FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Targets, Touches & Throws: Week 7
Alessandro Miglio
October 15, 2013
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Week 6 was another Bizarro Fantasy Week, with all sorts of unexpected fantasy performances from the likes of Sam Bradford and Nick Foles while others with great matchups like Tony Romo and Robert Griffin III turning into fantasy pumpkins.

So what were some of the more notable performances and duds of the weekend? Let’s take a look.

TARGETS

Kris Durham, WR, Detroit Lions
13 targets—8 receptions, 83 yards @ Browns

Joseph Fauria, TE, Detroit Lions
3 targets—3 receptions, 34 yards, 3 touchdowns @ Browns

Your eyes do not deceive you. Joseph Fauria really did score three touchdowns on three targets last week.

The mammoth target appears to have become a red zone favorite for Matthew Stafford, an easy call when your target is almost foot taller than whoever is covering him. But it also seems that is all Fauria is good for, which makes him the ultimate boom-or-bust candidate, at least until he gets more run with the offense between the 20s.

Kris Durham’s massive target count comes as a bit of a surprise, however. He seems to be getting more involved in the offense by the week. He has seen his target count increase each of the past four weeks, from three all the way to 13 in Week 6.

With Ryan Broyles struggling to produce, perhaps Durham should get some attention in your fantasy leagues.

Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets
8 targets—3 receptions, 46 yards vs. Steelers

Last week presented a nice matchup for Stephen Hill and the Jets, but the offense sputtered against a Steelers defense that had been burned by the likes of Matt Cassel and Greg Jennings.

He did have a surefire touchdown catch sail over his head on a bad throw from Geno Smith last week, and he led his team in targets. It might be erratic output, but Hill is your best bet for a big game out of that Jets offense at this point.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
11 targets—9 receptions, 86 yards; 1 completion, 15 yards @ Jets

Indeed, Antonio Brown threw a successful pass, a lefty toss with nice touch to Felix Jones. He almost threw another pass, but the trick play was snuffed out for a sack by the New York defense. But that’s not why you own him in fantasy football.

Brown is quietly on pace for 131 catches and 1,593 yards this season. He has 53 targets in five games, turning into Pittsburgh’s Wes Welker in the wake of Mike Wallace’s departure. Of course, Welker never scored double-digit touchdowns for the Patriots, and Wallace has just two thus far this season. But He has turned into a PPR stud, and the touchdowns should come.

TOUCHES

Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
21 touches—20 carries, 96 yards, 2 touchdowns; 1 reception, 14 yards vs. Saints

Well whaddya know, Stevan Ridley is alive and well.

A week after missing Week 5 with an injury which seemed to be the low point of the season, Ridley suddenly turned into the fantasy back we all thought he might be prior to the season. It’s amazing what you can do in Bill Belichick’s offense when you aren’t hurt and you don’t fumble.

Hopefully this is a sign of stabilization for Ridley and the Patriots offense. Rob Gronkowski looks like he might finally make his season debut this week, further improving the offense if he can stay on the field. The combination of excellent blocking and pass-catching prowess could further open things up for Ridley.

Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
20 touches—18 carries, 76 yards; 2 receptions, 11 yards @ Texans

Benny Cunningham, RB, St. Louis Rams
3 touches—3 carries, 11 yards @ Texans

Daryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis Rams
4 touches—3 carries, 5 yards; 1 reception, 18 yards @ Texans

Before the season began, the St. Louis backfield was too muddled to mess with. Isaiah Pead was set to serve a one-game suspension, having lost his starting gig to Daryl Richardson in the meantime. Benny Cunningham was getting some action while Zac Stacy tried to climb the depth chart from the cellar.

Six weeks later, we have our clarity.

Stacy is the starter for the foreseeable future. As long as he continues to perform well, the foreseeable future is endless.

Willis McGahee, RB, Cleveland Browns
11 touches—10 carries, 37 yards; 1 reception, 2 yards vs. Lions

Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Cleveland Browns
12 touches—5 carries, 24 yards; 7 receptions, 61 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Lions

It seems we are getting a clear picture of the machinations in Cleveland’s backfield as the weeks go on.

Willis McGahee is in a traditional role, given he is marginally more productive than Michael Turner at this point. That leaves Chris Ogbonnaya as the dynamic, change-of-pace back on the team. And he is starting to heat up.

Not only did Ogbonnaya shine last week, he appears to have become an integral part of the offense. He was targeted a whopping 12 times last week, though one of those was the epic, backhanded interception Brandon Weeden threw to essentially ice the game. That kind of target count was also likely a product of the score as the Browns spent most of the game playing catch-up.

Still, it’s hard to trust McGahee over Ogbonnaya at this point, especially in PPR leagues. He is going to get some volume, but at 2.8 yards per carry on the season, his value is strictly tied to end zone romps in goal line situations.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
22 touches—15 carries, 42 yards, 3 touchdowns; 7 receptions, 62 yards vs. Jaguars

Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos
6 touches—4 carries, 20 yards; 2 receptions 16 yards vs. Jaguars

Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos
3 touches—3 carries, 15 yards vs. Jaguars

Several weeks ago, Knowshon Moreno’s two-touchdown game against the Giants was hailed as an aberration by yours truly. I was wrong.

True, the following week Moreno fell back to earth, but he calmly dusted himself off, strapped on another pair of rocket boosters and lit the fuse. He has steadily been climbing ever since.

The biggest takeaway here is Moreno’s increasing role in the offense as Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball continue to fumble and drop opportunities away. It has been a surprising resurgence from the formerly disappointing former first-round pick, to the point where it might be savvy for the Broncos to re-sign him after this season.

As for your fantasy team, congratulations if you took that chance on Moreno. He is an excellent sell-high value for the simple reason that he is unlikely to score three touchdowns in a game again this year, but it seems he has become one of the few reliable running backs this season.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants
23 touches—22 carries, 106 yards, 2 touchdowns; 1 reception, 8 yards @ Bears

Raise your hand if you expected Brandon Jacobs to have a huge game at any point this season, let alone on the road against the Bears. Ok, now that we’ve established you are a liar, we can move on with this one.

Is this a phantom who will have us chasing points in the coming weeks, or can we count on him in any way?

To be fair, had that actually been Wilson in the backfield, we might have seen a 250-yard, 4-touchdown night. The Giants were opening up gaping holes against a Bears defensive line that is sorely missing Henry Melton right now. That won’t be a common occurrence unless the offensive line has suddenly and precipitously become a juggernaut.

THROWS

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington
25 throws—16 completions, 197 yards, 2 touchdowns; 3 carries, 1 yard @ Giants

What do we do with Robert Griffin III?

After a slow start that was only saved by some epic garbage time performances, Griffin came out of the bye against a poor defense and laid another fantasy egg. Only the fact he rushed for 77 yards gave him any value. His completion percentage is plummeting, and the Redskins are in disarray.

Of course, cutting bait at this point would be selling quite low. His schedule stays soft, starting with a decimated Bears defense followed by the Broncos and Chargers, though San Diego did hold Andrew Luck and the Colts without a touchdown this week. If he has a big week at any point soon, sell quickly.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
31 throws—23 completions, 257 yards; 10 carries, 61 yards vs. Titans

Russell Wilson is an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a 5’10” quarterback. One week he throws four touchdowns, the next he can’t get into the end zone.

Last week marked the second in three where Wilson failed to score, despite a good overall performance. Part of that are the beastly exploits of Marshawn Lynch, but that reality doesn’t Wilson’s fantasy owners. Despite failing to get into the end zone, however, Wilson did have a decent fantasy output—he almost outscored Sam Bradford, who threw three touchdowns on the day.

The real issue to watch her is his increasing propensity to run the ball. Not only is Wilson exposing himself to more hits that way, he is being downright reckless at times. His 23-yard scamper in the third quarter saw him cut back toward the middle of the field to gain 10 more yards, during which he could have been blindsided. Hopefully he tones it down, for his safety’s sake.

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
16 throws—12 completions, 117 yards, 3 touchdowns; 1 carry, 4 yards @ Texans

That is not a typo—Sam Bradford really threw three touchdowns on just 16 pass attempts.

The big reason for this, of course, is the fact he threw those touchdowns from within the five-yard line. Bradford spread the ball around nicely, hitting nine different receivers on 12 completions. As Darth Vader would say, “Impressive.” But his nice fantasy line could have been much nicer if he threw for more than 117 measly yards. He won’t be facing an imploding Texans team every week either.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
26 throws—20 completions, 242 yards, 3 touchdowns; 9 carries, 30 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Vikings

Will the real Cam Newton please stand up?

One week after getting pummeled in Arizona, all is right in the world again for Cam Newton and his fantasy owners.  This was the right matchup for Newton to bounce back, given the Vikings boast one of the worst defenses in the league right now. But it comes on the heels of a zero-touchdown, three-interception debacle at Arizona. So which performance is more trustworthy?

As usual with these types of questions, the answer lies somewhere in between. He won’t be playing the lowly Vikings defense every week, but he won’t be combining for four touchdowns either.


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