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East Coast Offense: Year of Mediocrity

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Year of Mediocrity

In a standard scoring league (non-PPR) through eight games the top-13 per-game point scorers are all quarterbacks. That doesn't mean you should have taken a quarterback with your first pick, but it shows that no RB or WR is having a particularly great year. Last season, for example, Arian Foster was No. 8 overall on a per-game basis, LeSean McCoy was No. 12 and Ray Rice was No. 13 and that was in a year of great quarterback inflation where four of the six all-time passing seasons took place.

The top receiver last year, Calvin Johnson, was 23rd, and Fred Jackson and Maurice Jones-Drew also cracked the per-game top-25. This year, besides Foster, only Ray Rice cracks the top-25, though the top receiver, A.J. Green, is No. 26.

Here are the top-60 through eight games by average points per game in non PPR:

Rank Player Team Pos Tot Pts Avg
1 Drew Brees NOS QB 178.4 25.486
2 Robert Griffin WAS QB 188.52 23.565
3 Matt Ryan ATL QB 163.22 23.317
4 Aaron Rodgers GBP QB 184.82 23.103
5 Peyton Manning DEN QB 155.04 22.149
6 Tom Brady NEP QB 173.52 21.69
7 Matthew Stafford DET QB 143.34 20.477
8 Andrew Luck IND QB 143.14 20.449
9 Michael Vick PHI QB 140.92 20.131
10 Cam Newton CAR QB 137.64 19.663
11 Andy Dalton CIN QB 137.34 19.62
12 Ben Roethlisberger PIT QB 136.46 19.494
13 Arian Foster HOU RB 133.6 19.086
14 Josh Freeman TBB QB 131.5 18.786
15 Tony Romo DAL QB 127.12 18.16
16 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF QB 126.9 18.129
17 Eli Manning NYG QB 140.74 17.592
18 Carson Palmer OAK QB 123.14 17.591
19 Joe Flacco BAL QB 118.38 16.911
20 Alex Smith SFO QB 127.26 15.907
21 Christian Ponder MIN QB 127.12 15.89
22 Kevin Kolb ARI QB 95.06 15.843
23 Matt Cassel KCC QB 94.32 15.72
24 Ray Rice BAL RB 106.9 15.271
25 Philip Rivers SDC QB 106.78 15.254
26 A.J. Green CIN WR 106.7 15.243
27 Jay Cutler CHI QB 106.4 15.2
28 Matt Schaub HOU QB 105.1 15.014
29 Shaun Hill DET QB 14.78 14.78
30 Sam Bradford STL QB 117.08 14.635
31 Brandon Weeden CLE QB 116.88 14.61
32 Adrian Peterson MIN RB 115.4 14.425
33 Doug Martin TBB RB 100.7 14.386
34 C.J. Spiller BUF RB 99.6 14.229
35 Russell Wilson SEA QB 111.44 13.93
36 Willis McGahee DEN RB 97 13.857
37 Mark Sanchez NYJ QB 110.44 13.805
38 Jake Locker TEN QB 53.94 13.485
39 LeSean McCoy PHI RB 93.8 13.4
40 Victor Cruz NYG WR 107 13.375
41 Stevan Ridley NEP RB 106.7 13.338
42 Demaryius Thomas DEN WR 92.7 13.243
43 Vincent Jackson TBB WR 92.6 13.229
44 Alfred Morris WAS RB 105.2 13.15
45 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG RB 91.8 13.114
46 Brandon Marshall CHI WR 91.5 13.071
47 Jamaal Charles KCC RB 91 13
48 Percy Harvin MIN WR 103.9 12.988
49 Trent Richardson CLE RB 103.9 12.988
50 Marshawn Lynch SEA RB 102.1 12.762
51 Frank Gore SFO RB 101.5 12.687
52 Marques Colston NOS WR 88 12.571
53 Reggie Wayne IND WR 87.7 12.529
54 Rob Gronkowski NEP TE 100 12.5
55 Matt Hasselbeck TEN QB 72.98 12.163
56 Jordy Nelson GBP WR 84.2 12.029
57 Roddy White ATL WR 83.1 11.871
58 Ryan Tannehill MIA QB 82.98 11.854
59 Lawrence Tynes NYG K 94 11.75
60 Reggie Bush MIA RB 81.9 11.7

A couple items worth noting: Drew Brees jumps out at nearly two ppg higher than the No. 2 at his position Robert Griffin, III, though Griffin did miss half the Atlanta game with an injury and obviously cost quite a bit less to acquire.

The much-maligned Michael Vick is still ninth in per-game scoring for QBs, and Cam Newton is close behind at No. 10. Even Matthew Stafford, who also missed time during a game (entire missed games don't hurt you on the per-game list) is No. 7.

Eli Manning is only 17th, thanks to all the Lawrence Tynes FGs, behind players like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Freeman and Andy Dalton.

Foster has been undoubtedly the most valuable offensive player thus far at 19.1 ppg, nearly four more per game than No. 2 Rice. In fact, there's been a bigger difference between Foster and Rice, then Rice and No. 14 Frank Gore.

A.J. Green is nearly two ppg better than No. 2 WR Victor Cruz. There's actually not a lot of difference between Cruz and No. 7 Reggie Wayne, either.

Finally, Rob Gronkowki (No. 54) is the only TE in the top-60, while Tynes (No. 59) is the only kicker (in this format, kickers get 3.0 for every FG). Gronkowski is nearly 2.5 ppg better than No. 2 Heath Miller, and Tynes is nearly two points per game better than No. 2 Stephen Gostkowski. In fact, the difference between Tynes and Gostkowski is bigger than the difference between Gostkowski and No. 13 Connor Barth.

But the bottom line is that we have very few outliers so far this year. Brees, Foster, Green, Gronkowski and Tynes.

Of course, the true outlier in many leagues is the Chicago Bears defense (119 points/17 ppg in standard Yahoo! scoring). The next best are the Giants and Texans at 10 ppg). Put differently, there's more of a difference between the Bears and the Giants (seven points), then the Giants and the No. 31 Raiders (3.4 ppg).

Andy Reid Now 13-1 After the Bye-Week

After 13-straight seasons of winning after the bye week, the Eagles finally lost and did so decisively at home to the undefeated Falcons. When a streak lasts that long, naturally people try to come up with explanations for it. One common one was that Reid is a great strategist when he has ample time to prepare for a game. Is that actually true, or do we attribute that to him simply due to the streak?

If it were true, one would expect the Eagles to be especially good in Week 1, as you never have more time to prepare for an opponent than before the season starts. It turns out Reid's gone 7-7 in that span, despite having a .603 winning percentage overall during his tenure as the team's coach.

One could argue Reid suffered from the new CBA's more restrictive practice rules during the bye weeks this year, and that Week 1's not a good test because there's less relevant game film with which to prepare. But at some point the exceptions begin to drown out the rule. A streak by itself doesn't necessarily mean anything. As the philosopher Bertrand Russell reportedly said (at least according to one of my college philosophy professors): Inductive reasoning is like jumping off the Empire State Building, counting the windows as you go down and when you get to 80, saying: "So far, so good!"

Things to Take Away from Week 8

The Giants didn't look good against the Cowboys, but don't read too much into that. It's like worrying about the Patriots after they barely beat the Jets at home. Sometimes long-time rivals have a different read on each other than the rest of the league would.

Dez Bryant is the kind of player who makes his own luck all of it bad.

Despite the 437 passing yards, the Giants defensive line gave Tony Romo a hard time, sacking him four times, forcing him into some bad throws and allowing just 7.0 YPA (Romo attempted a whopping 62 passes).

Apparently a poll named Romo as the league's most overrated player. But if everyone thinks you're overrated, it's impossible that you're actually overrated. The poll refutes itself.

Eli Manning had another bad game, but no one will worry because the Giants won, and he's now a "made" guy, in the rarefied group of QBs whose public esteem is year to year rather than game to game.

Jason Witten had a monstrous PPR day (17 catches) and is arguably the league's No. 3 tight end, behind only Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski who is back on his expected draft-day pace after Sunday's monster game.

Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates are broken, and I'm not sure they can be fixed. Rivers probably belongs on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues with shallow benches. Ryan Mathews is a good player when he's not fumbling or injured which is often. Robert Meachem was the real goat this Sunday with one of the worst drops you'll ever see, but he hasn't done enough outside of one game to be worth discussing.

Trent Richardson looks healthy again. When that's the case, he's a top-5 back.

I made a blockbuster trade in YF&F with DDD. It was shocking because I didn't get an email announcing the trade and found out only after I logged in to check who I got via FAAB Thursday. I actually had forgotten I'd even offered it two days before. Suddenly, I had Arian Foster and Ben Tate (both of whom were on bye) and half my team was gone. The trade was Jeremy Maclin, Stevan Ridley, Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter for Foster/Tate, Jeremy Kerley and Brian Hartline. DDD got a good deal, but I have C.J. Spiller, Ahmad Bradshaw, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Hakeem Nicks, i.e., I was overloaded with depth and needed to convert it into a superstar. It's a 12-team league, BTW, even though looking at my roster, it seems like an eight-team one. And RGIII is my QB. #obviousbrag I lost this week with all the bye-week guys, but will still be in first by a game and am hoping it'll be a stronger playoff squad. Also Kerley and Hartline are easier to drop without conscience for upside than the guys I gave up.

The Steelers defense looks like it's back. But RGIII was also victimized by his awful receiving corps. Leonard Hankerson dropped an open touchdown that even Jeff Erickson would catch nine times out of 10, and Santana Moss and Josh Morgan are average at best. I don't want to hear any more excuses for Sam Bradford on account of his receivers. Griffin has as bad or worse and is playing great.

A decent game for Matthew Stafford who at least made the Seahawks pay somewhat for taking away Calvin Johnson. Still 7.2 YPA isn't a breakout. Fantasy-wise, the yards, TDs and rushing TD were great, of course.

Bears backers simply do not deserve to be alive for another week of survivor. What a giveaway with Cam Newton throwing a pick-six up five in the fourth quarter. Even the Packers were shaky for a while. If both had lost, it would have been down to the nutjobs who picked the Broncos (me until I lost my nerve and took Green Bay at 12:35 pm ET) and Steelers.

Darren McFadden has been a durable workhorse this year but hasn't been generating big plays. His stat-line reads like he's Cedric Benson with receiving ability.

I didn't watch a lot of the Falcons-Eagles game, but Vanilla Ice did make a perfect throw on a deep ball to Julio Jones, and winning decisively in Philly is a point in Atlanta's favor. Maybe they were a smoke-and-mirrors 6-0, but will grow into their record as the season goes on. If the 9-7 Giants last year could grow into a Super Bowl champ, why can't a team that's gotten the lucky bounces get better, too? Still, 90 percent chance I'm fading them this week against the Cowboys, but I want to keep an open mind.

Barring a Peyton Manning injury, the Broncos are a lock to win the AFC West.

Ken Whisenhunt kicking a FG on 4th-and-2 from inside the 15 down 24 at the end of the third quarter should be a fire-on-the-spot offense. The owner should announce it on the stadium loudspeaker in fact.

Things to Look for in Week 9

The Giants host the surging Steelers.

The Cowboys take on the undefeated Falcons in Atlanta.

The Eagles go to New Orleans with a possible change at quarterback. Whoever starts should keep the job for at least another week given that it's nearly impossible to fail against that defense.

Beating the Book

Broncos -3.5 at Bengals

The Broncos look like legitimate contenders, while Cincinnati has lost three games in a row. So it should be a good time to buy the Bengals low as a home dog off the bye week and sell Denver high. Back Cincy who keeps it close enough.

Broncos 24 - 23

Last week we lost with the Eagles to put us at 3-5 on the season in this forum and 55-60-3 overall. Last year we went 10-7 in this forum and 124-125 overall. Over the last five years we've gone 50-34 in this space. You can read the full Week 9 column here

Surviving Week 9

We wound up taking the Packers last week, though when it was 14-12 in the fourth quarter, and the Bears were also losing, we wished we had had the courage to take the Broncos. Nonetheless, all the big favorites except the Vikings wound up getting through. Let's take a look at this week's slate:

Team Opponent %Taken Vegas ML** Vegas Odds
CHARGERS Chiefs 38.20% 310 75.61
TEXANS Bills 30.70% 470 82.46
PACKERS Cardinals 9.00% 525 84.00
SEAHAWKS Vikings 5.20% 217.5 68.50
Lions JAGUARS 3.10% 172.5 63.30
Ravens BROWNS 3.00% 178.75 64.13
REDSKINS Panthers 2.90% 170 62.96
Broncos BENGALS 2.20% 178.75 64.13
Bears TITANS 1.40% 172.5 63.30
Home Team in CAPS
* according to
** average of the two moneylines

The reason the Chargers an abysmal team are the most popular this week is two-fold: (1) They have a home game against the Chiefs; and (2) most people have already used the Texans and Packers.

If you have Green Bay available, I'd probably go with them, followed by Houston. The more interesting scenario is whether to go with the Chargers if you've used those two squads already.

Comparing San Diego to the next best option, the Seahawks, we can see the Chargers are given a 76 percent chance to win, or 24 percent chance to lose. The Seahawks, by contrast, have a 31 percent chance to lose. In order for the Seahawks to be the better play at least according to the Vegas odds they'd have to offer more than a 31/24 (1.29:1) payout relative to the Chargers.

With 38 percent on the Chargers in our hypothetical 100-person, $10 pool, there would be 62 left if they lost. One's equity would therefore go from $10 to $16.13. If the Seahawks (5%) lost, there would be 95 left, and one's equity would go from $10 to $10.53. $16.13/$10.53 = 1.53. Clearly, the payout with Seattle justifies the added risk.

Moreover, I give the Chargers a lower chance to win than Vegas does maybe 70 percent. So assuming you've used the Texans and Packers as I have, I'm taking the Seahawks. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind when the full article comes out Wednesday night.

Follow Chris on Twitter at @Chris_Liss