Counting down the significant stats, notable numbers and illuminating integers compiled through action Sunday in the 2016 fantasy-football season:
39 – Regular-season games missed out of a possible 96 for Jaguars’ tight end Julius Thomas during his six pro seasons. Thomas hasn’t played since Week 11 and will finish out the season on the injured-reserve list with a back injury. In all, Thomas wound up playing only nine games this season and finished with 30 receptions for 281 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 76 catches for 736 yards and nine scores in his two seasons with the Jags. Thomas missed four games a season ago – his first in Jacksonville – meaning he’ll have played in just 21 out of a possible 32 games in two seasons. It’s a far cry from his 2013/14 elite-tight end heydays in Denver when he caught 108 of his 152 targets for 1,277 yards and 24 TDs over two seasons with Peyton Manning. His first two seasons in the Mile High City, though, were largely spent on sideline and in the training room, as he played in only nine of 32 regular-season contests and caught one pass for 5 yards on seven targets. In short, Thomas can hardly be trusted going forward until he shows the ability to be available on a more consistent basis.
23 – Fantasy points Saturday for Saints running back Mark Ingram, who rushed for 90 yards and two TDs on 18 carries and added two receptions for 3 yards in a 31-24 win Saturday over the visiting Buccaneers. It continued the unpredictable feast-or-famine run for Ingram this season. He’s had six games with 12 or more fantasy points, five with 5-to-11 points and four with four points or fewer. It’s been even more of a roller-coaster ride the last eight weeks when his weekly fantasy-point totals have gone as such: 28 points, 6, 6, 28, 4, 1, 8 and then 23. If you’ve ridden him through it all, Ingram ranks 11th among all backs coming out of Sunday with 177 fantasy points, thanks largely to career-high matching nine TDs. Oddly, four of those scores have come via reception after he entered the year without a receiving TD in his first five seasons.
19.32 – Career yards per reception over the first two seasons for Cardinals wide receiver JJ Nelson, ranking him first among the 201 pass-catchers who have had at least 40 receptions since the start of last season. The speed-burning Nelson boosted that average Saturday with 132 yards and a TD on three catches in a 34-31 win in Seattle. The key play was an 80-yard scoring reception in the second quarter which also goes down the longest of nine career TDs. Five of those scores have come in his last four games, in which he’s totaled 10 receptions for 220 yards and four TDs and rushed once for a 56-yard score. As might be expected, though, Nelson’s big plays haven’t come easy as he’s only caught 41 of his 89 career targets for a 46.1 catch rate. And of those aforementioned 201 players who have totaled 40 or more receptions the last two seasons, only the fellow second-year wideout Devin Funchess of the Panthers has a worse catch rate (44.6 percent) than Nelson.
5 – Total touchdowns Saturday for the Pack’s Aaron Rodgers in a 38-25 win over the visiting Vikings. It has Rodgers atop the Week 16 fantasy-point leaderboard and was quite the nice bounce-back game if you and your fellow Rodgers owners managed to survive his 252-yard, no-TD outing the previous week against the Bears. Regardless, it appears Rodgers is back to form after a baffling 20-game stretch from Week 4 of last season through Week 6 this year – including a pair of playoff contests – in which he had only two 300-yard passing games and two contests with three-or-more TD passes. By comparison, in the other 13 games bookending that stretch since the start of 2015 (Weeks 1-3 last season and Weeks 7-16 this year), Rodgers has notched six 300-yard games and eight contests with three or more TD tosses, helping return him to the top of the fantasy QB rankings.
4 – Receiving TDs for Bills tight end Charles Clay over his last three games. During that stretch – which has timed up nicely with the fantasy postseason – Clay has reeled in 18 of 23 targets for 209 yards, including eight grabs for 85 yards and two scores on a team-high-matching 10 targets Saturday in a 34-31 overtime loss to his former team, the Dolphins. The current three-game run also has been somewhat of an unexpected fantasy-point outburst from Clay, who had only three scoring receptions in his prior 24 games with Buffalo since the start of last season.
3 – Touchdowns for Raiders running backs Saturday in a 33-25 win over the visiting Colts, but surprisingly none of them were scored by the Silver & Black’s most-started fantasy back. That would be Latavius Murray, who rushed for only 40 yards on 15 carries and added 11 more yards on a pair of receptions in the game while DeAndre Washington was rushing for 99 yards and two scores on 12 carries and adding an 18-yard reception and fellow rookie Jalen Richard was carrying six times for 66 yards and catching three passes for 13 yards and a TD. In no uncertain terms, it’s been a disappointing two-week stretch for Murray owners who have seen the back total 154 yards on 31 touches with no TDs coming on the heels of a spectacularly productive eight-game stretch in which he totaled 649 yards and nine TDs.
2.91 – Yards per carry Saturday for Rams RB Todd Gurley, who rushed 23 times for 67 yards and a TD in a 22-21 loss to the 49ers. It was a welcome stat-sheet sight for Gurley’s fantasy owners as it was only his fifth double-digit fantasy-point outing of the season, but it still fell far short of the majority of projections against a San Fran defense that has been one of the most generous in recent seasons in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. To wit, the Niners entered the contest allowing a league-worst 5.0 yards per carry, but Gurley only managed a little more than half that Saturday. In two games against the 49ers this season, Gurley averaged 2.85 yards per attempt (40-114). Shockingly, somehow that’s even lower than his 3.20 average on the season, which ranks only above the Bucs’ Doug Martin (2.92) and the Vikings’ Jerick McKinnon (3.14) among the 38 backs in the league with 100 or more rushing attempts. By comparison, Gurley ranked eighth among the league’s 47 100-plus-carry backs a season ago as a rookie with 4.83 yards per rush. Perhaps 2017 will bring better fortune.