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.
Mike James' hard-charging performance against a suddenly vulnerable Seattle Seahawks run defense has cemented him as the chief of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backfield, as long as Doug Martin (shoulder) is hurt. You have to wonder if Greg Schiano (if he still has a job) will relent on his Martin optimism and simply rest him in a lost season. Also, don't underestimate Brian Leonard's PPR value; he has 17 utilizations over the last two weeks, mostly in passing downs.
Bill Belichick cut Stevan Ridley some slack on the back's fumble to open the second half, essentially crediting Troy Polamalu for a solid play. Belichick's faith led to 60 more yards and a late score for Ridley. It's a good sign that the New England Patriots should ride Ridley as their chief carrier following the bye. Shane Vereen (wrist) will inherit a tandem role upon his expected re-emergence from the Injured Reserve/designated to return.
A matchup with the sieve-like St. Louis Rams marked a fine occasion for the Tennessee Titans to feed Chris Johnson, who had a monster outing, Shonn Greene's opening-drive touchdown notwithstanding. Many forget how well Johnson worked with a capable second back in the LenDale White years. If Tennessee can deploy Johnson in the right means, he should take full advantage of his favorable remaining schedule.
WAIVER WIRE: Rashad Jennings handled a big workload, with mixed results, when Darren McFadden was hurt earlier in the year. Guess what? DMC is nursing a bum hamstring. Marcel Reece and Jeremy Stewart may threaten to vulture Oakland Raiders touchdowns, but Jennings' skill set best fits carrying the load among these three.
WAIVER WIRE: Arian Foster (back) left Week 9 action early and didn't return. Will he play next week? Ben Tate and Dennis Johnson split work afterward. The Houston Texans' passing game has been rejuvenated by Case Keenum, but the run game, the crux of their identity, is in flux. Tate, whose ribs probably still bother him, saw a similar split of reps even with the top dog out of the game; for that reason, Johnson deserves a speculative add. He's a decent stash complement who averaged 4.5 per tote Sunday.
- WAIVER WIRE: Andre Brown (leg) is likely to rejoin the New York Giants this week from IR-R. Peyton Hillis will probably take a back seat, though he's proven solid in both ground and air work. David Wilson (neck) might not return this season. Grab Brown. Now.
- James Starks should continue being a major part of the run game. The Green Bay Packers said they want to temper Eddie Lacy's work, and with Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) hurt, they'll probably lean on their suddenly improved run blocking. Of course, defenses will expect this, so it's a matter of how effective run defenses will perform.
- It was another Danny Woodhead game (19 utils Sunday) for the San Diego Chargers. Expect another pass-happy contest against the Denver Broncos, who should contain Ryan Mathews (seven).
- Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have enjoyed the alterations in the running strategy and the addition of Bryant McKinnie along the Miami Dolphins' O-line. Mike Sherman says Miller's recent stretch of success could earn him more carries, though they'll probably still incorporate Thomas often. Miller's the fantasy target, though your buy-low window looks like it has closed.
- Not surprising the New York Jets sent out Chris Ivory often versus his old team, the New Orleans Saints, to help keep Drew Brees off the field and perhaps get some personal redemption after a tumultuous stay in the Bayou. Bilal Powell is still the preferred option in likely situations when they'll have to throw, but the Geno Smith-led Gang Green will attempt to control time of possession more often than not. That gives Ivory the edge moving forward.
- Jonathan Stewart collected 12 utilizations in his return to the Carolina Panthers' backfield, which complicated things, as expected. Mike Tolbert (10) still found paydirt. DeAngelo Williams (15) dominated the reps still but took a hit in his value. Moving forward, Stewart's better skills in passing situations should move him atop the hierarchy. Tolbert's work will depend on game score and goal-line opps. Williams looks like he's in purgatory.
- Despite his big-play runs on Sunday and his assertion that he feels good Monday, C.J. Spiller came up limp a few times during action and said his ankle still isn't 100 percent. He's a fine flex play that'll typically yield more, but Fred Jackson is still likelier to carry the Buffalo Bills, and Spiller will still be restricted enough that he'll probably have to rely on breaking big trots.
- DeMarco Murray still suffers in his workload because Tony Romo loves to check out of run plays. He's doing more at the line of scrimmage now that he has more control over the offense. The Dallas Cowboys just aren't a running team, and Murray's work as a chief guy will come when the game situation dictates it. It's hard to predict when Murray will make fantasy noise.
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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 the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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