Opportunity Analysis Week 2

The Opportunity Analysis – Week 2

All offseason we used the Opportunity Analysis to identify outliers to see if some teams are due for an increase or decrease in pass volume. We did this by reviewing the last seven seasons of historical drop back data to get an understanding of each play-callers’s average dropbacks per season.

In the Opportunity Analysis for Week 2 we are reviewing our 2020 projections and comparing it to Week 1. This will help identify outliers in Week 1 to see which teams are projected for higher or lower pass volume in Week 2.


Opportunity Analysis Week 2

TeamWeek 1 DropbacksOpportunity Analysis
Dropback Projection
Arizona Cardinals5141.39.7
Atlanta Falcons5642.913.1
Baltimore Ravens3034.2-4.2
Buffalo Bills5337.315.7
Carolina Panthers3936.12.9
Chicago Bears4038.71.3
Cincinnati Bengals4441.22.8
Cleveland Browns42375
Dallas Cowboys4541.63.4
Denver Broncos3441.1-7.1
Detroit Lions4740.66.4
Green Bay Packers4437.76.3
Houston Texans4038.81.3
Indianapolis Colts4740.86.2
Jacksonville Jaguars2838.6-10.6
Kansas City Chiefs3339.6-6.6
Los Angeles Rams3438.4-4.4
Los Angeles Chargers3436.6-2.6
Las Vegas Raiders3036.9-6.9
Miami Dolphins3439.8-5.8
Minnesota Vikings3138.6-7.6
New England Patriots2239.9-17.9
New Orleans Saints3436-2
New York Giants4836.411.6
New York Jets3935.63.4
Philadelphia Eagles5041.28.8
Pittsburgh Steelers3640.7-4.7
Seattle Seahawks3935.13.9
San Francisco 49ers3738.3-1.3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers4140.60.4
Tennessee Titans4533.911.1
Washington Football Team3638.9-2.9


You might be asking why applying the Opportunity Analysis to this is important? If a team drops back to pass 50 times in a week, it is pretty certain they will have a decrease the following week. We know this because in 2019 the Falcons led the NFL with 755 drop backs which was just over 47 a game. That was the highest number of dropbacks in any season since 2013.

This means in Week 1 if any team has 45 or more dropbacks, it is safe to assume regression is coming. This will directly affect any fantasy relevant players because their stats could be inflated due to the higher than normal volume.

For example, if a player had nine targets in a game but the team drops back to throw 50 times, that would give the player an 18% target rate based on overall dropbacks. The following week that same team drops closer to the league average of 39 dropbacks. That player, who had an 18% target rate would lose two targets based on his target rate alone.

This along with factoring in tougher/easier match-ups should help us identify buy-lows, sell-highs, or DFS starts and fades.

This week we will breakdown the biggest outliers in the Opportunity Analysis who were either well below or above their projections for 2020. Let’s get started.


Buffalo Bills

    • Week 1 Dropbacks – 53
    • 2020 Projected Dropbacks – 37.3
    • Week 1 Variance – +15.7
    • Primary Player Impacted – Stefon Diggs


The Buffalo Bills led the league in dropbacks with 53 in Week 1. This is 15.7 dropbacks more than the projections for 2020 of 37.3. This huge spike in pass volume will impact all players, but let us review star wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs ran a route on 52 of 53 dropbacks by Josh Allen, turning nine targets into eight receptions for 86 yards.

The nine targets are great, but they are clearly a product of the pass volume as Diggs was tied for 11th in targets; he only saw a target on 17% of his routes. For example, eight other wide receivers saw nine targets in Week 1. Those eight wide receivers averaged a target on 26.9% of their routes.

If we apply his routes and the target percentage on those routes to the 2020 projection of 37.3, his targets would drop from nine to six.

Week 2 Recommendation

Diggs’ first game versus the Jets was promising, but unless he gets a bigger target percentage on his routes this week against the Dolphins do not expect him to get as many chances. Diggs will have a much tougher match-up against outside corners Byron Jones and Xavien Howard in Week 2, making Diggs nothing more than a flex. Overall Diggs is not a must-start this week.


Atlanta Falcons

    • Week 1 Dropbacks – 56
    • 2020 Projected Dropbacks – 42.9
    • Week 1 Variance – +13.1
    • Primary Player Impacted – Russell Gage


Prior to Week 1, Russell Gage made the list for names to monitor as we highlighted that he could be stepping into a big role. Not even I could have imaged how big of a game Gage was going to have as he put up a monster 9-114 on 12 targets. In Week 1, Gage saw a target on 26% of his routes.

For reference that is what Julio Jones had in 2019.

Is Gage the next Julio? Probably not, but should he definitely be added in leagues? Yes! This level of production will come down as the pass volume dips and Julio and Calvin Ridley continue to dominate looks.

However, as long as Gage continues to be on the field as much as he is he needs to be rostered in all formats.

Week 2 Recommendation

In Week 2 the Falcons travel to Dallas to face a Cowboys team that allowed Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods to combine for 6-75 while splitting time evenly in the slot. Gage plays 80% of his snaps inside so he can build on a strong Week 1, making him a solid flex in any PPR format.


New York Giants

    • Week 1 Dropbacks – 48
    • 2020 Projected Dropbacks – 36.4
    • Week 1 Variance – +11.6
    • Primary Player Impacted – Darius Slayton


Darius Slayton had a great day on paper as he secured 6-102-1 on eight targets. Slayton did get a lot of his fantasy production on the final drive of the as he caught 2-22-1 with the Giants down 16 late in the 4th quarter.

Of course, the absence of Golden Tate played a big part in Slayton’s usage as he tied for second on the day with 42 routes run, one behind Evan Engram. Last season Tate ran ahead of Slayton, so it will be interesting to see how his role shakes out once the veteran returns.

Week 2 Recommendation

Last week the outside corners of Chicago held Marvin Jones in check and Slayton profiles as a similar player. I do not believe the high volume will continue as the Giants should have more success on the ground as Adrian Peterson nearly got 100 yards versus Chicago in Week 1. Keep monitoring Tate’s availability, but if he goes I’d sit Slayton.


Tennessee Titans

    • Week 1 Dropbacks – 45
    • 2020 Projected Dropbacks – 33.9
    • Week 1 Variance – +11.1
    • Primary Player Impacted – Jonnu Smith


Jonnu Smith had a solid Week 1, turning seven targets into 4-36-1. The seven targets were great, but when you see that Ryan Tannehill attempted 43 passes it is clear that Jonnu will probably see closer to five targets per game. A 16% target share and five targets is not bad for a tight end, but Jonnu led the team with a target on 26% of his routes.

For context Travis Kelce only saw a target on 22% of his routes last year. Finally, Jonnu ran the 4th most routes on the team, but only four more than fellow tight end Anthony Firkser so unfortunately, he has not monopolized the tight end usage just yet.

Week 2 Recommendation

In Week 2 the Titans face the Jaguars who aren’t an imposing match-up as Jack Doyle secured 3-49 last week. Even with the targets and volume coming down, Jonnu can still be started as a low-end TE 1.


New England Patriots 

    • Week 1 Dropbacks – 22
    • 2020 Projected Dropbacks – 39.9
    • Week 1 Variance – -17.9
    • Primary Player Impacted – Julian Edelman


Julian Edelman’s stat line of 5-57 on six targets does not look like much on the surface, but once you factor in that Cam Newton only attempted 19 passes, his 31.5% target share is elite. This bodes well for Edelman’s season-long outlook as he looks to be the primary read for Newton.

If we factor in the 2020 projected dropbacks from the Opportunities Analysis and apply his robust 31.5% target share, Edelman would be over 12 targets per game. Now I understand this is a lofty expectation, but somewhere in the middle at nine is very realistic moving forward.

Week 2 recommendation

Start Julian Edelman! Edelman’s match-up in Week 2 is solid as we saw the Seattle Seahawks allow a 100-yard game to Russell Gage in the slot. The Seahawks are home and should be able to produce points which should force Cam to throw more than he did last week.

After seeing what Gage did in Week 1 on the inside, I have all the faith that Edelman can have a solid Week 2 performance.


Names to Monitor


Keelan Cole saw five targets on 28 Jacksonville dropbacks

Olabisi Johnson saw four targets on 31 Minnesota dropbacks