I had a terrible week seven after topping 100 points in each of the first six weeks. My trades for Maurice Jones Drew and Emmanuel Sanders didn't help matters, reminding me that sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make. We get one great fantasy team (New Orleans) back this weekend and one not so great (Oakland). Week eight brings the largest numbers of teams on bye so far this season with six taking the week off. Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego and Tennessee with a bye this week, obviously effecting fantasy lineups in a big way. The Thursday night game this week features the Tampa Bay Bucaneers hosting the Carolina Panthers.
The NFL Network is in the windy city on Thursday night for the Giants and Bears. New York will be without David Wilson, but some would say the GIants have been playing without him all season. Atlanta and Miami are on bye this week, the Falcons are expecting Stephen Jackson back in week seven while the Dolphins running back situation is something I am thankful I have no stake in. Pittsburgh, Washington, Minnesota and Tampa Bay return after taking a break with bye's in week five. Fantasy nation very pleased to get Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris, Le'Veon Bell and Doug Martin back in their respective lineups. Not much relief at the tight end position though, with the possible exception of Kyle Rudolph.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, the dreaded bye weeks are behind us. It's time for the home stretch and in week 12, fantasy owners applaud the return of Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Chris Johnson and Ahmad Bradshaw. Tight end's returning from bye include Kyle Rudolph, Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. While the bye weeks are behind us, keep an eye on multiple Thursday games, Saturday games coming soon and the usual Sunday and Monday prime time action.
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.
Note to self- Do whatever it takes to get both Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy on my fantasy football teams in future seasons. Arian Foster you ask? Injury concerns and the Ben Tate presence are a slight distraction with Marshawn Lynch the only running back worthy of argument. Dreams aside, Jamaal Charles appears fully recovered from injury and is the next best all-around bet along with Maurice Jones-Drew. The sleeper of the year remains Alfred Morris, who has quietly been nearly as important to the resurgent Redskins offense as Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III. Jason Witten owners are feeling a bit better this week, actually a lot better after he was targeted more than any tight end in week four, catching 13 of 14 Tony Romo attempts (with the rest going to the Bears).
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.