Your fantasy depth will really be tested this week with a full fledged bye week. Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Le'Veon Bell and yes, Adrian Peterson owners muct find other options, at least for one week. Fantasy nation gets Carolina and Green Bay players back this week from bye and they are good to go for the remainder of the season. Four teams have week five off, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, PIttsburgh and Washington. Is Eddie Lacy healthy enough to start or are you a Jonathan Franklin believer. DeAngelo Williams remains a solid start, at least until Jonathan Stewart returns in a couple of weeks. Who had a breakout performance in week four? and who cost your team a win? Time to take a look in this week's report.
How you look at running backs depends largely on the scoring in your particular league. Leagues that use PPR (Points Per Reception) pay much greater attention to their running back's involvement in their team's passing game. Much of the same can be said for tight ends, perhaps even more so. A good indication of how involved your player can be is the amount of targets (or looks) he is getting from the quarterback(s). Backs like Detroit's Reggie Bush may actually score more points receiving, while others like Seattle workhorse Marshawn Lynch get the majority of their production from the ground game.
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.
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.
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.
Is Demarco Murray on your fantasy squad? How about Darren McFadden or Doug Martin? They, along with Mikel Leshoure return from by this weekend. With Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay completing their bye weeks, Carolina, Chicago Jacksonville and New Orleans take their turn this week. Take proper precautions if you have Matt Forte, Maurice Jones- Drew or running backs in Carolina or New Orleans.
With the exception of the usual suspects like Darren Sproles, it appears that running back targets are down this season. We find only 18 running backs league wide with double figure targets through three weeks of play. Further to the drop off, only Sproles and Darren McFadden have been targeted more than 19 times this season out of the backfield. With running back by committee now virtually league wide, it becomes increasingly important to get the few backs that are part of their teams passing game. The league's best pass catching backs top the "fallers" list in week three, further representing the drop off we are seeing. Perhaps the looks are going to the tight ends as we have seen some solid options emerge in September. With teams using tight ends in the backfield as "H-backs" on passing downs, this could contribute towards the numbers we are seeing.