Tick, tick, tick ... that's the sound of the fantasy football regular season running out. But there's still plenty to learn about how teams are distributing the football and what it could potentially mean for the fantasy postseason. This week might have featured a few surprising names, but that could be equally educational. To the list!
If Week 11 was a movie, it would have been "The Other Guys." This was the week that a lot of secondary receivers stepped to the forefront. Alshon Jeffery over Brandon Marshall. Randall Cobb over Jordy Nelson. Rueben Randle over Odell Beckham. Taylor Gabriel over Andrew Hawkins -- if that can be considered a thing. But the greater point is that quarterbacks across the league decided this was a good week to spread the football around, which is great news if you started those other options like Cobb and Jeffery. Not so much if you were trained on the No. 1 guys like Marshall and Beckham.
Of course, there were a couple of top guys who saw plenty of the football on Sunday. Keenan Allen snagged eight catches on 13 targets in San Diego's lackluster win over the Raiders. The troubling part of Allen's season is that despite a preponderance of passes being thrown his way -- Allen's 86 targets far outpaces the next player on the Chargers roster -- those targets and catches have rarely added up to big yardage. It might be fair to place Allen into the category of "possession receiver" while players like Malcom Floyd are more of the big play threats in the Bolts' passing game.
There isn't much you can trust in the Panthers offense, but you can trust Kelvin Benjamin. Sort of. Carolina struggles to move the ball on a consistent basis (just 17 points against the Falcons?!?) but it seems nearly certain that every week will involve Cam Newton heaving one in Benjamin's direction. Normally while the latter is standing in or near the end zone. There's no guarantee that this will continue, but there's also no guarantee that it won't.
Drew Stanton's resumption of starting quarterback duties in Arizona might not be hurting the Cardinals, but it's not making fantasy enthusiasts very happy. On Sunday Stanton threw the ball 32 times, but targeted the duo of Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald just nine times combined -- the same as John Brown's number of targets. In the meantime, 10 different Cardinals caught a pass. That's Drew Brees-like distribution and it's equally hard on fantasy managers as it is defensive coordinators.
Just in case you thought #Belitricks were dead, here comes Jonas Gray. Not only did the third-year running back trample the Colts with 199 yards and four touchdowns, but he took 38 carries along the way -- the most in the NFL this season. Because we're talking about the New England Patriots offense, the only certainty is that there will be uncertainty next week. This was an extreme case of Bill Belichick riding the hot hand to great success. Week 12 brings a matchup against the Detroit Lions and a similar workload doesn't seem to be in the offing.
Who knows if Alfred Blue could be a workhorse back for the Houston Texans? As long as Arian Foster is around, it doesn't seem likely that Blue will get the chance. But in the opportunities he's had to start, the rookie from LSU has acquitted himself well. He's been an occasional handcuff this season, but should be much more popular next season as Foster will be a year older with a little less tread on the tires. I have a sneaking suspicion that a committee is coming to Houston very soon.
At this point, I no longer know what to say about LeSean McCoy. His lack of production has had nothing to do with a lack of touches. McCoy's rushing attempts have held steady from last season, but his yardage and touchdown totals are down significantly. Some of the problem has been in an offensive line that has battled injuries all season, but eventually we all need to just admit that it's probably not going to happen for Shady this season.
The Cleveland Browns have no obligation to help our fantasy squads on a weekly basis. But if they want to win, it might behoove them to foster some consistency in their backfield. A week after giving everyone the distinct impression that Terrance West would be their top running back going forward, West sees just five carries in the Week 11 loss. Meanwhile, Isaiah Crowell led the way with 14 attempts and mixed results. This is all leading to Ben Tate coming from nowhere to take 25 touches in Week 13.