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SIS Football Newsletter – Week 7

 

Six weeks are in the books, and with the new 18-week season, this means we have an official one-third marker. Some of the bigger surprises so far include the Chiefs with a pedestrian 3-3 record and the Cardinals as the last remaining unbeaten team.

Arizona minted an impressive 37-14 road victory against Cleveland (as 3-point underdogs), which vaulted them back into the top spot in the Total Points Power Rankings. Even following a loss to the Titans, it’s the Bills (+550) that DK Sportsbook has given the best odds to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Total Points Power Rankings (with Super Bowl odds):

  1. Arizona Cardinals (+1100)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (+850)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+600)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (+1400)
  5. Las Vegas Raiders (+10000)
  6. Buffalo Bills (+550)

FEATURED GAME – BENGALS at RAVENS

The Ravens were so impressive in Week 6 that they earned “winner stays on” treatment. Baltimore disposed of one sophomore phenom QB and will look to do the same with Joe Burrow as they welcome in the upstart Bengals for a divisional showdown.

Last week, the Ravens were able to take advantage of a weak Chargers run defense (31st in Run Defense Points Saved). Baltimore posted nearly five yards per carry and moved the chains with 14 first downs on the ground. They should see a bit more resistance this week against the 10th-ranked Bengals run defense.

This season, Cincinnati has either won or lost in nail-biting fashion, while Baltimore’s wins have mainly relied on late-game heroics.

There’s also a savvy betting trigger favoring Cincinnati, with the majority of bets having come in on Baltimore (55%) while the bulk of money has backed the Bengals (66% per Action Network).

The Ravens dominated this matchup last season with two wins that went for a combined score of 65-6, but we’re taking the points here and siding with a young Bengals team that has already matched their 2020 win total.

THE PICK:  BENGALS +6.5



Optimal Quarterback Play: Assessing Throw Depth vs Accuracy

It’s no secret that success in today’s NFL is predicated on throwing the football. It should also come as no surprise that deeper throws are more productive than short ones. The least surprising of all is that accurate throws result in bigger gains.

Aggressive and accurate downfield passing is the key to moving the chains and winning football games.

The graphic below plots quarterbacks according to their average throw depth and accuracy.

There are plenty of other factors at play, but it’s interesting to point out that the three teams with the highest average throw depth have a combined record of 13-5 while the three lowest on the chart come in at 4-12.

Let’s dig in on a few standout QBs:

Lamar Jackson leads all QBs with an average throw depth of 9.9 yards. He has been criticized for his inaccuracy in the past but has padded his aggressive play this season with the seventh best on-target throw rate (80%).

Side note: Jackson also ranks seventh in rushing yards and first in missed tackles forced.

Russell Wilson and Teddy Bridgewater are the other two QBs who rank top-10 in both metrics. Wilson is a regular on this leaderboard, but few expected this from Bridgewater who has the reputation of an accurate, albeit conservative passer.

Among 35 qualified passers, Bridgewater ranked last in average throw depth in 2019 and 27th in 2020. He now ranks fourth, which seems like a product of the Pat Schurmur offense after Drew Lock led the league in average throw depth last season.



Target Acquired: Cornerbacks allowing the most production

Last week we discussed the fantasy value of looking below the surface for stats that provide an advantage over the competition. Many DFS players are influenced by generic stats like the “opponent position rank” you’ll find on the DraftKings lineup page, but there’s more specific data out there that can provide contest-winning insight.

We started by dissecting fantasy points allowed by offensive position, and this week we’ll dig into a few cornerbacks who are getting picked on by opposing offenses.

Anthony Averrett
Team: Baltimore Ravens
Alignment: Left side of the offense (78%)
Key Metrics:

  • Targeted on a league-high 43 passes.
  • Primary defender on 17% of passes against Baltimore.
  • Allowed a league-high seven completions of 15+ air yards
  • Allowed 67 PPR fantasy points (third-most)

Matchup: Ja’Marr Chase ($6,200 on DK) has lined up on the left side of the offense on 70% of his snaps, which will put him opposite Averett on the majority of his routes this weekend. When on the field, Chase has seen a team-high 25% target share and he leads all receivers with eight deep ball receptions.

Brandin Echols
Team: New York Jets
Alignment: Left side of the offense (100%)
Key Metrics:

  • Primary defender on 19% of passes against New York (next highest is 12%)
  • Allowing 1.6 yards per coverage snap (third-worst)

Matchup: Nelson Agholor has lined up on the left side of the offense on 70% of his snaps, which means he’ll draw the most coverage against Echols on Sunday. Agholor hasn’t provided much fantasy production this season, but at $3,700 on DK, he’s worth consideration if you’re looking for a budget WR.

Xavien Howard
Team: Miami Dolphins
Alignment: Right side of the offense (73%)
Key Metrics:

  • Primary defender on 16% of passes against Miami
  • Allowed a league-high 71 PPR fantasy points
  • Allowed a league-high four touchdowns
  • Allowing 14.7 yards per reception (10th-highest)

Matchup: It’s shocking for Howard to appear here after finishing third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2020. Howard plays a fair amount on the left side, but it’s reasonable to expect him to primarily shadow Calvin Ridley on Sunday given their lack of other wide receiver options. Many still associate Howard with last season’s dominance and therefore will not consider Ridley for their lineups, making him a contrarian play at a season-low price tag of $6,600 on DK.

More from the SIS community
  • Weekly Total Points Statpack: Sign up to receive updated Total Points metrics delivered to your inbox weekly. Get a free, in-depth look at team strengths and weaknesses, and the top players at each position.
  • SIS DataHub Pro: The uncontested best research tool in the game. Sign up for a free seven-day trial to test drive this luxury vehicle. The SIS DataHub Pro has countless proprietary NFL and CFB stats, and dozens of advanced filters.
  • Sharp FootballBack at it with three more QB prop bets to target this week!
  • Week 7 Betting Opportunities: Alex Vigderman used SIS data to break downs three intriguing games to bet on this weekend.
  • Off The ChartsTune in to this week’s podcast to hear us unpack Week 6 and look ahead to what’s to come in Week 7.

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