Unlock More Content Like This With a Footballguys Premium Subscription
"FBG is the best fantasy football advisory service anywhere."
Nigel Eccles, Co-Founder, FanDuel
You guys have a ton of articles.
This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week.
If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.
1. Sigmund Bloom's Week 16 Sleepers
One of Footballguys' most popular features, Sleepers has some compelling names for those of you in a Week 16 bind at a specific position for your starting lineups. Here are my favorites from Bloom's article this week:
Mike Boone, Minnesota (vs Green Bay) - Don’t overthink this. Boone has always impressed when he has gotten opportunities, the Minnesota running game didn’t miss a beat when they went to him last week (he scored twice), and the Packers are poor against the run. Boone should be in your lineup as an RB2 or flex, running with fresh legs against a weary run defense.
Boston Scott, Philadelphia (vs Dallas) - Scott has had two solid PPR weeks in a row and should remain a big part of the Eagles offense against Dallas with the wide receiver group still depleted. Dallas took away Zach Ertz in the first matchup between these teams so Carson Wentz could be forced to look to secondary receivers like Scott more often
DeAndre Washington, Oakland (at Los Angeles Chargers) - Josh Jacobs is out, which puts Washington back into the starting spot against the Chargers. The Chargers defense had been playing better before breaking down against the Vikings last week, but Washington was very productive in his start two weeks with 96 total yards, a score, and six receptions. He’s a high floor RB2 this week.
Danny Amendola, Detroit (at Denver) - Amendola immediately put up eight catches for 102 yards last week with Marvin Jones Jr/a> on injured reserve and he should avoid Chris Harris Jr/a> at Denver, as Harris should follow Kenny Golladay. The Broncos have been giving up solid numbers lately to slot receivers including 6-76-1 to Cole Beasley and 5-68 to Keke Coutee.
Steven Sims, Washington (vs New York Giants) - Sims has surpassed Kelvin Harmon has the #2 receiver for Washington with Paul Richardson Jr Jr on injured reserve. Dwayne Haskins seems to be improving by the week and Sims had a solid 5-45-1 line against Philadelphia last week, building on 4-40 and 3-29 lines the previous two weeks. The Giants just released their top cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, and they have allowed multiple scores to opposing wideouts in four of the last seven games.
Jonnu Smith, Tennessee (vs New Orleans) - Smith was an unstoppable runner last week and he was a very productive receiver against Houston. This week against the Saints, the Titans will likely have to rely more on the passing game and with Corey Davis banged up against, Smith should be a core target. The Saints have given up three scores to tight ends since Week 10 and a ten catch game to Cameron Brate over that same span.
OJ Howard, Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay (vs Houston) **Saturday** - Both Bucs tight ends have high ceilings this week against the Texans, as Jameis Winston will be without both of his starting receivers. Howard has a big play high ceiling and Brate is the more likely target in the red zone and more likely to have a high target load. Both could hit as streamers or DFS plays this week.
Jacob Hollister, Seattle (vs Arizona) - Hollister has the one matchup we can’t argue with in fantasy this year. Only Tyler Eifert and Vance McDonald have failed to hit in this matchup, and even after David Njoku was a surprise scratch last week, Ricky Seals-Jones scored twice. Hollister has been quiet lately, but don’t doubt the trend here.
Noah Fant, Denver (vs Detroit) - Fant is the best big play threat among the streamers and sleepers this week, and the Lions defense has been prone to giving up big plays in recent weeks. They’ve also allowed five tight end touchdowns since Week 7, and Fant should benefit from playing with Drew Lock and against a Lions defense that should try to cancel out Courtland Sutton with Darius Slay.
Matt's Thoughts: Fant, Scott, Howard, and Amendola are likely on rosters but Boone and Brate might have the most upside of the players Bloom mentioned. The Vikings offense is built on the run and play-action off it as well as screen passes. Brate and Winston have a great rapport and runs the type of routes in the middle of the field where the Texans defense is vulnerable.
2. John Lee's Vegas Value Chart
Lee delivers terrific DFS expertise on a weekly basis for Footballguys. He generates a Vegas-based perspective on the matchups and players involved for weekly DFS contests. Here's how Lee introduces his spreadsheet that you can see at the link above:
Every week, the first step of your DFS homework should be to examine the opening Vegas odds on all the NFL games for that week. Through some fairly simple algebra, it is easy to derive a spreadsheet that predicts team totals for every game, thereby allowing you to develop a rudimentary gamescript to help narrow down your decisions for the week. Once the appealing (and unappealing) games have been highlighted, it becomes easier to focus upon those games to help build your core of players for that week; the caveat, however, is that the NFL is a dynamic league and anything is subject to change from Tuesday to Sunday...so keep that in mind as the week progresses and always monitor player injuries, weather conditions, and potential roster moves.
Based on the table in the article, here are some of the recommendations that I find most appealing.
- Quarterback: Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Lamar Jackson (Ravens)
- Running Back: Chris Carson (Seahawks), Mark Ingram II (Ravens), Devonta Freeman (Falcons)
- Receivers: Tyler Lockett/DK Metcalf/Jacob Hollister (Seahawks),
2-StarsReceivers:DeAndre Hopkins/Will Fuller V/Kenny Stills (Texans), Michael Thomas/Ted Ginn Jr Jr/Josh Hill (Saints), Julio Jones/Russell Gage/Austin Hooper (Falcons)
Matt's Thoughts: Although not on the list, I would consider the Bills defense as a quality option at home against a Patriots offense that struggled against Buffalo during the first matchup. Julian Edelman has patella tendon issues and Tom Brady's elbow is becoming a repeated concern. I don't know if Patrick Peterson will be covering Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf (perhaps switching off), but he won't be on Jacob Hollister and that Cardinals have struggled all year against tight ends. Look for high volume or at least a touchdown from Hollister this week.
3. Footballguys in-Season Roundtable: Dynasty prospects not to write-off too soon
One of the questions that I posed our panelists in this week's roundtable focused on players that are losing dynasty value but you shouldn't diminish your long-term enthusiasm about their potential to develop. Here are their answers.
Matt Waldman: Who is a young player that the dynasty community has written off too early?
Harstad: Emphatically, O.J. Howard.
Coming into 2019, Howard was the clear consensus #4 tight end and everyone agreed that he was primed to make the leap and turn the "Big 3" (Kelce, Kittle, Ertz) into a "Big 4".
There were a lot of very, very good reasons for this belief. Howard was a high draft pick (#19 in the 2017 draft) who had been extremely productive through his first two years (once you adjusted for the fact that tight end has a brutal learning curve and young players are rarely productive).This offseason I looked at historically comparable players from a draft position and production standpoint and found that Howard's prospects were insanely bright. The list of the nineteen most comparable tight ends included six of the top ten fantasy tight ends of the last 30+ years, four more guys in the 11-20 range, plus George Kittle and Evan Engram.
Advanced stats loved him, too. For my money, receiving yards per route run (YPRR) is the only true efficiency stat for receivers. In 2017, the top six tight ends in YPRR were Ricky Seals-Jones (small sample), Rob Gronkowski, Hunter Henry, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and O.J. Howard.
In 2018, they were George Kittle, Travis Kelce, O.J. Howard, Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, and Vernon Davis. You'll note that these lists have a high degree of face validity-- Seals-Jones aside, they certainly look like a good list of the best receiving tight ends in the league. And Howard was on there twice in his first two years at a position where players historically struggle their first two years.
And the scouting typically matched the stats. Pro Football Focus charted every snap by every tight end in 2018 and Howard graded out as the 2nd-best tight end overall (behind Kittle), or 3rd-best purely as a receiver (Kittle and Kelce).
Howard looked primed to take off like a rocket ship in 2019. Instead, Howard struggled to pick up a new scheme and played inconsistently. Pro Football Focus grades him 84th out of 115 tight ends this season, (though he rises to 55th purely as a receiver).
Howard has also fallen to 24th (out of 41 qualifying tight ends) in YPRR and 29th in PPR fantasy points. It's been an awful, no-good, very-bad year now matter how you slice it, and I'm not interested in arguing otherwise.
But the drop in Howard's dynasty value is not commensurate. No Footballguys staffer has him higher than 14th in their most recent dynasty rankings. In various rankings he finds himself falling behind Eric Ebron, Jared Cook, Jonnu Smith, Mike Gesicki, Dawson Knox, Will Dissly, or Kyle Rudolph.
Again, a fall is totally appropriate, both because we should be less confident in how good Howard is and because in the meantime we've seen several other tight ends break out (Hooper, Waller, Andrews, etc). I'm just arguing that the drop was substantially steeper than it should have been.
This drop stems from the unconscious assumption that fantasy careers are orderly curves. Players improve in consecutive seasons until peaking and then decline in consecutive seasons until they're out of the league. It makes no allowances for breakthroughs, or unique struggles, or scheme fit, or learning curves.
We saw this bias towards thinking of careers as orderly curves when Randy Moss was in Oakland. We saw it with Larry Fitzgerald when his quarterbacks were John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, Max Hall, and associates. We saw it with Greg Olsen when the Bears hired Mike Martz (who, like Arians, famously didn't use a tight end). We saw it with Todd Gurley when he had a sophomore slump following a standout rookie campaign.
John Brown, Tyler Lockett, Davante Adams... I could list names like this all day because the simple fact is that NFL careers are very rarely curve-shaped. They're messy, they're unpredictable. Production ebbs and flows with scheme and supporting cast, which are always in flux.
But the positive indicators Howard showed that had us so excited about his prospects heading into 2019 haven't vanished. He's still the guy who did all those things I praised him for at the top of the post.
And as the ebb and flow of scheme and supporting cast inevitably land him in a more favorable circumstance, there's a good chance he shows it. He's being valued as if his breakout was canceled when in fact it might have just been delayed.
I don't know what the mechanism might be that puts him in more favorable circumstances. Maybe he gets traded, maybe he leaves in free agency, maybe Bruce Arians gets fired or retires again. Maybe things suddenly click and Howard finds his fit in Arians' system. I don't know.
All I know is that dynasty is a long game and you'll rarely go broke betting on talent at bargain-basement prices.
Hindery: Parris Campbell has fallen out of the top-50 of the wide receiver dynasty rankings if you put together a consensus list across the industry and is ranked as the WR56 in the consensus position rankings here at Footballguys. While a surprisingly large number of rookie wide receivers have made an instant impact, Campbell is going to end up with a disappointing 2019 stat line of 18 catches for 127 yards and 1 touchdown.
It is understandable that his stock has taken a hit. However, Campbell fits the profile of the type of wide receiver we have seen break out a bit later. He has elite measurables, fairly high draft pedigree (mid-second round), and has some valid excuses for his lack of rookie production.
We can’t make too many judgments about his rookie season because of injuries. He missed much of training camp with an injury, which slowed his development and limited him to a part-time role early. Twice during the season, it looked like he was poised to take over as a starter when injuries struck again.
If he can get healthy, Campbell has the physical traits and mental makeup to emerge as the top target in the Colts offense. Campbell is a player who I hope to be able to buy low on this offseason.
Davenport: Perhaps "written-off" isn't exactly the right description for this player, but JuJu Smith-Schuster is a name that comes to mind immediately.
Waldman: Absolutely not the right phrase for him but I am interested to hear the angle you're taking here, Drew.
Davenport: I have the same tendency as others in the fantasy community to overreact to the short term and forget who we are dealing with but the fact that Smith-Schuster has fallen as far as he has in most dynasty rankings is a little bit nuts. Ben Roethlisberger is saying that he wants to play a couple more years, and even if he doesn't, Smith-Schuster is so young, and so talented, that all it will take for him to succeed is to get some moderately adequate quarterback play. Don't write him off as a top-10 young wide receiver.
Waldman: Good angle, Drew, it highlights that many dynasty players have too much of a re-draft mentality.
Schofield: A player in this category might be Sony Michel. The Patriots' running back room is always difficult to figure out, but that could change in a season. The future of Tom Brady in New England is a massive question mark, especially with the news that he is stepping down as the co-chair of the Boston Best Buddies chapter. Yet one more sign that Brady's time in New England might be coming to an end.
In a post-Brady world, the running game becomes a much bigger focus of the offense, and looking at the current stable of backs Michel is the player best-suited to handle the share of the load. James White is better suited for a passing offense and Rex Burkhead has value as a change-of-pace back, but Michel can handle the load as a ball-carrier. While he is best suited for a gap/power scheme, his vision is sufficient to operate in a zone-blocking scheme provided there is cohesive blocking in front of him. Given the uncertainty over Brady's future, Michel is still worth keeping an eye on in dynasty leagues.
Tremblay: Rashaad Penny. He's an explosive running back with big-play ability who's been stuck behind Chris Carson on the Seahawks' depth chart. His situation has been poor, but his talent is still promising, and in dynasty, talent is more important in the long run.
Penny has shown promise both as a runner and as a receiver. Chris Carson has one year left on his contract after this season. If and when Penny takes over as the Seahawks' starting running back, I'd expect him to be in the mix as a top-ten fantasy RB. In terms of current dynasty value,
Pasquino: Having retired from playing Dynasty a few years back, this is a slightly harder one to answer, but overall I think that some players are thrown in the "lost cause" bucket after a bad first or second season with little production. You could even argue a player mentioned here today, Perriman, belongs in this category, but again I have concerns about his reception percentages.
Rookies that struggle in their first season can blossom in their second. Look no further than Michael Gallup in Dallas this year.
So what rookie wide receiver may fit this category for 2020? N'keal Harry is my pick, as he has not been on the field nearly enough for a real evaluation, but the revolving door at wideout for the Patriots this year aside from Julian Edelman likely lowers the perceived value for Harry. A strong playoff for Harry could change this, but for now, I put Harry in the "too early to write off" category.
Parsons: To name a subset, the underperforming or 'out-of-sight, out-of-mind' rookies who had buzz post-NFL Draft but have not done much in Year One. Andy Isabella is a big one for me. Isabella is hyper-athletic and was productive in college in the Brandin Cooks-type mold with Day-Two pedigree.
Drew Sample is another Day-Two pick with essentially a redshirt rookie season. The lead job is his for the taking in 2020 in Cincinnati. Damien Harris and Darrell Henderson are a pair of Day-Two backs who sparsely saw the field but are the same prospects who were going in the 10-18 range of rookie drafts in May. I would bet they are available for late second or third-round picks when we get to 2020 rookie draft.
Matt's Thoughts: Howard, Henderson, and Campbell earn strong endorsements from me. I'm not sold on Isabella. The analytics crowd loves his speed but I wasn't sold on his route running because there he has a lot of wasted movement that was misinterpreted during the pre-draft process as terrific storytelling because it earns separation during practices. I saw a similar buzz with Braxton Miller during the Senior Bowl.
Although I'm higher on Hakeem Butler than most and he didn't make a splash this summer, Butler hurt his hand and wound up on IR whereas Isabella has had a chance to break into the lineup this fall and has done little despite a lackluster receiving corps beyond the venerable Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.
I agree with Maurile that Rashaad Penny has talent but unless Penny is an extreme buy-low due to his ACL injury, I'd count on Seattle drafting another back no later than the fourth round who could compete for significant playing time if Chris Carson leaves.
4. Chad Parsons' New Reality: Lessons Learned, 2020 Strategy
Chad is an excellent dynasty strategist with bold views. Here are some of his thoughts on 2019's player performances and his 2020 recommendations:
RUNNING BACKS: RIDE THE WAVE
Being in the volume business at running back with dynasty bench spots is the probability play to get the injury odds in your favor to preemptively acquire predictable running back starts for a discount. Injuries were down in a general of recent seasons at the position, however, and the 25% mark of NFL backfields with the pre-Week 1 starter missing at least five games was the lowest rate since 2015. Also, the averaged missed games by an NFL starter of 2.78 was the lowest since 2015.
The commonly mentioned phrase on my podcast channel (Under the Helmet) where we discuss all 32 backfields each week was 'rolling snake eyes' in 2019 as some of the clarified backup situations did not hit with a starter injury. These would include Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, Aaron Jones, Chris Carson, Joe Mixon, Ezekiel Elliott, and Christian McCaffrey of note. The takeaway is not to fade collecting backup running backs in 2020. On the contrary, it is to bet on regression to the historical average injury rates and missed games and double-down on those clarified backups like Alexander Mattison, Ryquell Armstead (or other in Jacksonville if applicable), Rashaad Penny (or other in Seattle), Giovani Bernard, Jamaal Williams, Tony Pollard, and (TBD in) Carolina.
Can these starting running backs not miss a fantasy regular-season game two seasons in a row? The odds are stacked against them. One final note on running backs - Christian McCaffrey set a new record for WORP for a running back (3.08) since I began collecting data in 2014, nearly a full win of impact over RB2 Dalvin Cook.
RUNNING BACK Regression CandidateS
Aaron Jones is the glaring touchdown regression candidate for 2020 with a ridiculous 14 scores on 188 carries where even a >6% rate has regressed by more than 2.5% on average in 25-of-27 previous cases. On the positive regression track for next season, Leonard Fournette (250 carries, 3 touchdowns), Joe Mixon, Le'Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman, Alvin Kamara, and Miles Sanders are the big names on pace to see a strong uptick.
Matt's Thoughts: We know injury rates for running backs are among the highest at any position in football. It only makes sense to continue identifying talented reserves in situations where they could earn productive volume if the starter gets hurt. I agree with Chad about all of the backups he mentioned.
It's also common sense that few backs will repeat a double-digit performance in the end zone on so few carries as Aaron Jones in 2019 or a paltry three-score performance with as many carries as Leonard Fournette. I also agree with Chad on Mixon and Kamara. Bell and Freeman are dependent on a new location or upgrade of their offensive lines. Sanders's potential uptick depends on his ability to improve his running between the tackles in a zone scheme as well as the Eagles veering away from a committee approach, which is unlikely.
5. The Top 10: Lessons From a Snow Game
The Broncos-Chiefs game provided valuable insights about playing in bad weather. I break this down in detail this week's Top 10. However, I added this segment to the Best of because of a response I got from a Footballguys subscriber that I tagged at the end.
1. Lessons From A Snow Game
Thanks to the work that I do with my publication, the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, I've found myself in the enviable position of having two, if not all three, of Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes II, and Russell Wilson on my fantasy rosters. The squad where I have all three made my Week 15 lineup choice the easiest because I rolled with Jackson.
If it came down to Mahomes and Wilson, that's where I had difficulty: Mahomes in the snow or betting on the Seahawks passing offense to reappear in the Carolina sunshine. I chose Wilson and while Mahomes outscored Wilson by five fantasy points, it's unlikely this difference will determine the outcome of my playoff matchup.
Regardless of the outcome, watching the Chiefs in the snow was an insightful event because I can't remember the last time I studied a snow game. Hopefully, my observations will help you with future fantasy decisions in snow games. I intend to bookmark this section as a point of reference for future seasons.
Vision, Footing, and Pass Trajectory: The Three Football Variables that Weather Influences
Before you even think about teams or individuals about to step onto a field where the weather is a potential factor, it's best to examine the weather as a third team involved in the contest and the primary influence. Precipitation and wind are the two weather events that can hamper teams.
Strong and steady winds or frequent wind gusts of great velocity will limit as passing game regardless of the temperature or presence of precipitation because it can alter the trajectory of passes. If your fantasy quarterback lacks velocity as a thrower high winds can hurt his offense and your fantasy production.
Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton, and Tom Brady are six quarterbacks who lack great velocity as throwers. Watson, Jackson, and Brees all possess quality deep arms but their vertical passing game is built on throws where they can loft the ball longer distances—deep crossers, corner routes, post routes, and fades.
You're not going to see them lean hard on the deep out, the deep comeback, the deep skinny post, the deep curl, or any route that requires the ball to be on a line with a lot of RPMs that can often cut through moderate-to-heavy wind gusts. When lofting the ball over longer distances, a significant wind gust can alter the trajectory of the throw.
A key to determining which quarterbacks that wind will hurt is to note the type of intermediate and vertical routes most commonly embedded in that passer's offense.
Add heavy rain or snow to the mix and it will impair a vertical passing game because quarterbacks will have difficulty spotting receivers and receivers will have problems tracking the ball. Depending on the severity of the weather, wind and precipitation can also impair vision in the intermediate passing game.
If heavy rain or snow is in the forecast, look for information that discusses visibility. If the forecast states there will be zero visibility—defined as less than 330 feet—it's worth reconsidering your receivers, especially if their game is heavily based on vertical routes.
A quarterback and receiver may be able to see each other at the length of a football field but low visibility occurs when there is low-lying cloud cover in the form of fog, mist, or snow flurries. Throwing the ball downfield requires a trajectory that could impair a receiver's ability to track it. This is rare in the rain but common when snow is falling during a game.
Next, determine the rate of accumulation that the area will likely earn from the rain or snow. If there will be a steady amount of rain or snow falling at a moderate to heavy rate, the most common issue with precipitation is the footing and grip of the ball.
Many fields have the drainage and heating elements to combat a steady or moderate rate of precipitation over the course of a game. However, if the media reports that the setting for a rainy game has poor field conditions, the embedded weather elements malfunctioned, or the precipitation is falling at a heavy enough rate that that field's technology lacks the capacity to manage it, then prepare for significant footing and grip issues.
How does this help or hurt individual fantasy production?
The Broncos-Chiefs game provided quality insights. While no blizzard, the snow accumulated at a heavy enough rate that we couldn't see the numbers on the field and the field was mostly white with the green of the grass mixed in. The snow continued falling throughout the game and closeup shots from a field angle revealed the potential visibility issues better than the broadcast view during the span of the play.
If the wind or snowfall was heavier, it would have been a significant obstacle for the quarterbacks to throw the ball downfield. This was not the case.
The biggest issue was footing. In most contests where the weather is a factor, the footing will be the most significant problem and it impedes these aspects of offensive football:
- The perimeter running game: Sweeps, end-arounds, toss plays, reverses, and to some extent outside zone, power, and counter plays.
- Offenses that rely on motion at the snap to set up the short passing game to the flats or flare their backs out to the flats.
When there isn't good footing, it's difficult to run fast enough towards the sideline and then change direction downhill at a speed where pursuit doesn't catch up.
The intermediate and deep passing is effective but E-W plays that have to transition N-S? Not so good in KC today. Expect more downfield work pic.twitter.com/RIV6fGHlAP— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 15, 2019
Darwin Thompson earned some open looks on wide routes and swing routes in this game and fell at least once while trying to transition downhill.
We've all heard the idea that defenses have just as much if not more trouble as offenses because at least the offensive players know where they're trying to go while the defenders have to react. There's truth to this statement in the passing game because a defender's reactions are often 1-3 steps later than the offensive player's movement, which requires a more dramatic athletic movement to make up ground.
However, there's only partial truth to this statement with the running game. Offensive linemen may know a little more often where they're trying to go but overall, the run game is often a reaction to the alignment and movement of the defense, especially for the ball carrier. In this sense, the ball carrier is often in the same bind as his opponents and leads to cautious movement and limited returns.
Dramatic movement on a slick surface will be difficult, at best.
Snow, zones, and more cautious movement likely in KC...with exception of deep game to a fast WR pic.twitter.com/B1kkpcr953— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 15, 2019
Defenses have to play more zone on slick turf or risk game-breaking plays if an individual defender loses coverage of a receiver. Even with zone help over the top, the offense holds the advantage in the vertical game if the visibility is high and the wind isn't a problem because speed and quickness become a magnified factor in favor of the offense for the truism mentioned above.
It means that targeting your fastest players on routes where a player can curl back to the passer or bend inside or outside on the break after a straight stem are the best patterns in these conditions. Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins show why these routes worked against Denver but yards after the catch wasn't going to be a significant factor against zone defenses and slick conditions.
And up the seam to Watkins for 29 pic.twitter.com/EfhJNIZ0Ue— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 15, 2019
The Chiefs offense succeeded thanks to big and or quick targets who could earn separation early on straight-line routes with less dramatic break angles. Kelce was the ideal target because he could also use his size to his advantage at the catch point on intermediate and deep routes.
Hill had a good day: a 7-target, 5-catch, 67-yard outing with 2 touchdowns. However, his style of play does not apply to all speedy YAC receivers with a vertical game. Hill's supporting cast and scheme heighten his value in these elements whereas it's debatable we'd say the same for Brandin Cooks, who'd deliver similar upside but a lower floor.
The ground game in these elements is probably the most difficult consideration for fantasy players. LeSean McCoy is one of the best runners in snow that you'll ever see but he ran for 16 yards on 6 carries. Spencer Ware earned 26 yards on 7 carries and Darwin Thompson led the way with 38 yards on 8 carries.
The most effective runs will come on downhill plays but defenses will expect these plays in these conditions. The best runners retain some level of cutback and bounce-out ability. McCoy didn't earn a lot of touches but his footwork is the fundamental reason why he was renowned for his work in the snow as a Bill and Eagle.
The key is the skill to execute economical movement with your feet under you.
The next day, I received this email from Al Acimovic:
I have been a regular reader of your weekly The Top 10 column via the Footballguys.com newsletters, and have always enjoyed it. The columns are routinely well-written and interesting. I was particularly taken by the first entry in this week's column ('Lessons From A Snow Game'), and your conclusions that downhill running and intermediate to vertical routes are more likely to succeed in the conditions than east-to-west before north running or sideline routes preceded by pre-snap motion. This is something that I have felt to be the case for a long time (I am a lifelong New England fan, so the Patriots' demolitions of Arizona, Tennessee, and Chicago in snow games from 2008 to 2010 were a great lesson). I am currently compiling a list of NFL snow games to give me something to study deeper in the coming off-season in the hopes of putting so more meat on the bones of my thoughts, so your column was encouragement that I am at least looking in the right direction.
Anyhow, I have attached several pages from a book called "Football for Player and Spectator", by Fielding Yost, in 1905. Note the comments on running wide-swinging, long-developing plays on wet ground – apparently someone was on to this a very long time ago! The full book is available at https://archive.org/details/footballforplay00yostgoog/page/n9 in case you are interested or don't trust the attachment (understandable). [Matt's Note: by the way, the link is trustworthy] (The pages are 195, 214, and 235 as numbered in the book).
Another benefit of reading this week's column was that I was spurred on to look up your website, and it looks like I will have plenty more interesting reading material. Thanks again.
Thanks to Al for validating my thoughts—and his—with a reference from over a century ago. Pretty cool.
Good luck this weekend, enjoy the holidays, and the Best of Footballguys will be back for one more week.