Checking in on midseason stats

PHILADELPHIA — The midway point of the season is as good a time as any to sit back, take stock of the roster and wonder what in the world were you thinking taking Rashard Mendenhall in the first round.

From a broader standpoint, it's also a convenient and fun time to peek at midseason projections. You know, those sometimes-ridiculous numbers that almost never pan out.

Twenty-eight of the 32 teams have played eight games, so it's a matter of multiplying by two to deduce that Beanie Wells is going to rush for 14 touchdowns and that Willis McGahee's 1,335 rushing yards and Matt Hasselbeck's 4,028 passing yards will be career highs. All they have to do is keep up the same pace. Not likely.

But the quarterbacks who occupy the top of the food chain are on a roll that could threaten all-time records. After putting up 342 on the Giants, New England's Tom Brady is back on pace (5,406) to shatter Dan Marino's season mark of 5,084 passing yards in 1984. Drew Brees (5,340 pace) and Aaron Rodgers (5,238) also are on that track.

Rodgers, most importantly for fantasy leaguers, is threatening the all-time mark for touchdown passes in a season. Marino's 48 in 1984 was the record until Peyton Manning tossed 49 in 2004. Three years later, Brady hit 50. If this was baseball, somebody would be checking the bats for cork.


Only four players in history have thrown 40 touchdown passes in a season. The three above (Marino did it twice) and Kurt Warner. Rodgers is on pace for 48. Let the countdown begin.

"He's pretty hot right now," said linebacker E.J. Henderson of the Vikings, this week's opponent. "We know what a challenge it's going to be for us Monday to come out and slow him down, but we're looking forward to it."

So are we.


Reader Robert Lunny won the Matt Forte/LeSean McCoy rushing contest from last week. Lunny projected that Forte would roll for more yards and won the tiebreaker by coming closest to McCoy's total of 71. Lunny predicted 68.


Quarterbacks: Tom Brady has had just one bad game in the six times he's faced the Jets since his injury in 2008. He's thrown 10 touchdowns and five interceptions in that span with a completion percentage of 62.8 and 286.7 yards per. He had 321 yards with a touchdown and an interception earlier this year against the Fightin' Reavises. Just thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone was considering benching Brady ... Ben Roethlisberger has topped 300 passing in consecutive games for the first time in his eight-year career (361 and 365, to be precise). Since the dreadful opener against Baltimore, Roethlisberger has 13 TD passes and four INTs.

Running Backs: Ahmad Bradshaw missed practice again Thursday, but before throwing Brandon Jacobs into the starting lineup, please note that the 49ers have allowed a ridiculous 53.0 yards and just one rushing touchdown to opposing RBs all season ... The Lions are talking up giving Kevin Smith some carries, but he's not worth the transaction fee. Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams will continue to split the bulk of the work, but neither is much of a play against the Bears. Hopefully, Matthew Stafford throws it 40 times and Calvin Johnson has about 12 grabs ... This week's Redskins running back of the future appears to be Roy Helu, who broke Art Monk's club record with 14 receptions last week. Miami, Washington's opponent this week, is among the league leaders in fewest fantasy points allowed, so no need to start Helu.


Wide Receivers: Don't expect the Texans to push Andre Johnson onto the field for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. Houston has a bye next week, which would give Johnson a full eight weeks to have healed his hamstring ... Tennessee's Damian Williams may get more looks with Nate Washington nursing a hip injury. He's not yet worth a roster spot, but Williams can generate some interest going into that mythical third season by finishing strong in 2011 ... Kansas City's Steve Breaston saw 11 targets last week in registering his first 100-yard game for KC. Two weeks before that, Matt Cassel looked his way nine times ... Sleeper of the week is Arizona's Early Doucet against the Eagles.


— Ryan Fitzpatrick will be making his 30th start for Buffalo and already is one touchdown away from moving into fifth place on the franchise's all-time list for touchdown passes. Only Jim Kelly (237), Joe Ferguson (181), Jack Kemp (77) and Drew Bledsoe (55) have more. Fitzpatrick (47) is tied with Doug Flutie.

— Wes Welker has 498 receptions in 69 games. Barring something catastrophic, he will break Anquan Boldin's record (80 games) for fastest receiver to 500. Boldin averaged 6.3 catches per game in his first 80 and 4.8 in his 39 games since. His touchdowns have dipped from one every two games to one every three.


Q: Man, Julio Jones is on a (one-game) tear. I played him over Stevie Johnson last week. Do the same this week?

A: Yeah, I would. I can't see Atlanta-New Orleans playing a 17-14 game.

Q: Do I bench Santonio Holmes for Antonio Brown this week? My concern is Holmes is facing a weaker pass defense (New England) than Brown (Bengals).


A: I would play Holmes here. The possibility of no Plaxico Burress (back) has to help Holmes.

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