Fantasy Football Stats and Statistics

You would think fantasy football stats are pretty straightforward, and they usually are in the middle of the fantasy football season. When you're trying to fill out a decent starting lineup in Week 9 with two key bye weeks and a couple of injuries to deal with, you're in a "win now" situation and you can't afford to analyze why that receiver you drafted in the 5th round isn't producing. You probably want to just cut the loser.

Once the season is over and the teams stop lying (for the most part) about their player's lack of production and injuries, you start to learn a lot about why NFL players produced or didn't produce last season. You can start to analyze the results of the previous year with a clearer head, knowing that whomever screwed you the year before isn't on your roster anymore - at least if you are playing in a redraft league.

But with us mid-summer again, it's time to figure out what the 2009 fantasy football season meant and what all those stats from last year tell us about this year. From years past, though, you know the 2009 results may not be an accurate predictor of what's to come in 2009. The 2008 season stats didn't automatically translate into 2009 stats, or else Matt Forte would still be a high 1st round pick coming into 2010 (being drafted in the 4th round in mocks this year).

2010 Fantasy Football Questions

There's a whole list of questions posed by the breakout years of some players, and the draft busts from 2010. Below are just a small selection of questions to answer.

  1. Will Miles Austin be able to reproduce the amazing fantasy football stats of his breakout year in 2009?
  2. Is Chris Johnson going to be the fantasy juggernaut he was in 2009 and, if not, why?
  3. How much better does Donovan McNabb make the Washington Redskins, in the NFL and on the fantasy football stats page?
  4. Were the two games Kevin Kolb started in '09 a precursor to his role as the Eagles' unquestioned starting QB?
  5. Will Donald Driver still be a better fantasy option than Greg Jennings?
  6. Does Julius Peppers make the Chicago Bears Defense elite, and what does his departure from Carolina mean for the Panthers?
  7. Can Shonn Greene continue where he left off in the Jets playoff run, and what does Ladainian Tomlinson's arrival in New York means for Greene's fantasy stats?
  8. What do the fair-to-middling 2009 stats of Knowshon Moreno and LeSean McCoy mean?
  9. Is it time for Jermichael Finley and Brent Celek to replace Antonio Gates and Jason Witten as Top 5 fantasy tight ends?
  10. Is the 2010 New York Jets Defense going to be better than the 2009 version?

Those are just ten questions on a list that could swell to hundreds pretty quickly. These are just examples of what each and every fantasy football owner should be asking himself as the season approaches, as he tries to make 2010 fantasy football projections based on what we last knew from the 2009 fantasy totals.

How to Analyze Fantasy Football 2010

There are a number of factors to consider when looking at last year's statistics: injuries, free agency, trades, rookie replacements and the NFL Draft, coaching changes, scheduling, the age factor, and future injuries.

Fantasy Football Injuries and the Stats

Every given year, fantasy football totals are a product of injury situations around the league. There are always a few teams that are so decimated by injuries, that you couldn't have predicted how their season would change for the worse. In fact, many of the disappointing slides in the NFL can be traced directly to key injuries (or number of injuries), while most of the teams that go deep in the playoffs tend to have relatively good health throughout the year. It's no exaggeration to say that team health is the #1 factor in teams rising and falling from one year to the next, especially in the age of free agency and the salary cap. Teams simply don't have the depth to sustain many injuries.

Let me give a few examples from 2009 alone.

The Atlanta Falcons season was derailed when Matt Ryan and Michael Turner got hurt at midseason, while Roddy White's first half production suffered due to his nagging injuries.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had to deal with injuries on defense all year, which kept Troy Polamalu at significantly less than 100% throughout the season.

Matt Schaub had a career year, mainly because he was able to stay relatively healthy for once. His per game totals have always been strong, but injuries have made Schaub inconsistent.

The Lions weren't going anywhere, but once Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith injuries piled up, even their relatively good fantasy numbers went in the ditch.

Matt Moore replaced an injured Jake Delhomme and actually finished on a 3-game winning streak, which helped certain fantasy teams win league titles (Jonathan Stewart) and pushed Delhomme out the door in Carolina.

The Green Bay Packers (11-5) came on late in the season, but they chased the Vikings (12-4) all year, because they couldn't start the same 5 O-linemen from one week to the next in the first half of the season.

Jay Cutler's debut season in Chicago may have been ill-fated anyway, but when Brian Urlacher went out for the season in Game 1, the Bears Defense crumbled.

The Cincinnati Bengals looked to be sprinting towards the playoffs in the early stages of the year, but injuries to Antwaan Odom on defense and Cedric Benson on offense were key in making them a playoff afterthought.

Justin Tuck was injured on a cheap tripping penalty by Flozelle Adams in Week 1, and he was never right all year. Osi Umenyiora looked limited in his first year back from a season-ending injury, while the Giants' offensive lines 38-game streak of starting the same 5 men came to an end in Week 7 - near the start of a 4-game losing streak.

Not all of these teams' problems can be attributed solely or even mainly to injuries. For instance, the New York Giants just stunk it up in the last two-thirds of 2009, as they started the season 5-0 and ended it with a 3-8 skid. But in a league where the Chargers 11-game losing streak and the Giants' 4-game losing streak depended on Rivers-to-Jackson with :21 seconds remaining (after NYG held the ball for 37+ minutes), a key injury here or there is all the difference you need.

Analyzing Fantasy Stats and the Injury Factor

So when you're slotting players for a fantasy football draft, don't just look at the 2009 stats. You can find some good values by searching through the players who had brilliant 2008 seasons, only to fall victim to injuries in the 2009 season and disappoint. Or perhaps they were perfectly healthy, and everyone around them got hurt, so they were less likely to perform.

Running Backs and the Age Factor

Analyze the age of players, especially running backs. In fact, if you want a hard-and-fast rule when drafting fantasy football players, never draft a running back who is 29 years old or older. There's a long history in the NFL that shows runners 29+ get old quickly - they're worn-out old men, in pro football terms.

That sounds harsh, but history's on my side. We're playing the odds here, so play the odds and assume that any running back nearing 30 is likely to fall apart. You'll occasionally miss on a Ricky Williams, who had a good run in 2009. There was a year that Curtis Martin rolled back the clock. But for every one of those, I'll show you Ladainian Tomlinson looking like an old man, Emmitt Smith looking slow and old, or Eddie George posting 2.9 yards per carry. Running backs get old quick.

Wide Receivers, Quarterbacks and Age

Wide receivers can hold on for a little longer, but most of them are going to slow down somewhat as they hit 30. Playing wideout in the NFL is often about running good routes and knowing where the ball is going to be, so a wide receiver can make up for lost speed and quickness by being cagier. WR's don't get hit as often, or as violently, as running backs, so they can play in the NFL longer. NFL quarterbacks can play at a high level at least until the age of 35, and with Kurt Warner and Brett Favre, ever older.

Free Agency and NFL Stats

When trying to project fantasy football stats for the upcoming season, try to figure out how key free agent additions and subtractions are going to factor into the equation. For our purposes, I'll consider the rare NFL trade in this same class. You'll want to analyze whether a team's offense has improved or declined since last year, or whether there are young players ready to step up. Let's look at one prominent example of this.

Ben Roethlisberger and NFL Transactions

Besides the big controversy in the offseason and the upcoming 6-game suspension, Ben Roethlisberger's offensive unit has undergone some changes going into the 2010 season. You have to evaluate every one of these changes, to make certain you have a good idea which direction Ben Roethlisberger is going to go statswise in 2010.

Traded Santonio Holmes - The Steelers traded Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets. Holmes was inconsistent at times last year, but he was also the Superbowl MVP two years ago. That has to hurt the Steelers Offense.

Aging Hines Ward - Hines Ward is also 34 years old. He's shown some signs of slowing down, but one year, he's going to be over-the-hill. I'm not saying that 2010 is that year, but you have to start betting on it one year soon.

Willie Colon - RT Out for the Season - The Pittsburgh Steelers starting right tackle also went out for the 2010 season with an Achilles injury. Their line had let Roethlisberger get hit too often for the last two years, anyway, and they had been inconsistent opening holes for Rashard Mendenhall (compared to old Steelers running game). Pitt is talking to Flozelle Adams about filling the spot. That might not be awful, considering that Adams was the starting LT on a playoff team last year, and RT should be a simpler position. Adams is likely to want too much money, though.

Limas Sweed - WR Out for the Season - Limas Sweed, entering his 3rd year with the Steelers, also injured his Achilles tendon and is already on I.R. for the 2010 season.

Mike Wallace - #2 Receiver - The Pittsburgh Steelers' new #2 receiver is Mike Wallace, who is 6'0" and has 4.33 speed. Wallace ended his rookie season in 2009 with 39 catches for 756 yards and 6 touchdowns, which makes for a pretty nice rookie season. If Ben Roethlisberger is to remain a top passer in the NFL, Mike Wallace is likely going to have to turn into a 1,000-yard receiver and a mid-level NFL star. Mike Wallace should be a focus of your evaluation.

Given the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is going to be out up to 6 weeks automatically - almost 50% of a 13-week fantasy football season - I'm inclined to put him way down my draft list. I've seen Roethlisberger much higher than where I'm suggesting you draft him, but I don't see where Roethlisberger has a lot of upside in 2010.

Looking above, you have question marks along the offensive line and at wide receiver. And while Mike Wallace had a good rookie year, he would have to improve a lot to get to the Santonio Holmes level. I don't see Hines Ward improving at this point in his career, while Heath Miller has topped out his production levels. I suppose, if Rashard Mendenhall turns into an elite NFL stud, that throws opposing defenses off and opens the door for Roethlisberger. But if Mendenhall has success in the 6 weeks that Roethlisberger is sitting the bench, I imagine the Steelers aren't immediately going to go back to the pass-happy Steelers that disappointed last year.

Fantasy Football Rookie Replacements

One of the biggest wild cards in fantasy football is the rookie NFL player. At positions like quarterback, tight end and wide receiver, these players traditionally have seldom made a big impact. In recent years, a few rookie wide receivers have bucked tradition and become big producers, often shifting the balance of power in a fantasy football league. Two years ago, DeSean Jackson and Eddie Royal helped a lot of fantasy teams make the playoffs. Before that, players like Anquan Boldin and Michael Clayton (yes, Michael Clayton) had stellar rookie seasons. Last year, Percy Harvin had a solid rookie season and was a spot starter in fantasy football.

The tight end position usually takes a little longer to come on. Tony Gonzales and Antonio Gates both "broke out" in their 2nd NFL season, which is somewhat in line with how other NFL tight ends seem to develop. Jermichael Finley, on the other hand, had an impressive rookie season for the Green Bay Packers in 2009. Were it not for a knee injury hampering Finley in the second half of the year, there's no telling where his stats would have ended.

Rookie Running Backs

Rookie runners are the big wild card I was talking about earlier. Once again, these players tend to come on huge in their second season, such as Chris Johnson and Ray Rice last year. A few players show up their first year and hit the ground running, like Matt Forte two years ago. Adrian Peterson is in a class all his own, as Ladainian Tomlinson was back in the day. Because of the athletic ability - the combination of speed, power, and elusiveness - needed to become an elite NFL running back, college RBs can show up in the NFL and immediately have an impact. Sure, they have to learn blocking schemes, but a ball carrier either has the physical tools or he doesn't.

Often, the biggest impediment to young RBs is the head coach or offensive coordinator, who might not trust the rookie protecting the ball at the goal line or in the late stages of the game, or blocking on third down pass plays. For this reason, most rookie running backs aren't the opening day starter, even when they are clearly the most talented runner on the roster. Instead, coaches tend to ease them in, often giving them a great deal more carries in the second half of the season.

This is where the "wild" aspect comes in. It's hard to gauge the value of an NFL rookie RB in fantasy football, because he might do just good enough to mess up everyone's stats. By the time he becomes the main ball carrier on his team, you might be in a desperate playoff situation in your fantasy league. Those RBs who take 8 weeks to come on are fantasy poison, because you might end up trading them before their potential is reached. That's why it's always risky to draft rookie RBs in the top 4 rounds, where you don't have the luxury of sitting them on the bench til they are their NFL team's main back.

2nd Year Running Backs

That's always why it's hard to project young RBs in fantasy football. While the difference might not be as stark as it is with 3rd year receivers, I would say the growth between a 1st and 2nd year running back is often huge in the NFL. Certainly, the coach is probably more likely to trust the young runner in his second year with blocking schemes and carrying the ball in tight spots, with a year of trust built up. The RB might understand the offense better, as anybody in the system longer is going to do. But playing a year in the NFL means the RB has been in the strength training and conditioning program of his team for a whole year, and is likely to be a much better physical specimen in his second year. Once again, look at Ray Rice and Chris Johnson.

The upshot is: just because Lesean McCoy, Knowshon Moreno and Donald Brown didn't have huge rookie seasons in the NFL, that doesn't mean they won't break out in their second year. Often, these are the players that you take a chance on and look like a genius by Week 6. I'm personally not sold on Knowshon in 2010, because Josh McDaniels seems intent on destroying the fantasy value of every player under his watch. I think Lesean McCoy could be one of those where a year makes a huge difference, though. And while I wouldn't draft Donald Brown until the backups start going off the draft board, I think it's only a matter of time before Joseph Addai starts getting injured again. Remember, that's why the Colts spent a #1 pick on Donald Brown in the first place.

Coaching Changes and Fantasy Football

I just mentioned Josh McDaniels, so I'll go back to that well for a minute. We saw last year what a coaching change can do to a fantasy football player. Eddie Royal had 91 catches his rookie year in 2008. But Josh McDaniels came to town convinced he needed to get rid of his whiny star players and revamp the Broncos Offense behind Kyle Orton. Royal's catch total went from 91 to 37 and he had roughly 1/3rd the yards he had in 2008, and guys who drafted Eddie Royal were cursing Josh McDaniels all year.

Sometimes a coaching change brings positives to a unit. Just look what Sean Payton did for the New Orleans Saints his first year in the Big Easy, though the arrival of Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and Marques Colston might have had something to do with the turnaround, too. Mike Smith and Mike Mularkey did wonders for the Atlanta Falcons two years ago.

When looking at a quarterback and his wide receivers, check to make sure there hasn't been a coaching change. Obviously, you'll know all about the head coaching changes in the offseason, but look to see if the offensive coordinator is the same. If not, learn what the new coordinators philosophy is, as well as his history of results. See whether the change makes sense. For instance, Chan Gailey taking over the Buffalo Bills makes little sense to me, especially when the team decided to keep Trent Edwards as the quarterback and draft C.J. Spiller. Spiller might be the rookie of the year, but it seems strange to draft more running talent, when you have Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch at the position. But that team is doomed with Chan Gailey running the show, anyway.

Fantasy Points Allowed - Strength of Schedule

Also, consider the schedule your players are playing in 2010. This gives you one of the best tools for projecting player numbers. If one team has an easier schedule, they simply are more likely to have a better season. One of the newest fantasy football stats to look at is the FPA rankings. "FPA" stands for "fantasy points allowed".

If your fantasy football league uses an online fantasy football league management website, you've probably seen these metrics used in-season. You'll see next to your players what the opposing defense ranks against the run and against the pass. Those numbers are usually arrived at with the NFL rankings, which can be a little misleading, since they're based on yards per game and not points per game. But print off the lists below and check out what players you're considering drafting rate on strength of schedule, comparing their opponents' FPA ratings. These FPA ratings are based on standard performance scoring leagues, which are used by most leagues (but not necessarily your own), by the way.

I rate these from the worst defenses against quarterbacks, all the way to the best. That is, you want your QBs playing against the teams in the single-digits, and you want to avoid the teams in the 20s and 30s.

Fantasy Points Allowed to Quarterbacks

1. Cleveland Browns
2. Cincinnati Bengals
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. Miami Dolphins
7. Kansas City Chiefs
8. New England Patriots
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10. St. Louis Rams
11. San Diego Chargers
12. Jacksonville Jaguars
13. Arizona Cardinals
14. New York Jets
15. Houston Texans
16. Tennessee Titans
17. Seattle Seahawks
18. New Orleans Saints
19. San Francisco 49ers
20. Denver Broncos
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. New York Giants
23. Chicago Bears
24. Oakland Raiders
25. Carolina Panthers
26. Minnesota Vikings
27. Detroit Lions
28. Buffalo Bills
29. Dallas Cowboys
30. Philadelphia Eagles
31. Green Bay Packers
32. Washington Redskins

Fantasy Points Allowed to Running Backs

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Detroit Lions
3. Cleveland Browns
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Chicago Bears
6. New York Giants
7. Dallas Cowboys
8. Green Bay Packers
9. Miami Dolphins
10. New England Patriots
11. New York Jets
12. Indianapolis Colts
13. Washington Redskins
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. Tennessee Titans
16. Cincinnati Bengals
17. Houston Texans
18. Baltimore Ravens
19. New Orleans Saints
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Atlanta Falcons
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
23. Carolina Panthers
24. Oakland Raiders
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
26. Denver Broncos
27. San Diego Chargers
28. St. Louis Rams
29. Arizona Cardinals
30. Seattle Seahawks
31. San Francisco 49ers
32. Kansas City Chiefs

Fantasy Points Allowed to Wide Receivers

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. New England Patriots
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Miami Dolphins
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
7. New Orleans Saints
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
11. Cleveland Browns
12. Chicago Bears
13. Arizona Cardinals
14. Seattle Seahawks
15. Detroit Lions
16. New York Jets
17. Houston Texans
18. Green Bay Packers
19. Indianapolis Colts
20. New York Giants
21. Tennessee Titans
22. San Francisco 49ers
23. Denver Broncos
24. St. Louis Rams
25. San Diego Chargers
26. Minnesota Vikings
27. Philadelphia Eagles
28. Buffalo Bills
29. Washington Redskins
30. Carolina Panthers
31. Oakland Raiders
32. Dallas Cowboys

Analyzing Points Against Stats

Some of these statistics may seem inexplicable at first, since the Buffalo Bills Defense gave up some of the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and wide receivers. Those numbers are explained when you see that the Bills were the worst defense in 2009 fantasy football at giving up points to running backs. Since teams could run it down the throats of the Bills, there was no need to throw the ball. You'll notice that the Rams and Raiders had similar fantasy points against portfolios.

On the other hand, it's no wonder that the Philadelphia Eagles kept bringing in linebackers last year, since their defense was unable to stop the run. With their starting middle linebacker, Stewart Bradley, out for the year in training camp, and Brian Dawkins in Denver, the Eagles never did find the right combination to fill the gaps in their run defense. But with Bradley expected back and an offseason spend adding Nate Allen through the draft and Ernie Sims via trade, the Eagles may have addressed some of these issues.

Quarterbacks and Fantasy Points Against

Looking over the list, I noticed that the NFC East teams rated at #1, #3, #4 and #11 against the pass. This means that quarterbacks from divisions that play the NFC East (NFC North, AFC South) should be ranked a little lower. Since those teams include the Colts, Texans, Vikings, Packers, and Bears, I'm not sure how many of those quarterbacks will be downgraded in your projections, but it's something to consider.

Meanwhile, four of the five easiest teams for quarterbacks to score against were the AFC North teams, with the Browns (#1), Bengals (#2), Ravens (#3) and Steelers (#5) all giving up a lot of points. The NFC South and AFC East play all four teams this year, so quarterbacks from those teams should see a rise in their fantasy points. In fact, of the Top Half in the NFL giving up points to QBs, 11 of the 16 were in the AFC. That probably means the quarterbacks are just better in that league, but that's a good reason to draft AFC quarterbacks.

Of the NFC Divisions, the worst division for giving up fantasy points to QBs was the NFC West, with the Rams (#9), Cardinals (#13), Seahawks (#17) and 49ers (#19) ranking as 4 of the 7 worst in the NFC. So teams from the AFC West and NFC South should be upgraded, since they play all four of these teams.

Pick NFC South Quarterbacks

When it's all analyzed you'll notice that the NFC South plays the worst division in the AFC against quarterbacks, and the worst division in the NFC against quarterbacks. Add onto that the fact that the Buccaneers and Falcons were 9th and 4th worst against the pass, and suddenly you Drew Brees and either Matt Moore or Jimmy Clausen are getting 12 games apiece against defenses that give up a lot of fantasy points to quarterbacks. Josh Freeman and Matt Ryan get 10 games in that category.

Generally speaking, fantasy wide receivers follow a similar pattern to fantasy quarterbacks, so consider projecting wide receivers from the Saints and Panthers a little higher than you normally would, while giving a bump to receivers from the Bucs and Falcons, too.

Analyzing Points Against - Running Backs

As far as running backs go, consider avoid running backs that play against the NFC West, who had the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th stingiest defenses giving up fantasy points to running backs, though a lot of that stat might be a result of Julius Jones and Tim Hightower/Beanie Wells. Since Frank Gore and Steven Jackson are in that division, it's not like those defenses are playing fantasy nobodies, though.

The AFC East had the worst, the 9th-worst, the 10th-worst and 11th-worst defenses against running back fantasy points in 2009, so rank runners playing that division a little higher (AFC North, NFC North). Since those teams include Ray Rice, Rashard Mendenhall, Cedric Benson, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Grant and Matt Forte, those are some stout RB corps to consider. The Cowboys, Giants and Eagles were among the 10 worst against the run (fantasy points) in 2009, so the NFC North, which plays the NFC East, gets an even bigger bump in 2010.

That's from a cursory look at the fantasy points against list. If you analyze the lists above, I'm sure you'll find a number of other statistical facts that could help you when compiling your fantasy football cheat sheets for 2010.

Injuries in 2010 Fantasy Football - Future Injuries

Let's talk about injuries again, because they're just that important in NFL football. At the beginning of this article, I listed off a number of factors to consider when analyzing stats. On that I listed injuries twice: past injuries and future injuries.

That wasn't a mistake. Figuring out who is more or less likely to get hurt and miss games in fantasy football is huge. There's no accounting for the injury factor in the NFL - at least for any one player. But if you draft a whole team full of guys more likely to get injured, you're just asking for the injury bug to hit your fantasy team. So learn to look at the production of players and see whether they have been too successful, or whether there is some new factor in their situation that makes them more likely to get hurt.

The problem with injuries are that they aren't all predictable. That being said, you can look at past injury history, age, wear-and-tear, and future workload to predict whether certain players are going to get injured. I wrote last year that Michael Turner was coming off 378 touches in 2009, while Matt Forte had 376 touches (including 60+ receptions), and therefore each was less likely to be sharp all season. You can say the same about other players coming into 2010.

Chris Johnson - I loved having Chris Johnson on my dynasty team in 2009, but I'm dreading what it spells for his 2010 season. Chris Johnson had 408 touches in 2010 (358 rushes, 50 receptions), which is just a huge workload. I'm afraid he's almost certain to break down in 2010. While I would be hard-pressed to draft anyone else, if I had the #1 pick, those numbers almost always mean the player is either going to get injured the number year, or won't be as sharp. The human body just doesn't bounce back fast enough from that kind of pounding.

Aaron Rodgers - If Aaron Rodgers' offensive line is anywhere near as porous in 2010 as it was in 2009, don't expect to see Rodgers start every game this year. When Tom Brady was knocked out in the 2008 season, he had been hit more times than all but 1 other NFL quarterback in the two NFL seasons prior. Tom Brady was due for an injury, with the pounding he took in the Patriots pass-pass-pass offense. Aaron Rodgers is due to get hurt, too. Remember when Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger couldn't make it a year in Mike Martz' offense with the Rams, because of the pounding they took from sending 5-men into routes on every play?

Jay Cutler - Speaking of which, Jay Cutler now has Mike Martz calling plays for him. That might sound good, but remember that every stop along the way (St. Louis, San Francisco, Detroit), Mike Martz quarterbacks have trouble making it through the season. Martz' offense calls for maximum receivers in the route, as well as long routes that take time to develop. That means the QB has to hold onto the ball longer and take more shots. In the end, Martz QBs get injured - often.

Not to mention that Mike Martz seldom calls for throws to the tight end. He does calls a lot of screens and hitch passes to running backs out of the backfield, but otherwise, Jay Cutler is going to be waiting longer to throw deep passes to mediocre receivers. That's a recipe for injury hell, even though I imagine Cutler has a few big games in there, especially if he can find a go-to guy. (Devin Aromashodu?)

Adrian Peterson - All-Day has had a brilliant run in his first 3 seasons in the NFL. But doesn't everyone remember why Peterson fell to the 7th pick overall in the NFL Draft? He couldn't stay healthy in college. So is Adrian Peterson playing on borrowed time?

You know the wax and wane of NFL football. Adrian Peterson has had one of the NFL's best backup running backs in Chester Taylor these three years. But Taylor has gone to Chicago in the offseason. The Vikings drafted Toby Gerhart, a 6'0", 230-lb RB out of Stanford in the 2nd round of the draft, but Gerhart seems built to replace an every down runner - not be a 3rd down back.

That would seem to imply Adrian Peterson gets more carries than ever. You might look at that from a fantasy perspective and think that Peterson is set for fantasy legend status in 2010. But I'm thinking he no longer has someone to take the pressure off, so he's more likely to revert to his college pattern and be injured throughout the year. Big backs take a lot of hits, so maybe now is time to lay off Adrian Peterson.

Fantasy Football Statistics

So as you see, analyzing last year's fantasy football stats isn't always as straightforward as it may seem. There are a lot of factors that go into whether an NFL team succeeds on the field or not. Players have to get the opportunities to post big fantasy numbers, but not so many opportunities that it breaks down their body. And even if they were great fantasy football players last year, their situation may have changed drastically in the offseason. Perhaps the most infuriating thing about projecting yearly stats in fantasy football is the fact that pro football is the ultimate team sport, so in a real way, what happens at every other starting position on a football team can affect the kind of season of the player's your fantasy team drafts.

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