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5 must-read fantasy stats: Mike Davis, playoff sleeper


Happy Week 15!!

We've reached the playoffs, congrats if you made it and if not, let's play "Perfect Challenge!" To reflect the differences in the end of the season, I've changed this up a little. I'm going to give five stats still, but each point will be about the fantasy positions (QB, WR, RB, TE, and DEF) with a few extra ceiling picks at the end. Let's give it a try, let me know how you feel about it.

The "rules" for this article are as follows:

1. Not super obvious.
2. As exclusive as possible to this article.
3. You give me feedback and we evolve it together. Twitter (@cfrelund) is the best for this, unless you are creepy then just stick to rules 1 and 2.

Got all that? Let's go!!!

1. 133.8

That's Alex Smith's passer rating on deep passes (20-plus air yard attempts), good for No. 1 in the NFL. Further, he has 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions on such passes. Since Matt Nagy took over play-calling duties two games ago, Smith's deep attempts have doubled (from 3.7 to 7.5), and Tyreek Hill has earned his quarterback the best passer rating on deep passes this season (121.9) amongst receivers with at least 60 targets. The reason Smith is not in my top 10 quarterbacks in median projections but is a ceiling play (with a risky floor) is because of the amount of time necessary for these deep passing attempts to unfold. Joey Bosa ranks in the top three in pressure generation percentage and then there's Melvin Ingram on the other side ... and then Casey Hayward on the back end who has a sub 50 passer rating allowed (ahem factor that into your Tyreek Hill thoughts).

Two more ceiling picks: Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford

2. 26 of 31

Of Keenan Allen's league-leading 31 receptions on third down, a league-leading 26 of them have earned first downs. No receiver has more targets (51) or receiving yards (464) on this crucial down. You were obviously playing Allen but it was somewhat surprising that Allen has the highest ceiling in my model for any receiver. Surprising because Antonio Brown should be in a close, high-scoring game and Julio Jones faces the Bucs defense.

Three more ceiling picks: Devin Funchess, Michael Thomas, Doug Baldwin
Sneakier (and riskier) ceilings: Brandon LaFell, Terrence Williams

3. 4.8

The Rams defense allows 4.8 yards per carry (the most in the NFL) to opposing offenses who rush up the middle. While I am not going to pretend that there are any certainties when it comes to the Seahawks running backs, Mike Davis is a nice ceiling play. Full disclosure, I have Wilson rushing for 40 yards, and Davis with 60 scrimmage yards in the median ... but remember this is a ceiling play (i.e. risky).

Four more ceiling picks: Latavius Murray, Kenyan Drake, Devonta Freeman (this is a reminder to check on Tevin Coleman), Samaje Perine
Sneakier (and riskier) ceilings: Brandon LaFell, Terrence Williams

4. 7.6

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster is averaging the most tackles per game (7.6) of any rookie and happens to have a top-seven ranking in terms of run-stop percentage. This note is about tight ends and the Niners face a team that utilizes two tight end sets often (the Titans), so think of Delanie Walker as more of a risky upside pick than he typically would be. He's outside my top 10 tight ends in the median projection but has a high ceiling based on a potential game script of the Titans playing from behind.

Two more ceiling picks: Adam Shaheen, Jesse James

5. 1.4

When linebacker Sean Lee is on the field, opposing offenses earn 1.4 fewer yards per play (4.6 versus 6 with him not on the field), the greatest difference of any linebacker who has played at least 200 snaps. The Cowboys defense face a Raiders offense that has been inconsistent this year, with an offensive line that has allowed an average of 10 percent more pressures on passing plays compared to last year.

Two more ceiling plays: Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers (riskier)

Follow Cynthia Frelund on Twitter @cfrelund.


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