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Under the Numbers: Week 3
John U. Miller
September 20, 2011

Big shout-out to duckhater and biggaboyee24 for finishing #1 and #2 in The Huddle $500 FreeRoll for Week 2.  They pocketed $150 and $100 in this wild n’ woolly FanDuel contest that logged a whopping 345 entries this week.  The JUMbotron finished 297th (what???) so that means a lot of Huddlers pocketed $5 bucks each… just for outscoring me!  It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s simply a crime if you don’t CLICK HERE and play in Week 3!

Digging deeper for a baker’s dozen of did-you-know stuff from Fantasy Week 2.

1. Tim Hightower carried 20 times for 96 yards and added 1 catch for 10 yards in the 22-21 win over Arizona.  Roy Helu Jr. carried 10 times for 74 yards and also caught 3 passes for 38 yards.

Uh oh, I warned you… several times.  Here comes Helu.  Let me tell you, the guy is sudden and NFL-ready.  “He's extremely fast,” Mike Shanahan said on Monday, right on queue. “You give him a foot, he's got a chance to break the big play.”  I swear if I had time I could Google-dig the exact same Shanahan quote - word for word - about Selvin Young in Week 3 of 2007, or Tatum Bell in 2004.  Hightower is a good back and he will be employed in this league for several more years; but he’s not going to maintain these 20-carry assignments and hold off Helu much longer, I don’t care who the coach is.  But since it is Shanahan and we know he switches RBs like Lindsay Lohan mixes liquor on a Tuesday night, be aware of your surroundings and sell high on Hightower right now.  A few other Redskins notes:  Rex Grossman is tied for 6th in TD passes (6).  Santana Moss is hanging around as a top-25 fantasy WR (with a solid 17 targets).  They play 4 of their next 5 games on the road.

2. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 28 of 46 passes for 264 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT in the 38-35 win over Oakland.  Stevie Johnson caught 8 passes for 96 yards and 1 TD.  David Nelson caught 10 passes for 83 yards and 1 TD.  

Fitzpatrick is officially the Most Underrated Player in the NFL according to the JUMbotron.  All he does is produce, no matter who the opponent is or what the scoreboard says.  He shall be called Matt Ryan North from now on.  Fitzpatrick started slow at 11-of-20 for 102 yards and 1 INT in the first half, with the Bills down at home to the Raiders 21-0.  The second half was pure mastery, especially in the 4th quarter where MRN was 14-of-18 for 119 yards and 2 TDs and the Bills produced 13 first downs!  He’s the 5th or 6th ranked fantasy QB in your league; with a potential shootout (at home) vs. the patchy Patriots secondary in Week 3.  Johnson is playing through a sore groin but ranks 8th in WR targets so far.  He had a 6-yard catch vs. Oakland negated by penalty or he’s over 100 yards.  Nelson had 13 targets and could continue to get 8+ targets on a consistent basis because Roscoe Parrish (ankle) is out 3-4 weeks.  Nelson almost had another TD vs. Oakland but the balled was tipped.  Nelson’s a 6’5 guy but he plays a lot of slot because he has good hands; which comes in handy when you’re dating Cowboys cheerleader Kelsi Reich.

3. Fred Jackson carried 15 times for 117 yards and 2 TDs, and added 2 catches for 23 yards. C.J. Spiller carried 4 times for 63 yards and caught 1 pass for 6 yards.

Jackson is a poor man’s Darren McFadden who can slash a defense in multiple ways.  He’s the Bills No. 1 RB for a reason. 

RBs Yards Per Touch After 2 Weeks (Min. 35 Touches)
Running Back Rushes Rec Rush Yd Rec Yd Avg/Touch
Michael Turner 31 4 214 72 8.17
Matt Forte 26 15 117 207 7.91
Fred Jackson 35 3 229 28 6.76
LeSean McCoy 33 6 217 36 6.49
D. McFadden 42 8 222 77 5.98
Ray Rice 32 9 150 95 5.97
Adrian Peterson 41 4 218 27 5.44
Beanie Wells 32 4 183 12 5.42
Jahvid Best 37 10 129 108 5.04
Ben Tate 47 4 219 32 4.92

Jackson is getting it done behind a massively unheralded offensive line.  LT Demetrius Bell and LG Andy Levitre were plowing through the Raiders beanfield, pokin’ their hay.  They didn’t allow a single sack in 46 drop-backs.  Spiller is getting better and better each time I see him and it will be hard for Chan Gailey not to increases his touches going forward too.  Spiller got tripped up by Raiders safety Michael Huff on what could have been a 25-yard TD.

4. Matthew Stafford completed 23 of 39 passes for 294 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT in the 48-3 beatdown of the Kansas City Chiefs. Calvin Johnson caught 3 passes for 29 yards and 2 TDs and Nate Burleson caught 7 passes for 93 yards.  Jahvid Best touched the ball 22 times and compiled 123 yards & 2 TDs.

Not much to add to Stafford’s performance.  This season he’s serving notice that he’s going to be elite very soon.  He’s tied for 1st in TD passes (7), 6th in yards per attempt (8.32), and 8th in completions.  If Detroit ever gets involved in a true shootout look out because there’s a 6-TD game somewhere in this kid.  Johnson leads all WRs with 33 TD catches since 2008 (actually 34 if you count that BS replay reversal last year vs. Chicago) and anyone considering benching him should be spanked.  Megatron also had a 24-yard catch negated by a holding penalty.  Burleson led all Lions with 9 targets and told NFL Network he wants to be the “black Wes Welker” in the slot.  Nice.  Burleson is hitting his prime at age 30 and should be in all 12-team fantasy lineups at least as a flex.  Best was amazing and the Best stat I can give you is that Jim Schwartz left Best in the game for 8 touches/targets with the Lions up comfortably 27-3.  He scored twice with those 8 touches.  JUMbo Whisper:  Keiland Williams is the Lions No. 2 RB.  He took over when Best left.

5. The Green Bay Packers Defense allowed 475 total yards to the Carolina Panthers, including 2 TDs, 3 FGs, and a whopping a 6 trips inside the red zone.  The Panthers actually pushed down inside the 5-yard line on all 6 of those drives.  The Packers have allowed 952 total yards (30th) and 11 red-zone trips (32nd).  Their fans will use the “bend but don’t break” excuse because they’ve only allowed 3 TDs on those 11 trips -- but in pure fantasy terms I consider that defense a sieve.

The absence of CB Tramon Williams (shoulder) reminded us that Charles Woodson’s forte isn’t a pure “cover man” anymore.  He’s more of a Ed Reed freelancing guy now.  WR Steve Smith went wild for 6 catches for 156 yards with Woodson often huffing a full step behind him.  CB Sam Shields is getting caught out of position and nickel CB Jarrett Bush is struggling too.  Here’s my take on the Packers defense.  It isn’t talent or execution – those things are well in abundance – it’s the offense that’s causing the problem.  I call it the “Buffalo Bills Problem” because in the early 90’s when Jim Kelly was firing the K-Gun and scoring quick, early, & often, the Bills defense never got to rest and recharge their batteries.  I think that’s why Buffalo got waxed in Super Bowls by Washington & Dallas (twice)…the defense was exhausted by January.  JUMbo Alert:  Packers S Nick Collins is out for the year with a neck injury.  Green Bay is at Chicago, vs. Denver, at Atlanta, vs. St. Louis in the next 4 weeks.

6. Andre Johnson caught 7 passes for 93 yards and 1 TD in the 23-13 win over Miami.  Ben Tate carried 23 times for 103 yards.  Owens Daniels caught 3 passes for 25 yards and 1 TD.

Johnson is as prolific as they come, but as cliaz points out on the Forums, he’s also consistent.  11 targets, 7 catches, 95 yards, 1 TD in Week 1; 9 targets, 7 catches, 93 yards, 1 TD in Week 2.  The key is the targets, people.  Over the last 10 games going backwards his target count is 9, 11, 12, 14, 9, 11, 9, 11, 7, 10, 13, 13.  Again no matter what the score, weather, or situation.  Those 11 targets in Week 1 occurred in an absolute whitewashing of the Colts when the Texans didn’t need to throw at all.  Tate is the starter at New Orleans this week.  Foster aggravated his hammy (I warned you on 8/28 that Foster would not be ready until Week 3, they rushed him back too soon) and I bet we don’t see him again until Week 6.  Derrick Ward (ankle) probably won’t play this week per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.  Owen Daniels is reclaiming his TE1 status and we noticed this last December when he finally shook off the knee (and associated hamstring) problems and got rolling.  Last year from Weeks 14-16 he quietly caught 17 passes for 209 yards and 1 TD.  I think he’s on the verge of a mini-breakout again.

7. The Dallas Cowboys Defense allowed 206 total yards, 3 TDs, and 1 FG in the 27-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Pretty good stuff considering it took the 49ers an extra overtime drive just to top 200 total yards.  However, I want and expect more from Rob Ryan’s talented bunch.  The Cowboys defense ranks 27th in 3rd down conversion percentage allowed, and yielded a combined 92.4 QB rating to Mark Sanchez and Alex Smith.  Those are two of the league’s worst starting quarterbacks in my opinion – with career completion rates of 55.1% and 57.4% respectively – and they should have been completely shut down.  There are positives here, though:  Dallas ranks 1st in sacks (10), and 6th in longest pass play allowed (33 yards) despite all the injuries in the secondary.  CBs Terence Newman (groin) and CB Mike Jenkins should be close to 100% for the Week 3 home game vs. Rex Grossman.  Maybe if Rob Ryan can focus more on blitzes and not sex this defense could surge ahead.  I say buy low right now.  The Cowboys play vs. Detroit, on Bye, at New England, vs. St. Louis, at Philadelphia, and vs. Seattle from Weeks 4-9

8. Matt Hasselbeck completed 30 of 42 passes for 358 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in the 26-13 win over Baltimore.  Kenny Britt caught 9 passes for 135 yards and 1 TD.

Hasselbeck’s done this to Baltimore before and proved that if you keep him standing up he’ll light up anybody. He was sticking spirals in Britt’s hands all day.  Hasselbeck missed an open Nate Washington (7-99-0) for a touchdown on successive plays in the 2nd quarter. Matt and Britt were amazing and believe me when I tell you Britt was the best player on the football field Sunday.  He’s basically Hakeem Nicks without the professionalism.  Jared Cook caught 2 passes for 37 yards.  One of his catches was a 33-yard ESPN highlight but overall he didn’t present himself as a good target for Hasselbeck.  I gotta say, I fear that Cook is just another Rickey Dudley, a towering physical marvel who might never put it all together.  Chris Johnson (24-53-0) is still running in molasses as he goes into week 3 of his “preseason.”  Frankly, I don’t expect to see the old CJ until after the Week 6 bye; and now Javon Ringer’s (5-21-1) hip pointer has healed and he might get 10+ carries vs. Denver this week.   

9. The New Orleans Saints Offense generated 382 total yards against the stingy Chicago Bears Defense, visiting the red zone 4 times and converting 8-of-17 on 3rd downs.

It wasn’t an overwhelming performance but it was enough to sustain fantasy stats for Drew Brees-owners (26-of-37, 270, 3 TDs) and anyone savvy enough to stick Robert Meachem (4-10-1) or Devery Henderson (3-103-1) in the lineup.  Mark Ingram grinded out 14 carries for 51 yards and Jimmy Graham (6-79-0) continues to impress. Darren Sproles, one of my JUMbotron Sweet 16 Sleepers, touched the ball 12 times and compiled 60 yards and a score.  He also fielded 3 returns which puts the football in his hands even more, and you know he can score anytime he’s in possession. If you think Sproles is just a 3rd down back, you’re wrong because over the first two games Sproles’ touches/targets are broken down as: 10 on 1st down, 7 on 2nd down, 10 on 3rd down.  The Saints have Houston, Jacksonville, Carolina, Tampa, and Indianapolis over the next 5 weeks.

10. Philip Rivers completed 29-of-40 passes for 378 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs in the 35-21 loss to New England.

The ugliest 378 & 2 you’ll ever see, but that’s the beauty of Rivers.  He always pulls in numbers after 60 minutes. In the two first halves this season Rivers has 332 yards and 1 TD, in the two second halves he has 381 yards and 3 TDs.  He’s making a lot of us sweat.  New England took Antonio Gates out of the game and only allowed him one target, which was picked off at the Patriots’ 5-yard line.  Conspiracy theorists suggest Gates’ foot problem was the issue.  I watched the game and don’t believe it.  Vincent Jackson went into hell-beast mode with 10 catches for 172 yards & 2 TDs.  To give you an idea of how destructive Jackson can be (we sometimes forget because his 2010 season was a holdout wash), the dude has 4 multi-TD efforts in his last 14 games, second only to Dwayne Bowe, who has 5 in his last 14 games.  Malcom Floyd caught 2 passes for 59 yards before leaving with a strained muscle in his leg.  Patrick Crayton and Vincent Brown were inactive again but both are expected to be 100% this week.  Over the next 3 weeks Rivers might catch a wave and go “Brady” on us, with Kansas City (the 32nd fantasy defense vs. QBs), Miami (28th) and Denver (26th) coming up.  Oh my goodness.     

11. DeAngelo Williams carried 5 times for 13 yards and caught 4 passes for 23 yards in the 30-23 loss to Green Bay.  Jonathan Stewart carried 6 times for 5 yards and caught 8 passes for 100 yards.

I was super-high on DeAngelo this year and it’s just not working out.  The dude got $21 million guaranteed to pick up the blitz!  A) He’s simply not getting touches in Rob Chudzinski’s offense (neither is Stewart) and B) I swear I detect something is not right with DeAngelo physically.  Hip pointer?  Sore back?  There’s an injury being underreported here, mark my words.  Stewart is looking more dangerous and might have found his niche as the biggest 3rd down back since William “Bar None” Floyd with the 49ers.  Who would have thought the Panthers would be 2nd in total offense after two weeks despite DeAngelo & Stewart combining for 74 yards at 2.4 per carry?  My God, Cam Newton is an MVP candidate!

12. Darren McFadden carried 20 times for 72 yards and 1 TD in the 38-35 loss to Buffalo.  He also caught 7 passes for 71 yards and 1 TD.

Raiders OC Al Saunders is doing his magic again.  He was the WR Coach when the Rams were changing professional football a decade ago, then he coordinated the Chiefs offense when they led the entire NFL in total offense at 381 yards per game from 2001-2005 (betcha didn’t know that, did ya?).  McFadden is an animal.  Remember in 2008 when the Jets reportedly offered their 6th spot and a big package of picks so they could move up to #4 and get McFadden?  Al Davis said no and finally got one right.  I stood at the plate and took three huge swings at RB this year, ranking McFadden #4, Matt Forte #5 and DeAngelo Williams #9 in my Final Rankings.  I struck out swinging on one but smashed the other two out of the park.  McFadden’s schedule is a mixed bag – NYJ (6th against fantasy RBs so far), New England (23rd), Houston (1st ??), Cleveland (12th), Kansas City (29th) and Denver (18th) over the next 6 weeks… but 5 are at home.  Leave him in your lineup and don’t even blink unless he’s questionable.

13. Fantasy TE Breakdown

Fantasy TEs After 2 Weeks
Tight End Targets Rec Yds TDs RZ Targets
Jason Witten 23 13 212 0 2
A. Hernandez 18 14 165 2 3
Tony Gonzalez 16 12 155 2 2
Kellen Winslow 16 10 110 0 0
Antonio Gates 14 8 74 0 1
Dustin Keller 14 11 162 2 3
Jimmy Graham 14 10 135 1 2
Dallas Clark 13 8 71 1 0
Fred Davis 13 11 191 1 0
Rob Gronkowski 13 10 172 3 3

Jermaine Gresham (12), Ed Dickson (11), and Ben Watson (11) are right up there in targets as well and producing nicely.  Bills TE Scott Chandler only has 9 targets but scored 3 TDs.  Evan Moore has 7 targets and 2 TDs.  Chandler and Moore might be the new “Heath Millers” and won’t have robust stats on a weekly basis – I’d sell high on them. Sleeper TE Brandon Pettigrew only has 5 catches for 64 yards this year and Tony Scheffler is stealing some looks.  Pettigrew did drop a touchdown in Week 1 though, and based on raw unbridled talent I’d keep starting him if he’s your guy.  Aaron Hernandez (see chart above) has a sprained MCL and might miss 4-6 weeks… in fact, for all we know he tore that puppy good and will miss 8 weeks.  I’m betting Rob Gronkowski is about to morph into Super TE, a combination of Ben Coates and Ozzie Newsome who could score every single week with the increased targets he’ll get with Hernandez out.  I’m kidding.  I think.

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