Teams to go for in Fantasy

I already did the teams to avoid. Now let’s look at the teams to go after in fantasy.

Here is the problem in considering this: You have to separate the passing teams and the running teams, because teams that like to run a lot tend to have fewer opportunities. For example, the Eagles had only 494 pass attempts, but they also had 550 rush attempts.

In addition, the key metric is TD’s per play run. TD’s are the most important stat in fantasy, giving you a quick 6 points. For every position other than QB’s, you’d need 60 yards to equal that one TD. This is why James Conner was a top RB last year in spite of not having a lot of rushing yards (15 TD’s with only 752 rushing yards).

Here are the teams to get (with TD per play %):

  1. Cowboys (5.7%): I wasn’t surprised to see the Cowboys high on the list, but I was surprised to see them at the top.

  2. Buccaneers (5.6%): No surprise to see the team with the GOAT here. While I might expect a little regression due to age for both Brady and the rest of the offense, it shouldn’t be a cliff.

  3. Bengals (5.4%): The only worry for me here is how long can Burrow stay upright behind that swiss cheese line? Regardless, they do make things happen. Note that the Bengals ran the fewest offensive plays of any team here.

  4. Chargers (5.2%): This is still a strong offense.

  5. Packers (5.19%): Does this team take a step back without Davante Adams? I would expect this number to drop, but they are still a good team regardless.

  6. Chiefs (5.15%): Another team that might regress without their best WR, Tyreek Hill.

  7. Bills (5.10%): Expect them to keep doing what they do.

  8. Colts (5.09%): They might even improve on this number with Matt Ryan instead of Carson Wentz.

  9. Rams (5.06%): Surprised to see the Rams at the bottom of this list, but it needs to be remembered their defense also accounts for much of their success.

Honorable mentions:

  1. Patriots (4.9%): They are on the edge of being one of the top teams. If Mac Jones takes a step up, they could easily enter this conversation.

  2. Titans (4.5%): They ran the most in football (551 rush attempts), even with Derrick Henry injured. But the TD% is what is holding them back.

  3. Eagles (4.7%): They ran the second most (550 rush attempts), and their TD% was a little better than the Titans. Will they do the same thing again this season? Or will they throw more with AJ Brown there? An improved defense should help them to become more dominant.

Teams on the edge: Cardinals (4.7%) and Saints (4.2%).

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If only it was that simple. I ran a lot of analysis on last year’s data to find the correlation between team volume and player outlook.

If it’s there, I didn’t find it.

Let’s take the Cowboys. They were a top team in many offensive metrics last year. And the players?

Dak was QB7. Good, but not elite.

The WRs? CeeDee was WR20, Amari WR28. None of them missed any significant amount of time.

So it must have been the RBs. Zeke was RB6 - better than most of us would have expected, but in terms of points also closer to RB16 than to RB4. And Pollard was RB29.

The Cowboys were tied 2nd in total TDs and 1st in total yards. Yet the only elite player they produced was TE Dalton Schultz. No other player gave you more production than their ADP promised - most actually less. And I wouldn’t have called any Cowboys player overrated before the season.

Other teams did produce players in line with their team production, so there is a correlation. But not a strong one. The Patriots were the #13 team in terms of fantasy production in 2021, yet the only player who made his fantasy owners somewhat happy was RB12 Damien Harris. All other players were not startable.

So it will take more than Mac Jones taking another step to make their players attractive for fantasy purposes. I can see a scenario where the Pats make the top 8 in your list without producing a single fantasy relevant player.

Team volume is a very important metric when evaluating players. But it’s only relevant in combination with the player’s expected volume share. Dallas was on the top of the list last year, Houston at the bottom. Yet still, the Texans’ WR1 (Cooks) outperformed the Cowboys’ WR1 (Lamb).

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Valid points. But I wasn’t saying every player on these teams are top producers, nor was I saying players on other teams aren’t worthwhile. Only that these teams have players who have opportunities to excel. Also, it makes the second and third guys much more valuable than the second and third guys in the same positions on other teams like the Texans, because teams like the Cowboys have more scoring opportunities per play run.

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That is certainly true. But it can also lead to inflated ADPs, whereas players like Brandin Cooks are often undervalued because of the team they play for.

But I’d certainly have a WR2 or comittee RB of a high-volume team rather than of a low-volume one, where that status won’t result in fantasy success.

And I also wonder if the 2021 Cowboys may have been a unicorn. I still find it hard to believe that a top 3 team in terms of team production only produced 1 elite player, and that was a TE.

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Sadly, these aren’t the days of the old Rams “Greatest Show on Turf”, where every starter was elite. Top teams nowadays are a mixed bag. There’s no team with Warner and Faulk and Bruce and Holt…Ok, back to the discussion…

That said, you want to look out for teams with that high-flying potential. Sadly, I don’t see one. The current Rams just don’t have a Kurt Warner (sorry Matt Stafford, you ain’t it!), and they certainly don’t have a Marshall Faulk. The Bengals? Mixon is no Faulk, and don’t get me started on their o-line. Chargers? Allen is on his last legs as a WR, and Ekeler is no spring chicken any more. The Bills are interesting, and they might be able to put together some kind of Franken-RBBC with James Cook that replicates what Faulk used to be able to do, but their WR corps doesn’t have the old Rams depth. The Colts can’t sell me on JT and Hines as a Faulk substitute, and the depth behind Pittman is lacking. The Patriots are still overall WR talent from being there. The Saints could be close, but only if Kamara can stay healthy (not betting on it).

So many teams, with all just missing pieces. Sad.

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