Targets and touches can influence a fantasy football player's value, but utilization totals fluctuate week to week, depending on game and roster circumstances. In Fantasy Football On Target, we dissect conditions to determine whether target trends are patterns or flukes.
For a complete listing of targets and touches, check out our Statistics Analyzer and Utilizations pages.
Find more fantasy football risers in our Fantasy Football Waiver Wire.
WAIVER WIRE: Bilal Powell was fighting a neck injury heading into Week 7, but Rex Ryan intimated that Chris Ivory's busy day was a case of the matchup against an injury-depleted New England Patriots front seven. Ivory, who only averaged 3.1 per tote, was a recommended add last week because the New York Jets lost Mike Goodson (knee). He'll log weeks like this, but Ivory is no more than an RB2 in a tasty matchup. Often, the momentum will remain with Powell, especially if Gang Green needs to throw a bunch.
The Dallas Cowboys gave Joseph Randle plenty of work but not the goal-line handle from Phillip Tanner, who converted it. DeMarco Murray's knee-related sideline stay will keep Randle as the primary carrier, but if Lance Dunbar (hamstring) returns this week, Randle's flex value becomes more tenuous.
Peyton Hillis stepped up with Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) and David Wilson (neck) out. He looked a bit like his 2010 incarnation. Of course, he also averaged 2.0 yards per carry and relied on a scoring plunge and a 5-45-0 receiving night. He said he wasn't staying in shape when he got a call and at times felt like he was out of gas. The fact the New York Giants trusted him more than rookie Michael Cox says he'll probably get the majority work as long as it's only the two of them. Of course, this may prove moot in the long term if Jacobs can return soon, and definitely will if Andre Brown (leg) resurfaces from short-term IR.
Ryan Mathews has carried it 43 times and averaged 4.9 yards per in the last two weeks. It took the San Diego Chargers a bit of time, but they seem to be using Mathews in the right situations and methods. Though he'll deliver RB1-type weeks, Danny Woodhead (13 utilizations) will be deployed more often if they need to pass more. Clock control and weak D-lines favor Mathews.
Alfred Morris' 95 yards (19 utilizations) made for a solid fantasy day, but the three red-zone touchdowns that went to Roy Helu (13) stole the Washington Redskins' backfield thunder. The 'Skins went with a lot of no-huddle, which clicked for Helu. With Robert Griffin III getting his legs back under him, this could be a productive offense with each carrier posting RB2 numbers. Owners of each, however, don't like this development as much as Washington does. (Hint: The Denver Broncos matchup looks like another Helu week.)
Ray Rice's tepid stats isn't due to a lack of tries. He's still coming around from a hip flexor strain. He said he felt better coming into this week, and he flashed such health at times, despite him averaging only 3.0 YPC. The Baltimore Ravens' heavy focus on no-huddles plus shotgun and spread formations Sunday was an experiment to try jolting the run game. It didn't work consistently but should make us cautiously optimistic about Rice, especially with how often he touches the rock.
- Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (broken ribs) will be watched carefully during their Week 8 bye. The Houston Texans' house-cleaning of their RB corps leaves fantasy speculators in limbo. However, given the offensive line's erratic play and QB efforts, it's hard to get excited about any middling commodity running behind a zone scheme that's a shell of its peak.
- WAIVER WIRE: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't necessarily believe Doug Martin's shoulder injury is season-ending, but first-year bruiser Mike James would carry the load for any missed time. He ran with the ball 14 times after Martin exited Sunday but doesn't have the same two-way excitement Martin displayed at his peak.
- C.J. Spiller's bum ankle continues to hinder his involvement and results, per Doug Marrone, so Fred Jackson won't be yielding majority duties anytime soon for the Buffalo Bills. Spiller may even miss a game or two coming up so he can recover.
- Trent Richardson and Donald Brown each had 14 utilizations. The Indianapolis Colts haven't gotten steady results when using T-Rich as the work horse, and Brown has broken a few big plays as the changeup. Richardson often seems flat when he runs and will need to show more to pull away in terms of workload. This backfield, like many others, is a game-pace situation.
- Another game, another long dump-off touchdown to Chris Johnson: Expect the Tennessee Titans to continue this trend of waiting for defenses allowing him to slip away into a receiving role. Looks like it's his best way to contribute.
- Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin expects a near even split between Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller moving forward. The backs looked like they improved in yards after contact following their bye week, while the offense also focused on more north-south calls. That style would favor Thomas. Miller has more upside but hasn't displayed enough of it to lock up the gig. Of course, the Buffalo Bills were a favorable matchup, so don't expect this efficiency every time.
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About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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