Ten stats to know from Week 7: Melvin Gordon from bust to beast

San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon runs against the Atlanta Falcons. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon runs against the Atlanta Falcons. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

By Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus
Special to Yahoo Sports

It was a historic week in the NFL with a massive rushing performance for the record books, but there were also a number of other stats that stick out. Here are 10 stats to know from Week 7 of the NFL season, using the help of Pro Football Focus grades and data:

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1. Melvin Gordon leads the NFL with 10 total touchdowns.

Remember when Gordon was a bust? He’s the quintessential example of a post-hype sleeper. After a disappointing rookie campaign where he failed to reach pay dirt even once, Gordon has double-digits TDs in just seven games after scoring three times against the Falcons in Week 7. He also ranks fourth in the league in carries (138) and averages 22.6 touches per game. Gordon has gone from bust to beast and is an elite fantasy option for the rest of the season.

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2. Jay Ajayi’s second 200-yard game was much better than the first.

One of the most unlikely storylines from Week 7 actually came to fruition, as Ajayi became just the fourth player in NFL history to post back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances. However, a side-by-side comparison shows that he played significantly better in the second game. Sure, he averaged more yards per carry in Week 6 – he had 8.2 compared to 7.4 in Week 7 – but Ajayi was extremely elusive as he carved up the Bills. He forced 10 missed tackles on the day, making him just the second player this season to top double-digits. It would have been unthinkable to suggest this even as recently as three weeks ago, but Ajayi is on his way to being 2016’s breakout fantasy player.

3. The Rams offensive line isn’t helping Todd Gurley.

It’s no secret that Gurley isn’t putting up the rushing numbers that many expected back in fantasy draft season. However, what his stat line doesn’t show is how little his offensive line is doing to help. Through the first seven weeks of the season, the Rams offensive line is dead last in yards before contact per attempt, with an average of 0.90 yards. That’s over two fewer yards per attempt than the Bills unit is creating before contact.

4. Chargers tight end routes run: Antonio Gates – 29, Hunter Henry – 20.

Here’s an example of why looking at the snap count doesn’t tell the whole story for tight ends. Henry actually out-snapped Gates 47-38, but Gates ran more pass routes. So what gives? The Chargers used Henry on 23 run plays. Gates was on the field for just nine snaps when San Diego ran the ball. Gates also didn’t stay in to block on any of his pass plays, whereas Henry blocked on four of his 24 passing snaps. The implication here is pretty simple: as impressive as Henry has been this season, San Diego still views Gates as their top receiving tight end. And it showed on Sunday with Gates seeing 10 targets and Henry getting just two balls thrown his direction. Gates should be considered a TE1 going forward with Henry more of a risk/reward TE2.

5. Only one quarterback has a 100-yard rushing game so far in 2016: Kevin Hogan.

With Cody Kessler forced from the game in the first half with a concussion, the Browns were forced to toss Hogan into relief duties. While his 100 yards on 12-of-24 passing is reminiscent of a Tim Tebow line, Hogan shredded the Bengals on the ground with 104 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown run. Hogan was a fifth-round selection by the Chiefs in this year’s draft, but didn’t end up making Kansas City’s 53-man roster. With Kessler concussed and Josh McCown still recovering from his shoulder injury, there’s a chance Hogan could be under center for the Browns for their next contest against the Jets. He won’t offer any fantasy appeal outside of being a DFS punt option.

6. Jacksonville’s leading receiver in Week 7 was Allen Robinson Allen Hurns Marqise Lee.

The writing has been on the wall for a breakout game for Lee, as he’s been a staple of our waiver wire column for the last month. On Sunday, Lee caught 7-of-8 targets for 107 yards. It wasn’t a massive day, but it’s still worth noting because he led the Jags in targets and played better than Hurns and Robinson. The Jaguars’ passing offense doesn’t inspire much confidence right now, but Lee’s fantasy arrow continues to point up.

7. Jack Doyle rules!

Dated references to mid-90s Adam Sandler vehicles aside, Doyle leads all tight ends in PPR scoring for the week after catching 9-of-10 targets for 78 yards and a score. Doyle and Antonio Gates were the only tight ends to top 10 targets for the week. Fortunately, we saw this one coming from a mile away with Dwayne Allen, Phillip Dorsett, Donte Moncrief, and Quan Bray all inactive. If the Colts remain hobbled in Week 8, Doyle will be in store for another big workload.

8. Jamaal Charles was active, but only played two snaps.

We’re still in wait-and-see mode with Charles, as the Chiefs limited him to just one carry on two snaps in Week 7. Charles had some knee swelling during the week. Some considered him to be doubtful to play, but he managed to suit up. However, it was all Spencer Ware for the Chiefs yet again. At this point, what should Charles owners do? Stay the course. It’s not the answer you want to hear if you own Charles, but trading him makes no sense. You’re not going to get any value in return. You’re also not dropping him. Your only course of action is to wait it out. The Chiefs still aim to get him more involved as the season goes on, but it’s impossible to trust Charles in starting lineups until we see him get more significant playing time.

9. Fantasy points per opportunity leaders by position: QB – Matt Ryan (0.58), RB – LeGarrette Blount (0.52), Julio Jones – (0.45), Martellus Bennett (0.43)

The moral of the story is that the Falcons and Patriots put up fantasy points. But Blount’s appearance on this list is especially interesting. The popular narrative following Tom Brady’s return was that the Patriots would scale back their usage of Blount, but that’s not what’s happened. Blount topped 20 carries in Week 7, posting 127 yards and two scores. He’s found the end zone in all but one game this season, and currently sits sixth among running backs in standard fantasy scoring.

10. New Orleans wide receiver targets: Brandin Cooks – 47, Michael Thomas – 47, Willie Snead – 34.

That’s right. The rookie Thomas is now dead even with Cooks in target share following his 13-target outing on Sunday. While Cooks’ massive weekly ceiling still places him atop the Saints receivers in terms of fantasy value, Thomas is putting a little distance between himself and Willie Snead as the second option. Snead has been banged up, and this has really opened the door for Thomas to shine. Over the last three weeks, he leads the Saints in targets. Thomas should be considered a WR3 with upside going forward.