Targets, touches and touchdowns: Week 7

Targets, touches and touchdowns: Week 7

Statistical Analysis

Targets, touches and touchdowns: Week 7

So how did Underdog Weekend treat you?

And we’re not just talking about survivor pools which were laid to waste after nine of the 13 point spread underdogs not only covered but won outright, including double-digit road dogs Miami and the N.Y. Giants.

A number of notable fantasy underdogs – kicked to the curb and banished to the bench or waiver wire in many leagues – also had their days with the likes of Adrian Peterson, Josh McCown, Jay Cutler, Carlos Hyde, Orleans Darkwa, Ted Ginn Jr., Evan Engram and the Saints’ defense all ranking among the high-point producers of the weekend.

Nothing like a little midseason shakeup in the standings – in fantasy and reality.

And to further survey the carnage and upheaval, we now delve even deeper into the significant stats, notable numbers and illuminating integers compiled through action Sunday in Week 6 of the 2017 fantasy season. Here goes …

  • For the second straight week, we begin not with an underdog but with a fantasy favorite who has led his owners astray so far this season. The Falcons’ Matt Ryan completed 24-of-35 passes for 248 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the defending NFC champions’ stunning 20-17 loss to the visiting Dolphins on Sunday, dropping him further down the fantasy QB ranks on the season. For the record, that’s 20th in total fantasy points (94) among QBs and 17th in average points (18.89), which trails the likes of Trevor Siemian (21.34) and Eli Manning (19.57) among others. The chief culprit has been the glaring shortage of TD passes as Ryan ranks 23rd in both scoring tosses (six) and TD-pass percentage (3.5), while posting only one 300-yard and one multi-TD game after notching six and 12, respectively, of each in his career season of a year ago. The marked decline also is reflected in the numbers of top target Julio Jones who is stunningly without a TD grab in six games, 37 targets and 25 receptions into the season. Meanwhile, six different Atlanta pass-catchers have reeled in TD receptions, but that also means no one has more than one. Sure, regression was fully expected from Ryan following his QB No. 3 fantasy finish of a year ago in which he tossed 38 TD passes and only seven interceptions, but he has six of each currently and a return to his accustomed low-end QB1 territory was much more likely than an all-out freefall into QB2 basement. Better matchups do lie ahead, though – starting with the Week 7 Sunday-night Super Bowl rematch against the Patriots, who are 6-for-6 in allowing 300-yard passers so far – as Ryan faces the second-easiest fantasy-QB slate the rest of the way, according to the Huddle’s Season Strength of Schedule tool. Still, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan isn’t coming back and neither, likely, is Ryan’s weekly must-start fantasy status. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
  • Meanwhile, out west, another veteran quarterback has been trending in the opposite direction so far this season. The Cardinals’ Carson Palmer largely was written off this summer as a 37-year-old has-been after his disappointing 2016 decline and 14th place finish among fantasy QBs. But six weeks into the season, Palmer sits seventh among all quarterbacks in total fantasy points (130) and is coming off his best outing of the year in shredding the visiting Bucs for 283 yards and a trio of TDs on 18-of-22 passing Sunday afternoon. In all, Palmer has thrown for at least 268 yards and a TD in all six games, and it’s been mainly all about volume as he ranks first in the league in attempts (249) and completions (154) and second in yards (1,856). Palmer also has had to deal with a less-than-ideal supporting cast for much of the early season with injuries hampering his offensive line and receiving and running-back corps, but left tackle D.J. Humphries and wideout John Brown are back now and the trade for Peterson injected some unexpected and immediate life into a previously moribund rushing attack Sunday. That means Palmer likely won’t (or need to) maintain his career-volume pace the rest of the way, but also expect an efficiency uptick as well, and in the end, don’t be surprised if it results in a fantasy finish much closer to his fantasy QB No. 5 rank of 2015 as opposed to his QB14 finish a season ago.
  • In Minnesota, we’re two games into the post-Dalvin Cook 2017 season, and the replacement plan hasn’t turned out at all as was originally expected. In wins over the Bears and Packers, it’s been Jerick McKinnon and not Latavius Murray who’s been the most productive back – and it hasn’t even been close. Murray has started both games, but has only rushed for 59 yards and no TDs on 27 carries while catching all three of his targets for 21 yards in playing 55 total snaps. McKinnon, meanwhile, has played 91 snaps, rushed for 164 yards and two scores on 32 attempts and has reeled in 11-of-12 targets for 81 yards and a TD. On Sunday, it was 99 total yards and two TDs for McKinnon on 21 touches while Murray managed only 37 yards and no scores on 16 touches. The eye test – from the play-making and explosiveness standpoint – also was no contest once again. At 5-9 and 205 pounds, McKinnon isn’t likely to be handed the full-time gig, but he’ll still get more than enough work to be fantasy useful and is clearly the Vikings back you want to own and start.
  • The Chargers’ Hunter Henry and the Jets’ Austin Seferian-Jenkins have been among the hottest tight ends of late, but each has navigated a different route to get to this point. Henry, as many recall, went without a target in two of the Bolts’ first three games but has caught 17-of-25 targets for 228 yards and two TDs in his other four games for an average of 12.95 point-per-reception fantasy points per outing. Over his last three outings, Henry has caught 10 passes for 148 yards and two scores on 18 targets, easily outdoing teammate Antonio Gates, who’s managed only six catches and 57 yards on nine targets during that same span. ASJ, meanwhile, sat out the Jets’ first two games while serving a league disciplinary suspension but has reeled in 23-of-29 targets for 152 yards and two TDs since. During that four-game span, Seferian-Jenkins has the most receptions by a league tight end while garnering the second-most targets and fifth-most PPR fantasy points (48.2) at the position. He also should’ve had a second TD grab – and at least eight more fantasy points – to his credit Sunday if not for a baffling replay reversal that instead gave the ball to the Patriots on a touchback.
  • Extra points: Patriots RB Dion Lewis saw a touch-count increase for the third straight game Sunday as he led the team with 52 yards and a TD on 11 rushing attempts. Mike Gillislee, meanwhile, finished with a season-low 10 carries for 44 yards and saw limited action after losing a second-quarter fumble. … Raiders wideout Amari Cooper had 31- and 19-yard receptions negated by penalties Sunday, but the bottom line was still five catches for 28 yards on six targets – his fifth straight game with five-or-fewer catches, 33-or-fewer yards and no TDs. … Saints WR Willie Snead debuted Sunday with one catch for 11 yards on three targets while playing 21 of the team’s 71 (30 percent) offensive snaps. … With 110 yards Sunday vs. the Steelers, Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt became the first player in league history to top 100 total yards in each of his first six games, but his rushing yardage (21) and touch count (14) were season lows, and he failed to score a TD for the third straight game after totaling six in his first three contests. … The Eagles’ Zach Ertz is pacing all tight ends with 34 receptions, and since the start of the 2015 season, he ranks 13th among all players with 187 catches – seven more than the closest tight end, the Titans’ Delanie Walker, heading into Monday night’s Tennessee-Indianapolis contest. … Among players who have garnered at least 20 targets this season, Panthers TE Ed Dickson (13.95) and Washington RB Chris Thompson (13.08) are averaging the most yards per target. The Colts’ T.Y. Hilton was pacing all wide receivers with his 12.59-yard average entering Monday night’s game. … Palmer, Tom Brady and Jared Goff are tied for the league lead with 27 completions of at least 20 yards. Brady owns the most 40-plus-yard completions with seven while Kirk Cousins (six) is the only other QB with more than four. … Through Sunday, the Ravens (159.7) and Dolphins (155.4) were he only teams averaging fewer than 160 passing yards per game, and both had thrown five TD passes. … After totaling 13 touches in Week 1, Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell has a league-most 151 over the last five games and is pacing all players with 164 touches and 134 rushing attempts on the season. … With five takeaways and three TDs Sunday vs. the Lions, the Saints’ defense easily was the highest-scoring fantasy D of the week, and they became the first team since the Ravens in 2011 to tally a trio of defensive TDs in a game.

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