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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Under the Numbers - Week 2
John U. Miller
September 14, 2010
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Digging deeper for a baker’s dozen of did-you-know stuff from Fantasy Week 1.  

1. Chris Johnson had 31 touches vs. the Raiders.  It was the sixth time in his last 17 games going back to 2009 that he’s been deployed with 30+ total touches.  Adrian Peterson has zero 30+ touch assignments in his last 17 games.
              
Huddle Up:  It seems that the “Who’s Better?” argument is a waste of time in fantasy circles.  The proper debate should start with “Who’s Busier?”  Fantasy football is about opportunities and Johnson gets more of those than anyone.  Some argued that the only reason Johnson got so much work in ‘09 was because Jeff Fisher pushed hard for 2,000.  Well, this is Week 1 vs. Oakland, the 2,000 mark is a mere blip on the horizon, the game’s completely over at halftime – yet Johnson still got 17 touches in the 2nd half.  Peterson on the other hand, was in a tight 9-7 battle with New Orleans at halftime and only got seven touches in the second half.

2. Chad Henne had 34 pass attempts at Buffalo.  Going back through his last 10 regular season starts Henne averages 36.1 pass attempts per game.  Only three QBs – Peyton Manning (39.5), Tony Romo (36.7), Alex Smith (36.3) – average more pass attempts over their last 10 regular season starts.  (Note: I took out Manning’s Week 17 last year b/c he played one quarter.)

Huddle Up:  Again, fantasy football is about opportunities and Henne is top-4 in those lately.  What he does with them is another story – Henne only had 182 passing yards at Buffalo, though Brandon Marshall could have helped by not dropping a 35-yard pass. Henne also missed out on a TD pass by inches when Anthony Fasano fell just short of the goal line.  The good news for Henne is they only ran the Wildcat (direct snap to Ronnie Brown) four times.  The offensive line only committed one penalty, too.  Miami’s schedule doesn’t get easier – at Minnesota, vs. NYJ, vs. New England – but at least those games are indoors/at home.

3. Ahmad Bradshaw had 22 touches for 93 total yards and 1 TD (plus a lost fumble), while Brandon Jacobs had 14 touches for 65 total yards.  Since the 2009 opener Bradshaw averages 5.2 yards every time he touches the football, Jacobs averages 4.2.

Huddle Up:  Giants OC Kevin Gilbride hasn’t held NFL coordinator or head coaching jobs for 20 years by ignoring statistics.  He knows that Bradshaw can give him a full extra yard per touch over the course of a season... which really adds up.  Not only did Bradshaw get 20 carries plus two receptions vs. Carolina, he had three other carries (for eight yards) called back on penalties.  That would have given him 25 total touches.  Bradshaw also just missed a 39-yard TD run but the good part is he plowed in from the 4-yard line three plays later.

4. Cadillac Williams had 22 carries for 75 yards and add two catches for 23 yards.  The next busiest Bucs RB was Earnest Graham with 7 touches for 18 total yards.  Pre-season sleeper darling Kareem Huggins registered one sensational tackle on the kickoff team.

Huddle Up:  Cadillac also lost 24 rushing yards on two holding penalties.  The Bucs ran seven plays in the red zone and Cadillac carried the ball on four of them.  The other three plays were a Josh Freeman pass and two Earnest Graham runs – and Graham fumbled the ball away at the one-yard line.  Cadillac is not in a committee. 

5. Jaguars WR Mike Thomas was targeted seven times and caught six passes for 89 yards.  WR Mike Sims-Walker was targeted twice and had zero catches.  TE Marcedes Lewis was targeted three times and caught two passes for touchdowns.

Huddle Up:  Sims-Walker was cloaked in a Champ Bailey blanket, pure and simple.  While we’re on the Jaguars game, Maurice Jones-Drew defied the knee rumors with 23 carries for 98 yards, including 13 totes in the second half.  MJD was also targeted three times, catching all three passes for 15 yards.  David Garrard threw 3 TD passes for just the third time in his last 36 starts.  All three of those games were at home.

6. Roddy White was targeted an obscenely high 23 times by Matt Ryan at Pittsburgh, catching 13 passes for 111 yards.  Only two of those targets were padded to his stats in overtime. (Have you checked our Huddle Weekly Game Scans, each player's targets or "Plays" are counted for you!)

Huddle Up:  Once again, opportunities.  White gets more than any wide receiver in the NFC, and the third-most overall in the league.  Since 2008 the leading targeted WRs are Brandon Marshall (360), Andre Johnson (348), Roddy White (338), Wes Welker (330), and Larry Fitzgerald (322).  Marshall’s target history can’t be rated accurately anymore since he’s with a new team now, so technically it’s Johnson-White at 1-2.  In fact, since Matt Ryan joined the Falcons, White has been targeted 10+ times in 21 of 34 games (including playoffs), tying Johnson’s mark exactly over his last 34 games too.

7. More Chris Johnson… because this column is about numbers and he’s the king of them.  CJ2K has four career TD runs of 75+ yards, tying him with Barry Sanders and Tony Dorsett.  The leader is O.J. Simpson with five.

Huddle Up:   Let’s put this in perspective so that everyone understands the magnitude.  Johnson has compiled his four 75’ers in just 636 carries.  Sanders, Dorsett, and Simpson needed 3062, 2936, and 2404 carries respectively.  By the way, Johnson would already have tied O.J. if not for an 81-yard TD called back at San Francisco last year; where officials correctly ruled the outside of his shoe nipped the sideline chalk.

8. Calvin Johnson has caught 19 TDs in his last 31 games. Yes, I’m counting that one.

Huddle Up:  That was clearly a TD vs. Chicago and will always be marked as such in my fantasy columns.  Wait, I’m even counting another Megatron score that was unjustly reversed too:  Johnson lost a 67-yard TD one year ago today at New Orleans (they said he stepped out at the 3-yard line… he didn’t).  So that’s 19 TDs in 31 games, right behind Randy Moss with 23 in 31 games. The salient point here is that Johnson has found the end zone a lot -- despite playing hurt for most of 2009 and huddling with less-than-ideal QBs like Matthew Stafford, Daunte Culpepper, Dan Orlovsky, and… now, Shaun Hill. 

9. Arian Foster set Texans franchise records with 33 carries for 231 yards (and 3 TDs).

Huddle Up:  It’s not a fluke.  The only reason Foster went undrafted in 2009 was because he stayed for his senior year at Tennessee and developed hamstring and fumble problems.  Had he come out in 2008, after a junior year where he tallied 1,650 total yards from scrimmage, he would have been a second-round pick.  That 1,650 was second all-time in UT history behind only Reggie Cobb (1,721) -- Foster’s mark was better than any season total by Travis Henry, Jamal Lewis, James “Little Man” Stewart, any Volunteer legend but Cobb. 

10. Packers LB Clay Matthews has 10 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in his last 10 games.

Going back through last year’s wild-card game to Week 10, Matthews has been a hell-beast.  How he didn’t get more than three votes for 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year is puzzling (his USC teammate Brian Cushing took 39 votes before the suspension was levied).  It was Matthews that single-handedly helped Dom Capers achieve a seamless transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 last year.  He’s already hunted down Kevin Kolb – and his next six targets are Trent Edwards, Jay Cutler, Shaun Hill, Donovan McNabb, Chad Henne, and Brett Favre.

11. Darren McFadden carried 18 times for 95 yards, 6 catches for 55 yards and 1 TD.

Huddle Up:  McFadden was targeted a juicy nine times, which is huge for a running back.  The hamstring must be fine because it was McFadden’s biggest workload since November 23rd 2007 with Arkansas in the famous 50-48 win over LSU! He had 32 carries, 6 pass attempts, and three kickoff returns in that legendary shootout.  In Week 1 McFadden broke tackles all day against the fired-up Titans in their home opener.  Michael Bush better get that thumb healed up, but quick.   

12. Brandon Jackson had 20 touches for 75 total yards against the Eagles.

Huddle Up:  Jackson had 18 of those 20 touches in just 36 minutes, taking over as the lead back when Ryan Grant was injured in the second quarter.  The word is that Grant’s high ankle sprain is significant so it’s possible that Jackson could start the next three or four games.  Jackson’s had 18 or more touches only three times in his career – all in the 2007 season – but in those three games he compiled 269 total yards on 62 touches.  Plus, that season the Packers offense wasn’t quite as potent as it is now.  Jackson will start week 2 at home vs. Buffalo who will be without their top run-stopper LB Paul Posluszny. 

13. Willis McGahee had 2 carries inside the 5-yard line vs. the Jets. Ray Rice had zero.

Huddle Up:  Rice-owners know all about McGahee’s vulture job inside the five.  Last season McGahee took away 11 “money” carries and left Rice with seven.  To put Rice’s number in perspective, two middling runners named Maroney and Hightower had 14 and 12 carries respectively inside the five-yard line last year.  On Monday night Rice did have a pass thrown to him inside the seven-yard line but Joe Flacco fired a worm-burner.

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