Counting down the significant stats, notable numbers and illuminating integers compiled through the first 13 weeks of the 2016 fantasy-football season:
258.9 – Position-leading fantasy points so far for Cardinals running back David Johnson, who continued his scintillating season Sunday with 175 total yards and a pair of touchdowns in Arizona’s 31-23 win over Washington. The second-year stud from Northern Iowa also leads the league in touches (292), total yards (1,709) and touchdowns (15) while pacing all RBs in receptions (64) and receiving yards (704). Johnson has had at least 111 total yards in all 12 games this season and has scored in eight contests, with six multi-TD games. He’s the first running back to gain at least 100 total yards in each of the first 12 games of the season since the Colts’ Edgerrin James did so in the first 13 contests in 2005. And, believe it or not, Johnson already has exceeded Devonta Freeman’s RB-most 243.4 fantasy-points from a season ago and is on pace to challenge the best standard-scoring season by a fantasy back in the last 10 seasons, which stands as Chris Johnson’s 345.9 points in his 2,006-yard rushing season of 2009. David Johnson, of course, is even more dominant in PPR formats where he already has amassed 232.9 points and is on pace to finish with the most receiving yards (939) by a running back since Charlie Garner –remember that name? – totaled 941 in 2002. So if your team hasn’t ridden the Cards’ back into the fantasy playoffs, expect to meet up soon with the squad that has – and then it’s just a matter of hoping against the odds that Johnson has his first true off day of 2016.
88 – Receptions for Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald this season, matching the Steelers’ Antonio Brown for the league lead through Sunday. But while he was once one of the league’s most feared downfield and end-zone threats, the 33-year-old wideout now works almost exclusively out of the slot, and nowhere is that better reflected than his 10.0-yards-per-catch average, which is on track to hit a career-low for the third straight season. Overall, Fitzgerald ranks eighth among wide receivers in receiving yards and is tied for 16th in TD catches, making him far more valuable in PPR formats. While Fitzgerald has caught at least five passes in 11-of-12 games this season, he only has scored in three contests and hasn’t caught a TD pass since Week 5. Add it all up, and Fitz is a WR1 in PPR formats but is a middling WR2 in standard leagues.
53 – Team-most targets for Washington WR Jamison Crowder over the last seven games. The second-year wideout has a TD reception or at least 80 receiving yards in each of those seven contests, including Sunday’s outing in Arizona in which he hauled in three of his eight targets for 42 yards and a score. Overall, Crowder has a TD or 80-plus yards in nine of 12 games on the season and has caught 58 of his 76 targets for a team-high 767 yards and seven TDs – no small feat in a pass-catching corps that also includes talented tight end Jordan Reed and fellow WRs Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Crowder did suffer a hip-pointer injury Sunday, but that’s the only hint of an issue right now with the speedy 5-foot-8, 175-pound receiver who’s developed into a must-start WR2, regardless of league format.
23 – Total fantasy points over the last seven games for Patriots TE Martellus Bennett. In Week 5, you may recall, Bennett took the fantasy world by storm with his six-catch, 67-yard, three-TD performance in Cleveland in Tom Brady’s first game back off his season-opening DeflateGate suspension. Since then, however, Bennett has caught 23 of his 30 targets for 230 yards and no scores, and that includes only six receptions on 11 targets for 40 yards over the last three games. New England’s (and fantasy’s) top tight end, Rob Gronkowski, missed two of those three games and played only seven snaps in the other, putting a huge dent in the Bennett-Is-An-Automatic-TE1-With-Gronk-Out theory. Bennett, though, has been battling ankle and shoulder issues of his own of late, and Brady and the Pats have instead turned to WRs Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan and RBs Dion Lewis and James White to fill in the gaps in the passing game. Now this doesn’t mean that Bennett should be dropped completely off the TE1 radar in the fantasy playoffs, but just beware that his own health issues are almost certainly bothering him more than the Patriots (shockingly) are letting on, and likely will keep him from producing at a usable fantasy level until they heal.
11 – Rushing touchdowns this season for Raiders RB Latavius Murray after he added two more in Sunday’s come-from-behind 38-24 win over the Bills. Only the Pats’ LeGarrette Blount (13) and Cowboys super rookie Ezekiel Elliott (12) have more rushing TDs this season than Murray, who has found his way into the end zone in seven of the 10 games he’s played and also as notched a trio of multi-TD games. Murray also finished with 105 total yards Sunday – his second-highest single-game total of the season. In each of his last four outings, Murray has gained at least 88 total yards and has totaled six TDs and 65.2 fantasy points – a healthy average of 16.3 per game. So, in short, as the lead back in one of the league’s best offenses, Murray is a must-start for the majority of his teams in the fantasy postseason.
8 – League-most red-zone touchdown receptions this season for the Packers’ Jordy Nelson, who also is pacing all pass-catchers in red-zone targets (25), receptions (15) and receiving yards (97). Nelson hauled in his 10th TD catch overall on Sunday, but the shocker was that it was a 32-yarder – his longest of the season. And that illustrates the transformation that Nelson has undergone this season in the year following his missed campaign due to knee surgery. In 2014, Nelson was one of the league’s premier deep threats with seven scoring receptions of at least 40 yards. Only five of Nelson’s 13 TD catches that season came from within the red zone, and overall, he averaged 37.2 yards per scoring grab. This season, that average has dipped all the way down to 11.1 yards per TD reception as eight of his 10 scores have come in the red zone where he’s accounted for 28 percent of Aaron Rodgers’ inside-the-20 targets. Overall, Nelson is averaging 12.6 yards on his 69 receptions, compared to 16.1 yards per grab on his 300 receptions from 2011-14. Perhaps, though, it’s not just Nelson as 24 of Rodgers’ 29 TD passes have been thrown in the red zone. In any case, keep riding Nelson as far as he takes you as last we checked, TD catches still count for six in the overwhelming majority of leagues – no matter how long the receptions are.
2.8 – Yards-per-carry average for Broncos’ RB Devontae Booker since taking over for the injured C.J. Anderson as the team’s lead back in Week 8. The rookie fourth-round pick from Utah ranks fifth in the league with 95 rushing attempts during that span, but he only has turned those into 266 yards – a total which ranked 20th through Sunday’s action. He’s also only added two TD runs – one which came Sunday – and hasn’t been much of a factor in the Denver passing game with 10 catches for 74 yards, meaning he’s only reached double-digit fantasy twice in his last five games and they were 11.4- and 10.1-point efforts at that. So while Booker’s role and pure-volume numbers indicate that he’s a RB1 candidate, his current level of production knocks him back into flex territory now that the bye weeks are over and the fantasy playoffs are upon us.