The end of November is typically when we see ridiculous occurrences in the NFL.
But there’s a reason for it. Players have gone through 12 or 13 weeks of battle. The war isn’t done, but they’re bruised, beaten and torn up. While some continue to fight, others are forced to the sideline with lingering pain that they’ve typically pushed through over the course of the season.
So, as a result, we see backups. We see guys who haven’t started a football game since high school. And, because it’s the NFL, we see them do well. Really, there is no other sport that can take a player like Bryce Brown – a player ranked as the 17th best running back in last year’s NFL draft – and make him into a household name overnight.
Bryce Brown was clearly one of the surprises of Week 12, rushing for 178 yards and two scores. Surprisingly, he wasn’t the only random footballer who put up monster numbers this week.
Week 12 Numbers
The leaders in Week 12 interceptions were third-string backups at the beginning of the season.
Charlie Batch and Ryan Lindley combined to throw 7 interceptions. It just goes to show that having a solid backup quarterback matters in a physical NFL.
Aaron Rodgers ranked 22nd in passing yards.
While his 219 yards through the air may have been impressive in 1994, this is clearly a different NFL.
Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford combined for 123 passing attempts. Sam Bradford and Nick Foles combined for 38.
Stafford benefited from a long overtime game, and Romo played from behind for the majority of his game. Although, to be fair, there’s little reason for Bradford and Foles to throw the ball 40-plus times in a game.
47% of Sam Bradford’s passes were greater than 15 yards. Josh Freeman, the quarterback with the second highest percentage, threw 33% of his passes over 15 yards.
Bradford completed just 8 passes against Arizona, and ended up with 205 yards through the air. Clearly this number reflects the fact that big plays occurred for the Rams on Sunday in the passing game. It’s really all they needed, though, with two defensive touchdowns.
Robert Griffin III was the only quarterback with 4 or more touchdown passes.
His performance on Thanksgiving was very, very solid, especially considering it was on the road against a decent Dallas secondary. Pierre Garcon’s return should only help Griffin’s fantasy value.
Ray Rice, Darren Sproles and William Powell each had 9 targets through the air.
While Rice and Sproles are no surprise, William Powell certainly is. Before this week, Powell has only had 8 targets in the Cardinal’s passing game. Perhaps he has a connection with quarterback Ryan Lindley.
Bryce Brown led the league in rushing by nearly 40 yards.
His performance against a bad Panthers rush defense was nice, but I wouldn’t expect it each week, especially if LeSean McCoy comes back healthy.
Trent Richardson led all running backs with 29 rushing attempts.
The Browns couldn’t get much going on offense, forcing themselves to feed Richardson. He should continue to get a lot of looks, and the Browns get Oakland and Kansas City over the next two weeks.
Shane Vereen was fourth in standard scoring at running back.
He had a long touchdown through the air, but still accumulated 10 carries out of the backfield. With Bolden out, Vereen looks like he’s the non-Stevan Ridley running back to own.
Beanie Wells was 27th in rushing yards, but 10th in fantasy scoring at running back.
Two scores will do that for you. It looks like Beanie is back to his old ways of not being good, but getting into the end zone.
All four Steeler running backs lost a fumble.
This is painful for me to write, but I have to mention it.
Cole Beasley had more targets (13) than Sidney Rice (3), Jordy Nelson (4), and Marques Colston (5) combined.
The injury to Miles Austin led Tony Romo to look at other receivers throughout their Thanksgiving game. Part of Beasley’s high target number, as mentioned above, was because Romo threw the ball over 60 times.
There were 12 wide receivers with 100 or more yards. In Week 11, this number was 6.
We can credit this to two things. First, there were no bye weeks. Second, Thanksgiving Day was insane.
Charles Clay, the highest scoring tight end, put up just 14 fantasy points.
While plenty of tight ends have performed well this season, Week 12 definitely was the low point of the season for the position.
Rob Housler had more targets at his position (9) than Jimmy Graham (6).
Graham’s matchup was tough, and Housler got plenty of looks in a high(ish) scoring affair. I wouldn’t necessarily look to Housler in the future.
Some Year to Date Statistics
Aaron Rodgers has had three games where he has not thrown more than one touchdown. Last year, this happened just once.
As I’ve noted many times before, people used one year, 2011, as their bench mark for drafting a quarterback with a top-5 pick. Hopefully this year showed that that’s a bad idea.
No quarterback is currently on pace to break the 5,000 yard mark.
Again, why are we using 2011 – a season where training camps were shortened – to benchmark our value of particular positions? I could see Stafford getting to 5,000, as his pace is just 12 yards shy, but more than likely nobody else will.
Only Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have more touchdown passes than Andy Dalton.
Wasn’t he the one who was supposed to have the sophomore slump and not Cam?
Matthew Stafford is averaging a league-high 44 pass attempts per game.
Carson Palmer, who many dub as the King of Garbage Time, is third in the league behind Stafford and Romo in pass attempts per game.
Cam Newton has the NFL’s highest yards per pass attempt.
Big plays have helped Cam’s fantasy value stay moderately worthwhile. He certainly turned things around against Philadelphia last night.
Calvin Johnson is averaging 9.2 yards per game more than he did in 2011.
There’s a reason you don’t make draft decisions based on touchdowns. This is the reason. Megatron was far and away the best receiver in 2011, and even with more yards, he’s ranked third amongst fantasy receivers in 2012.
Dez Bryant and Mohamed Sanu each have four touchdowns over the last three games.
While we can see why this would happen to Dez, many are scratching their heads about Sanu. My feeling is that you still can’t rely on Sanu each week, as he’s accumulated just 98 yards over this same time span.
Davone Bess is 8th in the NFL in wide receiver targets over the last 5 weeks.
He’s actually put together a nice stretch of games, ranking 14th in yards and 26th in fantasy points over the last 5 weeks. If he got into the end zone more, Bess could easily be a top-20 option.
Randall Cobb has 21 less rushing yards than Peyton Hillis over the last 5 weeks.
This stat is so bad that, over that 5 week time span, Randall Cobb actually had his bye. Therefore, Hillis is rushing at the same rate as Randall Cobb is.
Brandon Stokley and Mario Manningham have the highest catch rates in the NFL.
Interestingly enough, they each have had 47 targets and caught 36 passes.
Ronnie Brown is second in the league at running back in receiving targets over the last 5 weeks.
Marcel Reece is first, but it’s unbelievable to see what happens to a player like Ryan Mathews when he’s not used in passing situations.
Andre Brown has scored in his last five games played.
Well, that streak is ending with the news that Andre Brown broke his fibula. As a side note, I do think David Wilson could be a solid pickup this week.
Shonn Greene hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 7.
Is there anything good to take away from the Jets’ offense right now? It’s certainly not Shonn Greene if there is.
Vick Ballard has zero rushing touchdowns this season.
Is it possible that Vick Ballard is slightly overrated? The only touchdown that he’s scored this entire season was the ridiculous one he got in overtime against Tennessee.