(Editor's intro: When most people first hear the name of our lovely website (Fantasy Football Toolbox), the meaning may be lost on them. What we set out to provide are unique, comprehensive and advanced tools for the fantasy football community. Although we offer news, articles, rankings, cheatsheets, contests, tournaments, lists and everything in between; ultimately, sometimes readers want to do their own research. They don't want to hear what some "Fantasy Football Expert" thinks on every subject. They can make their own decisions. Do their research. Come to their conclusions. That's why FFToolbox is expanding their library of tools to include FFToolbox Pro. All you have to do to gain access to this new array of weapons for your Fantasy arsenal is sign up and log-in to FFToolbox. It's totally FREE once you're signed in, it's that simple. These tools are free for a limited-time only! Use them to your advantage now!)
Most good fantasy players do a lot of preseason research and usually, this research takes the form of browsing statistics on spreadsheets. But row after row of numbers and cell data start to run together after a while. Wouldn't it be nice if you could see the whole statistical story painted in front of you?
Now you can with the FFToolbox Pro Heatmap tool (You must log in to use the tool). Heatmap gives you a graphical portrait of stats such as passing attempts, targets, completions and touchdowns. Plus, in addition to seeing the length of each rush or passing target, Heatmap will show you exactly where on the field each play took place. Let's see your spreadsheet match that.
Heatmap is fully customizable for scenario factors such as down and distance, quarter and time remaining. If you want to know how accurate Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was when passing on third-and-long with less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Heatmap can tell you. This is a seriously powerful next-level analysis tool.
So how might Heatmap help you dominate your fantasy leagues in 2014? Let's take a look at a few scenarios below.
Tight Ends Seeing Vertical Targets
Let's say you want to see how often 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was targeted downfield. First, in the "Play type" field, you would select "Receptions." Then set the "Play filter" to "Targets." Type in Davis' name in the "Player" field, and hit the "Generate Image" button. Bam!
There's a visual representation of every target Davis saw in the 2013 season. From the Heatmap, you can see that Davis saw plenty of targets more than 20 yards downfield. From this, you might assume that Davis has more big play potential than other tight ends who are typically targeted closer to the line of scrimmage.
Davis and Cowboys TE Jason Witten are being drafted near each other. If you want to compare their targets, leave the Heatmap settings intact and just enter Witten's name in the "Player" field.
You can see above that Witten's targets came almost exclusively within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage. Cowboys QB Tony Romo was hardly targeting Witten downfield at all.
If you wanted to go deeper, you could change the "Play filter" from "Targets" to "Touchdowns," which will show the length of every touchdown catch each player recorded. This will show that that all eight of Witten's touchdowns came from within roughly 20 yards of the end zone.
But Davis had a number of big plays, including three touchdowns of 30 yards or longer, including one of more than 50 yards.
When comparing Davis and Witten, you now know that Davis has the higher upside given his potential for a big-yardage play. The Heatmap will allow you to do this type of research with any players in the NFL.
You've heard that former Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is now the head coach of the Washington Redskins. You've also heard that Gruden's offense threw deep last year more than any other team in the league. So you can assume that Redskins deep-threat WR DeSean Jackson is in for a huge year, right?
Maybe not. Let's use the Heatmap tool to look at how Redskins QB Robert Griffin III performed on deep balls last year.
First, set the "Play type" to "Pass." Then set the "Play filter" to "All passes." Finally, enter Griffin's name. This will give you a visual representation of every pass RGIII attempted in the 2013 season.
As expected, most of his throws traveled within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Many attempts in the 20-yard range went across the middle, but we can mostly write these off for Jackson since he has a well-known aversion to running routes across the middle of the field. Still, Griffin flung a fair number of balls downfield.
But when you switch the "Play filter" field to "Completions," you can see below that things get uglier.
Heatmap shows that Griffin completed just a small fraction of the downfield passes he attempted. It could be that his receivers weren't up to snuff in 2013. Or it could speak poorly of Griffin's long-range accuracy, his possible performance in Gruden's deep-pass offense, and the quality of Jackson's upcoming deep-ball opportunities. You have the freedom to make these determinations for yourself, though. That's why this tool is here.
In-Depth Defensive Analysis
You're not a simple-minded, run-of-the-mill fantasy owner. If you were, you wouldn't be reading this article. You can handle complexity. In fact, you embrace it. You prep for your season with hours of hardcore, in-depth, long-term analysis.
Good. The Heatmap tool can help you do that. Here's an example.
You like Cardinals WR Michael Floyd as a sleeper WR1 this year. You know he's emerging as the dominant threat in Arizona's passing game, and you want him on your team. You especially like that you can buy his talents for the relatively low price of a fifth-round draft pick.
But looking at the Cardinals' schedule, you see something that worries you. Arizona plays Seattle in Week 16, the second week of your fantasy championship. Obviously, you'll be competing for the trophy. Is Floyd a guy you want in your lineup to help you win that week?
You know that Seahawks shutdown cornerback Richard Sherman plays the right side of the field (left side of the defense) more often than not. So, you head to the Heatmap tool and pull up an image of Floyd's targets from 2013. Uh-oh.
Sure enough, most of Floyd's downfield chances are coming on the right side of the field, just where Sherman is waiting. You can see he's in for a brutal Week 16.
You don't want to give up on Floyd because of a badly-timed matchup, so you take him in the fifth round anyway. But knowing he'll have a tough time in Week 16, you turn around and grab Colts WR T.Y. Hilton in the sixth. He gets the Cowboys' defense in that crucial week, and you know their safeties are suspect. Looking at Hilton's Heatmap, you can see that with his speed, he gets tons of deep targets.
When your championship matchup rolls around, you make the bold decision to bench Floyd versus the Seahawks for Hilton versus the Cowboys, who finished 30th in pass defense last year. Hilton roasts Dallas with a couple of big plays. You take home the trophy and the bragging rights.
All because of the Heatmap.
Ok, so that's a dream scenario. Floyd and Hilton might not even be playing in Week 16. Nothing is certain in the NFL.
But at least one thing is certain in fantasy football: FFToolbox Pro tools like Heatmap give you deeper insight into the game than you'll find anywhere else. And if you want to win your league this year, you better start taking advantage of them.
How to Sign-Up
1. At the top right of the page, click Register. (If you already have an FFToolbox account, you already have access, just log in!)
2. Fill out the very brief form.
3. After logging-in, you will land on this page. It is your account dashboard. Under Toolbox Pro, Click the button labeled "HEATMAP". If you cannot find this page, click your username at the top-right of the page.