Just when you thought it was safe to read the Touches Report, Mike Shanahan strikes again. Normally that would cause me to get cold sweats and start shivering, but I think I've figured out (yes, for the 748th time) how things are going to go in Washington's backfield. Maybe someone slipped some ginkgo biloba into one of my drinks, but I've also unlocked the mystery of Beanie. Next I'll tackle fixing the ratings slide of "Chuck", but first, to the Touches for Week 12.
Ryan Mathews and Willis McGahee also had 23 touches apiece. Both of them make me nervous -- Mathews because he can't stay healthy and won't ever get the touches he should because the Chargers have to protect him, and McGahee because at some point he's just going to break down due to his workload. You're still playing them both, but be nervous. At least Mathews has fully seized the top job in SD.
Ah, Roy Helu. How much did fantasy owners groan when they saw his name at the top of this list. Shanahanigans? Could be. Timmy Smith could start for the 'Skins next week. But, let's be realistic. Ryan Torain didn't get a carry, and Evan Royster had one. It finally looks like Helu is going to continue to get the vast majority of the carries, which means he's worth a flex start simply because he's a running back. An inconsistent WR you don't have to play, but an inconsistent RB who's capable of big days? Unfortunately, he has to be in your lineup.
Speaking of must starts, I've finally figured out Beanie Wells. Whenever he's banged up or has a horrible matchup is when he'll have a great game. He's another all-or-nothing player, but wow, can he dazzle you with fantasy points when he's on his game. So he also must be in your lineup every week because of that potential.
Keep riding Michael Bush. All the reports I've heard say that Darren McFadden isn't even close to being able to return to the Raiders lineup. At this point, he's a No. 1 RB on your team. And in fantasy? He's the second-best RB right now behind Arian Foster.
Is Chris Johnson Chris Johnson again? Well, yes and no. He's who we've been talking about the last few weeks. When he has a favorable matchup, you can expect a good day. And it doesn't get more favorable than the Buccaneers, who had given up 107 fantasy points in the three games previous to the one against the Titans (not counting B.J. Raji's TD). But that's who CJ1K is now -- he feasts only on the weak. Which I think is a tagline for a direct-to-DVD vampire movie I watched last week.
Just off the list is Peyton Hillis, who had 21 touches against the Bengals. Chris Ogbonnaya had just three carries, so it's clear that Hillis, now that he's back, is in line for the majority of the touches in the backfield. This is where fantasy meets reality. I never thought Hillis would be activated by the team after all his issues, but before they cut bait on a popular player, it seems like they're going to ride him down the stretch so they can make their decision on his future after a decent sample size.
See Jason Smith on NFL Fantasy Live, airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the Red Zone Channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and midnight ET/9 p.m. PT. He writes Fantasy and other NFL pith on NFL.com daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks that you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.