OK folks, there's about a month remaining in the fantasy regular season. And the trading deadline is approaching even sooner. That means it's even more important to figure out the vagaries of running back and wide receiver usage. You know how this works ... let's get to it.
Welcome back, Calvin Johnson! Megatron had spent so much time this season either hampered by injuries and/or working as a decoy that we almost forgot how devastating he could be when healthy. It might have been nine weeks between double-digit performances, but we're hopeful that there will be a string of them to come the rest of the way. And hey, it didn't even hurt Golden Tate who still posted 11 catches on 13 targets. We're all about that action, boss.
With the big numbers that Mike Evans has been posting in the past couple of weeks, it's easy to think that the ball isn't going in Vincent Jackson's direction. That's just not true. Jackson has seen double-digit targets in five of his last six contests -- including 25 total targets in the past two weeks. Even his yardage totals have been decent, with a combined 151 yards in the previous two weeks. The difference is his lack of touchdowns. Jackson has scored just twice this season with no end zone visits since Week 4. I know it's hard to remain patient, but if Jackson is still seeing this kind of attention, the touchdowns are almost certain to come.
I don't have that same level of confidence with Dwayne Bowe. The fact that we're 10 weeks into the season and the Chiefs have yet to throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver is mind-bottling. Joe McKnight has two receiving touchdowns this season, for crying out loud. It's encouraging that Bowe has averaged 11 targets in his past two games, but he could just as easily go back to being the player who averaged six targets per game -- like he did in his first six outings this season.
Last week I asked what was going on with Julius Thomas then he stepped up and posted one of his better fantasy stat lines of the season. So I'll try to keep that magic going for Michael Floyd. He was expected to be a breakout player this season and it looked like it would happen with two 100-yard games in the first three weeks. However, he's become less of a factor in the Cardinals offense with five or fewer targets in each of his past four games. We'll see if a change at quarterback changes things, but right now Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown are much more viable fantasy options.
For all of the hand-wringing over how the Browns used their running backs on Thursday night, it's clear that Terrance West is still the lead dog in the kennel. West's 26 carries were more than double that of the next closest Browns back (Isaiah Crowell with 12). I know there was a lot of panic among fantasy managers when both Crowell and Ben Tate found the end zone. That panic was relieved when West finally hit paydirt in the third quarter. Until further notice, West should be the fantasy rusher of choice in Cleveland.
Seeing that Frank Gore had 23 carries in one football game in 2014 feels like a misprint. It's not. But it's also probably not a sign of things to come. The 49ers made a concerted effort to kickstart their running game in the first half of Sunday's contest. But as the game wore on, San Francisco's offense fell into its more familiar pattern of forgetting about the running game. This seems like a one-week thing, not something off which to build.
Even though the Bears were having their doors blown off Sunday night, it was good to see the offense still committed to getting Matt Forte the football. I said recently that Forte has a chance to be the second half fantasy MVP. I still think that way. Chicago just needs to not find themselves down two touchdowns at the national anthem. Hopefully next week, the Bears lead with the run -- if for no other reason than to keep their own defense off the field.
Bishop Sankey's fantasy numbers have been underwhelming this season, but his increased opportunities are encouraging. Not only has Sankey had 16 or more carries in three of his past four games, but he has also seen an increase in targets over the past two weeks. The Titans offense is inconsistent at best, but Sankey has some value going forward especially in keeper and dynasty leagues.