Unfamiliar with the SAP Player Comparison Tool? Well it's about time you get acquainted! The tool can be a great asset for those tough roster decisions, whether you're dealing with start/sit conundrums, trade comparisons, or decisions on which players to pick up on the waiver wire, you can benefit by learning the ins and outs of the customizable tool. This week in what we like to call Fantasy Football Audibles, we take a look at three player comparisons to help you take some of the guesswork out of those mind-boggling roster determinations.
Here's a quick primer in the factors that the SAP Player Comparison Tool takes into consideration when analyzing players:
»Performance:player performance (NFL statistics and Fantasy points) from the current season
»Matchup:opponent-specific fantasy points against (FPA) data and matchup analysis
»Consistency:stability of historical player fantasy point production
»Upside:potential for significant fantasy point performance
»Intangibles:additional factors including injury status, weather, game location, team support and player rest
Who should I start at RB: DeMarco Murray or Chris Ivory?
Let's get one thing out of the way: Mark Sanchez as the Eagles starting quarterback really shouldn't affect DeMarco Murray's fantasy value enough that you need to worry about either his volume or efficiency. So for those of you who have been using Murray as your RB1 or RB2 recently, keep on keeping on.
If you're lucky enough to have both of these running backs on your roster, you can feel free to start both of them. They both rank as top 10 fantasy backs at this point in the season. But if you need to choose just one, well that's what I'm here for. For Week 11, the Player Comparison Tool recommends Chris Ivory over Murray by one point. Let's dig a little deeper.
Ivory has averaged more fantasy points per game than Murray, has more total touchdowns and has a few more total yards on the season. Ivory also has a better matchup than Murray this week. The Jets take on a Texans defense that, over the last four weeks has allowed 20.73 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (but allowed just 51 total rush yards to the Bengals in Week 10 and may get Jadeveon Clowneyback from an injury) while Murray faces a Buccaneers defense that has allowed 12.58 FPPG to opposing runners in that same span, that's the third fewest in the NFL.
Since Murray had a slow start to the season and sat out in Week 3 with an injury, it makes more sense to compare these runners' stats over the last five games rather than their season long numbers to try and get a real idea of who the better play is for Week 11.
In the last five games, Ivory has averaged 21.2 touches per game, 96.6 total yards per game (473 yards from scrimmage) and scored four total touchdowns. His averages would be even more impressive if we included his 166-yard, one score game against the Jets in Week 4, but since we're only using the previous five games, that one is out, but still worth noting.
Murray averaged 24.6 touches per game and 119.2 total yards per game (596 yards from scrimmage) with three total touchdowns in his last five games. So Murray had more volume and a better total yards average than Ivory has recently. But Ivory went through a rough three-game streak where he averaged 47.3 total yards per game in Weeks 7 to 9 as he battled injury and was playing without the offensive line help of All-Pro center Nick Mangold. As soon as Ivory got healthy and Mangold was back, the Jets running back put up 135 yards from scrimmage against the Bills.
Murray gets more looks than Ivory in the passing game. His 24 receptions trump Ivory's 13 over the last five games, which does the Eagles back a bit of an edge in terms of fantasy production. The main concern with Murray is that he's been sharing the workload with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles in Philadelphia. Ivory is the feature back in New York, save for a few third down passing situations. Murray has a 50.9 percent share of running back touches this season while Ivory owns a 64.2 percent share of his team's running back touches.
Ivory's ceiling is higher too. This season, Ivory has games with 22.0, 22.6 and 25.6 fantasy points while Murray has posted just a single game over the 20 point mark.
One more factor to consider here is season-long red zone opportunities. Ivory has absolutely dominated the Jets running back red zone touches as 32 of 39 (82 percent) went to him. Murray's share is still the highest on the Eagles but is much lower than Ivory's. Murray has seen 25 of his team's 42 (59 percent) red zone touches this season. Since Murray is part of a three-headed committee, he's lost some opportunities to Ryan Mathews. Mathews has a better yards per carry average (5.7) and has scored more touchdowns (six) than Murray has this season. But Mathews suffered a concussion last week which clouds his playing status for the Eagles next game and could mean more work for Murray, especially in red zone situations.
Still, if I had to choose one running back for Week 11, I'd lean toward Ivory. He can get more done on fewer opportunities where Murray relies on a huge workload to produce mediocre results. Roll with Ivory this week.
Who should I start at TE: Antonio Gates or Jordan Reed?
The Player Comparison Tool heavily favors Jordan Reed in this case. Unfortunately, Reed doesn't face the horrible New Orleans Saints defense every week. But because the Chargers pass-catching corps is so depleted due to injury, there is a case to be made for both tight ends this week. Let's break it down.
Antonio Gates was suspended for the first four weeks of the season, and came back with a bang in Week 5 with 21.1 fantasy points. But since then, he's been a disappointment.
He injured his knee on October 18th in Green Bay and hasn't been the same player since, but has tried to play through it. Alas, he's noticeably less mobile and recently admitted that he's still not 100 percent and that he lacks explosiveness. But when the Chargers get into the red zone, you can bet that Philip Rivers will be looking Gates' way, whether he's completely healthy or not. The duo hooked up in the end zone in Week 9 but the play was called back on a penalty. At least he's had a full week off to rest since the Chargers had a bye last week.
In the two games since Keenan Allen has been out, the Gates has absorbed more targets (16) and hauled in more receptions (10) than any other player on the team. Unfortunately that volume has only resulted in 125 yards (62.5 per game) and zero touchdowns. For the season, 49 percent of his total fantasy points (43.2) have come in a single game, that Week 5 contest mentioned earlier. When he's healthy, Gates is a top five option at the tight end position. But his injury is a major concern and until we see that he's back to full strength, he'll be hard to trust as a reliable option. Especially if you have a player like Jordan Reed on your fantasy squad.
Reed has a nearly identical fantasy points per game average as the San Diego veteran (Reed: 10.6 FPPG, Gates: 10.8 FPPG). Reed leads his team in receiving touchdowns (6) with five of them coming in the last three games and has just two fewer receptions (41) and 33 fewer receiving yards (397) than Washington's leading wide receiver, Pierre Garcon. Reed is also second on his team with 58 targets. It's clear that Kirk Cousins trusts his tight end as he has targeted him fewer than seven times in just two games all season. And among tight ends with at least 50 targets this season, Reed ranks sixth in reception rate, securing 70.7 percent of balls that come his way. That's a better percentage than Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Eifert, Greg Olsen and Gary Barnidge.
In terms of matchup, Gates faces Kansas City defense that has allowed the second fewest fantasy points against opposing tight ends this season at a rate of 4.43 points per game. Reed may have an easier time against a Carolina unit that's given up 7.48 fantasy points per game to the position this year.
So in the end, it's tough to deny Reed this week. Ride him while he and Cousins have a good thing going. Until Gates is back to full health use him with caution as a flex or even leave him on your bench if you have a better option.
Who should I start at WR: Steve Johnson or Stefon Diggs?
This one is personal for me, as I own both Steve Johnson and Stefon Diggs in my .5 PPR League of Record, and will likely bench one and start the other this week. As you can see, the Player Comparison Tool considers this a pretty even split, but let's look at some stats to try and come to a more realistic solution.
Stefon Diggs was shot out of a cannon in his first four NFL starts, and for that span of four games he was a top 10 option in fantasy with point totals of 8.7, 12.9, 17.7, and 15.5 in standard scoring. But in his last two games, he's cooled off significantly. To his credit one of those slower games came against the Rams who boast one of the league's best pass defenses. In that game, his three receptions netted him just 42 yards (which led the Vikings receivers), and one of them was a 30-yard completion. But the rookie couldn't get much going last week against a Raiders secondary that is nowhere near as tough as St. Louis' group. He hauled in both passes that came his way for just 46 yards (and again led the Vikings in receiving).
Diggs just doesn't have the targets in his last two games, with totals of just five and two. His target totals in the four games prior were nine, nine, nine and 12. When Teddy Bridgewater throws for just 140 yards in a game, it's hard to expect much wide receiver production. Bridgewater has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in five of nine games this season and is averaging just 28.2 pass attempts per game, yet the Vikings continue to win, riding the success of running back Adrian Peterson. Diggs' season-long stats are skewed because of his four big games, but the lack of production in the passing game for Minnesota recently is very alarming.
On the other hand, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is averaging 43.3 pass attempts per game, as San Diego's run game has been anemic all season. With Keenan Allen on injured reserve, Malcom Floyd ailing from a torn labrum (that he reportedly will try to play through) and tight end Antonio Gates not playing at 100 percent (see above), Steve Johnson instantly becomes a must own wide receiver in fantasy. He'll likely see at least double-digit targets for the rest of the season and, if you can remember all the way back to the start of the season, Johnson scored touchdowns in the first two games before missing time with a hamstring injury. Rivers looks for him in the red zone too, which is always a plus. Johnson has fewer yards and fewer fantasy points than Diggs, but with the state of the Chargers' receiving corps his fantasy stock is clearly on the rise.
In terms of matchup, Johnson couldn't ask for an easier one as Kansas City is handing out fantasy points to wide receivers this season, while the Packers have been a bit tougher against the position this season, but have given up big games to Denver and Carolina pass catchers in the last three weeks.
In conclusion, if you're in need of a surefire volume play, Johnson is your guy. If you can afford to take a risk and bite your nails waiting for big play from Diggs, then you do you. But for me, I'm sticking with Johnson.