From The Fantasy Oracle

In The Trenches: 2013 Season Review

The 2013 fantasy football season is over, so let's take a look back at some of the noteworthy NFL performances of the completed season.

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Most folks in fantasy football play the first 16 weeks of the regular season. If your team struggled this season with injuries or poor performances it's possible that you were locked out of the playoffs as early as Week 14. With fewer folks still playing playoff fantasy football what are you left to do? What I'm getting at is that most fantasy players are now in full on fan mode as they are focusing more on following NFL teams than thinking about how the players performed during the regular season. That's why I'm here, to remind you. This isn't going to be a fantasy piece per se since fantasy advice for 2013 has been rendered a moot point for most. Instead, I'm just going to review performances from the NFL regular season and point out some interesting tidbits that you might consider pondering over the offseason as you worry about how to rank players for the 2014 season.

QUARTERBACK/TIGHT END

Andy Dalton threw for 4,293 yards and 33 touchdowns. How many signal callers matched both numbers? The answer is three – Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers.

Nick Foles threw an interception every 118 passes. Eli Manning threw one every 20.4 passes.

Tony Romo had 31 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions. The only other QB with at least that many scores and fewer interceptions was Peyton Manning. Speaking of Manning, he may have only tossed 10 interceptions but he lost six fumbles, the most at the position (tied with Matt Flynn and Ben Roethlisberger).

For the 3rd straight season Matt Ryan threw for 4,000 yards and 25 scores. What makes his 4,515 yards and 26 touchdowns from the just completed season so impressive is the fact that Julio Jones only played five games and Roddy White played 12 games catching just 63 balls.

Matthew Stafford is roundly looked at as somewhat disappointing in the fantasy game. Is that fair? I'd suggest it's not, not by a longshot. Over the past three years an average Stafford season has produced 4,885 yards and 30 touchdowns. You know how many times Tom Brady has reached both of those numbers in one season? The answer is once. Think about that for a moment before discounting Stafford.

TIGHT ENDS

Everyone likes to bag on Jordan Cameron and I get it. His season was certainly filled with highs and lows, and no one likes to see those five point outings from their players in the fantasy game. Still, the guy caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven scores. The only tight end in the game who could match all three of those numbers was Mr. Graham of the Saints.

Vernon Davis was second at the position with 13 scores (he also scored 13 times back in 2009). What made Davis' effort so exciting was that he had scored only 11 times the previous two seasons in the Niners' run first attack. Vernon only caught 52 balls but his total of 850 reeving yards was still good enough for 6th at the position.

Antonio Gates really slowed in the second half of the season as Ladarius Green started to assert himself, but Gates still caught 77 passes for 872 yards. Those numbers were both four season highs. Unfortunately he only scored four times, the first time he failed to reach the end zone at least seven times since his rookie season back in 2003.

Jimmy Graham was the only tight end in football with more than 920 receiving yards. He had 1,215. He was so impressive that if you cut his yardage mark in half, down to 608 yards, he would exactly match the season long output of Coby Fleener. Seriously. Moreover, Graham scored 16 times. That means he scored as many times as Antonio Gates (four), Martellus Bennett (five) and Jordan Cameron (seven).

Jason Witten caught 73 passes, a seven year low. Witten went for 851 yards, a seven year low. Witten scored eight times though, an after scoring a total of eight times the previous two seasons his overall fantasy production was still solid even though he saw a significant reduction in his pass catching. In fact, Witten had 111 targets in 2013. He caught 110 passes in 2012.
 

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RUNNING BACK/WIDE RECIEVER

Joique Bell scored eight times on the ground, one more than Zac Stacy and Alfred Morris. There were others that scored more, Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch led the way with 12 rushing scores, but the only runner in football who carried the ball fewer than 200 times that scored eight touchdowns was Mr. Bell (the Lions' runner had 166 carries with the next lowest total of an eight score man belonging to Fred Jackson at 206). In fact, if Bell carried the ball 301 times, the same total as Lynch, and maintained his per touch scoring pace he would have run for 15 scores.

Among backs who carried the ball at least 150 times in 2013 the leader in YPC was DeMarco Murray (5.2) who was followed closely by the two best fantasy backs in 2013 – LeSean McCoy (5.1) and Jamaal Charles (5.0). Who was the only other back in the NFL who carried the ball 150 times with a yards per carry mark of five? I'll give you a second to ponder. Still giving you more time. No matter who you think it is you're almost certainly wrong. Need more time or you just want the answer? How annoying am I? The answer is the Patriots' runner who carried the ball 153 times with a YPC mark of 5.0. Of course I'm talking about LeGarrette Blount.

Ryan Mathews carried the ball at least 25 times each of the final three weeks of the season. All told he carried the ball 285 times, six more than Adrian Peterson and nine more than Alfred Morris. Mathews also ran for 1,255 yards which was two less than Marshawn Lynch and 77 more than Eddie Lacy.

As bad as C.J. Spiller performed in 201 he still averaged 4.6 YPC. Running mate Fred Jackson was at 4.3 per carry and he only rushed for 890 yards. Additionally, Spiller had more rushing yards than a guys like Le'Veon Bell (860) an a better YPC mark than the likes of Adrian Peterson (4.4), Marshawn Lynch (4.2) or Eddie Lacy (4.1). Maybe Spiller wasn't that bad after all? Maybe, maybe not.

Did you know that Pierre Thomas led NFL runners with 77 receptions? Were you aware that his teammate, Darren Sproles, also caught 71 passes out of the backfield? That’s pretty amazing actually, that two runners from the same team accomplished that.


WIDE RECEIVER

Anquan Boldin was all over the map in 2013 producing season winning efforts only to disappear the next. Still, his season long numbers were extremely solid for a Niners team that just doesn't throw the ball a lot. Boldin caught 85 passes, that's one more than Calvin Johnson and three more than DeSean Jackson. Boldin also went for 1,179 yards, more than T.Y. Hilton (1,083), Keenan Allen (1,046) and Larry Fitzgerald (954). He also scored seven times, more than Andre Johnson (five), Pierre Garcon (five) and Torrey Smith (four).

I'm not going to sit here and argue with you that Brian Hartline is elite, or a fantasy star. He simply isn't. What he is though is productive. Consider that his 76 receptions were five more than Keenan Allen and three more than Victor Cruz. Hartline also produced 1,016 yards, 18 more than Cruz, 62 more than Fitzgerald and 73 more than Marques Colston.

Andre Johnson dealt with QB changes and passing woes, not to mention an unsettled backfield situation in the second half of the season, with the Texans. Don't worry though. The HOFamer caught 109 passes for 1,400 yards for the second straight season (for some perspective on that, Calvin Johnson only has one season in his career in which he's reached both of those numbers). Given the massive amount of production for AJ it's pretty shocking to see that he only scored five times in 2013, four times in 2012 an a total of 11 times his last three seasons. Moreover, he's never had one season of 10 scores, this from a guy who has caught 927 passes for 12,661 yards in his career.

Jordy Nelson caught passes from four different QBs in 2013. Seems like he was a forgotten man by many though. You realize that he caught 85 passes for 1,314 yards and eight scores? Those are numbers that Alshon Jeffery, Andre Johnson, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Calvin Johnson couldn't match.

Each of the last seven years Brandon Marshall has caught at least 81 passes for 1,014 yards, an extremely long run of excellence. Even better, in five of those seven years he's caught at least 100 passes, a remarkable feat. He's also turned into a scoring beast of late as he has scored 23 times the past two season (11 and 12 scores).

 

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday 5-8 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answers everyone's questions.
 


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