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Dec. 4, 2021

Week 13 Analytics Corner With Mike

Week 13 Analytics Corner

Last week, we took look at some polarizing players for fantasy from an analytics perspective to discuss future prospects. Let's do the same thing this week, for two receivers and a running back that have had very interesting seasons to say the least. Important to keep in mind; this article is completely devoid of video breakdown, the eye test, or whatever you want to call it. The purpose of this is to strictly look at the advanced statistics and determine, as best we can, "What next?" Let's get into it.

Rashod Bateman, WR for the Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens' first-round pick of the 2021 draft is the young receiver out of Minnesota. He was a dominant force during his time there, leading to his hefty draft capital. While his measurable doesn't jump off the screen (4.48 40 yard dash), he has come back from injury to have a moderately productive stretch of games for the Ravens.

Being injured as a rookie isn't easy. It is especially tough when your team is centered around the run and you are the third option in the passing attack. I don't like Bateman's prospects for the remainder of the season if I am being honest. If your team still has trades active, I wouldn't mind flipping him for a backup running back like Rhamondre Stevenson. This way you get a depth piece for a thin position going into your playoffs. Here's why I'd like to move on from Rashod for the remainder of 2021:

  • In six games, he's had only 3 deep targets and one singular red zone target.

  • Bateman is near the bottom of the league in target premium. He has a woeful -18.7% rating. Target Premium is the percentage of additional fantasy points per target that a wide receiver or tight end generates over and above the other pass receivers on his team.

  • He needs to work on his efficiency as a pass-catcher. In comparing him to other receivers by per-game averages, Bateman is 63rd in expected points added, 76th in dominator ranking (percent of his teams' points), 80th in QB rating on targets, and 89th in fantasy points per target.

The good news is that this will absolutely get better. I am going to reach for Rashod in next year's draft more than likely as he makes that year 2 leap. Some numbers do back that up:

  • He is number one in the NFL in average cushion per route run. Defenders are playing him deep, which means his routes can and should get more efficient. Think quick ins or slants rather than 15-yard outs.

  • He is also above average in his target separation. As he gets used to NFL speeds, he'll be getting more open more frequently.

  • He has a high target share within the Baltimore offense. They don't have many options right now, but as he improves year-over-year, his high target share will turn into more fantasy production.

Rashod Bateman is a player whose numbers tell a story of someone likely to break out soon. It may be this year, but don't count on it. Until his usage changes in the red area, his volume just simply isn't quite where it needs to be to rely on him each week.

Kendrick Bourne, WR for the New England Patriots

This is such a tricky player to get a pulse on. As an unabashed Pats fan, I am partial to the boys in red, white, and blue. On the flip side, I almost never have a Patriot on my fantasy team. I think it was the blessing and curse of Brady/Belichick. There was rarely a dominant receiver from a fantasy perspective like Randy Moss (Edelman/Welker were never really heavily sought after in fantasy), and the running back committee was always a source of frustration. It is also difficult living in New England and having league-mates from home fairly value the hometown players. This would result in Brady going in the first or second round and Gronk going 2 rounds early. So alas, I just root for them to win games in real life (crazy concept, I know).

So what do I think about Kendrick Bourne before looking at the advanced numbers? Well, he's embraced the culture and learned quickly that doing your job, and doing it well, will lead to success. As a Patriot, he's exactly what the team needed after last season. But from a fantasy perspective, I don't really know how reliable he will be moving forward. Let's take a look.

  • His catch percentage is an insane 79.2%. In his previous life with the 49ers, he never had a catch rate higher than 68%. Some of it is Mac Jones' incredible accuracy, but there has to be an eventual revert back to the mean.

  • His Yards After the Catch per reception is also at 7.0 yards. He had never seen a number higher than 4.5 in any previous year.

  • On the flip side, almost every other metric is consistent with his previous production. ADOT, broken tackles, drop percentage, all within predictable averages for Bourne.

His production metrics, in comparison to other receivers in the league, are below average. Is that cause for concern? Quite the contrary. His usage has been slowly ramping with the Patriots as the offense has progressed through 2021. I only think his production metrics can go up from here. More metrics to think about:

  • Snap share ranks 98th amongst receivers

  • Route participation (routes run per each team's pass plays) ranks just 76th

  • Target share ranks 74th (although Mac10 loves to spread the ball around)

In looking at efficiency metrics, this tells a completely different story. Not many receivers have been as efficient as Kendrick this season.

  • 3rd in the league in both yards per target and catch rate

  • The best receiver in football when it comes to target premium. As a refresher, it is a percentage better or worse than other receivers in producing fantasy points. Kendrick Bourne is 57% better than the average player at creating fantasy points with equivalent targets. That is staggering.

  • This is one of my favorite metrics: Production Premium. Per PlayerProfiler, it isolates a player’s situation-agnostic efficiency. Production Premium compares the outcome of all pass attempts, carries, and targets to league-average outcome in those same game situations (yard line, down, and distance). Production Premium also takes into account time remaining and game score to account for non-standard situations such as 2-minute drills, clock-milking, and garbage time. It is a nearly all-encompassing metric for skill players. Kendrick Bourne ranks 2nd in the NFL in this category also.

  • He's added 50.1 points to what is expected, ranking 11th in the NFL.

  • He is number 1 in the NFL in QB rating when targeted, at a staggering 147.1. Perfect would be 158.3.

  • Lastly, Kendrick is also the #1 receiver in the league in fantasy points per target.

In summary, I do not expect Bourne to keep up with this insane efficiency. But I do believe he has earned more playing time, more routes, and the trust of the team in New England. It should increase his usage and production metrics at a rate greater than the decrease in his efficiency. He is a buy for me for the tail end of this fantasy season as someone I love to lock into my flex. I just wouldn't play him this week in Buffalo, where wind gusts could reach 65 MPH.

Elijah Mitchell, RB for the San Francisco 49ers

The Niners have been incredibly efficient on the ground in the last two seasons. Kyle Shanahan is a scheme machine, and that only helps Eli Mitchell be one of the most efficient running backs in the league. Even with missed time, he's rushed for 91 or more yards in 63% of his games. He isn't too involved in the passing attack, but with 4.8 YPC, he will get the volume necessary to still be effective.

  • The 49ers rank 9th in positive game script. This allows them to run more than the average team. They are also improving as a team, winning their last 3. With a juicy playoff schedule, I expect Mitchell to continue getting the rock down the stretch in San Fran victories.

  • Mitchell ranks very highly in production metrics and opportunity metrics. He sits 6th in opportunity share, 5th in team run plays per game, and 12th in a number of carries all while only scoring 4 touchdowns. He provides a stable floor.

From an efficiency perspective, he is about average. His true yards per carrying (which removes breakaway runs to have more predictability inconsistency) rank 14th in the league. But in most categories, he doesn't provide crazy efficiency value, which does lend to the fact that he will simply continue his production as long as the opportunities are there. He doesn't necessarily need to be the most efficient runner to have fantasy value. If he can become slightly more efficient with breakaway runs or yards created, it all becomes gravy at that point.

Why not go get Kendrick Bourne and Elijah Mitchell for your stretch run? Maybe throw Rashod Bateman into the mix as a trade piece to get both. They won't win your league for you, but they'll help be the foundation for that solid flex spot you may desperately need.


Let me know what you think in the comments or on social media. If you find this helpful, please share!

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