Managing fantasy football rosters is like attempting to spin plates. A lot of times, you can’t help it when a plate or five fall and break.
Sometimes bye weeks that include six teams cause a major problem. Others involve major injuries to key players on your team. Whatever the case may be, see if these statistics can help you keep those plates up and spinning.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans
13 targets—9 receptions, 229 yards, 3 touchdowns vs. Colts
Case Keenum knows where to butter his bread.
Andre Johnson was targeted early, often and deep by the second-year quarterback, to the point where the veteran receiver racked up the majority of his statistics by halftime. It was the best statistical output of Johnson’s career, who had never hit three touchdowns in a game to that point.
While Johnson has always been a good fantasy receiver over the years, he was always hampered by a relatively low number of touchdowns. Perhaps Keenum is the answer to get him over that elusive, season-long, double-digit hump. If you can get your hands on Johnson in a deal to upgrade that position for your team, do it.
Greg Little, WR, Cleveland Browns
9 targets—7 receptions, 122 yards vs. Ravens
What do we have here? A productive Greg Little?
Things have gotten interesting in Cleveland now that Little has reclaimed the No. 2 receiver role he lost earlier this season. Last Sunday marked the second time in three weeks the third-year receiver was targeted nine times, this time doing some real damage without getting into the end zone. It seems Jason Campbell trusts Little, perhaps because he didn’t deal with all those drops of yesteryear.
Little played rather well last week, making tough catches and looking every bit the promising receiver many of us hoped would blossom as a rookie. It’ll be interesting to see if this gets him more targets or if he just put up a nice mirage.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
12 targets—7 receptions, 67 yards @ Bills
Despite Kansas City’s woeful offensive performance in Buffalo, there is some hope to be gleaned out of Dwayne Bowe’s outing.
Bowe was targeted a game-high 12 times—a rare sight this season given Jamaal Charles is the beneficiary of so many Alex Smith checkdowns—but he was unable to capitalize in a big way. Even so, it is encouraging to see Smith throw the ball his way more. Whether or not this is the beginning of a trend remains to be seen, but maybe it’s worth hanging onto him after all. If he happened to get cut in your league, snap him up.
Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings
9 targets—6 receptions, 56 yards vs. Cowboys
Is Greg Jennings finally beginning to thaw in Minnesota as winter approaches?
It was another poor fantasy output from the veteran receiver, but he has gotten at least nine targets in three of the past four games now. Christian Ponder isn’t exactly a big play quarterback, but Jennings might actually see his production increase now that Kyle Rudolph has been ruled out for the next month with a broken foot.
Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans Saints
10 targets—6 receptions, 70 yards @ Jets
The Saints needed some alternative firepower when Marques Colston was ruled out of the game in New York Sunday morning. Colston might not have exactly been a powerhouse this season, but he was still a big part of the offense. So it’s no surprise that Lance Moore got 10 targets against the Jets.
Unfortunately, Moore was only able to turn that into seven catches for 60 yards. But he did catch a touchdown in his first game back a week prior, and it seems he has resumed his role as the No. 2 receiver on the team.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
33 touches—27 carries, 127 yards, 2 touchdowns; 6 receptions, 51 yards vs. Titans
The Titans were giving up a ton of fantasy points to opposing running backs heading into Week 9, so Zac Stacy was bound to have a good game. But the best game at running back?
Stacy was a one-man wrecking ball against the Titans. He was particularly effective in the red zone, dispensing with traditional chunk runs that inched him closer to the goal line and simply scoring on the first try from inside the 10-yard line.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
26 touches—23 carries, 150 yards, 2 touchdowns; 3 receptions, 20 yards @ Rams
Ladies and gentlemen, Chris Johnson has arrived.
The embattled Titans running back finally had that elusive big game, one that was predictable against a bad Rams run defense. This highlighted why reason you should have traded for Johnson while the price was low. Johnson’s second-half schedule is considerably easier than his first half, with a game against that tough Cardinals defense in Week 15 being the only bad matchup.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
13 touches—9 carries, 79 yards, 2 touchdowns; 4 receptions, 25 yards @ Dolphins
Giovani Bernard turned in what should be deemed the best run of the 2013 season against the Dolphins. He took a stretch play right, broke a tackle while reversing field, and pinballed his way for a 35-yard touchdown that spanned about 102 yards of actual ground covered. That was his second touchdown of the game, and would you believe he didn’t even turn in a top-three fantasy performance?
At any rate, Bernard turned in a nice performance on just 13 touches, though he would have had more work had he not been injured in the fourth quarter. But there is the rub—the Bengals will likely try to keep him from getting injured again. That means plenty of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and his 3.2 YPC average, already reality regardless of Bernard’s injury status.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
20 touches—16 carries, 108 yards; 4 receptions, 24 yards vs. Bengals
Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins
13 touches—12 carries, 38 yards; 1 reception, 4 yards vs. Bengals
Another week, another unexpected workload split in the Dolphins backfield. But might we actually be seeing the beginning of the end of Daniel Thomas in Miami?
Lamar Miller is averaging 4.8 yards per carry on the season to Daniel Thomas’ 3.6. Of course, a lack of efficiency hasn’t exactly stopped the Dolphins from stubbornly sticking with Thomas this year. Just a couple of weeks ago it seemed Miller was pulling away from the job—as noted here—only to see Thomas roar back with more touches the following game.
To say the least, it was intriguing to hear Joe Philbin talk about Miller “starting to make some people miss” after last week’s victory over the Bengals. It was also encouraging to see Philbin give him another shot after fumbling the ball away at the tail end of a 41-yard scamper. The window to trade for Miller on the cheap might be closing.
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
28 throws—16 completions, 406 yards, 7 touchdowns @ Raiders
That stat line isn’t some sort of cumulative effort over the past several weeks. Nick Foles did, indeed, tie the NFL record for touchdown passes in one game. He went super nova like Matt Flynn circa Week 17 of the 2011 season. So what does that mean for the rest of the year?
Well, nobody should anticipate another seven-touchdown performance—or anything close to that, really—but Foles showed he can really thrive in that Chip Kelly offense.
Case Keenum, QB, Houston Texans
34 throws—20 completions, 350 yards, 3 touchdowns vs. Colts
Much like Foles’ effort in Oakland, who could have predicted Case Keenum’s outburst?
Keenum took advantage of an Indianapolis defense on its heels during the first half, throwing it up to his best receiver and reaping the benefits. But before you run out and grab him on waivers, consider this: Keenum passed for just 142 yards and zero touchdowns in the second half. Some of that undoubtedly had to do with the fact Houston was trying to play keep-away, and Gary Kubiak’s medical episode that knocked him out of the game might have affected things as well. But Andre Johnson isn’t going to get open for long touchdowns several times a game like he did on Sunday night.
Jason Campbell, QB, Cleveland Browns
35 throws—23 completions, 262 yards, 3 touchdowns vs. Ravens
Who would have thought the answer to Cleveland’s quarterback woes would be Jason Campbell?
The 31-year-old veteran is clearly a better solution than 30-year-old Brandon Weeden, leading the Browns to an upset victory against the rival Ravens. But what does his nice game mean for the rest of the team?
Greg Little was his main man last week as Campbell seemed to prefer the third-year receiver. It came at the expense of Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, unfortunately for fantasy owners of the two studs. Davone Bess also played out of his mind, exorcising the demons of Week 8 in the process.
But the road gets easier for Campbell and that Browns offense after the bye, when they face the Bengals, Steelers—two years ago, who would have thought that would be a good thing?—and Jaguars. Hopefully that means Cleveland’s studs will regain their studly status.