Brandon Funston

The Funston Fives

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Parker Set for Strong Finish

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Each week during the NFL season, I will offer up a variety of top-five lists because, well, who doesn’t love a top five list?  With that universal love of lists in mind, I give you some players that, after a long hiatus, are looking at making a November return as well as some potential December playoff heroes.

 

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Playoff Heroes - 5 players with Spotty Production to this Point that could Post Decembers to Remember

Matt Ryan, ATL, QB – With 254 yards and two touchdown passes (without an INT) in Week 8 at the Jets, last season’s MVP finished the week as a top 10 QB for just the first time this season. It should be heartening to see him finally take advantage of a soft matchup, as he’ll see plenty more of those going forward, including a cherry fantasy playoff stretch (Weeks 14-16) that includes two games against the Saints and one game against the Bucs.

C.J. Anderson, DEN, RB – Ranked top 13 in Snaps and Snap% at the RB position, Anderson is still the clear backfield lead in Denver despite overblown talk that backups Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker are threatening to force a full-blown platoon.  Fact is, Anderson has been solid when given the opportunity to tote the rock, ranking behind only LeGarrette Blount and Kareem Hunt at the RB position in Yards After Contact/Attempt. The biggest problem for Anderson has been game flow, as scoreboard deficits the past three games have led to an average of just 11.3 carries for Anderson in those contests. The good news for C.J. owners is that in Weeks 14-16, Denver will face three teams (Jets, Indy, Washington) that have combined for an 8-15 record, with each team ranking among the top 15 most generous defenses to opposing running backs. A healthy Anderson should have ample opportunity for success down the stretch.

DeVante Parker, MIA, WR – Parker posted the 16th–most fantasy points at the WR position in Weeks 2-4 (his first three games of the season) before suffering a first-quarter ankle injury in Week 5. He’s set to return to action this week and, if his health holds, he’s in line to bookend his season with another strong run – his schedule in the playoff slate of Weeks 14-16 features two teams (NE, KC) that rank among the four most generous to the WR position this season and a third team (BUF) that is heading the wrong direction against wideouts (12th-most fantasy PPG to the position over the past five weeks).

Sterling Shepard, NYG, WR – Shepard will come out of the bye in a go-to role at wideout for the Giants, and few receivers will face an easier rest-of-season schedule. Shepard’s playoff schedule is particularly soft, with games against Dallas (sixth-most fantasy PPG), Philly (14th-most) and Arizona (third-most).

Jack Doyle, IND, TE – Doyle is coming off an October 29th to remember, hanging 12 catches, 121 yards and a TD on the Cincy defense, easily his best outing of the season. But he’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride to this point, with four games under five fantasy points, and two games of 11-plus fantasy points. Doyle’s playoff slate is set up for him to go out on a high note as he faces the defenses of Buffalo, Denver and Baltimore, all three among the 10 most generous units to the TE position.

 

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Fun with Numbers – 5 Interesting Stats

New York State of Defense – No team has allowed more players (excluding QBs) to reach 10-plus fantasy points (standard scoring) this season than the Jets, who give up a double-figure fantasy scorer an average of 2.25 times per game. Right behind the Jets are the NY Giants, at 2.14 per game. San Francisco (2.13) and Green Bay (2.0) are the only other teams allowing an average of two players per game

One and Done – On the flip side (of the noted 10-plus fantasy points metric), the Jacksonville defense has allowed just six non-QB skill position players to reach 10-plus fantasy points, a league-best average of 0.86 per game, and only one WR (Antonio Brown) has made it to the 10-point plateau against the Jags. Minnesota (0.88) is the only other team allowing fewer than one double-digit fantasy scorer per game. Carolina and Pittsburgh (each at 1.0) are the remaining two teams clocking in at one 10-plus scorer per game or less. The Panthers have allowed a league-low one RB (Alvin Kamara) to score 10-plus points.

In a Pinch – Chargers wideout Keenan Allen has been the king of third downs this season. He has 17 third-down receptions that have led to first downs, tops in the league (four ahead of Minnesota’s Adam Thielen). Another LA receiver, Cooper Kupp, clocks in as the rookie leader with 10 receptions. Carolina QB Cam Newton leads the NFL in third down rush attempts that resulted in a first down (11), with Baltimore RB Buck Allen clocking in right behind him (10).

No Josh-ingJets QB Josh McCown has been one of the biggest surprises of the fantasy season, currently ranked top 12 in fantasy points per game at the QB position. Big plays have helped fuel McCown’s aerial fire, as his six completions of 25-plus yards is second-best in the league behind Tom Brady (7).  McCown is completing a career-high 70.5% of his passes, and his Adjusted Comp% (a ProFootballFocus metric that accounts for drops, throw aways, batted passes and hits in the act of throwing) jumps to 79.5%, third-best in the league.

Sticky Fingers – San Francisco’s Pierre Garcon has a combined 119 catches since ’16, and has just one drop to show for it. He is one of just three receivers that have played at least 50% of his teams’ snaps that doesn’t have a drop this season (Antonio Brown and Doug Baldwin are the others).  On the other side of the Bay, Oakland’s receivers pale in comparison to Garcon (in that span), with Amari Cooper’s 13 drops and 117 receptions, and Michael Crabtree’s 15 drops and 122 receptions.

 


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Brandon Funston has been dispensing solid gold fantasy advice (with some fool's gold mixed in from time to time) for the past 20 years, formerly with ESPN, and Yahoo. You can send him questions/comments on Twitter @brandonfunston.



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