Counting down the fantasy numbers of note entering the eighth week of the NFL season.
150 – Rushing yards for Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill this season, which ranks fourth among NFL QBs and trails only Russell Wilson (327), Colin Kaepernick (260) and Cam Newton (190). Tannehill picked up 48 yards on six carries Sunday in a 27-14 upset of the Bears, helping him finish among the top fantasy QBs of the weekend. Tannehill also was a very efficient 25-of-32 for 277 yards and two TDs through the air in the road win, and now has had three straight games with at least 244 aerial yards, two passing TDs and 35 or more rushing yards, putting him squarely in the upper-echelon QB2 conversation.
45 – Touches the last two weeks for Broncos No. 1 RB Ronnie Hillman. Heading into Monday night’s game, that total trailed only DeMarco Murray (64), Andre Ellington (55) and Branden Oliver (47). It hasn’t been just a matter of volume, either, as Hillman followed up his first career 100-yard rushing game in Week 6 versus the Jets with a 74-yard, two-TD effort on 14 carries Sunday night in the 42-17 beatdown of the Niners. In all, Hillman’s 219 total yards — including his 7-45 receiving stats – and two scores on 45 touches came against two defenses which entered Week 7 ranked in the top six in terms of the fewest fantasy points surrendered to opposing RBs. Interestingly, Hillman and Montee Ball, who started Denver’s first four games, now have each rushed the ball 55 times this season, but it’s the former who’s produced 68 more yards on those carries and is averaging more than a full yard more per attempt (4.36-3.13). Throwing in the stats of the other two Bronco backs (Juwan Thompson and C.J. Anderson) who have carried the ball this season, and the three not named Ball have averaged nearly a yard-and-half more per carry (4.55-3.13) – i.e. not good news at all for Ball and his fantasy owners when the RB is ready to come back from his groin injury in a few weeks.
32 – Targets so far this season for Cowboys’ WR Terrance Williams, who has turned those into 19 receptions for 338 yards and six TDs, including at least one score in four of his last five games. But therein lies the fantasy rub. Of the 14 players in the league who have five or more scoring receptions coming out of Sunday’s action, only RB Ahmad Bradshaw, with 30, has been targeted less than Williams’ 32. Setting aside Williams and Bradshaw, eight of those other 12 are wide receivers who average 56.8 targets apiece, meaning the mathematics are against Williams’ current TD-catch-to-target-ratio being anything close to sustainable. In other words, Williams is a prime sell-high candidate.
27.1 – Percent of the Browns’ total targets this season which have been directed at WR Andrew Hawkins, which ranks an under-the-radar fifth in the league. Only Jordy Nelson (33.8 percent), Dez Bryant (32.5), Demaryius Thomas (29.6) and Antonio Brown (28.2) were receiving a greater percentage of their team’s targets following play Sunday. Overall, the former Cincy wideout has been targeted 52 times, and he’s produced a team-leading 29 catches for 383 yards. He’s been targeted at least nine times in five of the Browns’ six games, and is one of only eight players league wide garnering at least a quarter of their team’s total targets. Hawkins has yet to snare a TD pass this season, but he’s a must-own in all PPR leagues.
19.5 – Total fantasy points over the last month for 49ers WR Michael Crabtree. If that seems shockingly low for the player most regard as the team’s No. 1 wideout, it’s because it is, ranking him last among the team’s top four WRs during that span. Crabtree has been targeted 27 times over those four games – second only to fellow wideout Anquan Boldin – but he’s caught only 13 passes for 135 yards and one TD. Boldin, by comparison, has hauled in 23 of his 34 targets for 278 yards and a score, while Stevie Johnson (12-153-3 on 17 targets) and Brandon Lloyd (9-247-1 on 17 targets) have also outperformed Crabtree over the last month. If you project a reasonable rebound for TE Vernon Davis, who’s been slow in rounding into form after missing two games with injuries, Crabtree could find himself ranking as the unthinkable fifth-best pass-catching fantasy option in San Fran’s aerial game going forward.
9 – Turnovers (7 interceptions and two lost fumbles) and seven TD passes for Bears’ QB Jay Cutler in the team’s four losses this season, following his 21-of-34, 190-yard, one-TD, one-fumble, one-pick performance Sunday against the visiting Dolphins. Afterward, WR Brandon Marshall launched into a mini-lockerroom tirade, ranting about his frustrations with the offensive miscues and the team’s sub-.500 record. Not coincidentally, Cutler has tossed seven scoring passes and committed only one turnover in the team’s three wins, setting a clear line of fantasy and reality demarcation for the Windy City crew.
5 – Tight ends have caught 20 or more passes over the last 4 weeks – including the studly trio of Greg Olsen (22 receptions), Martellus Bennett (21) and Rob Gronkowski (20) . The remaining two, however, might be available on waivers if you’re looking for help at the position. Jets’ rookie Jace Amaro has caught 21 of his 25 targets over the last four games and has turned them into 167 yards and a TD. Meanwhile, Clay Harbor has stepped in for the injured Marcedes Lewis in Jacksonville and has snared 20 of his 22 targets for 216 yards and a score. On the flip side, Amaro has had trouble with drops — four among his 34 targets on the season – and Harbor is reliant upon a rookie QB getting him the ball, but both TEs are showing they can be of some fantasy help, particularly in PPR leagues.
0 – Points allowed by the Colts on Sunday in a 27-0 whitewash of the visiting Bengals – Indy’s first shutout since 2008. Cincy only gained 135 total yards in the game and didn’t run a play in Colts territory until the fourth quarter. Deservedly, Andrew Luck and the Indy offense have dominated the headlines, but the team’s defense quietly has compiled 21 sacks (tied for third in the league) and has totaled 51 fantasy points to rank fifth among all D/STs. For those fantasy GMs who are streaming defenses, most definitely keep an eye on Indy which faces the inconsistent offenses of the Steelers, Giants, Jaguars, Redskins, Browns, Texans and Titans during its final nine games.