Chad Henne finished the week as the third-highest scoring quarterback. The two highest scoring running backs were Marcel Reece and La'Rod Stephens-Howling. The top five wide receivers were Andre Johnson (with a higher total than his previous five games combined), Justin Blackmon, T.Y. Hilton, Julian Edelman, and Danario Alexander. Garrett Graham and Benjamin Watson were both top three tight ends. I don't understand anything anymore.
Sure, it was an odd fantasy week, but that doesn't mean that numberFire didn't hit on some of the week's big decisions. In fact, numberFire hit on some big keys that could have helped you win your league this week. In the interest of fairness, I'm here to take a look at some of those hits, as well as the misses, and the number behind them.
Locked on Target, Sir
Trent Richardson - Cleveland Browns
Week 11 Final Points: 13 (#8 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 12.82 (#7 RB)
Early in the season, the questions surrounding Richardson concerned the rookie's durability and his ability to run behind that Cleveland offensive line. Well, I think the last three Browns games have answered both of those questions in force: three straight games with at least 24 carries and 95 yards have established Richardson as a work-horse back down the stretch.
Playing to Richardson's benefit is the Browns' gameplan moving back from an early-season Weeden-chuckfest to a more balanced attack in recent weeks. Against Dallas in Week 11, 48% of Cleveland's offensive plays were rushes. Week 8 against San Diego, that number was 55% of all offensive plays. And with Pittsburgh, Oakland, and Kansas City next on the docket, don't be surprised if those numbers stay stagnant.
Vincent Jackson - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 11 Final Points: 17 (#7 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 11.26 (#9 WR)
When I talked about him as a must-start on Sunday, the entire reasoning predicated on the fact that, yeah, he may have worse hands than David Ortiz trying to play first base, but he's going to consistently get his targets that make him valuable. What did he go out and do? Only register a 55% catch rate, but turn those six receptions into 94 yards, a TD, and 17 fantasy points. The numbers win again.
For Jackson, Sunday's game was simply a continuation of what we've seen all season. At 88 targets, he's in the top ten among all NFL receivers in looks, despite an abysmal 48% catch rate. But when he makes the catches, he has the ability to turn big plays; his seven receiving touchdowns sit in fifth among all NFL receivers.
Where Did That Come From?
Marcel Reece - Oakland Raiders
Week 11 Final Points: 19 (#1 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 7.14 (#25 RB)
To be fair, our analysts in our numberFire Roundtable expected Marcel Reece to possibly outperform our statistical expectations, but Reece responds to expectations like the Black Hole responds to any liquid that isn't alcoholic: runs right by them.
The simple reason that Marcel Reece exceeded expectations is that nobody expected the Oakland Raiders to actually run the ball as much as they did. Reece's 19 carries exceeded Darren McFadden's total in all but two of his eight games before getting injured. While Oakland still threw the ball on 61% of their offensive plays, Reece's receiving prowess made up for the difference.
There are whispers that McFadden may return this week, which would obviously hamper Reece's value. But his running ability demonstrated that, even with limited carries, Reece may be worth keeping around in case of emergency.
Matt Schaub - Houston Texans
Week 11 Final Points: 37 (#1 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 15.28 (#15 QB)
We knew the Jaguars' pass defense was bad, but this particular performance redefines the word. With 527 passing yards and five passing TDs, Matt Schaub put on one of the best passing performances you'll see all season. And chances are, not a single one of you were able to take advantage of it, because, hey, who actually starts Matt Schaub?
Moving forward, however, this outburst seems to be an aberration for one key reason: the pass/run breakdown. In this game, the Texans threw the ball on 55 of their 90 offensive plays, a 61% passing rate. But on the season, the 9-1 Houston squad has been much more reserved, passing the ball on less than half (49%) of their total offensive plays. Schaub's 55 pass attempts obliterated his previous season-high of 37, back in Week 7 against Baltimore. Don't expect a similar performance again from the QB.
But You Were Supposed To Do So Well!
Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons
Week 11 Final Points: 2 (#27 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 18.16 (#7 QB)
Let's play a game. How loud can you scream the word OUTLIER! Nice try, but I don't think it's loud enough to account for Matt Ryan's Week 11. He was just that bad after being just that good.
Just last week, we named Matt Ryan as the leading contender for our own personal MVP award. Through 10 weeks, he had gained the Falcons 127 Net Expected Points (NEP), meaning that if the Falcons had run a league-average play on every down rather than the ones involving Matt Ryan, they would have been expected to score 14 less points per game. But then, in Week 11, Ryan put up -13 NEP, meaning that his play lost the Falcons over two expected touchdowns. Considering that he had only one negative game all season previously, I expect him to bounce back to form next week.
Marques Colston - New Orleans Saints
Week 11 Final Points: 6 (#29 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 15.36 (#1 WR)
It's not a matter of rotating targets for Colston; his six looks still led the team and represented 22% of Brees's total looks. Instead, it's a shift in the New Orleans game philosophy that we've come to know and love over the past five seasons.
Running contrary to everything you ever thought you knew about the Saints' offense, New Orleans rushed the ball on more offensive plays (28) than they passed (27) on Sunday against the Raiders. Through splitting up the carries between Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas, and even backup QB Chase Daniel, the Saints were able to keep the Oakland defense on their toes and exploit them to the tune of four offensive touchdowns.
Upcoming games against San Francisco, Atlanta, and the Giants all have the potential to turn into shootouts, however. Don't go away from Colston quite yet; he's still the number one target for numberFire's No. 2 most efficient offense and should get his looks in time.