Week 8: The Week We Saw Life. Namely we saw life in a few fantasy players that we were ready to give up for dead. It just goes to show that you can never truly predict what's going to happen over the course of a long season. It also shows that there's a reason some players get a little more preseason love than others -- even if it takes them a little longer to live up to that potential. On to the targets and touches!
Plenty of us fantasy football types -- yours truly included -- can be accused of having short memories. I blame the Internet. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, short memories. Anyway, that might have something to do with why Jeremy Maclin was underrated heading into this season. Yes, the injuries had something to do with it, but there was also a distinct misremembering of what Maclin did back in 2012. That season, he racked up 69 receptions on 122 targets in Andy Reid's offense. Now that Maclin has learned the ropes in Chip Kelly's much more fast-paced attack, he's on pace for career-highs in catches (89) and targets (173 !!!). Granted, "on pace for" stats are often fantasies, but the point is that Maclin's Week 8 performance likely wasn't an anomaly.
Was that Cordarrelle Patterson we saw running about the football field with the ball in his hands? Alas, it was! I'm not totally sure what happened, but Flash finally found a way to get open and the Vikings found a way to get the rock to him. The prevailing thought was that if Patterson couldn't break loose against the Buccaneers, it just wasn't going to happen in 2014. So it's good to know that he's at least a matchup-based option -- which is especially positive when you look at some of his upcoming matchups.
The same cannot be said for Hakeem Nicks. The Colts receiver had just six passes thrown his way and hasn't had more than seven targets in any one game. Meanwhile rookie Donte Moncrief was targeted 12 times on Sunday. The devaluing of Nicks is being hastened by yet another first-year wideout looking to make his mark.
Where have you gone, Julian Edelman? Edelman still leads the Patriots in targets, but recently it seems like his targets aren't of the high-value variety. The versatile receiver has posted more than 50 receiving yards just once in the past four games and hasn't visited the end zone since Week 2. Part of that owes to the increased health of Rob Gronkowski and the recent emergence of Brandon LaFell. Regardless, it's looking more like Edelman is becoming the odd man out.
For weeks, I've been asking the Steelers to give Le'Veon Bell more touches. My memo must have been lost in their inbox, but it looks like they finally got the message. Bell posted nearly 150 scrimmage yards on his 31 total opportunities. Somehow he failed to get into the end zone on a day when the Steelers scored 51 points, otherwise it could have been a monster afternoon. But touchdowns are fickle things and that's just a quibble. Even with only two touchdowns this season, Bell is the fourth-highest scoring fantasy back. As long as Pittsburgh keeps feeding him, he'll be just fine.
It was another status quo week for LeSean McCoy. He continues to average about 20 carries per game and is still seeing three targets per game -- in essence the same numbers he had during his huge 2013 campaign. The difference right now appears to be the absence of Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce. Without those two interior lineman, McCoy always seems to have to make players miss in the backfield. That's no way to prosper. Both Mathis and Kelce should be back soon, which means hopefully we'll once again see a dominant McCoy. Stay the course if you can.
When we learned that Anthony Dixon would be the Bills starting running back, it felt like a one-week thing. Not because Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller were returning, but because Bryce Brown seemed poised to eventually surpass him. In Week 8, Dixon saw that bulk of the carries and but didn't do much with it. In his defense, Brown wasn't particularly special either. But Brown is the shiftier of the two backs and still looks like the guy Buffalo will turn to going forward.
Are you considering a Rams running back? Good luck. On Sunday, St. Louis split 19 carries between five players. Tre Mason led the way -- with seven rushing attempts. Sigh. Admittedly with Kansas City taking a big lead, it was hard for St. Louis to use its running game. But this might be the way of the world for Jeff Fisher's club going forward. You're probably better off avoiding any Rams rushers if you can.