Monday, October 8, 2012

Week 5, Talking Trailing Teams

As I write this, I am awaiting the start of the Texans-Jets Monday Night game.  And aside from playoff games involving either the Eagles or the Giants, I have not felt so unilaterally inclined towards one result since I started playing fantasy football.  Normally, I own players on both teams, or I've picked one team to win the game but have fantasy players on the other.  This time, nothing of the sort.

The Texans are my adopted favorite team (just ask my knit cap).
Picked the Texans -7.5.
Down 19 points in one league with the Texans defense against Owen Daniels.
Down 20 points in another league with Arian Foster and Shayne Graham.
My mom is down 26 points against Matt Vogel with Arian Foster remaining.

OK, here's how this works:
The Texans run all over the 31st-ranked run defense in the league to the tune of 220 yards on 45 carries, with Foster rushing 29 times for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns, and nabbing 3 receptions for 26 yards.  27 points for Foster.
The Jets press too much early on, resulting in 2 turnovers in the first quarter (one returned for a touchdown).  The Texans' pass rush takes over, producing 5 sacks, 4 turnovers, and 1 touchdown, allowing just 6 points.  26 points for the Houston D.
Owen Daniels takes a backseat to the running game, and gets just 51 yards on 5 receptions.  5 points for Daniels.

Sound good?

49ERS 45, BILLS 3

TRIUMPH:  So, uh, how do you pick between the Niners' offensive pieces?  Frank Gore had 106 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries, Michael Crabtree had 100+ yards and a touchdown, and Vernon Davis was another hundred-yard performer.  But Alex Smith was an incredible 18-24 for 303 yards and 3 touchdowns, producing an absurd 99.2 Total QBR.  For a guy that was considered a bust for most of his career and even in the last two seasons has mostly been a game manager, those stats are even more impressive.  I just have a hard time believing in it long-term considering the pitiful state of the competition.

TRAGEDY:  For two consecutive weeks, the tandem of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller was ineffective on the ground.  The pair has combined for just 115 yards on 37 carries after combining for 328 yards on 39 carries in their first three games.  Granted, the Patriots' and 49ers' run defenses are both top-8 run defenses this season, which is why I'm not so concerned from a team rushing perspective over the long term.  However, their schedule is pretty imposing with regards to defending the run, as the Bills have 6 remaining games against the Cardinals, Texans, Patriots, Seahawks, and Dolphins.

TREND:  I've talked about them before, but the Bills defense just keeps impressing.  San Francisco was moving the ball at will for the entire game, gaining almost a full first down (9.9 yards) per play, for a total of 621 yards (THREE HUNDRED ELEVEN on the ground).  That means that in their three losses, Buffalo has allowed 145 points (more than 27 teams have scored all season), 1585 total yards (more than 12 teams have accrued all season), and 676 of them rushing (more than 25 teams).  Fortunately for them, the Bills get a big break this week by playing the anemic Cardinals offense, which is 31st in the league in total yards per game and 24th in points per game.

TRAIL MIX: The 49ers might have recovered from that surprising loss to the not-as-bad-as-we-thought Vikings.  In two games since, they've won by a combined score of 89-3, outgaining their opponents 1000-349.  I suspect that they might allow a few more yards and points against the Giants next week.


TRIUMPH: While a very honorable mention goes to Marques Colston for his 9 receptions on 18 targets for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Devery Henderson with 8 receptions on 10 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown, I have to give this bad boy to Robert Meachem.  After signing a big deal to leave the Saints for the Chargers, he promptly disappeared, grabbing just 6 passes for 92 yards in his first four games.  Granted, he only had 67 yards on 3 catches in this game, but his two touchdowns made him significantly more relevant than he had been earlier in the season.  And I'm not expecting much more from him after this week, either, as he was targeted fewer times than five of his teammates.

TRAGEDY: Antonio Gates... what happened?  When the Bolts score 24 points and Philip Rivers throws for 350 yards, you HAVE to get at least 50 of those, right?  One-seventh of the passing output is nothing to you, right?  Wrong.  Seven targets, 3 catches, 19 yards.  Even Jermichael Finley calls that a disappointment.  Gates has fewer receptions than all-time-great tight ends Brandon Myers and Scott Chandler, and fewer yards than five different Browns players.  I'm just banking on the fact that teams are focusing their attention on him, and will eventually let him get open.

TREND: No joke, when I looked this up, I literally yelled in the middle of my family room "This is the coolest stat ever!"  You probably won't feel similarly.  But get this.  Here are the Saints' ranks in rushing yards per game for every year since 2007: 28th, 6th, 28th, 6th, 28th, 28th.  Who Dat Nation, don't waste your time worrying -- this is destiny.

TRAIL MIX: The whole "let's start Jackie Battle to send a message to Ryan Mathews" thing is unbelievably stupid, and hopefully this game was a wake-up-call to Norv Turner to stop messing around.  Battle had 10 yards on 4 early carries, and he then gave way to Mathews, who totaled 139 yards and a touchdown on 18 touches.  Yes, this is self-serving because I have Mathews on my most important fantasy team, but I don't care.  Watching that game, Mathews was clearly the most talented and explosive guy they could have at that position, and it's inane for the Chargers to not give him a bigger workload.


TRIUMPH: The Chiefs defense had some kind of crazy voodoo going on.  After allowing 34 points per game in their first four games, in a matchup against a team that had scored 29 per game, they somehow managed to allow just 9 points and under 300 total yards to the Ravens.  Joe Flacco was probably getting some MVP votes going into this contest, but certainly won't be getting any now, after Kansas City held him to under 50% completions and sacked him 4 times.

TRAGEDY: At the same time, it's pretty disappointing for the vaunted Ravens defense to allow 214 rushing yards (on 50 attempts!) against a team that poses nary a threat through the air.  Yes, that's a dig against Dwayne Bowe.  The Fighting Edgar Allen Poes had allowed just 95 rushing yards per game prior to that, and haven't finished outside the top 5 in rushing defense since 2005.  Now, we should take this with a bit of a grain of salt, because, again, the Chiefs ran the ball 50 times.  That's like 3 Andy Reid game plans.

TREND: This post really isn't very encouraging for my Frameshmania fantasy team, as here I am talking about Ray Rice's reduced workload.  Through 320 offensive snaps, Rice has either carried the ball or been targeted with a pass 115 times, which is a seemingly impressive 36%.  However, this represents a decline from each of the past two years (both 38%), and it's disappointing considering that Rice is managing an excellent 5.2 yards per carry thus far this season.  In this game in particular, one that was a defensive struggle, Rice gained 6 yards per carry, but only netted 18 touches.

TRAIL MIX: This section has to be about the whole Chiefs-fans-cheering-Matt-Cassel's-injury thing, right?  Correct.  It's a mob mentality.  Not much you're going to do about it, unfortunately.  That's all you're getting.  Bonus: Shaun Draughn, 12 carries.  Keepin' it classy.

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