Perhaps its the spread offense, or maybe the new breed of quarterback like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, but teams are throwing the ball downfield more and not to the running backs. Only three traditional running backs, Darren Sproles, Ray Rice and rookie Trent Richardson have been targeted more than four times per game this season. Dexter McCluster is more of a slot back and Marcel Reece an H-back, whose numbers will diminish with Darren McFadden back. Injuries have slowed the super-tight end's, with the "King Of Pain" Jason Witten running away as the most targeted at the position.
If you haven't been eliminated, you have likely moved on to your league's semi-finals. As promised, a little about the unusual playoff structure in my league. We have two six team divisions, with the first place team's getting first round byes. The next four best records play head to head in the NFL's wildcard weekend. Each team is allowed to keep up to two players from their regular season roster, with the remaining players filled out in a (non-snake) draft. Best record picks first and all players (starters and reserves) count. The wildcard weekend winners advance to play the division winners over the NFL's next two weekends. The winners meet in the Super Bowl.
It's playoff time in most fantasy leagues across the nation and time to get back that investment. We continue to see a lack of running backs targeted, at the very least inconsistency. Last season's All-World tight ends aren't bringing in the fantasy bacon as they did a year ago, looking more like tight end's than the wide receiver numbers at the position in 2011. Receiving yards at running back are more icing this season, certainly not something you can count on- so focus on the backs that carry the rock. At tight end, we have a finite list of contributors, we are long past any new breakout players.
Why don't teams throw to running backs? I know I have been harping on this all season, but when only seven backs are averaging more than four targets a game, the numbers are down. Making matters worst, Darren McFadden and LeSean McCoy aren't avaialble and Darren Sproles is just working his way back. At tight end, All-World Rob Gronkowski is gone till December and Jimmy Graham's numbers have been tempered a bit. Jason Witten owners are happy that his spleen hasn't impacted his league leading numbers.
During normal weeks, you might be able to get by without adjusting your lineup... not so during bye weeks. Returning from a much needed break in week eight are Michael Turner, Willis McGahee, Jamaal Charles, Reggie Bush, LeSean McCoy and Ryan Matthews. Studs like Ray Rice, C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Arian Foster need replacing in your lineup this week. Tight ends returning include Tony Gonzalez, Brent Celek and Antonio Gates with Dennis Pitta, Scott Chandler, Jermaine Greshman and Owen Daniels on bye week.
No position is as negatively effected by off-week's as that of running back. It's not even close. There are plenty of quarterbacks and pass catchers around to fill a bye week hole for a week. Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew owners, I feel your pain. You don't know how much they mean to you, until they're gone. Those owners throwing darts with Carolina and New Orleans backfields, might have even found a more reliable option this past week. Week seven is the busiest bye week of the season and plenty of 'hurtin to go around. Michael Turner, Willis McGahee, Jammal Charles, Reggie Bush and all-world backs Ryan Matthews and LeSean McCoy will leave gaping holes in fantasy lineups this weekend.
-Are you still alive? Advancing in the playoffs? After weeks of preparation and months of following every move, every week it’s crunch time in fantasy football leagues across the country. Emerging targets may prove to be the difference between a long off-season and post season pay dirt! With the dreaded running back by committee, pass catching backs and productive tight ends are the difference between victory and defeat. Darren Sproles and Ray Rice are as reliable as it gets in the backfield, while Jimmy Graham and the Patriots tight ends are money!
For those fortunate enough, playoffs are underway in many leagues. For those redrafting, targeting is an excellent guide when trying to decide among similar talent. Injuries continue to create opportunity for both running backs and tight ends across the league. With the injury to Matt Forte, Darren Sproles and Ray Rice are clearly the elite at running back with Jimmy Graham running away with things at tight end.
Is Jimmy Graham the best tight end in the NFL? The answer is a resounding yes, at least from a fantasy perspective. Saints quarterback Drew Brees has targeted the former University of Miami basketball star 96 times through ten weeks off play.
As we reach the mid-way point of the NFL season, we really begin to see trends developing. The occasional really good or bad week don’t skew the season averages like they do early on. Many teams have had their bye weeks, with all teams done following week 11. The raw totals are a tad higher for those who have yet to have their bye week: Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville and Minnesota are off this week; Houston, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Pittsburgh are on bye during week 11. We have three sets of numbers for you, for both running backs and tight ends. We share those that are exceeding the norm, those that didn’t receive the normal “looks” they have become accustomed to and the season aggregate totals.