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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Targets, Touches & Throws: Week 8
Alessandro Miglio
October 22, 2013
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Lede? What lede? Let’s get right to the stats.

TARGETS

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
17 targets—8 receptions, 114 yards @ Jets

It’s good to have Rob Gronkowski back. Tom Brady agrees.

Gronkowski was finally cleared for action last week, and his presence was immediately felt. He didn’t even get a full complement of snaps—just 51 of a possible 79—and Tom Brady was still drawn to him like a hipster is to Portland. Those 17 targets more than doubled the total for any other Patriots player. It’ll be interesting to see what his statistics might look like when he plays another 20 or 25 snaps.

At this point, Gronkowski has to be considered one of the top two tight ends, a must-start on a weekly basis. In fact, with Jimmy Graham now hurting, Gronkowski will have the throne to himself for the time being.

Harry Douglas, WR, Atlanta Falcons
7 targets—7 receptions, 149 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Buccaneers

What an amazing debut by Harry Douglas as the No. 1 receiver for his team. The Buccaneers didn’t make it too difficult for him, though.

Douglas got most of his production on two big plays—a 54-yard reception where Leonard Johnson decided he would just let Douglas make a catch and run with the ball, and a 37-yard touchdown reception on blown coverage.

Don’t buy into Douglas long term. Defenses aren’t going to let him run wild on them like Tampa Bay’s crumbling squad.

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington
9 targets—9 receptions, 134 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Bears

Looking for an injury replacement? Jordan Reed might be your man.

The rookie tight end was all over the place against the hapless bears, getting open in the flat and in the seam. His touchdown catch was a nice grab on a fade play. His nine targets were nearly double the next-highest total—five for Pierre Garcon—perhaps showing us that Robert Griffin has a new favorite target.

Whatever the case may be, you might have yourself a gem of a waiver wire pickup if you nabbed him.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
22 targets—10 receptions, 86 yards; 1 completion, 15 yards @ Jets

The bye seems to have done Vincent Jackson good. The talented receiver has caught 19 passes for 252 yards and four touchdowns since then. Of course, it helps that he was targeted 36 times during that span.

It was also fortuitous that Jackson played against the porous Philadelphia and Atlanta secondaries the past two weeks. Carolina and Seattle are no slouches against the pass.

TOUCHES

Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets
34 touches—33 carries, 104 yards; 1 reception, -2 yards vs. Patriots

Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
3 touches—3 carries, 6 yards, 2 touchdowns vs. Patriots

It seemed that Bilal Powell was pulling away as the main man in that Jets backfield in recent weeks. Then this happened.

Why did Chris Ivory suddenly become the lead back in New York? Apparently, Rex Ryan felt he had the “hot hand.” That is problematic when trying to predict Ivory’s future. Can the opposite happen next week? Absolutely.

It seemed like this kind of workload was destined when the Jets traded a fourth-round pick to snag him from the Saints, but injuries hampered him as they have throughout his career. Maybe we’re finally seeing Ivory realize his potential. Or, perhaps

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
21 touches—21 carries, 104 yards, 1 touchdown; 2 receptions, 11 yards @ Texans

Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers
13 touches—3 carries, 11 yards @ Texans

The San Diego backfield is playing out in interesting fashion. Ryan Mathews appears to be getting stronger as the season goes on.

Mathews and Danny Woodhead have formed an unlikely one-two punch, where Woodhead jabs with catches out of the backfield and Mathews runs down hill. The Chargers are riding high and their schedule doesn’t toughen up very much this season. Both these guys seem to be solid RB2/flex plays going forward.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins
13 touches—12 carries, 60 yards; 1 reception, -2 yards vs. Bills

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
10 touches—9 carries, 43 yards; 1 receptions, 4 yards vs. Bills

From all appearances, Miami is moonwalking through this season. That 3-0 record seems like a lifetime ago, the leaked Jeff Ireland extension a public relations folly.

For whatever reason, Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman really like Daniel Thomas. It was evident last week as Thomas got the start and the bulk of the touches, despite the fact Miller played 45 snaps to 11 for Thomas in their previous game. Both were relatively effective, with Thomas averaging 5.0 YPC. His performance boosted his average to a pedestrian 3.5 YPC, from 2.6. He is clearly a beast.

What can we learn from this? Simply put, Philbin has channeled Bill Belichick when it comes to usage for his running backs.

If only he could channel Belichick in other ways, the Dolphins might not be headed in the wrong direction.

Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
17 touches—14 carries, 42 yards; 3 receptions, 8 yards @ Falcons

It looks like Doug Martin will be out at least a few weeks, if not the rest of the season. Unheralded Mike James seems like he is capable of handling the load.

James didn’t have a gaudy stat line, to be sure, but opportunity is almost everything in fantasy football. The Buccaneers claimed Bobby Rainey, but he couldn’t crack it in Cleveland’s backfield. What does that say about his ability to steal playing time from James?

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
14 touches—9 carries, 39 yards; 4 receptions, 71 yards, 1 touchdown vs. 49ers

Has the ship sailed to buy low on Chris Johnson? Probably, after last week. But don’t look to sell on him just because he had a good week.

The 49ers were allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs heading into Week 7, so this performance shouldn’t have been a big surprise.  His schedule is even friendlier in the coming weeks as he faces the Rams and Jaguars. Even the Colts have had their share of problems against running backs this season.

Johnson is in the top 20 in fantasy scoring at his position, something that may shock you if you were not aware. He could wind up in the top 10 at this rate.

THROWS

Josh McCown, QB, Chicago Bears
20 throws—14 completions, 204 yards, 1 touchdown; 4 carries, 33 yards @ Washington

Brace yourselves, Chicago. Josh McCown is your quarterback for the next few weeks.

Jay Cutler is out at least four weeks with what is being described as a torn groin muscle, spurring a host of painful-sounding jokes. His recovery leaves a gaping hole in that offense, unless McCown’s performance in Washington is to be believed.

McCown looked pretty good in emergency action, nearly pulling out the road victory and putting up some nice statistics in relief. Can he be trusted to be the keeper of that offense? It was a promising showing, so hopefully Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery don’t suffer because of this situation.

Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
31 throws—23 completions, 257 yards; 10 carries, 61 yards vs. Titans

Matt Barkley, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
31 throws—23 completions, 257 yards; 10 carries, 61 yards vs. Titans

What to do about the quarterback situation in Philadelphia?

Nick Foles followed up his fantastic Week 6 performance with a dud last Sunday, culminating in a concussion that knocked him out of the game and likely out of the next week or two. Rookie Matt Barkley came into the game and fared no better, but he could be the de facto starter this week if both Foles and Michael Vick are out.

Hopefully Vick is healed from his hamstring issue.


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