Sunday, November 11, 2012
Fantasy Watch: West trends thru Week 9
By Mike Sando
SAN FRANCISCO -- Greetings from Candlestick Park, site of the St. Louis Rams' first NFC West road game under coach Jeff Fisher.
I've been going through ESPN's playing-time data with an eye toward trends affecting NFC West skill players.
The chart shows players getting the most additional playing time over the past three weeks.
Rams receiver Austin Pettis played 23 percent of the offensive snaps when he was active during the first six weeks of the season. He has played 60.5 percent when active over the past three weeks. The difference between those figures -- plus-37.5 -- represented the largest gain for an NFC West skill player.
The method is imperfect because it doesn't account for games when players were not active and did not play at all. But that was an acceptable trade-off in light of the alternative, which would have required explaining why each player was not active.
Pettis' playing time figures to take a hit if Danny Amendola returns to the Rams, as he is expected to do Sunday.
Arizona's LaRod Stephens-Howling ranks second on our list. His playing time will take a hit once Beanie Wells returns from injury. That could happen Nov. 25.
Niners fullback Bruce Miller appears on the list. The 49ers have recommitted to their core personnel groupings in recent weeks. That probably explains his rise.
Arizona tight end Rob Housler is getting more time. That was expected in his second season. Having Todd Heap on the injured list has also contributed. Teammate Michael Floyd, the Cardinals' first-round draft choice in 2012, figures to see even more playing time based on his improved play and Early Doucet's struggles.
At the other end, Arizona's William Powell, San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick, St. Louis' Steven Jackson, the 49ers' Garrett Celek and Seattle's Doug Baldwin have seen the largest declines in playing time based on our methodology. All dropped between 11.2 and 23.7 percentage points.