Six Facts to Know Through Week 11

Ray Rice was good on Sunday, but was it just a product of his matchup?

Context is important when you look at numbers. This is obvious, but when you read the reactions of fantasy football owners, it’s apparently not.

Take Ray Rice’s Week 11 performance as an example. Could this be the start of the “Old Ray Rice”? Of course – this is the NFL. But was his 131-yard performance, a number that now equates to over 31% of his season rushing total, more likely a product of matchup?


While some may want Ray Rice to not be a bust this season, the fact is, Chicago’s defense has allowed this type of performance in each of their last five games. They’re hurting, and Ray Rice exposed that.

Our numbers won’t be persuaded. Rice may have had a nice game, but in the end, he’s still one of the worst backs we’ve seen this season from a production standpoint. That’s where we’ll begin this week.

Production-wise, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are the worst running backs in the league.

I will say that Rice’s struggles aren’t just his fault. Because Bernard Pierce is struggling as well, as shown by our Rushing Net Expected Points metric, it’s fairly obvious that the offensive line is getting no push for the Ravens’ runners.

That, however, doesn’t really matter from a fantasy football front. Both backs have a Rushing NEP of -23.44 or worse, which lands them behind every single running back in the NFL. And that list includes Willis McGahee.

They’ll face the Steelers and Vikings in Weeks 13 and 14, but outside of those matchups, there’s little chance Rice and Pierce find success from here on out. This is part of the reason I told you all to sell Ray Rice this week.

Of course, anything is possible.

Jacksonville has the worst rushing and passing offense in the NFL.

Speaking of worst in the league, Jacksonville has the bottom passing and rushing offense in the NFL. Both of them – both of them are the worst.

Through the air, Jacksonville has played 79.09 points below expectation. Throw in a quarterback who can guide this team in the most average way imaginable, and you’d see a near 80-point swing in Jacksonville’s favor. That’s over a touchdown a game via the pass alone.

You’d think Baltimore would rank lower than Jacksonville on the ground given their running back’s efficiency scores, but Jacksonville takes the cake. The Jags have an Adjusted Rushing NEP total of -37.34, three points worse than Baltimore.

In total, Jacksonville’s Adjusted Net Expected Points equals -114.35. The only team that comes close to them is the Jets, who score a -68.95 in the metric. In other words, there’s a legitimate chance the Jaguars end up being at least twice as worse offensively compared to any other NFL team at season's end.

Kendall Wright has the ninth-most receptions in the NFL.

Kendall Wright’s been mentioned on numberFire for about five straight weeks, whether it be in my start/sit column or Nik Bonaddio's waiver wire adds article. And there’s reason for it: He now ranks ninth in the entire league in receptions.

If not for a lack of touchdowns, Kendall Wright would be a low-end WR1 in PPR leagues. Ryan Fitzpatrick seems to favor him (did you watch that Thursday Night game?), and it’s shown over the last two weeks – Wright has 21 targets and 16 receptions during this time.

He may not get you a touchdown, but he’s a virtual lock for six catches and about 60 yards each time he steps onto the gridiron.

Of all running backs with 25 or more touches, Chris Ogbonnaya ranks first in Rushing Net Expected Points per Rush.

Like the intro to the article, we always have to put analytics in context. Plenty of running backs who aren’t very good can score well on a per pass, reception or, in this case, rush basis. Why? Sample size.

It’s the same reason we often can’t look at average yards per carry among running backs who have touched the ball under 20 or 30 times. One big run, and poof – their average shoots up to 2012 C.J. Spiller levels.

At the same time, however, high efficiency is not something to ignore. Maybe a runner is more effective than his teammates, and all he needs is the coach’s approval to get a dozen more touches a game. That could be the case of Chris “Silent G” Ogbonnaya.

Consider this: Silet G has a 9.91 Rushing NEP score on his 27 rushes this season. That equates to 0.37 per rush, the best in the league. Teammate Willis McGahee, who finally had fewer rushes than Ogbonnaya on Sunday, has a Rushing NEP of -22.28. His per rush efficiency score of -0.21 is only better than the aforementioned Bernard Pierce among 100-plus attempt runners.

In other words, give Chris Ogbonnaya a chance! Willis McGahee is about as effective as a midget turkey feeding a family of six on Thanksgiving day.

The situation in Cleveland reminds me of the one going on in Arizona. Andre Ellington, like Ogbonnaya, is sitting behind an ineffective Rashard Mendenhall. Though Ellington continues to beast (he even lost his hair last week!), Mendenhall keeps seeing touches. Like McGahee, Mendenhall is one of the league’s least efficient rushers, while Ellington is one of the most.

We’ll have more on Chris Ogbonnaya here on numberFire later this week.

Jerricho Cotchery ranks sixth in Target Net Expected Points.

Our Target NEP metric looks at how many points a receiver is adding for his team on all targets, not just receptions (Reception NEP). Because of this, catch rate becomes more important.

Through Week 11, Jerricho Cotchery – you’re not reading that incorrectly – ranks sixth in the entire league in the metric. Sixth! And teammate Antonio Brown, who just caught three more passes this morning while toasting a bagel, is third.

Any fan of football sees Cotchery’s performance this year as fluky, but you can’t ignore what he’s done. He’s fantasy football’s 22nd-best half-point PPR receiver, and has five double-digit fantasy point performances this year. He’s become Ben’s top red zone target on a team that lacks size in the receiving game.

If he’s on your waiver wire, he’s certainly a worthwhile add, especially if Emmanuel Sanders’ Sunday injury becomes any more serious.

The Atlanta Falcons have an Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points total of 123.71, by far the worst in the league.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the Falcons defense is really bad.

As of today, their Adj. DNEP equals 123.71, the worst in the league. To have fun with their horrific feat, I thought we could play a game called, “What if the Chiefs defense played in Atlanta?”

Atlanta’s score of 123.71 means that, if you were to throw another team in their situation – an average one, too – they would have allowed 124 fewer points (or created a 124-point swing in their favor) than the Falcons have this year. p>

Conversely, the Chiefs defense is playing 72.67 points above expectation. Like the Falcons situation, this means a team would have allowed about 73 more points than the Chiefs have in a similar situation.

The difference between Kansas City's defense and Atlanta's defense is 196.38. Divide that by the number of games played – 10 – and we’re talking 19.63 points being saved in the Falcons favor per game this year if Atlanta had the KC defense.