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10 Must-read fantasy football stats for Week 2

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I'm a film guy at heart, I'll admit. However, there's a ton to learn from the numbers as well. There's a tremendous amount of resources out there, and spreadsheets to compile. Here are some of my favorite notes from my stats research for Week 1.

The three Saints running backs combined for 33 offensive touches (rushes and receptions) compared to just 16 catches from their five targeted receivers and tight ends in Week 1.

One thing we predicted in the offseason was that the Saints offense would lose some of its firepower through the air, and become more backfield oriented. In Week 1, at least, that prediction looks on track to come to fruition. Mark Ingram saw 17 touches in a game where the Saints chased the Cardinals for most of the afternoon.

This reality should cause a two-fold reaction. If you hadn't already, now would be the time to give a slight downgrade to the New Orleans passing game players. While dump offs to the running backs will help Drew Brees, he's unlikely to hit his monstrous passing numbers of years previous. Brandin Cooks got taken to task by the bigger Patrick Peterson, and we should expect he'll be a more volatile matchup play than his redraft stock indicated. We're not likely to see that breakout from Josh Hill.

Additionally, it was hard to watch the film from the Saints Week 1 game and not let your mind wander the possibility of C.J. Spiller on the end of some of those running back receptions. When he comes back, he'll be a big boost to your lineups, and an every week start in PPR.

Brandon Coleman (78 percent) out-snapped Marques Colston (62 percent) and produced 7.2 more fantasy points on the same number of targets.

Another Saints nugget; Brandon Coleman is the number-two receiver to own from this offense. Marques Colston looked closer to finished than on the precipice of a rebound year. He turned seven targets into 2.9 fantasy points, and had trouble moving out of breaks. Coleman looked more fluid and athletic while using length to his advantage to score a touchdown. We've already noted why we're docking these receivers and tight ends a bit, but Coleman is the lone player who got a boost from Week 1.

You should expect Coleman to have some big weeks sprinkled in this season. He has a great chance to post another double-digit point day against Tampa Bay on Sunday. He's a good sleeper in daily fantasy, and a complete bargain.

Danny Woodhead saw seven red zone touches on Sunday to Melvin Gordon's zero.

This is another one you should have seen coming. The Chargers talked at length how glad they were to have Woodhead back for another run after he missed most of last year, following a top-20 fantasy season in 2013. Philip Rivers trusts him immensely in the nuanced portions of the game, and that is why Woodhead receives the high-value touches. We cannot label this a fluke, as Woodhead scored the 11th most fantasy points in the red zone among running backs in that 2013 season.

Until we see a reverse in this trend, Danny Woodhead is an every week starter in both PPR and standard leagues. His role in the passing game gives him immense flex value in formats that reward for receptions. In standard leagues, he still has great appeal if he's getting all these touches near the money area for fantasy football. We'll also need to strictly consider Melvin Gordon in the Alfred Morris level of fantasy backs, but with more big play ability. These two down, non-red zone running backs are highly game script dependent. They become uninvolved when their team falls behind in games, and their fantasy value is mostly derived from sporadic touchdowns. Morris ran like a mad man last week, but still only came away with 12 fantasy points in standard because of his limited role. That's the sort of upside we have to look forward to, unless he breaks a random long run, with Melvin Gordon if he's not playing near the scoring areas.

Rob Gronkowski has scored nine of his career touchdowns in seven games against the Buffalo Bills and averaged 10.2 targets and .83 touchdowns against Rex Ryan's teams over the last three years.

There's been some talk of fading Gronk this week because the Bills feature a tough defense. Utilizing this approach against the Patriots tight end is always very risky business. There's a new regime in town, but no one in Buffalo has proven capable of slowing down Gronkowski in the past. There doesn't look to be a new piece on the defense to do so now. Even the "Rex effect" may not be in play here, as his teams have struggled just as much to find an answer for stopping Gronk.

When the Patriots get in to these hectic matchups Tom Brady and company often default to what feels most comfortable. That means dump offs to the pass catching running back (Dion Lewis) and high-value targets to Gronkowski. There's no reason to fade him in DFS or temper redraft expectations because of this matchup.

DeAngelo Williams averaged six yards per carry against the Patriots in Week 1 which was his highest single game figure since Week 17 of 2012.

Not only did Williams prove he is far from done yet, he also served to expose a major liability in the New England defense. The Patriots have two young pocket collapsing threats in Dominque Easley and Malcolm Brown at defensive tackle, but are missing a Vince Wilfork-like run stuffer. New England got blown off the ball with regularity in Week 1.

The outlook for the run heavy Bills on Sunday is looking up. I'm not interested in playing a hobbled LeSean McCoy, if he even suits up, but my interest in Karlos Williams is peaking. He played 22 percent of the team's snaps and more than tripled LeSean McCoy's yards per carry figure. He's an interesting bargain play in DFS either way, but a must play in redraft if McCoy sits against New England.

Two-thirds of Eric Decker's Week 1 targets came on routes run from the slot.

It appears that Chan Gailey has tabbed Eric Decker as his slot receiver in order to get more size mismatches there. Longtime Jets slot receiver Jeremy Kerley played one snap against Cleveland. Decker is an underrated route runner, and can post up on smaller nickel defenders with ease.

The Colts will not have the services of their usual slot corner Monday night, with Darius Butler joining outside corner Greg Toler on the "OUT" portion of the injury report. There's a clear mismatch here, and it's tilted in the Jets direction. Decker is a popular target of mine in Week 2 DFS at a great value, and makes for an easy stacking candidate for the similarly bargain-style Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Josh Norman played all but two of his snaps on the left side of the field against Jacksonville.

The Panthers number-one cornerback is an emerging superstar player, and was widely credited for shutting down the Jaguars' Allen Robinson. However, that only tells a portion of the story. Norman played a role in Robinson's disappointing stat line, but the two only squared off on just over half of Robinson's pass routes. The Jaguars move Robinson to both sides of the field and allow him to play some slot. A common misnomer is that all top cornerbacks shadow the opposing number-one receiver. However, that is in fact false, and Carolina did not use Norman that way in Week 1.

While the Panthers field an underrated group of corners, we don't need to go worrying about DeAndre Hopkins in this matchup. Norman is unlikely to shadow him if last week is any indication, and his volume (25.5 percent of the Week 1 targets) makes him impossible to completely fade.

Speaking of Allen Robinson, 37.8 percent of his Week 1 passing patterns were go routes.

In charting his Week 1 letdown for Reception Perception, I noticed how striking it was that the Jaguars kept sending Robinson on vertical routes. He was primarily used as a short chain mover in his rookie season; someone who could break open early in-route and present a reliable target for Blake Bortles. Much of the hope that he'd become a target monster in 2015 was predicated on him fulfilling this role for his shaky quarterback again in year two.

We cannot be sure yet if this was just a one game blip on the radar, or a gross miscast of a player made by the new Jaguars offensive coaching staff. Monitor where Robinson is targeted on the field in Week 2 against Miami, because we want him to be a short target not thrust into an ill-fitting downfield player. This discovery expedition is best made with Robinson on your bench, for now.

Tyler Eifert saw 35.3 percent of the Bengals Week 1 targets go his way.

Tyler Eifert was destined to be this year's version of 2014 Travis Kelce, a young late round tight end that vaults into the every week starter category. It was painfully obvious before the season began, and even more so after Week 1. His 100-plus yard and two touchdown day should have sealed the deal. However, if you need more convincing, his target volume should do the trick.

Andy Dalton has made a habit of force feeding passes to his tight ends. He pushed 78 targets to an ineffective Jermaine Gresham last season, and his passer rating is higher throwing to their area of the field than his wide receivers'. You no longer need question whether to play Tyler Eifert or not. He's an every week must start, due to his combination of talent and immense opportunity.

Against the Falcons, 33 percent of the Eagles passing yards came via throws to running backs.
Every game, all season

Obviously this tells us that the Eagles plan on using their running backs in this fashion with frequency, but it also points out the holes in Atlanta's defense. While they looked like a much closer to average unit in Week 1, the Falcons still don't possess the quick coverage linebackers needed to stop these type of players. Paul Worrilow is a liability on passing downs, as is third leading tackler Justin Durant.

When the Giants square off against Atlanta on Sunday, they'll find a similar mismatch with Shane Vereen. The new addition had a quiet seven touch outing in Week 1, but did average 11.5 yards per reception. If New York is smart, they'll utilize him more in Week 2 to earn a clear advantage over the Falcons slow-footed linebackers. Identifying which game to play Vereen is historically tricky, but this is shaping up to be one of those contests. I'll have a few Eli Manning, Odell Beckham and Shane Vereen triple stacks in DFS in order to create contrarian unique lineups.


Matt Harmon is an associate fantasy writer/editor for NFL.com, and the creator of #ReceptionPerception, who you can follow on Twitter @MattHarmon_BYB.

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