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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Targets, Touches & Throws: Week 17
Alessandro Miglio
December 24, 2013
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The fantasy season is over for most, but there is still action to be had in the fantasy realm. Leagues that play into Week 17 and daily fantasy leagues, to be precise.

Here are some of last week’s—and this season’s—more intriguing targets, touches and throws to close out the year. Thanks for reading this season.

TARGETS

Nate Washington, WR, Tennessee Titans
8 targets—6 receptions, 117 yards, 1 touchdown @ Jaguars
Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans
7 targets—4 receptions, 22 yards @ Jaguars

Kendall Wright had been grabbing a lot of balls recently. I should rethink that last sentence. He had caught 12 passes just a week before, and the Jaguars were a tasty matchup. But it was Nate Washington who got all the play.

Washington caught the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter, and he was Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target all day. This wouldn’t be the first time Washington has had a nice game, nor would it be terribly surprising if he laid an egg next week. The last time Washington scored a touchdown, he followed it up with a 30-yard game.

Still, the Titans get the flailing Texans this week, who will be without top cornerback Johnathan Joseph. It could be a nice day for both Wright and Washington.

Jerrel Jernigan, WR, New York Giants
12 targets—6 receptions, 80 yards, 1 touchdown @ Lions
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
7 targets—4 receptions, 52 yards @ Lions

The season is lost in New York for the Giants, but you might be able to find some late help in that receiver corps.

It was interesting to see what transpired with Victor Cruz out of the game. Conventional wisdom said Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle—who has had some big games this year—would step up in Cruz’s absence. But it was little-used Jerrel Jernigan who stole the show.

The third-year receiver garnered a whopping 12 targets, by far the most on the team. He made a few tough catches, including a touchdown grab. Whether or not he can do it again is certainly up for debate, but Jernigan might be your man in Week 17 leagues if you are looking for a receiver.

Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers
2 targets—1 reception, 13 yards vs. Saints
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Carolina Panthers
4 targets—2 receptions, 66 yards vs. Saints
Domenik Hixon, WR, Carolina Panthers
3 targets—2 receptions, 18 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Saints

While Jernigan is doing his thing for the Giants, a former Giant might be doing the same for the Panthers this week.

Domenik Hixon caught the game-winning touchdown pass last week against the Saints. Up until that point—well, at least until Steve Smith was knocked from the game with an injury—Hixon was barely used in that offense. Then Smith pulled up lame and Hixon got some play.

Ted Ginn Jr. was also integral in Carolina’s comeback, and he might be the starter this week. For all the flak Ginn has gotten throughout his career, he has had a pretty good season as the third receiver for the Panthers.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington
18 targets—11 receptions, 144 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Cowboys

It wasn’t quite the game we hoped for out of Kirk Cousins, but Pierre Garcon had himself a fantastic one.

Garcon was darn near the only receiver Cousins targeted, and the Cowboys had a tough time containing him. His performance got him past the legendary Art Monk in franchise single-season history. It also might have gotten you past your fantasy foe last week.

He is going to be a great daily fantasy pickup this week, even if his price is up.  

TOUCHES

Knile Davis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
52 touches—43 carries, 159 yards, 2 touchdowns; 9 receptions, 70 yards

Just to be clear, these are Knile Davis’ touches for the entire season. No non-quarterback touches the ball 52 times in a game.

Why bring up Davis’ season-long touch count? Because the Chiefs have little incentive to play this week given their playoff seeding is all but locked in. Kansas City is playing a road game in San Diego with little on the line, meaning starters could have a short hook. Why risk injury to Alex Smith or MVP candidate Jamaal Charles?

Rashad Jennings, RB, Oakland Raiders
13 touches—10 carries, 45 yards; 3 receptions, 27 yards @ Chargers
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
5 touches—4 carries, 8 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 reception, 8 yards @ Chargers

Darren McFadden has been hobbled by injuries throughout the second half of the season, and Rashad Jennings has been great in his stead. So imagine fantasy owners’ surprise to see McFadden playing the part of vulture, stealing a touchdown away from Jennings. It was ruinous to the latter’s fantasy owners, who lost out on a decent day.

But McFadden had a predictably poor day otherwise, garnering just five touches overall. Jennings appears to have won a veritable lion’s share of the work in that backfield, and the Raiders get the Broncos, who could be resting their starters in the second half this week.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
17 touches—15 carries, 84 yards, 2 touchdowns; 2 receptions, 6 yards vs. Steelers
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers
11 touches—10 carries, 47 yards; 1 reception, 23 yards vs. Steelers

Eddie Lacy had another fantastic game in a nice matchup, perhaps cementing his status as the Offensive Rookie of the Year. But a late injury knocked him out of the game, perhaps throwing a bit of a wet blanket on the performance.

After all, he could miss Week 17, though he did make the start the last time he was questionable. Starks, meanwhile, performed well yet again in relief.

It’s difficult to imagine Lacy will miss this week given the Packers could win the North, but you never know with injuries. If Starks winds up starting, he will be a fantastic pickup in daily leagues. If he happens to be available on the waiver wire, snap him up.

Michael Cox, RB, New York Giants
25 touches—22 carries, 43 yards; 31 receptions, 12 yards

As with Kniles Davis, these statistics are for the entire season. Cox hasn’t had much run—as you will note—despite opportunities due to injuries this season. But he might be the last man standing in that Giants backfield heading into Week 17.

Cox is likely going to get the start and the bulk of the work with the Giants backfield looking like a M.A.SH. unit. David Wilson and Brandon Jacobs are on injured reserve while Peyton Hillis is likely out with a concussion.  Andre Brown was knocked out of the game with a concussion himself last week. That makes him questionable to play in a meaningless finale against Washington, whose defense has been quite generous this season.

There isn’t much predictive quality to what Cox has seen this season, but he might be a viable option for desperate owners this week. He should also be a cheap daily fantasy option.

Dennis Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
14 touches—12 carries, 29 yards; 2 receptions, 1 yard vs. Broncos
Deji Karim, RB, Houston Texans
9 touches—8 carries, 30 yards; 1 reception, -1 yard vs. Broncos

It was Dennis Johnson’s time to shine with Arian Foster and now Ben Tate exiled to injured reserve, and the Broncos have given up a ton of fantasy points to opposing running backs this year. Things didn’t quite pan out that way.

The diminutive back was held in check, though he was knocked out with an injury. Depending on how severe the injury is, that could leave Deji Karim starting against the Titans this week.

Tennessee has also been generous to backs, so whoever gets the nod this week could take advantage. It’s difficult to trust anyone on that offense not named Andre Johnson at this point, though, wouldn’t you say?

THROWS

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
38 throws—27 completions, 366 yards, 4 touchdowns; 1 carry, 10 yards

Quietly, Andy Dalton is the No. 4 fantasy quarterback in the land. You read that right, Dalton is beating out the likes of Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford and a host of other good quarterbacks.

Dalton didn’t have his best outing against the Ravens earlier this season, but he still had a nice fantasy line. He continues to be one of the least expensive top options in daily fantasy leagues to boot.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington
36 throws—21 completions, 197 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception; 2 carries, 10 yards vs. Cowboys

And so Icarus comes crashing to earth.

Well, it wasn’t that bad for Cousins, but the second-year quarterback didn’t exactly take advantage of his great matchup. Cousins could only muster one touchdown a week after a great 2013 debut. With so many options out there, it’s difficult to trust Cousins, even against the Giants this week.


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