There's a good chance that the playoffs began this week in your fantasy football league. Things have officially gotten real. The good news is that some of your fantasy studs stepped things up this week. Sadly, there were some who did not. We'll take a look at both in this week's Fantasy Breakdown.
T.Y. Hilton's fantasy value rose because of the number of targets Andrew Luck was sending his way. That's good. What's better? Hilton is turning those targets into bona fide production -- and he's doing it against quality competition. In Week 14's win over the Browns, Hilton had eight targets while lined up against Cleveland's shut down corner Joe Haden. He turned them into six catches for 99 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hilton is reaching matchup-proof levels.
Martellus Bennett is on this list? Martellus Bennett is on this list. I wish I had some insight into what this means for both Bennett and the Bears offense. I suspect that it had something to do with Thursday night's matchup against the Cowboys being a bit of a "revenge" game for the former Dallas tight end. But as the weather has gotten colder and Chicago has slipped out of contention, there's little rhyme or reason to the offense. Bennett could easily go back to seeing three targets next week.
The 49ers passing game is a dumpster fire. Look no further than Michael Crabtree's Week 14 performance. Crabtree caught nine of the 14 passes thrown his way ... for 56 yards and no touchdowns. It marked a season-high in targets for the Niners receiver yet he still couldn't break the 100-yard receiving mark. Crabtree has been severely outplayed this season by Anquan Boldin, who also holds limited fantasy value.
For the second straight week, we're left scratching our heads about Jimmy Graham's production. Graham was targeted 11 times on Sunday -- compared to zero the week before -- but finished the game with just three catches for 25 yards. His season-ending slate of games (at CHI, vs ATL, at TB) offers some hope, but this season has been an overall struggle.
Other notables:Jimmy Graham (11), Mike Evans (11), Rob Gronkowski (11), Allen Hurns (10), Delanie Walker (10)
In the previous five weeks, the Cowboys had limited DeMarco Murray's number of touches in a strategy likely aimed at keeping the running back fresh for a playoff run. That time has come. Dallas fed its running back heavily in Thursday's win over the Chicago Bears, giving him more than 25 carries for the first time since Week 7. It never hurts when your running back gains 5.5 yards per attempt either. With sketchy run defenses on the schedule in two of the next three weeks (at PHI, vs IND), Murray should finish the season strong.
Latavius Murray didn't have any of the eye-popping runs we saw from him two weeks ago against Kansas City, but the Raiders running back was featured prominently in Sunday's win over San Francisco. Versus the 49ers normally ferocious run defense, Murray still managed 85 scrimmage yards. It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs scheme for the young back next week, but it's clear that the Raiders have a new workhorse.
The same might be said of Joique Bell in Detroit. His rushing totals will rarely overwhelm you, but it's apparent that the Lions have more faith in Bell than in Reggie Bush. It also helps that Bell has scored two touchdowns in back-to-back games.
Remember what I wrote earlier about the Bears losing their offensive identity? It applies heavily to Matt Forte. After featuring prominently among the targets and touches leaders every week, he's seeing less work in Chicago's attack. That's a particularly confusing gameplan for the man who is the team's best all-around offensive weapon. Fortunately in Week 14, Forte's late-game production salvaged a decent fantasy total. But why has it come to this, Marc Trestman? I need answers.
Other notables:Matt Forte (13+9), C.J. Anderson (21+0), Jonathan Stewart (20+1), Kerwynn Williams (19+0), LeSean McCoy (17+0)