FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Under the Numbers: Week 15
Alessandro Miglio
December 11, 2012
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Congratulations if you have made it this far in your season.  Now finish what you have started. Here, use these stats to help guide you in your quest.

1. Nick Foles: 32/51, 381 yards, 2 touchdowns; at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

And your Week 14 top fantasy quarterback is… Tom Brady. But Nick Foles was in the lead before Monday Night Football.

The rookie quarterback is just the latest in the swarm of this year’s rookie class that has taken the league by storm. Foles had a nice matchup against the Buccaneers, but who could have predicted this outing?

Stopping Bryce Brown and the run game seemed like it was Priority One for the Buccaneers, and it worked for the most part. Foles foiled the plan, though, and delivered for anyone who was brave enough to start him. Can he do it again?

Cincinnati and that pass rush will be a difficult test, but Foles will have a nice championship-game matchup against Washington. Plan accordingly.

2. Cleveland Browns Defense: 42 points (Yahoo!), 37 points (ESPN) over the past three weeks

Depending on your scoring format—which, let’s face it, could vary wildly in custom leagues—the Browns have had a nice couple of weeks defensively sandwiched around a poor one against the Raiders. Whether it was forcing a record eight fumbles against the Charlie Batch-led Steelers or scoring a touchdown on a punt return while holding the Chiefs to seven points, the Browns have taken advantage of some nice matchups.

The run of nice matchups ends this week unless, perhaps, Kirk Cousins gets the nod for an ailing Robert Griffin III. Even if Cousins is the starter, he seemed to do just fine against the Ravens defense to get the game into overtime. Cleveland goes from RGIII into the fire with Peyton Manning and that well-rounded Denver offense the following week. It’s time to find a new streaming defense.

3. David Wilson: 13 carries, 100 yards, 2 touchdowns vs. New Orleans Saints

What does it take to get out of Tom Coughlin’s doghouse? Injuries to those ahead of you on the depth chart are a good start.

David Wilson was slowly making his way back to daylight after fumbling away his opportunities earlier this season, but there was little real hope he would make a fantasy impact. Then Andre Brown was injured, followed by Ahmad Bradshaw’s latest predictable injury.

If Bradshaw is out, Wilson becomes a must-start as a RB2, a boon for anyone who might have stashed him and someone you must try to pick up if he is on the waiver wire.

4. Aaron Rodgers: 228.5 yards, 1 touchdown, 0.75 interceptions per game over the last four games

One bad week is fine. It happens, after all. Two in a row stinks, but no quarterback is perfect. But what do you do when your first-round quarterback is stuck in a four-week long bog of mediocre fantasy output?

“Bad” is a relative term when it comes to Aaron Rodgers—we aren’t talking about the deadly duo that is John Skelton and Ryan Lindley here—but the fantasy stud has been anything but studly in recent weeks.

Part of that has to do with Green Bay’s commitment to running the ball. Despite injuries in the backfield that has brought Ryan Grant back from the football grave, the Packers are pounding the rock seemingly regardless of result. This means Rodgers is not throwing the ball as much, leading to less opportunity to score fantasy points.

There is no justification for benching him at this stage in the game—you live or die by your studs—but  you are heading into semi-final week with Aaron Rodgers facing off against that Bears defense on the road. Perhaps a prayer to the fantasy gods is in order.

5. Dez Bryant: 30 receptions, 438 yards, 6 touchdowns; All Other Cowboys Receivers: 38 receptions, 424 yards, 1 touchdown over the past four games

News broke earlier today that Dez Bryant’s season might be over with a torn ligament and/or tendon in his finger, depending on which Twitter news broker you trust. As it turns out, he has a broken finger, and his status is still up in the air; he could miss this week’s game at the very least.

This leaves the Cowboys in a huge bind considering what Bryant has brought to the table this season. The mercurial receiver had finally made good on his promising talent, becoming that top-flight fantasy option everyone hoped for in the process. If he is really done for the year, who will step up in that receiving corps?

Miles Austin seems like the logical answer, but he has been anything but consistent since he broke out a couple of seasons ago. He is also dealing with nagging injuries. Kevin Ogletree has been a ghost since his opening-week supernova, and Dwayne Harris has not been much better.

The two likely beneficiaries of Bryant’s absence are Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. Both will be PPR darlings in the upcoming weeks, with Harris and Austin being the big-play, boom-or-bust kind of guys.

6. Alex Green: 13 carries, 69 yards; 1 reception, -3 yards / DuJuan Harris: 7 carries, 31 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Detroit Lions

The Packers have been running the ball surprisingly well in recent weeks, ramming the ball down Detroit’s gullet on what turned out to be the game-clinching \ drive that ended with a DuJuan Harris 14-yard touchdown run. Even Ryan Grant, whom the Packers may have revived using the Necromonicon—got in on the action with a nice 13-yard run on that drive. But what do we make of the fantasy options in Green Bay’s backfield?

Green Bay plays Chicago next, on the road. As tough as they have been defensively, the Bears have not been nearly as good against opposing running backs in recent weeks. The Packers very well could continue their strategy of grinding things out on the ground, which could be a bane to the Discount Double Check’s fantasy owners, as mentioned above.

Harris got the touchdown but Green got the reps. Ryan Grant might get more work as he gets back into game shape, though; this backfield might be an albatross even if it is heavily utilized.

7. Alshon Jeffery: 3 receptions, 57 yards, 1 touchdown at Minnesota Vikings

Brandon Marshall continues to lay waste to Bears receiving records, giving defenses fits in the process. Alshon Jeffery took advantage against the Vikings with a nice day. Now that he is healthy, is he reliable?

In the seven games he has played, Jeffery has garnered 33 targets and caught 19 of those for 239 yards and two touchdowns. If you discount the dreadful Lambeau appearance by Jay Cutler and the San Francisco game where he was most recently hurt, Jeffery has 27 catches for 234 yards and those same three touchdowns in five games. Not too shabby, though things are rarely that simple.

Cutler has been willing to throw the ball up to Jeffery, who is a big receiver. He seems to be coming into his own as a rookie, a nice complement to Marshall. If he can stay healthy, he could wind up being the best receiver to come out of this class. As for the next two weeks, he is a borderline flex play.

8. Kirk Cousins: 42/73, 560 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions in the preseason

There was a brief period of time where some thought Kirk Cousins should start over Robert Griffin III. It was the preseason, one of the sillier times of year when it comes to evaluating players, and Cousins seemed to be outperforming RG3.  

Comedy aside, Cousins might get a shot to fill in for Griffin after Haloi Ngata nearly ended the latter’s season with a shot to the leg. RG3 miraculously avoided serious injury, but he is day-to-day with a sprained knee which could knock him out of this week’s action.

Should that happen, Cousins will be ready to step in and perform. After all, he calmly led the Redskins to a game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion against the Baltimore Ravens last week after Griffin was knocked out of the game, no easy task.

9. Kris Durham: 4 receptions, 54 yards at Green Bay Packers

It seems that Kris Durham will do alright as Detroit’s second-best option at wide receiver. After all, announcers mentioned Kris Durham was Matthew Stafford’s college roommate roughly 37 times that night, and that has to count for something, right?

Actually, Durham was targeted a healthy nine times, second to Calvin Johnson’s 13 targets. He is a big target, not a bad fantasy option if you are desperate with receivers dropping like flies around the league.

10. Rod Streater:  9 receptions, 222 y ards, 1 touchdown; Darrius Heyward-Bey: 13 receptions, 191 yards, 1 touchdown ; Denarius Moore: 8 receptions, 103 yards, 1 touchdown over the past four weeks

Denarius Moore has had some nice fantasy weeks since entering, but there are some alarming trends in case you plan on utilizing him during the fantasy playoffs.

Moore has garnered the most targets among Oakland receivers over the past four weeks with 25, but he has also caught the fewest passes with just eight. That is thanks, in part, to three drops, the most among his teammates as well.  Even Juron Criner has more catches than Moore during that span.

He was recently benched in favor of Streater, though Moore regained his status the following game. There is no denying that Moore has dropped off significantly as the season has progressed, though. It would be better to own Streater oor DHB at this point.

The Handcuffs Come Off

Robert Turbin: 20 carries, 106 yards vs. Arizona Cardinals
Turbin had almost the entire second half to himself as the Seahawks poured it on against the hapless Cardinals. He might have scored a touchdown or two had Pete Carroll not aired it out with a 51-point lead.

David Wilson: 13 carries, 100 yards, 2 touchdowns vs. New Orleans Saints
We mentioned him above, but Wilson finally got his day. He should be a nice start if Bradshaw is out.

Bilal Powell: 19 carries, 78 yards, 1 touchdown at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jets are committed to a RBBC approach with Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell, which has paid off from a fantasy perspective. Powell has more upside than Greene, though the latter has actually run pretty well in recent weeks. We know, this is yet another sign of the Mayan apocalypse.

Joique Bell: 12 carries, 49 yards; 5 receptions, 47 yards at Green Bay Packers
The Lions want to get Bell more involved, and they made good on that promise against the Packers. They pounded away at the Packers with moderate success, but neither Bell nor Leshoure were particularly effective.  Bell has shown more explosiveness, though; he is worth grabbing, but only a starter in deep leagues or desperation.

Montario Hardesty: 10 carries, 52 yards vs Kansas City Chiefs
Trent Richardson is the man in Cleveland, but his workload and lack of efficiency are somewhat of a red flag. The rookie’s YPC continues to decline, though having all the short-yardage work has something to do with that. Grab Hardesty if you have the room and you own Richardson, for insurance.


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