Fantasy Playoff Overachievers and Underachievers
There are many players that could have led your team to a fantasy championship or an early exit this season, but I wanted to highlight one quarterback, running back, and receiver that really turned it on in the final weeks. I’ll also look at one player from each position that under-performed when it mattered most, and perhaps hurt their 2013 draft stock on the process.
Russell Wilson – Overachiever
After scoring just 8 points in a 58-0 blowout of Arizona in week 14, Wilson exploded the final two weeks. He played just 55.7 percent of the snaps in his 8-point performance because it was decided by halftime. The following week saw a 39-point outburst against the Bills, followed by a 22-point performance against the 49ers in week 16. Those two games earned him PFF grades of +3.0 in week 15 and a season-best +7.2 in week 16.
Wilson’s 39- and 22-point games are even more interesting when you consider how he scored the points. In week 15, Wilson had 205 yards passing and 1 touchdown; average numbers. However, he added 9 carries for 92 yards and 3 touchdowns. Week 16 was a different story with similarly dominant results. He threw for very average yardage again (171 yards), but tossed 4 touchdowns. He added 6 carries for 29 yards, too.
Wilson’s final two weeks not only undoubtedly won some people fantasy games, but they are going to have a major impact on his ADP in 2013. He has shown he is capable of scoring big on the ground, even though his 3 rushing touchdowns in week 15 were his only rushing scores all season. Wilson’s 84 rushing attempts were third most among all quarterbacks, 26 carries more than the next. Only Cam Newton (119) and Robert Griffin III (112) had more carries than Wilson.
Robert Griffin III – Underachiever
RGIII was a dominant fantasy player all season long; there is no denying this. People will certainly consider him in the first round next season, but I’m staying away from him that early.
I’m staying away because I’m worried about his potential for injury. Despite just being in the league for one season, I already have a small “injury prone” label attached to RGIII. This label and the fact that he underperformed in the fantasy playoffs hurt his 2013 draft stock.
First of all, he missed an entire game in week 15. In the two games he did play, he carried the ball just 9 times for 38 yards. Considering RGIII’s knack for racking up the points with his legs, those numbers are very underwhelming. Even Nick Foles had more rushing yards than that during those three weeks (although he did play all three games). I’m not saying RGIII won’t have serious value as a rusher next season, I’m just pointing out how disappointing he was when it mattered most.
RGIII will obviously be a fantasy starter next season, and will likely be a top-5 QB option. However, there is no denying that he failed to show up for his fantasy teams when they needed him most.
Marshawn Lynch – Overachiever
Lynch was in “beast mode” all season long, but he really turned it on for the fantasy playoffs. In that three-week span, Lynch had 47 carries for 352 yards (7.5 YPC) and 5 touchdowns. He tacked on 3 receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown. He scored 77.5 points in the playoffs, 10 more than any other running back.
Even more impressive was Lynch’s .88 PPS and 1.05 PPO down the stretch. This means that any time that Lynch ran a pass route or carried the rock he averaged a fantasy point. Both of those numbers were tops among running backs. By comparison, other fantasy powerhouses this season like Ray Rice, Trent Richardson, and C.J. Spiller were all around .35 PPS and .45 PPO during the fantasy playoffs. Simply put: Lynch was off the charts.
The Seahawks did have an impressive stretch of three games that isn’t likely to be duplicated next season, but the fact that his team was dominating actually gave Lynch fewer opportunities in weeks 14 and 15. He carried the ball just 11 and 10 times in those weeks, his two lowest totals of the season. He did have 26 carries in week 16, but he had over 25 carries four other times all season; so the high workload in week 16 wasn’t unusual.
Lynch is obviously a first-round pick next season, but how high will he go? A lot will change between now and then, but for now I have him penciled in as the number two overall pick, behind Adrian Peterson.
Stevan Ridley – Underachiever
For most of the season, Ridley was performing as an RB1 option for fantasy teams. He has just under 1,2000 yards on the season and has an impressive 10 rushing touchdowns. Ridley dropped the ball in the playoffs, though.
He scored just 22.9 fantasy points from weeks 14-16, and average of about 7 a game. Bernard Pierce, Beanie Wells, and Bilal Powell all scored more points during the most crucial part of the season. He also scored just 1.8 points in PPR leagues in week 15.
Ridley’s performance in the fantasy playoffs just goes to show how annoying it can be to own a Patriots running back. He will still be their main guy next season, but his draft stock took a hit during the final weeks. He was on pace to be a second round pick, but now I think he’s a third rounder.
Dez Bryant – Overachiever
Bryant’s hot streak started long before the fantasy playoffs, and a broken finger didn’t stop him from continuing his dominance once it mattered most. Only Calvin Johnson scored more fantasy points down the stretch. Bryant led all receivers from weeks 14-16 with .49 PPS, up from his season average of .35 (which was the sixth most).
He only caught 17 passes, less than guys like Steve Johnson, Jason Avant, and Justin Blackmon, but he made the most of those passes. Bryant’s aDOT was the same compared to his season average (about 12), but he averaged 19.5 yards per catch from weeks 14-16, up from his 14.9 season average. For PPR leagues, it would have been nice if Bryant had more catches, but the fact he scored the second most points in that time period even with significantly less receptions shows how dominant he was.
On the Cowboys, Bryant flew by Miles Austin as the “best receiver in Dallas.” He had 19 more targets, 21 more receptions, and 502 more yards, and 8 more touchdowns than Austin between weeks 10-16.
My early guess is that, assuming his off-season surgery and recovery go well, Bryant is an early second round option in 2013 drafts. Only Calvin Johnson was better than Bryant from weeks 10 on, and Bryant was 26 points better than the next-best receiver in that period. When you consider that Megatron is on a record-breaking season, what Bryant has accomplished this season becomes all the more impressive.
A.J. Green – Underachiever
I think Green is one of the best receivers in the league, but he failed to show up big for his fantasy teams at the end of the season. He totaled 19 receptions for 217 yards and 1 touchdown. Those are respectable numbers for a three-week stretch, but not the kind of numbers people were no doubt expecting from him.
Green’s ended the fantasy season as the third-best receiver in PPR leagues, behind only Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall. During the fantasy playoffs, though, Green scored the 20th most points among receivers – making him a tail end WR2 during that period.
He didn’t exactly have a fall from grace, but Green’s less-than-desirable final performances – which highlighted the fact that his fantasy worth relies too much on a high touchdown rate – will keep him from being a late first-round choice in 2013 drafts.
Have any questions or comments? Send them to Tyler Loechner on Twitter @PFF_Loechner.