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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

JUMbotron Friday Huddle: Divisional Week
John U. Miller
January 12, 2012
 

I’ve reached into the vault and pulled out the JUMbo analysis or statistical tidbits that went unpublished over the last few weeks.  I’ve also added some brand new observations too.  Many of them are very useful pieces of information that sort of encapsulate that player’s season, and others… perhaps just good trivia fodder.  Either way, I want you to print this and keep it handy at your 2012 fantasy drafts: Not as a cheat sheet, but a “Vibe Sheet.”  You see, when the season rolls around again and the fantasy experts post their new rankings, they almost always regurgitate last year’s rankings as the new list.  WRs: 1. Calvin Johnson, 2. Wes Welker, 3. Victor Cruz…just like they finished this year.  As sure as I’m a mammal, Roddy White will be pre-ranked at around #6 in July because that’s about where he landed depending on your scoring system… and because it’s safe to put him there.  But my JUMbo Vibe Sheet tells you “Roddy White was the No. 1 fantasy WR from Weeks 11-16 with 49 catches for 664 yards and 5 TDs.”  This should be a reminder that Roddy got hot…Red Hot… and there’s no reason to drop him below #3 where he’s always ranked every year.  That’s the vibe that you might forget by the time summer is here.  I’ll also toss out bonus thoughts in parentheses to help frame that player’s outlook for 2012.  Let’s open the vault. 

--Roddy White was the No. 1 fantasy WR from Weeks 11-16 with 49 catches for 664 yards and 5 TDs (He’s almost certain to have a new offensive coordinator in ’13 as Mike Mularkey is on the way out.  That’s a good thing.  Rumor has it Brian Billick, he of the Randy Moss rookie explosion, might be coming to Atlanta.  That’s a great thing.)

--Ryan Fitzpatrick scored less than 15 fantasy points in 7 of 16 games, almost single-handedly losing a fantasy matchup for you each time.  His best weapon, Steve Johnson, is about to get a huge extension and thereby drops down my ’12 rankings.  I like my guys chasing cheddar wherever possible.

--Darrius Heyward-Bey was 3rd in WR targets with 60 from Weeks 12-17.  He turned those into 33 catches for 498 yards and 3 TDs.  Extrapolate that yardage over 16 Palmer-led games and he’s a 1,300-yard guy (DHB already has a spot on my 2012 Sweet 16 Sleepers List, I can tell you that right now.  He didn’t even meet Carson Palmer until October 18th.)

--Jermichael Finley was the 5th-ranked fantasy tight end in 2011 with 55 catches for 767 yards and 8 TDs.  Solid numbers but he was still a big bust considering many leagues saw Finley fly off the board as the No. 1 TE pick over Antonio Gates.  And when you throw in the fact that Finley scored 21% of his points in one game – Week 3 – he’s actually one of the biggest busts of the year.  Finley just didn’t get the targets.  He ranked 11th among TEs with 92. (Finley is also a free agent and when he gets paid he’ll be another guy with a fat wallet.  However, if Finley’s franchise-tagged for one year he could be out for blood.)

--The JUMbotron finished 3rd in the 12-team Fantasy Index Draft Masters League despite picking Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and Beanie Wells in rounds 3, 4, and 5.  I never told you I was a magician in my spare time, did I?

--Cam Newton ranked 1st in QB runs inside the 10-yard line with 23 attempts.  In fact, he had more than Adrian Peterson (19), Shonn Greene (19), and all but 8 other RBs in the entire league.  Newton cashed in a whopping 9 rushing TDs that way. (The man responsible for those copious rushing opportunities, OC Rob Chudzinski, might be leaving to be the head coach of the Rams.)

--It just dawned on me that I criminally under-posted the Redskins Cheerleaders this season.  My obsession with the Bucs gals went unchecked and I apologize.  In 2012 I’ll bring out more Skins chicks because they are outright babes!   

--Nate Washington was the 11th-ranked fantasy WR over the last 7 weeks.  Kenny Britt was the 3rd-ranked fantasy WR after the first 2 weeks before he blew out his knee.  Jared Cook was the 3rd-ranked TE over the last 3 games.  (Titans OC Chris Palmer did generate fantasy love despite all the extenuating circumstances.  Give him a full offseason/camp with Jake Locker, Chris Johnson and these talented pass-catchers and you’ll have a roster full of sleepers.)  

--Matthew Stafford was the 3rd-ranked fantasy QB over the last 9 games, while the defense gave up 31.6 points per game in that span.  In the previous 7 games, while the defense held opponents to 19.5 points per game, Stafford was the 10th-ranked QB. (It seems to me that Stafford-owners want the Lions defense to be average, though I hate to take away from what he did.  He got hot in a way that we’ve never seen: Over the last 4 games Stafford became the first QB in NFL history to pass for over 1,500 yards and throw 14 TDs in a 4-game span.)

--Reggie Bush was the 12th-ranked fantasy RB with 1,086 rushing yards, 296 receiving yards, and 7 total TDs.  Bush compiled 1,053 yards from scrimmage in his last 9 games, more than he's previously ever had in a full season.  But here’s the stat that defines Reggie’s season to me:  He ranked #1 among all RBs – minimum 200 carries – with a 5.0 average per carry.  But somehow you just know that Bush will be listed on every Overvalued list in the fantasy industry this summer.  I get it, too.  Bush had never displayed any ability to carry a full tailback load before, and his medical history suggests his left knee has no cartilage in it. 

--LeSean McCoy had 14 runs of 20+ yards, more than Cedric Benson (4), Shonn Greene (4), and Beanie Wells (5) combined. 

--Red Zone Leaders:

2011 Red Zone Leaders
Quarterback
Pass Att
Running Back
Rush Att
Wide Receiver
Targets
Tight End
Targets
Stafford 100 Turner 60 Roddy 29 Graham 27
Brady 99 Foster 55 Megatron 24 Gronkowski 27
Brees 95 Benson 54 Marshall 22 Hernandez 24
Rodgers 84 Gore 51 Burress 21 Pettigrew 22
Ryan 81 McCoy 50 Welker 20 Keller 19
Fitzpatrick 80 Rice 47 S. Johnson 20 Celek 18
Sanchez 79 Greene 42 Harvin 18 Gonzalez 17
Manning 71 MJD 41 Gaffney 18 Finley 15
Grossman 70 M. Bush 40 A.J. Green 18 Witten 15
Freeman 66 Lynch 40 Burleson 17 Gresham 15
Romo 66 Green-Ellis 38 Fitzgerald 17 Gates 14
Dalton 65 Mendenhall 38 Bowe 17 M. Lewis 13
Rivers 64 Tolbert 37 Garcon 16 Scheffler 13
Vick 61 Peterson 35 Crabtree 16 Winslow 13
Newton 60 Beanie 33 J. Nelson 16 Ballard 12

--Before his hamstring injury in Week 16 Lance Moore was on quite a streak.  In a 7-game span beginning in Week 8 Moore caught 7 TDs and was the 14th ranked fantasy WR in that span.

--Antonio Brown caught 69 passes for 1,108 yards and 2 TDs.  He also returned a punt for a TD.  In a 7-game stretch from Weeks 7-14 Brown was the 12th ranked fantasy WR with 37 catches for 663 yards and 2 TDs.  In that same 7-game stretch Mike Wallace had 29 catches for 422 yards and 4 TDs. 

--BenJarvus Green-Ellis averaged 15 carries per game over the first 5 weeks and scored 5 TDs.  For the rest of the season he averaged 9 carries and scored 6 TDs. 

--39 RBs averaged more yards per carry than Chris Johnson’s 3.996, including Jackie Battle (4.0), Shonn Greene (4.2), and Steven Jackson (4.4).

--The WR receiving yardage leaders over a 5-game stretch from Weeks 6-10 were: Megatron 434, Colston 431, Fitzgerald 431, Boldin 427, Welker 390, Jennings 389, Wallace 386, A. Brown 380, Bowe 371, and D. Bryant 346.

--Laurent Robinson was the 5th-ranked fantasy WR from Weeks 8-15 with 35 catches, 559 yards, and 9 TDs.  Only Rob Gronkowski (17), Calvin Johnson (16) and Jordy Nelson (15) caught more touchdowns than Robinson’s 11 for the season.

--In a 4-game stretch at midseason DeMarco Murray tied Arian Foster for the lead among all RBs with 109 total touches.  Steven Jackson was next with 107, then Marshawn Lynch 106, Michael Bush 105, and Matt Forte 98.  Murray also tied Fred Jackson for the lead among all RBs for the season with 5.5 yards per carry.  However, if you take away that 91-yard TD run vs. St. Louis (on his very first carry as an NFL starter) Murray’s average drops to a somewhat less-than-amazing 4.9.  Is Murray the next great Cowboys tailback?  Or is he the next Julius Jones, who also lit up the league in 2004 and then retreated into a career of mediocrity?

--Remember, Alexis Bellino is back on Real Housewives of Orange County on February 7th.  Get your DVRs warmed up and ready to capture the magic! 

--Marshawn Lynch was the 5th best fantasy RB despite only carrying the football 46 times in the first 4 games. He had a streak with 13 TDs in 11 games -- including 6 games with at least 131 total yards in that 11-game span.  (During that stretch Seattle lost three starting offensive linemen to injured reserve in Weeks 9, 10, and 13.)

--Arian Foster finished as the #4 fantasy RB but that doesn’t tell the whole story.  He’s gone back-to-back seasons as the #1 RB in points per game, leading the pack in 2011 with 19.7 ppg, just a smidgeon off his 2010 Herculean breakout mark at 20.6 ppg.  Just because Foster missed the first 2 games with a hamstring injury and then sat out the meaningless finale doesn’t mean he’s not The Man.  He is.  (Foster is a restricted free agent in 2012.  Houston could unload the truck, but why would they?  They can squat on him with a 1st and 3rd-round tender at about $3 million guaranteed, and make him chase the dough for one more year.  Crucial stuff in fantasy circles, Foster’s contract talks…)

--Rob Gronkowski has 20 TDs (19 rec, 1 rush) in his last 20 regular-season games.  He’s the first NFL tight end and 6th pass-catcher overall to score 20 times in 20 games.  The only others to do it were Don Hutson, Jerry Rice, Carl Pickens, Sterling Sharpe, and Randy Moss… again, all WRs.

--Titus Young caught 6 TDs in his rookie year.  He also lost a clear TD in Week 17 because Jim Schwartz was out of challenges, and for the season Young dropped three other easy touchdowns by my count.  Young should have been a 10-TD guy as a rookie.  (Nate Burleson remains under contract through 2014 so don’t throw confetti on Young just yet.  Burleson also restructured in November to free up cap room for the team, so he’s not going anywhere.  However, Young is a value-grab as possibly the best NFL No. 3 WR available, and should probably be considered a Megatron/Burleson “handcuff” if there is such a thing.)

--How quickly things change… less than two years ago many were saying Josh McDaniels ruined the Broncos with his crazy draft moves and trades.  He shipped off Jay Cutler (no big deal in hindsight) and Brandon Marshall (okay, dumb move), mortgaged Denver’s draft to get Tim Tebow with the 22nd pick, and also took a relative unknown in Demaryius Thomas with the 25th pick.  Gulp.  No one on this planet enjoyed that Tebow-to-Thomas game-winning TD more than McDaniels.  No one.  Now the Rams have just released McDaniels from the last year of his contract and he’s back in New England reunited with Bill Belichick.  Just in time to coach against… Denver on Saturday night at 8 pm ET.  I love this game. (JUMbo Prediction of the Week:  McDaniels will convince Belichick to trade for WR Brandon Lloyd this offseason and Lloyd will again become an unsung fantasy force.)

--Alexis Bellino is back for the 7th season of….  Whoops I already mentioned her.

--Michael Turner finished as the 6th ranked fantasy RB (8th in PPR) which would make him appear to have been a good value in the 2nd round.  And he was… except that down the stretch Turner was sort of an albatross around his fantasy owner’s necks.  Matthew Berry of ESPN.com nailed it when he wrote:  “Forget the Week 17 game against a horrific Tampa Bay team that had already checked out.  In Turner's final five ‘real’ games (Weeks 12-16), he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and just 56 rushing yards a game; he had fewer than 80 yards in all five and scored only once.”  Has Turner finally lost a step, destined to hit the wall as his 30th birthday comes in February?  (I’d be surprised if Atlanta drafted a running back early in the 2012 draft -- they probably can’t anyway because they gave away their 2012 1st and 4th rounders to move up for Julio Jones -- but I wouldn’t be surprised if they ponied up for free-agent RB Michael Bush, a Turner clone, provided he isn’t franchise-tagged.)

--Jeremy Maclin was the 28th ranked WR from Weeks 14-17.  He had a bad year with 63 catches and 5 TDs.  It will leave a sour taste in fantasy mouths at draft time this summer.  I will remember that Maclin had a bad hamstring pull in November but sucked it up and posted a nice 8-105-0 game in Week 17 vs. Washington.  I will remember that Maclin is barely 24 years old and yet has three full years of NFL experience.  I will remember that Michael Vick was busted up and DeSean Jackson stopped drawing extra attention.  Andy Reid and his 65-35 pass-run ratio is back for a 14th year and I will consider Maclin one of the mot undervalued players in 2012 drafts.

--Joe Flacco’s QB ratings year-by-year:  80.3, 88.9, 93.6, 80.9.  The 80.9 mark is too low given the talent around him and the fact that he was in his 4th year.  Drew Bledsoe, a guy that I’ve sort of assumed Flacco could emulate, posted a career-high 83.7 in his 4th year.  Tony Romo hit a career-high 97.6.  Even Trent Dilfer hit 82.8 in his 4th year.  Do the Ravens need to get rid of OC Cam Cameron, or re-stock the cabinet with a true stud WR like Dwayne Bowe or Vincent Jackson?  More Flacco-bashing: His completion percentage dropped to a career-low 57.6 in his 4th season.  Yards per attempt?  Career-low 6.7.  And yet his pass attempts were a career-high 542.  Something’s gotta change.

--I meant to post this a few weeks ago.  Do you remember Rams QB Jim Everett (please tell me I’m not that old)?  He was a heckuva talent – 6’5, 215, rocket arm – who averaged 4,088 yards and 28 total TDs from 1988-1990.  Then his career took a turn for the worse in the ’89 NFC Championship Game.  In the 3rd quarter of an eventual 30-3 beatdown at the hands of the 49ers, Everett dropped back to pass and suddenly collapsed to the ground in anticipation of his 4th or 5th sack – but there was no one there.  No 49er even close.  It was the “Phantom Sack.”  For the next few years a young host on ESPN’s “Talk2” named Jim Rome kept calling him “Chris” Everett – after Chris Evert, the female tennis star.  Rome was relentless.  It didn’t sit well with Jim Everett, as evidenced by his appearance on Rome’s show in 1994.   

JUMbo Cheerleader Series:  The last batch of the season.  I’ll make it count!

Colts (Anonymous… anyone want to hunt down her name?)
Cowboys (Amy Reese, my No. 2 all-time JUMbo fave…)
Bucs (Meagan, still No. 1 on the charts, no one else like her!)
Jets (Gina, I think. She actually looks like a Gina… or Kelly.)
Falcons (Jamie probably should have been featured more this season.)
Bucs (She’s new, this Lauren… This was just taken three weeks ago.)
Cowboys (Ashton at her 2010 swimsuit calendar shoot.  Zoinks!)
Cowboys (OK, one more of Ashton.  File Under: 2012 JUMbo Sleepers)

I hope everyone has a prosperous and rewarding New Year!  Thanks for all your positive feedback on the JUMbotron!

JUM
@HuddleJUMbotron  


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