Every once in a while, we get weeks like we just had. Fantasy points were at a minimum as quarterbacks we expected to have huge days struggled in a big way. Sort of like when you're watching your favorite TV show and after five great weeks you get an episode that's just a huge clunker (think 'The Fly' episode of Breaking Bad). The good news is that it doesn't last. The better news is that we found out some big stuff about a few pass-catchers as we close in on mid-season in your fantasy league.
Welcome back, Mike Wallace. Please continue to talk about your role and how concerned you are about not getting the football every week. Because this is the second time this season he's done so and followed it up with a good fantasy game (A whopping 16 targets against Baltimore). Because of his talent you have to play him, but play him in the right spot - and that's as a flex. He's the WR version of Chris Johnson. He'll give you three weeks of 24-receiving-yards days, and then a huge one that comes out of nowhere against a tough defensive team. Until he gets more consistent, I can't bump him up to a No. 2 WR slot.
Alshon Jeffery is legit. Pick him up and put him in your flex - or as a No. 2 WR during the bye weeks. It's his second terrific game in a row, and his fourth game of the season with 8 or more targets. (He had 13 on Sunday.) Jay Cutler is looking for him with more regularity thanks to opponents attempting to lock down Brandon Marshall (5 targets). When someone sees targets like this over a month-long period, this means it's more than a streak, it's a trend.
Well, well, well. It's been a long time since I typed the name Hakeem Nicks. In fact, it took me three times to get it right because I'm out of practice. But 12 targets and 142 yards later, Nicks is now back on your fantasy radar. Notice I didn't say in your lineup, but on your radar. The Eagles was a very good matchup for Nicks but up next it's the Bears in Chicago. I can't pull the trigger on him just yet. I'm happy to have him on my bench and take a wait-and-see approach with him. Meanwhile, Rueben Randle had 13 targets in a pretty big game for the G-Men. He's a futures guy, because he's not going to do this enough to warrant you start him, even during bye weeks.
So much for four weeks of inactivity for Justin Blackmon. Just off the list, he had 9 targets this week and debuted with a vengeance for Jacksonville. He needs to be in your lineup this week as a flex at worst, more likely as a No. 2. He's in great shape and played Sunday with a huge edge - how you'd want someone who just missed a month to play. He's a budding superstar. Cecil Shorts' numbers will also improve as Blackmon assumes his place as the Jaguars top pass-catcher. Shorts will be the teams' No. 2 WR and will still give you solid weeks. And the Jaguars offense will get a whole lot better too. Except for maybe ...
... Maurice Jones-Drew. He's simply not the same MJD as he was prior to last season. You can no longer expect him to give you double-digit fantasy points. He had 19 touches Sunday but it didn't amount to anything. You can't guarantee he'll run for 100 yards, and you can't guarantee he'll score a touchdown. He's averaging less than 3.0 YPC and the only way his numbers will improve is if the Jaguars commit to running the football, which they're not going to do. Their way to be competitive is through the air, and that's how it's going to continue whether it's Chad Henne or Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. MJD isn't anything more than a flex play because you can't play him with any kind of confidence. If you know an owner who really likes him, try to cash in on his big name and trade him away.
How about 24 touches for Eddie Lacy? He's the No. 1 RB with an exclamation point for Green Bay. (Johnathan Franklin touched the football just three times.) Lacy moved the chains most of the day as the Packers chewed up yardage against a pretty good Detroit defense. What's more, when Green Bay was running out the clock late in the 4th quarter Lacy was the primary weapon on every play. He's a very good flex option going forward, and could turn into a low-end No. 2 fantasy RB at some point.
Just 12 carries for LeGarrette Blount as the Patriots lead back Sunday. New England didn't use him much following his lost fumble, and as we know there's no quicker way into Bill Belichick's doghouse. He had 12 touches compared to 11 for Brandon Bolden, who had a good game out of New England's backfield. It's worth owning Bolden because he has the most dynamic ability of any of the Patriots RB's. Stash him away and see where the Running Back Roulette Wheel stops in New England every week.
Jason Smith writes fantasy and other pith for nfl.com. You can see him as the host of NFL Fantasy Live that airs Sunday through Friday on NFL Network at 5pmET/2pmPT and also at 1amET/10pmPT. Listen to him on the NFL Fantasy Live podcast available at nfl.com and on itunes. Reach out to him on Google plus or Twitter @howaboutafresca, and listen to his Fantasy Podcast with Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison every week on nfl.com. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.