What is Actual Opportunity, and why should we care? Well, I can give you the answer to the first question, but mileage may vary on the second part. If you like advanced statistics or fantasy football value metrics, however, this could be up your alley.
Evidently, Pro Football Focus recently launched a new statistic that they are going to be incorporating into their fantasy football data that they are calling Actual Opportunity. I’ll let author Scott Barrett explain to you the gist behind the concept.
Actual Opportunity calculates all of these important disparate factors to determine which players have the best “actual opportunity” for fantasy purposes over the course of a season or in any given week. We do this by looking at a 10-season sample and calculating the value of each target at each depth (air yards) and each line of scrimmage. For runners we look at each carry at each line of scrimmage at each down and distance. When we total these two numbers, we can see their Actual Opportunity for the season, or how many fantasy points the average player would have scored if given the same opportunity. We can also see how these players performed for fantasy purposes above or below their expectation.
“All of these important disparate factors” were elaborated upon earlier in the article, but I’ll break down some examples for you. The basic idea is simply that not every touch or target presents the same value. A pass thrown a distance of three yards does not offer the same sort of opportunity as a 25-yard pass. A first-and-goal carry from the three does not offer the same value as a second and four from midfield.
For fantasy purposes, however, a second and 24 carry from midfield would present a greater opportunity than a second and four, since the defense will be playing more against the pass, which would give the runner a greater probability of gaining a significant number of yards.
So why am I even talking about this here? To point out that the Pittsburgh Steelers fared exceptionally well here. According to their 10-year sample size, Le’Veon Bell recorded the “best of the past decade in terms of Actual Opportunity per game”. Barrett added, “when starting Bell in 2016, you were essentially getting the fantasy value of LeGarrette Blount and Kelvin Benjamin in one roster spot”.
Needless to say, Bell finished at the top of the running back rankings in this category. Antonio Brown finished second only to Mike Evans of the Buccaneers. And despite the fact that he did not play a lot of snaps in the games that he actually did play, tight end Ladarius Green still managed to place 14th among tight ends when evaluating Actual Opportunity statistics per game.
I’m not a fantasy person myself, but I know that there are more than a few around here. More importantly, there are obvious correlations between good fantasy football players and good football players.
The point is that the Steelers have some good football players. And according to this particular analysis, they have players who excel at taking advantage of the opportunities that they are given, which I might say is pretty damn important.