Enter the Red Zone: NFL Week 13 Edition

Joe FortenbaughCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 29:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during their game at LP Field on November 29, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Enter the Red Zone is back at the NFP after a short hiatus.

So before you shut down the office computer for the week and head out for happy hour, get involved in some serious statistical analysis and game predictions (with a little Start ‘em/Sit ‘em on the side).

Because that’s how we do things around here on Fridays.

You are now entering the red zone...


From the 20: You must protect the quarterback

I’ve already decided that before the start of the 2010 fantasy season, the National Football Post is going to publish a detailed study of all 32 teams’ offensive lines. Why? Because this information is essential to the fantasy draft process.

As we’ve analyzed before, it all comes down to pressure. The ability to get after the quarterback and disrupt his rhythm plays a huge factor in determining offensive success.

In standard scoring formats, seven of the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks rank 12th or lower in sacks. Four of those quarterbacks (Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning) all rank 23rd or lower.

In addition, six of the seven MOST-sacked quarterbacks in the NFL (JaMarcus Russell, Jake Delhomme, Matt Cassel, Jason Campbell, Donovan McNabb, David Garrard) rank 15th or lower in fantasy scoring (Jay Cutler, who ranks seventh in sacks, ranks 11th among fantasy quarterbacks in scoring).

It’s simple. Give your quarterback time to throw and he’ll produce.


From the 19: In news that shouldn’t surprise you...

The five teams with the highest run-to-pass ratios this season (New York Jets, Miami, Cincinnati, Tennessee, and, surprisingly, New Orleans) have produced six of the top 15 fantasy running backs through 12 weeks (Thomas Jones’ numbers exclude Thursday night’s game).

Additionally, seven of the top 10 highest-scoring running backs rank in the top nine in carries this year (Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Adrian Peterson, T. Jones, DeAngelo Williams, Steven Jackson, Michael Turner).

This information just goes to reiterate that running backs who share the workload (Knowshon Moreno, Brandon Jacobs, Marion Barber) should fall a little bit farther down your board on draft day. Touches lead to production.


From the 18: Speaking of Chris Johnson...

The Titans' Pro Bowl running back is still leading the NFL in a statistical category known as “stuffs.” A stuff occurs when a running back gets tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage for no gain.

Johnson and Lions running back Kevin Smith are currently tied for the NFL lead in stuffs with 27. Rounding out the top five are Adrian Peterson (26), DeAngelo Williams (25), and Steve Slaton (21).

Despite ranking seventh in carries (205), Bengals running back Cedric Benson is currently ranked 17th in stuffs (16).

On the defensive side of the football, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Geno Hayes leads the NFL in stuffs with eight.


From the 17: Did you know?

If you play in a standard-scoring fantasy league that starts the following positions:

QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, W/R, TE, D/ST, K

And you could go back to August and use your first nine draft picks on:

Round 1: Ricky Williams

Round 2: Tim Hightower

Round 3: Miles Austin

Round 4: Donald Driver

Round 5: Brett Favre

Round 6: Laurence Maroney

Round 7: Vernon Davis

Round 8: Cincinnati D/ST

Round 9: David Akers

You would currently be averaging 100.7 points per week?


From the 16: Game Prediction No. 1

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -13.5 at Cleveland Browns

Key Game Notes

1. The Browns are averaging only 230.6 total yards of offense per game in 2009 (32nd).

2. The Browns are averaging only 11.1 points per game in 2009 (31st).

3. The Chargers are averaging 28.4 points per game in 2009 (third).

4. During their current six-game winning streak, the Chargers have scored an average of 30.8 points per game.

5. During their current six-game winning streak, the Chargers are beating their opponents by an average of 17.0 points.

Lightning will strike big in Cleveland this Sunday.


From the 15: Start ‘Em

Rashard Mendenhall    Running Back    Pittsburgh Steelers

This is a no-brainer for Mendenhall owners in deeper leagues, but for those of you playing in a smaller fantasy format, you should get the Pittsburgh workhorse into your starting lineup.

The Steelers play host to the Oakland Raiders and the NFL’s 31st-ranked run defense this weekend (161.1 yards per game). The Raiders are giving up an average of 26.0 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (30th), have allowed 17 touchdowns via the ground, and are getting torched for an average of 23.5 points per game (23rd).

Don’t forget, after losing to the Ravens last week, the Steelers no doubt went through a tough week of practice under head coach Mike Tomlin. Don’t discredit the motivation factor.


From the 14: Notes from the Week 12 Target Report

1. Colts receiver Reggie Wayne is currently ranked first, with 114 targets.

2. Seahawks receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh is currently ranked eighth, with 97 targets.

3. Both Randy Moss (111, fourth) and Wes Welker (109, fifth) rank in the top five.

4. The first New Orleans Saint to appear on the list is Marques Colston, who ranks 38th with 73 targets.

5. The top five tight ends in targets are Tony Gonzalez (96, 10th), Vernon Davis (92, 16th), Dallas Clark (91, 17th), Kellen Winslow (88, 19th), and Antonio Gates (83, 24th). All five tight ends rank in the top six in scoring in standard-scoring formats.

Below the radar: Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason is currently tied for 10th in targets, with 96. He’s quietly put together a nice season (52-734-5) and is now ranked 17th in scoring among fantasy wideouts.


From the 13: Burned Defenders

Yes, burned defenders is an official statistic. Here are the top five heading into Week 13:

1. Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh Steelers, 54

2. Derek Cox, Jacksonville Jaguars, 47

3. William Gay, Pittsburgh Steelers, 47

4. William James, Detroit Lions, 47

5. Bryant McFadden, Arizona Cardinals, 45

You think Cox will be matched up with Andre Johnson this weekend?


From the 12: Speaking of defenders...

Is it time to pronounce Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis the best in the game?

Revis was at it again Thursday night as he locked down Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens and limited the Pro Bowler to just three receptions for 31 yards on nine targets. In addition, Revis came up with a big interception in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for New York.

So far this season, Revis has gone against wide receivers Andre Johnson, Randy Moss (twice), Marques Colston, Terrell Owens (twice), Mike Sims-Walker, and Steve Smith (Carolina).

None of those wideouts has gone for more than 50 yards against Revis, and only two (Moss, Sims-Walker) have scored touchdowns.


From the 11: Sit ‘Em

Tony Romo    Quarterback    Dallas Cowboys

Romo heads to New York this weekend to take on the Giants, but what owners should be concerned about is that we have officially moved into the month of December, which is the time of year the Cowboys signal caller is known to collapse.

For his career as a starter, Romo is 5-8 with a 58.9 completion percentage, 14 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, and 33 sacks in December. Not good. Not good at all.

He’s lost four of his last five December games, including three straight on the road.

Send him to the bench.


From the 10: IDP Leaders

Passes Defensed: Darrelle Revis (23), Leon Hall (17), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (16)

Tackles: Curtis Lofton (108), Patrick Willis (107), David Harris (105)

Sacks: Elvis Dumervil (14), Jared Allen (12.5), James Harrison (10)

Interceptions: Jairus Byrd (8), Darren Sharper (8), Asante Samuel (7)

LOOK OUT FOR: Houston Texans defensive end Mario Williams, who goes up against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Jags have struggled to protect quarterback David Garrard, who’s been sacked 28 times in just 12 games (fifth).


From the 9: Game Prediction No. 2

NEW YORK GIANTS +2.5 vs. Dallas Cowboys

What you need to know:

1. See “From the 11” above for the analysis of Tony Romo.

2. You HAVE to love the fact that an NFC East divisional game is featuring a home team GETTING points coming off 10 days’ rest.

3. In the Cowboys’ last six trips to the Meadowlands, they are 3-3 and are giving up an average of 25.3 points per game.

4. In 10 career games against the Cowboys, Eli Manning has thrown 18 touchdown passes with 11 interceptions.


From the 8: Did you know...

That when the Colts, Texans, Patriots, Bengals, Cowboys, and Chargers have a turnover differential of plus-one, they’re a combined 19-2 on the season?

The only two losses come from the Texans and Patriots.

In addition, the Texans are 1-4 this season when they post a minus-one turnover differential.


From the 7: Start ‘Em

Michael Crabtree    Wide Receiver    San Francisco 49ers

He’s averaging just 7.3 targets and 57.6 yards per game this season, but Crabtree is an excellent WR3 option in Week 13 due to a very favorable matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle has been exposed at will through the air and is giving up an average of 238.1 yards per game (25th). In addition, the Seahawks have been torched for 25.7 fantasy points per week by opposing wide receivers (30th).

Look for Crabtree to produce some solid numbers in Week 13.


From the 6: Get out of their way!

Here are the top five running backs for each of the following statistical categories:

Broken Tackles: Michael Turner (21), Steven Jackson (19), Chris Johnson (17), DeAngelo Williams (17), Maurice Jones-Drew (16).

Yards After Contact: Chris Johnson (749), Steven Jackson (627), Adrian Peterson (604), DeAngelo Williams (582), Maurice Jones-Drew (579).

Fourth-Quarter Rushing: Chris Johnson (325), Adrian Peterson (309), Ryan Grant (280), Thomas Jones (280), Marion Barber (245).

Is it any surprise that the top fantasy running back through three weeks (Chris Johnson) is listed in all three categories?


From the 5: Sit ‘Em

Chris Chambers    Wide Receiver    Kansas City Chiefs

Yes, Chambers has been effective since joining the Chiefs in Week Nine. The former San Diego Charger has caught 17 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns in four games since coming to Kansas City.

But there are two big reasons you should leave him on the bench this weekend: cornerback Champ Bailey and the Denver pass defense.

Now that he’s healthy, Bailey has been very difficult to beat this season. Add in the fact that the Broncos are allowing just 17.0 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers (sixth), and you’ve got a Week 13 matchup that offers very little promise.


From the 4: Drop some knowledge on me

I can choose two of the following three running backs to start in a standard-scoring, 10-team league this weekend:

1. Chris Johnson (at Indianapolis)

2. Ray Rice (at Green Bay, Monday night)

3. Rashard Mendenhall (vs. Oakland)

Whom do I sit?


From the 3: Interceptions happen outside

Completion Percentage: Indoors

1. Drew Brees: 72.3

2. Brett Favre: 71.0

3. Peyton Manning: 68.9

4. Aaron Rodgers: 67.7

5. Jason Campbell: 66.0

These five quarterbacks have combined to throw 63 touchdowns with just six interceptions indoors this season.

Completion Percentage: Outdoors

1. Kurt Warner: 72.6

2. Peyton Manning: 71.3

3. Matt Schaub: 70.0

4. Ben Roethlisberger: 68.2

5. Tom Brady: 66.4

These five quarterbacks have combined to throw 65 touchdowns with 28 interceptions outdoors this season.


From the 2: You make the call

In the Game Day fantasy live chat last Sunday, we started talking about which former NFL running back Chris Johnson plays like the most.

While his style is completely unique, if you had to compare Johnson to a former NFL great, who would it be?

My choice was Bo Jackson. Other suggestions were Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders, and Marcus Allen.

What say you, NFP Nation?


From the 1: Another Week 13 Winner

This one comes from the world of college football, as the Tipper is taking...

CINCINNATI BEARCATS -2.5 vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

Why? I’ve been on Cincinnati all year. You have to love an offense that runs a no-huddle spread attack throughout the majority of the game. The Panthers folded last week to West Virginia, so there’s no chance they prevent the Bearcats from going undefeated.


Enjoy the games this weekend!

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh


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