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Under the Numbers - Week 12
John U. Miller
November 23, 2010
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Digging deeper for a baker’s dozen of did-you-know stuff from Fantasy Week 11.

1. Dwayne Bowe caught 6 passes for 109 yards and 2 TDs in the 31-13 win over Arizona.  He was targeted 8 times, while no other Chief had more than 5 targets.

Huddle Up:  Bowe is making history with a touchdown streak that is single-handedly vaulting fantasy teams into their league’s playoffs.  Bowe has caught a TD in 6 straight games, with a total of 10 in those games.  He also has 563 yards in those 6 games and is now on pace for 1,144 yards – and coupled with what could be 16-18 TDs we could be looking at an early 3rd-round fantasy pick.  You know, he only runs a 4.5 but at 6’2”/221 it just seems like defensive backs are not able (or interested in trying to) bring him down.  Kansas City has one of the six hardest schedules on paper for fantasy WRs going forward, but at this point who gives a rat’s rear end? 

2. Brandon Marshall had 3 catches for 41 yards in the 16-0 loss to Chicago after leaving right before halftime with a hamstring injury.  Brian Hartline led the team with 5 catches for 70 yards.  Davone Bess flopped in his first game with Tyler Thigpen under center, catching 1 pass for 9 yards.

Huddle Up:  In his last 3 games Marshall has 11 catches for 105 yards and 0 TDs.  He’s also cost the Dolphins 45 yards in those games because of 3 stupid penalties.  Marshall was into street clothes just 15 minutes after leaving the field vs. Chicago but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a serious pull.  QB Chad Henne’s dislocated kneecap won’t require rest and there’s actually a chance he gets back in this week.  Here’s a thought.  A bit of a gamble, but I would consider trying to trade for Marshall right now.  His price tag will never be cheaper, what with the hamstring and a Week 12 game at Oakland.  Someone might unload for him pennies on the dollar, like a Marion Barber or a Mohamed Massaquoi.  Even if Marshall sits out a couple games, look at his Weeks 15 & 16 – at home vs. Buffalo and Detroit. 

3. Shonn Greene carried 15 times for 42 yards and 0 TDs in the 30-27 win over Houston.  Greene was targeted once and didn’t catch it.  LaDainian Tomlinson carried 12 times for 36 yards and also caught 7 passes for 71 yards. 

Huddle Up:  The carries have clearly swung toward Greene but he’s still not a factor in the passing game.  And the red zone?  The Jets ran 12 plays and Greene only had 1 carry.  Tomlinson carried or was targeted on 3 of those red-zone plays.  Greene also had a huge fumble at midfield that was recovered by Houston – next play, Matt Schaub to Joel Dreessen for a 43-yard TD.  However, I don’t think Greene will get dog-housed for it.  Listen to his explanation:  “There was some miscommunication. Mark [Sanchez] had killed the play, I didn’t get the kill. I take the blame for that. I didn’t get the kill, so it kind of was an off-play.”  This week Greene plays on Thanksgiving night vs. Cincinnati, the team he walloped for 197 yards on 34 carries in two matchups last year.

4. Michael Crabtree caught 1 pass for 15 yards in the 21-0 loss to Tampa Bay.  He was targeted three times.   

Huddle Up:  Crabtree has 36 catches for 461 yards and 4 TDs on the season. Bucs CB Aqib Talib owned him in Week 11.  Crabtree did have an opportunity for a 20-30 yard gainer in the 1st quarter but Troy Smith misfired over the middle.  You would have thought Crabtree would have a much bigger game (especially since Josh Morgan was in and out with a shoulder injury) but he couldn’t get separation.  At this point if Crabtree is killing your lineup I’d hit the wire and get Rams WR Brandon Gibson (5 catches for 42 yards, 1 TD) or Giants WR Derek Hagan (3 catches for 10 yards, 1 TD, 9 targets).  Unless you’re in a dynasty or keeper league Crabtree is worthless.  Even in that format there’s no valid reason to retain him… Who will be the 49ers’ quarterback in 2011?  Not Troy Smith, because his biggest fan Mike Singletary won’t be back.

5. Drew Brees threw for 382 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs in the 34-19 win over Seattle.  He completed passes to an unheard-of 10 different players.  He might have had 6 TDs but he threw two INTs in the end zone.  Brees broke Archie Manning’s franchise record with 2,987 career completions – and by mid-2011 Brees will probably pass Joe Montana (3,409) for 9th all-time. 

Huddle Up:  Whatever that knee injury was, Brees is not affected by it anymore.  The Saints were a blistering 11-of-15 on third downs.  The story here isn’t so much about numbers but about sheer playmaking.  Marques Colston (8-113-2), Robert Meachem (3-50-2), and TE Jimmy Graham (5-72-0) were all on fire.  Lance Moore made an incredible catch too.  All the Saints seemed energized after the bye week and even Julius Jones had a 36-yard TD run called back by a penalty.  Strangely, Devery Henderson has only been targeted 12 times in 5 games.  K Garrett Hartley missed a 27-yard kick (imagine that), making him 10-of-15 on the year and 2-of-4 on tries inside 30 yards.  Chris Ivory carried 23 times for 99 yards and 1 TD.  Without taking too much credit away, Ivory’s stats are slightly misleading: 6 carries for 42 yards and the score were from one 1st quarter drive.  Ivory also had a fumble luckily (incorrectly) overturned in the 4th quarter. 

6. Maurice Jones-Drew carried 23 times for 133 yards and 1 TD, plus he caught 3 passes for 87 yards in the 24-20 win over Cleveland. He did get stripped and the fumble was returned for a touchdown by the Browns.  MJD threw an INT on a halfback pass too.

Huddle Up:  MJD is red-hot.  He has 3 straight 100-yard rushing games for the first time ever in his career.  One of the more underreported stories lately is the fact that Jones-Drew has climbed to a 7th place RB ranking and has totally revived stagnant fantasy squads.  His stats are heading upward in a hurry – in several categories – as MJD ranks 5th in rushing (878), 3rd in carries (209), 2nd in rushing first downs (53), 7th in 10+ yard rushes (22), and 2nd in carries inside the 10-yard line (20).  Remember the big debate about who should be the 3rd overall fantasy pick, Jones-Drew or Rice?  Not even close.  If you can get into the playoffs with MJD intact you’re going to have a shot because the Jags have the 5th easiest fantasy RB schedule from Weeks 14-17:  Oakland, at Indy, Washington, at Houston.

7. Steven Jackson carried 11 times for 54 yards and caught 3 passes for 7 yards in the 34-17 loss to Atlanta.  The Rams called 43 pass plays and 11 run plays.  OC Pat Shurmur is taking some heat for the team’s 60/40 pass/run ratio this year. 

Huddle Up:  10 of those yards came against a prevent defense at the Rams’ own 16-yard line right before halftime.  Jackson is averaging a career-low 4.0 per carry and his 28 receptions after 10 games is a career-low at that stage in a season.  The Rams ran 8 plays in the red zone vs. Atlanta and Jackson only touched the ball once.  LT Rodger Saffold sprained his shoulder and could miss the Denver game.  One bright spot is the schedule – at Denver, at Arizona, at New Orleans, Kansas City, San Francisco, at Seattle – the #1 easiest fantasy RB slate in the league.    

8. The Cleveland Browns defense racked up 4 sacks, 4 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries and a touchdown in the loss to Jacksonville. 

Huddle Up:  The Browns had a +5 turnover margin and still lost the game.  The last time a team had a +5> turnover margin and lost was when Buffalo lost to Dallas 25-24 in 2007.  Browns LB Marcus Benard, the 2nd-year man from Jackson State who collapsed in front of his locker last week, added another sack and boosted his season total to 6.5.  Rookie CB Joe Haden, the 7th overall pick in 2010, made his 3rd INT of the season.  He’s sensational, trust me.  On one play David Garrard flipped one deep to Mike Thomas, who had Haden beat by at least 6 yards… but while the ball was in the air Haden totally closed the gap with insane foot speed and broke the play up.  With CB Eric Wright going down (left knee) against the Jags, Haden will be a full-time player and could make a late push for a few Defensive Rookie of the Year votes.  The Browns are ranked 9th among fantasy defenses and their schedule is a turnover-prone buffet: Carolina, at Miami, at Buffalo, at Cincinnati.

9. Philip Rivers completed 15-of-24 passes for 233 yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT in the 35-14 win over Denver. 

Huddle Up:  Rivers and Michael Vick are both in Madden mode, averaging over 25 fantasy points per game in ESPN scoring.  Rivers has 23 TD passes and only 9 INTs.  Rivers is exactly on pace toward one of the coolest records in sports, Dan Marino’s 5,084 passing yards in a season – Rivers is on pace for 5,083 and just cracked 3,000 in his 10th game.  Only 7 different QBs have ever reached 3,000 yards in 10 games (Kurt Warner did it twice):

Most Passing Yards After 10 Games
QB Team Year Yards
Drew Brees New Orleans 2008 3,251
Rich Gannon Oakland 2002 3,195
Philip Rivers San Diego 2010 3,177
Peyton Manning Indianapolis 2009 3,171
Kurt Warner Arizona 2008 3,155
Warren Moon Houston 1990 3,152
Tom Brady New England 2007 3,059
Kurt Warner St. Louis 2001 3,000

10. Mike Williams (TB) caught 3 passes for 54 yards and 1 TD in the 21-0 win over San Francisco.  He was only targeted 3 times. The Bucs only called 3 pass plays in the 4th quarter vs. San Francisco because the game was securely in hand. 

Huddle Up:  The rookie from Syracuse is a top-15 fantasy WR in all formats and is on pace for 69 catches for 1,090 yards and 10 TDs.  More importantly, there will be no NFL or team suspension for his DUI charge last week because the state might not have a case.   Tough game at Baltimore next week, but from Weeks 13-16 Williams has the #1 easiest fantasy WR schedule on paper:  Atlanta, at Washington, Detroit, Seattle.

11. Keiland Williams carried 23 times for 68 yards and caught 6 passes for 27 yards in the 19-16 win at Tennessee.

Huddle Up:  To the surprise of many, Clinton Portis did start the game just seven weeks after completely rupturing his left groin muscle.  Interestingly, not only did Portis look good early with 5 carries for 32 yards, but all 5 carries were to the left side where planting and cutting off his left leg would seem prohibitive.  Portis left in the 2nd quarter and Williams took over.  Williams had two tries from inside the 5-yard line and couldn’t score.  For all the talk about the Redskins’ problems on offense they were very efficient in a tough road game.  After a three-game stretch with a league-worst 4-of-37 on 3rd down conversions, they went 8-of-16 at Tennessee.  With Portis gone for the year (almost surely) and Ryan Torain re-injuring his hamstring in Week 10 warmups, Williams looks like the clear-cut starter for at least Week 12 vs. Minnesota, maybe next week too.

12. Tom Brady completed 19-of-25 passes for 186 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs in the 31-28 over Indianapolis. 

Huddle Up:  The Patriots are 8-2 and Brady is 4th in the league with a 100.6 QB rating.  In real life he’s sort of MVP-ish again, but in fantasy leagues he’s around 14th in standard scoring per game and really isn’t helping you bang on your opponents.  Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez are just a few points behind Brady after 10 games.  Earlier in the season Brady had a 5-game stretch where averaged 214 passing yards and threw just 6 TDs.  Now here’s where it gets interesting:  Do you bench the hot-and-cold Brady on Thanksgiving at Detroit?  Who are your options – let me guess, Kitna?  Cassel?  Cutler?  Ryan?  If it’s me I bench Brady for Kitna but none of the others. 

13. Santonio Holmes caught 7 passes for 126 yards and 2 TDs in the win over Houston. He was targeted 12 times.  Braylon Edwards caught 4 passes for 86 yards and 1 TD, and was targeted 6 times.

Huddle Up:  Let Rex Ryan describe Holmes to you:  “He [Holmes] does most of the work, to be honest. He finds a way to get open. He runs his routes really well and he’s always positive. He doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s positive… You might think he’s asleep on the sidelines, he’s that focused.  He’s dialed in.  He doesn’t think anything other than football.”  The Super Bowl XLIII MVP has now made three huge plays in three consecutive weeks, a 52-yard reception to set up the winning kick vs. Detroit, the game-winning 37-yard TD vs. Cleveland, and the game-winning 6-yard TD vs. Houston.  The Jets would definitely be 7-3 without Holmes, maybe 6-4.  Not bad for a 5th-round pick to the Steelers. Note: Mark Sanchez has only started 25 NFL games.  He’s been a top-4 fantasy QB over his last 3 games – and averaged 298 pass yards over his last 4 weeks!  However, all the Jets games going forward are cold-weather or potentially nasty weather.

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