Herding Stats: Week Eleven


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 game 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.

Quarterback Focus:  Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson gets to face the league’s second worst defense when giving up points to opposing quarterbacks in the Minnesota Vikings. Factor in the bonus leverage he gets when a fresh and highly motivated Percy Harvin returns to the lineup to face his former team. The Vikings meanwhile are giving up the third most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks and third most completions as well. Minnesota pass defense is nearly non-existent, allowing roughly two-thirds of all passes attempted to be completed. The most damning statistic posted by the Viking defense is that it ranks dead last in number of passing touchdowns allowed to opposing offenses with 2.3 passing touchdowns allowed per game! When you’re giving up roughly 16 points through the air, teams are going to take notice and that they have, with roughly 60% of all plays run against the Vikings being passes and nearly 64% of all touchdown plays coming through the air. Meanwhile, Seattle is completing the eighth highest percentage of passes in the league at just a hair over 64%. The Seahawks are also averaging the fifth highest yards per pass attempt (7.9 yards) and third highest yards per completion (12.3 yards) in the league. Seattle is also averaging nearly two touchdowns per game, the eighth highest total in the NFL. When it’s all said and done look for Wilson to be a great fantasy starter this week.

Running Back Focus:  LeSean McCoy

The Eagles and McCoy look exploit a huge hole in what is already an extremely beleaguered Washington defense. Washington is giving up the second most fantasy points to running backs with a huge portion of this coming from a league worst 11 rushing touchdowns surrendered to opposing running backs. The Eagles meanwhile are ready and willing to exploit this weakness, with the sixth most rushing attempts per game in the NFL at roughly 30 attempts and the most rushing yards per game with about 154 rushing yards gained on average per game. This is due in large part to the second highest yards gained per rush in the NFL at five yards gained on average per rush. Despite their high flying offense, the Eagles actually rush the ball the fifth most in the NFL with 46% of all plays being rushes. When you factor in McCoy’s pass catching ability into the mix and the fact that Washington is giving up the seventh most passing yards per game in the NFL and you’ve suddenly got a very interesting match-up for McCoy owners.

Wide Receiver Focus:  Washington WRs

Just as McCoy is a great play in this game, so too are the Washington wide receivers for the exact opposite reason. First, the Eagles are absolutely horrible when it comes to defending the pass, giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers in the NFL. The Eagles, far and away, are giving up the most passing yards to opposing wide receivers with 2,210 yards surrendered, well over 200 yards more than the closest team and the only team that has given up more than 2,000 passing yards to wide receivers. Philadelphia has also given up the most passing touchdowns to wide receivers in the NFL with 16 touchdowns being scored. Washington on the opposite side of the equation is attempting the seventh most passes in the NFL with just over 38 passes attempted per game and the tenth most passes completed in the league with roughly 23 completions per game. Washington’s passing average is roughly 260 yards per game, the tenth most in the NFL. The Eagles meanwhile are having the most passes in the NFL attempted against them with 45 attempted per game and the most passes completed in the NFL against with 28 per game. In fact, opponents tilt their game plan severely in favor of the passing game when facing the Eagles with 73.5% of all plays coming through the air, the fourth highest percentage in the NFL. This looks like one of those games where two and even potentially three wide receivers could be fantasy relevant on the Washington squad this week!

Tight End Focus:  Antonio Gates

It’s fairly safe to say that Antonio Gates is in the twilight of his career.  But despite his age the old man is still putting up very good numbers. Gates is still at the top of the tight end game with the second most receptions among tight ends in the NFL coupled with the second most receiving yards of all NFL tight ends. What’s even more interesting is that despite his diminishing speed, he is also tied for the second most receptions over 20 yards among all tight ends with nine. Gates’ opponent this week, the Dolphins, is giving up the seventh most fantasy points to tight ends and the fourth most touchdowns to tight ends. Additionally, the Dolphins are giving up the sixth most yards per reception to tight ends with a hair over 13 yards per reception and the fourth most yards surrendered per target at 8.3 yards. Rivers has shown a lot of trust in his receivers this season so this game could really shape up to be a great one for Gates.

Defensive Team Focus:  Texans

Houston is known for its defense and, come Sunday, not only do they have a prime opponent but they’ve got emotion on their side with their coach Gary Kubiak returning from a medical hiatus. The Texans will try to win a nice “welcome back” game for their coach against the Raiders, the team giving up the fifth most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Meanwhile, the Texans are giving up the least yards in the NFL to opposing offenses at 280 yards per game on average. This is due in large part to Houston shutting down the pass, yielding at league low 27 pass attempts per game, 15.3 receptions per game and 167 passing yards per game. This should present a problem for Oakland who isn’t exactly tearing up the competition with the eighteenth most yards per game in the NFL and the second lowest amount of passing yards per game in the league. Look for the Raiders to become one dimensional very quickly and for the Texans to capitalize in a big way.