Counting down the significant stats, notable numbers and illuminating integers emerging from the first nine weeks of the 2016 fantasy-football season:
81.9 – Point-per-reception-scoring fantasy points for Lions wide receiver Golden Tate over his last four games. In that quartet of contests, Tate has caught 32 of his team-leading 43 targets for 379 yards and two touchdowns. His latest score, was perhaps the biggest of the season for the Lions, as his 28-yard catch-and-broken-tackle sideline sprint Sunday in overtime was the game-winner in Detroit’s 22-16 overtime victory over the host Vikings. Tate has outperformed the combined efforts of the Lions’ other top two wideouts, Marvin Jones Jr. (10 catches-142-yards-one TD) and Anquan Boldin (18-102-3), over the last month – a far cry from his slow start (17-134-0 in the first five games). On the flip side, Jones exploded out of the gate to catch 27-of-41 targets for 519 yards and a trio of TDs over those first five games to jump out on top of the fantasy wide receiver ranks, but now has taken a clear backseat to Tate – and even Boldin – of late.
57 – Total touches over the last three games for Raiders RB Latavius Murray, following his season-best 127-total-yard, three-touchdown outing against the Broncos on Sunday night. Murray missed Weeks 5 and 6 with a toe injury but has come back to post strong numbers over the last three contests, turning those 57 touches into 261 total yards and five TDs. Rookie backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard failed to capitalize on Murray’s absence, and since the latter’s return ,he has nine more touches and five more TDs than Washington, Richard and Jamize Olawale combined. Sunday’s game was only Murray’s third-career 100-yard rushing game. He now also has eight rushing scores this season – the rest of the team has combined for three – which trails only the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon and the Patriots’ LeGarrette Blount (nine apiece) through play Sunday.
29 – Targets over the last three games for Rams tight end Lance Kendricks. That total is pacing the team over that span, and Kendricks has turned them into 19 catches for 179 yards and a TD. That likely will come as a surprise to many as the Rams’ sporadic passing game has gained more fantasy renown for feeding WRs Kenny Britt and Brian Quick. After drawing 23 targets over his first five games, Kendricks has been targeted at least eight times in each of the last three, including his career-best 12-target, seven-catch outing against the Panthers on Sunday. So if you’re looking for late-season or bye-week tight-end help – and we know a lot of you are given the dearth of consistency and depth at the position – you might find your waiver-wire answer out West in Kendricks.
16.6 – More yards on average per game being surrendered to opposing wide receivers than rushing yards allowed to running backs for the Broncos defense this season. That it’s this close underscores the clear strength and weakness for the Denver D this season, as the Broncos rank first in passing yards allowed (183.3) but 29th in rushing yards (128.6) surrendered through nine games. Those points were underscored in Sharpie on Sunday night as the Broncos held Week 8 aerial sensation Derek Carr to a season-low 184 yards and no passing TDs – his first game without a scoring throw in his last 15 overall – while getting gashed by the aforementioned Murray and the Silver & Black ground game to tune of 218 yards and three TDs on 43 carries. Overall, now, the Denver D has allowed nine rushing TDs and only six passing scores on the season. So continue to be very wary of starting your quarterbacks and wideouts against the Broncos but actively look for the opportunity to get your fantasy backs in the lineup against the defending Super Bowl champs.
15 – NFL-most total TDs since Week 5 for Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who threw for four and ran for another in Sunday’s 43-35 shootout loss in San Diego. It was his second four-TD contest this season. The second-year signal-caller is tied with Aaron Rodgers for the most passing scores (13) over the last five weeks, and he has added 1,262 passing yards along with two TDs and 163 yards on the ground to put him at the head of the fantasy QB ranks during that span. And that’s despite three interceptions and four fumbles. We talked about Mariota’s feast-or-famine fantasy nature a month ago in this space, but he has been much more consistent ever since, reeling off five straight games with two-or-more total TDs and has surging into fifth place overall among fantasy QBs.
8 – Touchdown receptions in the last 10 full games for Colts wideout Donte Moncrief when playing with starting QB Andrew Luck. The latest came Sunday with his 8-yard scoring grab 11 seconds before halftime in Green Bay. Moncrief sat out Weeks 3-7 with a shoulder injury and missed most of the Week 2 game in Denver after sustaining the injury. Otherwise, he’s found his way into the end zone in the three games he has started and finished, and the trio of scoring grabs have come on only 14 catches. He’s not the target monster that teammate T.Y. Hilton is – the latter is averaging nine per game while Hilton is averaging 6.5 since the start of last season – but he has just as many scoring grabs (nine) during that time-frame. And now with Hilton the one battling the injury bug with a balky hammy, Moncrief should continue to figure promiently in one of the league’s most pass-heavy offenses.
6 – Total TDs this season – all coming inside the 10-yard line– for Eagles running back Ryan Mathews, who added the latest Sunday in a road loss to the Giants. It was the second rushing score in the last two games for Mathews, and it’s been an atypical situation as he’s played only 16 total snaps and seen only 11 total touches during these last two contests. Darren Sproles, meanwhile, has played 121 snaps and racked up 36 touches and 174 yards from scrimmage during those two games – and was confirmed again Monday by coach Doug Pederson as Philly’s No. 1 back – but has only found his way into the end zone once this season. And that came on a 73-yard catch-and-run against the Steelers in Week 3. Bottom line: Expect the Philly fantasy frustration to continue for the time being with Sproles dominating the overall touches and Mathews coming in and ruling the red-zone touches.