- Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara and Leonard Fournette all took the league by storm in their rookie years. There's reason to believe they'll all keep it going in their first career playoff games.
After a regular season featuring an exciting rookie class, way too many catch controversies and injuries to star players, and a new crop of quarterbacks and playoff teams rising up, the playoffs are finally here. Six teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season will take the field on Wild Card weekend, joined by the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs—a team which features a rookie running back that wasn’t in the fold last season, either. Here are five facts to know for DFS about players and/or teams who were not a part of the playoffs a year ago.
1. Kareem Hunt is being used a lot more in scoring position by new play-caller Matt Nagy
When Andy Reid called plays in Weeks 1 through 12, Hunt accounted for nine of his team’s combined 23 carries and targets inside the opponent’s 10-yard line, or 39.1%. In Weeks 13 through 16 under Nagy, Hunt’s usage inside the 10 climbed to 10-of-16 combined carries and targets, or 62.5%. Hunt also went from 3.8 targets per game under Reid to 5.3 per game under Nagy, which bodes well for Hunt considering that the Titans allowed 967 receiving yards to running backs, 127 more than any other team.
2. The Buffalo Bills allow the most schedule-adjusted fantasy points in the league to opposing running backs
Buffalo allowed a league-leading 20 touchdowns to running backs this season, while Leonard Fournette scored at least one touchdown in nine of 13 games overall, and five of six games at home. 4for4’s Team Defense: TDs Allowed Distribution Report also tells us that Buffalo allowed at least one rushing touchdown in 75.0% of its games, tied for most in the league. Fournette has handled 20 or more touches in more than three-quarters of his games this season, which should be enough to reach the end zone at least once at home against the Bills.
3. Alvin Kamara was given twice as many opportunities as Mark Ingram inside the opponent’s 10-yard line over the past three weeks
From Week 15 through Week 17, Kamara had four carries inside the 10, while Ingram had one carry and one target. After Ingram had a 20.3 to 13.9 advantage over Kamara in touches per game in Weeks 6 through 13, Kamara enjoyed a 17.3 to 16.7 edge over the last three weeks (Kamara left Week 14 after six snaps with a concussion). Kamara also performed better than Ingram in two meetings against the Panthers this season, averaging 8.8 yards per touch with three touchdowns on 19 touches, compared with Ingram’s 5.8 yards per touch and one touchdown on 36 touches.
4. The Carolina Panthers allowed opposing No. 1 wide receivers to average 5.5 receptions, 94.1 yards, and 0.83 touchdowns per game over the last six weeks
Since the team’s bye in Week 11, Carolina’s defense has coughed up receiving stat lines of 6–146–2 (Robby Anderson), 5–70–1 (Michael Thomas), 6–105–1 (Adam Thielen), 5–57–1 (Davante Adams), 6–107–0 (Mike Evans), and 5–80–0 (Julio Jones). Michael Thomas also piled up seven catches, 87 yards, and a touchdown on Carolina in Week 13. The second-year man out of Ohio State should continue to have success this weekend against the defense allowing the most schedule-adjusted fantasy points in the league to wide receivers.
5. Greg Olsen accounted for 37% of the Carolina Panthers’ air yards over the past three weeks
From Week 3, Carolina’s first game with Olsen on injured reserve with a foot injury, to Week 14, Olsen’s first game resuming a full-time role, Devin Funchess averaged 8.1 targets per game and commanded 38% of Carolina’s air yards. Olsen played sparingly in Week 12, missed Week 13, and then was not targeted despite playing 92% of the snaps in Week 15, but since then he has been busy, averaging 9.0 targets per game. In that same timeframe, Funchess dipped to 4.7 targets per game and a 26% share of the team’s air yards. With Funchess likely to see a lot of Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Marshon Lattimore in coverage, Olsen should again expect to operate as Cam Newton’s No. 1 receiver.