By the Numbers: Week 12 (2020 Fantasy Football)
Coming into this NFL season, COVID-19 was the overwhelming narrative to monitor, but the 2020 campaign has arguably been defined by torn ACLs as much as it has the coronavirus.
The last thing anyone wanted – NFL fans, fantasy managers, and especially the Cincinnati Bengals – was to see the league’s first overall pick added to a lamentable list of players who have waved goodbye to their season from a medical cart.
There’s hope that Burrow could return from his ACL and MCL tears by the beginning of the 2021 season, but such optimism does no good for fantasy managers in re-draft leagues facing must-win games in the thick of a playoff push.
It sounds cold, but while we hope and pray for a speedy recovery for the endearing former LSU quarterback, it’s time to move on, which leads us to my first number to know for Week 12 of the NFL season.
Over the past four weeks, Cam Newton has averaged 19.7 fantasy points per game, which ranks 10th among quarterbacks during that span.
Newton may seem like a difficult trade acquisition because of his improved performance of late, but he’s currently rostered in just 77 percent of ESPN leagues, which ranks 13th among starting quarterbacks.
Considering most fantasy leagues are of the 10- or 12-team variety, there’s a decent chance Newton will be sitting on someone’s bench leading up to the fantasy playoffs.
If you’re in desperate need of a quarterback for the playoff push and your league’s trade deadline hasn’t passed, I’d take a flier on the former MVP, even if it means “selling low” on a couple of valuable bench pieces.
Continuing our trend of Patriots and knee injuries, Rex Burkhead announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he’d miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
This extremely rough news thins out the crowded New England backfield, which is about to see a lot of James White, especially in the passing game.
In three games with at least 10 touches this season, White has averaged 14.2 PPR points, a rate that would rank as the 18th best by a running back this season.
From 2018-2019, White averaged 15.4 PPR points per game despite “starting” just four of 31 contests and finished the seasons as the PPR RB7 and RB18, respectively.
Available in at least 60 percent of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, White is my top waiver wire target for this week, with rest-of-season RB2 value that’s rarely available this late in the game.
I’m an Atlanta Falcons fan, but I was adamant about not drafting Todd Gurley II in fantasy football this season. To this point, achy knees and all, I’ve been wrong, as Gurley ranks as the PPR RB12 through 11 weeks.
A closer look, however, reveals just how touchdown-dependent the former All-Pro has been, which gives me pause considering Atlanta plays Tampa Bay and New Orleans – Football Outsiders’ second- and third-best defenses this season by DVOA – in three of its final six games.
Gurley’s nine total touchdowns currently rank tied for third among running backs, trailing just Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara. Out of Gurley’s 139 PPR points this season, 39 percent have come from touchdowns. In half-PPR scoring, it’s up to 41 percent.
For reference, Cook’s touchdowns represent 35 percent of his PPR points, and Kamara’s scores make up 28 percent of his total PPR fantasy output.
It’s easy to view Cook as touchdown-dependent as well, but he’s been a much more efficient back, currently ranking as football’s second-best by DVOA while Gurley grades out as one of the league’s 10 worst backs.
A few weeks ago on Pro Football Talk, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms made a keen observation about Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who Simms said was removing his chin strap from the right side of his facemask with his left hand, which is odd for a right-handed quarterback.
Simms’ hunch came to fruition (although perhaps from a separate injury) on Thursday night against the Seahawks, as Murray was shown on the sideline stretching the reportedly sore shoulder.
Repetitive motion injuries are common for NFL quarterbacks – as well as for former and current high-level baseball players – which has made many fantasy managers nervous about Murray’s prospects after his season-low 20.3 fantasy points in the Cardinals’ loss.
But worry not, friends. Murray’s strength this fantasy season has never been predicated on extensive passing volume, although he did return from halftime on Thursday night with 28 pass attempts to finish the game with 42, the sixth-most by any quarterback in Week 11, and the second-most he’s attempted in a game all season.
This is a copy of my first “number to know” of the 2020 season, which stated: “Players who test positive for COVID-19 should be expected to miss at least two games depending on the severity of their case.”
With news that both J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram tested positive for the coronavirus this week, Gus Edwards will be the backfield’s undisputed no. 1 option, which makes him a viable RB2 or flex play heading into the fantasy football playoffs.
While this week’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers isn’t ideal, Edwards has a decent chance to stumble into the end zone on Turkey Day, and will have a long week to prepare for the Dallas Cowboys, the second-worst team in the NFL by run-stop win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.