Brandon Funston

The Funston Fives

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Saints Picking Up Garbage

Wednesday, November 8, 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 garbage time all-stars, roller coaster receivers and second-half rebound QBs.

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Top 5 Garbage Time All-Stars

DeAndre Hopkins, HOU, WR – ‘Nuk leads the NFL with 315 receiving yards, and four TD receptions in the fourth quarter. By comparison, he has just 377 receiving yards in the other three quarters combined. Moreover, of his 315 fourth-quarter yards, 88% (278) have come in games in which the Texans lost.

New Orleans Saints – Saints’ skill position players have been feasting on garbage time this season, with Michael Thomas (12), Alvin Kamara (11) and Mark Ingram (9) all ranking top-six in total receptions when trailing or leading (the latter of which has typically been the case) by 10 or more points. Kamara and Ingram have also combined for five touchdowns in those double-digit scoring margin situations.

Eli Manning, NYG, QB – More than a third of his passing yards (35% - 639-of-1,820) and half of his TD passes (six out of 12) have come in the fourth quarter of his team’s seven losses. Manning targets Sterling Shepard (fourth), Odell Beckham (14th) and Evan Engram (18th) all currently rank among the top 18 in fourth quarter receiving yards in games resulting in losses.

Derrick Henry, TEN, RB – Garbage time for the winning team often plays out with a running back salting away the clock , and Henry has benefitted from this kind of set-up this season, rushing a combined 26 times for 201 yards in the fourth quarters of Tennessee’s five victories. That equates to 31% of Henry’s total carries, 56% of his rushing yards and he also has 24 receiving yards in said contests, 53% of his total of 45 receiving yards. For comparison, teammate DeMarco Murray has just 11 carries for 26 yards under the same circumstances.

Russell Wilson, SEA, QB – While not always garbage time, the hurry-up, two-minute offense can help inflate fantasy value in a similar manner to garbage time. Nobody has shown better mastery of the final two minutes of the first and second halves better than Wilson this season. In those combined four minutes of each game, Wilson has produced a total of 475 passing yards and five touchdown tosses (without an INT), both NFL-best numbers for that scoreboard timeframe.

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Top 5 Defensive Lines

 

Philadelphia – Behind the interior talents of Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan, and edges Brandon Graham and Vin Curry, the Eagles rank fourth-best in YPC allowed (3.6) and sixth in total QB sacks (25). Philly also ranks third in Yards Before Contact allowed per Rush Attempt (1.41) and percentage of carries allowed that result in zero or negative yards. In addition to sterling QB play, it’s Philly’s talent in the trenches (defense and offense) that has the Eagles as a leading Super Bowl candidate to this point.

Carolina – The Kawann Short-led Panthers’ D-line, at 9.32%, has the second-best Sack% in the league behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. Its front line unit ranks in the top 10 in success (according to Football Outsiders) against the run and in pass rush, joining Pittsburgh (top five in both) and Denver as the only teams to rank in the top 10 in both categories.

PittsburghStephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward both grade out (according to Pro Football Focus) as top 15 interior defenders (through Week 9), and the defensive line is the only unit that clocks in as top five against the run and in pass rush success (according to Football Outsiders)

Jacksonville – The Jaguars generate the best pass rush in the league, with two ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue ranked among the top 12 in sacks – Campbell leads the league with 11, and Ngakoue, who is 12th with 6.5 sacks, is the only player to have two of the 10 fastest recorded sacks this season. The Jaguars struggled for most of the season with run defense, but the recent trade for former Bills’ middle man Marcell Dareus should help improve that deficiency significantly.

Denver – The Broncos’ Von Miller is arguably the top defensive edge player in the league, and he’s the driving force behind a pass rush that ranks eighth in adjusted Sack% (Football Outsiders). The Broncos also rank No. 1 in Yards Before Contact allowed per Rush Attempt (1.36).

 

5 of the Biggest Roller Coaster Receivers (peak-and-valley production from week to week)

T.Y. Hilton, IND – Hilton has notched three games of 17-plus fantasy points, all good for top six finishes at the WR position for the particular week. But, on the flip side, he’s produced under 5.0 fantasy points in five of his other six games played, with each of those finishes ranking 45th or worse at the WR position in fantasy points. In the past two seasons, Hilton has finished a game with 5.4 FAN PTS or less a combined 10 times. No WR will face a tougher rest-of-season schedule, making him an ideal sell-high candidate coming off a 5/175/2 TD line against Houston.
 
Amari Cooper, OAK – A whopping 70% of Cooper’s production has come in just two games this season, including more than 50% (33 of 64.6 total FAN PTS) in a Week 7 explosion against the Chiefs (11/210/2 TDs). This all-or-nothing trend is nothing new for Cooper, who last season delivered six games of 11-plus fantasy points and six games with 5.6 fantasy points or less. In his ’15 rookie campaign, he posted seven games of 10.9 fantasy points or better and seven games with less than 5.0 fantasy points.

Stefon Diggs, MIN – Nagging injuries, and inconsistent fantasy production have been Diggs’ calling card. He has a combined 10 games of 10-plus fantasy points in his career (two this season) and 14 games with less than 5.0 points, and a peak (10-plus FAN PTS) or valley (sub-5.0 FAN PTS) result in 24 of his 32 career games (67%).

Doug Baldwin, SEA, WR – Baldwin has 17 games of 5.4 fantasy points or less in his past 40 regular-season games, while 15 times delivering 10-plus fantasy points. The good news is that 10 of his double-digit efforts have come in the 17 career games he’s played from Weeks 9-16, while only two of his sub-5.0 efforts have come in those weeks.
 
Golden Tate, DET – In his past 40 regular-season games, Tate has delivered 11-plus fantasy points 12 times, and 5.0 points or less 14 times, good for a peak-or-valley result 65 percent of the time.


5 QBs Currently Outside the Top 15 in Fantasy PPG Most Likely to Produce Among the Top 10 for the Rest of the Season

Derek Carr, OAK – The No. 18 QB (FAN PPG) through Week 9, Carr is on a run of three consecutive games with at least 300 passing yards and faces three of the seven most generous defenses to opposing signal callers in the next four weeks. Denver (19th most FAN PPG to QBs) is the only defense he’ll face through Week 16 not among the 14 most generous in PTS allowed to QBs.

Matt Ryan, ATL – Last season’s MVP is not firing on all cylinders as was the case in ’16, but it hasn’t been all bad for the current No. 17 fantasy QB (PPG). Ryan is averaging 8.0 YPA, the second-best mark of his career, and his Adjusted Comp% (accounting for drops, throwaways, batted passes, hits while throwing) is top eight at QB (77%). Ryan’s second-half rise may already be underway as he has combined for four TD passes (one INT) and has averaged 283.5 passing yards in his past two games. He faces a middle-of-the-road remaining schedule, nothing that should prevent him from continuing in an upwards trend, especially with four of his next five games at home.

Philip Rivers, LAC – Coming out of his bye week, Rivers has an immediate tall order, heading to Jacksonville this Sunday. His owners will want to try to avoid that matchup, if possible. But after a showdown with the Jags’ ultra-talented secondary, Rivers will go up against the sixth-easiest fantasy QB schedule from Weeks 11-16.  Rivers has finished as a top 12 fantasy QB each of the past five seasons. With his surrounding talent and relatively easy remaining slate, he’s got a good chance to push QB1 status once again.

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT – On paper, Big Ben has faced the toughest fantasy schedule at the QB position through Week 9, but he’ll have a much less rocky road in the second half (eighth-easiest at QB). And, as it has become important to note with Roethlisberger, four of his next seven games are at home, with two of his road trips coming against the very accommodating secondaries of Indy and Houston.

Blake Bortles, JAX – The Jaguars are limiting Bortles to a career-low pace in pass attempts as the team leans on its fantastic defense and newfound running game.  But he’ll face one of the top five easiest rest-of-season schedules at the QB position – of the six teams in the NFL allowing 25-plus points, Bortles will see five of them in his next seven games. No. 15 in FAN PPG at the QB position for the past month, Bortles should have plenty of scoring (red zone) opportunities down the stretch.



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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