Opportunity in the NFL can translate to success in fantasy football. Are these target numbers a trend or an aberration for these players' fantasy football value? Do they deserve attention on fantasy football waiver wires?
Note: Last three weeks of touches (running backs) and targets (wide receivers and tight ends) for each player listed in parentheses. "X" means player was inactive for game.
RB: DeMarco Murray (16-22-18), Felix Jones (6-3-1)
WR/TE: Dez Bryant (7-8-13), Miles Austin (10-9-6), Jason Witten (10-6-14), Kevin Ogletree (2-7-6)
Williams flying ... kinda low
Perhaps no player could use the bye week more than quarterback Tony Romo, who, coming off five interceptions on Monday night, now has committed 10 turnovers in four games. Since tallying three touchdowns in the season opener, Romo has only managed to add two scores the last three weeks.
The one positive for the Cowboys was Witten, who appears to be over a preseason spleen injury. Even though nearly half of his yardage and touchdown came on four passes during final drive from backup quarterback Kyle Orton, Witten held onto everything thrown his way after dropping a total of six passes in the first three games of the season.
Bryant has yet to find the end zone this season but is coming off his best statistical game with eight catches and 105 yards. However, he had a pair of embarrassing drops and cost his quarterback a pick six on a bad route. His erratic play hasn't removed him from Romo's circle of trust yet, and it probably won't cut him off entirely. But with Witten getting healthier, it puts more pressure on Bryant to clean up his game to keep from losing looks.
A career-high seven catches and 57 yards saved Murray's overall production but he's now failed to break 45 yards on the ground in any of the last three games while averaging just 2.6 yards per carry in that time. Dallas says they want to feature Murray in the passing game more, though, and Jones isn't a threat to his every-down duty. The offensive line carries plenty of blame.
In Week 6, the Cowboys will head to Baltimore, a defense that's allowed the fourth most passing yards per game and a half-dozen rushing touchdowns. Despite the MNF meltdown, the Boys have a chance to make a pleasant rebound with the extra prep time. Don't let the Ravens' inflated reputation on defense force you into benching one of your Cowboys automatically.
RB: Willis McGahee (24-14-25), Lance Ball (3-10-8), Ronnie Hillman (X-3-12)
WR/TE: Eric Decker (8-11-9), Demaryius Thomas (11-11-6), Jacob Tamme (4-10-6), Brandon Stokley (6-6-2), Joel Dreessen (2-5-3)
Is the Broncos offense, and perhaps more importantly Peyton Manning, an elite unit? Following an early ugly hat trick of picks in Week 2, Manning has posted 300-yard, multi-TD efforts in back-to-back weeks. Much of the production in Week 3 came in the fourth quarter after several near interceptions. Last week, Manning had his way against a toothless Oakland Raiders pass rush and will see a lot of other favorable matchups going forward. This week Manning will face his archenemies, the Patriots, who have allowed an average of 366 passing yards and a total of seven touchdowns the last two weeks.
Manning has targeted Decker and Thomas 35 times apiece this season as their production has basically mirrored each other, including a combined nine drops between the two. Tamme's sleeper buzz has quickly cooled off as Dreessen cuts into his targets while scoring a touchdown in the last two games. Even though Manning isn't throwing deep and his arm strength is still suspect, this is a passing attack that should continue to produce as they jell and face a favorable slate of opponents.
Meanwhile, Hillman looks poised to take over the Broncos' No. 2 back gig. McGahee has little to worry about in the coming weeks, but Denver may choose to rest his soon-to-be 31-year-old legs a tad while working in Hillman more often as the season wears on.
RB: Ryan Williams (12-15-15), LaRod Stephens-Howling INJ (4-8-X), William Powell (X-X-4)
WR/TE: Larry Fitzgerald (5-9-15), Andre Roberts (1-6-9), Michael Floyd (0-2-8), Early Doucet (4-1-7),
With Beanie Wells (toe) on the return-eligible injured reserve, Williams failed to capitalize as the starter facing a stout Miami Dolphins run defense. Even though the performance was a complete dud as he only averaged two yards per carry on 13 attempts, Williams is still the No. 1 rusher in the desert and worth hanging onto. He'll face a St. Louis Rams defense on Thursday night that just allowed a season-high 165 rushing yards to the Seahawks.
However, Powell was heavily involved Sunday in the no-huddle offense, with which Kevin Kolb is guiding Arizona to early success; Williams isn't yet up to speed on those playbook pages. They'll run that as often as possible, meaning Williams' touch load may be capped for the near future despite his status as top backfield bird.
Roberts, meanwhile, found himself on the other end of two scores and finished with six catches and 118 yards. While top target Fitzgerald played every offensive snap, Roberts only left the field four times and is cementing himself as the No. 2 WR.
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.