Counting down the significant stats, notable numbers and illuminating integers emerging from the first eight weeks of the 2016 fantasy-football season:
102 – Receiving yards on nine catches Sunday for Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert in the 27-all tie with Washington across the pond. It was not only the second-highest Week 8 tight end yardage total through Sunday’s action – trailing only Rob Gronkowski (109), naturally – but it was only the second-career 100-yard receiving game for Eifert in 33 outings, including the postseason. Eifert also matched his career single-game highs in targets (12) and receptions while adding a 15-yard scoring grab. Only Jordan Reed – in the same game ironically – was targeted more among league tight ends Sunday, and only Gronk (16.9) finished with more fantasy points than Eifert’s 16.2. It’s a great sign for last season’s No. 6 fantasy tight end – and Andy Dalton’s owners – after he had missed the season’s first six games coming off offseason ankle surgery. Consider Eifert a must-start TE1 going forward.
32 – League-high-matching receptions over the last four games for Packers wideout Davante Adams after his 12-catch, 74-yard outing on 14 targets Sunday in Atlanta. Adams’ 412 targets since Week 5 rank fifth in the league, and his 32 receptions are matched only by the Raiders’ Amari Cooper. Adams also ranks eighth in receiving yards (325) and is tied for second in TD receptions (three) during that span. In the last two weeks alone, Adams has caught 25 of 30 targets for 206 yards and two scores. Now sure, fellow wideouts Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery sat out Sunday due to health issues, but that was not the case a week ago last Thursday when Adams enjoyed a career night (13-132-2 on 16 targets) at the expense of the Bears’ secondary. Meanwhile, Jordy Nelson is tied for the league lead in TD catches with six, but just hasn’t looked like his old self in about every other aspect so far. That brings us again to Adams and, in short, any wide receiver getting this many looks in an offense piloted by Aaron Rodgers ranks as a notable fantasy development.
18 – Fantasy points put up Sunday afternoon by the Panthers’ defense in a 30-20 NFC title game rematch with the Cardinals. The contest, though, was much more one sided that the final score indicates, and much of that came courtesy of the Carolina D. The Panthers held Arizona to 24 rushing yards on 10 carries while recording 10 tackles for loss, eight sacks and nine QB hits. The cherry on top actually came early with linebacker Thomas Davis’ 46-yard fumble return for a TD to open the scoring. And, mind you, the Panthers’ run defense accomplished the feat against a David Johnson-powered attack as the second-year stud had entered the game having rushed 381 yards and five TDs on 82 carries over the previous three contests. Speaking of prior performances, Carolina entered the game with all of 12 sacks and 40 fantasy points, but if Sunday’s showing from the front seven is any indication, the Panthers could suddenly more resemble their No. 1 fantasy defense of 2015 than the one which was, frankly, droppable only a few weeks ago.
4 – Receptions of 20-or-more yards for Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson, who has been a profound fantasy disappointment so far with 32 catches, 366 yards and three TDs on 70 targets through seven games. Digging even deeper, we find that only one of Robinson’s 20-yard-plus gains has come since Week 2 – a span of five games – and that’s very much reflected in his overall yards-per-catch average of 11.4. That’s way down from his sterling 17.5 average of a season ago when he totaled an even 1,400 yards and 14 TDs on 80 catches and led the league with 31 receptions of 20-plus yards. This season, exactly half of Robinson’s 32 total catches have gained fewer than 10 yards. At the same time, Robinson’s catch percentage also is down – to 45.7 percent – as he’s only been able to reel in 32 of 70 targets. Add it all up, and Robinson’s fantasy owners no longer own an every-week-must-start wideout as he, QB Blake Bortles and the J’ville passing attack try to get back in sync.
3 – Straight games without a passing or rushing touchdown for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson following Sunday’s 25-20 loss in New Orleans, home of the largely defenseless Saints. That now stands the longest scoreless streak of Wilson’s five-year career, and it’s helped drop fantasy’s fourth-ranked QB of 2015 all the way down to No. 27 currently. Yes, you read that right, 27th with 116 fantasy points – trailing the likes of Case Keenum (127), Brock Osweiler (127) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (126). Even Tom Brady has totaled two more fantasy points than Wilson, which on the surface is hardly a shocker at all until it’s considered that Brady has done it in three fewer games with his season-opening suspension. With 1,812 passing yards so far, Wilson is on pace for a career season high, but with only 44 rushing yards and five total TDs so far, Wilson easily is headed to the other side of spectrum in those departments. Wilson, as you may recall, did finish with a flourish a season ago with 24 TD tosses in his last seven regular-season games, but super-human runs like that are, well, super-human, and historically unrepeatable.
2 – Receiving touchdowns now for Chiefs wideout Jeremy Maclin with his 13-yard scoring grab Sunday in Indy. That still only puts Maclin on pace for five this season – to go along with 68 receptions – which would be a marked drop-off from his numbers of the three previous full seasons in which he’s averaged 80.3 catches and 8.3 TDs. Andy Reid’s K.C. attack is still a run-first (and often second and third) offense. And even when the Chiefs take to the air, tight end Travis Kelce is, of course, still there, but the biggest difference for Maclin is that the other wideouts have stepped up their games. A season ago, Maclin commanded 47.1 percent of the team’s WR targets, and this year that share has dropped to 40.7 percent as second-year Chris Conley (34 targets-12 receptions) and rookie Tyreek Hill (23-19) have emerged as viable pass-catchers. Hill, in fact, has accounted for four of the team’s 10 scoring receptions as the fifth-round pick now has caught a TD pass in three of the last four games.
-1.5 – Fantasy points Sunday for Saints RB Mark Ingram, who gained five yards on three carries and coughed up a fumble which was returned for a TD by the thankful Seahawks. New Orleans coach Sean Payton, though, wasn’t exactly in the same frame of mind after watching Ingram fumble for the second straight game, and he relegated his starting back to the bench for the rest of the afternoon. He was replaced by veteran Tim Hightower, who proceeded to rush 26 times – easily the most by a Big Easy back this season – for 102 yards, helping the Saints to the much-needed win. Ingram, meanwhile, is averaging a career-low 3.8 yards per carry on 89 attempts and is one fumble from matching his career high. A hopefully motivated Ingram hopefully should be freed from the doghouse for this coming Sunday’s juicy matchup against the 49ers’ paper-mache run defense. But, at the same time, he also would be only another fumble or ineffective start away from returning – maybe more permanently – as Payton knows he has suitable replacements in Hightower and pass-catching back Travaris Cadet.