One of the most amazing data trends we have seen all year is what is happening with Nate Washington and Matt Hasselbeck, as well as Nate Washington with Jake Locker. Honestly, it is a stunning piece of "hidden" information...and information you have to consider if you have Washington considered (or not) for your Fantasy starting lineup this week. *You may also enjoy it if you're opponent is rolling with Nate Washington this week...
The reason we are highlighting it is…as sure as I am sitting here, someone possesses Nate Washington and sees the two big games in-a-row, and has Washington as a locked in starter for Week-16. I would be tempted to do the same thing…it’s almost a no-brain’er on the surface.
After you see our data on Nate Washington, he is either going to be the most absolute must start Fantasy Football WR for Week-16, or he will be a devastating, soul crushing, WR-start of Week-16.
The reason we are using such grandiose bravado with the Washington situation is, there is an amazing trend with Washington depending upon who is playing QB – Locker or Hasselbeck. There are three chapters to this story. The first two chapters are the set-up…and the final chapter reveals a shocking twist.
Chapter I – Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, and Matt Hasselbeck…and Life is Good
Nate Washington is a very solid NFL WR. We have noted a few times that we feel Washington is a great #2-3 WR in the NFL…not as effective as a #1 WR. He needs someone to “take the heat off," and that person was Kenny Britt. Through the first three games of 2011, Kenny Britt was on fire. Nate Washington was quietly very successful as well, averaging 7.0 receptions, 9.0 targets, 86.0 yards, and 0.3 TDs per game…with a solid 10.6 Fantasy Football PPG (17.6 PPR PPG).
Life was good, and then Kenny Britt was lost for the season with injury…and suddenly Nate Washington was thrust into the Titans #1 WR spot.
Chapter II – Washington Trouble as a "#1 WR," and Enter Damian Williams…
The next six games (without Britt) are not as kind to Washington. From Weeks 4-10, Washington averaged just 3.0 receptions, 5.0 targets, 40.5 yards, and 0.2 TDs per game…a massive drop from his Week 1-3 pace (with Britt). Washington’s Fantasy Football scoring plunged to a lowly 5.1 PPG (8.1 PPR), a jaw-dropping 50% haircut in output...and thus Washington was subsequently jettisoned by many Fantasy GMs.
Where did all the Titans passing action go? Damian Williams from Weeks 4-10 emerged as Hasselbeck’s more preferred WR pass-target. In the same Weeks 4-10 time span, Williams posted better stats than Washington in every category with 3.5 receptions, 6.3 targets, 46.0 yards, and 0.7 TDs per game. Williams became an “it” waiver-wire WR pickup…posting a TD in 3 of 5 games with a respectable 8.6 Fantasy Football PPG (12.1 PPR) from Weeks 4-10. Williams was +3.5 FF PPG better than Washington from Weeks 4-10.
Williams was being picked up all over, and Washington was dropped…but then something bizarre occurred…
Chapter III – Jake Locker the Partial-Game Magician
In Week-11, Nate Washington was on his way to another very dull Fantasy game with Matt Hasselbeck during a beat-down by the Atlanta Falcons. In this game, Washington had 5 catches with 47 yards and no TDs...and it looked like the Falcons would walk away with this game easily. Enter Jake Locker…
Locker jumps into the game in the 2nd-half and nearly leads a Titans comeback victory. The main ingredient in the comeback – Washington pops 4 catches for 68 yards and 2 TDs in less than two quarters with Locker…once again, the world is excited about Washington for Fantasy Football.
In Weeks 12-13, Hasselbeck gets the Titans QB starts (and finishes)...not Locker. The return of Hasselbeck neutralizes Washington for a two-game output of just 2.5 receptions on 6.5 targets for 26.0 yards and 0 TDs, leading to a measly 2.6 Fantasy Football PPG (5.1 PPR PPG).
If you are keeping count, Washington had 6 dud games after Kenny Britt was lost to injury, followed by a half-a-dud in Week-11 with Hasselbeck, then 2 more duds in Weeks 12-13 with Hasselbeck. Every moment from Week 4-13 that Washington was with Hasselbeck; it meant very little for Fantasy Football output. The only breath of life in that span was a half-game of excitement with Jake Locker.
In Week-14, here we go again…1 catch for 13 yards for Washington with Hasselbeck to start the game, but Hasselbeck is injured in the 2nd-quarter…and is relieved by Jake Locker. Washington proceeds to go nuts with Locker…5 catches for 117 yards and 1 TD in less than three-quarters of play with Locker.
In Week-15, we’ve seen this movie before. Washington has 4 catches for 35 yards and no TDs with Hasselbeck, in over 3+ quarters of play. Enter Jake Locker again, with only 6 minutes left…and Washington posts 3 catches for 27 yards and has another TD.
The Locker/Hasselbeck splits (since the Britt injury)
It may be statistically un-sound to isolate small sections of three separate games, and make a grand conclusion...but with the small amount of data, there appears to be something magical between Washington and Locker. If you don’t buy that…do note that there is more than enough data to prove that there is something un-magical about Washington with Hasselbeck. If you think that you are smart by pushing Washington into the lineup for Week-16, based on his recent success…note that all of it is with Jake Locker, and not Matt Hasselbeck.
If we piece this together with fractional games played, it is shocking what the stats look like depending upon whom the Titans QB is. The three partial-game Locker efforts we are counting as 0.50, 0.75, and 0.25 games played…so essentially Washington’s stats per game are based on a total of 1.5 games played with Locker (thus 9.5 games played with Hasselbeck since Week-4). The comparison:
8.0 rec, 11.3 targets, 141.3 yards, 2.7 TDs per game = with Locker
3.5 rec, 5.9 targets, 41.0 yards, 0.1 TDs per game = with Hasselbeck
Nate Washington has been a Fantasy Football disaster paired with Matt Hasselbeck since Week-4. Why? I have no idea…especially when compared to the Hall-of-Fame numbers that Washington is putting up with Locker. All I know is, if you were betting on Washington to score 10.0+ Fantasy Football points every time he played in a game with Matt Hasselbeck…you’d be 0 fer' 10 right now. I wouldn't really be loving those odds...to suddenly think that something great could happen in Week-16 for Washington for the very first time all season with Hasselbeck.
The big Fantasy Football takeaway – do NOT play Washington this week if you think Hasselbeck will start and end the game. DO start Washington if you think Locker gets in the game at all…and if Locker starts, it may be something incredible.
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