Herding Stats: Week Thirteen


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:  Josh McCown

McCown has burst on the scene since Jay Cutler went down against the Lions in Week ten, providing a solid presence at quarterback and keeping all of the Bears’ studs fantasy relevant. In fact, McCown has done so well you could be forgiven for making the claim that those studs haven’t really seen all that much dip in production. For the two games he’s started in Culter’s absence he has completed 55 passes for 568 yards and three touchdowns. He has a completion percentage of right around 70% and when the two games are averaged he completes approximately 28 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown and a half (I know, half a touchdown? Well round it whichever why you like) per game. Now, McCown gets to face the second worst passing defense in the league, the Vikings. Minnesota is giving up the fourth most passing yards in the league while giving up the most passing touchdowns. Quarterbacks are attempting the fifth most passes in the league against the Vikings (40.3 passes)and completing the third most passes (26.3 passes) per game. Now, factor in that the Bears have an abundance of excellent receivers and you’ve suddenly got a recipe for big numbers for McCown.

Running Back Focus:  Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is a certified stud, no one can argue that so doing a write-up on him almost seems pointless. However, Peterson has one hell of a match-up this week and he should be able to have a great game by even his lofty standards. Peterson and the Vikings face the Bears this week which has the fourth worst defense against fantasy running backs, giving up 20.5 fantasy points per game. Chicago, simply put is a sieve when it comes to defending the rush, giving up a league high 1,383 rushing yards to running backs this season and the second most rushing touchdowns in the league with 12. How about Peterson? How’s he doing this season? Oh, he’s only the second leading rusher in the NFL, that’s all. Oh, by the way, he has ten rushing touchdowns to lead the league. So when Chicago comes to town with it’s second worst in the NFL rushing yards per attempt average you just know fireworks are going to happen. One need look no further than last week to see an undrafted rookie running back, in his first extended action, go for over 100 rushing yards in a half. Now, if Chicago is surrendering those kind of yards to an undrafted rookie, just think what Peterson is going to do to them.  I have and the outcome isn’t pretty, unless you’re a Peterson owner.

Wide Receiver Focus:  Green Bay WRs

Ahhh, Turkey day! Nothing makes for a great Thanksgiving like a day full of football games! If you own a Green Bay wide receiver then you just might have a little more to be thankful for by the time you sit down for your tryptophan fix. The Packers line up against the Lions on Thursday, the second worst pass defense in the league thus far this season. Detroit has given up more passing touchdowns to wide receivers than any other team in the NFL with 16 surrendered thus far. The Lions are also giving up about 277 passing yards per game this season, the fifth most passing yards in the league. What’s more staggering is that for each reception given up by Detroit, they are surrendering 12 yards per reception on average. Think about that for a second, every time a pass is completed the opposing team can get a fresh set of downs on average. Opponents have done their homework too as 63.24% of all plays run against the Lions defense are passes, the third most in the NFL and 75.88% of all yards gained against the Lions come through the air, the second most in the NFL. More recently the wheels have come completely off, 89.64% of all yards have come through the air over the past three games. Look for the Packers to bring out the big guns on Thursday and get themselves a couple bites off of the Madden turducken.

Tight End Focus:  Jordan Cameron

Sometimes fate just conspires to thrust a player into a great match-up and couples it with a great situation in order to really push the player from a must start, to a “you’d be crazy not to start” player. In the case of Jordan Cameron you are getting just that this Sunday. Cameron started the season off as one of the big young names taking his place atop the fantasy landscape. However, since Jason Campbell took over a quarterback Cameron has seen his fantasy points drop significantly. However, that should change this weekend. Campbell looks to be out with a concussion and Cameron is now teamed with Brandon Weeden, the quarterback who helped him boost his early season statistics. Now, couple that with the Browns going against the team who gives up the second most fantasy points to tight ends in Jacksonville and suddenly Cameron is extremely interesting this week. The Jaguars are giving up the third most passing touchdowns, the fourth most receptions and the fifth most passing yards to tight ends. Meanwhile, despite the decrease in production during Campbell’s starting tenure, Cameron is still second among tight ends in receptions, third in receiving yards and fourth in receiving touchdowns. Now that he’s teamed back up with Weeden and is facing a great match-up, Cameron should pile on the fantasy points this weekend.

Defensive Team Focus:  Jets

Miami travels to New Jersey this weekend for a match-up that should provide the Jets a favorable defensive match-up. The Dolphins are giving up the seventh most fantasy points to defenses this season and the Jets meanwhile are a surprisingly tough defense thus far. New York is allowing only 25.5 rush attempts per game this season with a league lowest 72.6 rushing yards allowed per game and only one rushing touchdown every two games, the seventh best team in that respect this season. Miami meanwhile has the seventh lowest rushing yards per game thus far and can only muster roughly a rushing touchdown every two games as well. The Jets are actually giving up the ninth least total yards per game at roughly 323 yards surrendered per game but Miami is gaining the fifth least total yards in the league at 310 yards per game. I don’t see either of these trends reversing in a normally tough AFC East match-up that has deep playoff implications for both teams.