Rushing Stats Analysis – Find The Gap Week 13
Here we go, team. We are closing in on those playoff games. And when everything is on the line, you need to know which teams could find you that rushing success. Using analysis of rushing stats, we should be able to pick out a few offensive units who can find that gap in Week 13.
Rushing Stats Analysis Recap – Week 12
But, like always, we shall do a recap of the last week’s choices. Did our Week 12 picks find those gaps and come through? Or did they get stuffed at the line? The previous picks were the New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans. We had also looked at, and decided against choosing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So how did the two choices fare?
NEW YORK GIANTS – 42 carries, 142 yards, 1 TD
It says a lot for how far the Bengals offense has fallen when they need a kick-off return to stay relevant in the game. Although they did better than the second half of the Washington game, it wasn’t much better. The Brandon Wilson score and a Randy Bullock field goal were the only points scored in the first three quarters.
And the Giants started how they meant to go on. Wayne Gallman was used on the ground in six of the nine plays in the first drive. That sixth attempt was a one yard rush touchdown. Unfortunately the Giants didn’t manage to find the endzone after that, with the rush or the pass, and the remainder of the points came from the boot.
However, this could have been due to Daniel Jones’ injury. The Quarterback had already made 6 carries for 19 yards before he picked up the leg ailment. And Colt McCoy came in to fill the role midway through the third quarter. The runs kept on coming for the Giants, but they didn’t make as much of an impact as they did at the start of the game. Still, if you started Wayne Gallman, he will have picked up double digits in most fantasy formats!
TENNESSEE TITANS – 45 carries, 229 yards, 4TDs
On the other pick, if you’d have started Derrick Henry, you’d have definitely picked up double digit numbers on his touchdowns alone! The behemoth ran over the Colts rush defense, and put on three of the four rushing touchdown bagged by the Titans.
This time of year continues to bring a purple patch for Henry’s returns – and he was no different in this game. The loss of key defensive piece DeForest Buckner may have made it slightly easier for Henry to find his way. However, the Running Back’s form was similar to how it appeared last week. Of Henry’s 27 carries, only 7 went down the middle channels of the offensive line. None of them went for more than 8 yards.
The other twenty were spread further out. And it comes as no surprise that Henry found runs of 10 yards or over from eight of those twenty runs. Four of those went around the outside of the offensive line. Henry also found all his touchdowns using the right end of the line. Using these outside channels made a huge difference against a tough run defense in the Ravens. And it paid off in spades against the Colts.
Ryan Tannehill picked up the fourth touchdown, a diversion run from Henry disguising the Quarterback as he skipped into the end-zone from 1 yard out. There was plenty of rushing success for this pick.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – 13 carries, 75 yards, 0TDs
Even though Ronald Jones managed to a huge 7.3 yards per carry (66 yards off 9 carries), the Bucs resorted to throwing the ball straight away against one of the teams who find it hard to stop the run. Cue several three and out drives in the first half.
And, as we said in last week’s article, it was going to be Patrick Mahomes’ presence in this game that would be the difference maker. The MVP Quarterback threw the Chiefs in front, and Tyreek Hill was uncoverable in his best returns of the year…so far. Thus the Buccs found themselves in catch up mode and having to pass their way back into the game.
As it happens, the game that ended up going unchosen was the one that produced the least amount of carries, yards and touchdowns. A good swerve from this pick.
RUSHING STAT ANALYSIS – WEEK 13 PICKS
So I’ve gone for three teams this week. The last few weeks have proven to be slightly tougher, but the card for Week 13’s matches seem to look a little more fruitful. So, which teams could find rushing success using analysis of their rushing stats?
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (vs. Jaguars)
Dalvin Cook was quiet last week against the Panthers.
I mean, he still got a combined 82 yards from scrimmage – decent numbers. But, in PPR terms that didn’t quite make double figures (if you include the fumble). But his rushing yards were the lowest he’s seen since Week 1. And that was partly to do with the Panthers defense he was facing. The Carolina team have been rising and dropping in how well they defend against the run, but they came up trumps against a normally potent Cook.
This week’s Minnesota matchup against the Jaguars could prove to be another week where Cook can stand the heat. A return to normality for the Running Back and his fantasy owners. The last two weeks have seen the Jacksonville defence concede some big carries from the opposing lead backs. James Conner put up four runs of over 10 yards against them, followed by Nick Chubb with another four. Kareem Hunt managed to get two as well in the same game.
This is a worrying trend for the Jaguars – they have conceded 10 of these runs in the last two weeks, and 41 over the season (second worst in the NFL). As it stands, Dalvin Cook has 28 runs of this length over the 10 games he has played in so far. There is good scope in this match for Dalvin to find that kind of space again.
Another concern for Jacksonville is that these runs have not just been conceded through the centre of the offensive line. Rushing stat analysis shows that they are vulnerable to the outside as well. Runs faced from the left end of the offensive line have conceded an average of 7.03 yards per carry. That ranks as third worst in the NFL. Runs from the right? A marginally better 6.76 yards per carry – but still seventh worst.
They have performed better with runs through the centre, conceding only 3.49 yards per carry. Unfortunately, Dalvin Cook is not just a central runner. Nearly a quarter of his carries have used the outsides of the offensive line, and a further 27% have used the offensive tackles for his running channel. That leaves just under a half of his carries going through the centre.
And it’s a relatively similar split when it comes to his carries over 10 yards. 10 of his 28 carries for that distance have come around the outside of the offensive line. So he has been able to find the space in multiple areas. A sure-fire headache for those covering the rush.
ROBINSON CAN DILUTE THAT OFFENSE
The one solace for the Jaguars is that they have a key offensive piece that is doing his best to keep the defence off the field. James Robinson is impressing fans many times over with his performances, and is certainly getting the usage to match. In fact, he could also be in for a big game, as the Vikings have seen 115 opposition carries go for between 4 and 7 yards – the highest number and percentage in the NFL.
But, if the Jags can’t find a level of consistency similar to that of Robinson, then there is a feeling that the Vikings could end up seeing more of the football.
Add in that the Vikings will have an in-form Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen returning to their line up and this gives Minnesota two big threats to get that lead stretched out and allow Cook and Mattison to mop up the runs in the third and fourth quarter.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (at Texans)
After opting for their opponents last week, I’ve picked the Colts for a bounce-back game against the Texans.
Houston had a little bit of a let off after D’Andre Swift was unavailable to play on the Thanksgiving slate. They still managed to concede two rushing touchdowns to evergreen Adrian Peterson. But Swift’s inclusion would have provided a little more for the Texans rush defence to deal with.
One thing that the Texans had going their way last week was that the Lions have struggled to stop just about anything that has been thrown their way in the last few games. The Panthers put 20 past them without reply, and then the Houston offense piled on the air offense. Aside from last week’s horror show against the Titans, the Colts have managed to keep oppositions to relatively low scores. If David Johnson is not back from his stint on IR, then the Texans will have to rely on Duke and C.J. once again. And this won’t be as easy a ride as the Lions were last week. And add in a Will Fuller six-game ban due to PEDs. With that, DeShaun Watson has lost his WR1, so I can expect the Texans offense to stumble slightly this week.
NOW ONTO THE COLTS…
But that’s enough about them. After all, I chose the Colts to beat the Texans on the ground. And there are a multitude of reasons why this could be the case.
Jonathon Taylor saw one his best games of the season in Week 10, but if he has to be away for one more week for COVID-related issues, so be it. It doesn’t really matter. Frank Reich has been operating a hot hand approach in the backfield. And Nyheim Hines and Jonathon Wilkins have shown they can more than handle the roles in that scheme.
One area for concern for whoever gets the nod is that the Colts have struggled getting it past the one to three yard carry mark. 41.7% of their carries have gone for that distance – third in the NFL. Similarly, Houston have been one of the better sides to stop runs at that distance. They have kept 36% of runs to that distance.
But this could still be a great game for any one of those players to make it big. Despite their resurgence in recent weeks, the Texans have still faced the second most rush attempts this season. Only the Dallas Cowboys have faced more carries than the Texans! And opposition carries through the middle are still seeing 5.8 yards per carry on average. So with that volume comes opportunity, particularly in the 10 yard+ rush category. As I have said for many weeks, the Texans have suffered in that area. And they could suffer again if the Colts see the volume that many teams have seen before. There may be several runs stopped for 1 or 2 yards, but you could equally see a large run peeled off against this defence.
Plus, you can’t forget that the Colts are giving themselves scoring opportunities on the goal line. By taking out the immobile Philip Rivers and putting in Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis are adding in another mobile rushing threat to scoring those touchdowns. And that’s exactly what we are looking for when picking teams.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (vs. Bills)
The Niners have stung me in the past. But the return of Raheem Mostert against the Rams gave me hope in picking them for this week. Mostert didn’t get the easiest of returns, being kept to 43 yards on the ground. However, he still managed to show off his impressive elusiveness and find a score in the corner.
This week presents him and his fellow Running Backs with the Buffalo Bills. And the Bills have found the going tough against rushing personnel over the season. Over 50% of carries that the Bills have faced have gone for 4 yards or over. That percentage of effective runs conceded comes up as third worst in the NFL, behind Miami and Minnesota.
RUSHING FROM ALL SIDES
Not only that but, in the last few weeks, the Bills have been faced with a variety of challenges, including several mobile Quarterbacks such as Kyler Murray, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson.
They found the games against the Patriots and the Cards more challenging than the Seahawks. I feel this was because the rushing threat was two-fold: from Running Back AND Quarterback. The Seahawks were without any serious rushing threats apart from Russell Wilson. You close down Wilson, you close down both threats.
This game should be more in line with the former than the latter. But the threat won’t be coming from the Quarterback, it’ll be coming from the Wide Receivers. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk (if he’s back from the COVID list) could be considered just as serious a running threat as Newton and Murray. And this falls perfectly against the Buffalo defensive scheme. The Bills seem to be weakest against the run around the outside of the line. They have conceded over 6 yards per carry to runs around the left end. Their right end has seen a slightly better record, conceding only 5.77 yards a carry. If the Wide Receivers can make their marks, it could mean all the difference to keeping the Bills guessing.
Finally, it is also important to know that the San Francisco defence will have a very important role to play in this game. They have a top 10 defence against Quarterbacks and Running Backs. If they can keep Josh Allen and his Running Backs as quiet as the Rams last week, then they stand a chance at winning this game. With a win can come a push for that wild card spot.
Join me next week to see how these three picks panned out!