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 For a complete listing of targets and touches, check out our Statistics Analyzer and Utilizations pages.
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Zac Stacy's ankle sprain ended up being on the lower part. Whew. Still, if he's limited or must miss a week (which is less likely now), the St. Louis Rams offense would take a step back; Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead, we suppose, would be heavily involved. Ugh. It's not an ideal situation on which to speculate, but Richardson, the preseason darling, would be the best one, we suppose.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who as usual were trying to dig out of a hole Sunday, remembered Maurice Jones-Drew is on the team. They threw to him more, which opened up room for him to run after the catch. Their sustainment of this pattern will make it safer for fantasy managers to deploy him, especially in point-per-reception leagues.
WAIVER WIRE: Peyton Hillis, who's heading into a bye, logged 49 utilizations over his past two games. Unfortunately for his owners, the New York Giants' upcoming off-week looks like it'll propel the return of Andre Brown (leg) from the short-term Injured Reserve. Hillis would probably still get some work in passing downs or changeup work, but Brown was in line to carry a heavy workload before his preseason leg fracture. Despite his struggles staying healthy, Brown is a fine trial in all formats.
Bryant McKinnie's debut on the Miami Dolphins' offensive line showed some positive developments for RBs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas (10 utils), who combined for 136 ground yards and averaged 5.04 yards per carry against a vulnerable New England Patriots front. They would've had more if the 'Phins didn't force the pass during a second-half collapse. Miller has more talent in this arrangement, but his upside will continue to be limited by Thomas' increasingly steady presence.
Bruce Arians has said repeatedly that the Arizona Cardinals don't want to give Andre Ellington too many touches. The 5-foot-9, 199-pounder, however, did damage on a noteworthy yet tempered role Sunday, netting 154 yards, including an 80-yard scoring scamper, on 15 carries. Rashard Mendenhall's 3.1 YPC on the year doesn't inspire many, even his old Pittsburgh Steelers OC, but Arians insists Mendy will keep his starting gig once he comes back from his toe injury. Of course, he didn't explicitly state that Mendenhall would hang on to majority work. Ellington must keep his role most weeks for this offense to reach its ceiling.
The New Orleans Saints' ball-control strategy Sunday involved a lot of Pierre Thomas and only a pinch of Darren Sproles. When the Who 'Dats dictate the game pace, we'll see PT much more often. Sproles has more clout when they need to make a comeback or the matchup dictates a quicker back is the better play. Sproles will be a flex most weeks, even in reception-rewarders, from here on out, with Thomas the more desirable low-end RB2. Of course, Khiry Robinson will occasionally have his say in blowouts. Mark Ingram ... wait, he's still on a roster?
- The Houston Texans are concerned about injuries to Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (ribs). Both insist they'll play, yet Houston added Deji Karim, Dennis Johnson and Ray Graham to the roster. If Foster and Tate can't go, it's best to avoid any backup RB until we get clarification on their roles. None of them stand out.
- Six yards on 11 carries didn't exactly propel Steven Jackson in his return from injury, but his 16 utilizations and likely improved footing with more time back say he's flex-worthy for the erratic Atlanta Falcons. He has a relatively tough schedule in the next few weeks, though, and this O-line won't do him or Jacquizz Rodgers any favors.
- WAIVER WIRE: Jonathan Stewart (ankles) is expected to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list, possibly as soon as Week 9. His involvement with the Carolina Panthers, however, may not be that big for his first few weeks with DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert serving a solid one-two punch.
- Mike James' 15 utilizations didn't amount to much. Neither did Brian Leonard's eight. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' run game will need a great matchup to excite fantasy owners -- not this coming week at the Seattle Seahawks, but the next two versus the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons should allow some room. Maybe Doug Martin (shoulder) will be back for one of them; they're being optimistic.
- The New York Jets' horrid pass defense and one factor we'll mention in the wideouts section kept Giovani Bernard from getting involved much in Week 8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis didn't do much either, but his bruising style was OK for running out the clock during the Cincinnati Bengals' blowout. They'll continue trading dominance over touches depending on the situation.
Wide receivers next....
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 competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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