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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Under the Numbers: Week 2
Alessandro Miglio
September 11, 2012
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Week 1: Overreaction Tuesday. Will you blow your entire budget on Kevin Ogletree and his 48.5 percent of offensive snaps?

Here are some of this week’s most compelling statistics.

1. C.J. Spiller: 14 carries, 169 yards, 1 touchdown

Color me red. Toss some egg in my face.

The preseason is meaningless, and few players exemplified that more than C.J. Spiller. The Bills got throttled by the Jets, and some of this came in garbage time, but Spiller provided some big time fantasy scoring for anyone brave enough to start him.

Fred Jackson was knocked out of the game with yet another leg injury—this time a less severe LCL sprain—opening the door for a Spiller explosion.

2. Brandon Gibson: 4 receptions, 51 yards, 1 touchdown

Sam Bradford did not exactly light up the Lions like a certain pregame host predicted, but he did an admirable job nonetheless.

Brandon Gibson is the No. 1 receiver on the offense, making this type of game possible each week. He is not going to score 16 touchdowns, but Gibson can be a serviceable player for you. Particularly in deep leagues.

3. Alfred Morris: 28 carries, 96 yards, 2 touchdowns

The raw numbers will tempt you. Morris took the starting gig and ran with it, finding the end zone twice in a high scoring affair.

Take a closer look and you will see a Tim Hightower-like YPC of 3.4. Of course, Mike Shanahan always appeared to like Hightower. An underrated story for Morris is that he caught zero passes to Roy Helu’s three. The Redskins were ahead for most of the game, affording them the luxury of running the ball ineffectively.

Should the Redskins find themselves behind or in a tight game, Helu could be snaking some playing time from Morris. At this point Evan Royster is irrelevant—he had just two carries, albeit for 10 yards—but you never know what the capricious mind of Mike Shanahan will decide week-to-week nowadays.

Sell high or tread with caution.

4. Reggie Wayne: 9 catches, 135 yards

He didn’t get into the end zone, but Reggie Wayne showed he is still worthy of a weekly start on your fantasy team, barring better options.

The Colts had a predictably rough go against the Bears on the road.

5. Randall Cobb: 9 catches, 77 yards

The Packers had to find a way to get Cobb playing time, and they did just that by sticking him in the backfield in passing situations. While he will probably not be asked to pass block very often, this is a good sign for the talented receiver.

Cobb responded with a good game against a great defense, hauling in all nine of his targets—the most for any Green Bay receiver not named Jermichael Finley—though to the tune of 8.6 YPC.

6. Stephen Hill: 5 receptions, 89 yards, 2 touchdowns

So much for an anemic offense for the Jets.

Mark Sanchez played like his next magazine spread was on the line, tossing three touchdowns and punking the media at large in the process.

Two of those came to Stephen Hill, the oft-maligned rookie—at least during the preseason, where he looked as raw as predicted coming out of college—who went Kevin Ogletree on us all.

The two questions you must ask yourself if you plan on picking Hill up off waivers before other quality options: 1) Do you expect Mark Sanchez to continue lighting it up? 2) Do you expect Stephen Hill to be that big of a factor on a weekly or even bi-weekly basis?

7. Stevan Ridley: 21 carries, 125 yards, 1 touchdown;

It was one game, but Ridley has the look of a lead back in New England, one that we haven’t seen since the mythical days of Corey Dillon.

Granted, Ridley is one fumble away from ruining it for us all, but the Patriots looked rather balanced against the Titans. That is good for the offense all around, and Ridley should have no problem getting

8. Robert Griffin III: 19/26, 320 yards, 2 touchdowns, 139.9 passer rating; 9 carries, 42 yards

We thought it couldn’t be done, but Robert Griffin III authored another masterful rookie debut one year after Cam Newton took the league by storm.

The Redskins drew up a perfect game plan for Griffin, allowing him to play to his strengths. It helps that Pierre Garcon was an animal after the catch, but RGIII looked like a stud in and out of the pocket.

Defenses did catch up to Newton last year, and we do not know if the Saints defense is simply that bad. It is hard to argue with the dynamic playmaker we saw on Sunday.

9.  Brandon Lloyd: 6 receptions, 69 yards

Welcome to Bradyland, Mr. Lloyd.

There was no Ochostinko-like debut for Lloyd. Though his line may seem modest, Lloyd was inches away from catching a long pass from Brady, and he was targeted a team-leading eight times.

That came at the expense of Wes Welker, who caught just three passes for 41 yards. Whether this is a sign of things to come or simply a season-inaugurating aberration remains to be seen. Wes Welker did miss some time in the preseason due to his contract brouhaha, but he has the longest tenure with Tom Brady on the team.

This strikes me as a “take what the defense gives you” scenario—Brady simply found Lloyd more often because the defense was preoccupied with other players on the offense.

10. Reggie Bush: 14 carries, 69 yards; 6 receptions, 46 yards

It was an abysmal start to the Ryan Tannehill era for Miami, which lost to the vaunted Houston Texans 30-10 on the road. Reggie Bush was on his way to a fantastic fantasy day before disaster struck the offense, however.

Bush reeled off some nice runs as he continues to rehabilitate his career image in Miami. He averaged 4.9 YPC, though he was stuffed a few times in big spots. He was always a pass-catching threat, so the six receptions should come as no surprise. His rushing total was adversely affected when the Dolphins turned it over four times in the second quarter, allowing the Texans to pull away for a 24-3 lead heading into halftime.

With Daniel Thomas continuing to disappoint for the most part—his concussion added injury to insult—Bush’s grip on the lead back role is ironclad.  Twenty touches per game sounds about right for him at this point; he was one touchdown away from a great fantasy day. Those will come.

11. Doug Martin: 24 carries, 95 yards; 4 receptions, 23 yards

We all knew Greg Schiano was going to run the ball in Tampa Bay—he telegraphed that like a Ryan Tannehill pass.

We also knew Doug Martin was going to start.

What became abundantly clear in Tampa Bay’s victory over the Panthers is that Martin will not just be the starter; he will be Schiano’s bell cow. Martin’s 4.0 YPC might have been a bit pedestrian—especially considering he was hovering around 3.0 until late in the game—but he does not have the look of a plodding running back. That he can catch the ball out of the backfield makes him even more valuable.

At this point it seems Martin will run away with top honors at rookie running back, assuming health. He is a must-start for the foreseeable future.

12. Andre Roberts: 5 receptions, 56 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 carry, 15 yards

You know your running game has some work to do when Andre Roberts leads the team in rushing after one game.

Roberts’ 15-yard scamper on an end-around wasn’t his only highlight. The third-year man out of The Citadel was targeted nine times, second only to the great Larry Fitzgerald. He was involved in the passing game far more than his cohorts at receiver, including first-round pick Michael Floyd.

13. Maurice Jones-Drew: 19 carries, 77 yards; 3 receptions, 18 yards | Adrian Peterson: 17 carries, 84 yards, 2 touchdowns; 1 reception, 3 yards

So much for long layoffs short-circuiting big-name running backs.

Mike Mularkey talked about limiting Jones-Drew’s touches in his first game back after a lengthy holdout, a believable promise considering he had missed the entire preseason and had some catching up to do on the offense.

Rashad Jennings’ injury and general lack of effectiveness probably helped accelerate MJD’s reclamation of the lead back role, but he certainly showed no ill-effects from the contract dispute. Consider him back to form going forward, a must-start for your fantasy team. This is why it was foolish to take Rashad Jennings with a fifth round pick.

Speaking of reclamation, Adrian Peterson must have some magical healing properties as he blew away any notion that it would take time for him to get back to form.

He promptly shunted Toby Gerhart back into a backup role.

Overtime

Here are some bonus statistics from Week 1:

Justin Blackmon: 3 receptions, 24 yards

Now is a great time to buy low on Blackmon, who was targeted eight times with obviously little luck. He is Blaine Gabbert’s favorite target—at least based on their time together to this point—and he should get going soon enough.

Jonathan Dwyer: 9 carries, 43 yards

There were reports that the Steelers might give Dwyer the starting nod over Isaac Redman in Week 1. That did not come to fruition, but Dwyer had the superior stat line. He looks better than Redman at this point, making him a decent pickup until Rashard Mendenhall returns to mess things up again.

Michael Crabtree: 7 receptions, 76 yards

Crabtree quietly had a fantastic game for the 49ers, catching everything thrown his way as the Green Bay defense was preoccupied with Vernon Davis and Randy Moss. He seems to have turned into a Wes Welker-type of receiver—catching many of his passes underneath—but he is a good pickup if available.

Brian Hartline: 3 receptions, 50 yards

The Dolphins offense might need some work, but Hartline should help bolster the receiving corps. He may not be a true No. 1, but he outplayed starter Legedu Naanee—shocking, I know—and he was in on just 37 offensive snaps. Once his snap count returns to normal levels, Hartline is going to have some nice fantasy days, assuming he can stay healthy.


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