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Under the Numbers: Week 6
John U. Miller
October 11, 2011

The JUMbotron took another FanDuel team into battle in Week 4 and finished a respectable 144th out of 447 entries in The Huddle $500 FreeRoll.  As soon as I figure out Matt Ryan is not a “bargain” at his 8,000 salary I will get up near the top where I belong!  Congrats to cowboyzfan41 who finished 1st and bagged $150.  If you were able to simply top JUMbotron’s score you’ll have $5 deposited in your FanDuel account later today.  If you haven’t signed up it’s time to join the fun.  CLICK HERE and play in Week 6!

Digging deeper for a baker’s dozen of did-you-know stuff from Fantasy Week 5.

1. Tim Tebow completed 4 of 10 passes for 79 yards and 1 TD, and added 6 carries for 38 yards and 1 TD in the 29-24 loss to San Diego.

Tebow came in the game with 8:54 left in the 3rd quarter and directed two touchdown drives and had a chance to win it with a Hail Mary as time expired. Forget all the critics and naysayers (ahem, Merrill Hoge), this guy has a talent that very few NFL QBs have: He elevates his teammates in the huddle.  With the offensive line ranking in the bottom half of the league in most categories, it’s clear that Denver needs a mobile QB who can make more out of nothing.  And fantasy owners take note, Tim Tebow ranks #1 overall since 2010 with 0.51 fantasy points per snap – 119 points in 234 offensive snaps.  Small sample, I know… but c’mon, he runs and throws, and runs some more.  The unsung hero for Denver so far has been Willis McGahee, who’s picked up the reins for Knowshon Moreno.  McGahee carried 16 times for 125 yards (adding a 2-point run) and has quietly lodged himself into the fantasy top-18 RBs.  Moreno didn’t record a carry vs. San Diego but he did take a nice screen pass from Tebow 28 yards to the house.  Tebow made it possible by waiting until the last second under heavy pressure.  Brandon Lloyd only caught 1 pass for 20 yards but man it was a beauty!  JUMbo Whisper:  Lloyd is a splendid Buy-Low WR right now.  1) Denver’s on a bye in Week 6, so his owner might be need to cut bait. 2) Tebow targeted Lloyd 23 times in two full starts at QB last year.

2. Redskins HC Mike Shanahan refuses to name a starting tailback as of Monday as the prepare for the Week 6 game at home vs. Philadelphia.  The Redskins were on bye this past week.

I know this isn’t a classic Under The Numbers post-game entry, but I just had to cover this Shanahan crap today.  As you recall, Shanahan knifed Hightower-owners in the chest two weeks ago, inserting Ryan Torain – for his first carries all season – midway thru the 2nd quarter vs. the Rams.  Of course Torain plowed that reeling defense for 135 yards and 1 TD.  Then right on queue Shanahan said afterwards that Hightower exited with a shoulder injury and that was why he put Torain in.  Hmmm… that’s funny, checking the 2nd quarter play-by-play it looks like Torain entered the game and busted that 20-yard TD, but Hightower also had a 9-yard run after Torain’s first series.  It reminds me of the “I benched McNabb because of his poor conditioning” fiasco last year.  Look, all NFL coaches lie to the media, it’s part of the job.  But this dude tells whoppers, folks… and his knee-jerk personnel decisions really damage fantasy squads.  Here’s what Shanahan said yesterday about the RBs going into Week 6 vs. Philly’s 30th ranked rush defense:  “I’m going to play the best players and we’ll see how these guys do.  They have some great competition.  As I said before, we have three backs that I really believe in.” JUMbo Translation:  “I know all Torain-owners are picturing a 24-130-2 day vs. the hapless Eagles, and because I hate all of you I’ll consider giving Roy Helu the majority of touches this time.  He’s had a great week of practice.”

3. The Oakland Raiders defense allowed 473 total yards and 34:25 time of possession but the Raiders still beat the Texans 25-20. Darren McFadden carried 16 times for 51 yards and caught 2 passes for 17 yards.

In truth the Raiders defense didn’t look that bad. They sacked Matt Schaub 3 times, picked him off twice, and caved in his pocket all day long. Oakland deflected 7 passes at the line of scrimmage, the most in the NFL last week. Also, a 4th Raider sack was negated by a penalty. They held Arian Foster to 22 carries for 68 yards – but allowed him to get free on a swing pass (watch S Tyvon Branch #33 blow his assignment) and rumble for 60 yards.  Darren McFadden-owners, you might want to look away right now:  He lost 53 rushing yards on three penalties and another 23-yard catch on another penalty.  Otherwise, McFadden’s stat-line reads quite differently: 19-104 and 3-40.  Getting back the Raiders defense… They were getting a massive push up front all day long and rank 6th in the league with 14 sacks.  If you’re bye-week digging for a defense I’d recommend Oakland – who’s at home vs. Cleveland and Kansas City in the next two weeks.

4. Matt Moore has been named the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback for the rest of the season barring injury.

Again, not a Week 5 post-game story but I feel this must be addressed for Brandon Marshall-owners.  If you have Marshall, stay the course.  If you don’t have him and want to upgrade your WRs he’s a great Buy-Low player.  Like I tweeted the other day, it’s not like Marshall lost Drew Brees when Chad Henne went down.  With these mega-talented WRs it doesn’t take much to generate beefy stats, and Marshall is as good an example as anyone.  In Week 9 of 2007 he caught 9 passes for 96 yards from Patrick Ramsey.  Last year at New England Marshall caught 5 passes for 97 yards from Tyler Thigpen, who only completed 10 all day.  Heck, Marshall’s gone to Pro Bowls with Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton… who are two of the most erratic, streaky passers in the game.  Miami’s had a bye week to get Matt Moore plenty of reps so he’ll be prepared.  They also signed Sage Rosenfels to back Moore up, and I’m not so sure Rosenfels won’t take over in a few weeks.  I’d actually welcome it as a Marshall-owner.  Back in 2007 with Houston, Sage radar-locked on Andre Johnson over a 5-game stretch for 37 receptions, 432 yards, and 4 TDs.  Miami faces the Jets, Broncos, Giants, and Chiefs over the next 4 weeks.

5. Ben Roethlisberger completed 24 of 34 passes for 228 yards, 5 TDs, and 1 INT in the 38-17 win over Tennessee.  Isaac Redman carried 15 times for 49 yards and caught 3 passes for 12 yards.  Jonathan Dwyer got his first action of the season and carried 11 times for 107 yards.  Hines Ward caught 7 passes for 54 yards & 2 TDs.  Mike Wallace caught 6 passes for 82 yards and 1 TD.

Roethlisberger didn’t show any signs of a sprain or hairline fracture in his left foot, dropping and planting with conviction like he always does.  It’s like he “remembered” to limp a few times, but… Aw, nevermind.  The Steelers ran 18 plays in the red zone and only threw on 7 of them; but Roethlisberger turned 4 into touchdowns.  Isaac Redman was grinding away just like Rashard Mendenhall would have – but suddenly Dwyer entered the game midway thru the 2nd quarter and busted a 76-yard run.  Redman still had his chances – a whopping 7 red-zone carries – but couldn’t deliver.  Ward was the biggest surprise.  It’s only the 8th time in his last 24 games he’s had 8+ targets.  I’d sell high.  You Wallace-owners must have rubbed a rabbit’s foot before the game -- because you will never again see OC Bruce Arians call a bomb to Wallace with the Steelers up 31-17 and only 2:40 left.  My guess is that Arians knew Roethlisberger needed TD No. 5 for a personal career high. The Steelers are at home vs. Jacksonville this week then on the road at Arizona.

6. Andy Dalton completed 21 of 33 passes for 179 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT in the 30-20 win at Jacksonville.  Cedric Benson carried 24 times for 53 yards.  A.J. Green caught 5 passes for 90 yards and 1 TD.  Jermaine Gresham caught 5 passes for 21 yards and 1 TD.

Dalton was sacked twice and hit overall about 7 times but for the most part he had a clean pocket to work with.  Dalton ran the no-huddle in the 2nd quarter and went 3-of-4 for 32 yards, looking quite comfortable.  OC Jay Gruden called 5 pass plays in the red zone and 8 rushing plays, though 4 of those runs were just vanilla plays to burn off the clock and ice the win.  Benson had 2 carries for 10 yards wiped out by penalty.  He’s ranked 2nd in the league with 101 carries.  Bernard Scott slipped in and stole a 2-yard TD on a 3rd and goal.  A.J. Green is 13th in the league with 402 receiving yards, on pace for almost 1,300.  He’s a must-start WR3 in all leagues now.  Gresham has scored in 4 of 6 games going back to last year’s finale.  All 4 of these Bengals are worth a start in Week 6 with byes for Denver, Tennessee, Kansas City, Arizona, San Diego and Seattle.  Cincy hosts Indianapolis, who ranks 20th vs. fantasy QBs and 27th vs. fantasy RBs.

7. Matt Hasselbeck completed 29 of 49 for 262 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT in the 38-17 loss at Pittsburgh.  Chris Johnson had 14 carries for 51 yards and 1 TD.  Nate Washington caught 5 passes for 69 yards.  Damian Williams, who replaced Kenny Britt two weeks ago, caught 6 passes for 66 yards and 1 TD.

Hasselbeck was only sacked 3 times in 52 dropbacks, not too bad considering it was on the road at Heinz Field.  The absence of LB James Harrison (eye) helped out a lot.  Tennessee was 7 of 15 on 3rd downs and 2-of-3 in the red zone.  Hasselbeck leads the NFL with a 123.9 rating in the red zone.  This is a legitimate top-10 pass offense.  Johnson broke a 21-yard run on the first play of the game then was essentially useless the rest of the way.  On his 1-yard TD Javon Ringer was about to trot out there but Mike Munchak told him to hold up.  CJ-owners got lucky.  Washington almost had a 29-yard TD in the 4th quarter but Hasselbeck misfired.  JUMbo Whisper: Washington has had 5 almost-TDs where the throw was just off a bit or he dropped it.  Give Washington a TD on just 2 of those 5 throws and he’s a top-10 fantasy WR.  Williams led the Titans with 11 targets in Week 5 and has scored two weeks in a row:  He’s emulating Britt’s numbers nicely and is a must-flex in 12-team leagues from now on.  Tennessee is on bye in Week 6, then host Houston (without LB Mario Williams) and Indianapolis back-to-back.

8. Kevin Kolb completed 21 of 32 for 232 yards and 2 INTs in the 34-10 loss at Minnesota.  He also lost a fumble.

He was Jared Allen’s personal punching bag, with 2 sacks, 2 passes tipped, and 2 other kits on Kolb that really got him rattled.  Kolb was awful, but then again his defense could have bowed up and helped.  Minnesota was up 28-0 before the 1st quarter ended.  A 36-yard pass interference penalty on CB Patrick Peterson set up that 4th TD and the game was over early.  Larry Fitzgerald caught 4 passes for 66 yards on 8 targets, but it felt like he only caught 1 or 2 passes if you watched the whole game.  “When they moved him [Fitzgerald] inside, we were still going to put our hands on them regardless,” said Vikings CB Chris Cook. “We had somebody to jam him every time.  We knew what they were doing.  A lot of their stuff, we were calling it out before they did it.”  Ouch.  That’s a slam on Cardinals OC Mike Miller.  Amazingly, the Vikings fans were booing Donovan McNabb for an incompletion in the 1st quarter – with the score 21-0.  What did this guy do to deserve so much disrespect?  Early Doucet was targeted 16 times (!) and caught 8 for 92 yards.  Doucet also had an 11-yard TD negated by a penalty.  For the season Doucet has 37 targets, 21 catches, 309 yards, and 1 TD.  Andre Roberts has 23 targets, 12 catches, and 125 yards.

9. Alex Smith completed 11 of 19 passes for 170 yards & 3 TDs in the 48-3 win over Tampa Bay.

Don’t go picking up Alex Smith unless you’re in a 14-team league, or a 2-QB league.  Jim Harbaugh has quietly but firmly established a run-run-and-keep-running offense, taking the ball out of Smith’s hands.  He averages a measly 25 pass attempts per game, last among all QBs who’ve started 5 games this year. Frank Gore erased any doubts about his ankle with 20 carries for 125 yards and 1 TD.  He added 2 catches for 18 yards, but also lost a fumble at the Bucs 11-yard line.  Kendall Hunter carried 9 times for 65 yards.  He’s an impressive young back; and if (when) Gore goes down this kid has a 180-yard game in him, trust me on that.  Keep Hunter on your roster at all costs.  The 49ers ran the ball on 7 of 10 red-zone plays, with Gore getting 5 totes and Hunter with 2.  Michael Crabtree continues to look better and better on that tricky foot.  He only caught 2 passes for 36 yards, but he looks quicker than I remember – and almost had a TD catch in the 3rd quarter but there was miscommunication between he and Smith on the back-shoulder throw.  Vernon Davis was only targeted 3 times – which confounds me – but scored 2 TDs anyway.  Call me stubborn but I’m doubling down on last week’s Sell-High recommendation.  

10. LeGarrette Blount carried 10 times for 34 yards and caught 2 passes for 31 yards before leaving in the 3rd quarter with a knee injury.  Mike Williams led all Bucs pass-catchers with 9 targets but had 2 drops and only caught 4 for 28 yards.  Williams ranks 6th in STATS Inc.’s ominous “Passes Not Caught” category, which encompasses drops, miscommunications, and deflections.     

Blount took a shot directly on the left knee and Bucs HC Raheem Morris isn’t very good at deceptive coachspeak:  "I don't want to rule (Blount) out, but I'm not looking at him.  It is what it is. Next man up.  I'd like to get more detailed information on him. I'll call him day-to-day for now."  JUMbo Translation:  “Our doctors checked him on the sidelines and saw some damage they didn’t like.  I’m getting Earnest Graham ready to start and Kregg Lumpkin will share the load.”  Graham has averaged 5.5 yards per touch (rush/rec) this year and appears to be in terrific shape at age 31.  I wouldn’t hesitate to start Graham in my flex spot at home vs. New Orleans, who ranks 24th against fantasy RBs.

11. Dwayne Bowe caught 7 passes for 128 yards and 2 TDs in the 28-24 win at Indianapolis.  Steve Breaston caught 4 passes for 50 yards and 2 TDs.  Jackie Battle carried 19 times for 119 yards and caught 2 passes for 21 yards.

Uh, don’t look now but Bowe has scored in 3 straight games.  No other wide receiver in the NFL can pile on TDs in bunches like Bowe, then completely disappear as if it never happened.  Last year Bowe caught 13 TDs in a 7-game stretch, packaged with four 100-yard games.  Then over the last 5 games he had one score and one 100-yard game.  The Chiefs are on bye this week, then they face Oakland, San Diego, and Miami – who rank 16th, 2nd, and 24th vs. fantasy WRs respectively.  As for Battle, an anonymous fan apparently wrote Chiefs HC Todd Haley and told him to give Battle the ball because he’s the next Arian Foster.  Wow!

12. Fred Jackson carried 26 times for 111 yards and 1 TD in the 31-24 win over Philadelphia.  He also added a whopping 6 catches for 85 yards (6 targets).  Jackson had a 8-yard run negated by penalty.

Fantasy football’s #1 running back continues to amaze.  He ranks 4th in rushing yards (480), 5th in RB receiving yards (232), 6th in avg. per carry among RBs with 30+ attempts (5.33), and 2nd in rushing TDs (5).  I’ve made it a point to study O-lines closely this year and one of the 5 biggest things I’ve discovered is that Bills guards Kraig Urbik and Andy Levitre are mean, man. They’re constantly getting downfield to lay a second block, and it’s busting Jackson loose in the 2nd level.  Both should go to the Pro Bowl. The Bills face the Giants (ranked 20th vs. fantasy RBs), then have a bye, then take on Washington (9th) and NYJ (28th).

13. JUMbo Things I’ve Noticed That Perhaps You Didn’t:

--The Browns promoted WR Greg Little to ‘X’ receiver, replacing Brian Robiskie.  In 3-wide sets Little will drop into the slot.  In Week 4 (before the bye) Little caught 6 passes for 57 yards off a sizable 8 targets, and that was before the promotion.
--Wes Welker has 45 catches, 740 yards, and 5 TDs after 5 games.  It’s a pace for 144 catches, one more than the NFL record 143 by Marvin Harrison.  Welker has more receiving yards by himself than the entire WR groups for San Francisco, Jacksonville, NYJ, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City.
--Matthew Stafford has 8 TD passes (and 0 INTs!) in the red zone, joining Tom Brady (12), Ryan Fitzpatrick (9), Drew Brees (8) and Aaron Rodgers (8) in the top-5.  Philip Rivers is way down the list with only 3.
--Matt Forte leads the NFL with 18 runs of >10 yards.  LeSean McCoy is 2nd with 17, Maurice Jones-Drew is 3rd with 15.
--Jimmy Graham is on pace for 102 catches, 1587 yards and 10 TDs.  He might be THE story of the year in fantasy football.
--Mike Thomas is 5th in the NFL with 47 targets.
--BenJarvus Green-Ellis is tied for the NFL lead with 13 rushing attempts inside the 10.
--Willis McGahee, about to turn 30 years old, leads the NFL in 4th quarter avg. per carry at 5.6 (min. 10 attempts).
--Pierre Garcon, with 4 TDs in two weeks, has vaulted into the top-8 fantasy WRs.
--Eli Manning is the 6th ranked fantasy QB.  His next three games are against Buffalo (ranked 30th vs. fantasy QBs), Miami (26th), and New England (31st).

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