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By the Numbers: Saquon Barkley, Stefon Diggs, Kerryon Johnson

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Oct 24, 2018

Numbers matter in fantasy football. There’s no denying that. Passing yards are measured in numbers. Receiving TDs are measured in numbers. Rushing yards, receptions, interceptions, rushing TDs – that’s right, all numbers. The most critical fantasy number is points scored. Score more than your opponent, and you win. Score even a fraction of a point less, and you lose.

Numbers don’t just matter in fantasy football. They are everything. Fantasy owners can read the box score of every game every week, but that doesn’t always tell the whole story. Numbers without context are meaningless. Some numbers matter more than others, some are good predictors of future behavior, some are fluky and hard to consistently forecast, and others merely reinforce what our eyes already tell us about a particular player.

Before we get started with this week’s numbers, let’s take a look at some follow-ups. In last week’s article, we talked about Julio Jones’ TD drought, Todd Gurley’s TD monsoon, Jared Goff’s troubles on the road, and Adam Thielen’s record-setting start to the season.

  • Julio failed to score in Week 7, bringing his streak to 12 games without crossing the pylon
  • Todd Gurley scored three more times, bringing his full season pace to 32, which would be an NFL record
  • Jared Goff had a fair outing in San Fran, but he still only scored 16.5 points
  • Adam Thielen tied an NFL record with his seventh straight 100-yard receiving game to start the season, and he is one game off of the all-time record for consecutive 100-yard games overall

Now that we covered our bases from last week, here are some stats to keep in mind heading into Week 8 after an unusual Week 7. As always, we’re going “By the Numbers.”

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19 – Quarterbacks who have scored more points than Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson is the QB20 through this point in the season.

Why should I care?

Wilson was a consensus top-five QB pick in drafts this year, but he has been a major disappointment to fantasy owners who drafted him. He’s scored less than a point more than Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was benched at halftime in Week 4. On a per game basis, Wilson is scoring less than one point more above the next two QBs — Brock Osweiler and Dak Prescott. That’s not the best company to keep in 2018. The problem isn’t Wilson’s play. It’s his complete lack of volume.

This season, the Seahawks are running the ball 30.0 times per game, second-most in the NFL. They rank dead last with 27.5 pass attempts per game. The pass attempts are down 7.2 per game from last season’s 34.7. That makes a big difference in opportunity and ultimately, production. Wilson hasn’t been a reliable fantasy option this season, finishing inside the top-12 only three times in six games played. He’s not poised to have a resurgence in the second half, and fantasy owners should stop treating him as an every-week starter. He’s not that guy this year.

74 – Kerryon Johnson’s rush yards per game

Kerryon Johnson has totaled 444 rushing yards this season, averaging 74.0 yards per game.

Why should I care?

His rushing yards rank ninth in the NFL and his YPG rank eighth. The “Wayward Son” has turned into the prodigal son in Detroit, delivering a pair of 100-yard rushing efforts in six games after Detroit failed to produce one over the last five seasons. The Lions are 3-3 this season, and it’s no coincidence that all of the wins came when Johnson touched the ball at least 14 times. In those games, he averages 125 scrimmage yards.

Given the opportunity, it’s clear that the rookie can be productive, evidenced by his 179-yard outburst in Week 7 on 21 touches. LeGarrette Blount shockingly still gets work in this offense, and he’s lumbered to a disgraceful 2.9 YPC this season. Hopefully, Matt Patricia takes the pencil out of his ear and writes Blount out of the game-script but, until that happens, Kerryon is still a weekly RB2.

49 – Saquon Barkley’s receptions this season

Giants’ rookie Saquon Barkley has 49 receptions through seven games in 2018.

Why should I care?

Barkley has been a breath of fresh air on an otherwise stale Giants offense. Fantasy owners who were hesitant to draft him are kicking themselves now as Barkley is the second-highest scoring fantasy back this season, behind only the incomparable Todd Gurley. Barkley could achieve some tremendous statistical feats if he keeps up his current pace.

Through seven games, Barkley has 481 yards rushing and 424 yards receiving. He could become just the third player to hit the illustrious “double thousand” mark of 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season, joining Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk. His seven receptions per game put him on pace for a ridiculous 112 receptions for the season.

Barkley is thriving as the centerpiece of the Giants offense, consistently catching Eli Manning’s specialty, the dump-off pass. He’ll continue to be featured each week, and he’s a top-3 RB play every week.

6.4 – Stefon Diggs’ yards per target this season

Stefon Diggs has caught 48 of 73 targets this year for just 468 yards, a 6.4 Y/Tg average.

Why should I care?

His Y/Tg ranks third-fewest among players with at least 60 targets this year, behind only Michael Crabtree and Jarvis Landry. Diggs was touted as a top-12 WR almost universally heading into this season, and his big contract extension seemed to seal the deal. So far, Diggs is the WR12 in PPR and the WR20 in standard, but he has been inconsistent, posting three games under 35 receiving yards, including his last two.

He hasn’t scored since Week 2, and owners should expect a bit of a roller coaster. Still, he’s had double-digit targets in five of seven weeks, including three with at least 13. Better weeks are ahead, and Diggs is a prime buy-low candidate.

5.4 – Fantasy PPG for Jacksonville D/ST

The Jaguars D/ST is averaging a mediocre 5.4 fantasy PPG.

Why should I care?

Jacksonville is averaging the seventh-fewest fantasy PPG among D/STs this year after finishing as the overall D/ST1 in 2017. As predicted in our very first “By the Numbers,” the Jags have regressed tremendously on defense and were not worth their pricey 8th – 9th round ADP.

This defensive unit is giving up a field goal more per game to opponents in PPG than they did in 2017. Even more alarming is the turnover disparity between last year and this year. In 2017, Jacksonville finished second in the NFL with 33 takeaways. This season, they rank 30th in that category with only five takeaways, on pace for less than half of their 2017 total. This team is a mess, and the upcoming schedule doesn’t set up well for a defensive turnaround. There are better D/ST streaming options most weeks.

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Zachary Hanshew is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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