Teams Tendencies and Trends: NFC West
My look into team trends after the 2017 draft with respect to wind speed continued with the NFC West. Few notes on this division. Arizona plays in a dome limiting their high wind exposure. Los Angeles and San Francisco are both in transition with new coaching and offensive personnel. So, plenty of other narratives to sway FF owners in either direction. But, let’s see if any useful conclusions can be made from the weather data.
Wide Receiver, 3rd Round
At 6’1”-204 with a 4.37 second 40, Chad Williams profiles as a versatile receiver capable of playing inside and out. If he works on his early route technique, he could see some work in 3 WR sets. But, all eyes are on John Brown’s health and if Fitzgerald has anything left in the tank.
Fitzgerald has played a consistent role during his time with Carson Palmer. The data trends indicate more targets on shorter passes in high wind games. But, limited sample sizes render any conclusions as educated guesses. Plus, owners know what to expect when they roster the veteran. The real concern is Smokey.
Williams is about the same size as Brown with similar speed (4.37 vs. 4.3). If Brown’s sickle cell trait is still a concern, look for Williams to take on that role alongside Nelson. Brown’s 2016 trends don’t provide much info, but it’s not too surprising to see the inverse relationship in his targets and yards per target. Williams could compete for a similar workload if Brown is forced to sit out because of his health.
Running Back, 5th Round
I know. I know. You see an RB drafted to David Johnson’s team and roll your eyes. But, there’s a chance the T.J. Logan sees some work. He’s 5’9”-196 with a 4.37 second 40. Translation: scat back. He’s the same size as and listed behind the seemingly troubled Andre Ellington who’s switched positions twice now. But, he’s much faster (4.61 vs. 4.37).
Ellington has seen his usage trends decline as David Johnson has taken over the backfield. If Logan can decrease his fumble rate, his speed offers more on third down. While it won’t cut into Johnson’s role, it should help Palmer and the offense move the chains.
Los Angeles Rams
Tight End, 2nd Round
Everyone pause. Take a moment of silence in remembrance of Jeff Fisher. The GIFs were great, but we must now move on to better times. Hopefully.
Gerald Everett is the first player hoping to bring some light to the Rams. At 6’3”-239 and a former basketball player, he’s a lock for the Hall of Fame, right? Profiling like a Brandon Marshall clone, Everett gives Goff a large target to work the middle of the field.
Overall, trends show that Goff relies on the TE position for production. But what’s interesting is his increased involvement of the position against tougher defenses. The adage of a rookie QB loving his tight end holds true here. This works in Everett’s favor. He’ll need to compete with Tyler Higbee for playing time, but either will give Goff help in the passing game.
Wide Receiver, 3rd Round
The addition of Cooper Kupp signals that the Rams want to help Goff in 2017. His college trends (all detailed in Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception Ultimate Draft Kit) show that he was used almost exclusively out of the slot. At 6’2”-204, Cooper Kupp gives Goff yet another large target to work the middle of the field.
In Goff’s seven starts, he faced a Top 10 defense four times. Applying wind filters, the trends show his pass volume isn’t impacted, but his yards per attempt drop. This bodes well for the rookie. Kupp showed a high contested catch rate which will aid Goff in those tough situations. The early investment into these two specific players indicate a positive shift in offensive philosophy. If Goff lives up to his potential, look for these two to be a part of the push forward.
Wide Receiver, 4th Round
Josh Reynolds profiles as an outside receiver playing mostly from the right side of the field. He could help fill the Kenny Britt void while learning from Robert Woods, but is listed fourth on the depth chart. Reynolds showed skill against zone coverage and separates well.
Before leaving, the data indicates Britt had gained Goff’s trust in the passing game. If Reynolds can build on his college tape, look for him to replace some of what Britt left behind.
Full Back, 6th Round
Sam Rogers could see work as a fullback to help both Goff and Todd Gurley. Versatile, but lacks the overall athleticism that keeps folks from comparing him to fantasy relevant fullbacks like Kyle Juszczyk. Even if Rogers sees the field, it’ll still be Gurley’s backfield with reports from OTAs pointing to even more passing targets to him.
San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback, 3rd Round
Kyle Shanahan has his work cut out for him. Personnel on both sides of the ball for the 49ers look shaky at best. Let’s start with the QB position.
C.J. Beathard, drafted in the third round, is in line to work behind both Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in 2017. Despite an average overall completion percentage, he’s posted solid numbers on short throws with some work required on sideline accuracy. If a catastrophe were to occur and Beathard is thrust into the starting job, let’s see who’d benefit.
Garcon is the only WR out of the three listed starters with the experience necessary to gain Beathard’s trust. His usage during his time with Shanahan (’12-’13) and then with Kirk Cousins (’15-’16) show his versatility. His targets also maintain consistency throughout all wind speed brackets. Ellington and Goodwin can play outside with either speed or size, but can’t outplay Garcon. Expect Pierre to see most the workload regardless of who’s under center.
Running Back, 4th Round
We’ve all heard the story about Shanahan putting Joe Williams back on the 49ers’ draft board. The character concerns are for those more in tune with the team. He’s not known for his pass catching ability so let’s see if Hyde’s shown utility in this regard.
Trends indicate increased reliance on Hyde’s hands in high wind games. Recently signed Tim Hightower can catch passes, but is nearing the end of his career. Kapri Bibbs, acquired from Denver, also doesn’t have notable catch skills. This means that Williams will need to use his 4.49 speed and excellent balance to outshine Hyde (4.66 second 40). Past that, it’s hard to imagine Hyde losing considerable work to the rookie in 2017.
Tight Ed, 5th Round
Fast and tall, George Kittle provides insurance if Vance McDonald isn’t fully recovered from his shoulder injury sustained last year. Needs to improve his technique in both blocking and route running, but can supplement the interior passing game for SF.
Even before McDonald’s injury, he wasn’t a major factor in the passing game. Applying wind filters don’t help his case either. The data indicates an average 13.33% market share. Because McDonald has no ties to the incoming regime, expect a competition between the two over the offseason.
Wide Receiver, 5th Round
Trent Taylor is listed towards the back of the depth chart. At 5’8”-181, his short frame requires the accuracy of an accurate passer. Those are hard to come by in the Bay Area. At best, Taylor can work the slot role if Garcon or Jeremy Kerley were to miss time.
Wide Receiver, 3rd Round
At 6’2”, Amara Darboh is the tallest of the starting receiver corps for the Seahawks. While statistically irrelevant, a larger target is easier to see when a QB scrambles. And Russell Wilson scrambles a lo—you get the idea. Listed behind Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, it’s possible for Darboh to see some time if Lockett’s leg hampers his return.
Baldwin plays out of the slot so his utilization can vary. If Darboh’s size keeps him outside, he’ll likely takeover for Lockett. Lockett’s usage over the past two season has improved. His targets increase as his yards per target trail off which is what we’d want to see. With a 40 time .05 seconds slower than Lockett, Amara has the raw athleticism to become a factor. Should his struggles against press and man coverage improve, he can provide much needed depth to the Seahawks offense.
Wide Receiver, 7th Round
Buried on the depth chart, David Moore is another size/speed mismatch that needs work at the receiver position. His speed could earn him a role on special teams, but he came from a small school with little competition. He’ll need to improve his game to ascend to the professional ranks.
Running Back, 7th Round
The Seahawks already have three running backs vying for a piece of the starting role. Christopher Carson’s speed and pass catching ability should be useful if sophomore C.J. Prosise is injured again.
Russell Wilson’s rushing has been a big part of his appeal for fantasy owners. His injuries last year kept his attempts mostly in check. This resulted in a spike in running back pass attempts in higher wind speed games. Even if Wilson runs more this season, Carson’s opportunity in the offense should warrant attention if injuries occur.