Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 7's Titans, Texans, and Tampas

Bye weeks are probably more strange for the players than they are for the fans, but it's still odd, even in the age of fantasy in which every game has some intrigue, to have no games on the schedule in which I have some real emotional stake.  Something beyond "hey, I'd really like to win this fantasy football game which, even if I win every single game all year, will not impact my life at all."  Yeah, sure, it makes me viscerally squeamish to watch the Giants come back to win on a busted coverage by Washington, but it's just not the same as watching the Lions come back to beat the Eagles on busted coverages.

Ah well, it's only a week right?  I'll get my opportunity to scream at Michael Vick in due time.


TRIUMPH:  Chris Johnson: LOLWUT?  With a ridiculous 18 carry, 195 yard, 2 touchdown performance in this game, Johnson now has 40% of his carries, 68% of his yards, and 100% of his touchdowns in just two games (this one and a surprising Week 4 performance in a losing effort against the Texans).  Yes, the numbers here are significantly better than anything we've seen from him this year, but he's actually had at least 91 rushing yards and 4.8 yards per carry in 3 of his last 4 games after gaining no more than 24 yards or 2.1 yards per carry in 3 of his first 4 games.

TRAGEDY:  This really wouldn't be worth commenting on at all if it weren't for fantasy football, so you can thank your lucky stars for that.  Scott Chandler, who averaged just over 3 receptions for 43 yards and 0.8 touchdowns per game in his first five games, has gained just 19 yards on 3 receptions with no touchdowns in the previous two weeks.  This is especially bad because the Titans had allowed no fewer than 7 receptions for 60 yards against tight ends thus far this season, including a ridiculous 8 touchdowns in 6 games.  And I started him in two of my three most important leagues this week.  Blech.

TREND:  I'm fairly sure I've written about this before, but it's increasingly worth noting: Steve Johnson is the king of moderate statistics with touchdown upside.  Of his 23 games the last two seasons, he has had between 45 and 75 yards and a touchdown in 7 of them (he has scored 11 total touchdowns in that span).  He's had between 4 and 6 receptions in 14 games, and between 6 and 10 targets in 17 games.

TRAIL MIX: The Bills were this close to being alone in first place in the AFC East for a couple hours (albeit in a division whose teams were all 3-3 entering Sunday, and one of which was on a bye).  They let a 6-point lead disappear on a late-game drive (which, by the way, caused them not to cover), and are now in last place in the division.


TRIUMPH: So I guess the Texans' defense wasn't as demoralized by the loss of Brian Cushing as we thought.  After giving up six touchdown passes to Aaron Rodgers on Sunday night, they held a Ravens offense that had scored at least 23 points in 5 of 6 games (and at least 31 in 3 of 6) to just 3 in the first half, including a safety and a pick-six.  After the offense built the lead to 29-3 at halftime, they eased up a bit, but this is clearly a team that has its act together when injuries strike.  Last year, they allowed two fewer points per game after Mario Williams went down in Week 5.

TRAGEDY: This sort of goes with the first one, but Joe Flacco probably shouldn't be putting himself into the "elite" conversation any time soon.  He completed a not-abysmal 48 percent of his passes, but threw for just 147 yards on 21 completions (and with 43 attempts, his 3.42 yards-per-attempt is the worst of his career).  His 0.3 Total QBR was the worst in the league since Kyle Boller's relief performance for the Raiders against the Chiefs almost exactly a year ago (7/14, 61 yds, 0 TD, 3 INT), and the worst of anyone who played the entire game since -- and you shouldn't be shocked by this -- Mark Sanchez in Week 11 of 2009 against the Patriots (8/21, 136 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT).

TREND: Ray Rice had just 9 carries in this game.  Since 2009, when Rice has 15 carries or fewer, the Ravens are 8-11.  They are 30-6 when he has at least 16 carries.  This isn't rocket science.  Or even earth science (no offense).

TRAIL MIX: Since Week 16 of 2009, Arian Foster has played in 38 games.  He has scored a touchdown in 28 of them, with 43 total touchdowns.  Ba.  Nanas.


TRIUMPH: So apparently Josh Freeman is the new Drew Brees.  In his first three games, Freeman threw for 491 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.  In the past three games, he has thrown for 1047 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  Keep in mind, though, that two of those games were against bottom-three pass defenses and the other was against a Brady-Quinn-led Chiefs team that did nothing themselves offensively.  This is also coming from a guy who had 6 interceptions in 2010, followed by 22 in 2011, and this season has a significantly better yards-per-attempt than those two years despite a significantly worse completion percentage.  Weird.

TRAGEDY: Fun fact: one of my favorite undervalued players, Pierre Thomas, did not catch a pass for the first time since Week 17 of 2009 against the Bucs (that's 32 consecutive games with a reception).  For a running back on a team with plenty of options that are continually swapped throughout the game (including Darren Sproles, who has been more integral to the passing game since he arrived last season), that's impressive consistency.  His career yards-per-carry is behind only Jamaal Charles, Felix Jones, and DeAngelo Williams among active running backs, and his career yards-per-reception is on par with the Sproles' and Ray Rice's of the world.

TREND: Vincent Jackson's inconsistency might have actually been Philip Rivers' fault.  He's grabbed at least 4 receptions in 5 of 6 games this season, after doing so in 8 of his last 21 games with the Chargers.  He has three 100-yard games thus far this year, after having four all of last season.  In those four games, he averaged 7 receptions for 147 yards, and scored 7 touchdowns.  In the 6 games immediately before or after a hundred-yard game, he averaged 3 receptions for 37 yards and scored zero touchdowns.

TRAIL MIX: Since the start of 2011 (22 games), the Saints have had 4 different players lead the team in rushing at least twice and 5 different players lead the team in receiving at least twice.  I thought this was impressive, until I realized that with the personnel turnover from year to year, this happens all the time.  Sean Payton, you disappoint.

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