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