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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Under the Numbers - Week 3
John U. Miller
September 21, 2010
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Digging deeper for a baker’s dozen of did-you-know stuff from Fantasy Week 2.

1. Steven Jackson had 19 carries for 75 yards, four catches for 50 yards, and 0 TDs at Oakland.  He only touched the ball six times in the second half during a close game. 

Huddle Up:  Jackson also failed to score again.  He’s only scored in 11 out of his last 32 games.  By comparison, Pierre Thomas and Joseph Addai – two RBs often drafted a full three rounds later – have scored in 16 and 16 of their last 32 games, respectively.   The Rams are however, managing to visit the red zone more often with Sam Bradford, making six trips in their first two games of 2010.  They only had six trips combined in their last four games of 2009. 

2. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was held without a catch in the Ravens’ loss to the Bengals.

Huddle Up:  Houshmandzadeh has been targeted 10 times in two games and only came up with one catch.  T.J. dropped a 37-yard pass against the Bengals – on third and nine – that would have given the Ravens a first down in the red zone.  They had to punt.  However, Houshmandzadeh’s most egregious error was failing to tackle Bengals CB Pacman Jones who had just picked off Joe Flacco.   Watch this highlight closely at the :17 mark – Houshmandzadeh just jogs right by Pacman without even reaching out a hand.  Missed it?  Look again.  Trust me when I say Ravens HC John Harbaugh didn’t miss it.

3. Donovan McNabb hit 28-of-38 passes for 426 yards and 1 TD vs. Houston, for his third career 400-yard game.  Matt Schaub also threw for 497 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. 

Huddle Up:  It was only the fifth regular-season game ever with two 400-yard passers (the last one was ‘94 where Dan Marino went 473-5-1 and Drew Bledsoe went 421-4-2).  McNabb could have had a second TD but missed by three inches when Joey Galloway didn’t lay out for a perfectly thrown 54-yard bomb.  After two games McNabb is clearly favoring Santana Moss (targeted on 23 plays, fifth among WRs per The Huddle’s Stats page) and Chris Cooley (12).  Moss caught 10 passes for 89 yards, tying his career-high for receptions – he’s caught exactly 10 passes three other times since 2001.

4. Jay Cutler threw for 277 yards and 3 TDs – for a 136.7 QB rating – against Dallas.  Going back to last year it’s his 4th straight 100+ rating and 4th straight win. 

Huddle Up:  Over these last four games back to 2009 Cutler is the #2 ranked fantasy QB with 1,198 pass yards, 40 rush yds, and 13 TD passes.  Only Peyton Manning has amassed more fantasy points in his last four games (ruling out weeks 16 & 17 when he sat early).  After two games in 2010 the Bears are at a reasonably balanced 58/42 ratio of passes to runs.   First, in Week 1 the busiest Bears WRs were Devin Aromashodu – 10 targets, and Johnny Knox – 7 targets.  Then, in Week 2 the busiest Bears WRs were Earl Bennett – 6 targets, and Devin Hester – 6 targets.  RB Matt Forte has been targeted 7 and 6 times in the two games, giving him 13 targets on the season – second among all RBs to Jahvid Best (20).  As for the Bears… 2-0 teams have made the playoffs 65% of the time since 1978.

5. Chiefs TE Tony Moeaki led his team in receiving for the second straight week.

Huddle Up:  There’s not much to go around in KC but Moeaki is making the most of what he’s offered.  The third-round rookie from Iowa has eight catches for 79 yards and 1 TD in his first two NFL games.  According to our Stats database Moeaki ranks ninth among all tight ends with 14 targets (again, are you using all your Huddle tools?)… He almost added another five-yard-TD at Cleveland but it was broken up.  Moeaki’s next seven games include five opponents who are ranked in the bottom half of the league in defending tight ends – including Houston (29th), Oakland (27th), and Denver (31st).

6. Dallas Clark caught 5 passes for 83 yards and 1 TD vs. the Giants and is the #2 ranked fantasy tight end after two weeks.  Antonio Gates is #1.

Huddle Up:  Clark has 15 TDs in his last 24 regular season games, tied with Visanthe Shiancoe for the most of any tight end in this span.  Vernon Davis is next with 14 in his last 24 games, and Gates is fourth with 13.  Clark is all alone with four 100-yard games in this span (plus a 95- and 99-yarder), followed by Vernon Davis and Gates with three each, and Shiancoe with one.  Over the last year and a half, those four guys are the elite fantasy tight ends.  Clark has the easiest upcoming six-game schedule of the Big Four -- at Denver (ranked 31st in allowed TE points this year), at Jacksonville (11th), vs. Kansas City (32nd), at Washington (9th), vs. Houston (30th), at Philadelphia (17th). 

7. Vince Young posted a 48.3 QB rating vs. the Steelers and was yanked for Kerry Collins, eerily mirroring 2008’s Week 1 narrow win over Jacksonville when he was booed off the field.  Hmmm… in his last 18 starts Young posted a sturdy 90+ QB rating 10 times, but only three of those efforts were against above-.500 teams.  Furthermore, two of those three were against the starter-pulling Colts in a week 17 game and a home date against the Warner-less Cardinals who punted six times.  

Huddle Up:  This time Jeff Fisher says Young will remain the starter, but the leash just got smaller.  As you know, last year Collins took over and went 0-5 before giving the job back to Young.  We watched how Young led them to an 8-2 record down the stretch and boosted Chris Johnson’s numbers, but wait…Young “led them” to seven of those eight wins against the Jags, 49ers, Bills, Texans, Cards (again, Warner-less), Rams, and Dolphins -- who had a combined 29-36 mark when they faced the Titans.  Plus five of those were at home.  And did Young really “boost” Johnson’s numbers, or did OC Mike Heimerdinger simply start feeding CJ the ball?  In the first six Collins games Johnson averaged 18 touches.  In the last 10 Young games his average was 30 touches.  But CJ’s best game was actually with Collins when he lambasted the Texans for 284 total yards and 3 TDs. 

8. Aaron Rodgers posted 29 fantasy points vs. Buffalo despite only 29 pass attempts.

Huddle Up:  It was a strangely dissatisfying day for his fantasy-owners, who were sweating it when Rodgers took the field at 6:00 left in the third quarter with only one TD pass, and a lowly 20-7 lead.  On the next two drives Rodgers went six-of-seven with a TD pass and a TD run.  Brandon Jackson-owners were also somewhat disapproving (39 total yards, 1 TD) and yes, he was indecisive – but Jackson was focused enough to hop on James Jones’ fumble at the 9-yard line, setting up Rodgers’ TD scamper.  Packers HC Mike McCarthy uncharacteristically called runs on 15 of 25 first-down plays.  Their schedule remains very doable, with Chicago (away), Detroit (home), and shell-shocked Washington (away) next.    

9. Mike Sims-Walker erased his Week 1 goose-egg with 10 grabs for 105 yards & 1 TD.

Huddle Up:  Six of those 10 catches (including the TD) were in free-wheeling garbage time, beginning late in the third quarter when David Garrard threw his fourth INT.  Luke McCown replaced him and started chucking away after both the Jags and Chargers pulled a few starters.  Then McCown got hurt and Garrard came in for a 4th-and-goal with 40 seconds left – Chargers up 38-6 and obviously disinterested – and threw the TD to Sims-Walker.  After two games WR Mike Thomas actually leads the Jags with 16 targets, Sims-Walker has 14, and TE Marcedes Lewis is close behind with 11.  The Jags’ next two games are at home vs. Philly and Indy where lots of garbage collecting awaits.   

10. Darren McFadden had 30 rushes for 145 yards and 2 grabs for 8 yards vs. the Rams.

Huddle Up:  McFadden leads all NFL RBs in “Plays” (which combines carries and targets).  He’s the busiest running back in the league after two games.  Rounding out the top-10 is Adrian Peterson (58), Arian Foster (57), Cadillac Williams (56), Steven Jackson (54), Chris Johnson (53), Frank Gore (53), Jahvid Best (51), Rashard Mendenhall (48), and Pierre Thomas (48).  Ray Rice missed the top-10 with 47 carries and targets.  Fantasy football is about opportunities and those RBs have been getting the most.  Unfortunately, McFadden had six red-zone carries against the Rams and couldn’t get in the end zone.  Note: Michael Bush, who had two screws inserted into this broken thumb 22 days ago, just got the stitches removed yesterday.

11. Kyle Orton passed for 307 yards and 2 TDs in the 31-14 trouncing of Seattle.

Huddle Up:  Going back to Week 17 of last year, Orton leads the NFL with 1,033 passing yards and 12 completions of 25+ yards (thanks to Patrick Smyth of Broncotalk.net for those tidbits).  Orton’s the ninth-ranked fantasy QB and after two games is on pace for 4,816 passing yards.  He just added a “new” weapon in WR Demaryius Thomas, a first-round pick from Georgia Tech, who caught eight passes for 97 yards and 1 TD in his NFL debut.  Orton targeted him nine times.  Orton should have had a third TD pass in Week 2 but he under-threw Correll Buckhalter at the goal-line.  Running a dynamic 3-WR set as their base offense, Denver ranks second in third-down conversions (57%) and avg. time of possession (33:58).  However, their next four opponents are Indianapolis (home), Tennessee (away), Baltimore (away), and NY Jets (home).  

12. Redskins S LaRon Landry leads the NFL with 28 tackles.

Huddle Up:  Landry also has a sack and two passes defensed, plus four more unofficial “quarterback hits.”  During that wild Texans game CBS analyst Dan Fouts yelped, “It’s looking like there’s more than one No. 30 out there!”  The Texans might not have won if Landry hadn’t dinged his wrist in overtime and had trainers come out to visit.  Per NFL rules he had to leave the field.  While Landry was trying to go back in, his replacement Chris Horton committed an offsides penalty and got beat by TE Joel Dreessen for a huge 28-yard reception – which got the Texans in winning field goal range.  X-rays were negative and Landry faces the lowly Rams in Week 3.

13. Minnesota Twins DH Jim Thome is 8th on the all-time MLB home run list with 588.

Huddle Up:  LaDainian Tomlinson is the 8th all-time leading rusher in NFL history with 12,628 yards.  You wanna know what’s wrong with baseball?  That’s it right there.  Who is Jim Thome?  I know who Tomlinson is… he’s a sports icon.  The best at his position for almost an entire decade, L.T. will be the seventh Charger to go into the Hall of Fame.  He holds the single-season touchdown record (31).  He was the first back to ever record 1,000 rushing yards and 100 catches in the same season.  Tomlinson was even able to wrestle an MVP trophy away from Peyton Manning, perhaps his greatest feat.  We’ll always remember his running.  Thome?  How many teams has he played for?  What’s his number?  In my opinion he’s just another modern-day slugger who never got caught… 

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