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?
After getting off to a quick start throwing the ball, rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley imploded in his first career start. Despite 52 pass attempts, the only passes Lindley got into the end zone came as a result when two of his four interceptions were taken back to the house.
Dwyer's job hardly in steel
Lindley was able find Roberts and Housler (season-high 11 targets, eight catches and 82 yards) fairly often but could only connect with Fitzgerald three times despite a dozen targets.
Wells made a bit of a splash in his return with two scores on 17 rushing attempts for 48 yards. Powell actually played more snaps and was the preferred back for receiving purposes. Despite Wells' performance, it's too early to write off Stephens-Howling (ribs) as he was banged up heading into the game, and he even left and did not return.
If LSH is able to play this week, he'll likely have a similar role to Powell's while coaxing a few carries away from Wells, who admitted his stamina isn't all the way there just yet.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder, ribs) is questionable, but the Steelers need him to stay in the playoff hunt after becoming a turnover ATM last week with Charlie Batch under center. Also, each of the four running backs lost at least one fumble a piece.
Brown (ankle) is expected to play and could be in line for a lot of targets following the demotion of Wallace, who keeps dropping passes when he's not outright invisible. Sanders, who has 75 or more receiving yards in the last two games, will get a chance to move past Wallace and is currently listed as the co-starter opposite Brown with Wallace.
The running backs aren't immune to the depth chart changes either. Dwyer has been named the starter and should see the bulk of the carries. Redman is next in line while Mendenhall has tumbled to the No. 3 back.
There are clearly a lot of things in flux for the Steelers right now, but the expanded opportunities for Brown and Sanders won't mean much unless Roethlisberger gets back on the field and is able to play effectively.
One week after reemerging with eight catches, 83 yards and a touchdown in Week 11, Davis was only targeted once last week as Colin Kaepernick looked at nine different receivers in the passing game. Kaepernick has been a far more aggressive passer than Alex Smith, so it's surprising Davis didn't get much of a shot. Davis, of course, often gets lost in game plans or becomes the focus of opposing defenses.
Despite this disappointment, owners invested in the San Fran passing game will certainly prefer Kaepernick over Smith going forward.
Season-ending injuries to Kyle Williams (knee) and Kendall Hunter (Achilles') may lead to rookies A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James finally getting to play for the first time this season. However, it's far more likely Manningham and Moss each get more snaps at wide receiver while Jacobs and Dixon take Hunter's rushing attempts.
Dixon commented that James is being used like Percy Harvin on the scout team as a hybrid player. Given the 49ers' extremely creative offensive schemes, this new wrinkle is fascinating to say the least, but we'll need to see James finally get activated and see what materializes on game day.
Backfields and hot routes....
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's 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. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.
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