Brace yourselves—we are now just under a quarter of the way through the 2013 season. Football seasons. They grow up fast, don't they?
It wasn't quite the crazy Week 4 in the NFL that Week 3 gave us, but there were still plenty of fireworks. Here are some of last week’s more intriguing targets, touches and throws.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns
12 targets—10 receptions, 91 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Begnals
Brandon Weeden. Brian Hoyer. Krusty the Clown.
It doesn’t matter who is quarterback in Cleveland, apparently—Jordan Cameron is a monster regardless. The third-year tight end is more than living up to the preseason hype he received.
So what do you do with him? Is he going to keep this torrid pace up? It’s likely you took him as your second tight end behind, perhaps, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten or Jared Cook. It’s unlikely Cameron is going to score 16-plus touchdowns, but it’s getting harder to deny that he is a Top-3 option at his position with every big week he posts. He is simply garnering too many targets and does too good of a job with them to reason your way into trading him away.
Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills
6 targets—1 reception, -1 yards vs. Ravens
Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills
8 targets—4 receptions, 80 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 carry, 13 yards vs. Ravens
Sunday marked the first time that Robert Woods has out-targeted Steve Johnson for the Bills.
Woods benefited from the attention being paid Johnson, beating the defense deep for a touchdown and catching another that was narrowly overturned. He has had a couple of nice games this season, so what can we make of his fantasy value going forward?
The Bills might be tipping their hand with the snaps they have given Woods over the past two games. Woods has gotten the most snaps out of all the receivers during that span, including an 87-snap effort against the Jets. That means he is on the field in one-receiver sets, making him the No. 1 receiver. It stands to reason he will start to get the most targets on the team on a regular basis.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
9 targets—3 receptions, 33 yards @ Chiefs
When the Chiefs announced Brandon Flowers would be out of the lineup in Week 4, it seemed like great news for Hakeem Nicks and his fantasy owners. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.
The Giants continue to struggle as a team, but Nicks seems to be particularly troubled. He admitted he has not been performing up to expectations, though he refuses to blame his injured finger.
If anything can cure his ills, it’s the Philadelphia Eagles secondary this week.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
11 targets—2 receptions, 27 yards vs. Cardinals
It was a predictably brutal day for Vincent Jackson, who had the triple whammy of injury, poor rookie quarterbacking and elite cover corner hit him at once. Unfortunately, things might not get much better for him anytime soon.
Things are getting ugly in Tampa Bay, with the drama seemingly following Darrelle Revis south from New York. Embattled head coach Greg Schiano is on back-to-college watch, and the Buccaneers are treating Josh Freeman like Kanye West treats Jimmy Kimmel. It’s all but fated that rookie Mike Glennon will be slinging the ball the rest of the way, unless Dan Orlovsky can overtake him for the starting gig.
Still, Jackson isn’t going to have an elite cornerback on him every week, and he should be fully healthy and practicing soon enough. Glennon would have to be worse than Blaine Gabbert to render Jackson completely useless in the fantasy realm.
Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings
4 targets—3 receptions, 92 yards, 2 touchdowns vs. Cardinals
Jerome Simpson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
11 targets—7 receptions, 124 yards vs. Cardinals
How fortunate was Greg Jennings to score two touchdowns on three receptions? The fact is, if Pittsburgh could tackle, that 71-yard touchdown would have been about a 10-yard completion. That wouldn’t have necessarily prevented him from scoring the second, which was a much more conventional throw to the end zone, but don’t be fooled by his output.
Meanwhile, Jerome Simpson was targeted a whopping 11 times, and he hit the century mark for the second time this season as a result. The one thing missing from his big day was a touchdown.
Both guys are going to be boom-or-bust candidate on a weekly basis, especially when Christian Ponder returns.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
23 touches—23 carries, 77 yards vs. Ravens
Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills
16 touches—16 carries, 87 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Ravens
Another week, another disappointment from C.J. Spiller, who was once again out-produced by his running mate in the backfield.
Maybe Fred Jackson stole Spiller’s mojo after the preseason, when the latter looked like he was primed to go nuclear while Jackson looked like he was running through molasses. The offensive line and play-calling haven’t helped Spiller one bit.
But the Bills remain committed to Spiller as their starter and main running back. Spiller held a 20-6 advantage in touches until he was knocked out of the game in the third quarter with an injury. He would get three more after taping up his ankle, but Jackson took over and continued looking good.
Buffalo plays on Thursday night this week, and Cleveland is no pushover on defense. It might be wise to sit Spiller this week.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
23 touches—19 carries, 62 yards; 4 receptions, 41 yards vs. Cowboys
Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers
10 touches—5 carries, 32 yards; 5 receptions, 54 yards, 2 touchdowns vs. Cowboys
The Cowboys sure knew how to get Danny Woodhead going, leaving ineffective linebackers on him in coverage as he scored twice through the air.
Lost in his huge game was the fact that Ryan Mathews had more than double the touches, including most of the late-game work as the Chargers tried to ice the game. It remains to be seen whether Mathews will ever see the end zone again—it’s being held hostage against him, send help—but he is clearly the No. 1 running back in San Diego. Woodhead’s big game was a statistical anomaly more than future predictor.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
33 touches—27 carries, 102 yards; 6 receptions, 69 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Seahawks
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans
8 touches—7 carries, 44 yards; 1 reception, 1 yard vs. Seahawks
After a few weeks where Ben Tate looked like he might challenge Arian Foster for the majority role in that backfield, the latter had an unexpectedly great game against a good Seattle defense.
Foster ran well, leaving Tate in the dust when it came to overall touches. Now might be a good time to trade for Tate if you are a Foster owner.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
17 touches—14 carries, 62 yards; 3 receptions, 42 yards @ Titans
Things got ugly fast for the Jets, preventing them from really utilizing Bilal Powell in a meaningful way. But he did a good job with the touches he did get, and he proved he is the lead back in that backfield as long as Chris Ivory is hampered by injuries.
A couple of weeks ago it seemed like Ivory was primed to take over, but injuries have derailed the talented running back. However, Mike Goodson makes his return from suspension this week. What role he will have on the offense remains to be seen, but it could be.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
23 throws—12 completions, 123 yards, 1 interception; 10 carries, 77 yards @ Texans
Riddle me this: the Seahawks were losing 20-6 in the middle of the third quarter, and Russell Wilson had just seven pass attempts to that point. Surprise, surprise—Seattle roared back and won the game when Pete Carroll put the ball in Wilson’s hands.
Despite the victory, this was a statistically down week from Wilson after throwing four touchdowns against the Jaguars in Week 3. In fact, he has only accounted for multiple touchdowns once thus far, against the Jaguars.
Wilson has a lot of fantasy potential on a weekly basis, but it seems like the Seattle offense will be a drag on his production.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tennessee Titans
8 throws—3 completions, 108 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Jets
Sunday saw Jake Locker suffered a scary hip injury that was rumored to be career-threatening at one point. Thankfully it wasn’t that bad, but the young quarterback will be sidelined at least four weeks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, come on down!
The former Bill gets a shot at redemption with the surprising Titans, who sit atop the AFC South alongside the Colts. Can he get the job done on a new team?
He certainly seems to have a better offense around him. That wide receiver corps is loaded, and the offensive line and backfield are solid. He only completed three passes, but one of them was a long touchdown to Justin Hunter, who has emerged himself. It may not be worth picking Fitzpatrick up in anything but two-quarterback leagues, but there might not be a big dip in production for the rest of the skill players.