Figures, Flukes and Feelings: Week 16

Figures, Flukes and Feelings: Week 16

Statistical Analysis

Figures, Flukes and Feelings: Week 16

By

Despite another wild week of games in the NFL, only a few players stood out for fantasy purposes in the semi-finals round. It was more about the studs who didn’t help out. The week was awfully quiet for quarterbacks, with only three players topping 23 points, and one was Sam Darnold. No QB was good for more than Matt Ryan’s 27.4, which came against what had been a sound defense of his position. Even two running backs had more points in standard scoring.

Some of the eye-opening stats from around the league that didn’t have much to do with fantasy include:

Couldn’t help myself….

This helps in fantasy, as we saw from this week’s No. 2 back, Dalvin Cook:

Figures

How good has the No. 1 performer among Week 15 running backs been in the last two weeks? Derrick Henry is the only player to rush for at least 170 yards and two-plus touchdowns in consecutive games since LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 2006. No player has ever done it in three straight, and Henry has to better a solid Washington Redskins run defense to claim that crown. Only Mark Ingram has at least two TDs in a game versus the Redskins in 2018, and just six others have been scored on the ground in total. The good thing for Henry owners is he exploited a great run defense in the first week of his two-game reign of terror, and New York was actually a better matchup in PPR than standard. Lock him into lineups.

Where the heck was Leonard Fournette in the second half of Week 15? He had one — ONE!!! — touch in the fourth and none in the third. The star back played it off as no big deal, saying it was planned by the coaches to see what they had in David Williams … because that makes sense two years after burning the No. 4 overall pick on a franchise back. It would be logical if the idea was to keep Fournette out of harm’s way with nothing at stake, but they used him as a kick returner for the first time. Meanwhile, Mr. Williams sees only 15 percent of the offensive snaps and just five touches. Perhaps they should have sat Cody “I threw for 57 yards in an entire game” Kessler and given Blake Bortles a shot to see if being humiliated triggered a ball-security mechanism of any sort … I digress. Fournette would have been a no-brainer start against Miami in Week 16 until this fiasco. Now he’s barely playable without taking on an even greater risk than justifiable.

Kalen Ballage‘s breakout performance for the Miami Dolphins illustrated what can happen when coaches get too caught up in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I love Frank Gore, and in some ways, his career is like an unbelievable work of fiction, but there is no way a 35-year-old running back with a million miles on the odometer was a better play than the explosive rookie. Furthermore, Adam Gase’s usage of Kenyan Drake remains to be one of the most baffling sights in the NFL in 2018. Maybe the big-bodied Ballage will force Drake into a more apt role of being a third-down back or occasional spell. Ballage, though, is worthy of an addition in all leagues. Some gamers could feel compelled to play him, despite the harsh matchup, after what a similar back in Henry accomplished two weeks ago.

Flukes

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack scored in Week 14 but needed 14 carries to amass just 33 yards. He had not scored more than once since Week 8, and Dallas hadn’t given up a 100-yard rusher since Week 9. Mack posted 149 offensive yards on 28 touches, scoring twice. Devonta Freeman in Week 3 of 2015 is the last back to go for 100-plus and two scores vs. the Cowboys. All metrics (and conventional wisdom) pointed toward a mediocre or even poor showing for the Colts’ second-year back. Dallas’ entire team failed to show up in Week 15, and while not trying to rob anything from Mack, this has to be considered a blip on the radar for this defense. If you’ve advanced to Week 16 with Mack in tow, make sure he’s in the lineup against the New York Giants.

Owners of George Kittle must be fuming after Garrett Celek effectively stole a 41-yard touchdown on a play in which Kittle was on the field and open. Kittle even ushered Celek into the end zone. Brutal. Similarly, but to a much lesser extent, Jeremy Sprinkle stole a TD from Vernon Davis literally the play Davis walked off the field for a breather. The elder statesmen was a sneaky fantasy play based on a feeble defense of the position by the Jaguars. Another annoyance can be found in DaeSean Hamilton averaging 6.6 yards per reception over two games with Case Keenum. We’re talking about a guy who went for 16.0 per snare on 53 grabs in his senior year at Penn State — he’s capable of making big plays when the offense and quarterback don’t hamper him with 5-yard routes all day. They give Hamilton 21 looks in two games and he doesn’t even have 100 yards on 14 grabs … let the young man run! Phew! Had to get that off my chest. I’ll go back to yelling at clouds now.

Feelings

It will be interesting to see if the Arizona Cardinals blow it up in the offseason. Arizona has a younger offense, aside from Larry Fitzgerald, and could look to wipe the slate clean, starting with general manager Steve Keim on down. I will be surprised if this is indeed the case after just one year with a new coaching regime that everyone goes. Some of my doubt is because Josh Rosen should take steps forward with a better offensive line and more weapons at his disposal. The main reasons to give it some credence are the embarrassment of Keim’s DUI arrest and a 1-6 record at home. The first year for head coach Steve Wilks has been an unmitigated disaster on many fronts, including squabbles with players over defensive philosophy and the apparent regression by Rosen. All in all, I feel bad for Fitz to waste one of his few remaining years in such a mess. Speculation puts Keim in Oakland next year and Wilks looking for a new city to call home.

The same question marks are abound in Jacksonville, where the Jaguars could jettison Doug Marrone one year after a deep run in the playoffs. The offense suffered so many injuries that it’s almost unfair to blame the head coach. There also needs to be another star weapon on offense, not named Fournette. The wide receiver position is dying for a standout. If I had to bet, Marrone returns on a short leash. The Jags had high expectations but were an emotionally charged team without a bona fide quarterback. Fix that problem with an immediate upgrade and there’s an argument to be made this is a Super Bowl contender again. Here’s the problem: Short of a trade, there is no one like that on the upcoming market. If they think a trade for Joe Flacco is good enough to get them back on track, it makes some sense. Otherwise, we’re talking a free-agent class full of nobodies.

No running back has more yards since Week 7 than the Cleveland Browns’ Nick Chubb (687). Depending on how the coaching search plays out in the offseason, Chubb is poised to be a top-10 pick in fantasy drafts. With this in mind, here is how I see the first round shaking out in PPR leagues next season: 1) Saquon Barkley 2) Todd Gurley 3) Ezekiel Elliott 4) Le’Veon Bell 5) Christian McCaffrey 6) James Conner 7) Davante Adams 8) DeAndre Hopkins 9) Nick Chubb 10) Melvin Gordon 11) Dalvin Cook 12) Antonio Brown … I’m not entirely sold on all of those placements, but that should be the general look of the first round for most leagues. Conner may be a little too early, and I wouldn’t be shocked if AB slid out of Round 1, due to his age, and was replaced by Tyreek Hill. Bell is, of course, a wild card based on where he lands. I can see some owners opting for McCaffrey as high as three. Chubb could be more like 12th, but gamers tend to focus on how a player finished the season (partly why I’m not sold on Conner’s spot). At any rate, we probably should wrap up 2018 before spending much time focusing on ’19.

THE LATEST

More Huddle
Home