Welcome to Week 3 of the fantasy football season and if you’re grasping for answers to your many fantasy questions – you’re not the only one. It’s been a crazy two weeks that has forced us to do a complete 180 on several teams/players. Here are a couple of quick stats to show just how crazy this season has been from a fantasy perspective:
- DeMarco Murray has been stuffed on a Joique Bell-esque 38 percent of his 21 rush attempts, but — even more remarkably – he’s lost a whopping 33 yards on those eight stuffs. That’s an average of 4.1 yards lost, which is otherwise known as a running back sack.
- Keeping with the theme, Marshawn Lynch leads the league with 11 stuffed rush attempts in two games. Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham is on pace for 80 targets.
- Last Sunday, Adrian Peterson saw six carries inside the 10-yard line and scored zero touchdowns. Meanwhile, DeAngelo Williams also saw six carries, but turned them into three touchdowns.
The Running of the Bears
I’ll keep this one rather brief because it’s not like you needed reassurance that Matt Forte is a solid RB1 in fantasy – especially given the state of some other situations, which we’ll get to later. However, with a new coach in town I have found it interesting that the Bears have been so committed to the running game early on.
Last year, when trailing by one touchdown the Bears attempted a pass on 71 percent of their 175 plays. This year it’s a much rather different story as the Bears have already run 67 plays in that same situation and have attempted a pass on just 42 percent of the plays.
This new emphasis on the run game should give Forte a much higher floor in standard leagues and he obviously remains unaffected in PPR as well. I think talk of his demise is greatly overstated and he should end as a top-five running back.
Last Chance to Acquire Dion Lewis Relatively Cheap
It’s always a dangerous game trying to predict what Bill Belichick will eat for breakfast let alone how he’s going to use his stable of running backs. So far this season it’s been the Dion Lewis show, but the narrative circling the fantasy football community is that we’re finally going to see the “LeGarrette Blount game” this Sunday when the Patriots host the Jaguars as 14-point favorites.
Well, consider this fact – the Patriots have run a whopping 68 plays with a lead of nine or more points already this season (the next highest is 47 by the Jets) and 70 percent of those plays have been passes. I feel very comfortable in saying that if the Patriots are in a pass-happy mood it will be Lewis who is on the field not Blount.
Your best bet to acquire Lewis is now, while this “Blount game” narrative is still valid. Lewis has had a very special start to the season where he not only leads the league in yards after contact per attempt (3.41), but he’s also juking around more than a 14-year-old playing Madden. Per Pro Football Focus, Lewis ranks first among 33 qualifying running backs with 0.53 missed tackles per touch.
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A Defense You Want to Exploit and One You Don’t
You may have heard of the beat down the Steelers put on the 49ers on Sunday, but it was especially bad considering how the Steelers attacked the defense. Ben Roethlisberger completed 6-of-7 passes over 20 yards for 267 yards and one touchdown. This is more of what we expected and it’s looking like the Monday night opener was a major fluke.
On the flip side, if your opposing quarterback is facing the Broncos you may want to reconsider starting him because their pass rush is downright terrifying. Per Pro Football Focus, DeMarcus Ware is the league’s top pass rusher and Von Miller is right there behind him at No. 2. The two have combined for 27 quarterback pressures.
In Week 1, the Broncos pressured Joe Flacco on 65 percent of his dropbacks and Alex Smith on 45 percent of his dropbacks. Obviously that’s not a murderer’s row of quarterbacks, but the Broncos took care of business. This week they get a potentially Stafford-less Detroit Lions team that could be an issue.
Colin Kaepernick on the Rise
I made a comment in last week’s post about how I thought that Carlos Hyde will have an up-and-down season due to the 49ers inconsistent offense and bad defense; playing from behind isn’t generally a good thing for a running back. However, Kaepernick is not only looking like an improved passer this season, but his defense is likely going to put the team in a lot of pass-heavy situations.
Kaepernick’s improvements are shown in the team’s drive stats as the 49ers rank fifth in drive success rate at 77.6%, which – per Football Outsiders – is how many of their down series end in a first down or touchdown. Last year, the 49ers ranked 20th at 68.4%. They are also top five in yards per drive (41.42; 3rd), turnovers per drive (0.53; 4th), and plays per drive (8.00; 1st).
But…there’s a but.
These improvements come at a price as Kaepernick has become a more conservative passer in the process. Per Pro Football Focus, his average depth of target has decreased from 9.5 yards to 7.4 yards and his deep pass (20+ yards) percentage has decreased from 14.4 percent to 5.6 percent.
One good sign is that Kaepernick is running the ball on 18.6 percent of his dropbacks, which is a slight increase from his 18.2 percent rate last year. I’d like to see that rate move up and he had a rushing touchdown called back last week due to a penalty