FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Under the Numbers: Week 13
Alessandro Miglio
November 27, 2012
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Last week gave us the greatest Thanksgiving Day play since Leon Lett decided to go after that blocked field goal against the Dolphins:

With that levity out of the way, we present you with some of last week’s more compelling statistics.

1. Pierre Garçon: 5 receptions, 93 yards, 1 touchdown / Aldrick Robinson: 1 reception, 68 yards, 1 touchdown at Dallas Cowboys

After nearly getting shelved for the season with a foot injury, Garçon came back to produce lackluster results in Week 11. Then he went to Dallas.

The speedy receiver had a great day, including an amazing catch-and-run for a touchdown on a poorly aimed throw from Robert Griffin III. Contrast that with Robinson, who has caught a long touchdown pass in consecutive weeks. Both those receptions came on play action plays that left Robinson wide open for the touchdown.

One of these guys is fool’s gold.

2. Chad Henne: 17/26, 261 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception

Once is a fluke. Twice is a trend.

The Jaguars have life thanks to the Dolphins castoff, and so do their fantasy owners. Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts and Marcedes Lewis have been particular beneficiaries of Henne’s ascension.

What should we make of this? On the one hand, Henne shredded the Texans defense in Week 11. On the other, that defense has not been the same with some key injuries, and the Titans are not exactly tough defensively. Henne gets pretty good matchups against the Bills, Jets, Dolphins and Patriots to close out the season, depending on how you look at them—the Dolphins might be tougher than they look, and the Patriots have drastically improved in the secondary.

3. Trent Richardson: 29 carries, 85 yards, 1 touchdown; 4 receptions, 27 yards vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Browns eked out a victory against the heavily depleted Steelers, and Richardson was a big reason why.

His 2.9 YPC average may not be pretty, but the Steelers do still have a pretty good defense. Cleveland kept pounding the rock with the rookie, and he finally delivered with a touchdown.

The main attraction to Richardson is his role as the lead back in Cleveland. Conventional wisdom said those roles were dwindling in the NFL, in favor of running-back-by-committee approaches.

4. Ryan Broyles: 6 receptions, 126 yards / Mike Thomas: 2 receptions, 17 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Houston Texans

We might be witnessing the end of the short-lived Titus Young era in Detroit.

The hotheaded receiver was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team last week, and we got a good look at why Ryan Broyles was drafted as a result. The rookie receiver seems to be all the way back from a knee injury he sustained in college.

Mike Thomas stabbed another dagger into the hearts of Jaguars fans with his performance; he was targeted in the end zone more than once, a promising statistic if you are desperate for a wide receiver.

5. Vernon Davis: Goose-egg at New Orleans Saints

Of all the tasty matchups, the Davis and the 49ers had the best one this week against the Saints. He delivered exactly nothing to the fantasy football realm.

It wasn’t for lack of trying on Colin Kaepernick’s behalf. The studly second-year quarterback completed a 15-yarder to Davis only to see the play called back for a penalty. Later he lasered a throw perfectly to Davis only to see it bounce off his hands.

Davis has had a rollercoaster fantasy season, and it wasn’t his first gooss-egg his flop after a nice performance the previous week should not be entirely surprising. Chances are you do not have a better option if you took Davis in your fantasy drafts, though, so there is no sense in benching him. Like the Batman, he will rise again.

6. Knowshon Moreno: 20 carries, 85 yards; / Ronnie Hillman: 3 carries, 9 yards at Kansas City Chiefs

“Of course, Knowshon Moreno was just activated; he could be used to troll the fantasy football community.” – Under the Numbers: Week 11

There was a lot of love for Ronnie Hillman last week, including some emanating from yours truly.  John Fox had other plans.

Hillman’s pass-protection issues are holding him back, and it looks like Moreno will be given every opportunity to be the lead back as long as he performs moderately well or better.

7. Steven Jackson: 66 carries, 321 yards, 1 touchdown; 4 receptions, 31 yards over the past three weeks

Steven Jackson is one of the more underappreciated players in the NFL. The St. Louis stalwart is about to hit 10,000 rushing yards and 13,000 total yards for his career. But fantasy footballers have been scared of drafting him for ages, it seems.

Even the Rams are scared of keeping him, opting instead to say they will let Jackson void his contract and seek a free agent deal after the season is over. He might not be a spring chicken, but he won’t turn 30 until the offseason. It looks like he has more left in his tank than some other running backs his age, but the non-fiscal cliff is looming.

At any rate, he is a solid RB2 for the rest of the season and a sell ASAP candidate in dynasty leagues.

8. Ryan Tannehill: 18/26, 253 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception; 4 carries, 33 yards vs. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle has a tough defense, even if they play better at home. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner make things tough on the outside while a pass-rush headlined by Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin can make a quarterback’s life in the pocket quite uncomfortable.

Ryan Tannehill came into a game against that defense with some poor performances under his belt in recent weeks, losing winnable games against the Colts and Bills.  His fantasy numbers were not huge heading into those games, but they had become virtually nonexistent.

The rookie has games against New England, Buffalo and Jacksonville—in fantasy championship week no less—sandwiched around a scary road matchup against the San Francisco. Of course, if you are planning on starting Tannehill in the fantasy playoffs you are either in a two-quarterback league, your team is in trouble, or you are insane.

9. Cole Beasley: 7 receptions, 68 yards vs. Washington Redskins

Ailments to Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree elevated preseason darling Cole Beasley to a prominent role last week, and he delivered.

The rookie was not only a frequent target for Tony Romo as the Cowboys attempted a furious comeback against the Redskins, but he made some excellent plays. Most notably, Beasley plucked a high pass out of the air with one hand.

Austin might be out for a while, which could give Beasley ample opportunity to establish himself on that offense. Even if Kevin Ogletree returns, Beasley presents an underneath threat that the other receivers do not. He could be a PPR goldmine if he keeps getting those targets.

10. Rob Housler: 8 receptions, 82 yards vs. St. Louis Rams

The Cardinals are a sad sack of a team nowadays. They are the first team to go from 4-0 to 4-7 in NFL history, and they may not have hit rock bottom.

Larry Fitzgerald and his fantasy owners have suffered the most as he has gone from Kevin Kolb to John Skelton to Ryan Lindley at quarterback. One man’s loss might be another man’s gain.

Rob Housler stepped up with a massive PPR performance last week, a beneficiary of the attention St. Louis paid to Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts.

11. Jacquizz Rodgers: 10 carries, 49 yards, 1 touchdown; 2 receptions, 30 yards

We have been down this road before at Under the Numbers, mostly due to Michael Turner’s continual presence on the Police Plodder (see below).

Rodgers had a slow start this season as the Falcons apparently wanted to utilize him exactly the same way they use Turner by running him up the gut whenever he got a carry. Things have changed in recent weeks; Atlanta is getting the ball to Rodgers in space, and he is making defenses pay.

Perhaps it is time to start inserting him into your PPR lineups.

12. Mohamed Sanu: 11 receptions, 98 yards, 4 touchdowns over the past three games

It has been an interesting few weeks for Sanu, who has suddenly become a big weapon for the Bengals. Some of that might have to do with defenses keying on A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, but Sanu is making some big catches all on his own.

The rookie’s fantasy output has been fantastic over the past three weeks as he has scored in each of those games. A look at his target and yardage totals belies the truth, however—Sanu is due for some regression in the coming weeks. Tread with caution.

Police Plodder

Beanie Wells:17 carries, 48 yards, 2 touchdowns
He’s back, and he is looking better than ever. Or is he? Wells scored two touchdowns—one on a nice bounce to the outside—but otherwise ran the ball with uninspiring, predictable plod.

Mark Ingram: 10 carries, 27 yards
It was a tough matchup, to be sure, but Mark Ingram reverted to his pre-Darren-Sproles-injury days against the 49ers. He had one good run—a nice jump-cut to the left for a good gain—in an otherwise malodorous performance. Having to rotate with three other running backs might be enough to keep him out of rhythm.

Michael Turner: 13 carries, 17 yards, 1 touchdown; 3 receptions, 13 yards
At this point, anyone who starts Turner has to pray to the fantasy football gods that he gets a few goal line chances.

Matt Forte:  14 carries, 40 yards; 2 receptions, 4 yards
The injury bug swarmed the Chicago Bears last week, taking Forte out in the process. Before that happened, though, Forte turned in his second lackluster performance in a row.

Mikel Leshoure: 12 carries, 32 yards, 1 touchdown; 2 receptions, 27 yards

Leshoure was the first running back to score a rushing touchdown against the Texans this season, but he had to grind it out. His backup, Joique Bell, managed to take a plunge into the end zone himself, averaging 9.4 YPC to Leshoure’s 2.7.

Marshawn Lynch: 19 carries, 46 yards; 2 receptions, 1 yard
The Dolphins have been good against the run, particularly against running backs like Marshawn Lynch. (Any trouble they have had has come against speed backs like Daryl Richardson.) The Seahawks knew this, but kept pounding Lynch inside against Randy Starks and Paul Soliai as if expecting the results would change.

Lynch should be fine against worse run defenses, and he really has little competition in that backfield.


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