Fantasy Football On Target - Week 13 (with video)
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.
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 in motion
With several teams creating distance in their respective divisions, it's worth checking out the players that are most likely to gain value if starters begin to see some extra rest down the stretch.
Roddy White only leaves the field a few plays per game, and Julio Jones just came back from an ankle injury. If either player is selected to rest more frequently Harry Douglas, a respectable slot receiver, would fill in.
Depending on game situations, Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers are now playing nearly equal time. Jason Snelling is a decent runner and receiver and could fill either role if the Dirty Birds want to park their backs in the final weeks, particularly the aging Turner.
Jacoby Jones is making highlights in the return game while making the occasional big catch as a receiver. He would be a logical deep target replacement for Torrey Smith as the Ravens look to wrap up their division early. Look out for Tandon Doss, as well.
Bernard Pierce has received seven or more carries in three of the last four games. With the extremely high number of snaps Ray Rice is on the field for, he's an important player for the Ravens to consider resting should that opportunity present itself.
Will Peyton Manning submit to resting? Would Brock Osweiler or Caleb Hanie make Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker owners confident? Unlikely either way. Plus, not sure that they'd care enough to rest Moreno, considering how fresh he is at this point in the year.
They're saying they're not worried about his tote load, but Arian Foster leads the league in carries and would yield to Justin Forsett and the returning Ben Tate if and when the Texans clinch home field throughout the playoffs.
In 2010, Wes Welker tore is ACL and MCL in a meaningless game at the end of the year. Julian Edelman would take over in the slot if the team elects to play it safe with their starters this time. Maybe Greg Salas, too. This would more realistically mean more targets for Brandon Lloyd, though.
Stevan Ridley is currently seventh in carries and has never seen this type of workload before. Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead would likely spilt touches in his absence, with Brandon Bolden mixed in whenever he returns from suspension and his knee injury.
Michael Hoomanawanui, Visanthe Shiancoe and Daniel Fells are more so long shots, but the Pats use their tight ends so well and can ill afford to be without both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski (broken forearm) heading into the postseason.
Gore could use rest as much as possible, but San Fran has been conserving him when necessary in the regular season. They're not in as good postseason shape as the others listed, but the Niners could deploy more James, Jacobs and Dixon from the backfield, which would be a fantasy mess. James has the most upside, but Jacobs and Dixon could hog goal line attempts.
About Eric McClung
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. Follow @EricMcClung
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