Figures, flukes and feelings: Week 8

Figures, flukes and feelings: Week 8

Statistical Analysis

Figures, flukes and feelings: Week 8

It has been a rough year for quarterbacks. The biggest news of the week was the loss of Carson Palmer to a broken arm and just how the Arizona Cardinals will respond. If Week 7’s shutout was any indication, “not all too well” is a fair estimation. It trickled down to Larry Fitzgerald and the running game, where everything came to a halt.

We’ll see Drew Stanton start in Week 8, but if he struggles again, it begs the question if Bruce Arians will reach out to a certain free-agent quarterback whose name has been in the mouth of a news anchor or two in the last year. My gut says no, but it kind of seems like an Arians move. Since this is Arizona’s bye week, if we don’t see any moves like Arians says we won’t, they aren’t going to happen.

In what will go down as one of the most impressive but underappreciated statistics in the history of any pro sport, Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas suffered an apparent torn triceps and saw his mind-boggling consecutive snaps streak come to an end. The all-world Thomas logged 10,363 straight snaps without leaving the field. Seriously. Think that through for a millisecond. The average NFL snap count is about 64 plays per game. He didn’t miss a play for basically 10 1/2 years. The last time he wasn’t on an NFL field, his quarterback, DeShone Kizer, was 10 1/2.

Speaking of Kizer, he has been pulled from his last three starts, with one entire game of being benched stuffed in there. At what point does he begin to resent his head coach? Maybe it is already the other way around and Hue Jackson resents the youngster? Does anyone else remember back to May when most everyone praised Cleveland for getting it right? At least the defense looks capable….

Figures

(Scott Clause/The Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports)

6: The number of teams on their bye this week. 

Takeaway: While fantasy content creators embrace “bye-apolooza” to catch their collective breath, let this serve as a friendly reminder to put in extra waiver work. Owners of players from the Cardinals, Packers, Jaguars, Rams, Giants and Titans will scramble to fill the void at kicker, defense and even quarterback in some cases.

7 catches, 57 yards: This is the COMBINED stat line for Green Bay’s top three receivers (Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams) PLUS tight end Martellus Bennett in quarterback Brett Hundley‘s first pro start. Wowzers.

Takeaway: This one is tough to assess. One can appreciate the display of futility, if nothing else. To the credit of the Saints, their defense of wideouts was respectable entering the contest. Hundley made some plays with his feet yet, even with an impressive rushing attack, wasn’t able to capitalize through the air to what could be football’s best receiving corps. Not every game will be this bad but it’s alarming, for sure. They have a bye week to get it together, which gives fantasy owners of this receiving corps a glimmer of hope.

Also see: Week 7 fantasy recap

17 targets, 16 receptions, 276 yards, 3 TDs: Saints wideout Ted Ginn has been rather remarkable in the past four games.

Takeaway: Catching all of his targets but one is very much unlike Ginn. A decade worth of demonstrating a penchant for dropping his share of passes aside, he has made the most of his chances so far with Willie Snead absent. Optimistically, Ginn is on an upswing and seeing targets with all of the attention paid toward Michael Thomas. Ginn showed a couple years back in Carolina that he can be a season-long contributor. Ride the hot hand.

63: The number of consecutive completions to wide receivers against the Jacksonville Jaguars without a touchdown reception. Through seven games, the Jags remain the only team in pro football that hasn’t allowed a WR to score. This was among the toughest defense of receivers in 2016, and having such a ferocious pass rush only bolsters the back end.

Takeaway: Looking beyond their Week 8 vacation, the only team with a legitimate chance of snapping this streak may be the Chargers in Week 10. The matchups from Weeks 9-13: CIN, LAC, CLE, ARI, IND. Then it stiffens with the Seahawks and Texans, respectively, before facing SF in the fantasy championship week. Jacksonville’s defense, which has 20 sacks in two games, managed 33 all of last year. This unit can propel fantasy teams over the top, and if someone is dumb enough to drop them this week, find a stash spot.

220 receiving yards: This is the distance between Antonio Brown and the next closest receiver (A.J. Green). Cincy has played one fewer game, yet this is still a big advantage for Brown on a per-game basis. He has 109.3 yards per outing to Green’s 90.8.

Takeaway: I really don’t have much to add … this is Brown we’re talking about, so it probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but that is a huge difference. In PPR scoring, there’s a legit argument to be made that AB should have been the No. 1 overall pick. He’s right on the heels of the two remaining RBs who were in the convo, and Brown comes with less baggage. At any rate, enjoy Brown if you have him.

Flukes

(Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)

9-122-1: This was Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon‘s impressive Week 7 rushing stat line against the Indianapolis Colts.

Takeaway: How is this a fluke? For starters, the obvious being Leonard Fournette’s absence created this chance in the first place. Next in line is Chris Ivory, but a 58-yard TD run by Yeldon won the day. He wasn’t even touched until 57 yards into the scamper. Another aspect to reconcile is the sheer awfulness that is Indy’s run defense. Prior to this contest, the Colts boasted fantasy’s sixth-worst defense of the position over the past five weeks. Indianapolis’ defense had given up the fourth-most points per play to running backs — something Yeldon highlighted. The Jaguars go on bye in Week 8 and are virtually assured to return with a healthy Fournette.

11 catches, 205 yards and 3 touchdowns:  Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie tight end O.J. Howard‘s season-long stat line is a demonstration in efficiency, if nothing more. Coming off of a 6-catch, 98-yard, 2-TD day, be sure he will be coveted on the wire this week, especially with so many teams on hiatus.

Takeaway: A closer examination of his success suggests it really could have been anyone. All three of his touchdowns have come against blown coverage. Two of his TDs were bombs and no one was within a country mile of him. The point is, just as he can deliver a big play, he still has only 11 catches in six games and is a backup to Cameron Brate. The inclusion in the “fluke” section isn’t a knock on Howard. I genuinely believe he’ll be a stud down the line. Gamers can’t look at his Week 7 showing as a forecast for what is to come this year.

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93 consecutive touches without a TD: Fantasy darling Kareem Hunt hasn’t scored since Week 3, when he plunged into the end zone on his final tote of the game. Amusingly, Hunt scored once every 9.3 touches in his first three games. Numbers are fun.

Takeaway: Despite not scoring over a four-game span, Hunt’s versatility has kept him afloat in fantasy. He has logged double-digit points for a Chiefs offense that has played .500 ball in this time. One could make a fair case the offensive line’s injuries have played a role, but the bigger culprit is Alex Smith’s success through the air. Non-PPR gamers may be inching closer to being frustrated. It seems silly to even have to say this: Stick with him. He is far too talented to stay out of end zone much longer.

Feelings

(Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports)

Star crossed: Cardinals fans must be sick. First David Johnson, then Carson Palmer, with offensive guard Mike Iupati also lost in between. Just when thinks started to look promising after the addition of Adrian Peterson and an offensive explosion in Week 6, a trip to London once again proved to find a way to be disastrous for fantasy gamers. Arizona has a bye to figure things out in the Drew Stanton era.

Here’s a thought: Signing Jay Cutler was a mistake. Matt Moore was already the better quarterback. It seems like there was some consensus feeling that Cutler was better than Ryan Tannehill, which is debatable, and an automatic upgrade over Moore. Cutler hasn’t finished a 16-game slate since 2009 and is obviously capable of the meltdown game every single time he steps onto the field. Moore will top 20 fantasy points in Week 8, despite the short week, against a flailing Ravens D.

I want to believe: Oakland’s Amari Cooper‘s gigantic performance will spark something. He was moved into the slot for 35 percent of his Week 7 snaps and was brilliant. In Cooper’s previous six outings, he was in the slot roughly 15 percent of the time. Perhaps this little adjustment will put him back on track to providing fantasy owners the dominant season he is capable of achieving.

Also see: Week 7 Tunnel Vision

Book it: Working in conjunction with that Cooper thought, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will storm through the second half of the season and finish as a top-10 fantasy passer in per-contest production. He currently sits 20th after a monster showing in Week 7. On the slate through Week 16: Buffalo (20th), Miami (19th), bye, Patriots (1st), Denver (22nd), Giants (8th), Chiefs (6th), Cowboys (12th) and Eagles (7th). The Bills, Dolphins and Broncos have shown cracks. While the Pats are allowing 17th fewer points per game in the last three weeks over the first month of the year, this remains the top matchup for QBs in that trio of contests. There is enough upside with the great matchups to overcome any bumps along the way. 

It sure seems like: The Minnesota Vikings coaching staff should find a way to trick Kai Forbath into believing every kick is a field goal. In his 14 games with the Vikes dating back to last season, he has gone 32-for-33 from three-point land but has missed six (SIX!!!) of his 22 extra point tries. I hate to waste anyone’s time chatting about a kicker, but he deserves a hat tip after a 6-for-6 day.

I feel: It has been an admirable run for New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown, currently seated as the ninth-highest scoring fantasy quarterback. On a per-game view, however, we’re talking about the 16th-best performance. The 38-year-old passer has been sacked 22 times in seven games and won’t hold up to the beating. 

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