By the Numbers: T.Y. Hilton, Amari Cooper, Saquon Barkley

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Dec 12, 2018

Larry Fitzgerald now appears to be Arizona’s de facto No. 1 WR heading into Week 15

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 fewer, and you lose.

In the world of fantasy football, numbers are everything. Fantasy owners can read the box score of each 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.

We’ve now reached the second week of the fantasy playoffs in what has been an odd yet interesting season. I’m going to look at one stat that stood out from the Week 14 games for every team. Once again, let’s go “By the Numbers.”

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Arizona Cardinals
55 – Larry Fitzgerald’s receiving yards in Week 14

Fitz posted his most receiving yards since Week 8 in this one. Even in PPR formats (normally where he excels), he’s been pretty much unplayable, posting only 12 catches over his last four games. He’s scored three times in that span, but the numbers just haven’t been there. With Christian Kirk on the IR, Fitz saw his most targets and receptions in five weeks. He may be a sneaky option against the Falcons in Week 15, especially as a cheap DFS play.

Atlanta Falcons
210.8 – Pass yards allowed by Arizona’s D/ST over the last three weeks

Ryan and the Falcons face the Cardinals in Week 15, and the Cards have allowed 210.7 pass yards per game to opposing teams over their last three games (seventh fewest in the NFL). Ryan is averaging 196.5 passing yards per game in his last two and faces another stiff test. He’s not a high-tier option for the fantasy semis.

Baltimore Ravens
80 – Kenneth Dixon’s total yards in Week 14

He trumped Gus Edwards‘ yardage 80 – 67 on seven fewer touches. Edwards isn’t a factor in the passing game and neither is Ty Montgomery. Dixon looks like he may be a flex play for the home stretch.

Buffalo Bills
104 – Robert Foster‘s receiving yards in Week 14

Foster once again led the Bills in receiving. He’s accounted for at least 94 yards or a TD in three of his last four games. Without Kelvin Benjamin around, he looks like the Bills’ 1B receiver to Zay Jones and may be in for a big game against a beatable Detroit pass defense in Week 15.

Carolina Panthers
11 – Ian Thomas‘ targets in Week 14

Thomas now has 16 targets in his last two games, catching 14 of them for 123 yards. With Greg Olsen on IR, Thomas is a great start at TE over the next two weeks, facing New Orleans and Atlanta in the final two weeks of the fantasy season.

Chicago Bears
6 – Points allowed by Chicago’s D/ST in Week 14
2018’s top defensive unit shut down one of the best defenses in the NFL in Week 14, limiting Jared Goff and Co. to a mere six points. Those relying on Todd Gurley in Week 1 of the playoffs were sorely let down. Expect the Rams to rebound. This game speaks more to Chicago’s defense than to the Rams’ offense.

Cincinnati Bengals
138 – Joe Mixon’s total yards in Week 14

Mixon gained 138 scrimmage yards on 31 carries in Week 14’s loss to the Chargers. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are done for the year, and Mixon will have to be the centerpiece of the offense. He has two dream matchups in Oakland and Cleveland in Weeks 15-16.

Cleveland Browns
2 – Jarvis Landry’s TDs in Week 14

They were his first since Week 7, ending a long scoring drought. It was encouraging to see Landry gain 100 yards in back-to-back weeks, but he received his fewest targets on the season, with a measly four. The Browns have two good matchups against Denver and Cincy over the next two weeks, but his usage and lack of scoring still make him a volatile option.

Dallas Cowboys
217 – Amari Cooper’s receiving yards in Week 14

Coop exploded for 10-217-3 as Dallas beat Philly in OT on Cooper’s game-winning TD. He’s now amassed an incredible 26-473-5 line in his last three games and shows no signs of slowing down. He’s worked his way into weekly top-10 territory after his recent hot streak.

Denver Broncos
Courtland Sutton targets in Week 14

It was a disappointing day for Sutton, who saw the third-fewest targets among Broncos pass catchers. His role was expected to grow with the departure of Demaryius Thomas earlier in the season, but the production never materialized. Emmanuel Sanders went to the IR ahead of Week 14, but Sutton still wasn’t a factor in the offense. It’s officially time to give up on him as a viable fantasy option this year.

Detroit Lions
5 – Kenny Golladay’s receiving yards in Week 14

Golladay easily had his worst game of the season in Week 14, grabbing two balls for only five yards. After three games of at least 75 yards or a TD, he’s now posted a combined 5-55 line over his last two games. With two matchups in Weeks 15-16 against the Bills and Vikings solid defenses, he’s not a trustworthy play.

Green Bay Packers
196 – Aaron Rodgers‘ passing yards in Week 14

Rodgers threw for only 196 yards and two TDs against one of the league’s worst defenses in Week 14 in a disappointing showing against the Falcons. He’s thrown for under 200 yards in two of his last four games, and he should not be expected to have a huge game in Week 15 when the Packers travel to Soldier Field to face a Bears team hot off of a 15-6 win over the Rams.

Houston Texans
36 – DeAndre Hopkins‘ receiving yards in Week 14

Hop put up his fewest yards of the season, but he did score a TD to salvage an otherwise quiet day. He was still targeted 10 times and has 22 over his last two games. He faces two of the friendliest fantasy defenses to WRs in the Jets and Eagles over the final two weeks of the fantasy season, making him a clear top-five play.

Indianapolis Colts
199 – T.Y. Hilton’s receiving yards in Week 14

He’s amassed an insane 556 receiving yards in his last four games, scoring twice and hauling in 33 balls. “Eugene” faces some tall tasks against the Giants and Cowboys over the next two weeks, as both have elite passing defenses. Over the last three weeks, Dallas has allowed the 10th-fewest passing yards to opposing QBs at a paltry 194.7. Expectations may have to be tempered, but you can’t sit Hilton in the midst of his crazy hot streak.

Jacksonville Jaguars
426 – Yards allowed by Jacksonville’s D/ST in Week 14

That’s two years in a row that the Titans have swept the Jags, and Tennessee won behind 426 total yards. Jacksonville currently ranks sixth in the NFL in total yards allowed at only 324.1, but they gave up far more than their average in this ugly 30-9 loss.

Kansas City Chiefs
159 – Combined scrimmage yards from Damien Williams and Spencer Ware in Week 14

By all accounts, Ware should be good to go on Thursday night, but he did leave this game briefly with a shoulder injury. On a short week, the Chiefs may give Williams more work. It’s worth noting that Williams scored twice in Week 14.

Los Angeles Chargers
5 – Keenan Allen’s streak of scoring a TD after Week 14

Keenan scored only once in his first eight games of the season, but he’s now reached the end zone in five straight. The Chargers travel to Arrowhead in Week 15 in what’s sure to be a high-scoring affair with the division rival Chiefs. Fire him up confidently as a WR1 in that game.

Los Angeles Rams
58 – Todd Gurley’s total yards in Week 14

Gurley had his worst game of the season, racking up 58 scoreless yards in a beatdown loss to the Chicago Bears. Fantasy owners relying on him in the first round were let down in a huge way. If those owners made it to the semi-finals, they should expect Gurley to have a couple of huge games against Philly and Arizona in his next two.

Miami Dolphins
265 – Ryan Tannehill’s passing yards in Week 14

Tannehill has been surprisingly solid in his last three games, averaging over 200 yards per game passing and tossing eight TDs in that span. He now travels to Minnesota in Week 15 and has a home date with the Jags for fantasy championship week. He should be avoided in those matchups.

Minnesota Vikings
83 – Dalvin Cook’s total yards in Week 14

Cookie now has at least 75 yards and a score or 100 total yards in three straight, and he looks like he’s returned to 2017 form. Hampered by injuries in his first two seasons, he should be able to run wild against two very giving defenses in Miami and Detroit in Weeks 15 – 16.

New England Patriots
26.6 – Tom Brady’s fantasy points in Week 14

Brady was the overall QB1 this week, and he had his highest fantasy point total since Week 5. Currently the QB12 on the season, expect a huge Week 15 from Brady as the Pats travel to Heinz Field to face a Steelers team that he has historically roasted.

New Orleans Saints
11 – Michael Thomas‘ receptions in Week 14

Thomas posted an 11-98 line in Week 14’s win over the Bucs. It was a nice turnaround for Thomas who had accumulated just a 9-78 line in his last two games combined. He hasn’t scored in three straight, but look for that to change when the Saints travel to Carolina to face a reeling Panthers team.

New York Giants
1,124 – Saquon Barkley’s rushing yards after Week 14

Barkley became the first rookie with 1,000 rushing yards in the history of the storied Giants’ franchise. He piled up 170 rushing yards in a 40-16 win over the Redskins on Sunday. He’s up to 1,753 scrimmage yards on the season, and he’s sure to hit 2,000 by year’s end.

New York Jets
20 – Elijah McGuire’s total touches in Week 14

McGuire finally got his shot, and he turned 20 touches into 83 yards and a score with Isaiah Crowell leaving Week 14’s contest with a foot injury. McGuire would be a great play in Week 15 if healthy, but it appears that he’s made the injury report now with an ankle injury. Keep an eye on his practice availability this week.

Oakland Raiders
116 – Jared Cook’s receiving yards in Week 14

Cook has now posted a 14-216-1 line over the last two weeks on 18 targets, leading the Raiders in receiving in both games. He’s a no-brainer TE1 against Cincinnati in Week 15 with a tasty matchup against the Broncos on deck in Week 16.

Philadelphia Eagles
98 – Zach Ertz’s receptions after Week 14 

The single-season record for receptions by a TE is 110 set by Jason Witten in 2012. Ertz is on pace for 120, and he should break Witten’s record even if he slows down a little bit, needing just 13 receptions in the final three games of the regular season. He’s been a PPR monster all season and a top-two TE play each week.

Pittsburgh Steelers
130 – JuJu Smith-Schuster’s receiving yards in Week 14

He finished the game with an 8-130-2 line, and he’s now racked up 472 yards and three TDs in his last four games. The second-year USC product faces the Pats and Saints in the fantasy semis and finals and will remain an elite option in those games.

San Francisco 49ers
210 – George Kittle’s receiving yards in Week 14

It was the second-most receiving yards in a single game for a TE in NFL history, and he had all of his yards at halftime in what could have been an even bigger game. He faces stiff competition from the Seahawks and Bears in the next two weeks, but he’s an every-week top-three TE1.

Seattle Seahawks
72 – Russell Wilson’s passing yards in Week 14

He almost matched the passing total with 61 yards on the ground, including a late 40-yard run late in the fourth quarter to seal the game. He had no TDs after throwing 11 in his last four, and he should be a top-10 play when the Seahawks play San Francisco and Kansas City over the next two weeks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
213 – Jameis Winston’s passing yards in Week 14

He managed only 213 yards against a poor Saints passing defense in Week 14. He’s averaged 243 yards passing and two passing TDs in his last four games, and he now faces a Baltimore defense allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs. Winston is not a recommended play in Week 15.

Tennessee Titans
47.8 – Derrick Henry’s fantasy points in Week 14

It was the biggest fantasy day of the season for any back in standard scoring formats, and it came out of nowhere. The former Heisman-winner totaled an insane 238 total yards and four TDs, highlighted by a 99-yard rushing TD reminiscent of Marshawn Lynch’s bulldozing run over the Saints in the playoffs years ago. Unbelievably, Henry now holds the Titans single-game rushing record. He’s worth a play against the Giants’ deteriorating run defense in Week 15.

Washington Redskins
16 – Adrian Peterson’s rushing yards in Week 14

Peterson finished with a pathetic 10-carry, 16 yards rushing line in Week 14’s 40-16 pounding at the hands of the Giants. The Giants’ run defense is not very good, and it’s a sign of things to come for Peterson playing in an offense that will be headed by Josh Johnson in Week 15. Washington’s injuries to the offensive line and QB position have limited all of the skill players on this team.

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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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