Ten IDP Fantasy Football Stats You Need to Know after Week Two
Two weeks in the books already and things are starting to settle down. We can start to tell which numbers are trustworthy, and which were just low-base anomalies. Here’s some information about what to look for.
1. 17 linebackers have played 135 snaps or more through two weeks
135 snaps is a significant number because it’s equivalent to two, full games of defense (average defensive snaps have remained extremely consistent at 65.5 for years).
It’s fair to point out that some LBs are playing every snap, but their teams are just low-volume. But still, players from those teams have (so far) been at a disadvantage because of their lack of opportunity.
2. The Bills have played just 94 defensive snaps
… including a ludicrously low 40 snaps this week against the Raiders.
The idea that defenses play low volume because their offense is bad, or a variety of themes on that concept is extremely overblown. The correlation of defensive snaps is much more complicated than that. Don’t assume there’s an easy answer for this but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
3. The Packers have played 196 defensive snaps
At the other end of the spectrum, Packers IDPs have had a huge amount of opportunity. Quay Walker and Kenny Clark are near the top of the position ranks right now, and it has a lot to do with pure opportunity.
The idea still persists that IDP scoring is a good indicator of real on-field NFL quality, but that’s mostly not true (pass rush ability and some scoring settings make this a bit more factual). It’s mostly to do with how much they are on the field.
4. Deommodore Lenoir has 20 tackles so far
That’s four more (25%) than any other corner. He’s also the most-targeted player in the NFL through two weeks with 20.
Every season one cornerback tends to finish as the clear, runaway IDP scoring leader. There’s no reason it cannot be Lenoir. Don’t hitch your wagon to him or pay much (or indeed anything at all) for him, but in a field of dozens of decent options, he’s a nice one.
5. Aidan Hutchinson leads all edges with 13 pressures but has zero sacks
There are four other edges with over ten pressures so far, and they have a combined 11 sacks (i.e. 2.75 each). Sacks are a relatively poor stat. They are less predictive and less reliable than pressures. So follow the trail of evidence. Right now Hutchinson is playing well and being very productive, even if that hasn’t shown up as sacks yet.
6. Dennis Gardeck has three sacks, from just four pressures
“The Barbarian” certainly has a cool name and great hair, but his sack numbers are misleading in the opposite way right now.
The Cardinals do not seem to have much confidence in any of their edges, and all six of them are getting limited playing time. Gardeck has played just 59 total snaps in two games (obviously under 30 per game) and rushed the passer just 31 times.
That is clearly not trustworthy or sustainable productivity and yet people follow sacks, so he likely got snapped up from waivers in your league after a second week of good scoring.
7. Zaire Franklin has recorded a tackle efficiency of 18.7%
Last week this column pointed out the fairly high number of LBs who recorded >20% tackle efficiency in week one. Almost all of them faded significantly in week two as you’d expect. So, 18.7% is fairly high. Only two other LBs have played 100+ snaps and have a higher number than Franklin’s.
You might be thinking: “well, after his 2022 breakout he’s shown he has a nose for the ball!” but that’s not the case. In 2022, his tackle efficiency was a fairly normal 13.7%. He scored so well because he was third among all LBs in snaps.
He’s right at the top of snaps for the position again in 2023, but please do not treat that as any sort of confirmation. We’re two games in. LBs get hurt all the time. Teams hit low snap counts all the time.
Franklin is being valued as an elite IDP for no clear and cogent reason. He absolutely could have another high-scoring season, but that’s still true for another twenty or thirty LBs.
8. Julian Blackmon leads all safeties with 75 box snaps
Staying with the Colts, Blackmon remains a lovely IDP value. He’s played the joint-most snaps, has a very healthy box percentage given he’s now playing Gus Bradley’s box-safety role, and many people have still not realised any of this because he’s not in the top tiers of scoring so far.
Safety is enormously unpredictable (picking 12 or 24 out of 64 starting players with very equal scoring potential is always going to be inaccurate), and unreliable. But Blackmon should be rostered and started in every league that requires two starters at the position.
9. No Browns LB has played more than 76 snaps
The Browns have only played 110 defensive snaps so far. The average is 133, with just the Bills and Rams below Cleveland.
But still, this is a problem. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (76) and Anthony Walker (73) have only played 69% and 66% of team snaps respectively. Let’s assume that the Browns recover from their low-volume start and play an average 1,130 snaps this season.
If Owusu-Koramoah and Walker maintain their current snap share, they’d play just 780 and 746 snaps respectively. That would have ranked 37th and 40th in 2022. So you’d be lucky to get LB3 seasons out of either of them.
Of course, you can construct an argument that they’ll play more in the coming weeks, or the team will play over average, or they will be extra-efficient players. But all of that is conjecture, and equally true of their peers around the league. You cannot count on it.
10. Assists make up 60% of Terrel Bernard’s tackle numbers
Bernard has eight solos and 12 assists for the Bills so far. Only nine other LBs have more than his total of 20. Among those higher-tackling LBs, the average for assist % is just 30%. Bernard is a wild outlier in the mix of his tackles so far.
Bernard has still scored OK, due to the interception he reeled in last week, but the combination of his weird solo:assist ratio and the Bills’ low volume so far is actually holding him back a bit.
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