As we wrap up 2012, I wonder how many season's were won.... and lost, due to lack of passing yards accumulated by running backs. It appears that Darren Sproles will be the only back that will hit triple digits in targets for the season. Only half a dozen other backs are averaging four or more targets per week. Injuries to LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte diminished the every down back list, but all in all, teams are throwing the ball downfield more. The "super" tight ends also took a bit of a hit this season. Rob Gronkowski remains sidelined and has dropped from the league leaders. Jimmy Graham has had a solid season, but Jason Witten remains the standard bearer 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.
I haven't compared historical numbers, but fantasy owners just aren't getting the passing numbers (targets) to supplement the dreaded running back by committee. Ray Rice owners have quickly moved him back into starting lineups after his bye week. The Buffalo duo of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, the law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and fantasy god Arian Foster are also returning. Shonn Greene, Frank Gore, Stephen Jackson and the New England committee are on vacation in week nine. Tight ends Jermaine Greshmam, Dennis Pitta, Scott Chandler and Owen Daniels are back in starting lineups, with Dustin Keller, the struggling Vernon Davis and fantasy favorite Rob Gronkowski taking a seat this weekend.
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.