Another week has gone by. Incredibly, the NFL season is already through five weeks. Goes so fast, doesn’t it? Speaking of fast, it’s time once again to shine the light of truth on all 32 NFL offenses as we look at how many plays per minute each team is snapping off. Yes, dear readers, it’s time for the Pace of Play Report Week 5.
Going Through the Gears
The New York Jets continue to set the standard across the entire league at least with regard to this particular metric. The Jets have sat atop the pace of play ranks for the last four weeks. They have not been lower than No. 2 all season. I thought that the return of Zach Wilson to the starting lineup would see them hold off the reigns when it came to game speed. I was wrong.
The big movers this week are the Jacksonville Jaguars. They are up to No. 8 in the pace of play rankings with a 2.082 mark. The Jaguars were ranked No. 7 after Week 1, but took their foot off the gas in recent weeks. Notably, when they were winning is when they back off. The Jaguars have now dropped two straight games. If they continue to slide, they may remain quick-paced with their playcalling.
The Carolina Panthers are 1-4 and fired their head coach this past week. The Panthers are another team that has started to accelerate in recent weeks. They were No. 11 last week and now sit at No. 10 with a 2.052 pace of play mark. They may be running a lot of plays, but the woeful state of their offense has not translated into fantasy success for many of their players. The only exception is Christian McCaffrey.
Things don’t seem to be changing too much at the other end of the speed scale. The Pittsburgh Steelers remain at the bottom with a 1.707 pace of play mark. This is even after a game in which they were dismantled by the Buffalo Bills. The New England Patriots are down to No. 30 after a game in which they enjoyed a considerable game script advantage over the Detroit Lions.
If we look at the teams making up the bottom ten in the pace of play, one thing seems to stand out. The bulk of these teams have one consistently fantasy-relevant player. At most, these teams have two fantasy relevant players. The slow nature of their playcalling, often allied to less-than-stellar offensive talent or scheme, makes them teams that fantasy managers should seriously limit exposure to. No one is winning any fantasy titles if their roster is filled with Tenessee Titans pass catchers.
The Week Ahead
The stand-out game of the week from a pace point of view is in Philadelphia. The Eagles take on the Dallas Cowboys in a clash between the No. 9 and No. 13 fasted ranked teams. Both teams are pretty good on defense, with the Cowboys truly one of the league’s elite units. But this shouldn’t put fantasy managers off starting their stars on either side. Volume is the king, after all.
The Seattle Seahawks against the Arizona Cardinals is another game that should provide plenty of fantasy goodness on both sides. Both teams go quick on offense with the Cardinals trailing only the Jets in the pace of play standings. Plus both are…shall we say questionably gifted on defense? A beautifully bad shootout could be on the cards.
The Atlanta Falcons’ match against the San Francisco 49ers is not likely to live up to the same lofty expectations. Both teams are slow on offense and light on passing. They both have a pass-to-run ratio below 1.00 with only the Chicago Bears running at a higher rate across the NFL than the Falcons. You don’t want to be overweight with players from this one.
The rematch of Super Bowl XXXV is another game that shouldn’t overly interest fantasy managers. The New York Giants are No. 21 in the pace of play standings, while the Baltimore Ravens’ highest rank this season was No .16. The Giants are No. 30 with a pass-to-run mark of 0.91, while the Ravens are just a little more pass-happy at 1.19. You want Saquon Barkley, Lamar Jackson, and Mark Andrews from this one. You should probably ignore everyone else.
Have a good week.