Counting down the significant stats, notable numbers and illuminating integers compiled through action Sunday in the 2016 fantasy-football season:
130 – Receiving yards on seven catches last Thursday night for Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett in a 24-3 win over the visiting Rams. The yardage total marked a career high for the second-year wideout and his seven receptions also equaled a career best as he turned one of them into a touchdown. It was the latest outing in a recent upswing in production for Lockett, who over the last three games has 16 receptions on 20 targets for 234 yards and a TD while also rushing three times for 90 yards and another score. In his first 11 games this year, Lockett produced only 23 catches on 43 targets for 325 yards and no TDs while rushing three times for 24 yards to throw a wet blanket on his fantasy summer sleeper hopes. His two TDs in the last three weeks also have been his first of the year as he has yet to score on kickoff or punt return after bringing one of each back to the house in his rookie season .
113 – Total yards and one touchdown Sunday for Bears running back Jordan Howard in Chicago’s 27-24 loss to the visiting Packers. In a dismal 3-11 season for the Bears, the rookie fifth-round pick out of Indiana has been one of the few bright spots, rushing for 1,059 yards, adding 289 more on eight receptions and pacing the team with seven total TDs in 13 games. Averaging a robust five yards per carry, Howard has topped 100 total yards in eight of 13 games this season, including six of the last seven, and has scored at least 9.9 fantasy points in seven straight outings. Overall, he ranked ninth among all running backs with 176.8 standard-scoring points coming out of Sunday’s games, and if not for NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott, he’d be in the conversation for the fantasy rookie RB of the year.
53 – Targets over the last five games for Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who reeled in six of the eight passes thrown his way Sunday in a 27-26 road loss in Baltimore. Those 53 targets not only are pacing all tight ends during that timeframe, but they rank second only to WR Julian Edelman’s 67. His 34 catches in that span also only trail Edelman’s 37 in the league. At a position where consistency is tough to come by, Ertz has stood out – especially in point-per-reception leagues – with at least seven targets and six catches in six of the last seven games serving as a dependable outlet for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Now if only the TD grabs would follow suit, Ertz could stake his place among fantasy’s top tight ends. Ertz did have four scoring catches among his 36 total receptions as a rookie in 2013, but he’s only added seven more TDs on the 289 targets and 206 receptions in the nearly three seasons since, including two on 63 catches this season.
29.16 – Average fantasy points surrendered to running backs per game this season by the 49ers defense following another huge game by an opposing back (155 total yards and three TDs for the Falcons’ Devonta Freeman) in Sunday’s 41-13 beatdown in Atlanta. Freeman’s big day followed directly on the heels of 179 total yards and two scores put up by the Jets’ Bilal Powell in Week 14 and the 117 yards and three TDs for the aforementioned Jordan Howard a week earlier. In all, the San Fran D has surrendered 11 100-yard rushing games and seven multiple-TD contests to opposing backs in 14 outings this season. In all, it’s added up to a whopping 2,184 yards and 22 TDs on the ground and 55 receptions for 455 yards and three more scores through the air for enemy backs. To spare you the math, that’s 408.2 standard-scoring fantasy points in all, making the Niners the first team since the 2011 Buccaneers to allow more than 400 fantasy points to opposing backs in a season. And, mind you, there are still two games remaining, and if they go like the first 14, San Fran will have coughed up 466.5 RB fantasy points – exactly the total allowed by the 2000 Cardinals, who stand as the last team to surrender as many. So for those still alive in the fantasy postseason with the likes of the Rams’ Todd Gurley and the Seahawks’ Thomas Rawls on your roster, your patience and perseverance just might be rewarded handsomely over the next two weeks with Los Angeles and Seattle closing out the schedule for the defenseless 49ers.
23 – Total touches last Thursday for the just-mentioned Rawls, but the Seattle back could only manage 39 total yards and no TDs against the Rams despite the Seahawks’ dominance. It was the latest outing in a disappointing late-season stretch for the second-year back who missed Weeks 3-10 while recovering from a hairline fibula fracture. In Week 13, Rawls rolled up 118 total yards and scored a pair of TDs in a 40-7 rout of the Panthers, but the other four games since his return have produced only a combined 239 yards and no scores on 65 touches, capped by Thursday night’s frustrating outing. Rawls, though, is averaging 16.2 touches per game during that stretch, and Seattle figures going to keep rolling with its best back as it fights to hold off the Falcons and/or the NFC North champ for the second seed – and the crucial first-round bye – in the NFC playoffs.
6 – Games with double-digit PPR fantasy points in the last seven contests for Chargers wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. The latest came Sunday when he reeled in five of eight targets for 68 yards in a loss to the visiting Raiders. Inman’s late-season rise is even more notable considering that fellow San Diego wideouts Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin have seen their production decline during that same time period due largely to nagging injuries. To wit, over the last four games, Williams has caught only 16 of 32 targets for 205 yards and two TDs while Benjamin has snared five of 12 targets for 78 yards and a score. Inman, meanwhile, has caught 19 of his 26 targets during that span for 307 yards and three TDs and figures to continue as the most trustworthy and productive target for QB Philip Rivers over the final two games.
2 – Receiving touchdowns since Week 6 for Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas following his fourth straight scoreless game (7-91 on 11 targets) Sunday vs. the Patriots. Since Week 6, Thomas trails only Edelman (101) with 96 targets among league pass-catchers, but he ranks only eighth in receptions (57) and 13th in yards (635) to go along with his two scoring grabs. Dropped passes are once again an issue for Thomas, who according to SportingCharts.com, is tied for fourth with six drops so far. Easily the larger issue, though, is the Broncos’ continued aerial decline coming off Peyton Manning’s peak performance seasons from 2012-14 when he threw an NFL-most 122 scoring passes. Thomas hauled in 35 of those, but in comparison Denver QBs have thrown only 37 TD passes total, including 18 this season, in the 30 games since with Thomas on the receiving end of 11 of those. So while you like the volume of targets for Thomas, the TDs aren’t matching up, particularly of late as the Broncos’ offense seems to be getting worse and not better while going up against a rugged season-ending stretch of opponents.