Beyond TDs and Tackles: Week 7

Beyond TDs and Tackles: Week 7


Beyond TDs and Tackles: Week 7



per·cep·tion  noun  pər-r-ˈsep-shən
: the way you think about or understand someone or something
: the ability to understand or notice something easily
: the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses

There is no denying that the Cowboys are a much-improved team this year and are playing very good football. However, I think it’s safe to say that perception is that their defense is vastly improved over last year. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but it’s clear that perception is, that it is. I for one will say that I’ve been impressed with how the defense has been running and flying to the ball. Rolando McClain is clearly a frontrunner for Comeback Player of the Year. Barry Church was someone that I thought was a shoe in for 100+ tackles this year – he’s on pace for 88 – but it’s clear he won’t hit that benchmark for a multitude of reasons. One of the things we talked about earlier this year on The Blitzed Podcast with Herm Edwards was how the Cowboys should run the ball to help “protect” their defense. Meaning that by running the ball you eat the clock and you keep your defense fresh. A fresh defense has a better shot of running and flying to the ball. Hmmmm. It’s no secret that last year the Cowboys’ defense was horrible. Have they done a complete 180? I bet your perception is that they have…Take a look at the following numbers and see if you still feel the same way.

  2014 2014 Rank 2013 2013 Rank
Points Allowed 126 13t 432 26
Scrimmage Plays 338 7 1094 27
1st Downs/Game 17 2 24.2 32
Yards/Game 342.5 15 415.3 32

The numbers do show improvement across the board, especially in 1st Downs/Game allowed and Yards/Game allowed. Ready to anoint the Cowboys as a much-improved defense? Let’s take a look at some other numbers before we do that.

  2014 2013 Improvement
Points/Play 0.373 0.395 5.6%
Plays/Game 56.3 68.4 17.7%
1st Downs/Play 0.302 0.354 14.7%
Yards/Play (rank) 6.1(32) 6.1(32) None

Now we’re getting to the nitty gritty. These numbers break down the 1st charts numbers on a per play basis. Just a bit of context is all. So, what we see is that there is some improvement, but maybe not as much as “we” may have thought. The biggest improvement is the decrease in plays/game…17.7% is significant and a 14.7% decrease in 1st downs/play allowed is too. Facing fewer plays on defense is clearly a plus and has helped to hold down points allowed…albeit not by much when you look at it on a per play basis. Lastly, and a key stat that shows the Cowboys defense isn’t exactly dominant is the fact they haven’t improved on their Yards/Play rank or the 6.1 YPP allowed.

What this all tells me is that it’s a good thing that the offense is committed to the run and that the running game with Demarco Murray has been as effective as it’s been. Because without the running game limiting the time the defense is on the field it’s clear that based on the metrics they’d be in almost as bad a shape as last year, instead of as improved as many perceive them to be. If you are a Cowboys fan or Demarco Murray owner, you should hope and pray that Murray doesn’t breakdown because if he breaks then the defense is likely to do the same. On the NFL side of things I doubt that Joseph Randle would be able to carry the team like Murray has, but fantasy wise, you definitely want to handcuff Randle if you’re a Murray owner. Yes, I went there.


Last week I promised that I’d treat you to how individual teams are doing on their challenges. What you’ll see is that the six teams with just one loss each this year have for the most part done very well with challenges. On the flip side you’ll see that the six teams with one or fewer wins haven’t done well at all.

Here’s a look at how the winning teams vs the losing teams shakes out.

Winners Win
Challenges Plays Overturned Success Rate
Dallas Cowboys 1 1 100.00%
Philadelphia Eagles 3 2 66.67%
San Diego Chargers 3 2 66.67%
Denver Broncos 3 1 33.33%
Cincinnati Bengals 4 3 75.00%
Arizona Cardinals 4 2 50.00%
18 11 61.11%
Losers Lose


Challenges Plays Overturned Success Rate
New York Jets 6 2 33.33%
Jacksonville Jaguars 3 1 33.33%
Oakland Raiders 4 2 50.00%
Washington Redskins 5 0 0.00%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2 0 0.00%
St. Louis Rams 3 1 33.33%
23 6 26.09%

Some teams do well, wins not withstanding, and others do poorly, losses not withstanding. Here’s a look at the best of the best and worst of the worst.


Club Challenges Plays Overturned Success Rate
Dallas Cowboys 1 1 100.00%
Miami Dolphins 2 2 100.00%
New England Patriots 1 1 100.00%
Buffalo Bills 4 3 75.00%
Cincinnati Bengals 4 3 75.00%
12 10 83.33%


Club Challenges Plays Overturned Success Rate
Atlanta Falcons 1 0 0.00%
Green Bay Packers 1 0 0.00%
Minnesota Vikings 2 0 0.00%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2 0 0.00%
Tennessee Titans 1 0 0.00%
Washington Redskins 5 0 0.00%


12 0 0.00%

You’ve seen the winners and loser, the best and the worst, so now it’s time to look at the rest.


Club Challenges Plays Overturned Success Rate
Philadelphia Eagles 3 2 66.67%
San Diego Chargers 3 2 66.67%
Seattle Seahawks 3 2 66.67%
Arizona Cardinals 4 2 50.00%
Baltimore Ravens 6 3 50.00%
Cleveland Browns 2 1 50.00%
Detroit Lions 2 1 50.00%
New Orleans Saints 2 1 50.00%
Oakland Raiders 4 2 50.00%
Carolina Panthers 6 2 33.33%
Chicago Bears 3 1 33.33%
Denver Broncos 3 1 33.33%
Indianapolis Colts 3 1 33.33%
Jacksonville Jaguars 3 1 33.33%
New York Giants 3 1 33.33%
New York Jets 6 2 33.33%
St. Louis Rams 3 1 33.33%
Houston Texans 4 1 25.00%
Kansas City Chiefs 4 1 25.00%
Pittsburgh Steelers 4 1 25.00%
San Francisco 49ers 6 1 16.67%
77 30 38.96%

The next time you see the coach of your favorite team throw a challenge flag you’ll be able to refer back to this to see what his track record has been.

In tying this into “First Down – Perception,” on twitter I saw someone make a comment about Tom Coughlin being bad with a challenge flag. So I decided to take a look at Coughlin’s track record with the Giants. Of course this year he’s 1 for 3 which isn’t good. Last year was a different story because he was 6 for 7 (85.71%) which of course is very good. For his entire Giants’ career he’s 50 for 128 (39%).  

THIRD DOWN – Steve’s Seven Sleepers

The Eagles and Buccaneers are on a bye this week. Check out my seven sleepers (one at each fantasy position that I think can finish top-24* at their position) if you are looking for bye week help. To qualify the player can’t rank in the top-36** at their respective position based on the season long rankings in the Huddle IDP Expert League. I thought it’d be nice to show how my sleepers did the previous week so you’ll also find last week’s sleepers with the amount of points that they scored. I also want to add that I’m trying to target players that should be available on waivers.

*Top-12 for QB & TE. **Top-15 for QB & TE.  

Week 7 Week 6
Position Sleeper Position Sleeper FPts
QB Derek Carr QB Mike Glennon 20.56
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro RB Bishop Sankey 7.80
WR Jermaine Kearse WR Torrey Smith 21.10
TE Jared Cook TE Luke Wilson 3.10
DL Jeremy Mincey DL Mathias Kiwankua 7.00
LB Malcolm Smith LB Anthony Hitchens 13.00
DB Terence Newman DB Usama Young 13.00

Another solid pick at QB last week with Garbage Time Glennon, but hopefully some of you also saw how I said I was giving consideration to Joe Flacco (32.24) and ran with him. Three weeks in and QB has easily been my best hit. All three have eclipsed 20 points and all told have scored 73.22 fantasy points. That’s good for a PPG average of 24.41. Only Andrew Luck (27.96) and Peyton Manning (24.50) are averaging more per game. Now you know why I preach waiting on QB. Bishop Sankey wasn’t a hit, but what really hurt was Jackie Battle vulturing a goal line TD.  At WR, Torrey Smith scored his two TDs…IN THE FIRST QUARTER. I actually think that the Ravens jumping out to such a big lead early hurt Smith, but there’s no complaining about 20+ points from a sleeper WR. Luke Willson had such a plush matchup. All I can say is ARGHHH!!! On the IDP side of things, Mathias Kiwanuka wasn’t a home run but his 7 points are solid production for a DL. At LB I called for Anthony Hitchens as my sleeper but said that if Rolando McClain was active to sub in Justin Durant. Well, McClain was active and Durant had a solid sleeper week. Usama Young came up a bit short of my expectations but still put up a solid double-digit game.

Let’s keep the QB mojo going and run with Derek Carr. Yes, Carr had a fantastic fantasy game in week 6 and facing a Cardinals team that ranks 4th in average points allowed to QBs bodes well for Carr in week 8. If you are worried about starting the Raiders signal caller give Ryan Tannehill another look. At RB I’ve got a risky play and his name is Lorenzo Taliaferro. If you can’t stomach that risk then hit up Darren McFadden if he’s available on your wire. At WR I really want to use Cecil Shorts, Marques Colston or Justin Hunter but I know it’s unlikely that they’re on your waiver wire. So instead I’ll go with Jermaine Kearse. TE I’m not going very deep but Jared Cook does rank outside the top 15. If you want a really deep but risky play run with Mychal Rivera. On the IDP side I’m running with Jeremy Mincey, Malcolm Smith and Terence Newman.


The Seahawks need to establish their running game and make a statement this week. Look for them to take advantage of the Rams weakness as shown below. Marshawn Lynch owners will like seeing him going around the end for a TD or two this week.

Seahawks Rushing Offense

Chargers Rushing Offense

Rams Rushing Defense

Jaguars Rushing Defense


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