Figures, flukes and feelings: Week 3

Figures, flukes and feelings: Week 3

Statistical Analysis

Figures, flukes and feelings: Week 3

Week 2 was brimming with exciting football matchups and allowed us to take a step closer to seeing the development of early-season fantasy trends.

Big-name injuries galore … ugh. No one likes to see players get hurt, and fantasy owners definitely don’t want to see early picks go down. Insensitive or not, it’s unfortunately the truth for most gamers. It’s easy to forget we’re dealing with the livelihoods of actual people. Greg Olsen’s postgame interview is a fine reminder of this reality and should resonate with all of us.

Figures

(Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports)

29: How many targets Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins has logged in two games this season.

25: The number of targets for ALL Texans named anything other than DeAndre Hopkins.

Takeaway: While the production hasn’t been equally as impressive, Nuk getting the overwhelming bulk of Houston’s offensive looks is encouraging. He should struggle to find the end zone much of the year, although racking up copious PPR points is the silver lining. The Texans have no tight ends, and their receiving corps is banged up.

92 yards, 1 TD: Second-year Tennessee Titans rusher Derrick Henry‘s ground gains after DeMarco Murray was lost with a hamstring injury.

Takeaway: No stranger to physical ailments, the 29-year-old Murray appears to be on the downswing after a marvelous 2016 campaign. Henry isn’t nearly as versatile as Murray, which could limit his upside and overall workload. Murray could lose substantial touches to the younger back on obvious running downs, but the vet holds no worse than RB3 appeal in PPR leagues, as long as he’s on the field.

106.9 passer rating: Two games of stats for Trevor Siemian show a vastly improved quarterback. The Denver defense will steal the show most weeks, but Siemian proved capable of authoring his own heroics in Week 2 by tossing four touchdown passes.

Takeaway: Through these two weeks of play, Siemian has faced a divisional foe and a Dallas Cowboys team that looked well-oiled in their opener. It has to be noted that Siemian has played both games at home, and Dallas’ secondary was a hot mess after losing four starters to injury. Nevertheless, he still has completed 65.0 percent of his passes while averaging 7.5 yards per attempt, up from 59.5 percent and 7.0 per throw last year. He is safely a matchup-driven QB2 for bye week coverage. It’s never too early to plan ahead.

Also see: Week 2 fantasy impact

9 carries, -4 rushing yards: Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Marlon Mack‘s total through two contests.

Takeaway: To his credit, Mack has 32 receiving yards on two grabs and a rushing score, but this isn’t how the athletic back envisioned starting his NFL career. It is tough to gauge anything we’ve seen from Mack so far, as the Colts have been without not only Andrew Luck but starting center Ryan Kelly. I personally believe this is an unfair indicator of Mack’s actual ability. Until this current injury hell that is the Colts’ reality ends, Mack isn’t even remotely close to being in the fantasy conversation.

17.1 fantasy points: The number of PPR points by Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson — the 36-year-old coming off a season-ending Achilles’ tear.

Takeaway: The Ravens have long relied on the position, regardless of the coordinator. Baltimore has a shaky offensive line, which can lead to more short-area passing. Fantasy gamers who may have just lost Greg Olsen, Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert, or need a cheap matchup play, should give the veteran a look.

18.9 PPR points: Oakland backup running back Jalen Richard touched the ball just eight times in Week 2, which proved all he needed to scorch the Jets on the ground and through the air.

Takeaway: He was one of my favorite deep sleepers entering the year, and this game illustrates why. Reiterating a past point, Richard jumps off the screen. He is explosive and offers a spark in the passing game that Marshawn Lynch does not provide. DeAndre Washington has competed for touches and just isn’t the same caliber change-of-pacer as Richard. Deep leagues, PPR gamers … Richard is an all-or-nothing play any given Sunday.

5 targets per game: The number of looks Houston Texans third-down back Tyler Ervin has averaged in this young season.

Takeaway: Five looks per game may not seem like much, but in an offense that has the aforementioned Hopkins and no one else of note, Ervin could be a sneaky place to turn for a cheap source of PPR points. Houston has seen its top three tight ends go down with injury, and Will Fuller remains weeks away from being in game shape. Braxton Miller is finding his way as a wideout. Get ahead of the target curve, since one of these games we’ll see Hopkins bottled up and Ervin catching eight balls.

Flukes

(Cary Edmondson, USA TODAY Sports)

Oakland Raiders wideout Michael Crabtree caught three TD passes from Derek Carr, which isn’t a fluke in the sense of Crabtree being a surprise player to have a big game … it’s a fluke in that the matchup just worked out this way.

Takeaway: For the sake of perspective, in his time with the Raiders, Crabtree has only two other multi-TD games. Last year, he went for a trio of scores in Week 4 against the Ravens. It took him six more games before posting three total touchdowns. Some days you are the dog, some days you’re the fire hydrant.

Bilal Powell was held without a catch in Week 2 after five in the opener. The New York Jets were down 28-13 entering the fourth quarter when the Raiders opened the floodgates for a 17-point final stanza. Eight players other than Powell caught passes from Josh McCown, who tossed only 25 passes all day. On the ground, where Powell isn’t at his best, he managed 13 yards on six carries — as many attempts as rookie Elijah McGuire.

Takeaway: It is tough to get worked up about a pass-catching back without an aerial touch when the team throws a mere 25 passes, although there is a hint of concern on my part. The worry stems from having lofty expectations of Powell. Keep him benched and monitor this situation a few more weeks before deeming the 28-year-old expendable.

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Arizona Cardinals wideout J.J. Nelson scored on one of his five receptions and finished with 120 yards as he replaced the injured John Brown. After back-to-back weeks with TDs, he will be an attractive add on the waiver wire this week.

Takeaway: But should he be coveted? The Cards have no running game to speak of at this point, and the opponent was without its two best secondary defenders. The Colts shouldn’t be a trusted barometer of future success for any fantasy commodity at this point.

Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott rushed nine times for eight yards, easily marking the worst outing of his career.

Takeaway: Denver, with its elite secondary, committed to stopping Zeke in the box. With the Broncos throttling the ‘Boys, Elliott didn’t even run the ball in the fourth quarter. It may be a recipe for how to stop this rushing attack, but the real fluke is that there are two teams in the league capable of doing this to Dallas’ offense. Seattle is the other — and Dallas’ Week 16 opponent.

Carolina Panthers’ highly touted running back Christian McCaffrey has posted a dreadful stat line in his short career: 21 carries, 57 yards (2.7 YPC), 9 receptions, 72 yards, 1 fumble lost.

Takeaway: Don’t buy it … yet. I wasn’t a huge fan of McCaffrey in this system, but we cannot view these stats in a vacuum. The Panthers go as Cam Newton does, and he has been, well, awful — at least by his superhero standards. Newton missed McCaffrey on a short TD pass that even I could have taken in for six. Cam will improve as he gains reps with the offense in practice and readjusts to live game speed. McCaffrey, still a rook, mind you, will also round into PPR flex form when Carolina plays opponents that force volume passing, such as upcoming dates with New England (Week 4), Detroit (Week 5) and Philly (Week 6). If he cannot produce in any of those games, press that big ol’ panic button.

Feelings

(Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports)

Gut check: A week after I effusively praised Sam Bradford, the real Sam Bradford peeled off the mask and reminded everyone just who he really is as a football player. Soft. Fool me once …

I want to believe: all will be well in Carolina without Greg Olsen. I also want to believe in aliens, Nessie, and the Illuminati, but I know better. Cam’s safety blanket is in tatters, and how the quarterback responds is really anyone’s guess. Mine is that he goes more to Kelvin Benjamin and McCaffrey and that defenders are ready for it.

Here’s a thought: The Chargers might be 2-0 if it were not for a trio of missed field goals by rookie Younghoe Koo. The first one wasn’t exactly his fault. The center and right guard were dismantled, leading to a block in Week 1. … Maybe saving a few bucks by cutting the reasonably accurate Josh Lambo wasn’t such a great idea after all.

Also see: Week 2 Tunnel Vision

Gut check: I wanted to give Adrian Peterson the benefit of the doubt entering the year. A 32-year-old running back, coming off injury-marred seasons in two of the last three years, pairing with a coach who has made a living splitting backfield touches and relying on the passing game. What could go wrong? Sean Payton said prior to Week 2 that no feature role for Peterson was discussed before he signed. I believe the coach, and I also believe Peterson may have heard what he wanted to hear. I don’t blame him. Prideful, historically gifted athletes often believe they can overcome any situation. After two games, my eyes confirm what I didn’t want to believe two months ago about Peterson. I’ve seen exactly one play through two weeks that made me think he was even an average NFL back at this point.

Book it: The Buffalo Bills will make a switch from Tyrod Taylor to rookie Nathan Peterman for a Week 7 start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This isn’t the ideal time, but Buffalo will be 1-4 coming off a bye. Weeks 3-5 bring the Denver Broncos, followed by trips to Atlanta and Cincinnati. It doesn’t get much easier, but this is a new coaching staff with no attachment to Taylor or his future after restructuring his deal in the offseason. Really, what is the worst that can happen by going to Peterman? He’s the most NFL-ready of all rookie quarterbacks, and it would be wise to baptize him by fire so the Bills have a whiff of a chance in 2018.

It sure seems like: C.J. Anderson will be a top-10 fantasy back by year’s end, provided he can stay healthy. The main concern is the play of Donald Stephenson at left tackle after first-round pick Garett Bolles went down with what appears to be a serious ankle injury. Involving Anderson more in the short-passing game will help alleviate some of the issues, even if it goes against his historical utilization trends.

I feel: way too many people overlooked Washington Redskins RB Chris Thompson as being the best fantasy choice of this backfield. He isn’t necessarily the most talented or best real-life option for the Redskins. He won’t hold up to a pounding like a bigger Samaje Perine. As we’ve seen with his limited work, Thompson is quite capable: Three TDs in two games has piqued the interest of fantasy gamers. I advised in the preseason to consider him as a cheap source for PPR points, but he is playing way above any level expected by this guy. Thompson should see a significant increase with Rob Kelley reportedly dealing with a fractured rib. Flex Thompson’s 5-8, 191-pound muscles where you can.

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