Welcome back to the Week 15 installment of the high-value touch report. Hopefully, you made it to the playoffs and survived some injuries. As we head into the playoffs, let’s examine the rushing and receiving data in the red zone, goal-to-go and third/fourth down situations. Fantasy football is humbling, and sometimes the most logical and data-focused analysis doesn’t pan out.
With more and more data each week, there are more trends and outliers. We also observe trends shifting for a team within a season. Sometimes, we find certain players over or underperforming for various reasons with potential buys and sells based on the high-value touches and underlying metrics. The goal is to use the data and see where it leads us instead of using data to fit the narrative. That said, let’s dive into the Week 15 high-value touch report.
High-Value Touches: Red Zone Rushing
When Jonathan Taylor left early with an ankle injury, Deon Jackson and Zack Moss split the snaps and touches. Taylor isn't reportedly likely to play again this season, so keeping an eye on Jackson and Moss is important. Although Jackson might be the more exciting name, Moss had eight rushing attempts in the red zone through the Saturday games. The Colts led 33-0 and blew a massive lead, with the Vikings overcoming the largest deficit since 2010, per TruMedia.
If you need a running back in Week 15 and make it to the next round of the playoffs, the Colts face a juicy matchup with the Chargers. The Chargers allowed the sixth most PPR/G and rushing yards per game on the season, according to The Edge. Since Week 10, the Chargers' run defense performed better with 18.8 PPR/G (No. 25) but still allows 122 rush yards per game (No. 6). Take a shot at Moss or Jackson, though it's challenging to feel confident in either with the wonky game flow.
The Lions & Falcons' Backfield
The Lions turned to Jamaal Williams in the red zone, though he finished with an underwhelming five carries for six yards. On one of their goal-to-go drives, Williams had three carries and Justin Jackson had one, resulting in no scores. D'Andre Swift led the backfield in rushing yards (52) and receiving (9-5-23) for a 23.7% target share. However, the Lions' only offensive touchdown was a pass from Jared Goff to tight end Brock Wright. Swift's usage looked positive, though we hope for better results in a three-way committee.
With Desmond Ridder at quarterback, the Falcons, logically, relied heavily on the run game. Tyler Allgeier had three high-value touches in the red zone, with Cordarrelle Patterson at four carries. Both backs scored, with solid days on the ground, with Allgeier at 17 for 139 and Patterson rushing 15 times for 52 yards. Allgeier and Patterson accounted for 60% of the Falcons' total yards in Week 15, and that's their team identity.
High-Value Opportunities: Red Zone Receiving
Something important to keep in mind with the data this week is the Colts and Vikings scoring 75 points and going to overtime. The Colts ran 79 plays, and the Vikings ran 86 in Week 15. KJ Osborn and Justin Jefferson both crushed. Osborn tied with David Njoku with three targets in the red zone, and Jefferson came in behind Osborn with two. Jefferson and Osborn tied with a 29.6% target share in Week 15. Osborn entered the season as a sleeper with the new coaching staff but hasn't strung together consistent performances.
He set a career-high in receiving yards (157), targets (16) and receptions (10). For context, Osborn totaled 13 targets, 10 receptions and 80 receiving yards during the past four games. Keep an eye on Osborn, since he ranks third in targets per route run (14%) and third in yards per target (5.3) on the Vikings.
In Week 15, Russell Gage led all pass catchers with five targets in the red zone. Gage caught three of them for two receiving touchdowns and two other receivers caught two red zone scores. Zay Jones and Noah Brown garnered three red zone targets, with Brown as the unlikely contributor. Although Swift only had one high-value touch on the ground, he caught all three targets in the red zone in Week 15.
Another running back in a shared backfield, James Cook, caught one of his red zone targets for a touchdown in a goal-to-go situation. Josh Allen and Devin Singletary had three rushing attempts in the red zone, but Buffalo called a pass plays near the goal line. Allen had the only team high-value touch on the ground, but Stefon Diggs, Nyheim Hines, Dawson Knox and Cook had four targets between them near the goal line. Unfortunately, Cook's usage remains inconsistent after a couple of solid games.
High-Value Touches: Goal-To-Go Rushing
Travis Etienne had four high-value touches, via the ground, and dominated the team rush share at 70.4% (No. 8). The Jaguars scored four offensive touchdowns all courtesy of Trevor Lawrence's arm. Etienne moved up to a tie for 15th with 13 high-value carries. Although he doesn't profile as a goalline back, he doesn't have competition threatening his workload. In Week 15, Jamal Agnew and Lawrence both had three carries (11.1% rush share) in goal-to-go situations, and they don't play running back.
There's noise around Joshua Kelley since he scored a touchdown on three goal-to-go carries in Week 15 after Austin Ekeler left the game briefly with a hand issue. Ekeler had one of his lowest receiving usages this week, but he scored on his only high-value touch. If anything, it's a reminder to stash Kelley since Ekeler laps the field with 110 high-value touches heading into Week 15, while Rhamondre Stevenson is second with 72
Meanwhile, D'Onta Foreman also had three high-value carries near the goal line, but it's empty calories when the offense can't establish the run. In Week 15, the Panthers mustered 21 rushing yards and couldn't string drives together as they had less than 24 minutes of possession time. Chuba Hubbard has the more valuable role, though it's minimal, with three targets in a low-volume passing offense of 23 attempts.
High-Value Opportunities: Goal-To-Go Receiving
The most surprising player on the high-value opportunities leaderboard is Jordan Akins. So much for streaming the Chiefs against the Texans. They showed up to compete for a second straight week and took the Chiefs to overtime. Akins caught two of three targets in goal-to-go situations and scored one touchdown. Somehow, the Texans kept the game close, but they only totaled 219 yards with an overtime period.
Jones smashed in Week 15, scoring three touchdowns two of which came near the goal line. Jones caught six of eight targets for team-high 109 receiving yards. Heading into Week 15, Jones matched Christian Kirk in receiving EP/G with Jones at 13.5 (No. 17) and Kirk at 14.3 (No. 12). Jones might overtake Kirk after Week 15, and it's unsurprising to see Jones and Kirk with high receiving EP totals.
We're witnessing Lawrence elevate his game with weapons around him. Lawrence has more than 300 passing yards plus three touchdowns in three out of the past four games. Only five other quarterbacks reached that threshold in 2022, including Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, Allen and Patrick Mahomes, per TruMedia.
Third & Fourth Down Receiving Opportunities
Matt Ryan looked towards Michael Pittman seven times on third and fourth down in Week 15. Pittman caught all seven third/fourth down targets for 31 receiving yards but had a measly total of 10 receptions for 60 receiving yards overall. The volume is mediocre for Pittman, but he's the only reliable Colts pass catcher as a backend WR2. Meanwhile, Osborn unsurprisingly pops up on the high-value opportunities on third and fourth down in Week 15.
In the snow game, the Bills edged the Dolphins, and the Dolphins kept pace with 405 total yards. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle tied with five high-value opportunities on third and fourth down. Waddle scored a 67-yard touchdown on a deep pass in the middle of the field. When Tagovailoa doesn't get pressured, he ranks fourth in passer rating, fourth in passing yards per game and first in yards per attempt. Tagovailoa's pass to Waddle came without pressure, and he averaged 9.4 YPA in Week 15 when not pressured.
The Eagles & Cowboys Receivers
A.J. Brown and Ja'Marr Chase tied with six targets on third and fourth down in Week 15. Brown caught four receptions for 98 receiving yards. He set a career-high in receiving yards at 181, marking his seventh game with more than 150 yards receiving. Since Brown entered the league in 2019, he has the third-most games with over 150 receiving yards, according to TruMedia.
Brown's teammate DeVonta Smith also caught three of his four targets on third and fourth down for 73 receiving yards. Smith finished with five catches on eight targets for 126 receiving yards. On Monday, news broke about Jalen Hurts' shoulder injury, so Gardner Minshew might be covering quarterback duties.
Brown deserves a deeper look after popping up on the high-value touch leaderboards for Week 15 and garnering five targets on third and fourth down. Brown's five targets outpaced Tony Pollard and CeeDee Lamb's two targets. In Week 15, Lamb led the team with 35 routes, Dalton Schultz was second with 32 and Michael Gallup was third with 31. Interestingly, Brown finished fourth in routes at 26 and earned 34.6% targets per route run versus Gallup's 6.4%. Brown falls into a similar grouping as Osborn, but Brown is a slight step down.
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