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Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 10

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As we wade into a 10th week of action, there are some nuggets that are too in-depth for the podcast, too smart for Twitter and a little too short for the full column. Enjoy these Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 10:

Your byes for Week 10: Cleveland, Green Bay, Arizona, Washington

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Fun with Thursday night numbers! These Thursday night games have been buzz-kills for Fantasy owners on a few levels: they require us to make decisions three days before the bulk of games are played, if we aren't paying attention, we may forget to put our stud back in the lineup, and the games themselves have lacked a good deal of offensive punch. It's actually the third factor that has been the most annoying to Fantasy owners. So I dug through the stats from this season's Thursday night games, from Week 2 to Week 9 (I eliminated Week 1 because it's an anomaly -- no short rest worries, it was technically a Wednesday game, and it kicked off the season), to see if there was really a big difference in the offensive outputs. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Only five running backs over eight Thursday night games have rushed for over 100 yards. And of those five, four did it in the last three weeks (Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch in Week 7 and Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin in Week 8). In other words, while they started off lackluster, the running backs are improving their performances in the Thursday night contests.

2. Only three players have gone over 100 yards in receiving. And if you look at the top 10, there is just one player who had a game in the last three weeks in the group: Percy Harvin, who caught seven passes for 90 yards in Week 8. So the receivers are going in the opposite direction of the running backs.

3. Of the 16 starting quarterbacks who have played, only three have thrown for 300 yards. They are Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Brandon Weeden.

4. Quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Average it all out, and quarterbacks have thrown an average of 238 yards with 0.94 touchdowns and 1.13 interceptions. They've also been sacked an average of 2.8 times.

5. Five quarterbacks have failed to throw for a touchdown. They are Brandon Weeden, Kevin Kolb, Cam Netwon, Matt Cassel, and Russell Wilson. Only three quarterbacks, however, have not been intercepted: Kolb, Eli Manning, and Josh Freeman.

5a. A look at Thursday quarterback scoring: The top 25 quarterbacks in Fantasy so far this year have combined to average 19 Fantasy points per game. On Thursdays, however, quarterbacks have averaged just 13.4 Fantasy points per game. Their touchdown to interception ratio is far higher overall (64/36 TD/INT ratio overall; 45/55 TD/INT on Thursday night), and quarterbacks generally throw for fewer yards on Thursday night.

6. There have been just nine rushing touchdowns in these eight games. And only five have been scored by starting running backs: Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson, Andre Brown (Week 3), and Trent Richardson. The rest came from quarterbacks and backups.

7. Of the 62 players who have gotten a carry, nine have scored double-digit Fantasy points. For the season, 18 running backs are averaging double-digit scoring per game. If you consider the eight Thursday games we're looking at as essentially half of a week (of 16 games), it's right in line with the season averages.

8. There have been 16 receiving touchdowns. Eight have been caught by wide receivers, one by a running back, one by a fullback, and six by tight ends. This ratio is way off. On the season, there have been 392 receiving touchdowns hauled in by wide receivers (260 TDs), tight ends (101), and running backs (31). The percentages look like this:

Percentage of touchdowns caught (overall):

Wide receivers: 66 percent
Tight Ends: 26 percent
Running backs: Eight percent

...but on Thursday night, the percentages look like this:

Percentage of touchdowns caught (Thursday night):

Wide receivers: 50 percent
Tight Ends: 38 percent
Running backs: 12 percent

So this is what we can cull from all this data:

a. Quarterbacks throw fewer touchdowns, get intercepted at a higher rate, and don't score as many Fantasy points on Thursday night

b. Running backs remain essentially the same, as far as Fantasy value produced.

c. Wide receivers are getting shorted with the touchdown distribution. If you're looking for a touchdown from your wideout, you may want to keep your Sunday players in and ditch the Thursday ones.

d. Tight ends are looked to in the end zone far more often on Thursday than they are the rest of the week. So, for Week 10, Dwayne Allen owners may want to consider slotting him in the lineup over a similarly-valued tight end.

A brief defense of Taiwan Jones. Jones is in the mix for the lead job in Oakland, with his only competition being Marcel Reece. But Reece is more of a Ronnie Brown-style pass-catcher than a traditional running back. And Fantasy football's history is littered with players -- running backs, especially -- who came out of nowhere to capture a running back job and be a tremendous source of value the rest of the season. Just for a recent example, look at last year and DeMarco Murray. Granted, Murray had some stats over the first six weeks before taking over for an injured Felix Jones (Taiwan Jones has one carry for no yards this season, as he had been battling rib and knee injuries), but Jones is now in a role where he can succeed.

The argument against Jones is two-fold: Marcel Reece complicates his value, and the Raiders never run the ball. The Reece argument is defeated by his usage so far. But then there's the fact that the Raiders are a pass-heavy team. This is true; so far this year, the Raiders are fourth in the league in passing attempts and 30th in rushing attempts. But don't dismiss the Raiders as a team that will never run the ball. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has a history of running -- in fact, he had a string of years in the top five of rushing attempts. According to Pro Football Reference, Knapp -- who has served as offensive coordinator for the 49ers (2001-2003), Falcons (2005-2006), Raiders (2007-8, 2012), and Seahawks (2009), has a much longer history of running the ball than he does passing. To be fair to this situation, we'll eliminate his years as OC for the Falcons, as having Michael Vick as the starting quarterback made rushing the ball easy an easy choice (Knapp's offenses finished in the top five of rushing attempts for the three years he was there). But in 2001-2003 with the 49ers, the offense finished second, fifth, and sixth in rushing attempts. And in 2007 and 2008 in his first go-round with the Raiders, the team finished fourth and 10th.

In his first two years with the 49ers, Knapp had a revitalized Garrison Hearst as his starter, but in 2003, relative unknown Kevan Barlow ran for 1,024 yards and six touchdowns. This was his 24-year old season; Jones is 24 this year. Knapp also turned Justin Fargas in to a 1,000-yard rusher in 2007. He does good rushing work with little-known backs. And Jones, a fourth-round pick out of Eastern Washington, fits this bill. Knapp has followed his history in making Brandon Myers a valuable asset at tight end, as he did in nearly every year with almost every tight end he has ever worked with. He has a history of running the ball a good deal -- and there's even evidence of that popping up this year, as the Raiders have two games with 30 or more rushing attempts, and four with 20 or more -- so while there's a decent amount of worry with Jones as the running back, there is enough evidence surrounding him to make Jones worth a speculative pickup in most leagues.

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Fantasy-wise, here are some cool numbers on some very bad defenses, which you want to start your fringey skill players against:

Running backs:

The Buffalo Bills are getting run over by opposing defenses to the tune of 26.5 Fantasy points per game. The next four optimal matchups include:

2. Jacksonville (24.75 Fantasy points per game against)
3. New Orleans (24.5)
4. Tennessee (24.33)
5. Oakland (21.25)

Wide receivers:

The Saints, so very bad against the rush, are even more unimpressive against the pass. They allow 31.25 Fantasy points per game to wideouts. Rounding out the top five:

2. Washington (28.56 Fppg against)
3. Tampa Bay (28.25)
4. Miami (26.5)
5. Indianapolis (26)

Kickers:

This is the column to get your kicker fix, apparently. And the Titans have been very good to kickers, giving up 10.7 Fantasy points per game. The next four?:

2. Carolina (10.5 Fppg against)
3. Oakland (9.88)
4. Baltimore (9.75)
5. Kansas City (9.75)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyFB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasyfootball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Wes Welker expected to be suspended for Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker will be suspended for Week 1, according to the Denver Post.

Mike Klis initially reported that there was a chance Welker's suspension wouldn't kick in until after Week 1, but issued an update later. While the NFL has yet to officially announce the suspension, the Broncos have been informed of the move. The team is expected to send out a press release confirming the information Tuesday.


Report: Wes Welker may play Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Update: Welker will be suspended for Week 1, according to the Denver Post. The team is expected to send out a press release shortly.

Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker may play Week 1 against the Colts, according to the Denver Post

Welker is expected to be suspended for four games after reportedly testing positive for amphetamines. The league, however, has not officially announced the suspension. Suspensions are typically announced by Tuesday, according to Pro Football Talk. Since the NFL has yet to announce the move, it's thought Welker could be available for Week 1, but would serve his suspension once the NFL announced the move. 

There are a lot of uncertainties regarding the situation at this time. The club expects Welker to be available, provided he passes concussion protocal, but it remains to be seen how the NFL will handle this suspension. 


Randall Cobb to be tested Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb should be in for a tough test Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Cobb caught just three passes during the preseason, picking up 34 yards and a score. His lack of work shouldn’t be a huge concern, as the Packers offense doesn’t need any fine-tuning. The main thing here is that Cobb is 100 percent healthy after playing in just six games last season due to a leg injury.

His Week 1 production could be dampened by a strong Seahawks DST. Seattle was exceptional against the pass last season, holding opposing wide receivers to just 14.79 Fantasy points per game. That figure was the second-lowest rate in the league. On top of that, Cobb may have to deal with Richard Sherman, who is considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Sherman may spend the majority of the game stopping Jordy Nelson, but he could find his way over to Cobb on a few occasions.

Cobb’s versatility makes him a strong candidate to be moved around the Packers’ offense. If Green Bay can create some nice matchups, and Sherman is preoccupied with Nelson, Cobb could be in for a better game than people might expect. 

Despite that, expectations should be tempered. Seattle’s DST was strong last season, and while Green Bay boasts a strong offense, things should be muted Week 1. Cobb is a fine start, considering his upside, but he carries more risk this week due to the matchup.


Jordy Nelson in for a tough test Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson should be in for a difficult test Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Nelson had a quiet preseason, catching just two passes for 19 yards. One of those catches wound up being a touchdown. Despite the lack of action during the preseason, Nelson’s upside with a healthy Aaron Rodgers is well-known among Fantasy owners. That said, he’s going to have to work for everything he gets against Seattle.

The Seahawks rated as the best defense in the league last year. They were strong in every facet of the game. Seattle held opposing wide receivers to just 14.79 Fantasy points per game, the second-lowest figure in the league. To make things even more difficult for Nelson, he’ll likely be covered by Richard Sherman. Sherman, by many counts, is arguably the best corner in the game. 

Still, it’s tough to pass up Nelson’s upside with a healthy Rodgers. The Packers boast an overabundance of weapons, and it’s possible moving Nelson around before the play could put him in a more favorable matchup. Even if Sherman covers him the entire game, Nelson is a good enough receiver to make some noise. While he doesn’t have a great matchup, Week 1 is not the time to take a player as good as Nelson out of your Fantasy lineup. 


Eddie Lacy to have his hands full Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers running back Eddie Lacy will have his hands full Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Lacy is coming off a tremendous rookie season, in which he rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He didn’t get a ton of use during the preseason, but seemed to be in midseason form. Lacy rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries, good for a 5.5 average over two preseason games. He also managed to run in a touchdown.

Though he looked strong in the preseason, Lacy should have a tough time against the Seahawks Week 1. Seattle allowed just 12.32 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last season. That was the second-lowest rate in the league. While the Seahawks lost three defensive linemen during the offseason, the club is thought to still have the top-rated Fantasy defense.

In many circles, Lacy was considered a strong Fantasy pick after the elite four running backs were off the board. With that in mind, it’s unlikely he’ll be benched in many leagues Week 1. There are better matchups out there, but Lacy is a tough player to sit. Given Green Bay’s offensive capabilities, he’s still a decent start even against the best Fantasy defenses. 


Aaron Rodgers taking on a tough task Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has his work cut out for him Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Rodgers entered the season as one of the top Fantasy options at quarterback, but will take on the best defense in the league. Last season, Seattle held Fantasy quarterbacks to just 10.89 points per game. That was the lowest rate in the league. The Seahawks DST ranked tops in the league in limiting points and yards last year. On top of that, the team forced the most turnovers.

While Seattle lost three members of the defensive line during the offseason, the club is still expected to have one of NFL’s best defenses. If Seattle struggles to get to Rodgers, that could open things up for the Packers offense.

Given the cost to acquire Rodgers, in a snake or auction draft, he’s probably going to start for most Fantasy teams despite his tough Week 1 matchup. While there are better quarterback options for this week, Rodgers still has a strong potential for dominance. He’s healthy and still has a bevy of weapons at his disposal. It might not be Rodgers best game of the season, but he’s shown that he can put up numbers against even the best defensive clubs.


Percy Harvin looking to start the year on the right foot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is looking at a strong matchup Week 1 against the Packers.

A quiet preseason was a good preseason for Harvin. After missing nearly all of last season due to a hip injury, Harvin was able to play in all but the final game of the preseason. He missed the fourth game due to a personal issue, and not because of an injury. Harvin caught seven balls for 92 yards in August.

The Packers didn’t boast a strong pass defense last season. The team allowed opposing wide receivers to average 22.94 Fantasy points per game. That wasn’t one of the worst rates in the league, but it was below-average. The team attempted to address this during the offseason, taking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. Despite that, there’s no guarantee the team will perform better in the defensive backfield.

Despite the fact that Harvin is a five-year veteran, there are questions about how he’ll be used with the Seahawks. While Harvin was able to play during the club’s playoff run, it was unclear whether he was actually fully healthy last year. Harvin has shown the ability to be a game-changing wide receiver, so it’s assumed the Seahawks will find ways to get arguably their best playmaker the ball. The club has been been incredibly run-heavy over the past few seasons, but a healthy Harvin could make them more balanced. 


Marshawn Lynch ready to roll Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is looking to get off to a good start Week 1 against the Packers.

Lynch had an abbreviated preseason, carrying the ball just three times for 16 yards. That’s probably not a bad thing considering his high workload over the past couple years. Lynch also had a brief holdout during the offseason, but reported to camp in shape, and should be ready to roll.

The Packers weren’t particularly strong against the run last season, giving up 19.18 Fantasy points per week to running backs. That was the eighth worst figure in the league. While the team tried to shore up things defensively during the offseason, the loss of B.J. Raji should make it easier for teams to gash the Packers up the middle. 

With that in mind, Lynch should be a strong start. The Seahawks modus operandi the past couple years has been the run game, and that probably won’t change now. There are concerns about Lynch’s workload and lack of preseason reps, but his pedigree and matchup make this a strong start Week 1. 


Russell Wilson ready to shine Week 1?
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson begins his post-Super Bowl year with a strong matchup against the Packers Week 1. 

Wilson performed well during the preseason, completing 78.6 percent of his passes. He threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Wilson also managed three rushing touchdowns to cap off a strong preseason.

His ability to put up solid Fantasy numbers should be tested Week 1. The Packers did not boast a great defense against the pass last season. The team allowed quarterbacks to score 20.65 Fantasy points, which was the seventh worst clip in the league. Green Bay has been proactive in resolving the issue, drafting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, but it’s unclear how much better the team’s defensive backs will perform. 

The bigger question will be whether the Seahawks open up the offense for Wilson this season. With Marshawn Lynch out for much of the preseason, Wilson showed the ability to carry the team with his arm. Now that Lynch is back, the team could opt to get back to conservative play-calling with the franchise quarterback. Wilson has all the makings of a strong matchup here, but could get the short end of the stick if the Seahawks pound Lynch.


Matt Forte should live up to billing in Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Bears running back Matt Forte was ranked as a top five Fantasy running back going into the season, and he falls in the top five in both weekly running back rankings from CBSSports.com experts. After setting career highs in rushing yardage, rushing touchdowns, receptions and receiving yardage in 2013, will Forte get this season started off on the right foot in Week 1 against the Bills?

While Buffalo put together a strong defense last season, the team's particular strength was against the pass. Rushers were able to gain 4.4 yards per carry against the Bills, leaving them 23rd in the league in the category. While the Bills did a good job defending against pass-catching backs last season, they now have to play without linebackers Kiko Alonso (season-ending injury) and Nigel Bradham (suspended for Week 1) as well as safety Jairus Byrd (signed with New Orleans).

New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense was just average defending passes against running backs in Detroit last season. Forte has been excellent against Schwartz, who was the head coach of the Lions from 2009 through 2013. He has rushed for 1,005 yards and averaged 4.74 yards per carry while catching 38 passes for 360 yards in 12 career games against the Lions. Ten of those contests came with Schwartz at the helm, and Forte should be able to continue giving the Bills defensive coordinator nightmares this Sunday.


 
 
 
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