NFL Fantasy Roundtable: Not All Funnel Spots Are Created Equal


Photo credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joe Flacco

Aug 22, 2019, 03:00 PM EDT
  • Fantasy players love targeting "funnel spots" to identify potential weekly edges. But as our NFL experts discuss, not every spot is created equal.

In a lot of fantasy analysis this season, you’ll hear heuristics like “target running backs as favorites” or “roster pass games when they’re Vegas underdogs.”

There’s some truth to that: Among 544 running backs last season we projected for 10-plus PPR points, dogs averaged 14.13 fantasy points while favorites put up 16.56.

On DraftKings, those dogs hit value just 51% of the time compared to 56% for favorites. There’s certainly reason to those analytical rhymes. But then I looked at team-wide data from last year to see if Vegas spread had any predictive value for a team’s run/pass ratio.

The reason I think most people want to roster running backs as favorites is because of increased volume — a team with the lead is likely to run out the clock by running the ball. That means more carries and thus likely more fantasy points.

But while running backs do indeed perform better as favorites, there’s actually no correlation between Vegas spread and an increased run/pass ratio (an underdog going more pass-heavy than normal or a favorite becoming more run-heavy than their typical rates):

My Action colleagues are much smarter about the NFL than I am, so I pinged Chris Raybon and Matthew Freedman on Slack to talk about this issue.

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