Gesicki. He’s going to post some duds but his usage indicates he could offer boom games and perpetual garbage-time production. BUY.
7.7 targets per game
10 yards per target (12th)
26.3% red-zone target share
2.6 YAC per target
I know Gardner Minshew is quirky, exudes sex, and has one hell of a mustache, but perhaps we forgot who the real big man in Jacksonville is. Nick Foles marks an upgrade at the quarterback position. And lest it be forgotten, the one touchdown he threw on the season was to D.J. Chark, a perfect rainbow to the second year stand out. While Minshew filled in admirably, there is meat left on the bone for a receiver of Chark’s dynamism. As the undeniable alpha in this receiving core, the LSU standout will see the biggest boost from the quarterback change. Drives will be sustained, generating more pass attempts of higher quality, resulting in more scoring opportunities.
The doubts are heard. Nick Foles is a career backup! The Jags stink! I don’t believe any of that matters. Foles is a Super Bowl-winning backup. He can get the job done if put in a situation tailored to his strengths. That’s available to him with his Super Bowl-winning quarterback coach (now offensive coordinator), John DeFilippo in the fold. Big, fast receivers that win downfield and accumulate yards after the catch are hard to come by. Next season, Chark will be taken in the top 3 rounds of fantasy football drafts.
The Verdict: Chark still isn’t being valued as a WR1 and that’s fair when we see that his snap share and targets per game don’t quite cross elite status. However, his production has been elite. The stars are aligning for Chark, including one of the friendliest playoff schedules in the league. BUY.