Inside the fantasy numbers: Ajayi, Jacquizz were once fantasy football footnotes

BY foxsports • October 23, 2016

Fantasy owners are notoriously stubborn – present company included. It’s a challenge for us to part with top draft picks, waiver wire diamonds, which we often overvalue, and those players we truly believe will improve. Michael Floyd is going to get better!

Late last week, an owner -- we'll call her Owner A -- shared the following trade offers she received:

We agreed that wasn’t the move to make. Owner B came back with this:

Even with Ben Roethlisberger sidelined, the return was weak. The trade rejection set up Owner B’s final offer:

Approved -- right quick. Her patience allowed her to upgrade at tight end, and Evans' rest-of-season schedule is soft serve.

Some quick math and here’s how the two owners' new trios fared after one week:

Even the No. 1 fantasy football draft pick is worthy of a trade if the conditions and price are right.

Now, let's take a closer look at Ajayi's last two weeks.

By now, we all know Ajayi became only the fourth running back in NFL history to rush for 200-plus yards in back-to-back games. Ajayi’s breakout is the most impressive comeback in sports since the Cavs became the first team in NBA history to rally back from a 3-1 deficit and beat the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.

Remember, Ajayi was left in Miami when the Dolphins traveled to Seattle for their Week 1 matchup against the Seahawks. He averaged eight fantasy points per game through his first four this season. What changed? Ajayi has become the Dolphins’ offensive focal point the last two weeks. Rather than force the ball to Jarvis Landry 15 times per game, Ajayi carried the ball 53 times over the last two weeks. 

Plus, Buffalo's rush defense is no cakewalk. Through the first six weeks, the unit ranked 10th in rush yards allowed per attempt 3.8 (103 yards per game). Ajayi is burying Arian Foster on the depth chart.

My colleague, John Halpin, publishes a weekly fantasy feature focused on the top matchups, stressing fantasy points allowed trends in previous games. The stats listed above highlight the defenses allowing the most points to opposing quarterbacks, running back and wide receivers. They also recaphow the quarterback, top running back and wide receiver fared against the league’s worst fantasy defenses Week 7.

Kirk Cousins fell short of the expected fantasy point ceiling but still completed 30 of 39 passes for 301 yards with two touchdowns. The Chargers' Melvin Gordon did most of the damage against the Falcons, limiting Philip Rivers to a yard-heavy fantasy performance (371 - 1 - 1). Andy Dalton experienced somewhat of the same fate as Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard combined for 248 rushing yards. Dalton still managed 300-plus passing yards with two touchdowns, but his fantasy point total did have the potential for much more.

With Jamaal Charles limited, Spencer Ware earned the bulk of the carries against the Saints Swiss-cheese defense. He averaged 4.5 yards per rush on 17 carries but only found the end zone once -- on an Alex Smith screen pass and run. As expected, DeMarco Murray ran over the Colts. The Titans elected to make lineman Taylor Lewan eligible on a play, which took a potential touchdown and six more fantasy points away from Murray. The 49ers are beat up and awful on defense. With Doug Martin out an indefinite amount of time, Jacquizz Rodgers rushed 26 more times for 154 yards (career-high), while rookie and one-time fourth-string Tampa Bay running back Peyton Barber added 84 yards on 12 carries. San Francisco is on a bye in Week 8, but their its defense is a top matchup play to exploit.

Brian Hoyer snapped his forearm in half, which allowed the Packers' league-worst fantasy pass defense to coast last Thursday. Joe Flacco and Mike Wallace connected for 10 receptions and 120 yards, but the rest of the Ravens receiving corps failed to make a dent. Now would be the appropriate time to panic about the Jaguars' offense. Blake Bortles completed only 23 of 43 passes for 246 yards, Allen Robinson caught two passes for nine yards and the committee of Ivory and Yeldon combined for 10 rushes against one of the league's worst rush defenses. Up until a garbage time touchdown, Oakland held the Jaguars to three field goals in what was an 11 a.m. kickoff for the silver and black.

Alex Smith may only average 19.6 fantasy points per game, but he was the right guy to stream in Week 7 against the Saints. He game managed as only he can, 17-for-24 for 214 yards with two touchdown passes. However, as bye weeks start to pile up, Smith’s upcoming schedule against the Colts and Jaguars do make him an appealing stream option and in two-quarterback leagues.

The Redskins’ Chris Thompson appeared on waiver wire radars for a stretch last season. Now that Matt Jones has six fumbles through his first 20 NFL games, the PPR-friendly Thompson could carve out a larger role moving forward. His 12 carries and 73 rushing yards against the Lions were career-highs, and the seven receptions were his second-highest output of his career. To be fair, Jones rushed for 135 yards last week against the Eagles. However, turnovers are the quickest route to the bench for young skill position players.

Davante Adams wasn’t even a lock to play Week 7 against the Bears. He suited up, took the field and set career-bests across the board. 

The Packers' upcoming schedule includes the Falcons, Colts, Titans, and Redskins. With no true RB-1 at the moment, Adams should be added in all leagues, but be careful setting too lofty expectations. Rodgers will still work to feed Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and hybrid RB/WR Ty Montgomery along with Adams in the coming weeks. As the stats above illustrate, the third-year receiver can drop some fantasy-friendly totals, but in a crowded offense he's not a lock to do it week to week. Use caution.

Projecting Tyrell Williams' weekly targets is a tough nut to crack. Over the past three games, he's seen 5-3-7 targets from Philip Rivers. By running the deep routes in the Chargers' offense, he's posted PPR-point totals of 22.7 - 5.8 - 21.0. This is extremely volatile production, especially with Melvin Gordon emerging as the top scoring option within the offense. I would fade this potential free agent on the waiver wire.



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