The chaos series was created to help bring organized chaos into your fantasy world. The hope is to disrupt how you perceive the identified player. If you missed the first piece, you can find it here: “Josh Jacobs, Time Bomb.” Today, Mike Davis is the newly acquired destination. I recently ran a poll on Twitter to get an initial feel for where the fantasy community feels about Mike Davis and his future average draft position in redraft leagues.
Into The Chaos
Let’s dive into why I think Mike Davis is worthy of this extraordinarily fun topic. Using the poll above, I am going to run with the assumption Davis will be drafted in the fifth round. Looking back from 2020 to 2018, these are the running backs drafted and their seasonal finish.
When I looked at the running backs who had finished No.29 over the last three years, this is their NFL production and fantasy average per game.
The expectations for the average running back in the fifth round is disappointing, to say the least. At this point, it is important to bring up the much-needed and often left-out information considered when projecting Davis’s volume. The departure of Todd Gurley, Brian Hill, and Ito Smith vacated 425 touches for the 2021 season. This amounts to 25 touches a game. The current depth chart for Atlanta right now is Mike Davis, Cordarelle Patterson, Quadree Ollison, and Tony Brooks-James. They did not address the position through the draft though they signed some free agents. Many project Javian Hawkins to carve out a role on this team, but it is not a sure thing.
Is Volume King?
Looking in the past, Mike Davis has been widely used as a backup, a bit of a stopgap at running back, I would call it. He is entering his age 28 season, which, if you are in touch with the dynasty mindset, is basically the age running backs start planning their retirement party. Looking at the efficiency metrics, from playerprofiler.com, from an opportunity standpoint, Davis was given plenty this last season with Carolina. Currently ranked No. 14 in opportunity share, No. 20 in carries, No.5 in targets, and No.10 in weighted opportunity. The production also was not a problem for Davis, especially in the receiving area ranking No.9 in receiving yards and No. 4 in receptions. Looking at his rushing production, there was a bit left to be desired, ranking No.29 for rushing yards.
The fact Mike Davis had a massive opportunity and did a good job capitalizing is not a mystery. What is surprising was his efficiency. He ranked No.55 in true yards per carry, No.38 in breakaway runs, No. 188 in expected points added, and No. 27 in yards created per touch. He did, however, rank No.19 in yards created and No.8 in evaded tackles. Davis did a poor job maximizing his opportunity and struggled to create beyond what was given to him. That doesn’t bode well for his time in Atlanta. Volume affords opportunity, but Davis has shown what he does with the opportunity last year underwhelms.
Projecting into the future
In 2020 Atlanta had 1,037 offensive plays. They rushed 39.44-percent of those attempts and targeted the running back 8.7-percent of the time. With that rushing share last year, Gurley saw 54.46-percent, Hill saw 27.93-percent, and Smith saw 17.59-percent. I am not looking too deeply into this, given how poorly Gurley performed last year. The running back room scored 11 touchdowns last season, which is 14.47-percent, with Gurley scoring 81.81-percent of them. Mike Davis figures to lose work to Quadree Ollison inside the twenties and has the possibility to lose work to Hawkins in the pass-catching department. Davis likely sees a similar rushing share to Gurley and could lose out on some pass-catching volume to Hawkins. The reason I am projecting this is that the Panthers didn’t want to have Davis get as much volume as he did but were forced. I believe the Falcons will deploy a committee. I also believe the numbers listed above help my opinion hold water.
I will break down the projections for Mike Davis and what kind of season I expect from him this year. This will be difficult (for the decimal points on attempts and targets, I am not rounding them up so you can see the raw numbers of these projections.)
Last season the Falcons averaged 63.5 plays per game; with Arthur Smith being the new head coach, I think it is a fair assumption that we see a decrease in plays offensively. So I am projecting 61 plays per game and 1,045 offensive plays in a season.
The running percentage of the offense I am anticipating an increase from the previous offense, so I am adjusting the run percentage to 41.5-percent, which is a 2-percent improvement from last year. I would raise it more, but I am not sure ATL will have the defense to afford a surplus amount of run plays.
That would mean the running back room will see 433.67 carries this season, equating out to 25.51 carries a game.
I am projecting Davis to see 53% of the carries, which projects him to see 229 carries in a seventeen-game season and 13.52 carries a game.
Davis had 3.9 yards per carry, a true carry rate of 3.8. I have him projected to regress to 3.6 yards per carry, given the current phase of his career.
I am also projecting the running back targets to improve slightly to 9-percent since that is the area in which Davis excels. This means the running backs will be targeted 3.2 times per game.
Davis’s passing target share, out of the running backs, is being projected at 55-percent. This projects him to see 29.92 targets this season.
Applying Davis’s catch percentage from last year (84.3-percent), he projects to complete 25.22 targets.
I am decreasing Davis’s yards per reception due to where he currently is at in his career by 0.04-yards will project him to have 5.9 yards per reception.
I am projecting the Falcons to run less in the red zone with the acquisition of Kyle Pitts. Because of this I am projecting the Falcons to score seven rushing touchdowns. I also predict the running back room will score two receiving touchdowns.
I have Davis scoring 4 out of the seven rushing touchdowns with those projections and 1 out of the two receiving touchdowns, giving him a total of 5 touchdowns on the season.
With all of the nerd stuff out of the way, this is how Mike Davis’s 2021 season projects.
The End Of The World As We Know It
Now I have that song stuck in your head; let me close this out. Mike Davis, at his projected ADP of a fifth-round pick, looks to meet the average finish from the past three years. His current ADP on fantasyfootballcalculator.com is 6.09 in a PPR seasonal league. Since April 19, his ADP has risen nearly two rounds. If this trend line continues, which I believe that it will, you are going to miss valuable players for the allure of the Falcons lead back. Drafting Mike Davis in your redraft league is a mistake, acquiring him in dynasty will cost you as well.