Archive for the ‘Three Keys to Victory’ Category

Three Keys To Victory – Week 16: Player Rater Scale

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

The fantasy season is closing out, along with my first full year of writing at Fantasy Throwdown. Thanks to those loyal Throwdown readers/challengers for a great season, and here’s hoping you’ll all see victory this weekend (except against tttimmyg).

Many of you have already notched a lot of victories this year on the backs of players like DeMarco Murray or Antonio Brown, who have been two of the most valuable players in fantasy football and on their respective teams this season. The keys to their success are simple and threefold: A) Their team feeds them the ball, B) they are making magic happen when they touch the ball, and C) they are doing this on a consistent basis.

OR, in other words, an MVP player is a person who is given a lot of opportunity, and he produces consistently on every opportunity.

Using metrics for each of these categories (opportunities per game, points per opportunity, and consistency per game), I created a “player rater scale” to show who the most valuable players have been this year. This scale is similar to a value based drafting (VBD) chart where players are rated in a matchup-absent box. The results are below:

Player Rater Scale – PPR



The number one thing I like about this scale is tells you just how much more valuable a player is based on a comparative search of opportunity + performance + consistency. For instance, you might look at the tight end chart and think “Why is Gronk so far above the rest?” or “Why is Greg Olsen considered more valuable than Jimmy Graham, who has a higher average?” A quick look at the stats clears it up:

Player Opp/G PPO Games
>10 FPts
<10 FPts
Rob Gronkowski 8.6 2.1 13 0
Greg Olsen 8.4 1.8 11 3
Jimmy Graham 7.6 1.9 9 3

Gronk/Olsen have more targets/rushes per game, and they have higher consistency of top scoring. Olsen drops closer to Graham, though, due to the same amount of poor performances and an equal rate of points per opportunity.

Second Half Superstars

Grabbing top end players off the player rating scale has proved a very viable strategy in Throwdown games this year, and you should continue to grab these MVPs. If you apply the same rating scale to the second half only, you come up with some interesting trends that can push you over the top.

For instance, from the start of Week 10, Le’Veon Bell is the clear running back MVP, and outpaces the field by wide margin. His score is 100, of course, but the next closest running back scores out at 73. I won approximately 70% of games over the past two weeks with one strategy leading the way. Choose pick first option, ensure Steelers game is in the mix, and select Le’Veon Bell first. Knowing that opponent will select Antonio Brown next, I simply make sure there are as many 70+ rated receivers in the game, with very few running backs (if possible).

Another strategy is allowing fading players, like Emmanuel Sanders and Jeremy Maclin, to go first, while selecting a higher rated player, lower drafted player (ADP) like Julian Edelman later in the draft.

The chart below will give you insight into the last five games’ MVP at each position. A 5 game scale has higher gaps in it, but you will also notice that quarterback, for instance, has several viable options (including a fading Peyton Manning); whereas, running back and tight end, similar to value based drafting, have a clear top end and larger gaps from top to bottom.

Using these three keys (opportunity + performance + consistency) can aid in your victories over those top leaderboard fellows. Good Luck and Merry Christmas!

Player Rater Scale – PPR (weeks 10-15)



Three Keys To Victory – Week 15: Quarterback Faders As The Season Hits Quarter Pole

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
Are fantasy football players taking a bath relying on Peyton Manning late in the season? Tim says… maybe.

Are fantasy football players taking a bath relying on Peyton Manning late in the season? Tim says… maybe.

Is Peyton Manning the Benjamin Button of football? Will he continue last week’s putrid performance? It’s hard to bet on a guy like Peyton Manning putting up two stinkers in a row, but I’ll lay out a good case for it below.

Matchups and player performance are important, naturally, but other factors (shifting game plans, weather, injuries) can and do play a factor in how each player will produce in each game. This week, I looked at whether each active starting quarterback has a tendency to finish seasons strong or paltry. Only 25 current starters have played at least 8 games in the final quarter of a season, and those were the only quarterbacks used in the study.

Viable strategies last week included: 1. Passing on Peyton Manning for a “lesser” quarterback or 2. Selecting Andy Dalton over Ben Roethlisberger. These two are just examples, but the key is knowing performance histories and sometimes taking the risk of passing on name talent for a better performance history. My three keys to evaluate for quarterbacks this week are: career performance history over the course of a season, current team reliance on pass vs. run, and recent performance bias.

The Curious Case of Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning’s Week 14 implosion was astounding, but was it surprising? Manning has become synonymous with fading in the playoffs and having better starts than ends to his seasons. This conclusion is not necessarily wrong, but not easily reached by a quick study of facts.

Since 2001, using Weeks 14-17 as the final quarter of the season, Peyton Manning has decreased his fantasy points per game from 24.3 PPG to 21.3 PPG (a 12% drop-off in production). In a similar vein, his total touchdowns per game has seen an 18% drop from 2.3 to 1.9. In the time since 2001, his PPG trajectory by quarter (2nd quarter = Weeks 5-9) looks like this: 1st – 24.9 PPG, 2nd – 25.1, 3rd – 22.8, and 4th – 21.3). So, as you can see, there is a clear peak at the beginning and drop at the end.

For those that may feel like the drop-off in production is insignificant at 12%, here is a list of the only active starters with a steeper decline in production in the final quarter of the season: Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Derek Anderson and Andrew Luck. Romo is slightly better with an 11% drop off.

The story of Manning is the tale of two teams, and the Denver Broncos side of the story has shown different results. He is averaging 2.4 passing touchdowns in the final quarter since coming to Denver, and he finished the season lights out last year, scoring three of his top six final quarter games of his career in 2013.

So, what should we expect this year based on his past? Answer: Something similar to his career performance and not 2013. The most common predictors in Peyton’s late season declines that I could find are: cold weather, strong rushing game, and, in early career, reduced playing time on dominant teams. Last year, Peyton did not have a C.J. Anderson run game. So what has been his best quarter of the season so far? The answer is the 2nd quarter with a 29 point average. This is followed by a subsequent drop in the third quarter of the season and what appears to be further drop in the fourth.

After I’ve laid out this blueprint, you can be assured that Manning will throw 6 touchdowns this weekend. The point is knowing trends like this could help in upcoming Throwdown matches for knowing when to let a Peyton Manning type of player slide in drafts. So, what other quarterbacks struggle or succeed towards the end of the season?

Frequent Flyers in December

Matt Ryan – Three of Matt Ryan’s Top 5 games in his career have come in Weeks 14-17. He has been the opposite of Manning at the end of the regular season, with a 6% increase in points per game. And he increases touchdown production by 23% averaging 2.0 touchdowns per game in the final four games each season. For what it’s worth, Mike Smith appears optimistic about Julio Jones playing, and Jones appeared upset about not going back in last game. I expect the Falcons to soar on the back of Jones and Ryan, and he should outplay the much higher drafted Big Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday.

Jay Cutler – Cutler is smokin’ in December. With slightly less of an increase than Ryan in each category, he is a similar finisher with an increase in production. Matt Forte has been struggling to succeed as of late, and that will put more onus on Jay Cutler to air it out. Unfortunately, Drew Brees also finishes strong, so not much pool-limiting in this matchup unless you consider Brees’ slump to continue. I wouldn’t bank on it.

Bonus Notorious Strong Finisher Sleepers: Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson

Declining Duds

Tony Romo – Romo was mentioned earlier in that same category as Manning. For his career, he has performed the poorest in the final quarter of the season than the rest of the year. He did have a decent performance last week in touchdowns, but his yardage has dropped off significantly from middle of the season to the last two weeks. And, hopefully, you remember his Thanksgiving Day performance as a symbol of buyer beware.

Eli Manning – Let’s just say that the Manning boys don’t seem to like December and are typically just ready to get to the playoffs. Eli has dropped almost three points over the course of his career from the first three quarters to the last quarter of the season. He is playing the worst pass defense in the league this week, and this will be a true test of how he will finish the season. He’s only averaging 19.6 PPG this season, but for his career has only averaged closer to 15 PPG in the final four regular season matchups. For those tempted to take him as a sleeper, just keep this in mind with the turnover-prone Giant.

Bonus Notoriously Bad Season Enders to Be Wary of: Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick

Three Keys To Victory – Week 14: Percentage of Team Touches, Efficiency, and Pie

Thursday, December 4th, 2014
Posting an image of pie this week because Tim likes pie. Plus he looks at how big a slice of pie running backs and wide receivers are getting in their respective team's offense.

Posting an image of pie this week because Tim likes pie. Plus he looks at how big a slice of pie running backs and wide receivers are getting in their respective team’s offense.

Hope you Fantasy Throwdown enthusiasts enjoyed a Happy Thanksgiving! Much of Thanksgiving was spent wondering who is going to get the biggest piece of the pie – and which pie. I’ll say this, “I’m thankful for Pumpkin pie…and Pecan Pie…well, I like pies.”

For us, fantasy footballers, figuring out which players are going to get the bigger portion of the pie on Sundays is a weekly ritual as well. I’ve broken down who has been dominating the pie chart this year so far, and which players are about take an even bigger portion. Suggestion: enjoy reading while eating some pie.

Wide Receiver Rocks

Two of the biggest key indicators for me when selecting players are: 1. opportunity in the offense and 2. production efficiency. If you can get these two within a high powered offense, then you have your bonus.

Opportunities for a wide receiver can be represented from targets, but more specifically, percentage of targets acquired per game. As you’ll see in the chart coming up, there is a high correlation between percentage of team targets and fantasy points per game. The problem comes when a player’s efficiency is poor, due to a number of reasons (i.e. short average depth of target, no red zone targets, poor QB accuracy, drops.)

If we can identify which players are currently making a leap in these areas, we can identify who to target in drafts. The left side of the chart shows entire season stats and where they rank in PPR formats on a per game basis. The right side shows only from Weeks 9 through 13 (or second half of the season).

Percentage of Team Targets Chart
Entire Season Week 9 – 13
Player % Team Tgt Pts/Tgt Team PA/G Rank Player % Team Tgt Pts/Tgt Team PA/G
A.Johnson 30% 1.30 26.85 33 C.Johnson 43% 1.59 40.25
D.Bryant 30% 2.06 27.00 7 A.Johnson 30% 0.97 33.75
A.Brown 28% 2.17 35.15 1 K.Benjamin 30% 1.48 35.00
J.Nelson 28% 2.22 29.38 3 A.Green 29% 1.85 30.80
D.Thomas 27% 2.07 36.08 2 A.Boldin 29% 1.97 30.40
J.Jones 27% 1.80 35.08 6 E.Decker 29% 1.46 24.50
K.Benjamin 25% 2.24 31.69 18 A.Brown 28% 2.05 42.25
V.Jackson 25% 1.25 30.85 47 K.Allen 28% 2.01 35.00
K.Allen 25% 1.67 30.62 23 D.Bryant 28% 2.57 29.00
A.Boldin 25% 1.86 28.46 21 J.Jones 28% 1.92 40.00
G.Tate 24% 1.91 34.38 12 A.Jeffery 27% 1.91 39.50
E.Sanders 24% 2.07 36.08 4 M.Evans 26% 2.60 35.20

Two quick notes from the left side:

  1. A player who is averaging less than 1.50 points per target (PPR scoring) suffers to achieve consistent high scores (rank).
  2. A player who has a big piece of the pie with a team that averages over 35 pass attempts a game is player you want (i.e. all top 10 guys in chart above).

Three quick notes from the right side:

  1. Anquan Boldin and Keenan Allen have respectively increased their shares of the team’s targets and increased their production level to similar production per target as Antonio Brown.
  2. Calvin Johnson has over 40% of targets since returning, but until last game, production was down due to quarterback inaccuracy. Stafford completed 75% of passes last game, and Megatron’s point per target rate shot up to 2.36. Back to a no-brainer fantasy play.
  3. Alshon Jeffrey and Mike Evans have passed up their counterparts, and their production levels are high.

Running Back Rocks

For running backs, the key opportunity indicator is touches per game, or how much of the offense is run through that player. Again, using a similar chart below, you will see that there is a high correlation with opportunity, so long as production efficiency is also high.

Percentage of Team Offense Chart
Entire Season Week 9 – 13
Player % Offense Rec/G Pts/
Rank Player % Offense Rec/G Pts/
D.Murray 55% 3.67 0.81 3 D.Murray 56% 4.50 0.72
M.Forte 49% 6.50 0.98 2 J.Charles 49% 3.00 1.08
A.Ellington 46% 3.83 0.73 12 M.Forte 48% 5.00 0.82
L.Bell 44% 5.42 0.94 4 T.Mason 48% 2.00 0.78
A.Foster 43% 3.44 1.01 1 R.Jennings 48% 5.00 0.71
R.Jennings 41% 3.25 0.71 10 L.Bell 47% 5.75 1.03
M.Lynch 41% 2.33 0.94 6 M.Ingram 46% 3.00 0.60
L.McCoy 40% 1.92 0.60 15 A.Morris 45% 2.00 0.84
A.Morris 39% 1.17 0.70 17 M.Lynch 43% 2.20 0.98
E.Lacy 36% 2.58 0.96 8 J.Forsett 43% 2.25 1.02
J.Forsett 36% 2.92 0.94 7 A.Ellington 42% 3.60 0.68
J.Charles 34% 2.73 1.06 6 A.Foster 41% 3.50 1.01

Two quick notes from the left side:

  1. A player who is averaging less than 0.75 points per touch (PPR scoring) suffers to achieve consistent high scores (rank), although not as drastically as wide receivers. This is the difference between top 20 or top 10.
  2. For running backs, it appears that high workload (closer to 50%) can overcome some efficiency flaws (i.e. Andre Ellington)

Three quick notes from the right side:

  1. Andy Reid seems to have remembered he has Jamaal Charles, and he is now the number one target to grab in PPR formats, with the second highest efficiency rate to go along with workhorse opportunity.
  2. In the first half of the season, the St. Louis Rams had no idea who their running back was, and now it is apparent that Tre Mason has become a workhorse touching the ball 48% of Rams plays. And it showed up last week.
  3. All of these backs are getting high opportunity, but Mark Ingram and Andre Ellington’s production levels should be worrisome to drafters. Look for better options in coming weeks unless this changes.

If you’re curious: Of player’s with at least 20% of the workload, the three players with the worst points per touch are (0.50 range) – Frank Gore, Trent Richardson, and Darren McFadden.

Sleeping Giants

Now here are the guys that are on the verge, but did not make the list above (or what I like to call “the Sleeping Giants”). Keep these guys on your radar in coming weeks:

  • C.J. Anderson – A sleeper to the Top 3 only. Anderson only trails Eddie Lacy and Jamaal Charles in production per touch since Week 9, and they are running 38% of the offense through him since then. But touches have increased weekly, culminating at 34 last week. Behind Charles, he may be the number two back to own.
  • Ryan Mathews – Ryan Mathews is averaging 0.90 fantasy points per touch, but he is only receiving 28% of the offense and a little over 1 catch per game. If those two numbers come up, he could be a top running back.
  • Jarvis Landry – Miami is throwing the ball 36.20 times per game since Week 9, and Landry is the most targeted wide receiver on the team. He joins only Roddy White, Stedman Bailey, and Julian Edelman as guys that are receiving 14% of their team’s targets and catching 80% of the balls thrown their way.
  • Torrey Smith – Smith is averaging 2.65 points per target, and has passed Steve Smith as most targeted wide receiver. Currently, they are only throwing 31 times a game, though, but against Miami this week that may increase.

Three Keys To Victory – Week 13: Something Called Optimal Prime Strategy

Thursday, November 27th, 2014
No, not Optimus Prime - even though he is beyond cool - but Tim is telling us about his Optimal Prime strategy.

No, not Optimus Prime – even though he is beyond cool – but Tim is telling us about his Optimal Prime strategy.

Fantasy Throwdown may be one of the only times you get to draft from a pool of six NFL teams. As discussed last week, the “pick the first two games” option can give you an advantage, but the wisest of wise fantasy players play Fantasy Throwdown, so they are constantly looking for ways to thwart your plans.

Last week, we discussed block strategy in Fantasy Throwdown and limiting the player pool. This works great providing your opponent allows it, but what happens when your opponent attempts to add more good swimmers to the pool and maximize the talent? This is where I employ some strategy to ensure I get the best of that available talent.

Like any theory, it only works when the players on the field play like they should, but like they say, “that’s why we play the game.”

Optimal Prime Strategy

That’s Optimal Prime and not Optimus Prime, although that is much cooler. I’ll give you the first steps of this strategy and how to employ.

Optimal Prime Strategy is simply adopting the best path to getting a premium grade player at every position by limiting your opponent’s choices. To put it another way, you want to allow yourself the opportunity to have the best player at every position. And, as you will see below, this strategy works best when your opponent is aware of pool-limiting and block strategies.

The key point is, how can you throw off your opponent’s plan and trick him into giving you more of what you want?

The steps to ensure optimal prime picks are:

  1. Identify the correct top picks
  2. Attack your opponent’s counter attacks (i.e. he takes your running back, keep wiping out another position.)
  3. Know your opponent’s most likely move and limit their choices
  4. Don’t emotionally deviate from your strategy or panic.

Identifying the Top Tier Correctly

In order to appropriately gauge your course of attack, you need to correctly identify who are the most likely candidates for the top spot. Who are the juggernauts in this draft?

Regular readers know I like to find baseline measurables. In this case, I’m using the top average at each position, and how many times players have crossed the highest average at their respective positions. For example, Andrew Luck is averaging 29.0 PPG and is the highest average quarterback. Luck has scored higher than 29 points in 6 games this season, the most of any quarterback.

This gives us a good idea of the consistent top scorers at the position, and those who are not. Below is a list of players in the four major offensive positions that have crossed that barrier (PPR scoring).

Quarterbacks Running Backs Wide Receivers Tight Ends
A. Luck (6) D. Murray (6) A. Brown (5) G. Olsen (6)
A. Rodgers (5) M. Forte (5) J. Nelson (4) J. Graham (5)
P. Manning (3) M. Lynch (4) J. Maclin (4) J. Thomas (4)
T. Brady (3) E. Lacy (4) E. Sanders (4) M. Bennett (4)
J. Charles (3) D. Thomas (4) R. Gronkowski (3)
A. Foster (3) R. Cobb (3) A. Gates (3)
L. Bell (3) G. Tate (3) D. Walker (3)
D. Bryant (3) Tim Wright (3)
S. Watkins (3)
B. Lafell (3)
B. Marshall (3)
M. Evans (3)
T. Hilton (3)

These are the players that are truly the high class at their positions. They are the only ones consistently scoring big. In many drafts, there are players getting selected above some of these players based on past years’ performance.

Frank Gore is an example of a running back drafted too high many times. Gore has only performed as a number one PPR running back in 10% of his games this year, and he is 39th in average points per game (1 spot below Steven Jackson and tied with Darren McFadden). He’s in many drafts this weekend playing Thursday night on Thanksgiving, and guys like Shane Vereen and Joique Bell should be drafted ahead of him, especially against Seattle.

Likewise, Matthew Stafford is the 21st ranked quarterback in average PPG, now below Kyle Orton, Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles. His failing accuracy and play have diminished returns on Calvin Johnson’s play as well. The point is draft the players that are playing like top tier this year and not just a good-looking name. The more accurate you are on this evaluation, the more effective your strategy will be.

Attacking the Counter Attack

You only get to pick a maximum of two NFL games in a Fantasy Throwdown challenge, so limiting the pool can be difficult against better players. They are looking to counter what you are doing. This is where optimal prime strategy kicks in. Let me explain.

In a game last week, I attempted to limit the quarterback pool by selecting Packers-Vikings and Cowboys-Giants. In hindsight, Romo’s performance nullified this approach, but in theory, Aaron Rodgers was the only elite option. My opponent then countered by selecting Broncos-Dolphins, which inserts another elite option into the ring with Peyton Manning.

Instead of abandoning my initial approach, I stuck with it and employed what I believed was the best course to getting to the best players.

STEP 1: Select Aaron Rodgers (my top rated QB based on recent play)

  • If opponent does not select Manning, I can block next round
  • If opponent does select Manning, he is only able to select one other player allowing more good players to fall to me

STEP 2: Select top options in position opponent left

  • Opponent selected Manning and DeMarco Murray
  • Select optimal wide receivers – Jordy Nelson and Demaryius Thomas
  • Opponent’s optimal choice: chase wide receivers or limit pool of running backs for me.

STEP 3: Snag prime running backs

  • Opponent actually split RB/WR, which was least optimal and allowed more good players to fall
  • Select Eddie Lacy and C.J. Anderson – two prime backs.
  • Opponent most likely takes two WR and leaves one more good one for me.

STEP 4: Remaining receiver and limit other positions

  • Should have selected Odell Beckham here and a TE, but the theory was still correct.

Below is the completed draft, but as you can see this works with a good opponent who maximizes pools that you tried to limit. I ended up winning despite the ODB mistake, as you can see. This strategy allowed me to grab two of the top three running backs and the top wide receiver along with a top tier quarterback. Hopefully, you can use this or block strategy in your Throwdown games this week, and earn a victory.


Three Keys To Victory – Week 12: Block Strategy

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
When I think football and block, former Seattle Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones sure comes to mind. Channel your inner Walter Jones when using the block playing Fantasy Throwdown.

When I think football and block, former Seattle Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones sure comes to mind. Channel your inner Walter Jones when using the block playing Fantasy Throwdown.

One of the best parts of Fantasy Throwdown is the “block” as a draft position. This unique aspect of the game is unlike any other fantasy draft that I know, and has an addicting appeal.

I wrote about blocking on the very first article I wrote for Throwdown, but I haven’t touched on it in a while. As Matt Waldman put it, use your block wisely and, “force your opponent to settle for a scrub.”

Related Reading:
Flex + Block
Strategy by awilde27

Setting up the Block

Limit the player pool

The first key to blocking in Fantasy Throwdown is setting yourself up during the NFL game selection process. The goal is to select matchups where there is one or two elite options surrounded by several average players. The best way to do this is by finding one or zero elite options (at one position) in the matchups that you choose.

The easiest positions right now to gain an advantage are QB, RB and TE.

  • Only five quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Jay Cutler) have gained 21 or more points in 70% of their games this season.
  • Conversely, there are 19 quarterbacks who have scored less than 16.25 points in 50% or more of their games.
  • Only three tight ends (Rob Gronkowski, Julius Thomas and Greg Olsen have six games of 9 or more points. Gronkowski is far above any TE.
  • Likewise, Demarco Murray, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Mark Ingram, and Matt Forte are the only running backs to score 13 or more points in 70% of their games this season, and it’s no better than 50/50 for anyone else.

It’s possible to actually gain advantage in two positions by selecting the only solid option in one position, while blocking another. Select the, “choose the first two NFL games” option at the inception of your challenge to give you the best advantage in setting this up.

This strategy, of course, assumes that your opponent wasn’t left with the likes of a “Jonas Gray” surprise performance when you do block them.

TE example for Week 12: Select Pats-Lions and Browns-Falcons. With Rob Gronkowski, and no other legit option, odds are that there will be a very shallow pool of tight ends.

Evaluating the Block

Shallow vs. deep, and timing

The second key point in blocking effectively is correctly identifying:

  1. Which position is shallow and
  2. Which round is best for blocking

Evaluating this at the beginning of the draft is important, but this process is also fluid as positions become shallow through the drafting process. For instance, there may only be four good running backs, and you each have one. The next possible round look to grab one and then block the other.

Three other rules to remember:

  1. Wide receiver is the least valuable block at beginning of drafts – Almost every week there has been a different number one wide receiver, but if you’re in a draft with Antonio Brown, this could change.
  2. Don’t be afraid to draft a QB or TE first if it is the most shallow position – Remember you’re looking for a statistical advantage.
  3. Adjust your shallow/deep marks based on your lineup – If you’re playing in a massive game, shallowness of position will definitely change. Judge where the drop-off is for each position and plan accordingly.

Top values at each position (based on consistency + elite level performance): Andrew Luck, DeMarco Murray, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski

Putting It All Together

Here’s a real life example from last week in a battle between Mike and I. As you will see, we both used blocking effectively, but I was able to use the combination of a shallow position and an effective block to give myself an advantage.

STEP 1: Choose select first two NFL games and limit the player pool

I chose Texans-Browns and 49ers-Giants, which in my opinion had no automatic start at quarterback, a lot of question marks at running back, and only Larry Donnell at tight end.

STEP 2: Evaluate the shallow position (my ranks below based on average performance)

Quarterbacks Running Backs Wide Receivers Tight Ends
Drew Brees Arian Foster (Q) A.J. Green Jimmy Graham
Colin Kaepernick Mark Ingram Odell Beckham Larry Donnell
Eli Manning Jeremy Hill DeAndre Hopkins Vernon Davis
Andy Dalton Rashad Jennings Brandin Cooks Jermaine Gresham
Brian Hoyer Frank Gore Anquan Boldin Jordan Cameron
Ryan Mallett Terrance West Mohamed Sanu Garrett Graham
Isaiah Crowell Andre Johnson
Reuben Randle
Marques Colston
(Browns Receivers)

Quarterback and Tight End are the most shallow, but possibly running back. I was oblivious to Arian Foster’s health status at the time of our draft. So, I left him in my evaluation but moved him further down the draft board.

STEP 3: Attempt to grab Drew Brees, and use the block to create a bigger gap in another position

Again, these are my ranking assumptions. Statistically none of the other quarterbacks are stable.

This is the how the draft went:

  • I was able to select Drew Brees first and complete phase 1 of my plan (although after the fact, given his and other QB performances in this challenge, that seemed moot).
  • Mike went with Mark Ingram and Jimmy Graham, effectively swallowing out those two positions slightly.
  • I then grabbed the most stable wide receivers in a healthy A.J. Green and Odell Beckham.
  • Mike evaluated Frank Gore higher than me, but the block on Jeremy Hill was good strategy.
  • I was able to turn the deep position of wide receiver into a shallow one by grabbing my top three and blocking the fourth.
  • I got lucky that Donnell wasn’t blocked and he happened to outscore Graham.


Sometimes, you can implement the best strategy and still lose, but hopefully, this gives you a better idea of how to use your blocks. Good luck and good blocking this week!

Three Keys To Victory – Week 11: Running Back Matchup Analysis Spotting Plus Opportunities

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
Fantasy Throwdown players love drafting running backs early and often. Tim finds some plus matchups this week at RB, including Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy. I just can't quit McCoy, even after another solid game by teammate Darren Sproles.

Fantasy Throwdown players love drafting running backs early and often. Tim finds some plus matchups this week at RB, including Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy. I just can’t quit McCoy, even after another big game by teammate Darren Sproles.

Based on average draft position this year, the running back position is the most coveted roster slot in all Fantasy Throwdown games. Locking this down seems to be of the highest priority. If you look at the top 10 highest ADP in the last four weeks, the rundown (8/10, 7/10, 5/10, 7/10) shows this preference among Throwdown drafters.

This week is dedicated solely to helping drafters know when to snatch a guy early, or wait for a running back later. To do this, I took a look at how each running back in the league performs above average versus each team. This is a little different than just simply fantasy points allowed. Instead, I took a look at percentage increase or decrease running backs have against each team in particular categories (rushing averages, attempts, touchdowns, receptions, fantasy points.)

Example: Denard Robinson is averaging 4.8 yards per rush on the season. Against the Bengals in week 9, he averaged 5.5 yards per rush – a 15 percent increase over his season average. The composite average shows us how running backs are doing versus certain teams.

Nothing is guaranteed but this gives us a good idea of what to expect. If you had simply applied the performance percentages to Justin Forsett‘s attempts and yardage prior to last week’s game, you would have come up with an estimated increase in carries and yards to 20/116. Forsett finished with 20 carries and 112 yards. The formula is not that accurate, of course, but the approximation gives us a more educated projection.

Increased Carry Opportunities

On average, running backs are averaging 22% more carries per week against the Cincinnati Bengals. For evidence of this, you have to look no further than last week’s Cleveland Browns. Terrance West carried 26 times and Isaiah Crowell 12, both of which were above their season averages of 13 and 7 respectively. Mark Ingram is running as strong as any running back in the league, and he comes in averaging 19 carries a game. Jeremy Hill has been a popular pick, but you’d be wise to ride Mark Ingram like the New Orleans Saints are doing. He is now top five in average standard fantasy points per game at 16.3 ppg.

Maybe due to their teams having leads, running backs are carrying the ball 31% this year when facing the Oakland Raiders. This has also led to better production when facing the Raiders. The San Diego Chargers have the Raiders on tap this week, and Ryan Mathews is expected back. The reports are that he is to assume lead back duties, but may have to work his way back in. According to Rotoworld, Mathews says “My legs feel good. My body feels good. I feel fast.” I would expect both him and Branden Oliver to have good days versus the Raiders, especially coming off a bye week.

Running backs with plus attempts matchups: LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews, Branden Oliver, Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown, Lamar Miller, Mark Ingram, Frank Gore, Alfred Morris, Arian Foster, Charles Sims, Matt Forte, Jerrick McKinnon, Jonathon Stewart, Steven Jackson

Increased Production Opportunities

San Francisco showed a renewed dedication to the ground game last week, and Frank Gore was the beneficiary. Gore had his second highest attempts of the year, and he faces the New York Giants this week who just gave up four touchdowns to Marshawn Lynch. On the year, the Giants have allowed a 45% average increase in yards and a 16% increase in fantasy points to all running backs. This would put Gore safely at about 80 yards and 10 standard fantasy points, with a chance for more. Selecting this matchup limits the player pool a little as Andre Williams vs. San Francisco is not as enticing.

Eddie Lacy is averaging more than 3 ppg than either LeSean McCoy or Darren Sproles in standard leagues. But he should be drafted after these two this week, as Green Bay is allowing an average increase of 48% in running back yardage and 53% increase in fantasy points per running back. The Eagles are a pass happy team, but McCoy and Sproles could be in for a feast this week vs. the Pack. The Eagles have allowed five rushing touchdowns as well. So, if you want a lot of juicy running backs in your pool, this is your matchup.

Running backs with plus yardage matchups: Alfred Morris, LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Frank Gore, Ryan Mathews, Branden Oliver, Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown, Arian Foster, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Steven Jackson, Jerrick McKinnon, Lamar Miller, Jonathon Stewart, Alfred Morris

Increased Reception Opportunities

Marshawn Lynch is the top back in this matchup in PPR formats, averaging almost exactly four more points per contest than Jamaal Charles. Coming off a four touchdown game, he is still hot, and he is actually averaging slightly more receptions per game than Charles.

Despite that, I’ll be choosing Jamaal Charles in this matchup for two reasons. Primarily, running backs are averaging 50% more receptions above their season averages against Seattle. They’ve had a running back catch at least 5 balls in almost every game this season, and even “stone hands” Andre Williams caught five last week. Secondly, the Chiefs have allowed 0 rushing or receiving touchdowns to running backs this season. As long as Andy Reid doesn’t pull an “Andy Reid”, Charles is the better back this week.

Ahmad Bradshaw is the most exciting PPR play this week as he faces the New England Patriots. Bradshaw is sixth in the league in receptions per game (3.78), but that number is set to skyrocket this week. Running backs average 18% boost in receptions versus the Pats, and New England has given up the most receiving touchdowns to running backs this year (6.) Trent Richardson‘s 2.63 receptions per game could see a boost as well, and both running backs may compete with Shane Vereen for best PPR running back in this matchup. In what proves to be a shootout, you may want to have these guys this week.

Running backs with plus reception matchups: LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Frank Gore, Jamaal Charles, Ahmad Bradshaw, Trent Richardson, Darren McFadden, Tre Mason, Joique Bell, Theo Riddick, Eddie Lacy, Lamar Miller

Three Keys To Victory – Week 10: ADP and Elite vs. Subpar Performances, PPR Scoring

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014


To quote the immortal Tommy Boy,

[A] guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box ’cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.

And while I can’t guarantee you points in fantasy football, I’ll get you as close as I can by revisiting who the most consistent performers are in some of your top matchups this weekend.

Last week, I looked at some of the most popular teams picked on a weekly basis, and compared ADP’s of players on those teams vs. how consistently they are performing. This week I am doing part two of this analysis, but this time, we’ll look at PPR performance and how it affects ADP.

The top 5 teams in the most games in the last three weeks are the: New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Bears.

In case you missed last week, check out last week’s article for a review of the benchmarks below:

Elite 24.4 23.4 20.0 16.0
#1 21.9 16.2 18.1 11.7
#2 12.4 14.3 8.5
Subpar 16.3 11.1 11.5 7.3

Pittsburgh Steelers (9) vs. New York Jets (24)

Big Ben Roethlisberger is tearing up the history books in the past two games, but he was barely start-worthy in his first part of the season. What’s changed? The addition of Martavis Bryant is definitely one factor. Bryant was out of action for the first six games, and all he has done since is come in and catch 5 touchdowns in the past three games. That touchdown mark leads the league in the past three weeks. He also has more #1 level performances this year than Percy Harvin and Eric Decker, with far fewer games. Next to Antonio Brown (fantasy’s most consistent and elite performing wide receiver), he is forming a dynamic duo. Decker and Bryant were very close in ADP last week, but Bryant should stay ahead.

Although, the Steelers offense as a whole has been better, it’s worth noting that with the change to Michael Vick, Percy Harvin and Eric Decker did have their best PPR games of the season, and the Steelers are playing without Troy Polamalu and Ryan Shazier. Their ADPs are almost off the board, and all Jets and Steelers receivers could make solid upside plays this week.

Performers with 50%+ number one games in this matchup:
Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Le’Veon Bell

New York Giants (1) vs. Seattle Seahawks (22)

If you look at averages for the year, Russell Wilson is averaging 22.7 points per game and Eli Manning is averaging 20.6, but this number is deceiving. They have both performed above the #1 mark in 38% of games, and they have both fallen below subpar in 63% of games. But Eli actually has more elite games than Russell Wilson – 38% to 25%, which means Eli is the better value on the year. Digging further into the last three weeks, Eli is at 100% elite level while Wilson is 1 for 3. The problem is Wilson doesn’t throw when the Seahawks game script doesn’t warrant it, especially when winning. Thus, he has become a riskier play. Whereas, Eli is going to be behind a lot and throwing, and he was drafted at ADP four rounds after Wilson, according to last week’s data.

Last week, I wrote that readers need to, “wake up and smell the Beckham” and draft Beckham over T.Y. Hilton, but it appears everyone ignored my bad pun and stayed asleep. He had an ADP of 12.74 last week, which was below Reuben Randle and Doug Baldwin in this matchup. Beckham proceeded to outscore Hilton, and had a top 10 PPR week. He now joins Sammy Watkins, Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb, and Golden Tate as the only 100% elite PPR performers in the past three weeks. He’s scored at least 20 PPR points in his last two weeks, and he’s getting better each week.

Performers with 50%+ number one games in this matchup:
Odell Beckham Jr., Larry Donnell, Marshawn Lynch

Green Bay Packers (4) vs. Chicago Bears (5)

Randall Cobb should be the top drafted Green Bay Packers wide receiver, but he is outdrafted every week by Jordy Nelson. On the year, he has crossed the elite and #1 wide receiver marks more times than Jordy Nelson, and he has three more touchdowns on the year. In the past three weeks, Cobb is the only Green Bay receiver to perform like a number one wide receiver at all. Nelson’s boom is a big one, when he goes off, but if I’m looking at guarantees, Cobb is my man.

I’d draft both Green Bay receivers before any Chicago receivers, as Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey have been wildly inconsistent. Chicago’s situation closely resembles Green Bay’s, in that Marshall is consistently drafted above Jeffrey. Jeffrey though on the year is the better PPR play, and he has performed as a number one receiver 38% of games, which is higher than Marshall’s 29% and the same as Jordy Nelson. Jeffrey leads the team in receiving also, with almost 200 more yards than Marshall.

Jeffrey and Marshall are not the top two receivers on the team, though, as they are third and fourth on the team in receptions, falling behind Matt Forte (58) and Martellus Bennett (47). Bennett is the third most consistent PPR tight end behind only Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. What’s even more astounding is he has crossed the 16 point mark (elite PPR TE) in 5 games this season, which is more times than either Jeffrey (4) or Marshall (3) have scored 16 PPR points in a game this season. He went virtually undrafted in Week 8 and proceeded to outscore both receiving teammates.

Forte, on the other hand, is second only to Antonio Brown in the league lead for receptions, but he’s already being drafted higher than everyone but DeMarco Murray.

Performers with 50%+ number one games in this matchup:
Matt Forte, Randall Cobb, Martellus Bennett, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler

Three Keys to Victory – Week 9: Comparing ADP and Player Performance to Find Value

Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Thinking about drafting Tony Romo over Carson Palmer this week from the Dallas Cowboys-Arizona Cardinals game? Romo typically gets drafted first, but Palmer appears to have a higher floor and ceiling.

Thinking about drafting Tony Romo over Carson Palmer this week from the Cardinals-Cowboys game? Romo typically gets drafted earlier, but Palmer appears to have a higher floor and ceiling.

In case you missed it, Mike created a page showing average draft position of players for all Fantasy Throwdown drafts on a weekly basis. The information also includes which NFL games (or teams) are selected the most for Throwdown games each week. If you want to get a good idea about when to draft certain players, this data could prove invaluable.

This week, I’m looking at some of the most popular teams picked weekly, and I am comparing ADP’s of players on those teams vs. how consistently they are performing. The top 5 teams selected in Throwdown games in the last three weeks are: Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers.

In order to compare player performance, I used player stats from (same scoring used at Fantasy Throwdown) and set benchmarks at four different levels – elite (top 3), #1 Starter (top 10), #2 (top 20), and subpar (below average starter). Using current averages at each position, I set the benchmark average.

For instance, Giovani Bernard is currently the 10th running back in average points per game with 13.2 points. Andre Ellington sits at 11th with 13.1. Thus, a running back needs to score better than the average 11th place running back to have a top 10 score. For fantasy purposes, looking at how many times a player actually plays like a starter, in conjunction with ADP, can prove valuable for future success playing Fantasy Throwdown.

Elite 24.2 17.7 14.5
#1 21.8 13.1 11.5
#2 9.9 10.0
Subpar 16.1 8.6 6.8

Dallas (2nd) vs. Arizona (22nd)

Although, neither QB is drafted particularly high an any week, Tony Romo is drafted higher than Carson Palmer in almost every week they have both been an active. Last week, Romo had an ADP of 10.3 (56th best), while Palmer’s ADP was 13.29 (90th best). Many drafts did not select Palmer. But according to the data, Palmer is a much safer bet on a per week basis. Palmer has scored above the elite 24.2 benchmark in half of his starts this year, compared to only 25% for Romo. Palmer’s worst game of the season thus far sits at 19.65, while Romo has four games lower than that. Thus, Palmer has a higher ceiling and lower floor at the moment and should be drafted higher. He should outplay any Dallas QB.

The wide receivers in this matchup are tricky. If you look at the body of work for the entire year, the order of consistency and elite performance would rank (in order): Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, John Brown, Michael Floyd, and then Larry Fitzgerald. Thus, Dallas is higher, but if you are ranking them on performances from the last three weeks, all of Arizona’s receivers would rank higher, with Fitzgerald leading the way and Brown second. Fitzgerald has had two elite performances in the past two weeks, with one zero mixed in. The only other receiver to top 10th twice in the past two weeks in this matchup is Floyd, but he zeroed last week as well.

The Cardinals offense in the past three weeks has been better, and Dallas will most likely lean on the run with Romo ailing. According to Rotoviz data, Dez’s numbers go down in games without Romo. Either way, you can probably hold off on Cowboys wide receivers and wait for the Cardinals corps. Last week, Floyd was the only Cardinals WR on the top 100 ADP board.

Indianapolis (8th) vs. NY Giants (3rd)

Here are the seven guys that have performed above the top 10 running back mark in over 50% of games played this season: DeMarco Murray (100%), Matt Forte (75%), Mark Ingram (75%), Arian Foster (71%), Lamar Miller (71%), Le’Veon Bell (50%), and Ahmad Bradshaw (50%). Only five of those guys have performed at elite level in over 25% of their games, and Bradshaw is in that group as well. He’s the best running back in the matchup even if Jennings is back.

The second best running back in the matchup is actually Bradshaw’s backfield mate Trent Richardson. Only 11 running backs are averaging more points per game in the past three weeks. Surprisingly, he is putting up decent numbers. Richardson has scored above 11.84 in over half of his games, and Andre Williams has been a huge disappointment. Two weeks ago, both Colts were drafted over Andre Williams. But last week, Richardson was not in the top 100. That should change in this matchup.

If you’re looking for elite performance out of wide receiver, your best bet is T.Y. Hilton, who has scored over 20 points in two of his last three matchups. But, the receiver with the highest percentage of games as a number one receiver on the year in this matchup is Odell Beckham Jr. (33%). Granted the sample size is small, but Beckham has two games out of three with 10 points or more. All three of his touchdowns came within the red zone, and the Giants like to throw there. Wayne, Hilton, and Randle are all getting drafted ahead of him in recent weeks. It’s time to wake up and smell the Beckham.

Denver (7th) vs. New England (17th)

On the year, Peyton Manning is second only to Andrew Luck in consistency and elite scoring, and he is drafted as such. But, looking at the past three weeks, no quarterback is outperforming Tom Terrific. Only four quarterbacks have had 100% elite production in the past three weeks (Luck, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady), and none of them are averaging over 30 fantasy points per game like Brady. This is going to be a great matchup to watch, but there is a good chance you can grab Brady second and outscore Peyton Manning.

Ask one hundred people who the top 3 wide receivers in this matchup are, and you will get a variety of answers after Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The correct answer, though, is Brandon LaFell. LaFell is currently the 20th best wide receiver in standard scoring formats. He’s one of only nine players averaging over 15 points per game in the past three weeks. He’s had more number one performances than Edelman this season, but Edelman was ranked 59th in ADP last week while LaFell was unranked.

Finally, here is a list of running backs that were drafted over Hillman last week and have a higher percentage of subpar performances this year (excluding race for the bottom guys): Andre Ellington, LeSean McCoy, Ben Tate, Justin Forsett, Jerick McKinnon, Doug Martin, Joique Bell, Shane Vereen, Eddie Lacy and Darren McFadden. In games started, Hillman has not scored below 11 points in any contest. He should be drafted higher.

Three Keys To Victory – Week 8: With Or Without You, Palmer, Orton, Megatron and Alex Mack

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014


Any type of change for a team or player can change their outlook on the field. A receiver clicks with a certain quarterback or a guy steps up when someone gets injured. Either way, it’s important to pay attention to ebb and flow of these changes during the season to see how it affects play on the field.

I looked at three different changes (quarterbacking, missing key players, and time of year) to see how it affects some key offensive weapons. Using these three keys may help you spot other good picks this week. Good luck and draft wisely in your Fantasy Throwdown games this week.

Where’s My Quarterback?

Michael Floyd was picked by many as a breakout sleeper this year, and when he started off the season with a 5 catch, 119 yard performance, it looked to be true. His next game was poor though, and he has struggled with consistency.

A closer look tells us that Floyd’s success hinges on Carson Palmer‘s health. This season Floyd is targeted less when Palmer is on the field, but every other number is up. Palmer’s accuracy as a quarterback allows for a more efficient offense. According to Pro Football Focus’s measure of catchable balls throw, 81% of the balls are catchable when Palmer throws to Floyd. This is drastically different without Palmer this year, as only 40% of balls are catchable. In two career games vs. the Eagles, Floyd has scored in both games, and I look for a third this week.

Michael Floyd, 2014 Games Targets Rec Yards TD
With Palmer 3 5.7 4.0 71.0 0.7
With other QB 3 7.3 2.3 46.7 0.0

Speaking of inaccurate quarterbacks, E.J. Manuel is 30th in Pro Football Focus’s true accuracy percentages, while Kyle Orton is listed at 16th. The change at quarterback in Buffalo has led to better numbers for Sammy Watkins, similar as the Michael Floyd case.

In this case, though, Orton knows to target his best receiver, as he is averaging almost 10 targets a game with Orton (and approximately 80 yards and a touchdown per game.) Orton’s already passed Manuel’s passing yards and passing touchdowns in one less game, and organized a magnificent comeback last week finishing with a touchdown to Watkins. Facing a reeling Jets team, these two should continue their success this week.

Sammy Watkins, 2014 Games Targets Rec Yards TD
With Orton 3 9.7 6.0 78.7 0.7
With other QB 4 8.0 4.3 49.3 0.5

We’re Missing Something…

There is a very small number of games that Calvin Johnson has missed over the years, and thus, the sample size is small. But, based on that number, Matthew Stafford throws 3 less passing attempts per game, approximately 70 less yards, and about 1 less passing touchdown. This seems reasonable with a beast like Calvin off the field. His absence this season, coupled with the poor play of Reggie Bush, boosts the numbers of Joique Bell. In the two games Megatron has been absent, Bell has a significant increase in carries and yards. He scored in both of those games.

Calvin is unlikely to play this week again based on all reports and Bell is facing one of the worst rush defenses in the league in the Atlanta Falcons.

Joique Bell, 2014 Games RuAt RuYd TD
With Calvin 4 12.0 38.0 0.3
Without Calvin 2 18.0 61.0 1.0

Sometimes an entire offense simply suffers when a key piece is missing. Football is a team sport. You can’t pin everything on one guy, but Alex Mack made a big case for it on the Cleveland Browns this week. Isaiah Crowell said that “Alex Mack being hurt is a big hindrance in the running game. Weren’t as many holes.” This was evident in their entire running game, but specifically, I would be wary of Ben Tate this week despite a good matchup. Mack was rated as the third best overall lineman this year according to Pro Football Focus and fifth best run blocker. And based on stats below, Crowell may be right about not finding holes.

Ben Tate, 2014 Games RuAtt RuYd TD
With Alex Mack 3 17.7 81.0 0.7
Without Alex Mack 1 16.0 36.0 0.0

Quarterbacks or Fine Wine?

The other situation that is changing for all teams and players is the time of year. For each person, how they finish seasons is different, but since 2011, there are two quarterbacks in particular who have a track record of playing better towards the end of season than they started – Tony Romo and Tom Brady. These two, like fine wine, only get better with time.

Romo is infamous for late season collapses and failed playoff runs, but most of these memories we have of Romo are based on one or two memorable infamous plays in the fourth quarter and not his body of work. Using Rotoviz’s game splits app, I compared numbers in the first eight games of each season and the last nine games.

As you can see from the chart below, while his yards and attempts have stayed fairly similar, his touchdowns have increased. In addition, he has a history of finishing the season with a better touchdown to interception ratio. Since 2011, Romo has faced the Redskins 6 times and is averaging 267 yards and 1.8 touchdowns in those contests, and with the way these two teams are playing he could be really good this week.

Tony Romo Games PaAtt PaYd TD INT TD:Int Ratio
Weeks 1-8 25.0 36.5 277.3 1.8 1.1 1.6:1
Weeks 9-17 28.0 35.0 266.2 2.1 0.6 3.7:1

Tom Brady is even better towards the end of the season than Romo. He seems to be heating up early this year, with seven touchdowns in the last two games. The loss of Stevan Ridley is also forcing the team to rely on Tom a bit more. Since 2011, Brady has increased his statistics in every category during the final half of the season, and garnered an astounding 4.0 touchdown to interception ratio. The Chicago Bears are rated as the 7th worst team in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus, and Brady has his team rolling right now. He should outduel smokin’ Jay Cutler.

Tom Brady Games PaAtt PaYd TD INT TD:Int Ratio
Weeks 1-8 29.0 38.2 277.0 1.8 0.7 2.8:1
Weeks 9-17 25.0 39.1 312.2 2.2 0.6 4.0:1

Three Keys To Victory – Week 7: We’re Going Streaking!

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014


Streaks are hard to believe sometimes, and too many times, we hop on board after the streak has already passed us by. Knowing who’s hot (and who’s cold) can help you win some games. Forgetting about the name value and just plugging in a hot player can win you some games. Below are some teams and players that have current streaks you should pay attention to this week when drafting and watching games.

Quarterback Streaks

Philip Rivers now has a touchdown pass in 22 straight games, the longest current streak of any NFL quarterback. In addition to that, he is tied for the longest current streak of games with over 250 yards passing and 1 touchdown at five. The only other guys that come close to his performance this season are Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck (currently on 4 straight games with 300 yards and 1 TD). If his line can stop the Kansas City Chiefs pass rush, their secondary is beatable, and they have given up at least 1 touchdown to every quarterback they’ve faced.

The other quarterback who is tied with Rivers with five straight games of 250 yards passing and 1 touchdown is Kirk Cousins. He’s also fourth on the current streak of games with 30+ passing attempts with eight straight (games played). Cousins is facing the Tennessee Titans this week, who in their last three games have given up two 300+ yard passing games and two 3+ touchdown games to quarterbacks. Two of those three games were against Blake Bortles and Brian Hoyer. Cousins is rated as the number two best quarterback on play action according to Pro Football Focus (premium access required), and I expect Alfred Morris to run effectively against Tennessee setting up good play action for Cousins all day. He’s a good sleeper pick this week at Tennessee.

Receiving and Running Streaks

I mentioned Kirk Cousins chances this week vs. Tennessee, and that success may trickle down to DeSean Jackson this week as well. DeSean and Demaryius Thomas are coming off back-to-back games of at least 3 receptions and 100 receiving yards. Jackson has performed like this against two of the league’s best in Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson. Jackson is a good bet to make it three in a row this week. Cousins has the second highest Yards Per Attempt (YPA) on play action this year; which means he is throwing deep a lot. Jackson is the deep guy, and if they get the run game working with play action, as mentioned, he should have success.

Everyone is aware now that DeMarco Murray is tied with Jim Brown for most 100 yard rushing games to start a season, and Le’Veon Bell is the current leader with 12 straight games with at least 50 yards rushing (Murray second with 6). But only Arian Foster and Branden Oliver have 2 straight games with at least 100 yards rushing and 1 touchdown.

Everyone knows that Foster is a beast when healthy, but Branden Oliver has been a revelation for the San Diego Chargers. Oliver and Murray are the only players in the NFL this year to have two or more games with at least 100 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving and a touchdown in the same game. With a middle of the road matchup at KC, Oliver should continue to find success this week and can easily be grabbed after Jamaal Charles with a chance to outscore him.

Only the Houston Texans (at PIT), New York Jets (at NE), Carolina Panthers (at GB) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have given up 20 or more passes in five straight games. This increases the odds of high passing and receiving stats. Tampa is on a bye, but the rest have matchups that you will want to exploit. The matchup I like best is New England Patriots versus the Jets. Stevan Ridley is out, and I think Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski will lead the way to a higher passing game.

Touchdown and PPR Streaks

Only one guy in the NFL has 10 receptions in back-to-back games this season and he has a chance to do it again this week. Surprisingly, it’s not a receiver, its Matt Forte. He’s currently sitting on three straight games of 150 total yards and two straight 10 reception games. At this point, he’s a PRR goldmine, and, according to, Miami is giving up the 9th most receptions per game to running backs and the 14th most fantasy points per game to running backs (PPR scoring). Matt Forte has a chance to repeat against the Dolphins this week.

Antonio Brown has now upped is streak of 5+ receptions to 22 straight games. The next four on that list are T.Y. Hilton (9), Golden Tate (7), Matt Forte (6) and Steve Smith (6). But, Antonio Brown also has at least 50 receiving yards in every game in that streak, and T.Y. Hilton is the only other player to have a current streak of five or more games with at least 5 receptions and 50 yards. Hilton has now done it in five straight games. Pair that with Andrew Luck’s streak mentioned above, and this streak should last for a while.

Julius Thomas currently has five straight games with a touchdown and nine total on the year. He’s a no-brainer high draft pick, but the only other player who currently has four straight games with a touchdown is Antone Smith. I rarely write about a guy in this column two weeks in a row, but this guy is playing amazing right now. At 3.8 touches per game, this streak has to eventually end, but there is a measure of consistency now scoring in five out of six and four straight.