10 Interesting Stats from Last Week
After one-quarter of the season, we have a better idea of how to interpret stats. A one-game sample size isn’t always much to go on, but we are seeing the trends of the 2017 season developing in a big way. WIth the regular season for most fantasy leagues 335 over, it becomes even more important to filter and interpret correctly. Now’s the time to make a shrewd acquisition to solidify your playoff spot or turn your season around. With that in mind, let’s dive into what caught my eye this week.
1. The Patriots defense is shaping the Patriots offense
This one is going to have a few stats thrown into one, but it’s going to be an example of how badly the New England defense has played so far and why it means something for Tom Brady and the rest of the offense.
Patriots on pace to shatter modern @NFL record for most yards allowed by a defense.
2012 Saints 7,046
2017 Patriots 7,308 (projected)
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 3, 2017
Anytime your defense is projected to be worse than the Saints and set a record, you know you have some serious issues. This unit has also given up 128 points in just four games. Since the defense is completely fantasy irrelevant, we need to understand what it means for the Patriots offense. Most people expected the Pats to have a lethal passing game, and so far that is basically correct. After all, Brady is on pace for his own record.
40-year-old Tom Brady on pace for 5596 pass yards. The NFL record is 5477, set by 37-year-old Peyton Manning in 2013.
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) October 2, 2017
That’s had major effects on two players in the New England offense. First, running back Mike Gillislee is almost unplayable. Analysts felt that he would be the 2017 version of LeGarrette Blount, racking up carries and TDs when the Pats were up big and trying to just salt the game away. While the analysis seems to be correct, the Patriots aren’t up big at all because the defense can’t stop anyone. Gillislee is having a tough time getting more than 15 carries and brings nothing in the passing game. You’re literally banking on a touchdown if you play him, which is no way to play. The second player who has seen their value shift is WR Chris Hogan. He had a dud game in Week 1 and scared people who had drafted him as a WR3. However, check out the target distribution between him and Brandin Cooks.
Four games in, Chris Hogan has more targets (26), catches (15) & TDs (4) than Brandin Cooks (24/13/2). Cooks has more yards (294/214).
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) October 2, 2017
I expected at least average play from the New England defense. Even if they don’t finish as one of the worst defenses in modern football, they have some major issues. Make sure to try and exploit it in any way possible for the rest of the season.
2. Alvin Kamara is the RB to own from New Orleans
I’ve been a card-carrying member of the Alvin Kamara fan club since my first piece here at Gridiron Experts. He was just such a clear fit with the Saints from draft day moving forward. We just didn’t know how the opportunities would shake out in a crowded backfield. Well, Kamara had his breakout game in Week 4 and I don’t think he looks back. He totaled 96 yards and a touchdown on 15 touches in London.
Alvin Kamara currently has more receptions (20) than Julio Jones (19), Demaryius Thomas (18), Jordy Nelson (17) and Brandin Cooks (13).
— Cory Evans (@CoryEvansNFL) October 2, 2017
Perhaps the best part of the performance is the Saints were either tied or led the entire game. This wasn’t production due to a frantic comeback. Coach Sean Payton has shown he will turn away from Mark Ingram and I still haven’t figured out why they signed Adrian Peterson this off-season. Payton raves about Kamara to the press and Kamara is now on pace for 80 receptions. I actually believe he has an outside shot to hit 100. The Saints offense needs another consistent passing game weapon besides WR Michael Thomas and I think they found it. It’s worth checking in this week to see if you can get Kamara now while he’s on his bye.
3. Eagles RB LeGarrette Blount is still useful
Having drafted my fair share of Blount when he was a 7th-9th rounder, let me say I understand it hasn’t been the prettiest four weeks. He literally had zero carries in Week 2. However, with the unfortunate injury to RB Darren Sproles, the Philadelphia backfield looks like it might be a bit easier to grasp. Blount has gotten 12 and 16 carries the past two games. With Sproles out, Blount and Wendell Smallwood are the main backs with Corey Clement getting a little bit of work. The game to game consistency will likely be hard to come by, but Blount is on a very reasonable pace.
LeGarrette Blount current 16 game pace:
•1080 yards from scrimmage
— Curtis Patrick (@CPatrickNFL) October 2, 2017
When you drafted him, those were probably your expectations. It’s hard to argue with 1,000 yards and 8 TDs, especially with how hard it is to find playable running backs. He’s going to let you down a couple weeks, but Blount is having exactly the season many predicted.
4. There’s some good JuJu in Pittsburgh
Last week, I talked about how rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster ran more routes than Martavis Bryant. Not only has Smith-Schuster pushed incumbent Eli Rogers out of the slot role, he out-snapped Bryant in Week 4.
After running more pass routes than Martavis Bryant in Week 3, JuJu Smith-Schuster out-snapped Bryant 54 to 48 in Week 4.
— Jared Smola (@SmolaDS) October 2, 2017
The slot role for the Steelers may not be the biggest piece of your fantasy team. The stars like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are going to get their touches no matter what. However, if JuJu continues to see the field a little more than Bryant, that could be a big deal. Since there are so many weapons in the Pittsburgh offense, Smith-Schuster is going to have more room to run. The team loves him and talks up his maturity as a receiver often. I’m actively trying to get him on my bench wherever I can.
5. The DeVante Parker breakout is happening
It hasn't been pretty, but DeVante Parker is breaking out. 8+ targets in each game so far with 4/85, 8/76/1, 6/69. Gets TEN, NYJ, ATL next.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) October 2, 2017
I’ll certainly echo what Graham says in it most certainly has not been pretty. The Dolphins have played the Jets and the Saints their last two games and have one Parker TD as time expired to show for it. That offense has been a train wreck, to put it kindly. The main reason is the QB.
35 QBs have thrown at least 200 passes since the start of 2016. Cutler ranks 33rd in ANY/A (4.88), 30th in yds/g (209.1) & 34th in TD% (2.5)
— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) October 2, 2017
Fortunately for Parker owners, these abysmal stats haven’t hurt his production to this point. There was a lot of noise in the pre-season for a Parker breakout, especially after Cutler compared him to Alshon Jeffery. I’m trying to use the Dolphins offensive struggles as an opportunity to buy Parker when I can. There’s plenty of owners who have to have some level of concern about Cutler and his ghastly play. Even if Cutler is a total bust in real life and fantasy this year, Parker can still carry big fantasy value. With his upcoming schedule, I’d suggest getting your offers in now. Parker has been rock solid and bigger days are coming. Garbage time points count the same as every other point in fantasy.
6. Evan Engram is a top 8 TE
After the first four games, it certainly appears that I got this one way wrong. I was not high on Engram at all for the 2017 campaign. Most rookie tight ends struggle to really produce. David Njoku and O.J. Howard have made minimal fantasy contributions to this point. Engram sits 7th in both standard and PPR formats and these stats from Evan Silva really caught my eye.
#Giants Evan Engram the rare highly-productive rookie TE. He's 2nd at the position in targets (30), 3rd in catches (19), 5th in yards (200).
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) October 2, 2017
In hindsight, I should have been on Engram given what I thought in pre-season. I didn’t like either WR Brandon Marshall(thought he was washed) and I didn’t like RB Paul Perkins(I’ve yet to see evidence he’s any good). Given those two factors and knowing the Giants would likely be pass heavy, Engram should’ve been a target as the third option behind Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard. Especially with the TE position a wasteland after Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and Charles Clay, I definitely wish I hadn’t whiffed on Engram.
7. There are two ways for fantasy players to exploit the Giants defense
When most players think about the Giants defense, they think about how good this unit was in 2016. They shut down running games and held opposing WR1’s in check. That second part is largely due to CB Janoris Jenkins who is a premier corner in the NFL. There are definitive holes that fantasy player can take advantage of.
Eli Apple's last 4.25 games:
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) October 1, 2017
The receiver not being covered by Jenkins is going to have a pretty juicy matchup on a weekly basis. For instance, this week the Giants play the Chargers. WR Tyrell Williams could potentially be in line for a pretty big game. On top of Eli Apple not being able to cover anyone, the Giants are also fairly dreadful at covering the TE position.
The Giants and Washington are the only teams to allow a TE1 scoring week in every game this season. The Giants have allowed five.
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) October 3, 2017
I would actually fire up either Antonio Gates or Hunter Henry if I had them. This stat may be a little more helpful for the daily fantasy players out there, but don’t discount it in your seasonal leagues. The Giants defense can be had in the right spot.
8. Todd Gurley is really, really good
It’s one thing to know Rams RB Todd Gurley is having an amazing season thus far. As a matter of fact, I’d say he’s the fantasy MVP so far. Due respect to Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt, but Gurley has had a slightly more consistent four-game stretch. Both of these RBs are above Patriots QB Tom Brady in both standard and PPR leagues. What’s really incredible is how far ahead Gurley is of the season we just saw from Cardinals RB David Johnson in 2016.
David Johnson thru 4 games in 2016 = 83 PPR points
Todd Gurley thru 4 games in 2017 = 121 PPR points
— Into The Chadlands (@Chad_Scott13) October 4, 2017
To put that even further into perspective, Gurley scored 198.2 PPR points in ALL of 2016. At this pace, he would eclipse his 2016 production in Week 7. The transformation this offense has gone through in one off-season continues to amaze on a lot of different levels. My one big regret from the draft season is not snagging Gurley whenever I could.
9. WR Devin Funchess has staying power
Full disclosure, I’m not the biggest fan of Devin Funchess. I don’t feel like he brings a lot to the table outside of his size. Here’s the good thing for him- it seems like Carolina and QB Cam Newton are basically treating him like a tight end since Greg Olsen went down to a broken foot.
- Just a quick aside from this stat- Cam Newton should be completely and totally ashamed of his response to a female reporter on Wednesday. There is no place in the NFL or fantasy football for that kind of attitude and I frankly can’t believe he said anything that derogatory towards a female reporter. I’ve long been a defender of Newton for his dancing and being happy on the field. You won’t see me defend him on much after this. Sorry to jump a bit outside of the box for a stats article, but that needed to be said.
Anyways, Funchess has seen his usage jump in a big way these past couple weeks.
In two games without Greg Olsen, Devin Funchess has 128 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, and a 30.65% target share in the offense.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) October 2, 2017
Olsen isn’t going to be back for a while and even when he begins to play, there is no guarantee that he can replicate his normal production. Newton needs weapons in this offense with WR Kelvin Benjamin off to a slow start. One could say the same about rookie RB Christian McCaffrey, but at least he is bothering defenses.
Not to beat a dead horse, but I just saw the All-22 of Whittaker's TD, and it's even worse than it looked. No one's anywhere near Ed Dickson pic.twitter.com/TTESxnTRkk
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) October 3, 2017
The Patriots defense is paying attention to that side of the field because A. they’re a very bad defense and B. McCaffrey had gone into motion towards the far side of the field. If McCaffrey can keep drawing attention, it’s just going to make it easier on Funchess.
10. Go swing a trade for Falcons QB Matt Ryan
I was one of the scores of fantasy analysts calling for a regression for Matt Ryan this past off-season. 2016 was just way too far out of his career average to not see his stats come back to Earth a little bit. However, I certainly didn’t expect Ryan would have a 5/5 TD to INT ratio. His yards are on pace to drop by around 500. When we look at his schedule, maybe it isn’t that much of a surprise to see Ryan struggle out of the gate.
Atlanta has one of the easiest jumps in passing SOS moving forward. Starts out extremely nice for Julio & crew after the bye pic.twitter.com/L6lj8Gt9JG
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 4, 2017
Warren(who is an absolute must follow on Twitter) illustrates how it’s a good bit easier after the Week 5 bye. The Falcons will probably benefit from an early bye as the new coordinator and Ryan and company continue to get on the same page. Not helping Ryan’s stats has been Julio Jones and his slow start. Julio gets a week to heal up his nagging hip injury. Things are about to turn for the better for the Atlanta offense.
Thanks for reading!