Figures, Flukes and Feelings: Week 13

Figures, Flukes and Feelings: Week 13

Statistical Analysis

Figures, Flukes and Feelings: Week 13

From a game in which the Pittsburgh Steelers racked up 527 yards and 25 first downs but only 17 points in a losing effort, we were treated to a gem of a touchdown:

This one is fun, and I’m willing to guess most people don’t even know the name …

Also amusing …

… even more amazing, Carr has not thrown a pick in six consecutive games. Having been sacked 35 times this year, Carr has taken a beating. One has to question if he will become too jumpy and hear footsteps down the road. After all, porous line play ruined his brother’s career.

Figures

It remains a baffling mystery to watch not one but two offensive coordinators in 2018 fail to figure out how to get David Johnson consistently worked into the passing game. It was looking like play-caller Byron Leftwich had it all figured out after Arizona’s Week 9 bye when DJ returned to see nine looks, landing seven for 85 and a TD in the fairly close loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. However, in the past two weeks, he has seen three targets in each of the contests, which resulted in a total of three catches for 33 yards. More inexplicably, the Cards were blown out vs. Los Angeles in Week 12 and still didn’t involve Johnson to any notable degree in the passing game. Josh Rosen threw 39 times in the KC game when Johnson was a factor. He has tossed the same number of passes in the past two games combined. Larry Fitzgerald has risen like a phoenix after the OC swap to Leftwich, but it’s not outlandish to expect both of the offense’s star players to look like, well, stars. It is hard to expect much of anything good, though, when the team has 10 total first downs and is trounced in time of position (35:18 to 24:42). LA didn’t even throw an 8-man front at him once, illustrating its lack of concern over the running game. The bright spot is the final four games of the fantasy season for Arizona (GB, DET, ATL, LAR).

Lamar Jackson has 190 rushing yards through two starts, which is the highest figure in the Super Bowl era for a quarterback. The Baltimore Ravens have won consecutive games after a three-game skid under Joe Flacco’s direction, and, as mentioned here last week, there is no reason to expect the veteran will regain his job. Jackson struggled with two picks and didn’t top 200 yards again as a passer, also making the weapons in this passing game even worse fantasy considerations. Keep Jackson in mind for two-QB or superflex setups and in reserve otherwise.

After missing three of the last four games with injuries, Rob Gronkowski returned following the New England Patriots’ bye week. It appears as though he finished no worse for wear. The six-game scoreless streak was snapped for Gronk, which is encouraging, but he will have an uphill climb to keep it going against a Minnesota team that has allowed only three touchdowns to the position. With the way the Patriots ran the ball in Week 12, plus New England having a bottom-12 remaining strength of schedule, Gronkowski could disappoint the rest of the way.

Flukes

Two fired coaches later, Baker Mayfield is looking every bit the part of the No. 1 overall pick. New offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens has a pulse on what works well for the rookie. Nevertheless, getting overly excited about this two-game stretch could come at the peril of fantasy owners. This offense has exploited the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals. You get one guess to name the two worst defenses at stopping fantasy quarterbacks in 2018. Next week, Mayfield and Co. travel to Houston, followed by a home game against the Carolina Panthers, a trip to Denver, and a rematch with the Bengals. Only one of those teams is truly awful vs. QBs, and it isn’t Carolina, Denver or Houston. There’s no question this system is working better for Mayfield, but don’t get overzealous and toss him into consequential lineups.

Drew Brees threw four touchdown passes in Week 12 and only 171 yards worth of completions, which is historically imbalanced. Russell Wilson posted matching stats in Week 16 of the 2012 season, and Andrew Luck is the only quarterback with fewer yards and at least four TDs in a game (Week 7, 2018). Game script and field position scrip this kind of stat line, but there isn’t anything to take away for fantasy purposes other than the historical perspective of it all.

How about we call this one the “Julio Effect” … it’s only fitting. It’s not necessarily reflective of either player’s talent level in a comparative sense, but you can bet your tail the first line of this stat string doesn’t happen without Julio seeing double and triple teams every week.

Feelings

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay broke the century mark in the upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The last time a running back topped the 100-yard mark against Pittsburgh was 14 games ago. Lindsay has been absolutely impressive on an underwhelming team and is getting almost no love by the national media. Another feather in his cap: Lindsay is now the fastest ball-carrier of 2018 after his 32-yard rush in Week 12 topped out at 22.36 mph. It will be interesting to see his average draft placement in 2019. I suspect it will not be reflective of his 2018 success as gamers will want to peg Royce Freeman as a sleeper. If I had to guess, Lindsay will stabilize as a sixth-round running back next draft season.

After racking up more than 300 yards of total offense in the first half, the New York Giants were held to just 56 yards in the second stanza. It’s one thing to give the Philadelphia Eagles the due respect for adjusting their defensive game plan at the half, but what happened to Saquon Barkley after the break? He saw just five touches when New York could have controlled the clock. The dynamic rookie was having himself a day in the first half, rushing for 94 yards and a pair of scores (131 total yards). Another head-scratcher was this offense not being more aggressive in attacking Philly’s decimated secondary. Perhaps time will prove me wrong, but Pat Shurmur is a far better offensive coordinator than head coach/playcaller combo. Some guys are brilliant minds on either side of the ball but just cannot manage the game in its totality (see Norv Turner, Wade Phillips, among many others).

The Los Angeles Chargers (and fantasy owners) will be in good hands with Austin Ekeler as Melvin Gordon (knee) will miss time due to an MCL sprain. It won’t be easy in Week 13 at Pittsburgh, however, so consider him only in PPR leagues. There is the silver lining of Phillip Lindsay breaking the 14-game streak of no 100-yard backs against the Steelers, yet it seems foolish to expect it to happen in consecutive weeks. Should Gordon miss extended time, Cincinnati is on the slate for Week 14 — a matchup that tends to cure all ills.

Buffalo Bills fans should be excited to see Josh Allen flashing signs of what may be to come with regularity. He displayed pocket awareness by stepping up and poise by knowing he was going to be clobbered on the eventual 75-yard touchdown pass. Allen averaged 18.3 intended air yards in Week 12; Drew Brees’ 11.8 ranked second. No one will question the rook’s arm strength, but it is going to take time (obviously) to get everything well-oiled and finely tuned. He’s young and coming from a small school. Give Allen a handful of legitimate receiving weapons and better protection up front to see what he is truly capable of accomplishing in the pros.

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