Counting down the fantasy numbers of note entering the final week of the NFL season.
427 – Passing attempts for the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, fantasy’s fifth highest-scoring quarterback with 362 total points. That’s 71 fewer passing attempts than any of the other top-five fantasy QBs and the 21st-highest total in the league overall. Meanwhile, though, Wilson is in the midst of a banner rushing season with 842 yards and six TDs on 112 carries. Those three ground stats, of course, are tops among league QBs, and his rushing yards rank 16th overall. With teammate Marshawn Lynch (1,246) among the 15 RBs ahead of him, it means Wilson would currently qualify as the leading rusher on 18 other NFL teams. His 842 rushing yards also rank as the fifth-highest single-season total by a QB since the 1970 merger, and his 122 rushing attempts rank 10th on that post-merger list. Over his first two seasons, he averaged 95 rushes, 514 yards and ran for only five total TDs. As you can see, he’s easily eclipsed those marks this season and it’s established him as top-five fantasy QB, which is quite an accomplishment for a passer who has fewer aerial attempts than Brian Hoyer (439), fewer completions (268) than Kyle Orton (271), fewer passing yards (3,236) than Alex Smith (3,282) and 20 percent fewer passing TDs (20) than Joe Flacco (25).
203 – Total receiving yards over his last five games for the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans, who has 17 receptions and two TD grabs over that span. Not exactly glowing totals for fantasy’s 12th-ranked WR overall (166 points), but then again, it’s been quite the strange and yet symmetrical season for the seventh-overall pick in last spring’s draft. Here’s what we’re talking about: Over the first five games of the season, Evans had 27 targets, 17 receptions for 203 yards and a TD. Sound awfully familiar? Then, over the middle five contests, he exploded for 29 grabs, 591 yards and six scores on 44 targets. In the five games since, he’s actually had one more target (45) than his mid-season tear but his production (17-203-2) has dropped back down to match his output in Weeks 1-5.
31 – Straight games with five-or-more receptions and 50-plus receiving yards for the Steelers’ Antonio Brown. Sure, the streak has received plenty of ink, online notice and air play as Brown leads the league with 122 catches and 1,570 receiving yards, but take a moment to appreciate that Brown is one game away from maintaining that production level over back-to-back full seasons. Only one previous player – Laveranues Coles at 19 games during the 2002-03 seasons – has been able to put together a similar streak only half as long, and only two players (Odell Beckham Jr. with eight and Julio Jones with six) own current streaks of 50 and five longer than five games. Since the start of the streak, Brown has 232 receptions for 3,069 yards on 335 targets. All three figures, not surprisingly, are tops in the league, while his 20 TD catches – 12 of which have come this season – are tied for sixth.
20.2 – Percent of the Titans’ total passing-game targets which have gone to tight end Delanie Walker. That ranks him only behind the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski (23 percent) and the Panthers’ Greg Olsen (22.9) among league TEs. Quite impressive considering Walker has even missed a game. Overall, the Titan ranks seventh overall among TEs with 109 fantasy points, but some of his other stats – including the just-discussed 20.2 target percentage – reveal what an under-the-radar season Walker has had for the one of the league’s worst and truly most anonymous franchises. For instance, among TEs, Walker ranks fifth with 96 targets, fourth with 847 receiving yards and second with a 15.1-yards-per-catch average – trailing only the Colts’ Coby Fleener (15.6) among tight ends with 25 or more receptions. Finally, Walker ranks fourth with 22.9-percent rate of deep targets (15 or more yards downfield) among TEs with 50 or more targets. Only the Eagles’ Zach Ertz (40.6 percent), Fleener (27.1) and Gronk (23.7) rank higher. These are metrics – and, of course, a name – to keep in mind once all of the so-called “stud” tight ends have come off your league’s draft board next summer.
9 – Rushing touchdowns for the Vikings’ Matt Asiata as part of his 479 yards on 145 carries this season. Only the Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray and the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch – with an even dozen apiece – have more ground scores while Eddie Lacy and Jamaal Charles stand alongside Asiata in the nine-TD club. Those nine rushing TDs, by the way, are as many as Frank Gore, Trent Richardson and Fred Jackson have this season – combined. Asiata certainly has made his hay in close as all of his rushing scores have come inside the opponents’ 10-yard line – ranking even with Murray and only behind Lynch (10). He’s also tied for ninth in the league with 20 inside-the-10 rushing attempts and is third with 55 rushing yards. Generally, though, it’s been fantasy feast or famine with Asiata as he’s he had two three-touchdown games and one – coming this past Sunday in Week 16 – two-score outing. Also, definitely don’t overlook Asiata’s pass-catching skills as he ranks a surprising eighth among all RBs with 42 receptions for 295 yards and a TD. His 10 total TDs are the ninth most in the league. Asiata might not be the featured back in Minnesota next season, but count on him having a definite goal-line role with the nose-for-end-zone that he’s displayed this season.
7 – Games with three-or-more touchdown passes this season for the Chargers’ Philip Rivers. Only Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers – with eight apiece – have had more while Andrew Luck, and Tony Romo each have had seven. A full 22 of Rivers’ 31 scoring strikes have come in those seven games, with the latest being his career high-matching four-TD game in Saturday’s comeback win over the 49ers. On the flip side, Rivers has six contests where he’s tossed one or fewer scoring passes – only two short of combined total for Manning and Rodgers. Further indicative of the Charger QB’s roller-coaster season are his equal number (four) of 300-plus yard passing games and contests with 205 aerial yards or fewer this year. Rivers’ interceptions also have come in bunches as he’s tossed 10 of his 16 picks in four games. Overall, though, Rivers is having one of his best aerial seasons and is on pace to finish with the second-best single-season totals of attempts, completions and TD passes in his career.
4 – Touchdown receptions for Cowboys WR Cole Beasley this season. That quartet of scoring catches, by the way, has come during the last five games as part of the 15 receptions for 220 yards on 19 targets for the 5-foot-8, 174-pound wideout who ranks only behind Beckham (8), teammate Dez Bryant (6), Alshon Jeffery (6) and Demaryius Thomas (6) in NFL TD grabs over that span. During their Week 11 bye, the Cowboys appeared to have made a decision to get Beasley involved more in the passing game as he only had 21 targets and 16 receptions for 143 yards and no scores over his first 10 games. And while the stats of fellow wideout Terrance Williams have faded of late – 12 targets-seven catches-127 yards-two TDs over the last five games – Beasley has rather quietly become the Cowboys’ most productive fantasy pass-catcher outside of Bryant in Romo’s arsenal.