Under the Numbers: Week 17
Alessandro Miglio
December 25, 2012
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Happy Holidays from Under the Numbers. It has been a great experience curating this series this year, and we hope the numbers and insight under them have helped you. If you are still playing fantasy football or you are interested in a peek in the crystal ball, here are some numbers for you to nibble on before your Christmas feast.

1. David Wilson: 56 carries, 283 yards, 4 touchdowns; 3 receptions, 19 yards

The doghouse was rather lonely for David Wilson this year. Tom Coughlin banished him to the bottom of the depth chart after some fumbling issues at the beginning of the season, injuries forcing him to play Wilson more as the season went along.

It has become clear that Wilson has the upside in that backfield, however. Ahmad Bradshaw has a squeaky wheel, and he has battled injuries for years. Of course, if Wilson continues to do backflips despite his team’s protests, upside might not save him.

2. Russell Wilson: 108/148, 1402 yards, 15 touchdowns, 2 interceptions; 48 carries, 302 yards, 3 touchdowns over his past seven games

If you had to guess who the best fantasy quarterback of the second half has been, would you put Russell Wilson on that list?

The rookie has been scintillating since midseason, torching opponents for 0.80 points per drop back over his past seven games. That is, by far, the best in the league, and it includes a road matchup against the Bears and home game against the 49ers defense. Of all the rookie sensations this to hit the gridiron this year, Wilson might be the most valuable heading into next season.

3. C.J. Spiller: 22 carries, 138 yards; 4 receptions, 35 yards at Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have been pretty good run defense this season. C.J. Spiller didn’t score a touchdown against them this year, but he had some nice yardage totals.

This week, the Bills look for payback against the Jets, who crushed them at the beginning of the year. Things have changed dramatically for them since then, and they are ripe for the picking. The Bills have not exactly gotten better, but Spiller should help them exact revenge on their divisional rivals this week.

4. Lamar Miller: 10 carries, 73 yards vs. Buffalo Bills

Reggie Bush had a huge game for his fantasy owners, scoring three touchdowns in a dream championship game performance. Quietly behind him, Lamar Miller had a fine day.

This was similar to Miami’s game against Oakland earlier this year, when Miller had a good game as Bush rent the Raiders defense asunder. The rookie might be in line to take Bush’s  role on the Dolphins offense next year, assuming he has shored up his pass-blocking skills. Miami stubbornly plugged Daniel Thomas into the lineup when he was healthy, so this certainly not a projection etched in stone.

Miller does possess a ton of upside, and he has been rather explosive when given a real chance to strut his stuff. Thomas is on IR, so Miller could even provide you some points this week if you are desperate.

5. Dez Bryant: 9 receptions, 224 yards, 2 touchdowns vs. New Orleans Saints

Some Schadenfreude-loving part of us expected Dez Bryant to falter. After all, he has teased Cowboys fans and fantasy owners with fantasy potential that seemed too coy to fulfill its expectations.

He has finally kicked the “frustrating” label.

Bryant has been fantastic during the second half of the season, only outscored by record-breaking Calvin Johnson over his past eight games. Concerns about a broken finger limiting his productivity have been silenced, and he enters Week 17 on a hot streak against a porous Redskins secondary. He should have a nice championship week if you are still playing fantasy football.

His numbers this season should propel him to the top of the receiver heap for next season.

6. Larry Fitzgerald: 8 receptions, 111 yards vs. Chicago Bears

It turns out bringing Brian Hoyer out of storage was better for Larry Fitzgerald than Ryan Lindley and John Skelton. If you kept the faith, Fitzgerald finally had a nice game for you. Unfortunately, his struggles might have kept you out of the championship game or playoffs altogether.

It was likely a case of “too little, too late” for Larry Fitzgerald against the Bears, but he came up with a surprising performance against that defense after a few weeks of horrific score lines. Hopefully the Cardinals get him a legitimate quarterback next season, otherwise… well we don’t like to think of “otherwise.”

7. Tony Romo: 194/278, 16 touchdown, 3 interceptions; 13 carries, 18 yards over the past 7 weeks

Speaking of Schadenfreude, the Tony Romo hate train was running on full steam earlier this year when the Cowboys seemed destined for another meltdown of epic proportions. Romo must have done some serious work in the weight room last season, though, because he put the Cowboys on his shoulders.

With the help of Dez Bryant and record-breaking Jason Witten, Romo has kept the Cowboys in the playoff hunt. The same is likely true for your fantasy team, and there is no reason to think he won’t deliver for you again this week against the Redskins.

8. Ryan Grant: 20 carries, 80 yards, 2 touchdowns vs. Tennessee Titans

The Titans proved much smaller than their namesake last week, and Ryan Grant’s stat line epitomizes their ineptitude.

If Brian Hoyer was in storage, Grant was in cryogenic stasis until the Packers were forced to bring him in due to injuries. He has actually broken off some big runs in his two games back. But don’t be fooled.

Minnesota is fighting for its playoff life, and they bottled up a good Houston offense last week on the road. The Packers might have better luck, but counting on Grant might be your doom next week.

9. Lance Kendricks: 4 receptions, 119 yards, 1 touchdown at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There was a time when Heath Miller was a seasonal one-hit wonder. The big tight end would seemingly have one huge game but follow it up with a season of duds. Lance Kendricks seems to have taken that mantle, only in reverse.

Kendricks has been so forgettable that the Buccaneers neglected to cover him a few times last week, especially on the long touchdown catch they allowed him. He will now move back to fantasy irrelevance. Carry on.

10. LeSean McCoy: 13 carries, 45 yards; 9 receptions, 77 yards vs. Washington Redskins

It wasn’t exactly a studly performance from McCoy on his return from a concussion, but he answered some questions about his role with Bryce Brown around next season.

Brown went super nova for two weeks this year, only to collapse into a black hole sucking in all the matter, light and fantasy points around it. Brown got four carries last week while McCoy seemed to get a regular workload. We think McCoy will retain his lead back role.

Police Plodder, Year-End Edition

Darren McFadden: 197 carries, 659 yards, 2 touchdowns
We might need to change his nickname to Sleepwalk DMC after this season. Oakland switch to a ZBS this year, and McFadden might have been unsuited for it. It’s going to take some time to rebuild the Raiders, and McFadden might be gone by then.

Considering his annual health issues, McFadden might take the biggest ADP plummet for a lead back in fantasy football history.

Michael Turner: 216 carries, 782 yards, 9 touchdowns
He keeps showing up on this list, but he keeps scoring touchdowns to keep everyone guessing. He will be 30 next season, and he has lost much of his burst. Do with that what you will next year, though we suspect his ADP will reflect these factors.

Trent Richardson: 267 carries, 967 yards, 11 touchdowns
Richardson’s YPC has been dwindling for some time, plummeting to the depths of the NFL as the season has worn on. Perhaps the Browns used him a bit too much or opposing teams are simply loading up to stop him.

Mikel Leshoure: 200 carries, 741 yards, 9 touchdowns
Leshoure has had some nice fantasy outputs this year at the expense of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, but a lot of it has been because the Lions seemed to keep falling just short of the goal line all year long.

The second-year running back was losing playing time to Joique Bell late in the season, a bad sign for his 2013 prospects.

Ryan Mathews: 184 carries, 707 yards, 1 touchdown
What happened to Ryan Mathews? Norv Turner happened. And a brittle collarbone.

Daniel Thomas: 91 carries, 325 yards, 4 touchdowns
Whereas Lamar Miller has looked good in his limited action, Daniel Thomas has not, for the most part. Thomas has shown some burst at times, but for the most part Thomas is the same low-ceiling player he has been since he entered the league.

This is Under the Numbers, signing off for the year.

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