Counting down the fantasy numbers of note entering the ninth week of the NFL season.
415 – Receiving yards on 36 targets and 26 receptions for rapidly emerging Patriots WR Brandon LaFell over the last five games following his career-high 11-catch, 124-yard showing Sunday. He also has four touchdown grabs in those five contests and ranks 10th in receptions, eighth in yards, fourth in TDs and seventh in PPR-league fantasy points among all wideouts during that span. Only T.Y. Hilton (680 yards), Demaryius Thomas (626), Golden Tate (599), Antonio Brown (556), DeSean Jackson (466) Randall Cobb (452) and Sammy Watkins (423) have racked up more reception yardage since Week 4. By comparison, fellow New England WR Julian Edelman has 23 catches for 207 yards and no scores on 41 targets during that same five-game span.
70 – League-leading fantasy points for the often underrated and overlooked Bills’ defense/special teams through Week 8. Boosted big time by their six-turnover, four-sack 43-23 victory over the Jets on Sunday, Buffalo now is pacing the NFL in turnovers forced (18), interceptions (12) and sacks (29) and ranks sixth in points (20.6), eighth in rushing yards (92.3) and 13th in passing yards (233.8) allowed per game. The Bills do have their bye this coming weekend but do have favorable fantasy matchups against the Browns, Jets, Dolphins and Raiders among their final eight contests.
48 – Targets for Rams’ TE Jared Cook, which now ranks as the most for any pass-catcher who has yet to notch a TD catch this season. That title has recently been held by the likes of Emmanuel Sanders, T.Y. Hilton, Keenan Allen and Andrew Hawkins but all four of those wideouts have broken through with TD grabs in the past month. That now places the focus on Cook, who’s logged a team-leading 27 receptions for 331 yards. Ironically, fellow St. Louis TE Lance Kendricks has four scoring receptions among his 16 catches for 128 yards on 21 targets. Aside from Cook, Panthers’ WR Jerricho Cotchery is currently the only other pass-catcher in the league who has been targeted more than 40 times and is still without a TD catch. Cotchery, who has 26 receptions for 316 yards on 42 targets, had 10 scoring catches among his 46 receptions and 76 targets last season in Pittsburgh.
15.22 – Average standard-scoring fantasy points per game for Saints’ RB Mark Ingram following his career-high 172-yard, one-TD rushing night on 24 carries Sunday against the Packers. Ingram, who missed a month with a hand fracture, now has rushed for 331 yards and four TDs on 58 carries in four games this season. Throw in his seven receptions for 38 yards, and he has totaled 61 fantasy points to rank in a tie for 25th among RBs. His per-game average, though, ranked only behind DeMarco Murray (21.31 fantasy points per outing), Arian Foster (21.03) and Matt Forte (17.65) coming out of play Sunday.
10 – Rookie wide receivers have had two or more touchdown receptions this season. That comprises 17.5 percent of the 57 total wideouts who qualify in that category, and it speaks very well to the overall talent of the WR draft class of 2014. That talent was touted all offseason and is fast coming to fruition. Watkins and the Panthers’ Kelvin Benjamin are pacing the rooks with five scoring grabs apiece while the Cardinals’ Josh Brown has four and the Jaguars’ Allen Hurns and the Steelers’ Martavis Bryant have three apiece. The Saints’ Brandin Cooks, the Jags’ Allen Robinson, the Bucs’ Mike Evans, the Packers’ Devante Adams and the Eagles’ Jordan Matthews have each snared a pair of scoring passes to round out the impressive contingent. In addition, Watkins (11th), Benjamin (12th), Cooks (24th), Robinson (31st), Brown (34th) and Hurns (39th) all rank among the top 40 fantasy WRs overall.
6 – Total targets for Broncos’ slot receiver Wes Welker over his last three games. Welker has a grand total of 24 targets, 19 receptions, 181 yards and one TD in five games this season and is clearly no better than the team’s fourth receiving option among Peyton Manning’s impressive array of weapons. In all, it’s a marked decline for the WR who has finished with at least 100 targets and 67 receptions in each of the previous eight seasons and tops all players with 764 receptions since the start of the 2007 season.
4 – Rushing touchdowns for the Jets’ Chris Ivory on six carries inside the opponents’ 5-yard line this season, which is tied for tops in the league with the Bengals’ Giovanni Bernard (8 inside-the-5 rushes), Foster (7) and Murray (7). As you can see, though, Ivory’s TD percentage of 66.7 percent is the best of the four backs and is tops among the 22 RBs who have logged five or more carries inside the opposition’s 5-yard line.
1.96 – Yards per carry for Browns’ ball-carriers over the last two games. In the Week 7 loss to the Jaguars and Sunday’s win over the Raiders – both of which rank among the league’s 10 worst rushing defenses – Cleveland has produced 108 yards and a single TD on 55 rushes. In the five previous contests this season, the Browns ran for 732 yards on 165 carries – a healthy 4.44 average – and had eight ground scores. Lead back Ben Tate’s numbers mirror the shocking dropoff as he’s gained 62 yards and a TD on 31 rushes over the last two Sundays after rushing for 243 and two scores on 53 carries previously. Likely not coincidentally, it’s the first two games the Browns have had to play without center Alex Mack – the team’s longtime offensive-line stalwart and two-time Pro Bowler who hadn’t missed a start since joining the squad as a first-round pick in 2009. Mack suffered a season-ending fractured fibula Oct. 12 against the Steelers, and the Cleveland ground game has ground to a halt ever since.