Fantasy Football Week 13 Analysis: Don't get hyped on an A.J. Dillon resurgence

Welcome to Week 13, fantasy managers! If you are new to this article series, I will be using my Expected Fantasy Points model to determine which players relied on volume or efficiency to produce for fantasy. In short, the two metrics that we will use each week are

  • Expected Fantasy Points (or xFP)

  • Fantasy Points Over Expected (or FPOE = Actual Points - Expected Points)

Why do these metrics matter? In short, fantasy production rooted in volume (or xFP) is much more sustainable week to week. As a result, we want to target players who rank highly in this metric. On the other hand, players who rely on efficiency (or FPOE) are much more volatile on a weekly basis. For a more detailed breakdown of my model, be sure to check out my series primer from Week 1!

Let’s dive in!

Data courtesy of nflfastR

Wide Receivers: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency

Top-12 Fantasy Wide Receivers from Week 12. (Data used provided by nflfastR)
Top-12 Fantasy Wide Receivers from Week 12. (Data used provided by nflfastR)

Chris Godwin - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers offense has taken a significant step back this season, averaging the lowest scoring rate (33.3 percent) and net yards per drive (30.2) since Tom Brady joined the team in 2020. Despite their struggles, Chris Godwin has been mostly unaffected as he continues to produce for fantasy managers.

Since returning from his hamstring injury in Week 4, Godwin is the WR11 in Fantasy Usage (12.3 Expected Fantasy Points), earning the fifth-most targets in that timespan (83). In fact, he has finished with double-digit targets in all but two games. In addition, no other wide receiver has averaged more half-PPR points per game (23.0) than Godwin over the last two weeks, scoring touchdowns in consecutive games. While it is unlikely he continues to find the end zone at this rate, he remains one of the safest wide receivers in fantasy due to his tremendous usage and volume in the Buccaneers offense.

Zay Jones - Jacksonville Jaguars

While Christian Kirk has received most of the attention as the WR1 for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Zay Jones deserves some credit as well. In my Expected Fantasy Points model, Jones is currently the WR24 in xFP per game at 10.7. In other words, he has received WR2 volume in Doug Pederson’s offense, averaging a respectable 22.7 percent target share in 10 games. And in Week 12 versus Baltimore, Jones set season-highs across a variety of metrics:

  • Target Share (37.8%)

  • Air Yards Share (51.6%)

  • Half-PPR points (22.0)

  • Expected Fantasy Points (18.6)

After finishing as a top-24 wide receiver in back-to-back weeks, can Jones continue to produce at such a high rate? Based on his upcoming schedule, it would not surprise if this trend continued as the Jaguars face the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions, two defenses who rank in the bottom three in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers.

Therefore, while I do not expect a top-12 performance each week, Jones can still be confidently started as a flex option over the next two games.

Running Backs: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency

Top-12 Fantasy Running Backs from Week 12. (Data used provided by nflfastR)
Top-12 Fantasy Running Backs from Week 12. (Data used provided by nflfastR)

James Conner - Arizona Cardinals

It was a tough start to the season for James Conner as he battled through multiple injuries, one of which sidelined him for several games. In addition, Conner finished outside of the top 24 in four of his first five matchups, producing at a much less efficient rate than last season. However, since returning from his injury in Week 9, Conner seems to have turned the tide. Over the last three weeks, he ranks as the:

  • RB4 in Expected Fantasy Points (15.9)

  • RB7 in Opportunity Share (37.8 percent)

  • RB13 in Fantasy Points Over Expected (+2.13)

  • RB5 in Half-PPR points (18.0)

In short, Conner is back to producing at an RB1 level. What is even more encouraging is the improvement in his overall usage as he set a season-high in opportunity share (45.9%) against the Chargers in Week 12. Needless to say, Conner’s fantasy value continues to trend in the right direction.

So, despite a tougher schedule heading into the fantasy playoffs, Conner should be reliable high-end RB2 going forward.

A.J. Dillon - Green Bay Packers

For the first time since Week 1, A.J. Dillon finished within the top 12 in half-PPR scoring. Surprisingly, this was only the second time in which he finished with double-digit fantasy points this season. While his fantasy production was impressive, I would temper my expectations as this was likely just an outlier performance. As you can see in the table above, despite finishing as the RB12 in half-PPR points, Dillon received only 12 opportunities and ranked as the RB32 in Expected Fantasy Points (9.3 xFP).

What does that tell us? Dillon’s usage remained mostly unchanged.

In his first 11 games, he averaged a similar usage value at 9.5 Expected Fantasy Points, which ranks 32nd among running backs this season. What did change this past week was that Dillon finally found the end zone again, which has been a rare occurrence this season as the Packers have struggled mightily on offense. Therefore, despite his RB1 performance, Dillon remains a low-floor flex option for fantasy managers as the Packers will continue to rely on Aaron Jones and Christian Watson to win games.

Tight Ends: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency

Top-12 Fantasy Tight Ends from Week 12. (Data used provided by nflfastR)
Top-12 Fantasy Tight Ends from Week 12. (Data used provided by nflfastR)

Jelani Woods - Indianapolis Colts

By now, you likely already know that the “xFP column” in my table above is the number we value the most. It tells us whether a player’s production was rooted in volume and can be sustainable on a weekly basis.

Unfortunately, at the tight end position, a majority of them rely on touchdowns and efficiency (FPOE) to produce with very few high-volume options in the league. As a result, when a rookie tight end like Jelani Woods finishes near the top in Expected Fantasy Points, it should immediately catch our eye. In fact, he ranked as the TE2 in fantasy usage (xFP) this past week, behind only Travis Kelce (14.5 xFP).

In short, it was a truly impressive breakout game for Woods as he set season-highs in snap share (64 percent), target share (28.1%), and air yards share (35.3%) against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Naturally, we need him to repeat this performance for at least another week before trusting him in our lineups. For now, Woods needs to be rostered in most leagues as he could become a weekly starter if he can maintain this type of usage and volume.

Quarterbacks: Fantasy Usage & Efficiency

Top-12 Fantasy Quarterbacks from Week 12. (Data used provided by nflfastR)
Top-12 Fantasy Quarterbacks from Week 12. (Data used provided by nflfastR)

Mike White - New York Jets

Welcome back, Mike White.

After starting the season playing behind both Joe Flacco and Zach Wilson, White finally received his opportunity and did not disappoint, finishing as the QB6 this past week.

You might be wondering, can you trust White in your lineups going forward?

While his performance made for an inspiring storyline, his efficiency from Week 12 is likely unsustainable. On only 28 passing attempts and 161 air yards, he produced over 300 passing yards and scored three times. That equates to an unsustainable touchdown rate of 10.7%. For reference, the league average over the last two seasons is at 4.4%. So based on his 28 attempts, the average quarterback would only score one touchdown — which is why his FPOE came in at +11.7 points. In addition, White also took advantage of a very porous defense in the Chicago Bears, who have allowed the sixth-most points per game to Quarterbacks since Week 8.

On a positive note, the Jets do have a very favorable schedule coming up, which means White will have some streamable weeks. I would just temper expectations as he is unlikely to replicate his absurd Week 12 efficiency in future games.

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