Rapin's Ramblings - Todd Gurley and the rest of the NFC West


I should start by saying I don't know what the hell this is. I've never published anything like this before, so I will leave it up to you to let me know if this is something that you find useful, or whether I should keep this information to myself inside the crazy inner-workings of my brain. Please feel free to give me your honest opinion.

I guess I should let you know where this comes from. Every year I come out with my own rankings, just like most other "normal" people, but the way I come up with those rankings may be a little more involved than others. The first step in the process is to come up with my own projections for the players and input them into an Excel spreadsheet.

To come up with my projections I look at a lot of stats, trends, new coaching changes and their potential impact on the offense, as well as a player's injury history. My partner Ryan calls me crazy, but I write a lot of this information down in spiral notebooks and it has never had the chance to be viewed or enjoyed by the general population.

Until now, that is.

Once the projections are in, I add the formulas to calculate fantasy points so I can customize them to standard leagues, PPR leagues, or even stranger scoring leagues, such as those for the Scott Fish Bowl. I then adjust players up or down based on a variety of things, such as injury history, a player's high ceiling or low floor, or a variety of other factors to come up with my final rankings. Perfectly normal, right???

I want to put some of the interesting facts and information I find down in print. Can I say "in print" being this is an online article? I'm going to say to it anyways, but below are some of the things I've discovered when doing my projections for the NFC West teams. I'm doing it in bullet point format because I feel that may be the easiest way to digest it.

Some of the info you may find very helpful. Some you may find useless. Either way hopefully it helps you properly value players and helps you set your own rankings. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I have had putting it together.

Once again, I would love your feedback on Twitter at @fantasygeek37

Arizona Cardinals

David Johnson2

If he can pick up where he left off in 2016, David Johnson could be in for a great year in 2018.

  • Mike McCoy is taking over as offensive coordinator for the Cardinals this season. In four seasons with the Chargers his offense was ninth in total yards (365.9 yards-per-game).
  • In 2016, David Johnson finished as the No. 1 fantasy running back when he scored 407 fantasy points in PPR leagues. The next closest backs were Ezekiel Elliott with 325 points and Le'Veon Bell with 317.
  • David Johnson led all running backs with 120 targets in 2016.
  • In 2017 no running back scored over 400 PPR fantasy points and only Todd Gurley (383), Le'Veon Bell (341), and Alvin Kamara (314) topped 300 points.
  • Over the last three seasons Larry Fitzgerald has finished third, eighth, and 11th in targets, never having less than 146 in a single season.
  • In his entire NFL career Fitzgerald has never had less than 100 targets in any single season. He has also only missed a total of six games over that entire span.
  • Fitzgerald finished second in receptions in 2017 with 109, behind only Jarvis Landry's 112 catches.
  • Per Scott Barrett's (@ScottBarrettDFB) Twitter account on 5/9/18 - Christian Kirk ran 95% of his routes from the slot in college (Kirk has stated that he will move outside this season with Fitzgerald occupying the slot). Nelson Agholor of The Eagles played out of position (outside) his first two seasons and was Pro Football Focus' worst graded wide receiver both years. Last year he moved back to the slot and he graded out Top-25. I'm worried about Kirk adjusting not only to the NFL, but also to learning a new position.

Los Angeles Rams

McVay

Sean McVay brings good things to the Rams' offense...and he has a dreamy smile.

  • In 2016 under Jeff Fisher the Rams finished 31st in rushing yards, 31st in passing yards and 32nd in scoring.
  • In 2017 under Sean McVay they finished eighth in rushing yards, 10th in passing yards and first in scoring.
  • Jared Goff was very efficient last season and finished as the QB12 in fantasy, despite missing one game and finishing 23rd in passing attempts-per-game.
  • Goff was tied for seventh in the league in passes of 20+ yards (54) and tied for fourth in passes of 40+ yards (12). This could benefit wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who was brought in to be their deep threat.
  • Todd Gurley was fifth among running backs with eight rushes of 20+ yards in 2017.
  • Gurley was second among running backs with five fumbles and worst in the NFL with three fumbles lost.
  • In three seasons as a starter Brandin Cooks has always finished in between 1,082 and 1,173 yards and has had seven to nine touchdowns.
  • Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Jared Goff was 21st in the NFL in intended air yards with 8.1 air-yards-per-throw.
  • Per those same Next Gen Stats, Brandin Cooks' averaged 15.1 targeted-air-yards (eighth in the NFL) versus 10.8 air-yards for Robert Woods.
  • Robert Woods played in 12 games and averaged seven targets and 4.6 receptions-per-game. He was on pace for 75 receptions, 1,042 yards and seven scores.

Seattle Seahawks

Wilson

My partner Ryan hates Russell Wilson. I think he's wonderful...

  • Russell Wilson was the top overall fantasy quarterback in 2017 with 347.92 points, per fantasydata.com. Cam Newton was the QB2, scoring 299.48 points.
  • Wilson was tied for second in fantasy points-per-game (21.7 points-per-game), behind only Deshaun Watson, who averaged 24.1 points-per-game.
  • Despite their offensive line finishing 27th in Profootballfocus.com's offensive line rankings, NFL.com's Next Gen Stats had Wilson finishing 2nd in average time to throw with 3.05 seconds.
  • Over the last four seasons the Seahawks have gone from 32nd in the league in pass attempts (2014) to 28th, 18th and finally 16th in 2017. On the flip side, they have gone from second in the league in rushing attempts (2014) to third, 20th and 20th again in 2017. They are no longer a run-first team.
  • Rookie running back Rashaad Penny led the NCAA in rushing last season with 2,248 yards.
  • Penny ranked first in Pro Football Focus' breakaway rating among running backs and second in their elusive rating. He also broke 80 tackles in 2017, gaining more than 1,200 yards after contact according to them.
  • Seattle didn't have one running back gain more than 240 yards in 2017.
  • With the departures of Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson, and Luke Willson, the Seahawks have 196 targets up for grabs this season. Hello, Tyler Lockett!

San Francisco 49ers

Garoppolo

I get it Jimmy, there's two P's in your name. It doesn't matter though, I'm just going to forget it tomorrow anyways.

  • The fewest number of yards Jimmy Garoppolo has ever thrown in a game he started is 232 yards. Over 16 games at 232 yards-per-game, that would be 3,712 yards.
  • San Francisco was second in the NFL with 607 passing attempts in 2017.
  • Even though they were second in pass attempts, they finished 28th in passing touchdowns with only 15. Very possible positive regression in 2018.
  • I hate spelling Garoppolo. Is it Garroppolo? Is it Garopollo? Is it Garropolo? Who in the hell knows...
  • Jerick McKinnon only averaged 3.8 yards-per-carry in 2017 and 3.3 yards-per-carry in 2016.
  • In 2015 under Kyle Shanahan, Devonta Freeman had 73 receptions on 97 targets. McKinnon is a very nice receiving running back, but the most involved he has ever been in the passing game was 51 receptions on 68 targets in 2017. He could see a big bump in 2018.
  • Pierre Garcon was on pace for 134 targets last year. He hadn't had less than 105 targets in his previous four seasons.
  • Marquise Goodwin was ninth with an average air-target-yards of 15.1 according to NFL Next Gen Stats.


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