Saturday, December 19, 2015

Short-yardage Breakdown, Week 15

My goal in chasing fantasy success has always been evaluating touchdown potential. Touchdowns simply swing contests - especially GPPs - in a way that yardage can't, and they're actually more predictable than many think. Studying the trends and suggested probabilities in the short-yardage (inside the 10-yard line) game gives us a leg up in piling up points.

A quick primer on the numbers you're looking at: over the span of the last 1-4 representative games*, I leverage a running back's
  • team's rushes from inside the 10-yard line (Tm10Ru)
  • own rushes and touchdowns from inside the 10 (10Ru & 10TD)
  • projected rushing touchdowns from inside the 10, based upon the above numbers and defensive numbers for his opponent (10TDPrj)
* A representative game is one in which a player played the same role for all or most of a game that he's likely to play this week. We obviously don't care how many carries Tim Hightower was getting when he was third on the depth chart.

This data has been a pretty accurate measure of touchdown potential, and it gives us a good picture of
Since many RBs need a touchdown to reach cash or GPP value, it's a helpful tool in separating the more dependable scorers from the guys who'll need huge yardage totals to produce for you.

Here's a breakdown of Week 15's top probabilities at finding the end zone:

Gm Tm10Ru 10Ru 10TD 10TDPrj
Adrian Peterson 4 4 4 3 0.90
Tim Hightower 1 3 2 1 0.83
Jeremy Hill 4 15 8 3 0.79
Matt Forte 3 8 6 2 0.70
James White 4 8 4 2 0.53
D. Williams 4 15 11 3 0.51
Shaun Draughn 4 2 2 1 0.50
Ryan Mathews 3 12 4 2 0.50
Isaiah Crowell 4 7 7 2 0.47
Latavius Murray 4 10 6 2 0.46
Alfred Blue 4 4 4 1 0.43
Eddie Lacy 3 5 2 1 0.42

  • Adrian Peterson has dominated this category for much of the year, thanks to 22 rushes from inside the 10 as the dominant cog in a successful offense. But he's struggled to spin that opportunity into gold - among backs with 15+ attempts, he's turned in the third-lowest touchdown rate (22.7%). It's trending up, though, at 75% over the last four weeks. As a favorite against a porous Bears defense, it would be an upset if Peterson didn't find the end zone; I'd set the over/under at 1.5.
  • The amount of rushing opportunity near the goal line in Cincinnati is just nutty, hence Jeremy Hill's sparkling TD outlook. Assuming A.J. McCarron can keep the offense afloat against a pitiful defense, Hill should find himself taking several handoffs from in close.
  • There's really no backfield behind Williams, so he's as every-down as they come, and his dominance carries over into the red zone. The Bengals are tied with the Steelers in short-yardage rushes over their last four games, but DeAngelo Williams stands alone with 11 of his own. The Broncos corral rushing yardage exceptionally well, but aren't immune to touchdowns (13 allowed on the year) and receiving production from the backfield. That matchup could turn high-scoring and high-volume, so Williams is an important piece to consider.
  • Don't overvalue James White's rushing role, even without LeGarrette Blount on board. But Brandon Bolden profiles much better as a short-yardage back, and the Patriots prefer to throw near the goal line anyway. White could be a league-winner, but it won't come from short TDs.
  • If we look at the opposite end of the spectrum, we see a troublesome hole in the outlook of value poster boy David Johnson - he projects to just 0.02 short TDs. Over his two starts, Johnson is yet to take a rush from inside the 10 - he was pulled for Stepfan Taylor for the Cardinals' only attempt. It's less of a concern, however, when we note that he saw three second-half runs from there against the 49ers three weeks ago. He's bound to get back toward the mean soon, and as a favorite in a high-volume matchup, this looks like a solid time to expect it.

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