Trendspotting: Believe in Jordan Shipley
Let's compare two players since Week 2 of the season.
The first player is in his 10th NFL season. He's amassed 28 catches for 314 yards and one touchdown since Week 2. His 11.8 yards per catch marks the second-lowest average for his career and way down from the 14.5 yards per catch he tallied last season. He's owned in 100 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
The second player is a rookie. He's accumulated 23 catches for 314 yards and one score during that same period, but missed one game due to an injury. He's owned in less than 5 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues.
Here's the interesting part: They play for the same team, so you can't write off the ownership difference due to anything other than their roles and their production, and it's a good bet that there's some serious misunderstanding as to how their roles are impacting their performance. The two players: Chad Ochocinco and Jordan Shipley.
The main argument that will be made on behalf of Ochocinco is that he's one of the Cincinnati Bengals' top two receivers, so he receives looks in two-receiver sets. Unfortunately, the numbers don't support that line of thinking. Since Week 2, Ochocinco has exactly four catches in two-receiver sets. In three-receiver sets, Ochocinco has a slight edge over Shipley with 4.6 catches per game to Shipley's 4.25, but in sets with four or more receivers, Shipley owns a 6-to-1 total reception advantage over Ochocino, despite playing in one fewer game.
The bottom line here is that these two players have been statistical equals over their past four games but Ochocinco is owned in 20 times more leagues. That needs to change immediately. While Ochocinco is still the greater talent, Shipley's production warrants a severe uptick in his ownership percentage.
The following players are averaging seven targets per game or more over the past four weeks:
|Player (Team)||Games||Targets||Average||Standard Deviation|
|Terrell Owens (Cin)||3||39||13||1.0|
|Reggie Wayne (Ind)||3||37||12.3||3.5|
|Hakeem Nicks (NYG)||3||34||11.3||3.8|
|Steve Johnson (Buf)||3||34||11.3||2.3|
|Mike Williams (Sea)||4||44||11||5.4|
|Larry Fitzgerald (Ari)||3||32||10.7||1.2|
|Chad Ochocinco (Cin)||3||31||10.3||4.9|
|Roscoe Parrish (Buf)||3||31||10.3||2.1|
|Brandon Marshall (Mia)||4||41||10.3||4.6|
|Andre Johnson (Hou)||3||30||10||3.0|
|Roddy White (Atl)||3||30||10||3.6|
|Santana Moss (Was)||3||30||10||2.0|
|Marques Colston (NO)||4||39||9.8||3.8|
|Jeremy Maclin (Phi)||3||29||9.7||3.8|
|Steve Smith (Car)||3||29||9.7||4.7|
|Johnny Knox (Chi)||3||28||9.3||3.8|
|Greg Jennings (GB)||4||36||9||2.4|
|Lee Evans (Buf)||3||27||9||1.0|
|Steve Smith (NYG)||3||27||9||2.0|
|Buster Davis (SD)||2||18||9||1.4|
|Mike Williams (TB)||4||35||8.8||2.1|
|Anquan Boldin (Bal)||3||26||8.7||3.8|
|Calvin Johnson (Det)||3||26||8.7||5.7|
|Jacob Tamme (Ind)||3||26||8.7||5.7|
|Nate Burleson (Det)||3||26||8.7||0.6|
|Jason Witten (Dal)||4||34||8.5||4.7|
|Percy Harvin (Min)||4||34||8.5||2.5|
|Steve Breaston (Ari)||2||17||8.5||3.5|
|Brandon Lloyd (Den)||3||25||8.3||4.7|
|Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ)||3||25||8.3||4.2|
|Pierre Garcon (Ind)||3||25||8.3||2.3|
|Davone Bess (Mia)||4||33||8.3||1.0|
|Dwayne Bowe (KC)||4||32||8||3.2|
|Chris Cooley (Was)||3||24||8||1.0|
|Jabar Gaffney (Den)||3||24||8||1.0|
|Mike Sims-Walker (Jac)||3||24||8||2.0|
|Miles Austin (Dal)||4||31||7.8||3.1|
|Eddie Royal (Den)||3||23||7.7||2.1|
|Jahvid Best (Det)||3||23||7.7||1.5|
|Hines Ward (Pit)||4||30||7.5||1.9|
|Brandon Pettigrew (Det)||3||22||7.3||4.0|
|Tony Gonzalez (Atl)||3||22||7.3||3.5|
|Patrick Crayton (SD)||4||29||7.3||4.0|
|Dez Bryant (Dal)||4||28||7||3.6|
|Lance Moore (NO)||4||28||7||2.0|
|Wes Welker (NE)||4||28||7||2.7|
|Arian Foster (Hou)||3||21||7||1.7|
|Michael Jenkins (Atl)||3||21||7||3.6|
Note: For those of you not familiar with the best way to interpret the standard deviation data, all you have to know is that players with large standard deviations (e.g., Calvin Johnson) likely have at least one game that is significantly altering their average, whereas those with small standard deviations (e.g., Terrell Owens) have received basically a similar number of targets in each game. Finally, standard deviation can only be determined for data sets of two or greater, so if a player has played in only one game, his standard deviation is listed as N/A for not applicable.
A look inside some of this week's receiving performances:
Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis Colts (17 targets; 11 receptions, 108 yards): Over the past two weeks, Tamme has 25 targets for 172 receiving yards and two scores. All three metrics are league highs (four other tight ends also have two touchdowns). Basically, Tamme completely assumed Dallas Clark's role, and while it may seem unreasonable to expect similar production, Tamme is the same type of mismatch for the Colts that Clark was. Tamme is only half an inch shorter than Clark and his 4.58 time in the 40-yard dash was actually faster than Clark's 4.65. If Antonio Gates misses extended time, then there's a very good chance that Tamme is the No. 1 tight end from this point forward.
Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills (14 targets; 11 receptions, 145 yards): Here's the scary part, over the past three games, Roscoe Parrish was averaging over 10 targets per game. Parrish is gone for the year, so Johnson's value rises even further.
Terrell Owens, Cincinnati Bengals (14 targets; 10 receptions, 141 yards): He needs to be considered as a candidate for comeback player of the year. If this type of production was coming from anyone other than Randy Moss, he'd be a lock for such an award.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (13 targets; 6 receptions, 128 yards): While it still remains to be seen how the colder weather will affect the new Meadowlands Stadium, Nicks has to be in the conversation for the top-ranked wide receiver next season.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (10 targets; 9 receptions, 86 yards): Miles Austin and Bryant make an extremely intriguing combination. While it's very easy to pick on the Cowboys' lack of success this season, their passing offense still ranks as the fourth best in the league. Bryant is no worse than a high-level WR2 option for fantasy owners going forward.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (9 targets; 8 receptions, 65 yards): Just including him to show the low yardage total for the number of catches he had this week. Over his career, Colston has averaged 13.8 yards per catch, last week he barely broke eight.
James Jones, Green Bay Packers (9 targets; 8 receptions, 123 yards): Donald Driver has been as reliable as they come, but Jones has been biding his time waiting for an opportunity. While Driver is out, Jones is a must-start.
Joel Dreessen (8 targets; 5 receptions, 66 yards) and James Casey (6 targets; 4 receptions, 48 yards), Houston Texans: Unfortunately for fantasy owners, neither of these two guys emerged as the clear replacement for Owen Daniels. That being said, both are usable for whatever period of time that Daniels can't play.
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints (8 targets; 6 receptions, 77 yards): The biggest question for Moore's owners is how Reggie Bush's return will affect Moore's value. Since Moore started to receive an increased number of targets when Bush went down, it's only logical to expect that Moore is going to be affected in a very negative way by Bush's return.
Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis Colts (7 targets; 2 receptions, 15 yards): Very disappointing catch and yardage numbers for Garcon this week, but he received as fair number of targets. No need to worry about him at this point.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans (6 targets; 4 receptions, 70 yards): Foster has seen a dramatic increase in number of targets over the past couple of weeks, which is icing on the cake for his owners.
Big Plays and Up Close
The following players had at least three rushes that went for 10 or more yards (big-play rushes) in Week 9: Arian Foster (4), Peyton Hillis (4), Michael Turner (4), Ronnie Brown (3), Rashard Mendenhall (3) and Michael Vick (3).
In their previous six games, the Buffalo Bills surrendered 6.4 Big Play Rushes per game. Matt Forte only delivered one such run among his 14 carries on Sunday in Toronto. To call that disappointing is an understatement.
Javarris James had his number called four times inside the Philadelphia Eagles' 10-yard line. Donald Brown had no such attempts. For those of you holding onto Brown in keeper leagues hoping that he'll be the every-down back if Joseph Addai isn't brought back next season, keep dreaming.
Ahmad Bradshaw was given three chances inside the Seattle Seahawks' 10-yard line, compared to Brandon Jacobs' one chance. Bradshaw scored on runs from the 2 and the 4, locations that one would normally associate with Jacobs' area of expertise. If this continues, Bradshaw could very well finish as a top-five running back.
Ken Daube is a fantasy football analyst for ESPN.com. His ESPN.com fan profile is available at: http://myespn.go.com/KenD17.