Targets, touches and touchdowns: Week 12

Targets, touches and touchdowns: Week 12

Statistical Analysis

Targets, touches and touchdowns: Week 12

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Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

We pore over the rankings each week, size up the matchups and weigh the fantasy-point projections each week as we seek to set the best possible lineups.

Most of the forecasts prove to be more or less spot on, but there are still the overachieving surprises and disappointing duds each week, and these are the unforeseen outliers that wind up deciding the majority of matchups.

We’ve been taking of note players on both sides of the spectrum, and here, in our opinion, are eight of the most over- and underrated fantasy performers – going position-by-position – of 2019.

QUARTERBACK

Overrated – In making his return from a second straight injury-shortened season, Philly’s Carson Wentz was a popular QB1 pick this summer, and his 28.1-point opening-week outing (313 yards, three touchdown passes) appeared to have provided instant validation. But, nine games later, that’s easily proven to be Wentz’s best showing of the season as he’s only topped 24 fantasy points twice since then and comes out of play Sunday ranked 20th at the position with an average of 20 fantasy points per outing. A banged-up wide receivers corps certainly hasn’t made his life any easier, but Wentz has finished with multiple TD passes or 17.5 fantasy points or more only once since Week 4, putting him squarely in QB2 streaming territory.

Underrated – The Buffalo Bills really haven’t had a prolific offense since the Jim Kelly-Thurman Thomas-Andre Reed heydays a quarter-century ago, and after entering Week 11 ranked 25th in the league in scoring with 19.3 points per contest, the 2019 Bills don’t appear to be breaking that mold. Meanwhile, in fantasy, though, second-year QB Josh Allen – who wasn’t among the top 20 quarterbacks drafted in the majority of fantasy leagues this summer – is putting up QB1 numbers. Following his best outing of the season Sunday (256 passing yards, three aerial TDs and 56 yards and a TD on the ground), Allen ranks 10th at the position with an average of 23.6 fantasy points per game. But while Sunday’s showing in South Beach was his first 30-point game of the season, he’s delivered steady fantasy production, finishing with 20 or more points in six of his previous eight contests, with a season “low” of 16.2 in a game he didn’t even finish due to a concussion.

RUNNING BACK

Overrated – It hardly sounds possible that the lead back, who’s averaging 15.1 touches per game, on the run-heaviest (53.2 percent) and second most productive rushing squad (149 yards per game) in the league could be underperforming, but yet we have Tevin Coleman of the 9-1 49ers. Coleman does rank 17th in standard leagues (11.5) in terms of running back fantasy points per contest, but consider that 38.8 percent (35.8) of his 92.3 points on the season came in one game – his 118 total-yard, four-TD performance in Week 8 – and he’s finished with 12.1 points or fewer in six of his other seven contests, including five single-digit outings. Since that monster Week 8, Coleman has consistently been ranked as a solid RB2 but only has delivered a total of 17 fantasy points over those three games, including a meager 77 rushing yards on 33 attempts. And with Matt Breida (when healthy), Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr. (when Breida is out), and even fullback Kyle Juszczyk continuing to be regularly involved as well, Coleman is simply a flex flyer at best until we see otherwise.

Underrated – The Rams’ Todd Gurley has been assailed for his usage decrease (16.3 touches per game – down from 21.8 over the previous three seasons and 2.0 receptions per contest – down from 3.7 from 2016-18) in a Rams’ offense that has struggled through most of the season, but , coming out of Sunday, we found Gurley ranked 11th (standard) and 16th (PPR) at his position in terms of fantasy points per game. He’s also tied for sixth among RBs with eight total TDs, having found his way into the end zone in six of nine contests. On Sunday night, Gurley hit season highs in rushing attempts (25), touches (28), total yards (133) and fantasy points (19.3/22.3) in the Rams’ 17-7 win over the Bears, and, believe it or not, has now scored double-digit fantasy points in seven of nine contests this season. Perhaps coach Sean McVay and the playoff-seeking 6-4 Rams have been saving Gurley for the all-important stretch run after he wore down late last season, and if so, Sunday night just may have offered a tantalizing view of things to come.

WIDE RECEIVER

Overrated – Check the top three of the wide receiver rankings, regardless of format, each week and you’re sure to find the Falcons’ Julio Jones listed. But through 11 weeks and 10 games now, Jones has only finished as a top-three wideout once and a top-10 performer only three times. Overall on the season, Jones ranks 13th among wide receivers in standard scoring (11.2 points per game) and 10th in point-per-reception formats (17.1 points), and the main culprit has been Jones’ now-seven-game TD-catch drought after snaring four scoring passes in the first three contests of the season. Jones famously failed to catch a scoring pass in the first seven games of last season, and in his current seven-game scoreless skid, he’s failed to wind up on the receiving end of any of the team’s 12 TD passes since Week 3 while watching teammates such as TE Austin Hooper (four receiving TDs in that span), WR Calvin Ridley (three) and RB Devonta Freeman (three) prosper during that span. Now, you’re likely still starting Jones each week, but expecting week-in and week-out WR1 production – let alone elite WR1 production – is simply unrealistic, especially as long as his latest TD drought continues.

Underrated – Even prior to his monster outing Sunday (season-best 25.7 standard points on nine catches for 137 yards and two TDs), the Bills’ John Brown was plugging along as one of the most overlooked consistent week-to-week fantasy performers. Allen’s speedy top target has finished with at least four catches and 50 receiving yards in all 10 of his games this season, and the only other wideout who can say as much is none other than league receiving leader Michael Thomas of the Saints. That means Brown has finished with at least 9.5 PPR points in every contest and is a rock-solid WR2, ranking 15th at the position with an average of 16.2 PPR points per outing.

TIGHT END

Overrated – Overvalued prospects at fantasy’s thinnest position are few and far between, but Lions rookie T.J. Hockenson is among the closest to qualify. Big things have been expected since his monster 19.1/25.1-point explosion in Week 1. Hockenson caught six of nine targets for 131 yards and a TD that afternoon in Arizona, but he’s caught all of 20 passes for 218 yards and one TD on 37 targets in nine games since while scoring no more than 8.7/11.7 fantasy points in any one contest. And now with backup QB Jeff Driskel at the controls for the foreseeable future, Hockenson is nothing more than a deeper-league streaming dart-throw.

Underrated – Starting in Week 4, with their WRs corps depleted, the Eagles have been one of the league’s most heavy “12” personnel teams. Second-year tight end Dallas Goedert has played at least 58 percent of the offensive snaps in all seven of those contests and has caught 22-of-34 for 241 yards and four TDs, good for 46.1/68.1 fantasy points. During that same seven-game span fellow Philly TE Zach Ertz has totaled 55.1/93.1 fantasy points, but while Ertz is seen as a must-start TE1, Goedert is lucky to appear on the list of prospective streamers most weeks. Don’t be fooled any longer, and realize Philly fields a pair of start-worthy tight ends.

EXTRA POINTS

  • Injured Lions QB Matthew Stafford ranks sixth among QBs with an average of 25.9 points per outing, and right behind at No. 7 is replacement Driskel at 25.4, establishing him as a solid streamer after only two starts. However, Driskel is averaging 239 passing yards per game and 6.63 yards per attempt to Stafford’s 312.4 and 8.59 figures, respectively, and is averaging 7.4 rushing fantasy points per game to Stafford’s .8 mark – all of which lowers the weekly fantasy ceilings and floors of the Detroit pass catchers.
  • One wide receiver who continues to produce despite his team’s less-than-ideal QB play is the Broncos’ Courtland Sutton, who notched his second 100-yard outing of the season in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings. A high weekly floor is what stands out for the second-year wideout as Sutton has received at least seven targets in 100 games this season and has had 56 receiving yards in all but one contest. He’s a locked-in WR2.
  • Another young wide receiver on the rise is 49ers rookie Deebo Samuel who’s been targeted 21 times over the last two games and has reeled in 16 for 246 yards. With TE George Kittle missing both contests and WR Emmanuel Sanders being limited to a combined 60 snaps due to a rib cartilage injury, Samuel has garnered seven more targets, eight more receptions and had 166 more receiving yards than any other San Fran player during that stretch. Samuel suffered a shoulder injury in the second half Sunday but came back in to put the wraps on a season-best 134-yard outing on eight catches and should continue to be involved even with Kittle and Sanders get healthier.
  • Back to the Motor City, take note that Lions RB Bo Scarbrough – signed to the practice squad two weeks ago and activated for the first time Sunday to face the team (Cowboys) which drafted him in the seventh round last season – logged 14 of the team’s 19 RB rushing attempts and finished with a team-most 55 yards and a TD in the 35-27 loss. Every team’s lead back has a degree of value this late in the season, and it looks like Scarbrough just may have jumped into the driver’s seat for the Kerryon Johnson-less Lions.
  • Out of nowhere, we suddenly have to beware of the Falcons’ defense. In its last two games, facing the division-rival Panthers and Saints, the Atlanta “D” has registered 11 sacks and four interceptions while not allowing a TD pass in posting a pair of 17-point-plus road wins. During their 1-7 start, the Falcons were torched for 19 touchdown passes while totaling only seven sacks and two interceptions. That makes the Falcons’ D a must-start in Week 12 with Jameis Winston and the Bucs (league-high 18 interceptions thrown and fourth-most 36 sacks surrendered) visiting Atlanta this coming Sunday.

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