Trendspotting: Chiefs rolling on offense
To paraphrase one of cinema's greatest philosophers, Ferris Bueller: The NFL is ever-changing, and if you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it. Take a gander at these facts about offensive production from Week 6 on:
• Only two teams have fewer rushing touchdowns than the Tennessee Titans' three: the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals. Chris Johnson was the consensus No. 1 player, with DeAngelo Williams and Cedric Benson getting drafted 13th and 19th, respectively.
• The Kansas City Chiefs are averaging 188 rushing yards per game or more than 100 yards per game more than the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts. Joseph Addai's average draft position was 43.9; Felix Jones' was 65.6. Thomas Jones, who has outscored both of them, had an ADP of 92.2.
• Only two teams have thrown for fewer touchdowns than Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings. Both of those teams, the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers, have been led by rookie quarterbacks during this time.
• Carson Palmer is throwing on more than 64 percent of the plays run for the Cincinnati Bengals during this stretch. He's scored more than 15 fantasy points just three times all season and only once during that stretch.
• Only three teams in the NFL have run the ball more than they've passed it during this period: Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.
• Only two teams have passed the ball twice as much as they've attempted to run it. The first, the Indianapolis Colts, likely won't surprise you. The second is the Arizona Cardinals, and quite frankly, when I saw that, it made me feel sorry for Larry Fitzgerald.
The following players are averaging seven targets per game or more during the past four weeks:
|Player (Team)||Games||Targets||Average||Standard Deviation|
|Dwayne Bowe (KC)||4||55||13.8||4.6|
|Steve Johnson (Buf)||4||48||12||3.2|
|Jacob Tamme (Ind)||4||47||11.8||3.6|
|Reggie Wayne (Ind)||4||47||11.8||4.3|
|Larry Fitzgerald (Ari)||4||45||11.3||2.6|
|Mike Williams (Sea)||3||32||10.7||5.5|
|Roddy White (Atl)||4||41||10.3||5|
|Hakeem Nicks (NYG)||3||30||10||2.6|
|Terrell Owens (Cin)||4||39||9.8||2.9|
|Brandon Lloyd (Den)||3||29||9.7||0.6|
|Marques Colston (NO)||3||29||9.7||1.2|
|Andre Johnson (Hou)||4||38||9.5||1.9|
|Mike Thomas (Jac)||3||28||9.3||0.6|
|Santonio Holmes (NYJ)||4||36||9||2.2|
|Jacoby Ford (Oak)||3||27||9||1|
|Calvin Johnson (Det)||4||35||8.8||4.3|
|Wes Welker (NE)||4||35||8.8||2.8|
|Chad Ochocinco (Cin)||4||34||8.5||2.6|
|Jeremy Maclin (Phi)||4||34||8.5||3.8|
|Nate Burleson (Det)||4||34||8.5||1|
|LaDainian Tomlinson (NYJ)||4||33||8.3||2.2|
|Steve Breaston (Ari)||4||33||8.3||3.3|
|Pierre Garcon (Ind)||4||32||8||1.2|
|Brandon Gibson (StL)||3||24||8||2.6|
|Chris Cooley (Was)||3||24||8||1|
|Greg Jennings (GB)||3||24||8||1|
|Danny Amendola (StL)||3||23||7.7||0.6|
|Laurent Robinson (StL)||3||23||7.7||2.9|
|Derrick Mason (Bal)||4||30||7.5||3.7|
|Tony Gonzalez (Atl)||4||30||7.5||2.6|
|James Jones (GB)||3||22||7.3||2.1|
|Nate Washington (Ten)||3||22||7.3||2.9|
|Brandon Pettigrew (Det)||4||29||7.3||1.7|
|Braylon Edwards (NYJ)||4||29||7.3||1|
|Mike Wallace (Pit)||4||29||7.3||2.6|
|Davone Bess (Mia)||4||28||7||1.8|
|Lee Evans (Buf)||4||28||7||1.4|
|Percy Harvin (Min)||4||28||7||3.4|
|Ray Rice (Bal)||4||28||7||1.4|
|Brandon Marshall (Mia)||3||21||7||1|
|Keiland Williams (Was)||3||21||7||1|
|Santana Moss (Was)||3||21||7||2|
|Mike Sims-Walker (Jac)||2||14||7||4.2|
|Sidney Rice (Min)||2||14||7||4.2|
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 (for example, the Seahawks' Mike Williams) likely have at least one game that is significantly altering their average, whereas those with small standard deviations (such as Brandon Lloyd) have received basically a similar number of targets in each game. Finally, standard deviation can be determined only 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:
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (17 targets; 13 receptions, 170 yards): The prevailing thought going into last season was that Bowe was set for a monster campaign; however, a lack of commitment and a serious case of the dropsies derailed those thoughts big-time. Bowe has atoned for last season and will be a top-five receiver the rest of the way and in next season's rankings.
Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills (15 targets; 7 receptions, 68 yards): Johnson's production reminds me of that of former NFLer Keenan McCardell. He's just good enough to be a fantasy must-start, but the majority of those who watch the NFL have no clue just how good he's been.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts (14 targets; 5 receptions, 42 yards): He's been battling a knee injury for weeks, and it seems as though it's starting to affect his performance. For the past three weeks, Wayne is catching only 51.6 percent of the passes thrown his way. In the previous four seasons, that rate was better than 65 percent. That's an incredible difference and one that should remove him from must-start territory.
Arian Foster (11 targets; 9 receptions, 75 yards) and Andre Johnson (11 targets; 9 receptions, 56 yards), Houston Texans: Absolutely incredible numbers for both players, even if Johnson's yardage totals could be viewed as disappointing.
Jacoby Ford, Oakland Raiders (10 targets; 4 receptions, 108 yards): A lot of people are high on Ford this week; I'm not one of them. Catching only 40 percent of the passes thrown his way normally sends a receiver to the bench. That being said, because this is the Raiders, maybe they'll run their whole offensive scheme around him.
Mike Goodson, Carolina Panthers (10 targets; 8 receptions, 81 yards): Although you might think that Goodson's targets were heavily skewed into the second half because of how his game progressed, know that only six of them came in the second half, so it appears that using Goodson out of the backfield was actually part of the game plan. He could become a sneaky running back play in point-per-reception leagues.
Wes Welker, New England Patriots (10 targets; 8 receptions, 90 yards): Welker is looking healthier every week, and Tom Brady seems to be growing more and more confident in the receiver's ability to make plays. Look for Welker to become the Welker of old.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles (8 targets; 3 receptions, 50 yards): Although you might view this as a back-from-the-dead type of performance, realize that if it wasn't for an amazing throw from Michael Vick, Celek's line would have been two receptions for 20 yards.
Danario Alexander, St. Louis Rams (6 targets; 4 receptions, 95 yards): According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Alexander was on the field for only about 20 offensive snaps on Sunday, which makes his performance really stand out. If you have the ability to take a flier on him and need some WR depth, you really should make that move.
Devin Hester, Chicago Bears (6 targets; 3 receptions, 86 yards): If Hester can manage six or more targets per game, he's a No. 3 wide receiver on most fantasy squads. Unfortunately, his coaches can't seem to decide whether he's a return specialist who plays receiver or a receiver who also returns kicks.
Deion Branch, New England Patriots (5 targets; 3 receptions, 113 yards): Fantasywise, Branch's and Welker's performances looked even. They weren't. Branch's long touchdown, which was attributable to bad coverage, worse tackling and some nice athleticism from Branch, saved his fantasy day.
Big plays and up close
These players had at least three rushes that went for at least 10 yards (big-play rushes) in Week 12: Jamaal Charles (4), Brandon Jacobs (4), Arian Foster (3), Maurice Jones-Drew (3), Rashard Mendenhall (3), Maurice Morris (3), Michael Turner (3) and Brian Westbrook (3).
The previous time Brian Westbrook had three rushes go for 10 or more yards in a game was on Dec. 7, 2008.
The only player other than Jamaal Charles to have more than two rushes of 10 or more yards against the Seattle Seahawks this season is Steven Jackson, although Jackson's performance came while he was playing at home. Charles was the first opponent to do it in Seattle.
Peyton Hillis was given the ball three times inside the Carolina Panthers' 10-yard line. He scored on each from distances of 5, 6 and 9 yards.
The Kansas City Chiefs ran the ball twice inside the 10-yard line. Both carries went to Jamaal Charles. Because part of Thomas Jones' fantasy value was that of a TD vulture, it looks as though Charles is finally becoming a RB1 and Jones is moving toward the role of a handcuff.
Ken Daube is a fantasy football analyst for ESPN.com. His ESPN.com fan profile is available at http://sportsnation.espn.go.com/#/fans/kend17.
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