Darrell Henderson: 4 Star Prospect with Explosive Potential

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

Darrell Henderson (5’8”, 208), Running Back, Memphis

19 Aggregate Score (4 Star Prospect)

At 5’8 Darrell Henderson may be considered small for a running back, but don’t let the size fool you. Henderson is very good and considered by most to be in the top 5 for RBs this year. He has the complete package when it comes to the CMC/Cohen “super hybrid” backs. What that means is he won’t necessarily bowl anyone over (similar to a downhill back), but that’s not his game anyway. Henderson can operate in space, between the tackles and has good hands, so that already spells success for him at the next level.

College Production

It’s very surprising that Henderson had the success he did given the skill of the backfield. Tony Pollard (fellow 2019 draft classmate) and Patrick Taylor Jr (2020 draft class) are both NFL caliber RBs and I expect to see both drafted to NFL rosters in the 19′ and 20′ classes.

Memphis backfield production:

Patrick Taylor Jr.: 208 carries and 17 receptions for 1319 yards from scrimmage (36th in the nation in rushing yards).

Tony Pollard: 78 carries and 39 receptions for 1010 yards from scrimmage.

Darrell Henderson: 214 carries and 19 receptions for a whopping 2204 yards from scrimmage which was good for 2nd in the nation in both yards from scrimmage and rushing yards.

Henderson definitely maximized his share of the offense almost mirroring Patrick Taylor in carries and receptions. He out-shined the talent in his own backfield in a major way without so much extra chances. This is what makes him stick out as a prospect and rise up my draft board. My knock against him is that in his productive seasons (so & jr) he only played 4 top 50 defenses against the run and 8 in the top 100. The rest of his games (13) were played against defenses that were ranked 100+.

Speed & Agility: Aggregate Score: 5 (Personal Score: 5)

The only running back who ended up with a score of five in our evaluations, Darrell Henderson is one of the fastest in this draft at the position. Giving him a sliver of run room will be a mistake and he will immediately be “gone with the wind”. His change of direction is the best in this class (yes over David Montgomery) and combining that with his speed will be dangerous.

Receiving: Aggregate Score: 3.3 (Personal Score: 3)

I don’t think his receiving chops are bad, but when you factor in how many receptions Pollard and Taylor had (53) vs his own (19), you can see how little room he had to showcase this. I still believe he can be just fine as a pass catcher in the NFL, I just gave him this score based on his lack of chance there. It may just have been that Pollard (RB/WR sleeper) was the more efficient pass catcher given that he had 40% of the receptions.

Vision: Aggregate Score: 4.6 (Personal Score: 5)

Only surpassed by David Montgomery in this metric (by 0.4 points), Darrell Henderson has vision that A LOT of these RBs in this class don’t have. Combining that with his ability to shift and burst out of the backfield , it makes him a tantalizing prospect and one worthy of being ranked in the top 3 at the position. Here’s an example of that combo that he utilizes so well:

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 2 (Personal Score: 2)

There nothing special to see here. He’s not terrible and he’s not amazing, he does his job and won’t put his playing time in jeopardy. He could use some work, but I think this skill will be elevated sooner rather than later in preparation for the draft and again once he gets drafted.

Strength: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)

He has good strength for a running back but, again, it’s not his calling card. What is specifically special about his strength comes in the area of his ball carrying. He keeps a great “5 points of contact” which is considered the best way to become almost impervious to fumbles. It worked well for him and I think that’s where his strength really matters, keeping that ball to his body.

Conclusion: 1st Round

It’s obviously based on roster construction but I don’t believe he should fall outside of the first round in rookie drafts. He’s one of the best backs in this class and I firmly believe he will stay that way unless he gets drafted behind Todd Gurley or someone of that nature.

Fantasy Football Impact of the Offensive Line: Baltimore Ravens

Image result for football offensive line image

Round 3 of our Offensive Line brings us to the first focus for an east coast team: the Baltimore Ravens.

For a look at the Arizona Cardinals or the Oakland Raiders, simply click on the links.

Baltimore Ravens

One of the more intriguing teams for the approaching 2019 season is the Baltimore Ravens. Officially Joe Flacco-less, officially Mark Ingram-full. We saw Lamar Jackson be a top 10 fantasy QB from weeks 11-16. We saw Alex Collins and Gus Edwards become decent fantasy options on a weekly basis. What we didn’t see was a fantasy relevant wide receiver; the best receiver on the Ravens was John Brown with 715 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The Ravens offensive line remained mostly healthy throughout the 2018 campaign with only Alex Lewis missing any remarkable time with 3 games. They allowed 32 sacks which is an average amount. They also committed an average number of penalties.

What they didn’t do was excel.

2018 End-of-Season Starters and Their 2019 Status

Position 2018 Starter 2019 Starter Notes
Left Tackle Ronnie Stanley Ronnie Stanley One of the best LTs in 2018. Mostly healthy and consistent.
Left Guard Alex Lewis Alex Lewis Missed some games due to a neck injury. Was otherwise pretty bad.
Center Matt Skura Matt Skura A perennial practice squad player who lucked into the role. Likely to be replaced.
Right Guard Marshal Yanda Marshal Yanda One of the best RGs in the league in 2018. Returns after a largely healthy year.
Right Tackle James Hurst Orlando Brown Hurst and Brown swapped depth chart positions during the 2018 season. Currently is Brown’s role.
Tight End Nick Boyle Nick Boyle Was signed as a free agent in 2019. Boyle is effective at pass and run blocking but lives in a 4 headed monster Tight End position in Baltimore.

Current O-Line Ranking

Name Position NFL Ranking (in Position)
Ronnie Stanley Left Tackle 9
Alex Lewis Left Guard 27
Matt Skura Center 20
Marshal Yanda Right Guard 4
Orlando Brown Right Tackle 18
Nick Boyle Tight End 9
Overall Team O-Line 14
*Rankings based on ProFootballFocus.com scoring

Free Agency: Move Along, Nothing to See Here

The Baltimore Ravens made a huge wave with their signing of Mark Ingram, but have made no changes to their offensive line through free agency. Nick Boyle was signed as a Free Agent but he was already on the team in 2018.

It’s conceivable that they wanted to make more free agency moves but were strapped by the amount of cap space that they have available in addition to a number of expiring contracts in 2020. They may be considering extending some of those and will need the money available to make those moves.

NFL Draft Thoughts

The Ravens currently have 8 picks at their disposal. They will have to use them carefully because they have 7 positions of need. On the O-Line, they have a need at Left Guard and at Center. Both Alex Lewis’ and Matt Skura’s contracts expire after the season ends. Based on their performance, I do not anticipate either of them being resigned unless it is a depth move. Replacements need to be found through the draft regardless of those decisions because of their performance.

We must consider what is a greater position of need. Unfortunately for the purposes of this article, I believe the Ravens will place Wide Receiver above the inside positions of the Offensive Line. They have Willie Snead (whose contract is also expiring at the end of the season) and then there are a bunch of names that I have never seen on a fantasy football roster. Multiple mock drafts have the Ravens selecting Parris Campbell from Ohio State. If they do, he will immediately move up my preseason draft board rankings.

Their first round pick is now behind us. The Ravens do not have a second round pick. They traded it to Philadelphia as part of a package deal to get Philly’s Round One pick in 2018 which the Ravens used to draft Lamar Jackson. Now we are in the third round. Do the Ravens have a need greater than Guard and Center? Let’s assume that they do not.

The likely targets for either of the Ravens 2 third round picks are:

  • Greg Little – Tackle – Mississippi
  • Mitch Hyatt – Tackle – Clemson
  • Tyler Roemer – Tackle – San Diego State
  • Lamont Gaillard – Center – Georgia
  • Michael Jordan – Guard (but can move to Center) – Ohio State

Look for those names to be called on day 2 of the NFL Draft. If they are drafted by the Ravens, they are instantly in the conversation of starting in week 1.

One name that might still be on the board in Round 3 or 4 is Connor McGovern out of Penn State. He is another one who, like Michael Jordan, is capable of playing Center or Guard. He was an essential piece to Saquon Barkley’s amazing 2017 season at Penn State. Considering the lack of receiving talent on the Ravens roster in addition to the signing of Mark Ingram AND the proclivity of Lamar Jackson running the ball, McGovern would be a perfect fit. If the Ravens draft McGovern AND if he lands the starting role, I will move Mark Ingram higher in my preseason rankings.

2019 Thoughts

The Baltimore Ravens are on the knife’s edge. A couple of right moves and they could find themselves the AFC North champions. The Bengals are rebuilding and the Steelers are on a downward trend. The Browns appear to be a juggarnaut this year, but they have turned disappointment into a habit. A couple of missed opportunities and the Ravens will quickly start moving pieces before the trade deadline in preparation for the 2020 season.

The Ravens have a Vegas over/under of 9 wins in their 2019 campaign. They will not be able to live up to that goal without some help on the offensive line. Look for the Ravens to strike late on day 2 or early on day 3 of the NFL Draft.

Conclusion

Let’s assume that the Ravens make the right choices. They know their way to the division championship and they found it with an arguably mediocre team in 2018. If the Ravens are able to utilize their defense as it should be used, they will be able to turn their focus to the run game.

Mark Ingram will have a good fantasy year. It will be even better if the Ravens make the right decisions for their offensive line.

Lamar Jackson will continue his life of fantasy relevance. It will be even more consistent with improvements to the offensive line.

The Ravens WILL draft a wide receiver on day 1 in April. Hot take: that rookie will lead the team in receiving.

They have the means to make a fantasy owner happy. A couple of steps towards improving their offensive line will turn that good year into a GREAT one. We will be watching the draft very closely. We cannot make any further assessments until then.

Fantasy Football Impact of the Offensive Line: Oakland Raiders

Image result for football offensive line image

Round 2 of our Offensive Line focus brings us to Oakland and a review of the Raiders along with their hope for the 2019 season.

For a look at Round 1 and the Arizona Cardinals, please click here!

Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders were a fantasy wasteland in 2018. Derek Carr was the 18th QB after week 16 scoring a dismal 14.3 points per game according to FantasyPros.com.

The Running Backs were dreadful. Marshawn Lynch only played in 6 games averaging 10.7 0.5 PPR points per game. After the Raiders’ bye in week 7, Doug Martin took over the lead back role and continued the mediocrity. He averaged 9.3 points per game.

Finally, the Wide Receivers felt the pain of having an under-performing Quarterback. Amari Cooper was a disappointment until he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys during the Raiders bye week. That left Jordy Nelson, Dwayne Harris, and Seth Roberts to carry the load. None of them were up to the task.

A large chunk of the failures can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Jon Gruden. Whether the misery was part of his master plan or a spotlight on how out of touch he was with the NFL in 2018, the team failed, in part, because of him.  A second part of the offensive failures could also be placed with Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson, who has not had a successful campaign with any team in over a decade.

Regardless of coaching, the team would not have had a successful offense due to the poor play of their offensive line. Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker combined for the most penalties by Tackles in the NFL. The line as a whole allowed Derek Carr to be sacked 51 times. That is not a typo. FIFTY ONE.

2018 End-of-Season Starters and Their 2019 Status

Position 2018 Starter 2019 Starter Notes
Left Tackle Kolton Miller Trent Brown After a SB win with the Patriots in 2018, Brown moves to the Raiders and is currently the highest paid Lineman in the NFL.
Left Guard Kelechi Osemele Kolton Miller Osemele moves to the Jets. Miller was terribly ineffective at LT. Moves to LG. Committed many penalties in 2018.
Center Rodney Hudson Rodney Hudson One of the best Centers in the league in 2018.
Right Guard Gabe Jackson Gabe Jackson One of the best Right Guards in the league in 2018.
Right Tackle Brandon Parker Brandon Parker Tied for 10th in the NFL for penalties. Half of his were false starts.
Tight End Jared Cook Lee Smith Cook went to the Saints. Current depth chart lists Smith #1. Uncertain if that remains after the draft.

Current O-Line Ranking

Name Position NFL Ranking (in Position)
Trent Brown Left Tackle 21
Kolton Miller Left Guard 30
Rodney Hudson Center 3
Gabe Jackson Right Guard 8
Brandon Parker Right Tackle 30
Lee Smith Tight End 3
Overall Team O-Line 19
*Rankings based on ProFootballFocus.com scoring

Free Agency: One down, one to go

As mentioned above, the Tackle position for the Oakland Raiders was the weakest in the NFL in 2018. The Raiders made strides in the right direction. On March 13, the Raiders signed unrestricted free agent Trent Brown to the biggest contract for an NFL lineman. Trent Brown spent the 2018 season with the Super Bowl winning New England Patriots. He is a consistently healthy player that adds strength to the tackle. This will allow Kolton Miller to move to the Left Guard position. That loud noise you just heard was a sigh of relief from Derek Carr. When Miller wasn’t committing penalties, he was opening doors for the opposing defense. Removing him from the outside left is a smart move.

This was a necessary move to give Derek Carr time to throw the ball to his newest targets. It will also improve the possibilities for whomever starts at Running Back in 2019.

NFL Draft Thoughts

With consistency, strength, and leadership at the Left Tackle, Center, and Right Guard positions, the Raiders need to take a long hard look at their sophomore O-Line players (Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker). Their rookie seasons were awful. The Raiders spent some impressive draft capital on those two players in 2018. Kolton Miller was their first round pick (1.15) while Brandon Parker was the first pick in the 3rd round! They will not simply forget the talent that convinced the Raiders’ main office to commit those early picks.

The truth is that the coaching staff is going to have to spend time developing the skills of those 2nd year players. While it is true that the Raiders have 11 picks including 3 first round picks, it is also true that they have severe needs at many defensive positions and at running back.

One position of need which will have an impact on the offensive line is the Tight End. Lee Smith is great at pass and rush protection but in 8 full seasons in the NFL he has surpassed 10 targets in a season only 3 times. None were higher than 13 targets. The Raiders need an offensive presence at the Tight End position.

Look no further than Noah Fant. Chad Reuter of NFL.com has Noah Fant going to the Raiders at pick 27 (Oakland’s 3rd pick of the first round). That same mock has T.J. Hockenson going to the Packers earlier in the draft. I did not see the Packers taking a Tight End there because they have more dire needs at other positions. However, some fellow writers at TheFFAnalysts.com agreed with the mock draft. “A lot of people see it as a possibility,” remarks @jplumm94. “I could see Hockenson at 12,” agreed @theFF_taters. With Hockenson off the board, the Raiders hand will be forced.

Author’s note: Since the writing of this article, the Raiders have signed Luke Willson. This has to be a depth move. Willson is another Tight End that has never had fantasy relevance. He is quite good at run and pass blocking, though.

The Tight End position will likely be taken care of early in the draft. Between that, the draft capital of the 2018 rookie offensive lineman, and the other team needs in 2019 it is quite conceivable that the Raiders will stand pat at the offensive line. At most, they may use a late round pick to add some depth.

2019 Thoughts

Here is what we know about the Raiders:

  • They’ve added some impressive receivers in Free Agency
  • They’ve added a strong player to their offensive line
  • The rookies from 2018 on the o-line were college standouts
  • Derek Carr has shown that he is able to succeed

Recently, the Raiders signed Isaiah Crowell. After this signing, it is becoming clear that the improvements at offensive line do not appear to be completed to improve the run game. Crowell’s one year deal is an indicator that they are holding out until the 2020 draft class to fill the RB need.

Instead, they will be focusing on Derek Carr and the passing game. They’ll need it. The Oakland defense gave up the most points to opposing offenses in 2018. There haven’t been any slam dunk free agency signings and their defensive issues will not be solved immediately through the draft. While the defense is in the midst of a rebuild, the offense will be playing catch up.

Conclusion

Vegas odds has the Raiders winning 5 games in 2019. With the added firepower at receiver and the strengthening of the offensive line, the Raiders will be in more close games and could squeak out some additional wins through their passing game alone. The losses will likely include some garbage time points.

What does this mean for fantasy? Derek Carr’s 2018 stats means he will not be drafted in most formats. However, I could see a likelihood that he will be a waiver wire target at times in 2019. He’s going to have production. He has talent and now he has a couple of high end targets in Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams. Throw in the possibility of a new Tight End and Derek Carr has the potential to return to his Top 10 Fantasy QB stats.

Speaking of those receivers, they will both be owned in most formats. Antonio Brown is currently the 7th Wide Receiver off the board at the 2.06 according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Tyrell Williams is going at the incredible fantasy value of the 14th round. Both should have very good fantasy years considering the pass protection of the offensive line and Derek Carr’s ability. If the pieces remain healthy, then Antonio Brown could remain a top 5 WR and Tyrell Williams could be a solid WR2 in fantasy.

Don’t sleep on the Oakland Raiders. But, don’t overspend on them, either. We will certainly know more after the draft.

N’Keal Harry: Possible WR1 of the NFL Draft?

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

N’Keal Harry (6’2”, 228lbs) Wide Receiver, Arizona State

18 Aggregate Score (4-Star Prospect)

We have been pumping out article after article about the wide receivers in this draft class. It is a deep class that has a lot of people divided on who the best of the bunch is. N’Keal Harry is absolutely under consideration. A 4-star recruit out of Chandler High School in Arizona, Harry chose to remain home despite recruiting efforts from numerous big name schools. He committed to Arizona State in November of 2015.

In 3 years at Arizona State, Harry accumulated 2,889 yards on 213 catches. He scored 22 touchdowns and had an average YPC of 13.6. Along with the production, Harry made numerous highlight reel catches that put him on the radar of many NFL scouts. It’s not hard to see why the NFL is enamored with the Sun Devil WR.

Speed/Acceleration: Aggregate Score: 3.3 (Personal Score: 3)

Before I begin to break down my thoughts on Harry, I feel the need to explain my scores. This is the first year of The 48 Report and since it’s in its infancy, the scoring isn’t necessarily refined just yet. While it is a great system for starters, I felt as if my scores may have not reflected how I truly feel about Harry because I LOVE N’Keal Harry’s game. I’ll say that Harry isn’t a burner but has solid speed. A 4.57 40 yard dash at the combine proves as much. His game speed is good and he will not be docked for this at all.

Route Running: Aggregate Score: 3.3 (Personal Score: 3)

Harry is a precise route runner. He sets up defenders to make them look foolish. He also ran quite a few screens at Arizona State, which showed their propensity to get the ball into his hands. While he could always use some polish coming out of college, Harry seems to be pretty refined in this area of his game.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 1)

I understand that I am a bit tougher in terms of scoring when it comes to blocking but Harry disappointed in this area. For a bigger guy who has a lot of strength (27 reps on the bench press at the combine), he isn’t as physical/aggressive as I would like him to be. He also was late at times getting to his blocks. He just did not impress me when it came to blocking for his teammates.

Handwork/Positioning: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 3)

Harry has very solid hands and can swat defenders away with ease. He should have no problem beating press coverage in the NFL. The only thing I wish Arizona State did more of was throwing some jump balls his way. He is incredible when making contested catches and if he lands with a QB who trusts his receivers with 50/50 balls then Harry will be a problem in the NFL.

Athleticism: Aggregate Score: 4.3 (Personal Score: 4)

Harry is an athletic freak and his combine/pro day proved that. Hell his career at Arizona State proved as much. His vertical is impressive, his hands are top notch and he can get up to speed pretty well for his size. He is a physical specimen who deserves all the love he is getting heading into the draft.

Conclusion: Top 5 Fantasy Football pick

If you have the 1.01, you’re going to be considering N’Keal Harry. There is a lot of buzz around him right now and if I had to guess, he’s likely to go somewhere in the late first round. Our guys have been projecting him to the Colts with the 26th overall pick. If he lands in an ideal spot then Harry will be under serious consideration for the 1.01 in rookie drafts.

Extreme Running Back Fantasy Point Variances

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  That’s quite the contrast from daily fantasy where every option on a slate is put under a microscope and one mistake can make or break your week. 

NFL players have their own tendencies where they perform better in various scenarios whether it be as a favorite or underdog, playing at home or in hostile territory, or when their respective team wins or loses a game.  We’re going to explore which players at each position performed at their best or worst in various situations from last season to try and help us discover ideal roster opportunities in daily lineups.  Note that these figures can vary from year to year when someone who performed better indoors the year before now suddenly performed better outside the following year.  Viewed in another light, these figures can be interpreted as an extension of consistency rankings.  

This piece isn’t just exclusive to DFS and has a place in non-DFS leagues where an available free agent may be in a better spot to perform than a rostered option that should be on the bench for a specific week.  This will be part two of a three-part series that continues with the running back position and only evaluates those that played a minimum of 12 games. 

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP WIN

James White: 10.43: Dion Lewis heading to Tennessee and Rex Burkhead being injured for most of the season set James White for a career-high 87 receptions in 2018.  Considering his usage out of the backfield and the Patriots unusually lost five regular season games, you’d think this variance would be the inverse.  However, White averaged 5.9 receptions in wins vs 4.4 of them in losses.  

Marlon Mack: 9.25: When the Colts were victorious last season, Marlon Mack played an important role in those games.  He was rarely used out of the backfield which translated into horrible fantasy performances in games the Colts lost as Mack’s 10 carries and 0 touchdowns per game would indicate.  In games the Colts won, he saw 17.5 carries and averaged 1 touchdown per contest.

Philip Lindsay: 8.41: The undrafted rookie out of the University of Colorado turned heads when he averaged 6.14 yards per carry in the first two weeks against Seattle and Oakland.  Lindsay definitely turned heads in Bronco victories as he posted 102.33 rushing yards and 1.16 touchdowns compared to just 47 rushing yards and .22 touchdowns in Bronco losses

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP LOSS

Tarik Cohen: 8.63: Matt Nagy utilized his talented pass catching back more than Dowell Loggains did in the Bears mundane offense in 2017.  Tarik Cohen had some solid games in those that the Bears won but he was much more impactful in ones that the Bears lost.  He saw more than double the receptions in Bears defeats at 7.5 per game compared to 3.42 of them in Bear victories.

Christian McCaffery: 7.81 (Excluding Week 17): It’s hard to believe that Carolina was 6-2 at one point before a tumultuous seven-game losing streak ruined the season.  At 30.79 FPPG in PPR scoring during that tailspin, Christian McCaffery was the #1 overall fantasy performer with 215.5 fantasy points, 27.9 points more than Ezekiel Elliott who was #2 in that seven-week span. 

Alvin Kamara: 6.54: Alvin Kamara didn’t suit up in Week 17 so he was only part of two of the three games the Saints lost in the regular season.  A large part of this variance is from Kamara’s season-best 43.1 fantasy point performance of 2018 in a Week 1 loss to the Buccaneers.  It will be interesting to see how he is utilized now that Mark Ingram has departed via free agency and replaced with Latavius Murray.

SMALLEST WIN/LOSS VARIANCE

Saquon Barkley: -.4: The rookie out of Penn State was a high floor, high ceiling option that was as reliable in five Giant wins as he was in 11 Giant defeats.  He surpassed double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring in all but one game last year and exceeded 20 fantasy points a remarkable 12 times.  He is a true gamescript-independent back with a bright future at the pro level.  

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN HOME GAMES

Austin Ekeler: 8.46: Ekeler was nonexistent in games away from the StubHub Center.  In front of the home crowd, Ken Whisenhunt made sure to incorporate his pass catching back in the game plan.  69.2% of Ekeler’s receptions, 80.2% of his receiving yards, and 83% of his total touchdowns all occurred in home games last season.

Sony Michel: 7.35: The Patriots went undefeated at Gillette Stadium in 2018 which translated into an abundance of positive gamescript for Michel to operate.  He saw 19.5 carries for .83 touchdowns in home games compared to 13.29 carries for .14 touchdowns in hostile territory.

James White: 5.95: Gillette Stadium was where White excelled as he had a solid floor of 13.4 fantasy points along with eight of his 12 total touchdowns in 2018 occurring in Foxboro.  Those that rostered him in the divisional round weren’t the least bit surprised when he posted 15 catches against a Chargers defense susceptible to running backs out of the backfield.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN AWAY GAMES

Dion Lewis: 5.34: While Derrick Henry’s splits favored him playing at Nissan Stadium, the contrary applied to Dion Lewis who was more productive in enemy territory.  64.6% of his scrimmage yards along with all of his touchdowns took place outside of Nashville.  He certainly cashed in on his career year in New England in 2017 as he only hit double-digit fantasy points six times with the Titans after doing so eight times the year before.

Peyton Barber: 5.21: The Buccaneers rushing offense wasn’t anything to brag about in 2018 as Buccaneer running backs averaged 3.9 yards per carry, tied for the second-fewest with the Eagles.  Barber averaged 43.25 yards on the ground at Raymond James Stadium but was more useful in road games with 65.63 yards per game and four of his six touchdowns occurring in enemy territory.

Kenyan Drake: 4.33: Drake’s home/road rushing attempts and yards were all but identical but he was more involved out of the backfield in road games as the Dolphins went 1-7 away from Hard Rock Stadium.  Not to mention 67% of his touchdowns came in road affairs, a trend that carried over from 2017 as 75% of his touchdowns were road ones.

SMALLEST HOME/ROAD VARIANCE

Melvin Gordon: -.22: After nearly registering a double-digit variance that favored rostering him in road games, Gordon was the most consistent running back in this metric.  An MCL sprain in Week 12 put a damper on what was an incredible season for the fourth-year running back out of the University of Wisconsin.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS A FAVORITE

Joe Mixon: 11.58: 24.12 FPPG in PPR scoring as a favorite vs 12.54 FPPG as an underdog, no one saw a greater variance in this category than Joe Mixon as his Bengals went 4-1 in games they were favored.  He made his presence felt in those games as he converted 23 touches per game as a favorite into 1.4 touchdowns vs 18.33 touches per game as an underdog into .22 touchdowns.

Marlon Mack: 9.26: As indicated above, there was a strong positive correlation in Marlon Mack’s performance when the Colts won and that correlation is just as strong in games the Colts are favored.  9 of his 10 touchdowns took place with the Colts listed as a favorite along with a +6.67 touch differential for Mack in those games.  

Mark Ingram: 8.7: With the emergence of Alvin Kamara, 2018 was a disappointing season for Mark Ingram who went from 18 touches per game in 2017 to 13.25 touches last year.  Those who rostered him in matchups the Saints were underdogs were burned to the tune of a minuscule 4.9 FPPG when in that role compared to 13.6 FPPG when the Saints were favorites.  He’s bound for a rebound season in a Baltimore offense that should be rush-heavy with Lamar Jackson under center.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS AN UNDERDOG

Ezekiel Elliott: 9.73: Zeke possessed the highest variance as a favorite in 2017 with a +15.8 FPPG differential in games the Cowboys were favored.  He was on the opposite side of the spectrum last season as he posted the highest differential in games the Cowboys were getting points from their opponent.  Zeke averaged 131.75 scrimmage yards per game as an underdog with seven of nine touchdowns in that role.

Kenyan Drake: 6.95: In four games that the Dolphins were favorites, Kenyan Drake saw 7.75 touches for 35.75 scrimmage yards and .25 TDs.  He was much more productive when the Dolphins were underdogs as his 11.83 touches for 72.41 scrimmage yards and .66 TDs indicates.

Jordan Howard: 5.98: His yards per carry dropped from 4.06 in 2017 to 3.74 in 2018 and now finds himself as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Not known for his work out of the backfield, he was more efficient in games that Chicago was an underdog with a floor of 11.3 FPPG in PPR scoring.

SMALLEST FAVORITE/UNDERDOG VARIANCE

Christian McCaffery: +.03 (Excluding Week 17): For those running backs that don’t see work out of the backfield, glancing over weekly spreads can be an indicative measure on what to expect from a certain player.  When your running back leads the league in receptions and targets, Christian McCaffery’s has a role whether the Panthers are leading or trailing.  Only he and Zeke had a floor of double-digit fantasy points last season after McCaffery had the highest floor among qualified running backs in 2017.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE TOP HALF IN RUSH DVOA

Ezekiel Elliott: 5.35: Against top 10 defensive rush DVOA opponents in Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, Ezekiel Elliott plowed his way for a league-best 105.42 rushing yards per game against top-ranked rushing defenses.  Having one of the better offensive lines in the league was a big contributor as well as slaughtering the Eagles to the tune of 132 yards per matchup on the ground.  That line returns intact with the hopes of getting Travis Frederick back from Guillain-Barré syndrome, something that can only help Zeke heading into 2019.

Kenyan Drake: 3.89: Consistency wasn’t Drake’s cup of tea last season as observed above by posting the second-highest variance in games the Dolphins were underdogs and having seven games where he didn’t reach double-digit fantasy points.  However, this variance is a compliment as he posted two of his three best performances against a Texans defense ranked 1st overall in rushing DVOA and a Colts defense ranked 4th.  The hope heading into 2019 is Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea utilizing him more than his 10.81 touches per game with Adam Gase in 2018.

Marlon Mack: 3.03: Used to seeing Mack’s name in this article yet?  He’s back for a third mention as his +3.03 FPPG differential against the better half in defensive rush DVOA last season was the third highest among qualified backs.  With the exception of two matchups against Jacksonville, Mack fared well against defenses that shut down the run, his primary means of producing on the field and in fantasy lineups.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE BOTTOM HALF IN RUSH DVOA 

Nick Chubb: 12.83: Stout rushing defenses were able to contain the rookie out of Georgia last season.  Inferior rushing defenses were subject to a thrashing as Nick Chubb scored all 10 of his touchdowns against defenses ranked in the bottom half in rush DVOA, something to keep in mind next season as eight matchups are against teams in the bottom half of this metric.  The eight doesn’t include two matchups against a Baltimore defense that suffered heavy losses in free agency.

Tarik Cohen: 8.04: He isn’t the primary rushing option in the Bears offense which means he needs to thrive in the passing game.  In six games against top-rated rushing defenses, they contained Cohen to 20 receiving yards and .17 receiving touchdowns per game out of the backfield.  Against the 10 other opponents ranked in the bottom half of defensive rush DVOA, Cohen tripled his receiving yard output and averaged .4 receiving touchdowns in those games.

James Conner: 7.79: Like Nick Chubb, James Conner pummeled those that were unable to shut down running backs.  With a +6.93 FPPG differential in games the Steelers were victorious and a +8.05 differential in games the Steelers covered the spread, it’s no surprise Conner was less impactful in games that featured defenses in the top half in rush DVOA as the Steelers went 2-3 against such opponents with Conner active (2-4 overall) vs 6-1-1 against the bottom half (7-2-1 overall)

SMALLEST RUSH DVOA VARIANCE

Todd Gurley: -.09: Not that you would have considered benching Gurley at any point but there’s a comfort in knowing you’re going to get a consistent level of fantasy production regardless of the opponent.  That’s what Gurley gave his fantasy owners last season with an average of 26.6 FPPG against defenses in both the top and bottom half in rush DVOA.  Now we await further clarification on whether arthritis in Gurley’s surgically repaired left knee will impact him moving forward.

WHO WERE THE MOST CONSISTENT RUNNING BACKS OF 2018?

Naturally, there is more of a positive correlation in running back production in games their respective teams win.  Those that see backfield involvement may see correlations that are stronger in losses, more specifically in PPR leagues than standard ones.  Thus, for determining who was most consistent, three of the other four metrics covered in this article will be used.  However, knowing how your running back is utilized in positive and negative gamescript is critical as you’re not going to roster one that sees no targets in games that you expect a certain team to lose and/or play catchup.

Two running backs stood out above their counterparts in 2018.  Todd Gurley may have burned some unlucky owners in the finals but he was certainly a key component in helping your fantasy team advance to that point.  He was also an automatic roster in the DFS landscape last season regardless of salaries creeping as high as 10K on DraftKings and 11K on FanDuel.  Undoubtedly, Gurley was the most consistent fantasy running back in 2018 as he didn’t possess a variance over one fantasy point in either of the evaluated home/road, favorite/underdog, or top/bottom rush DVOA metrics.  He is an important cog in Sean McVay’s high-octane offense that has the coaching staff and fans praying for a clean bill of health heading into 2019.

Seattle entered 2018 with a crowded backfield that eventually saw Chris Carson emerge as the #1 option.  He will enter training camp as that option but we’ll see how Pete Carroll better utilizes former 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny now that Mike Davis resides in Chicago.  Carson was important in Seattle’s push for a wild card as he had a floor of 13.3 fantasy points in Seattle’s final seven games in which they went 6-1.   In the three metrics being evaluated, Carson had a differential lower than 2.2 fantasy points in each.

Extreme Quarterback Fantasy Point Variances

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  That’s quite the contrast from daily fantasy where every option on a slate is put under a microscope and one mistake can make or break your week. 

NFL players have their own tendencies where they perform better in various scenarios whether it be as a favorite or underdog, playing at home or in hostile territory, or when their respective team wins or loses a game.  We’re going to explore which players at each position performed at their best or worst in various situations from last season to try and help us discover ideal roster opportunities in daily lineups.  Note that these figures can vary from year to year when someone who performed better indoors the year before now suddenly performed better outside the following year.  Viewed in another light, these variances can be interpreted as an extension of consistency rankings.  

This piece isn’t just exclusive to DFS and has a place in non-DFS leagues where an available free agent may be in a better spot to perform than a rostered option that should be on the bench for a specific week.  This will be part one of a three-part series starting with the quarterback position and only evaluates those that played a minimum of 12 games. 

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP WIN

Josh Allen: 11.29: A key to success for the rookie quarterback was the Bills going 5-1 in games he rushed for at least one touchdown.  Defenses that were able to keep him in the pocket were able to shut Josh Allen down as he only averaged 13.8 FPPG in seven Buffalo losses last year.  He’ll need to become a much more effective passer in conjunction with his ability to utilize his legs which should level out this extreme variance.

Dak Prescott: 8.52: Dak had a +4.64 differential in games the Cowboys won in 2017 and that differential increased in 2018.  As Dak goes, so does Dallas as combining passing and rushing touchdowns, he averaged 2.2 touchdowns and .2 interceptions in 10 wins vs 1 touchdown and 1 interception in six losses.

Aaron Rodgers: 6.64 (Excluding Week 17): Certainly a positive regression candidate for 2019, it wasn’t the Aaron Rodgers we’re accustomed to seeing last season as he threw just 25 passing touchdowns, the fewest in a season in which he played 15 games.  Once guaranteed wins for the Packers, the Bears and Vikings are much improved defensively as the team went 0-3-1 with Rodgers averaging 1.25 touchdowns in that span.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP LOSS

Mitchell Trubisky: 7.4: Matt Nagy’s impact on Trubisky cannot be understated as the Bears offense in 2017 was simply inept under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.  The 2nd year quarterback averaged 273 passing yards and 1.66 passing touchdowns in Bears losses this season compared to a horrid 187 passing yards and .62 passing touchdowns in losses in his rookie campaign.  

DeShaun Watson: 3.22: Considering he set the world on fire before tearing his ACL in 2017, regression was bound to hit as he threw for more than two touchdown passes just once last year.  He had five 300 passing yard games, three of them in losses.  Also in games that the Texans lost, Watson averaged 6.48 FPPG with his legs vs 4.79 FPPG in Texan wins.

Patrick Mahomes: 2.79: It’s extremely rare to see an offense score 40 points and 50 points on separate occasions and lose both of those games.  Regardless of the splits, Mahomes undoubtedly will be the first quarterback off the board in every draft come August.

SMALLEST WIN/LOSS VARIANCE

Philip Rivers: +.18: Aside from a rough December, the 15-year veteran was as consistent as he could be last season as he threw for at least two touchdowns in all but three games.  His .18 FPPG win/loss differential was a vast improvement upon the +5.58 FPPG differential he saw in Charger victories last season.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN HOME GAMES

Jared Goff: 10.71: Goff averaged 2.75 passing touchdowns at home vs 1.25 of them away from the LA Memorial Coliseum.  Having played both high school and college ball in beautiful California weather, he fared horribly in two games under 30 degrees last season, averaging a minuscule 6.07 FPPG in those contests.  Keep in mind the Rams take trips to Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland in 2019, venues that can get cold in December if they are required to travel east late next season.

Mitchell Trubisky: 10.64: Trubisky eclipsed 300 passing yards four times in 2018 with three of those occurrences at Soldier Field.  Not to mention throwing for 2.37 passing touchdowns in front of the Chicago faithful vs .83 of them in hostile territory.

Sam Darnold: 9.91: If Sam Darnold played the entire season at MetLife Stadium, he would have measured out as the QB6 in 2018.  To level out this variance, Darnold will need to become more efficient in road games as he threw for 200+ passing yards just once to go along with his .71 passing touchdowns and 1.5 turnovers in hostile territory.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN AWAY GAMES

Patrick Mahomes: 8.36: The Chiefs were a solid defensive unit at the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, allowing just 17.97 points per game.  Removed from there, their atrocious defense that surrendered 34.63 points per game put them in shootouts that assisted the 2018 MVP in generating some of the production that he did in three road losses.

Eli Manning: 6.1: The addition of Saquon Barkley and having ODB for most of 2018 helped Eli put together a better campaign then the dud from 2017.  However, it was the tale of two quarterbacks as road Eli outshined home Eli last season.  Away from MetLife Stadium, Manning threw twice as many touchdowns and committed half as many turnovers compared to playing at home. 

Kirk Cousins: 3.2: Minnesota invested $84 million in guarantees in Kirk Cousins and didn’t get their money’s worth in the first year of the three-year deal.  Other than the two road games against the Packers and Rams, his two best performances of 2018 and the main contributor of this home/road split, it was a less than stellar campaign that was encapsulated by a week 17 loss that knocked the Vikings out of playoff contention.

SMALLEST HOME/ROAD VARIANCE

Ben Roethlisberger: -.06: Big Ben’s spot in this category is shocking considering his splits over the last few years heavily favored him playing at Heinz Field.  He quietly had a great 2018 as the QB3 with his 22.44 FPPG in an offense with James Conner as the starting running back in place of a disgruntled Le’Veon Bell.  The question now becomes how the offense performs without Antonio Brown lining up as a Steeler.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS OVER .500

Marcus Mariota: 9.84: Truth be told, Mariota has been mediocre at best since coming into the league in 2015.  However, he fared much better against teams that made the playoffs last season as he only surpassed double-digit fantasy points against those under .500 just once in seven opportunities.

DeShaun Watson: 6.5: While the Texans went just 3-4 against opponents with a winning record, the second-year quarterback rose to the occasion in those matchups as he posted 25 fantasy point performances in four of those seven games.  

Jared Goff: 5.85: Aside from being stymied by a tenacious Chicago defense in Week 14, Goff three for over 300 yards against every other opponent that was over .500.  This was a substantial improvement from 2017 as he only did so in two of seven opportunities and continues to show why he was the #1 overall selection in the 2016 draft.

LARGEST DIFFERENT AGAINST TEAMS AT .500 OR BELOW

Josh Allen: 11.2: No one feasted on inferior opponents better than Allen as they had no answer for him scrambling out of the pocket.  Line him up against better competition and they not only kept him in the pocket but prevented him from scoring more than 15 fantasy points just once against an opponent over .500

Aaron Rodgers: 6.34 (Excluding Week 17): Mentioned above as having one of the higher variances in straight-up victories, Rodgers was more successful against weaker opponents, going 5-3 against those under .500.  We’re not used to seeing him struggle against stiffer competition as the Packers went 1-5-1 against those with winning records.

Matt Ryan 6.22: Like the Packers, the Falcons also struggled against opponents over .500 as they went 0-6 against those teams.  Unless it was against the Saints, Matt Ryan was rendered useless against winning competition.  Against those under .500, Matt Ryan eclipsed 20 fantasy points in 9 of 10 opportunities, a big contributor to his QB2 performance of 2018.

SMALLEST WINNING/LOSING RECORD VARIANCE

Case Keenum: -.28: If Case Keenum was consistent in one particular category, it was being awful as his 14.49 FPPG last season would indicate.  John Elway and the Broncos have not remedied their quarterback situation since Peyton Manning retired and will now start their fifth different quarterback in Joe Flacco come September 8th, 2019.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN RESPECTIVE TEAM IS A FAVORITE

Derek Carr: 6.69: Yes, the Raiders we’re favored twice last season and one of those games was the shootout against the Browns in which Derek Carr went off for 33.58 fantasy points.  2019 shows promise with the acquisitions of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, both substantial improvements from the options that were available to Carr in 2018.

Josh Rosen: 5.87 (From Week 4 On): Things can only improve for an Arizona offense that finished dead last in a multitude of offensive metrics.  In 12 of the 13 games that Josh Rosen entered the matchup as an underdog, he averaged 9.57 FPPG, a main contributor this variance is as high as it is given Rosen only played in one game as a favorite.

Mitchell Trubisky: 5.20: Seeing Trubisky’s name for the third time in this article should hint at his inconsistency.  In games as a favorite, he threw for 2.1 touchdowns vs just .75 of them in the four games that the Bears were underdogs.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN RESPECTIVE TEAM IS AN UNDERDOG

Drew Brees: 11.04: The Saints were anything but underdogs in 2018 but when put in that role, Drew Brees put on two of his best three fantasy performances in that role against the Falcons in Week 3 and the Rams in Week 9.  His 29.59 FPPG as a dog trailed only one quarterback to be described below.

Patrick Mahomes: 9.77: When put in the underdog role, the Kansas City offense averaged 42.75 points per game.  Of course their defense put them in a position to have to score at will.  In the four games the Chiefs were not favored, Mahomes averaged a remarkable 34.27 FPPG.

Marcus Mariota: 9.37: It’s almost inexplicable how bad Marcus Mariota performed as a favorite.  His 7.49 FPPG is nearly eight fantasy points worse than the next quarterback with the least fantasy production in that role in Josh Rosen.  It’s extremely difficult to bank on Mariota playing as well as he did against stronger competition in 2019 but also a guarantee he will fare much better against inferior competition.

SMALLEST FAVORITE/UNDERDOG VARIANCE

Baker Mayfield: -.36: Mayfield’s final two games should give the Dawg Pound plenty of hope as he slaughtered the Bengals as an 9.5-point favorite as well as held his own against the Ravens as a 7-point underdog in a game that Baltimore needed to win to advance to the postseason.  Cleveland may have finally figured out the quarterback fiasco that has plagued this franchise for the better part of two decades.

WHO WAS THE MOST CONSISTENT QUARTERBACK OF 2018?

Three quarterbacks come to mind based off the evaluated metrics in this article, the first being the overall #1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft.  Baker Mayfield performed admirably in his rookie season and closed out the second half strong once Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were removed from the equation and replaced with eventual head coach Freddie Kitchens.  With an average of 18.29 FPPG, he didn’t have a variance of over two fantasy points in any metric listed above and now has Odell Beckham as a target heading into 2019.

Philip Rivers was just as reliable as Mayfield as he also didn’t exceed a two point variance in any of the above evaluations.  Remove the final four weeks from the equation and Rivers had a solid floor of 15 fantasy points in the first 12 games.  He was far more consistent than 2017 when he was most efficient in games that the Chargers either won straight-up or were a favorite.

The massive home/road splits were always associated with Ben Roethlisberger but his 2017 splits were volatile in numerous categories.  His win/loss, home/road, and favorite/underdog were at a minimum of 5.6 fantasy points.  Fast forward to last season and he displayed more balance in his QB3 campaign as no variance was greater than three.