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Fantasy Football Week 9 Analysis: Which players at each position can we trust rest-of-season?

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Welcome to Week 9, Fantasy Managers! Since we’ve been halfway through the year, we’ll use mine Expected Fantasy Points model to determine which players you can trust in the second half of the season based on their usage and volume over eight weeks. Therefore, I will single out the best players in Expected Fantasy Points (xFP) at every position.

Why does this indicator matter? In short, a fantasy production based on usage and scope (or xFP) stable week after week. As a result, we want to target players who score highly on this metric. Since we are looking at the last eight games, all the metrics used below are per game basis. For more details on my xFP model, be sure to check out my week 1 series tutorial!

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Let’s dive in!

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Data provided by nflfastR

Wide receivers: fantastic use and efficiency

Top 15 Fantasy Wide recipients from weeks 1 to 8.  (using data provided by nflfastR)
Top 15 Fantasy Wide recipients from weeks 1 to 8. (using data provided by nflfastR)

Chris Olav – New Orleans Saints

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One of the most productive rookies this year has been Chris Olav, who has become the WR1 Saints over the past few weeks. After a smooth first leg, Olav has not had a single game with a target share of less than 20% or less than 30% yardage share since week 2. And compared to the rest of the league, Olav ranks as follows:

  • WR17 in target share (26.3%)

  • WR6 in the share of Air Yards (41.3%)

  • WR12 in expected fantasy glasses (13.1)

  • WR12 in Yards per route run (2.53)

To put these numbers in perspective, Ja’Marr Chase as well as Jaylen Waddle both had, on average, a lower target share and airfield share in the first seasons. And while Michael Thomas as well as Jarvis Landry due to return at some point this year, keep in mind Olav averaged 9.6 goals per game with both players in the lineup. Therefore, judging by its use so far, Olav should be a reliable WR2 in the future.

CD Lamb – Dallas Cowboys

CD Lamb He had an inconsistent start to his 2022 campaign and finished in the top 24 in only three of his first eight games. Of course, this is largely due to the lack of Duck Prescott. But despite uneven fantasy production, Lamb has been the focus of the Cowboys’ passing offense, averaging a 31.6% share and 41.9% pitch target this season. In fact, the only broad recipients currently averaging higher target shares than Lamb’s are DeAndre Hopkins, Cooper Kupp and Tyreke Hill. In short, his volume was truly elite for the first eight games. And when Prescott finally recovered, we saw his benefits in week 8 when he scored a fantastic 16.3 over eight opportunities. So expect Lamb to be a more consistent WR1 for the rest of the season.

Running Spins: Fantasy Uses and Efficiency

Top 12 fantasy runners from weeks 1 to 8.  (using data provided by nflfastR)
Top 12 fantasy runners from weeks 1 to 8. (using data provided by nflfastR)

Dameon Pierce – Houston Texans

When Dameon Pierce first became a starter in week 2, I was initially worried that his fantasy value would be limited by not being part of the passing game. However, he has dispelled those fears in recent weeks, averaging 15.6% of his target share in his last four games. In addition, he is also an RB2 in terms of opportunity share (44.4%) in that time span, second only to Derrick Henry.

Week 8 was actually a perfect example of how his massive use can be of value to his fantasy. Against the Tennessee Titans, Pierce only gained 35 yards on 15 attempts. However, he still finished as an RB20 as he remained heavily involved as a receiver with a target share of 17.2%. As long as he remains in the Texan spotlight, Pierce will retain the weekly RB2 floor and should be one of the safest fantasy runners in the second half of the season.

Josh Jacobs – Las Vegas Raiders

In the final year of his rookie contract, Josh Jacobs received massive volume. He currently sets career highs for opportunity share (37.5%) and rush share (78.1%), and remains heavily engaged as a wide receiver with a target share of 10.9%. In fact, the only runners with more opportunities this season are Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkleyas well as Christian McCaffrey. As a result, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jacobs is the RB4 in the leagues with half the PPR.

Its value in use is no less impressive, currently taking the place of the RB8 with 14.7 Expected fantasy points. In other words, even if his performance (+3.8 Fantasy Points above expected) declines in the second half, he should still be a mid-level RB1 for Fantasy Managers. And while he’s had his worst fantasy performance this season, part of that was because the Raiders trailed throughout the game and failed to score a single point. I expect more competitive games in the near future, which means Jacobs should be locked out to get 20 to 25 opportunities in most matches going forward.

Tight Ends: Fantasy use and effectiveness

The top 12 fantasy tights ends from weeks 1 to 8.  (using data provided by nflfastR)
The top 12 fantasy tights ends from weeks 1 to 8. (using data provided by nflfastR)

Pat Freiermuth – Pittsburgh Steelers

Despite inconsistencies at quarterback, Pat Freiermuth quietly organized a very productive start to his season. In fact, barring the game in which he left early with a concussion, Freiermuth finished as TE1 in four of his six games. In addition, all of his usage metrics are at the top of a tight position. For eight weeks, Freiermuth is:

  • TE5 in Expected Fantasy Points (9.23)

  • TE9 in target share (18.5%)

  • TE6 share in Air Yards (18.5%)

  • TE7 in air yards per target (8.2)

  • TE7 in Yards per route run (1.77)

Keep in mind that Freiermuth would have ranked even higher on some of these stats had he not suffered an injury in week five. fantasy schedule for tight ends starting from week 12 through the fantasy playoffs. Thus, Freiermuth would be an ideal target to trade if you are struggling to find a consistent option on a tight position.

Quarterbacks: Fantastic Usage and Effectiveness

Top 12 fantasy defenders from weeks 1 to 8.  (using data provided by nflfastR)
Top 12 fantasy defenders from weeks 1 to 8. (using data provided by nflfastR)

Justin Herbert – Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert He had a rough start to the season as he suffered numerous injuries on the Chargers’ offense. Despite this, he still put in four QB1 performances in seven games, partly due to the fact that their offensive formation was pass-heavy. In fact, the Chargers rank fourth in the league in neutral and early-fall passing at 62.7% — behind only the Bills, Buccaneers and Chiefs. This is especially important to Herbert’s fantastic potential, as he needs to pass the ball at a much higher speed to keep up with the league’s double-threat quarterbacks.

However, despite the QB4 ranking in expected Fantasy Points, you can see above that Herbert only ranks QB10 in Fantasy Points per game. In other words, its upside potential is significantly higher than its performance during the first eight weeks. And with a luscious fantasy schedule ahead of him — third among quarterbacks — I honestly believe Herbert’s second half will be much better. With hope, Keenan Allen as well as Mike Williams be back healthy relatively soon. But even if they have to miss some more time, Herbert should still be QB1 with Austin Thanks. as well as Gerald Everett leading path.

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