There’s a saying, “90% of all statistics are made up”. It’s a funny quote and always gets a smirk from whoever you say it to. In this series, we’ll take a look at the other 10% of statistics, those cold hard numbers that make this great game of fantasy football possible. We’ll take a look at what these statistics meant for the game and what they could mean for this week’s contest or even the rest of the season. Undoubtedly there will be some statistics I share with you that you’ve heard before, others you’ll be able to share with your friends, enemies or league-mates (none of which are mutually exclusive from one another I might add) and look like the smartest owner around.
This week we are going to take a different approach to this article. We are going to focus on one player per position whose statistics thus far this season point to an interesting match-up this week. The case for a favorable matchup this week will be laid out by examining the statistics the player has posted as well as how those statistics should help them in their upcoming matchup. Part of each examination will also highlight unfavorable statistics compiled by each players’ opponent in an effort to further establish the case for a favorable matchup. Whenever possible we will also examine emerging trends our readers can plan accordingly.
Quarterback – Eli Manning
Eli has had the second most difficult schedule thus far and has thrown for the most yards in the league. Carolina meanwhile has had the hardest schedule thus far and has given up 294 passing yards per game (11th highest in the league). Eli’s average yards per game is 391. That being said Russell Wilson hung 300 yards on Carolina (125 yards more than his 2012 average) and rookie EJ Manuel pinned another 287 on them. Carolina has only intercepted one pass thus far this season while Eli has thrown a league high seven. Additionally Carolina has the ninth most completions against them despite being smack in the middle in terms of passes attempted against them, which leads to a league high 72.2% completion percentage for opposing quarterbacks. This has also contributed to the fifth highest net yards per reception against Carolina. Finally, Carolina’s starting free safety Charles Godfrey has been lost for the year with a torn Achilles’ tendon. When taken all together this game screams a must start for Eli.
Running Back – Marshawn Lynch
After an amazing performance in Week Two, Marshawn Lynch is in a position to build upon that performance in a big way. This week Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks will face one of the worst rush defenses in the league thus far, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville opponents have gained the second most yards in the NFL against the Jaguars while gaining the most yards per attempt (5.7 yards) in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Jaguars have also given up the eighth most receiving yards to running backs as well adding an extra cherry on top for Lynch owners.
Wide Receiver – Calvin Johnson
Instead of going the obvious route here with a Manning to Cruz connections (which I love by the way), I’d like to highlight a second matchup, Calvin Johnson versus the Redskins. It goes without saying that Calvin Johnson is a must start, any game, every game. However, he has a particularly tasty matchup this week against the Redskins. The Redskins have the second worst performance against wide receivers through two weeks. This is a holdover from last season when the Redskins were the third worst team in the NFL when defending wide receivers. Through the first two games of the season the Redskins have given up a jaw dropping average of nine receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown to the number one receivers they’ve faced. This is substantially higher than Johnson’s average through two games of five receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown which has placed him at 11th of all NFL wide receivers. Provided that the yards per catch holds up on both ends of the equation, which is roughly around 15.5 yards per reception and splitting the completion rate and targets down the middle you come up with a performance of around six receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown. I actually think Johnson will do even better than this extrapolated stat line but even if he falls right in line with this line it will be a solid performance. However, as I said earlier, there is never going to be a time you don’t start Johnson anyways but it is nice to have some numbers to make you sleep better at night.
Tight End – Owen Daniels
When it comes to tight ends the prime matchup this week is Owen Daniels versus the Ravens. Daniels is the fourth highest scoring fantasy tight end coming into week three with seven receptions for 91 yards and three touchdowns. When you factor in the possibility that Andre Johnson may miss the game with a concussion and suddenly the match-up seems even more tasty. On the flip side of the matchup, the Ravens have given up the second most fantasy points to tight ends of all the teams in the NFL. The Ravens’ opponents have exploited that defense for an average of five receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown in each of their first two games. Tight ends have a completion percentage of 71.4% against the Ravens while Daniels has caught 58.3% of the passes thrown to him over the first two games so the very real possibility exists that Daniels would outperform his average performance of four receptions per game for 46 yards.
Defensive Team – Seattle Seahawks
I don’t really want to double up on the games I focus on but in this case I’ll make an exception when it comes to the perfect defense to play. Just as Marshawn Lynch should be racking up the points against the Jacksonville defense, the Seattle defense should be completely shutting down the Jacksonville offense. I realize this may sound fairly obvious but let me lay out why this is looking to be a miserable contest and a potential point goldmine for Seattle defense owners. First, let’s take a look at the number of points scored on offense by Jacksonville and the number of points allowed by Seattle. In this instance there couldn’t be two more mismatched teams. The Jacksonville offense has only scored 11 points in two games (32nd worst in the NFL). Meanwhile, the Seattle defense has only allowed 10 points in that same span (1st in the NFL). Seattle has allowed an average of 230 yards per game this season (1st in the NFL) while Jacksonville has only mustered 213 yards per game (32nd worst in the NFL). To further drive home the point, Jacksonville only gains 5.0 yards per passing attempt (32nd worst in the NFL) while Seattle only allows 4.9 yards per pass attempt (1st in the NFL). So not only should this matchup be a disaster for Jacksonville, it stands to reason that Seattle may even be able to improve upon their league leading numbers!
I want to stress that setting your rosters based upon the trends revealing themselves after only two games isn’t the wisest decision one can make. That being said, the statistics outlined in this article do present some intriguing trends to keep an eye on and might be useful in trying to make a decision between two players with equal skills and match ups.
Last week didn’t provide a whole lot to really examine as there were no trends really examine after just one week. Now that we have more than one week in the books we can start to at least make some very low level assessments. As more weeks are completed this series will hopefully be able to highlight solid trends as well as suggest players who fantasy owners should watch, start or obtain. As always please feel free to suggest ideas you’d like to see incorporated. As you can see I’m very responsive to such requests. Based on the feedback last week I think together we can really get into some interesting territory this season!
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