Rushing Stats Analysis – Find The Gap Week 12
In this regular feature, we go through the two Week 11 picks – and make a difficult choice for our Week 12 picks using our Rushing Stats Analysis.
WEEK 11 RECAP
We followed up a successful Week 10 with another two choices. This time, it was the turn of the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots. So how did these two choices get on? Did the Rushing Stat Analysis get things right on these picks?
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – 36 CARRIES, 168 YARDS, 3TDS
Well, it turns out that the Saints decided to mess with everyone’s heads and name Taysom Hill as the starting Quarterback against the Falcons. Speculation was rife about what Sean Payton planned to do with Hill during this game, especially as he was sighted practicing with the punt team before the game. Would Jameis Winston come in after a drive or even one play? The mind games were well and truly set out.
Well, double bluffs and triple bluffs were cast aside as Hill ended up sticking out the entire game. And he caused havoc. Not just to Alvin Kamara’s rushing and pass-catching totals, and fantasy points in general – but to the scoreboard. Hill ran in two rushing touchdowns to rip apart the Falcons rush defence, and Kamara managed to get one of his own as well.
One aspect to note is that the shake up of personnel did make a difference to where the Saints took the ball. Before this game, New Orleans rush personnel had used central channels 54% of the time. This game saw that drop to 44%, adding in more variety to where those runs were directed. And four runs outside this area went for 10 yards or over – including a 23 yard run by Wide Receiver Deonte Harris.
That run contributed to a healthy combined yardage as well. Harris’ run aside, Kamara, Hill and Latavius Murray were all close to the 50 yard mark at game’s close.
As expected, it was a field day for the Saints defensive unit. They kept the Falcons quiet on the ground in the first half. Once New Orleans started pushing their weight around, Atlanta had to resort to throwing the ball. That ended disastrously, as Matt Ryan was picked off twice by the Saints.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – 24 carries, 86 yards, 1TD
This game started off with so much promise.
Main man Damien Harris made his mark early on, running in a touchdown on the Patriot’s first drive. That first outing picked up 26 yards, and things were looking good for a top total for the Running Back. After all, Houston’s record against the run was less than sterling.
Unfortunately, it was highlighted in last week’s article that DeShaun Watson would need to be kept quiet in order for the game to stay competitive. The Patriots defense did not manage that in the first half, and Houston picked up 21 of their 27 points before the half. Watson passed two touchdowns and ran in one himself to make sure that the Texans went into the second half 27-10 up.
This detracted from the run game somewhat, and the Patriots only ran the ball 8 times in the second half. Harris saw three of those, and two went for negative yardage. The Texans were expecting the run. As a result, Cam was forced to pass the ball a whole lot more than he has been used to. He made his most pass attempts since Week 2 and ended up the right side of 350 yards.
So, while they got the touchdown, the Patriots’ return wasn’t as brilliant a return as expected.
RUSHING STATS ANALYSIS WEEK 12 SELECTIONS
Week 12 sees a full slate for the Thanksgiving Weekend, so all the teams are up for grabs. But there were some tough choices, as there are few favourable matchups. Teams who concede the runs come up against teams who may not necessarily gear up for rushing success. So, with that in mind, I’ve had to be careful in who I choose. So who are the lucky ones this week? I’ve gone with some big names!
NEW YORK GIANTS (at Bengals)
THE GIANTS! Can you believe that I’d be picking the Giants with so many choices available? But no, the New York Giants are at the top of the list this week. And their opponents have a huge say in why they feature.
As if the Cincinatti Bengals couldn’t have had it any worse this week with Joe Mixon going on IR, they’ve lost Joe Burrow in the worst way possible. Damage to multiple knee ligaments and a spell on the sidelines until the start of the 2021 season. And that’s best-case scenario.
The injury itself was horrible to watch, and it took a huge toll on the Bengals offense in the worst way possible. They were actually leading 9 – 7 when the incident occured. Once Burrow left the field, they just couldn’t do anything. The six drives after the injury garnered just 25 yards. Ryan Finley just couldn’t get anything going, and was sacked 4 times.
With Burrow gone, the Bengals will definitely suffer. The Heismann winner has been the engine in this offense, and losing him will have knocked the wheels off the passing game. And so that leaves the rushing offense. With Mixon now on IR, Gio Bernard is the lead for now.
And it’s a stern test in the Giants. New York have proven difficult for quite a few run games this season. With crown jewel Blake Martinez one of those patrolling behind the line, it has been tough for anyone to make effective runs against this group. The Giants have kept 59.8% of opposition carries to under 4 yards – just behind teams like the Seahawks (60.2%), the Buccs (60.4%) and the Bears (60.5%).
They have some way to go to catch the Eagles (61.8%), Saints (62.2%) and the Jets (leading the way with a surprising 62.8%). Still, the Giants can be proud of what they have accomplished in this aspect of the game. And Joe Mixon’s absence will be a slight weight off their shoulders.
RUNNING WITH GIANTS
So, if the Giants can keep Finley ineffective and continue stopping the run, this should open it up for the New York Giants, as they look for a third win in a row and a spot at the top of the NFC East.
Wayne Gallman and his backup Alfred Morris have seen a lot of utility over their last two games. And the rushing personnel come into this match on a certified hot streak. Gallman’s yard returns might not be the highest in the game, but he has been picking up the points for the Giants. Gallman has seen five rushing touchdowns in his last four games, including one each against the Buccs and the Washington Football team. His latest game, against the Eagles, saw him slam in two rushing touchdowns off 18 attempts.
I’ve already mentioned that the Eagles and the Buccs have been amongst the most effective at stopping effective runs from developing. Both were over that magical 60% mark. The Bengals? 53% – that puts them in the bottom 10 for conceding effective runs to opposing Running Backs. Since their game against Washington, Cincinnati have caught up to the Texans in tying for conceding the most runs over 10 yards – with 42 over the season. They conceded 6 in just this last game.
Until last week, they had tightened their belts in the middle third of the season. But that’s because they’ve managed to keep things competitive. Joe Burrow has worked his passing magic to keep the Bengals in games, and his contribution has meant that opponents have had to work to keep leads, not just resort to the run game to wind down the clock. Without him, I feel that this game could quickly run away from the Bengals and into the land of the Giants.
TENNESSEE TITANS (at Colts)
If there’s a back you can turn to in the later stages of the fantasy season, it’s Derrick Henry. The steam train personified showed his clout against the Ravens in overtime, barrelling his way for a huge game-winning run.
What was interesting about this game is Henry’s run usage.
Ordinarily, his carries go through the middle channels of the line. Up until this game, nearly 45% of his carries go through this region. However, this game saw that area only used 35% of the time (10/28 carries). Instead, Henry saw 15 carries go around the outside of the offensive line (7 left, 8 right – 53.5% of total runs). Before Week 11, those areas had only seen 24% of carries.
Ordinarily, this might not seem unusual. But this was potentially a tactic used by Tennessee to avoid central areas of the Ravens D-line. The Ravens have kept 40.3% of opponents carries at between 1 and 3 yards – third behind the Titans (40.66%) and the Rams (41.8%). And, when Derrick Henry puts the majority of his carries through that central area, it would make sense that the Ravens prepare to utilise that stopping power in that area.
The switch to using those outside areas allowed Henry to rip off three runs of over 10 yards during the game and overtime, including the game winning run, which went around the left end of the offensive line.
COLTS TOUGH UP FRONT
This sort of thought process in dealing with an offensive line that likes to protect the middle will really help out the Titans this week. As their opponents, the Colts, have got a very good record at protecting this area. They have only conceded an average of 3.08 yards per carry from rushes through this area – that’s the fourth lowest in the league. They’re also strong against runs around the outside of the offensive line as well, with some of the lowest averages there too.
So why are we choosing the Titans again? This is a divisional matchup, and the two teams have already faced off this season. The Colts ended up winning the match, but the Titans managed to put five runs of over 10 yards past the Indy defense – the most they’ve given up in a game. Henry contributed four of those runs, with backup Jeremy McNichol adding the fifth. Incidentally, none of Henry’s big runs went up the middle that day either. If he keeps Indy’s defensive line and Linebackers on their toes, he could be in for some more rewards around the outside as well.
Henry has been a big contributing factor to Tennessee’s running success, and seems to get stronger as games develop. This will be a time that he needs to continue that late-game domination.
Another consideration – the Buccs
I had also considered putting in a third choice for this week – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They face the Chiefs this week, who have struggled to contain the runs at the line of scrimmage. In addition, they are now second worst in conceding runs of between 4 and 7 yards.
The Buccs showed that they could keep the pressure on the Rams rush defence. They forced Jared Goff to make those difficult throws. As a result, Goff threw two picks in this match and gave the ball back to the Buccs. However, the Rams are not too bad at defending the run either, and the same happened to Tom Brady. He resorted to passing as well, and also saw two interceptions. It kept the game in the hooves of the Rams.
The Buccs pass rush can force Patrick Mahomes into making those same picks. If so, then this week may prove slightly easier for RoJo and Leonard Fournette. However, you just can’t count on Patrick Mahomes to make the same kinds of throws as often as Jared Goff. You know, the ones that get picked off. For this reason, I can’t guarantee that the Buccs will get the opportunities. That stops me from endorsing them in this article.
Join me next week to find out how the Titans and Giants did.
Until next time,