10 Surprising NFL Stats Heading Into Week 5
It’s hard to believe we’re already in week 5. Every year eager fantasy managers look forward to football season and the new hope it brings for fantasy greatness, only to be disappointed by underperforming stars or to be hit by the injury bug. Yet, the unpredictability of fantasy football is what makes it so much fun and exciting to play. Players that no one had on their short list of league-winning contributors come out of nowhere to break out, while players drafted in the first round perform so poorly we consider trading them away for more consistency. Then there is that hard-to-believe data that seems like it can’t possibly be true but somehow is. Below are 10 such pieces of statistical data that I had to double-check to make sure they were true. As the season progresses, much of this will likely change, but for now, let’s dive into some surprising stats as we head into our first week of byes.
- Advanced Player Metrics
- Efficiency Player Metrics
- Fantasy Player Projections
- Snap Counts
- Target Tracker
- Red Zone Data & Stats
- Third Down Stats
Ten Surprising Fantasy Stats
Jordan Love (QB)
*Fewer interceptions than Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, or Patrick Mahomes
This might be a little hard to believe, but Jordan Love is currently the QB3 on the season behind only Justin Herbert and Josh Allen, and ahead of such names as Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, and Lamar Jackson. While his efficiency could be better, he has passed 33 times a game (a similar rate to Allen, Mahomes, and Hurts) and yet has thrown fewer interceptions than any of the top three fantasy draft picks at the position. The Packers have gotten down early the last couple of weeks, forcing Love to throw his way out of trouble, leading to the aforementioned interceptions, but Love has still managed ten total touchdowns while only throwing three interceptions. With Love, there are going to be some growing pains and frustrating moments, but he is playing at a level higher than most expected, and the fact that he has protected the ball better than certain elite options at the position shows just how good he has been.
Joe Burrow (QB)
*3rd lowest touchdown rate in the league
Joe Burrow has been…not good this season, and he has the stats to show it. Even with playmakers like Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon, and even Tyler Boyd at his disposal, Burrow has managed touchdowns at a lower rate than any QB not named Derek Carr or Daniel Jones. Something is not right in Cincinnati. Many will point to the calf injury and say Burrow is playing hurt, but if that is the case then the Bengals would be wise to give him the rest he needs to get healthy. At 1-3, the likelihood of the Bengals making the playoffs is dwindling, and being unable to put points on the board does not help the cause. Pundits, experts, and fantasy managers had high hopes for this Bengals offense. An offense that has more talent than the majority of teams in the league, but so far they have not met expectations, and unless Burrow finds a way to turn things around I don’t see that changing.
De’Von Achane (RB)
*Has more fantasy points than Bijan Robinson despite getting half the touches
The last two weeks have seen Achane break out in a big way. After running for over 200 yards, catching four passes for 30 yards, and scoring four total touchdowns in week 3, he ran for over 100 yards, had three catches for 19 yards, and scored two touchdowns in week 4. That’s six touchdowns in two weeks and fantasy finishes of RB1 (49.3 points) and RB4 (25.5 points.) Those are elite numbers. Those are numbers we would’ve expected from a first-round draft pick who is the primary back on his team, not from a third-round draft pick who has to share the backfield with a teammate that is performing at an elite level in his own right, and yet, through four weeks Achane is the RB3 in half-PPR formats and Robinson is the RB6. This is made even more impressive when you account for the fact that Achane has half the touches and one fewer game than Robinson. The future is bright for Achane. It’s still unclear how large of a workload he’ll receive moving forward, but even with 10-13 touches a game he could be a solid RB2 with RB1 upside. If you got him off waivers a week ago, congratulations. You may have found a league winner.
Najee Harris (RB)
*Has seen more stacked boxes than any other running back
Najee Harris was drafted as a top-10 running back at the top of the third round of fantasy drafts. He has yet to live up to that draft capital. His best finish came in week four when he ended the week as the RB17 with 10.8 fantasy points, but on the season he is the RB36, making him barely a flex option. Part of this is because the Steelers’ offense has been fairly stagnant through four games. He’s also splitting work with 2nd year back Jaylen Warren who is currently the RB29. The other part of this is being on a team that has very little passing game to speak of, allowing opposing defenses to stack the box and focus on stopping the run. Harris has seen a stacked box more than any other running back in the league, being faced with this 42.9% of the time. This would make it hard for any running back to find success, and unless the Steelers can become more consistent and explosive on offense Harris will continue to disappoint.
Kyren Williams (RB)
*Highest snap share of any running back
Kyren Williams has his naysayers, and I get it. He hasn’t been particularly efficient, averaging just 3.83 yards per carry. His fantasy production has mainly been the result of touchdowns and a sizable role in the passing game. Touchdowns are extremely difficult to predict and his target share could crater when star wide receiver Cooper Kupp returns, which could be as early as this week. But as the running back with the highest snap share in the league, Williams remains a must-start option. Williams is currently seeing an 85.7% snap share. That’s a true bell-cow workload. Since that level of work is becoming rarer and rarer, Williams is an extremely valuable asset to any manager who was lucky enough to grab him off of the waiver wire. With the emergence of rookie Puka Nacua and Kupp’s inevitable return the team may not rely on Williams as much, but he should retain enough work to continue to be a RB2 with RB1 touchdown upside.
Adam Thielen (WR)
*Thielen is a top 10 WR
At 33 years old no one expected Adam Thielen to be the WR10 through four weeks, but after a poor showing in week 1, Thielen has finished as the WR18, WR4, and WR22, although he did have his most productive week with Andy Dalton under center. In the one game Dalton started, Thielen was targeted 14 times, catching 11 of those targets for 145 yards and a touchdown. It would be better for Thielen if Dalton were the every-week starter, but Thielen has still managed to stay productive even with rookie QB Bryce Young delivering him the ball. Young has struggled this year, but since week one he has targeted Thielen 17 times in two games. The Panthers are one of the worst offenses in the league so Thielen may not be able to maintain this type of consistency, but until that happens, he remains a decent flex option.
Marvin Mims (WR)
*Highest depth of target
So far, in 2023, Mims has yet to see more than a 35% snap share, but even with limited action he has been productive while flashing an upside that should get him on the field more as the season progresses. Mims has had more than two targets in only one game and yet has had two top 20 finishes at the position in half-PPR formats scoring 19.3 and 15.1 fantasy points during those weeks. He’s been able to find this success by mainly being a big play wide receiver, with an average depth per target of 22.72 yards. This was especially on display in week 2 when Mims had two catches for 113 yards and one touchdown, most of which came from a 60-yard touchdown reception. On a team desperate for playmakers I would expect Mims to continue to see a larger snap count and more opportunities. That, combined with his obvious upside, could mean a strong second half of the season.
Jayden Reed (WR)
*Has the 2nd most redzone targets
It may have flown a bit under the radar, but Reed has had a promising start to his NFL career. With Christian Watson on the shelf due to a hamstring injury Reed has seen over 50% of the snaps in all four games this season. During that span, other than a two touchdown week 2, Reed’s fantasy output has been modest, but he has looked every bit the part on the field. Reed has also seen over six targets a game, with nine of his 25 targets coming in the redzone. That’s only one fewer than Davante Adams (who leads the league), and Adams has double the amount of targets, meaning while 20% of the targets Adams has received have come in the red zone, 36% of Reed’s have. It’s hard to know what will happen once Watson returns to full strength, but as well as Reed as been playing it’s hard to believe he would disappear completely. Reed is a good wait-and-see stash if you have the bench space.
Travis Kelce (TE)
*3rd lowest snap share of any top 12 TE
Our perception of Kelce is as an every-down player who, as the #1 target for Patrick Mahomes, never leaves the field. The reality, so far in 2023, has been far different. Kelce currently sees the 3rd lowest snap share of tight end in the top 12 at the position. The only top 12 tight ends to see a lower snap share are Jake Ferguson and Jonnu Smith. This means players like Cole Kmet, Hunter Henry, and even rookie Sam LaPorta are seeing a larger share of their teams’ snaps than Kelce. Kelce was injured to begin the season and the Chiefs may simply be easing him back into game action. We also saw his snap share rise from 61% in week three to 79% in week four, so over the next couple of weeks Kelce may settle into a role closer to what we would expect, especially playing on a team that lacks any elite pass-catchers.
Jake Ferguson (TE)
*Fewest routes run of any top 20 TE, while receiving the most redzone targets
As the TE8 on the season Ferguson has made the most of his opportunities, and yet it’s still difficult to gauge how consistent he will be moving forward. Ferguson’s snap share has ranged from 56%-72%. He has received seven targets and been top 15 at the position in three of four games. Ferguson has also received the most redzone targets (11) of any tight end. Yet, there is some reason for skepticism. Those redzone targets have only translated to one touchdown on the season. On top of that, Ferguson has actually run the fewest routes of any tight end in the top 20, running a route on 20.5% of his snaps. This could explain why Ferguson has been able to reach double-digit fantasy points in half-PPR just once this season. The positive is he is the seventh most targeted tight end in the NFL with 25 targets. Once you beyond names like Kelce, Andrews, and Hockenson, it gets murky. A tight end who sees a lot of target, (44% of which come in the redzone) will continue to hold value. Ferguson will remain touchdown-dependent for those really big weeks, but if he continues to get seven targets a game he will continue to get you points.
A die hard Bears fan and fantasy sports fantastic, T.J. Besler earned his journalism (and theatre) degree from The University of Iowa. When he isn’t busy writing parodies for his YouTube channel Parodies for Charities he can be found either on stage performing or doing all things fantasy football related. Besler has traveled to nearly all 50 states either for work or leisure, and is grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way, especially his lovely wife Elsa, without whom much of this would not be possible. BEAR DOWN!