Six Facts to Know Through Week 8

Vincent Jackson gets a lot of footballs thrown his way.

I was chatting with numberFire’s senior software engineer, Payom, after the games concluded on Sunday. He’s a Colston owner in one of his main leagues, and asked me a question that I, quite honestly, had no answer for:

“Would you rather have Marques Colston for an entire game against Washington, or Wes Welker for one drive against the Seahawks?”

That’s how far Colston’s fantasy value has plummeted. A once full-blown WR1, the Saints receiver sits as the 64th-ranked receiver in standard leagues, accumulating only four more fantasy points this season than Calvin Johnson had during his game against the Cowboys last Sunday.

It’s starting to translate into our advanced metrics, too.

Marques Colston ranks 52nd of 85 15-plus reception receivers in Reception Net Expected Points.

For a deeper explanation of Net Expected Points, click here. Colston’s Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) total shows that he’s not bringing much to the table for the Saints this year. Players like Aaron Dobson and Greg Jennings have actually contributed more to their offenses with each catch than Colston has.

Our own Chris Raybon pointed out a couple of weeks ago that Colston’s efficiency is down mostly due to volume. But now, after another bad week, even his per target Reception NEP is dwindling.

Colston is not a plug-and-play receiver, especially in shallow leagues. And until you see him getting consistent looks, he’s probably a player to simply avoid starting.

Andy Dalton’s Passing NEP has increased by 59.54 points over the last three weeks.

As I noted in my 15 Transactions column yesterday, Dalton now ranks as the seventh-best quarterback in the league under this metric. Much of this – actually, all of it – has to do with his last three performances, as he’s gone from a -4.55 Passing NEP to a 54.99 total. In other words, he’s added about 20 points for the Bengals per game over the last three weeks. Replace him with, say, a healthy Sam Bradford, and the Bengals would have had a 60-point swing in the wrong direction in those three games.

Impressive, but not sustainable. Putting this into perspective, that rate is greater than Peyton Manning’s season pace, and far better than Drew Brees’. Dalton’s been streaky in the past – this is a “wait and see” kind of thing.

Marvin Jones leads 15-plus reception receivers in Reception NEP per target.

One of the big reasons Dalton’s been so effective is his second-year receiver, Marvin Jones. If you’ve been living under a rock, you may not know that Marvin Jones caught four touchdowns last week en route to the best non-Calvin Johnson fantasy day at receiver. Can he keep it up? No, but he’s worth a flier in your fantasy league.

The interesting part of Jones’ surprising metric is that he actually ranked third within the category entering Week 8. He’s been efficient this season, meaning even if he doesn’t see high volume, there’s a chance that he can still stay somewhat worthwhile in fantasy. We've seen that over the last three weeks.

However, his opportunity hasn't come, as a big blow to Jones’ weekly fantasy floor is his snap count. While he and Dalton have been great together over the last three weeks, Jones is playing just 33 percent of snaps in the Bengals offense.

Upside exists though, and Jones has still been startable in fantasy despite a low snap count. If the Bengals decide to use him more, he could turn into a weekly starter. For now, he’s a good pickup off the wire due to potential.

The New York Giants rank third in Defensive Adjusted Rushing Net Expected Points.

In other words, the Giants have the third-best rush defense in the NFL when adjusted for strength of schedule. They’ve prevented over 21 points from being scored via the ground compared to an average team.

When you dig deep, it’s pretty incredible to see how underrated this unit has been at stopping the run. They’ve faced DeMarco Murray, Knowshon Moreno, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy (twice), Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson this season. And since Week 4, the unit has held Charles, McCoy (twice), Forte and Peterson each to fewer than 67 yards on the ground.

Don’t think you have a good running back matchup just because he’s playing the G-Men.

Chris Johnson has the worst Rushing Net Expected Points total in the NFL.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but after saying a few weeks ago that his upcoming schedule looks softer, we should realize that this notion has changed a bit. The Rams are actually now ranked seventh against the run when adjusted for strength of opponent, and Denver and Arizona are top-four squads against the run. Oakland’s even moved up the ranks, placing 12th in our Adj. DRNEP metric.

Johnson will face Jacksonville and Indianapolis twice down the stretch, which will be nice, but don’t think the rest of his schedule is a cake walk. Unfortunately, some of the teams that appeared weak against the run have turned it up a notch and are now stuffing opposing backs.

Vincent Jackson has 49 targets over the last three weeks.

49! The next closest to VJax is Justin Blackmon, who’s been targeted 39 times over this span. Broken down, Jackson has averaged over 16 targets per game over the last three weeks, resulting in 24 receptions for 331 yards and four touchdowns.

Since Mike Glennon became quarterback in Tampa Bay, Jackson has posted a ridiculous 60 targets, good for 15 a game. Regardless of matchup, Jackson will continue to be a solid wide receiver option simply due to volume.