55 Facts to Know About This Weekend's NFL Divisional Round
This week's divisional round is bittersweet. We should finally get competitive playoff football, and that's certainly a plus after watching Connor Cook and Matt Moore start for their teams in the postseason last weekend. But it's also the last non-two-game fantasy football slate of the season. It's the last time we'll have a good number of choices to make creative lineups until the preseason begins in August.
And that sucks.
There's not a whole lot we can do, though, other than win. And the best way to be victorious is through preparation. Or, at least, that's what every quote about winning says.
To help you during the divisional round -- whether you're playing daily fantasy football or you've got some other fantasy football contest in the playoffs -- I've done the same thing as last week, breaking down the four-game slate with a set of facts. The wild card round featured 42 of them, but this one -- because I love you guys so much -- lists 55.
Enjoy the last real week of fantasy football, even if you don't win.
The 55 Facts
1. Since the 2000 season, there have been 768 instances where a running back has carried the ball 100 or more times in a season. This year's Thomas Rawls, who's part of that group, ranks 767th in Success Rate, which measures the percentage of positive runs -- per our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric -- gained by a running back. In other words, Rawls was creating negative plays this season more often than all but one (Kevan Barlow in 2005) back since the turn of the century.
2. Of course, Rawls wasn't exactly 100% this year. During the wild card round, his Success Rate was 59.26%, which is a higher mark than the top-rated Mike Gillislee (57.43%) from the regular season.
3. Paul Richardson has seen 16 targets over his last three games -- three games that coincide with wideout Tyler Lockett being off the field due to a season-ending injury. Through Week 15 of the regular season, Richardson had accumulated a grand total of 24 targets.
4. And over the Seahawks' last three games, Richardson has played just three fewer snaps than number-two wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. He actually out-snapped Kearse by eight in last weekend's win, finishing the contest with more snaps played than any other Seattle receiver, including Doug Baldwin.
5. There's a chance pass-catching running back C.J. Prosise, who played wide receiver for two years at Notre Dame, is back from his shoulder injury this weekend. That'd be big, as the Falcons allowed 109 receptions, 870 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns to the running back position through the regular season, the most in the NFL within each category.
6. Jimmy Graham hasn't hit the 70-yard mark over his last nine games, seeing fewer than five targets in five of those nine contests.
7. Graham also hasn't scored touchdown on the road all season long.
8. Speaking of road games, the Seahawks have averaged 15.88 points per game away from home this year. During the regular season, they averaged over 28 points at home.
9. Russell Wilson at home this year (regular season only): 179 for 267, 13 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 8.17 yards per attempt. Wilson on the road this year: 174 for 279, 8 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 7.30 yards per attempt.
10. When the Seahawks faced the Falcons earlier this season, Matt Ryan completed 27 of 42 passes for 335 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a pick. It was the second-highest fantasy football output (21.60 standard points) that Seattle allowed all season long to the quarterback position.
11. From last week's column: Since Earl Thomas' season-ending injury (four games), the Seahawks have allowed 16 passing plays of 20 or more yards (excludes last week's wild card game). Only the Ravens have allowed more over this time.
12. This season, Atlanta finished with 69 passing plays of 20 or more yards, which was third-best in the league and only 4 off of top-ranked New Orleans.
13. Only Mike Evans and T.Y. Hilton had more yards at the point of the catch (subtracts yards after the catch) than Julio Jones this year. And among the 58 wide receivers with 50 or more catches, Jones' 11.88 yards at the point of the catch per reception ranked sixth-highest.
14. Jones was also second in the NFL in 20-plus yard plays this season, behind Hilton.
16. Freeman has also played more snaps than Coleman in all but one game, a blowout against the 49ers. Freeman actually owns the top-14 snap rates by an Atlanta running back this year -- all of those 14 instances saw a snap rate above 50%, while Coleman has yet to play more than half the team's snaps in a single game this year.
17. No defense faced more passing plays than the Falcons in 2016.
19. The best quarterback the Patriots have faced this season, according to NEP, was Andy Dalton. Among the 34 quarterbacks with 200 or more drop backs, his per drop back efficiency ranked 14th-best in the NFL. Russell Wilson was the second-best one, ranking 16th, and Tyrod Taylor was the only other signal-caller that New England went up against who ranked in the top-20 in efficiency this year.
20. They'll get Brock Osweiler this week, who ranked 32nd of the 34 aforementioned quarterbacks. Osweiler faced New England back in Week 3 and went 24 of 41 for just 196 yards and an interception. Osweiler also looks like Robert Pattinson.
21. LeGarrette Blount over the last three weeks: 51 carries, 0 targets, 75 snaps played. James White over the last three weeks: 6 rushes, 16 targets, 64 snaps played. Dion Lewis over the last three weeks: 45 carries, 6 targets, 82 snaps played.
22. From Week 15 through Week 17, only 11 running backs had more carries than Dion Lewis.
23. Lewis went to the University of Pittsburgh, the Transitive National Champions.
24. Malcolm Mitchell has seen five or more targets and a 77% snap rate in five of his last six games. The only contest where he failed to hit the five-target mark was against the top-ranked Denver Broncos defense.
26. Update from last week: Will Fuller has 63 (was 58 prior to last week) targets since Week 4, but he hasn't scored a touchdown. During the 2016 NFL season, wide receivers scored a touchdown on every 21.82 targets.
27. Lamar Miller played 72% of Houston’s snaps in the wild card round, a number he hadn’t hit since Week 11.
28. Three teams allowed a quarterback to score 20 or more standard fantasy points just one or zero times this year. One is the Giants (allowed zero). Another is the Vikings (allowed one). The last one is the Steelers (allowed one).
29. From last week’s column: Since the start of the 2014 season, Ben Roethlisberger has averaged 269.91 passing yards, 1.05 passing touchdowns, and a 7.47 yards per attempt average per game on the road. At home, these numbers are 339.85, 2.90, and 8.89.
30. In fact – and this one is courtesy of Mike Tagliere of Pro Football Focus -- over the last three years, Alex Smith actually averages 2.40 more fantasy points per game at home than Big Ben does on the road.
31. Roethlisberger has thrown for 300 or more yards in 12 games over the last two seasons. Only four of those contests have been on the road.
32. Le'Veon Bell, though, has averaged over 26 more yards per game on the road than at home since the start of 2014.
33. During this time, his yards per carry average has been 5.23 on the road, the highest in the NFL among relevant backs (minimum 120 carries, or 40 carries per season).
34. Since Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson went down in Week 14 for the year, the team has allowed 5.08 yards per carry.
35. Bell is also averaging two times as many rushing touchdowns per game on the road (0.71) versus at home (0.35) during this time.
36. Quarterback Alex Smith has scored one rushing touchdown in each of his last three games. With 14 total rush attempts, that gives him a rushes-per-touchdown rate of 4.67 over the three-game span. The NFL’s average at quarterback this year was 22.98 rushes per touchdown.
37. Through the air, Smith has thrown for 300 or more yards just once this season. There were 24 quarterbacks who hit the mark more than once.
38. Spencer Ware averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry in four of his first five games this season. He hasn't done it in a single contest since.
39. The main reason Ware’s yards per carry average looks poor is because of a lack of big plays. Through Week 6 (the five games just mentioned), Ware had 12 carries that went for 10 or more yards, a top-10 number in the league. From Weeks 7 through 17 (nine games), he had just 8 of those types of touches.
40. Per our own Jim Sannes, with left guard Parker Ehinger healthy this season, the Chiefs had a 0.02 Rushing NEP per rush average. Without him, that dropped by 0.14 expected points, all the way down to -0.12. For reference, that type of efficiency was better than only the Vikings this year.
41. Jared Cook has averaged 7.5 targets per game over the Packers' last four contests. Travis Kelce, the tight end who saw the most volume this year who is still in the playoffs, averaged 7.8 targets per game in 2016.
42. The Packers have scored 30 or more points in each of their last five games. The Cowboys have allowed 30 or more points just once this year – Pittsburgh dropped exactly 30 on them at Heinz Field in November.
43. Dallas saw the highest drop-back-to-run ratio against in the league this year at 1.96. Green Bay, meanwhile, dropped back to pass 1.76 times for every run offensively, which was the fourth-highest rate in the NFL.
44. Davante Adams has seen six or more targets in all but two games this season. One of those games was against the Cowboys.
46. Through the Cowboys’ first eight games of the season, they had a schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points per pass average of 0.16. In other words, they were allowing roughly 0.16 points per drop back, which ranked 20th in the NFL. They ended the year with a 0.13 rate, ranking 17th.
47. Morris Claiborne was healthy for the Cowboys through Week 8. In other words, the team’s secondary actually improved without him, per our numbers.
48. Correlation doesn’t imply causation.
49. The Packers-Cowboys game features two quarterbacks who’ve combined to throw 11 interceptions. There were 18 quarterbacks who threw 11 picks in the regular season, including playoff passers Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Brock Osweiler.
51. Green Bay was a top-10 team versus the run on first down this season in terms of yards per rush against.
52. The Cowboys’ rush defense surrendered the fewest yards in the league during the regular season, but the unit ranks ninth-best in football according to our numbers.
53. The reason is volume -- the Cowboys saw just 340 rushing plays against, which was the lowest number in the league.
55. Jason Witten runs like a dad.