A simple look at a box score or a study of fantasy football categories doesn't always tell the whole story of how a player is performing. Dalton Del Don attempts to identify misleading numbers that are worth a closer look.
Yes ... The Numbers Do Lie.
Keaton Mitchell’s 5.8 touches per game are a lie
Mitchell has somehow been close to a top-30 RB in fantasy points per game this season despite ranking 75th in total touches. He has the potential to be a top-15 fantasy RB down the stretch in a bigger role. Mitchell led Baltimore’s backfield in snaps, routes, carries and yards during the Ravens’ last game and could see the rookie bump following the team’s bye. His snap rate has increased every game he’s played throughout the year, while Gus Edwards’ fell to 26% in Week 12. Mitchell has the same number of breakaway runs (four) this season as Josh Jacobs on 191 fewer carries.
The diminutive back isn’t going to become a workhorse (and his YPC is sure to regress), and Edwards remains the favorite at the goal-line, but Mitchell is an explosive runner who can be a difference maker given 15 touches or so. The Ravens are touchdown home favorites against the Rams this week, so Mitchell’s run as this year’s “fantasy league-winner” starts Sunday.
Justin Fields being fantasy’s QB16 is a lie
Fields is the No. 21 QB overall and No. 16 in fantasy points per game, which hasn’t lived up to his ADP. He hasn’t had a monster fantasy game since Week 5, but that should change Sunday. Fields’ thumb should be healthier following Chicago’s bye, and his 30 rush attempts over his previous two games reveal a ton of fantasy upside. Detroit’s pass defense has been getting destroyed lately, and they’ve especially struggled against mobile quarterbacks. Fields has benefitted from the addition of DJ Moore this season, and the two should find success against a Lions secondary allowing the fifth-most passing touchdowns this season.
Fields has shown improvement as a passer and continues to run a ton (only without last year’s touchdowns), so expect him to be a top-five fantasy QB moving forward. He gets favorable home matchups against the Cardinals and Falcons during the fantasy championship weeks.
Elijah Moore’s 41.8 receiving yards per game are a lie
Moore’s season production isn’t the lie here, but his sub-par stats are misleading regarding what may come. Moore’s only 100-yard receiving game in his career came with Joe Flacco, who once again showed good rapport with the WR last week. Moore saw a 27% target share and the most air yards in any game this season from Flacco last week, finishing with the second-most WR expected fantasy points. It helped that Amari Cooper left early with a concussion, but Flacco was a major difference at quarterback.
If Cooper misses Week 13 and Flacco remains the starter over Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Moore could be a top-20 WR this week against a Jaguars defense allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Looming matchups in Week 15 (Chi) and 16 (@Hou) look favorable as well, so Moore’s output could improve dramatically down the stretch.
Saquon Barkley’s one rushing touchdown is a lie
Barkley has gotten 5.2 YPC over his last four games further removed from his ankle injury, and he should be fully healthy coming out of New York’s bye. He’s tied his career-high with four receiving scores this season but has just one rushing touchdown after recording 10 last season. The Giants offense has no doubt limited his goal-line work, but Barkley ranks top-10 in rush attempts and red-zone carries. The nine players ahead of him in RZ carries have averaged 7.9 rushing touchdowns this season.
Barkley is not only due for TD regression, but he should also get help from an improving Giants offense. Tommy DeVito ranked fourth in YPA and second in Passer Rating over Weeks 11-12 before New York’s bye, and he’s basically Patrick Mahomes. In all seriousness, DeVito has been an upgrade at QB for the Giants, so expect Barkley to hit paydirt in a Sunday home matchup against Green Bay this week.