FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Beyond TDs and Tackles: Week 6
Steve Gallo
October 11, 2013
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Want to understand the game better, hunt for future break out players or try to spot trouble before it happens? “Beyond TDs and Tackles”  will be offering  a handful of players and situations that you should consider when you are watching the games or even just looking at the box score. Everyone knows which players blew up over the weekend but you can gain advantages by following the changes as they start and get better definition on how to value players. Have any questions? Just hit me on twitter @SteveGalloNFL or email me at gallo@thehuddle.com.

“You Are What Your Record Says You Are” – Bill Parcells
Read the Parcells quote again. OK, one more time, go ahead, read it and really take it in.

Now let it sink in that the Chiefs (5-0), Browns (3-2), Jets (3-2) and Arizona Cardinals (3-2) are a combined 11-6. Last season those four teams combined to win just 18 games all season long.

While we’re on Parcells’ quote I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the Giants (0-6), Steelers (0-4), Vikings (1-3) and Redskins (1-3) are a combined 2-16 thus far this season. Hard to believe that those four teams combined for 37 wins, 2 playoff berths last season.

Fantasy wise it’s time to look in the mirror and apply Parcells’ quote to your season. In one of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Experts leagues that I’m in, I sit at 2-3 (7th place)…I rank 4th in total points scored, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m currently on the outside looking in for a playoff berth.

Top 12 Running Backs

After five weeks we have a very good snapshot of who is who, and what they’re going to be. Actually, if you look at the past three years you’ll see that if a player is a RB1, at worst, much more often than not, he’s going to remain a RB2 or better by season’s end.

Here is a chart that will help to illustrate how the top-12 RBs after 5 weeks have gone on to rank in the end of year standings.

Rank
Thru 5 Weeks
2012
End of Year
2011
End of Year
2010
End of Year
1 3 8 3
2 4 12 1
3 8 2 16
4 6 34 20
5 15 6 8
6 16 14 10
7 11 39 2
8 12 1 5
9 25 5 15
10 10 17 4
11 5 23 9
12 9 19 7

In 2012, three running backs didn’t maintain their ranking as a RB1: Steven Ridley (15th), LeSean McCoy (16th), and Willis Mcgahee (25th). In 2011, there were six that didn’t maintain RB1 status (Peterson-14th, Tolbert-17th, Wells-19th, Bradshaw-23rd, McFadden-33rd, and Best-37th), and in 2010 it was like 2012 where only three didn’t finish as a RB1 (Tomlinson-15th, Gore-16th, and Best-20th).

That means that 66.7% of RBs that rank as a RB1 after 5 weeks go on to finish as a RB1 for the season. Another way to look at it is that 91.7% of RBs that rank as a RB1 after 5 weeks end the season ranked as a RB2 or better. That tells me that if you need RB help that trading for a top-12 RB isn’t a very risky thing to do.

Of the 12 RBs that weren’t a RB1 after 5 weeks but finished as a RB1 in end of year rankings 7 of 12 (58.3%) were a RB2 after 5 weeks. Of the 5 RBs that weren’t a RB2, all were a RB3 with the exception of one –Steven Jackson, who in 2011, ranked 39th after 5 weeks.

It’s safe to say a minimum of three RBs currently ranked in the top 12 won’t be there at the end of the year. Look for Fred Jackson (5th), Danny Woodhead (10th) and Joique Bell (12th) to be the players that fall from the RB1 tier.

If three fall, then three need to rise. Reggie Bush (13th), Frank Gore (15th), and Alfred Morris (27th) are good bets to climb into the RB1 tier.

Sacks Are In The Bag

Currently Robert Mathis (9.5) and Justin Houston (8.5) lead the NFL in sacks. The record for most sacks thru 6 weeks is held by Keith Millard who had 12 during the 1989 season. Kevin Greene sits in second place with 11 sacks in 1998 and Michael Strahan is third with 10.5 sacks in 2001.

Just because Mathis and Houston are off to white-hot starts it doesn’t mean that they’ll keep up their torrid pace. Here’s a look at how Millard, Greene, and Strahan finished after their hot starts.

Player Sacks thru 6 weeks End of Year Sack Total
Keith Millard 12 18
Kevin Greene 11 15
Michael Strahan 10.5 22.5*

I wouldn’t call Millard’s 18 or Greene’s 15 sacks a disappointment, instead it just goes to show how hard it is to get to the QB, and why an elite pass rusher is so valuable. Strahan of course went on to set a new NFL record for sacks in a season.

*Brett Favre and his “lay down” was sack 22.5.

As for Mathis and Houston, if I had to bet on one to get to at least 18 sacks I’d put my money on Justin Houston. Career wise, Mathis’ high in sacks is 11.5 and Houston’s is 10.

Something’s Gotta Give

Last week I got some good feedback via email and our forums on last week’s “Something’s Gotta Give”, so, as it stands now, my plan is to include play direction charts on a weekly basis.

This week I’ve got two matchups I want to highlight.

First up is the Bills rushing game. I’ll be watching how the Bills do on rushing plays up the middle versus the Bengals run defense on those runs. The Bengals were included in last week’s article, and one thing that I should have pointed out is that while the Bengals are giving up 8.00 YPC – 30th worst in the league – on runs up the middle that doesn’t mean it’s a weakness for them. If you look at the total numbers of plays run you’d notice that going into last week’s game teams had only ran the ball up the middle against them 4 times, and after 5 weeks they’ve faced just 6 rushes up the middle. That’s mainly because of how dominant a player Geno Atkins is. But as you can see, the Bills rank 1st in the NFL in rushes up the middle, and with Thad Lewis starting at QB for the Bills you have to think they’ll want to lean on their bread and butter – runs up the middle that average 5.00 YPC. However, if you look at where the biggest opportunity is for the Bills to take advantage of against a stout Bengals defensive it will come from trying to exploit their weakness on rushes over Left End. And it won’t be like the Bills are trying to force it by doing something they don’t do well – running to Left End – as they rank 6th in the NFL with a 7.22 YPC average on runs that way.

2013 Regluar Season Play Direction Report for Buffalo Bills: Rushing Offense

Bills Offense

2013 Regluar Season Play Direction Report for Cincinnati Bengals: Rushing Defense

Bengals Defense

Something’s Gotta Give Part Deux

I was having a difficult time trying to decide on which matchup to include in “Something’s Gotta Give”, so I decided to include both.

Much was made about the addition of Pep Hamilton as the Colts new offensive coordinator this year – largely because he was Andrew Luck’s college OC, but also because of the talk about running the ball more. Then add in the Colts trade to acquire Trent Richardson and it shows just how serious they are about running the ball. Their commitment to the run is real – the Colts rank 6th (tied) in rushing attempts, 4th (tied) in YPC (4.7), and 1st (tied) in rushing TDs (7). This week they face a Chargers team that is at their weakest in run defense where the Colts run the ball most and are effective doing so too. Another area that’s sure to see plenty of rushing attempts against the Chargers will be over Right Tackle. This game really does set up to be Trent Richardson’s best by far as a Colt.

2013 Regluar Season Play Direction Report for Indianapolis Colts: Rushing Offense

Colts Offense

2013 Regluar Season Play Direction Report for San Diego Chargers: Rushing Defense

Chargers Defense

If you are a Donald Butler IDP owner, it’s easy to see why he’s staring down the barrel of a big game against the Colts this week.


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