Notable stats to get fantasy-ready for championship week
It’s championship week for most leagues. You’re either in or you’re out. In most cases, you’re going to dance with the ones who brought you.
But last week, like every week, there were surprise terrible performances. Carlos Hyde at Atlanta. Sammy Watkins versus Cleveland. Tyler Eifert versus Pittsburgh. And then Monday night, Kirk Cousins didn’t even account for one touchdown against the Panthers.
Maybe you’re looking for a last-minute gem to provide a championship spark. If so, here are so often overlooked players that are putting up standout numbers.
Since Week 12, Matt Barkley has a 94.19 PFF passer rating, the sixth-highest in the league.
Even while playing in the frigid cold, third-string Barkley is proving to be a fantasy-relevant option. He’s gone over 300 passing yards in two of his four starts. He has a 56.5 accuracy percentage on passes that went for 20 or more yards, the second-best accuracy percentage in the league over that time. This week he’ll face Washington, a team that has allowed 300 or more passing yards to opposing quarterbacks in each of their last three games, and in all but one game since with Week 9 bye.
Bilal Powell has 28 total missed tackles on just 147 touches, earning him a 60.6 elusive rating, the fifth highest among running backs with at least 100 touches on the season.
If you started Powell in Week 14 and/or 15, you know he’s been electric. If you played against someone starting Powell, you’re probably a little ticked off. For the most part, the running back position has been solid with the big-time players maintaining their fantasy prowess. A breakout player like Powell is rare. Prior to Week 14, Powell hadn’t carried the ball more than eight times all season. His third-down role did get him involved in the passing game, but he only went over 12 receiving yards four times from Week 1 to Week 13 and only scored one rushing and one receiving touchdown in that same timeframe. This week he’ll face the Patriots who are very good against the run. Not one running back has rushed for over 100 yards on the Patriots so far this season, and they haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown since their Week 9 bye. Powell should do his work in the passing game and be as elusive as possible to make some hey against this divisional rival, with or without Matt Forte on the field.
Since Week 11, Cam Newton has a 136.9 quarterback rating when targeting Ted Ginn. That is the fourth-highest QB rating when targeting a specific wide receiver in the league.
Not only has Ginn caught a touchdown in four of his last five games, but he’s also turning into a volume player and Newton’s favorite target. Since Week 11, Ginn leads the Panther wide receivers with 30 targets. Greg Olsen has 32 targets in that same timeframe. All four of his touchdowns came on passes that went for 20 or more yards. His 2.88 yards per route run is the third-highest in the league behind only Taylor Gabriel and T.Y. Hilton. This week he’ll have a favorable matchup at home against the Falcons. I got into a championship game with Ginn as a flier Monday night and there’s a distinct possibility he could take many of us all the way.
Only the Cleveland Browns and the Carolina Panthers have given up double-digit touchdowns to opposing tight ends on the season.
This week the Chargers are at the Browns and the Panthers host the Atlanta Falcons.
All season we’ve been talking about how Antonio Gates only needs two more touchdowns to tie Tony Gonzalez’ all-time touchdown record for tight ends. And guess what? Opposing defenses know this as well. That’s why it’s actually Hunter Henry who keeps scoring the touchdowns. He has a touchdown in four of his last five games. I do think that Gates will get into the end zone this week, but based on this matchup, you can make an argument for starting both.
Last week Austin Hooper scored his first touchdown since Week 9. He did so off his lone target of the game. Hooper also hurt his knee last week. He got an MRI and wore a sleeve on his leg while walking around the locker room this week, so he should be fine. Neither Hooper nor Levine Toilolo get the kind of targets that would make me comfortable starting them in a championship game, regardless of matchup, but they are interesting DFS bargains.