Counting down the significant stats, notable numbers and illustrative integers emerging from the opening weekend of the 2016 season:
95.0 – Percent of the Bears’ running-back touches for second-year starter Jeremy Langford on Sunday in the team’s 23-14 loss in Houston. Langford carried the ball 17 times for 57 yards and a touchdown and caught two of his four targets for six yards. Now while his fantasy-point totals – 12.3 standard and 14.3 point-per reception – didn’t win many matchups by themselves, they did lend some clarity as to where things stand in the Chicago backfield. Through Sunday’s games, Langford played a league-high 96 percent of the running-back snaps (54 of 56) as Ka’Deem Carey was the only other Chicago back to play (two snaps) and get a touch (one rush for 4 yards). Suffice to say, these situations are true NFL rarities these days, and that alone is a strong reason why Langford should be regarded as a solid RB2 play going forward.
24 – Touches Thursday night for Broncos starting RB C.J. Anderson in the team’s NFL season-opening win over the Panthers. Anderson rushed 20 times for 92 yards and a TD and added four receptions on five targets for 47 yards and another score to contend with the Chiefs’ Spencer Ware for the highest-scoring RB of the week honors in standard-scoring leagues. Anderson’s touch total is the key number of note here, though, as he accounted for all but five of Denver’s RB touches in playing 86 percent of the RB snaps. Moreover, Anderson failed to reach 20 touches in any game last season, and the workload should continue with backup RB/fourth-round rookie Devontae Booker struggling in production (8 yards on three carries), ball security (a lost fumble that killed the Broncos’ opening drive in Panthers’ territory) and pass protection (failing to pick up a blitz that resulted in a Trevor Siemian interception).
23 – Point-per-reception fantasy points Sunday for Chargers RB Danny Woodhead in a 33-27 overtime loss in Kansas City. From a fantasy perspective, San Diego’s loss was far more notable for Keenan Allen’s knee injury and the first two touchdowns of fellow RB Melvin Gordon’s NFL career, but the 31-year-old Woodhead quietly outscored both on the fantasy stat sheet. While Gordon rushed for 57 yards and the two TDs on 14 carries, it was Woodhead who actually led the team in rushes (16), rushing yards (89) and yards from scrimmage (120) while catching five of his seven targets for 31 yards and a score. Gordon was not targeted on Philip Rivers’ 36 passes. Woodhead finished third in RB PPR scoring a year ago – thanks largely to his league RB-high 106 targets and 80 receptions – and it appears little has changed in terms of the S.D. RB game plan with the new season.
13 – Touches Sunday for Falcons’ No. 2 RB Tevin Coleman in the team’s 31-24 home setback against the Bucs. The second-year back rushed eight times for 22 yards but actually led Atlanta in receiving yardage with 95 on five grabs and six targets. Coleman only caught two of 11 targets for 14 yards last season as a rookie, but he easily outgained fellow back and 2015 fantasy darling Devonta Freeman on Sunday as the latter totaled 40 yards on 15 touches, including 20 on 11 rushes. Freeman saw only four more snaps (36-32) than Coleman in the opener, and it could definitely be a harbinger of things to come after Freeman surged into the lead role after a Coleman rib injury early last season but wore down and tailed off noticeably in terms of production down the stretch in 2015.
9 – Team-high nine targets Sunday for Ravens WR Steve Smith Sr. against the visiting Bills. He caught five of them for only 19 yards, but it was still intriguing that the 37-year-old wideout coming off a double-Achilles rupture last November garnered only three fewer targets than the other four Baltimore receivers combined in the game. It also was the elder statesman who led the team’s wideouts with 45 of 68 offensive snaps played. Mike Wallace did have the most productive afternoon of the contingent, of course, reeling three of his six targets for 91 yards and a TD (66 yards) while Kamar Aiken (2 targets-2 catches-14 yards), Breshad Perriman (2-1-35) and rookie fourth-round pick Chris Moore (2-1-13) played only bit parts. Smith’s production figures to increase as we get further removed from his injury last season, and that should help keep the Baltimore WR picture an unclear fantasy mess for the foreseeable future.
5.5 – Combined standard-scoring fantasy points Sunday for a quintet of highly-regarded tight ends in Antonio Gates (2 points), Zach Miller (1.4), Martellus Bennett (1.4), Jared Cook (0.7) and Gary Barnidge (0). The latter, who finished 2015 as fantasy’s third highest-scoring tight end, was particularly conspicuous – and costly for his fantasy owners – as he was shut out Sunday in Philly on two targets in the Browns’ 29-10 loss. However, Robert Griffin III’s shoulder injury and pending injured-reserve stint could actually benefit Barnidge with Josh McCown now taking the controls. In his breakout fantasy season a year ago, Barnidge averaged eight targets, 5.4 catches, 78.3 yards and .75 TDs in the eight games with McCown, and averaged a 7.6-4.5-52.1-.38 stat line without him. That trend obviously only grew more pronounced Sunday with RGIII making his Cleveland QB debut. Meanwhile Sunday, the Chargers’ 36-year-old Gates had the best day of the bunch with all of 20 yards on three catches and four targets, and he should see more looks going forward with Rivers and the Chargers losing their top WR in Allen on Sunday.
3 – Touchdown passes Sunday for the Lions’ Matthew Stafford in a 39-35 win in Indy. Stafford completed 31-of-39 attempts for 340 yards, hooking up with TE Eric Ebron (6 yards) and RBs Ameer Abdullah (11) and Theo Riddick (13) on his trio of scoring tosses. In the nine games since Detroit’s bye week last season, Stafford has thrown 22 TD passes and only two interceptions while rushing for another score. He has multiple TD tosses in eight of those nine contests and has thrown for at least 240 yards in all but one game with three 300-yard-plus outings. Stafford fell down to the QB2 ranks in most drafts this summer, but if his current run is any indication, he could very well be in line for his fifth top-10 fantasy-QB finish in the last seven seasons. Swoop him up ASAP if he’s somehow still available in your league.
1 – Reception for 8 yards on five targets Sunday for the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant in the team’s frustrating 20-19 home loss to the Giants. Few were more frustrated, though, than the wideout himself and his fantasy owners as he had an apparent TD catch earlier in the game overturned (correctly) by a replay review. Meanwhile, of rookie starting QB Dak Prescott’s 43 targets, a full 26 went to TE Jason Witten (14-9-66) and slot receiver Cole Beasley (12-8-65). That left little for Bryant and continued a string of alarming starts for the elite WR, who has struggled mightily without Tony Romo at the helm. In the last seven games, including Sunday, Bryant has played without Romo in the starting lineup – a run dating back through the 2014 campaign – he’s caught only 18 of 55 targets for 201 yards and one TD. Bryant’s numbers should improve, though, as Prescott finds his bearings and starts throwing more outside the numbers. In fact, Bryant, Cowboys Nation and the WR’s fantasy owners will be insisting on it.