Rushing Stats Analysis – Find The Gap Week 5
We’re onto the London games! Here, the Find the Gap truly takes a different meaning. But first, we need to look at which of the Week 4 picks gave us some rushing gold…
San Francisco 49ers – 29 carries, 143 yards (4.9 ypc)
The Niners finally put all their eggs in Trey Sermon’s basket. The rookie ran 19 times for 89 yards, establishing himself as a firm favourite for the top role. And that’s even with Jeff Wilson on the horizon. Trey Lance also got to stretch his legs, with 41 yards from 7 carries. No touchdowns, but a very strong showing and potential for the future.
Cleveland Browns – 38 carries, 184 yards and 1 TDs (4.8 ypc)
The Browns offset their very sub-par passing game with another great showing on the ground. Chubb and Hunt presented a fine one-two punch, keeping each other fresh and effective. This week it was Hunt with the touchdown, but that is what is so good about these two – the touchdowns can come from either.
New Orleans Saints – 39 carries, 170 yards and 2 TDs (4.4 ypc)
Although they lost the game, it wasn’t by much. And the Saints put on a ground show against a Blake Martinez-less Giants defense. Kamara put up triple figures in rushing yards, but it was Taysom Hill’s blunt force running that got the points. Hill’s first touchdown saw him bounce ruggedly off several defenders before forcing himself into the corner. A fine touchdown and, as was said last week, the touchdowns can come from anywhere in this offense.
WEEK 5 SELECTIONS
So, lets start this segment off with a shock.
NEW YORK JETS (vs. FALCONS – IN LONDON!)
How on earth could I choose the JETS away from home? Well, there are a few reasons why…
REASONS TO CONSIDER
- This is not just an away game for the Jets. It’s an away game for the Falcons as well. With a near-rabid crowd of fans from across the globe filling the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, the atmosphere is excitable. And, as a result, these games can throw up some interesting results.
- One aspect of the Jets game that seems to have helped is the establishment of a leading Running Back. Week 4’s win against the Titans saw Michael Carter get ten more touches than any other back – and the majority of these came in early drives. It certainly helps that Carter’s 4+ yard carry percentage is the highest of any current Jets Running Back (46%). These sorts of carries helps add dimension to the Jets offense, and can move the chains. Carter has also made four carries of over 10 yards in the last three games.
- The Jets have also benefitted from getting the opportunity for rushing volume. Week 2’s match against the Patriots may have been a loss, but the ground game made a season-high 31 carries, and put up strong averages across the board. Considering the Patriots defence are supposed to be a strong unit, this is good news for the New York fans in London. If the Jets can stifle the Falcons offense the same way they did the Titans, this could be another opportunity for some effective rushing.
- One of the standout averages in the Patriots game came from carries around the Right End. The 6 carries in that game produced an average of 7.17 yards per carry. And the Falcons also seem to have a huge hole in this area. So far, they have conceded 154 yards from carries in this area, at an average of 7.34ypc. In my Youtube video on Michael Carter, I highlighted him as a powerful runner through the tackles and to the outside of offensive lines, using his blockers effectively. We have seen flashes of that potential so far, but this could be a huge game for him to do what he does best – and find those gaps.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (vs. MIAMI)
After an outlier of minimal rushing relevance, the Bucs seem to be back in the run game. And this fixture is prime to smash the ground game.
REASONS TO CONSIDER
- Miami are struggling to get any offense going. With the loss of Tua Tagovailoa, the engine has stalled. And losing Will Fuller to the Injured Reserve (once again) means they have lost a huge deep threat. This massively benefits the Bucs’ weakened secondary, and they can put the squeeze on that medium and short-range game. This should swing the game script straight over to the Bucs, and then it’s in their hands to get the lead and maintain it using the ground game.
- The great news for the Bucs is that the Dolphins’ defense has been shocking at stopping the run. They are currently the third worst at conceding fantasy points to Running Backs on NFL.com – an average of just over 30 points at the position. That includes five rushing touchdowns in four games. And this is very useful for Tampa Bay, who seem to be looking for ideas in the redzone. This is a great pick for the carries to prove fruitful.
- This match also co-incides with a huge uptick in rushing attempts for the Bucs. Week 4’s close contest with the Patriots saw the most carries for the ground personnel – with 30. It seems the Bucs could begin to place more faith in the rushing game, particularly to wind the clock down and ensure they’re not winning the game through kicking mistakes like last week. Using a ground-based offense will certainly help this.
- The separation between Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones also continues, with the former taking more carries. However, Jones was the one who got the touchdown last week, so don’t rule out RoJo to roll it across the plane for the score.
DALLAS COWBOYS (vs. GIANTS)
The Cowboys seem to have found their rushing groove and, much like the Saints, they could really take advantage of a weakened Giants secondary.
REASONS TO CONSIDER
- Last week’s games could be a key indicator of where these teams are heading in terms of rushing offense and defence. The Saints were bested in an over-time classic against the Giants. But they certainly hit them hard on the ground – as we can see above. The key weaknesses in the G-Men defense meant that the Saints were stopped at the line of scrimmage ONCE in 39 attempts. This is very promising news for a revitalised Cowboys rushing game.
- Meanwhile, Dallas took apart the Panther’s supposedly stout rush defence. Carolina had held promising teams (including Kamara and the Saints) to very respectable numbers. But the Cowboys were having none of that and put up 245 yards and a touchdown – at 8.75 yards a carry. Taking away kneels, they were stopped only four times in 34 carries. So surely this means that the Giants are going to struggle very heavily against this Cowboys rush attack?
- One key element here is that the Cowboys have taken a Cleveland Browns-type approach to their ground game. In the last three games, both Zeke and Tony Pollard have gotten double figures in carries. This keeps them fresh and effective – and it shows. Both have gone for carries of over 10+ yards in those three games, and both have already seen 100+ yard games this season.
- And it doesn’t matter about the game script either. In games against the Chargers (very close nail-biter), and games of wider margins (Philly and Carolina), both Running Backs have still seen healthy shares of the ball. So, if the game with the Giants is a lot closer than predicted, I believe we still see a solid showing from both backs.
Join me next week to see how these three teams get on! And whether you’re heading to the London game or chilling at home, there’s no better time to Find the Gap!