With the ever-changing NFL landscape, new trends develop each week. Using advanced stats, metrics and analytics to identify these trends can lead fantasy grinders toward the next breakout player. Week 8 presented a few player breakouts likely to influence gameplay going forward. With that said, here are three notable trends to think about as we enter Week 9.
Green Bay Packers – Running Back Pass Game Usage
Receiving 35 targets all of last year, Aaron Jones currently leads the Green Bay Packers with 42 targets. While Davante Adams‘ injury surely plays a role, Jones’ uptick in receiving usage remains noteworthy. The Packers also continue to deploy him in unique ways throughout the pass game. In Week 8, he played out wide or in the slot on 36-percent of his snaps. It’s not just Jones either. Jamaal Williams also has 22 targets in the pass game this year, making the Packers increasingly hard to defend.
Jones also averages 14.3 carries per game on top of his receiving game usage, keeping his floor high for fantasy football. He performs well in a number of efficiency metrics. In particular, Jones’ +42.3 Production Premium ranks third among qualified running backs. Williams also comes in with a +39.6 (No. 4 among qualified running backs) Production Premium. The Packers also experimented with two running back sets on 17-percent of their plays last week, which ranked third in the NFL.
With each back seeing ample opportunity, both look start0worthy in fantasy leagues. In Week 9 in particular, the Packers face a Chargers run defense that allowed David Montgomery to record 135 rushing yards this past Sunday.
Miami Dolphins – Who is Mark Walton?
With the Dolphins trading Kenyan Drake prior to the trade deadline, Mark Walton stepped up to play 88-percent of Miami’s snaps on Monday night. On these snaps, Walton received 11 carries and six targets. While Miami remains a tough fantasy situation to stomach, this type of usage warrants consideration in fantasy football. For the sake of comparison, Kalen Ballage only played 17-percent of Miami’s snaps with three carries and one target.
While scoring opportunities remain limited, Walton has room to grow within Miami’s offense. Drake leaves behind a 51.3-percent (No. 28) Opportunity Share and 33 (No. 13) targets. Walton entered the NFL with an 8.9-percent (66th-percentile) College Target Share. He’s seen six targets in two of his last three games, elevating his floor for fantasy purposes. Walton and Drake have combined for only nine red zone touches though, and the Dolphins project to continue trailing throughout 2019.
Check out Mark Walton on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:
At the very least, Walton is a solid PPR flex in seasonal leagues. This week, Walton and the Dolphins face a New York Jets defense allowing the tenth most rushing yards per game (94.9). Making matters worse for the Jets, they just traded stud defensive lineman Leonard Williams, potentially giving Walton his top matchup of the year.
Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Eifert’s Resurgence to Relevance
After missing the better part of two seasons, Tyler Eifert returned to the Bengals at full health this year. Despite the clean bill of health, the Bengals largely limited Eifert throughout the first seven weeks of the season. In Week 8, he stepped up to play 72-percent of the Bengals’ snaps. On this playing time, he saw nine targets and led the position with 45 routes run. He managed six catches for 74 yards on these targets.
Looking at efficiency metrics, Eifert clearly deserves an uptick in playing time. His 14.9-percent Hog Rate ranks ninth among tight ends, and his 50-percent Contested Catch Rate ranks number one. Despite the limited snap rate, he holds a 16.3-percent red zone target share. Once dominant in this area of the field, the Bengals appear willing to turn back the clock and dial up his opportunities.
The Bengals are on bye this week, but Eifert remains a name to consider as a potential streamer at the tight end position going forward.