Counting down the significant stats, notable numbers and illuminating integers emerging from the first three weeks of the 2016 season:
97 – Total pass completions and rushes so far this season for Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston. That led the league through Sunday’s games, giving him eight more than second-place Alex Smith. After hitting career highs in back-to-back weeks – including a NFL-high 58 Sunday — Winston had a league-most 142 pass attempts through Sunday and ranked fourth in aerial yards (929) and first in touchdown tosses (8) to put him at third overall in QB fantasy points (81) behind Cam Newton (84) and Mathew Stafford (81). With a defense that is proving to be porous – surrendering 24 or more points in each game so far for a league-most 101 points allowed – Winston and the Bucs’ offense are going to be forced to try to keep up, and that will most definitely be to the benefit of his fantasy owners who can look forward to a Buccaneers’ trove of fantasy points in NFC South shootouts with Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.
76.0 – Catch percentage for Raiders wideout Michael Crabtree, who has reeled in 19 of the 25 passes thrown his way so far. And through Sunday’s action, only the Cowboys’ Cole Beasley (20 catches on 25 targets) had a better percentage among players with 25 or more targets. Crabtree has been the second-most targeted Raiders pass-catcher – trailing fellow WR Amari Cooper’s 29 – but Crabtree has more receptions and one more TD grab (1-0) than his Silver & Black counterpart, making him the slightly safer play in point-per-reception leagues. Overall, Crabtree checks in as a solid WR2 in PPR, ranking 17th overall with 47 points.
41 – Career interceptions thrown by the Jaguars’ Blake Bortles after tossing three in Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the visiting Ravens. That’s not only the most in the league since Bortles entered as a first-round pick in 2014, it was a full 10 more than any other quarterback in the league through play Sunday. During that span, Bortles also is tied for fourth in the league with 22 fumbles (with seven lost), putting his per-game turnover average at a brutal 1.45 per contest, which, again, easily paces the league. This season, Bortles’ seven total turnovers trail only Winston’s eight, and they’re not only costing the Jaguars games – Bortles is now 8-24 as a starter – they’re continually dragging down his fantasy value as well.
32 – Total touches for Cowboys’ rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday night, resulting in his first 100-yard game (140 on 30 carries) as a pro. Overall this season, Elliott ranks behind only the Texans’ Lamar Miller (84) and the Steelers’ DeAngelo Williams (80) with his 76 touches through Sunday, and only LeGarrette Blount (298) has totaled more rushing yards than the rookie’s 274. Elliott also ranks third in the league with 71 rushing attempts, trailing only Blount (75) and Miller (74). And while the volume has been there as expected for Elliott’s fantasy owners, they’ve yet to realize the return of the rookie’s full value as he’s only accounted for two of the team’s league-most seven rushing TDs – rookie QB Dak Prescott and backup RB Alfred Morris have two apiece while Lance Dunbar has vultured the other – despite owning a full 70.3 percent of Dallas’ total rushes. Most definitely stay patient, however, as the touch volume obviously is tough to come by in today’s NFL.
27 – League-low points allowed by the Eagles this season following their stunning 34-3 beatdown of the Steelers in Sunday’s Battle for Pennsylvania. While rookie Carson Wentz and the offense are generating almost all the buzz, the under-the-radar Philly defense has stealthily been one of the league’s – and fantasy’s best – so far with 10 sacks (tied for third) and six takeaways (tied for seventh) without allowing a TD pass. Among fantasy team defenses, the Eagles rank seventh overall and are just lacking the return TDs that all six fantasy defenses ahead of them own. The Eagles have a bye in Week 4 so now might be a good time to swoop them up if they’re on your team D waiver wire.
26 – Targets for the Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph on the season. That puts the veteran tight end in a tie with WR Stefon Diggs for the Minnesota team lead, and that total also stands second among all tight ends, ranking behind only the Panthers’ Greg Olsen (27). The targets for Rudolph have been steady with at least eight in all three games, and he’s now had scoring receptions in back-to-back games, putting him second in the fantasy TE ranks with 29 points – behind, again, only Olsen (32). A season ago, Rudolph finished 14th among tight ends with 49 catches for 495 yards and five TDs on 73 targets, but he’s well on his way to topping those numbers and finally living up to his seemingly annual sleeper status if can stay healthy in a Sam Bradford-led offense in need of reliable weapons.
25.7 – Standard-scoring fantasy points to date for Indy TE Jack Doyle, which is tied for third at his position through Sunday with K.C.’s Travis Kelce behind the aforementioned Olsen and Rudolph. Doyle, the fourth-year undrafted free agent out of Western Kentucky, certainly hasn’t received as much sleeper-tight end hype as teammate Dwayne Allen but the former has had more fantasy points in each of the Colts’ three games so far even through the two are tied for second on the team in targets with 15 apiece. Doyle has reeled in 13 of the 15 passes thrown his way for 137 yards and two scores while Allen has caught 9-of-15 targets for 113 yards and one TD. The Colts’ offense has been potent enough to support two fantasy tight ends for more or less the last four seasons, so don’t hesitate to pick up Doyle if you need help at the position.
3 – Combined receiving TDs Sunday for Broncos wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas in a 29-17 win over the Bengals. After totaling only 17 catches on 29 targets for 226 yards and no scores during Denver’s first two games in a run-focused attack, both Thomas and Sanders spoke up publicly last week about their desires to be more involved in the offense, and the coaching staff listened with the duo combining to account for 23 of Trevor Siemian’s 35 targets in Sunday’s game and turning them into 15 receptions for 217 yards. That’s not going to happen every week, but Sanders’ and Thomas’ fantasy owners can certainly feel a lot better about their investments than they did a week ago.