Thank you for following “Crunching the Numbers” this season! Every week, we look at who is dominating the Fantasy stat world, from yards per carry, yards after the catch, catch rate, receptions, yards and targets per game to help you see who is making the most of their opportunities.
We evaluate players weekly based on those categories. As perceptive owners know, Total Fantasy points, along with player yardage and touchdowns, are easy stats to come by each week. We delve a little deeper into the numbers to give you a more informed perspective.
Disclaimer: As in any scenario, don’t evaluate players based on one statistic alone. Check out RotoExperts’ suite of analysis for even more stats, rankings and players to watch.
Yards per carry (YPC) measures explosiveness and the ability to find holes between the tackles, making it a crucial indicators of RB potential. High YPC is hard to sustain because it tends to go down as carries increase, which is why some “stud” RBs may fall lower on this list. For an RB, YPC above 4.5 is generally very good. Anything above 5.0 is excellent. Anything below 4.0 stinks. Here are the Top 25 RBs with at least 10 carries in Week 16 ranked by YPC. Ties go to the player with more carries. For historical purposes, we’ll also track YPC over the season, yards per game (YPG) and receptions per game (RPG) for you PPR nuts out there.[table “355” not found /]
Yards per Carry: No running back in the league with an average of at least 10 carries per game has higher yards per carry than DeMarco Murray’s 5.4. Murray should be in line for even more than his average 15.4 carries per game Sunday night against the Eagles with Tony Romo out or, at the very least, badly banged up. He aClso catches an average of 3.7 receptions per game, so if you’re in a Week 17 championship and you’ve got Murray on your roster, you should feel good about your chances. LeSean McCoy (5.1 YPC) and Jamaal Charles (5.0 YPC) are the only other two RBs who average more than 10 carries per game to also average 5.0 YPC or more.
If you play in daily Fantasy football leagues and you think Mark Ingram is an intriguing, cheap option, considering his 6.4 YPC game against the Panthers Week 16, stop thinking that. The carry distribution among the swath of Saints RBs is unpredictable, and the only players Fantasy owners want to play from that team in their Week 17 championships are Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and maybe, just maybe, Marques Colston.
Carries: No RB averages more carries per game than Adrian Peterson (19.9) does, which stands to reason, but Zac Stacy (Zac Stacy!) is a close second at 19.6, followed by LeSean McCoy (19.1) and Eddie Lacy (18.8). Lacy has been a bit banged up but he continues to produce week in and week out, and faces a gashable Bears’ rush defense Week 17. He didn’t practice Wednesday but he’s played through pain before, and if active, is an excellent Week 17 championship play, as well as a high upside daily Fantasy league play – not super cheap, but cheaper than the likes of Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy. Even if James Starks spells Lacy a bit more than usual, every touch he gets is money against the Bears defense and, if active, he should have no fewer than 15 touches – and that’d be because he’s hurting.
Le’Veon Bell is averaging 18.7 carries per game on the season, which means three rookies have carried the ball more times this year than every RB except for Peterson and McCoy. That is impressive!
Receptions Per Game: Matt Forte and Jamaal Charles have more receptions per game than any other RB (4.7 each) averaging at least 10 carries per game, and we’ve seen how those receptions bolster their value in PPR leagues. Other RBs of note in this category inclcude: Murray (3.7), Le’Veon Bell (3.7) and Knowshon Moreno (3.7), who just notched the first 1,000-yard game of his career. That’s great for Knowshon, but if you’ve got him in your lineup for your Week 17 championship game, be aware he may not play the entire game. His carries have diminished as the Broncos try to keep him healthy; Montee Ball is a sneaky good play in daily Fantasy salary cap leagues.
Average yards after the catch (AYAC) is to wide receivers as YPC is to RBs. The more catches a receiver has, the harder it is to sustain higher AYACs. Here are the Top 30 receivers (including tight ends) who’ve averaged at least five receptions a game through Week Nine ranked by season AYAC. (total YAC accumulated from Week One to date divided by total receptions.) For trending purposes, we’ll track weekly receptions, targets and catch rate, and receptions, targets and yards per game (RPG, TPG and YPG) over the season. The closer RPG is to TPG, the better the QB-WR connection, though opposing defenses also factor into that equation.
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Yards After the Catch: Josh Gordon continues to lead this category with an average of eight yards after the catch per catch, though Demaryius Thomas is a close second (7.7). We’ve seen these players stretch the field all year, and their ability to get yards after the catch is a big reason they’re both Top 10 Fantasy receivers this year. Kendall Wright (6.3) and Harry Douglas (6.3) have been pleasant surprises in this stat category and Wright, at least, is a name that should be on your radar as a potential steal in 2014 drafts.
Catch Rate: No receiver who averages at least five catches per game has a higher catch rate than Jordy Nelson’s 67.6 percent. Poor Nelson has suffered in the Matt Flynn era, and his Fantasy owners have suffered as well, but the catch rate shows he’s still the same receiver as always. If Aaron Rodgers does return Week 17, Fantasy owners should feel confident playing him in their championships. Since his value has plummeted with Flynn, Nelson may also be a fairly cheap, high-upside buy in daily leagues if Rodgers returns.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez is second in this category (67.5 percent), and Matt Ryan will miss his security blanket as much as Fantasy owners will when the future Hall-of-Famer retires. Third in this category is Kendall Wright (67.4 percent). I can’t mention his name enough.
Receptions Per Game: No NFL receivers averages more catches per game than Pierre Garcon. Many thought he had a fairly slow start and that may be accurate in terms of touchdowns, but he’s caught an average of 7.1 balls per game on the year. No other wide receiver has done that. Andre Johnson is close with 6.9 receptions per game, followed by Antonio Brown (6.7) and Julian Edelman (6.4). TJ Yates may be the Texans starting quarterback Week 17 so Johnson owners, who haven’t been happy with the wideout’s drop in receptions despite a high target count during the Texans’ slide, should consider benching him if they have better options and he’s not a viable start at his cost in daily leagues.
Targets per Game: Garcon, Andre Johnson and Gordon are in a three-way tie for most targets per game at 11.5, followed by A.J. Green (11.2) and Calvin Johnson (11.1). Brandon Marshall (10.3) and Brown (10.1) are the only other WRs averaging more than 10 targets per game, and considering Jay Cutler appears to enjoy targeting Marshall more than he does Alshon Jeffery, the No. 1 Chicago WR could be in for a monster Week 17 performance against the Green Bay Packers. Week 17 championships, you’re obviously playing him, and he’s worth the price in daily salary cap leagues this week.