In Week 12 of the NFL season, we were treated to a show. We saw three 90+ yard touchdowns from Amari Cooper (90), Juju Smith-Schuster (97) and Lamar Miller (97). Four Touchdowns being scored in a game by the New Orleans Saints and none of them went to Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara or Mark Ingram. A rookie in an Ohio showdown giving a long-downtrodden team’s fans something to be excited about. The third highest paid quarterback in the NFL taking on the highest paid and greatly outperforming him on Sunday Night Football and so much more. In this edition of my weekly article though, I’m going to focus on Risers and Fallers and try and figure out if it’s what we should expect more of. There might be a few names you don’t expect in this weeks…
FFStatistics Five Interesting Performances
Josh Allen, QB Buffalo Bills (Riser?)
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen is trying to give Bills Mafia something to be excited about. The rookie took the field on Sunday and had himself a day. For fantasy anyways. He completed just eight of 19 passing attempts for 160 yards and a lone touchdown. So how did he come up with a top five day against a very good Jags D? We will go over that in a minute but first…
Fun Fact Of The Day
Did you know that Josh Allen now has as many top-five QB finishes as Tom Brady and Ryan Fitzpatrick? Well, he does. As you can see below, Allen now has two top 10 finishes and one in the Top Five. As you can also see though, there is no in between. He is either really good for fantasy on occasion or very bad. No! I am not saying you should ever start Josh Allen over Tom Brady. This is more of a telling fact about Brady though in my opinion. The falloff has not been even to that of Peyton Manning but there has been a steady decline. 2018 might be the end of his must-start status as it might also be for another all-time great I will cover later in the article.
A Running Threat
So back to how Josh Allen was able to put up such a big fantasy day. Well, before the Bills set up in victory formation and he took a couple negative yard neal downs, Allen had put up over 100 yards and another touchdown. This is fantasy gold as Cam Newton owners know. In fact, Coming out of college Allen was looked at as a viable rushing threat. You can see to the left his college workout wasn’t too bad. Good speed and agility. Not Cam Newton exactly but a big athletic mobile quarterback. This type of production can provide a safe fantasy floor. Strangely his other top 10 fantasy day came against a tough Vikings D. It seems in some matchups Allen could be useful but there’s no way to trust this. He could be considered in an easy matchup in a deep league, two QB preferably, for streaming purposes.
Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears (Faller?)
Jordan Howard is having about as steep of a fall off that a player can have. From averaging just shy of 1,220 yards over his first two seasons to being on pace for just shy of 800 yards in 2018. And that number is a little deceiving because the production is dropping steadily and it all came to a head on Thanksgiving Day. Howard went into a tough road game against a division opponent with a backup quarterback. This should be a recipe for usage. Howard saw just nine opportunities and eight touches and totaled just 15 yards. All season lows. Add in the fact that the Bears dominated the game and Howard wasn’t used to grind clock at the end definitely adds more worry.
What’s Causing The Fall Off
Below are three graphs that show the percentage of runs by the distance they go. The top is the current season down to his rookie year at the bottom. There’s a steady decline. Underneath each graph is the yardage that the highest percent of his rushing attempts went for. Also look at the rushing attempts that go for 10 yards or more. Over the first two years of his career, Howard was second to only Ezekiel Elliott in 2016-17.
Breaking His Season Down
So first I’m going to break his season down into what will be 1/4 at seasons end (4 Games). Here are his per averages and his game logs.
Games 1-4 (18.5 Touches/ 19 Opportunities/ 3 Targets/ 70.3 Yards)
- 1 (20 Tch/ 20 Oppo/ 5 Tgt/ 107 Yards)
- 2 (17 Tch/ 18 Oppo/ 4 Tgt/ 68 Yards)
- 3 (26 Tch/ 26 Oppo/ 2 Tgt/ 81 Yards)
- 4 (11 Tch/ 12 Oppo/ 1 Tgt/ 25 Yards)
Games 5-8 (15.8 Touches/ 16 Opportunities/ 0.5 Targets/ 61.3 Yards)
- 5 (14 Tch/ 15 Oppo/ 1 Tgt/ 69 Yards)
- 6 (12 Tch/ 13 Oppo/ 1 Tgt/ 48 Yards)
- 7 (22 Tch/ 22 Oppo/ 0 Tgt/ 81 Yards)
- 8 (14 Tch/ 14 Oppo/ 0 Tgt/ 47 Yards)
Games 9-Present (13 Touches/ 13,3 Opportunities/ 1.3 Targets/ 37.3 Yards)
- 9 (12 Tch/ 12 Oppo/ 1 Tgt/ 32 Yards)
- 10 (19 Tch/ 19 Oppo/ 1 Tgt/ 65 Yards)
- 11 (8 Tch/ 9 Oppo/ 2 Tgt/ 15 Yards)
Is It Time To Give Up?
Howard is the type of running back that needs a head of steam. If he can get a running start, he’s a bowling ball and hard to stop. Running so plays out of the shotgun as we saw above is not conducive to his style. In saying that I don’t really think Howard’s style is conducive to what Matt Nagy is trying to do. You can see the Fall of when looking at YardsCreated. As the shotgun snaps have increased and Howard can’t get that running start he needs his yards created has dropped to literally zero in the past 3 weeks. He has eight total YardsCreated in the past five weeks. Howard was averaging 20.67 YardsCreated a game prior to these last five games.
The Matt Nagy Offense has systematically changed the way Jordan Howard is used and for the player he is, it’s not working. Howard has the power but not the acceleration or top end speed. I would be very hesitant to start him anymore this year and might be looking to sabotage drop him in hopes an opponent want’s the name. He might have his moments but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bears draft a running back and possibly move on from Howard altogether. Probably the best thing for both sides.
Demaryius Thomas, WR Houston Texans (Riser?)
In the past three seasons Demaryius Thomas, as you can see to the left, has been little more than a WR3. On Monday Night Football Thomas had his first two touchdown game since December 20th, 2015 when he hauled in five of 12 targets for 61 yards and two scores against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That season was a little different for The former Pro Bowler as he received double-digit targets on 11 occasions in 2015. Thomas hasn’t been lucky enough to draw 10 targets since Week 2 this year. In week 12 Thomas brought in four of his five targets for just 38 yards but he did haul in the two touchdowns. With Houstons rookie receiver Keke Coutee constantly on and off the injury report is there any way Thomas can take advantage of having a far better receiver (At this point in their careers) taking up much of the other teams focus?
Is This Something To Trust?
To say that you can trust a player that has seen eight targets in three games would be a little foolish. Add in that one of those games he saw zero targets and it becomes even more foolish. Thomas has caught seven of his eight targets but still, less than three targets a game is not something you want to rely on. Especially with bye weeks over now, you should have a more reliable option. I wouldn’t chase these points. There is something worth monitoring though. Both of Thomas’ touchdown receptions came on red zone targets. Thomas is also running a fair amount out of the slot. As we will talk about later, these are valuable targets and anytime a receiver is being targeted in the red zone it raises their potential. Touchdowns are after all, what drives fantasy.
Also if Coutee were to miss time than Thomas is almost certainly locked in as the number two target in that offense so his below three targets a game average since joining the Texans should increase. Am I picking up Thomas if he is on waivers? only in a 12 team PPR league (If Coutee is out any time). Am I starting Thomas if I already ow him? Only as a WR3 or flex. I’m not happy about it though. Things could change if he were to turn into the eams tight end like end zone threat (Big body receiver). I just don’t expect it to be reliable.
Aaron Rodgers, QB Green Bay Packers (Faller?)
Aaron Rodgers in prime time is supposed to be as locked in as it gets. This year though that has not been the case as again in Week 12 Rodgers had a less than spectacular game. This was Rodgers third game in a row with 30 or fewer attempts (Four of last five). Even more worrisome is the two games of the last three with fewer than 200 yards passing. Rodgers Completed 17/28 passes for 198 yards and one score. All of these either season lows or tied for the season lows. Also, this was the first game all year that Rodgers failed to gain any yardage on the ground. That has always been something that Rodgers provided his fantasy owners. Just a little bit of running.
Is Aaron Rodgers… A Streamer?
Just asking that question makes me feel dirty. This is Aaron Rodgers… In my opinion the most talented quarterback of my time. Brady got the rings but I think Rodgers does the same or more in the same situation. As we can see below though, the production has fallen off considerably. Age is undefeated and will eventually get us all.
I don’t want to say Rodgers is a streamer without a doubt. Looking forward…
- vs Arizona Cardinals
- vs Atlanta Falcons
- @ Chicago Bears
- @ New York Jets
- vs Detroit Lions
The Packers schedule looks way to nice for that outside of the showdown against the Bears in three weeks. Rodgers should be able to stay in the QB1 conversation the rest of the year.
Adam Humphries, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Riser)
Adam Humphries received six targets in Week 12 and caught all of them for 54 yards and a score in the Bucs dominating victory over the battered and bruised San Fransisco 49ers on Sunday. This was the Tampa wideouts fifth game in the last seven with either 75 or more yards or a touchdown. Not to bad for who many thought was a fourth or fifth option on the team. This production and consultancy have propelled Humpries into a viable low end WR2 in PPR and three in standard leagues.
A Top 15 PPR WR?
Did you know that Humphries is just 8.9 PPR points behind NUK Hopkins for eighth among wide receivers in that time frame? Humphries has scored 102.1 PPR points since Week 6 compared to Hopkins 111. That’s a little crazy if you ask me but when thinking about it it kind of can start to make sense. First off, just a minor thing but both quarterbacks, Winston and Fitzpatrick were probably trying to keep their starting jobs so throwing shorter targets to the slot wide receiver would be a good way to protect the ball for starters. Neither has been able to hold back the urge to let it fly through and the position has been a revolving door. The combined production of the two Bucs starting quarterbacks is QB2 this year but they have thrown a combined 23 interceptions yet Humpries has stayed viable. Let’s look at those slot targets…
Valuable Slot Targets
So as you have probably heard or read before, slot targets are more valuable for the receiver than outside targets. The receiver is running shorter routes. This means less distance for the ball to travel and less likely to be defended or intercepted. They are also lining up closer to the line of scrimmage which allows the receiver to gain favorable matchup s against slower linebackers or safeties at times. Humphries is Tampa Bays primary slot receiver and as you can see below, he is getting a lot of those short valuable targets and making the most of them. Over the last eight games, Humpries has caught 39 of his 52 targets (75% catch rate- shorter targets) for 480 yards and four scores. That’s a 16 game pace of 78 receptions on 104 targets for 960 yards and eight touchdowns. Not to bad for a perceived fourth or fifth option. With as much as this team is throwing and the amount of points their defense gives up normally, targets shouldn’t be running short.
Where is He Really On The Pecking Order?
So we all know that Mike Evans is going to lead the way here. He is too good of a player to not get targets. I wanted to see who was next in line though so far this year with Winston under center vs Fitzpatrick under center. Here are the PPR averages for the wideouts behind Evans. These are the averages for each player when each quarterback played the game using the FFStatistics weekly splits tool.
DeSean Jackson – Winston (12.78) – Fitzpatrick (14.79) -2.01pts.
Chris Godwin – Winston (9.18) – Fitzpatrick (11.1) -1.92pts.
Adam Humphries – Winston (11.62) – Fitzpatrick (11.16) +0.46pts.
Jackson is still the number two wideout but both he and Godwin take a decent hit when Winston starts. Humphries gets a slight bump up. With no Oj Howard and Jackson getting a second opinion on a thumb injury, Humphries usage could go up a little more even still.