It’s “Championship Week” for fantasy football owners, and it’s also a day of critical games for many teams in the league. It’s also the second-to-last week of regular season action in the NFL, so there’s plenty to enjoy and discuss. Below are some assorted notes, observations, and stats relating to fantasy and “real” football.
Even though Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew practiced on Friday, not many people actually expect him to play today against the Tennessee Titans. In fact, this is the second straight week that fantasy owners should start Jordan Todman over MJD. While MJD obviously wants to play since he wants to prove himself in a contract year, the Jaguars don’t really feel any need to play MJD, especially given the tricky nature of hamstring injuries to veteran backs. Plus, I’m sure the Jaguars want to see as much of Todman as possible in order to better gauge his strengths and weaknesses. Todman had over 100 rushing yards and a huge workload last week, and he’s a fully legit fantasy starter this week, but you have to make sure to continue to keep a close eye on Jones-Drew’s status. The Jaguars are becoming increasingly optimistic when it comes to MJD’s chances of playing, which curtails Todman’s value and makes him tough to trust in shallower leagues. Use him on a case-by-case basis.
How much have Stevan Ridley‘s fumbling issues hurt the New England Patriots? Well, they’ve lost a balancing force on offense and the consistency of a feature back, as Tom Brady is second in the NFL with 578 pass attempts- two behind Peyton Manning and three attempts ahead of Drew Brees.
In the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints meeting earlier this year, the Saints sacked Cam Newton five times and hit him another three more times. The key to this game is putting pressure on the QB, and one thing that worries me about the Panthers is their running game; they need to continue to spread the ball around in the passing game in order to make up for that.
Of all the quarterbacks with at least 500 pass attempts, Joe Flacco is the only one averaging less than 250 yards per game. His knee injury isn’t bad enough to cause him to miss today’s big game against the Patriots, but it will be interesting to see if it limits his effectiveness in any way.
Peyton Manning and Matthew Staffod are, by far, the least sacked quarterbacks on a per-pass-attempt basis.
There are 13 players in the league with at least ten sacks, and it’s interesting to see that Jurrell Casey of the Tennessee Titans is one of them; it’s amazing how underrated he is, even though he’s one of the league’s best 4-3 DTs at getting after the passer.
Robert Quinn has 15 sacks, seven forced fumbles (this leads the league), is stout against the run, consistently put pressure on the quarterback, and can dominate any given game. He changed the complexion of last week’s game against the New Orleans Saints, is one of only three players (Tom Brady and Calvin Johnson are the others) to win our Player of the Week award twice, and he and J.J. Watt are neck-and-neck for my Defensive Player of the Year award.
With 34 receptions for 140 yards, Ben Tate finished the season with the lowest yards per reception average with 4.1 yards per catch. The leader? Josh Gordon overtook Kenny Stills and-then-some last week, and I doubt Gordon loses his hold on that spot. Plus, Stills’s stats are skewed since he doesn’t even have 30 catches. Gordon’s playmaking ability is just mind-boggling, and I think Johnson vs. Gordon is a legit argument that will be a big storyline next season.
Julian Edelman is having an excellent year, but it’s interesting to see that his five fumbles are the most by any non-QB or non-RB. The most fumbles overall? It’s not a surprise to see that Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the list, but it’s crazy to see that he already has nine. And not only is Geno Smith throwing a lot of picks, but he’s also put the ball on the ground eight times.
If he gets the targets, Alshon Jeffery could have a monster game today for fantasy owners, since he’s going up against a burn-prone pair of Philadelphia Eagles safeties that couldn’t contain Matt Cassel and Greg Jennings last week. Plus, Cary Williams figures to be the one covering Jeffery.
Of the top 15 running backs in rushing yards, Chris Johnson‘s average of 3.7 yards per carry is easily the lowest. In fact, Eddie Lacy‘s hard-fought 4.1 is the next-lowest. Speaking of Lacy, he’s going to have to be at his best again this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the Packers can survive this week, then they should have Aaron Rodgers back next week for an epic rivalry showdown with the Chicago Bears to cap off the season. Everything is on the line in that revenge game, so I hope the Packers can win and give us that enticing battle.
With 32% of their targets going to Vincent Jackson, no team relies more on one receiver than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And tight ends? It’s no surprise to see that the Carolina Panthers target Greg Olsen more often per their total pass attempts as a team than any other team; Olsen is the Panthers No. 1 target, not Steve Smith. But Smith still plays a critical role for the Panthers as something of a decoy wideout who makes everyone else better.
Success rate is an Advanced NFL Stats statistic that essentially measures consistency, and Marques Colston is the most consistent receiver in the league by that measure. I buy it, too, and it only takes a look at Colston’s stat sheet to see his week-to-week consistency.
Against the Atlanta Falcons defense, Frank Gore could have a monster game due to opponent and usage, and he’s had ten games this season with at least ten fantasy points with only two games that can qualify as “dud” outings.
With seventeen forced missed tackles, free-wheeling route-runner Kendall Wright leads all wide receivers in this stat (also courtesy of PFF).
Topics: Aaron Rodgers, Alshon Jeffery, Arizona Cardinals, Ben Tate, Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Chris Johnson, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Drew Brees, Eddie Lacy, Fantasy Football, Frank Gore, Geno Smith, Green Bay Packers, Greg Olsen, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jordan Todman, Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, Jurrell Casey, Kenny Stills, Marques Colston, Maurice Jones-Drew, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Notes And Analysis, Peyton Manning, Robert Quinn, Ryan Fitzpatrick, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Stevan Ridley, Steve Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Tom Brady, Vincent Jackson, Zac Stacy