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Fantasy Six Pack - Week 5

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This past Monday night I was paging through a major media site to get to one of my fantasy league pages. I stumbled across the headline, “Restored.” Under the headline were pictures of Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson . I just had to click through. Of course, it was an article written by a well-respected scribe who I happen to believe is one of the best, so I instantly became more curious.

It didn’t take long for me to understand the point that was being conveyed. The scribe quickly hammered home that only five quarterbacks scored 20-plus points in Week 4 while Adrian Peterson scored 26, which made his case that the best case scenario for fantasy owners is for the best running backs to play their expected role.

The first aspect that tickled my angry side was the fact that he used the ancient standard scoring format as the base for his argument. The last time I seriously touched that format (outside of mock drafts) was when I was 15 and figuring out fantasy scores with a newspaper. I really, truly feel for any fantasy owner still using that format.

The second aspect that made me feel like Ndamukong Suh was the fact that he purposely wrote the piece before Drew Brees suited up against the Miami Dolphins, at home, on Monday night. He knew that Brees would light up Miami, therefore he needed to get scribing fast before his running back-quarterback percentage escaped 20 percent. Then again, I probably would’ve done the same thing.

A few weeks back, I wrote a piece pretty much arguing the other side, which I have been doing for the past 10 years with little-to-no success, well at least according to the typical average draft position rankings every preseason. So I have decided the only way to score here is to keep the facts rolling and fresh. The proceeding will do just that.

One decade ago (2003), 13 running backs finished the season averaging 20 attempts or more per game. This season thus far, four running backs are accomplishing that same feat. One decade ago, 12 running backs averaged 85-plus yards rushing per game. This season just six can throw their name in to that hat. And, one decade ago 10 running backs eclipsed the double-digit touchdown mark on the ground. This season just five are on pace for excessive end zone ground celebrations.

My point here is simple. Don’t waste your time trying to reconstruct your thought process and roster with the belief that having the best running backs is the best approach every week. There is only one running back currently worth that statement in gold; no more. Currently that running back, the above mentioned Peterson, is literally untouchable in every league format.

Running backs restored? I don’t think so. It’s more like Peterson’s impervious value has been restored. But should we even be having this conversation, especially considering how great No. 1 overall Peterson is? It makes me wonder if analysts have just gone too far in trying to put running backs on too big of a pedestal. Maybe I will re-store that thought in 2014.

TARGET TALK

WEEK 4 TOP 5

Victor Cruz (16 targets): It looks as though Cruz is the only New York Giants wide receiver playing on Sundays. Of Eli Manning ‘s 217 passing yards, 164 of them went in Cruz’s direction. Cruz is the modern day version of Carl Pickens.

A.J. Green (15 targets): Green owners should actually be concerned. Opposing defenses seem to be figuring out how to prevent him from changing games. Yes, Green is getting targeted obsessively, but his catch rate is just a tick above 50 percent.

Tony Gonzalez (14 targets): Gonzalez’s breakout performance suggests that he is still a dangerous weapon and is indeed fantasy relevant.

Brandon Marshall (14 targets): While Marshall was targeted a lot, he should’ve seen even more Jay Cutler passes. The Chicago Bears were down most of the second half, and Cutler attempted 47 passes. Alshon Jeffery ‘s emergence (11 targets, 107 yards and a touchdown) may have played a part.

Antonio Brown (13 targets): It’s becoming more clear that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Brown have found something to continue to build off of. As bad as the Pittsburgh Steelers are as a team, their offense has found its stride and is fantasy relevant. Too bad the bye will likely breaks their rhythm.


WEEK 4 BOTTOM 5

Jimmy Graham (4 targets): At first glance, this looks like a fantasy concern. Breathe easy, though. Graham caught all four passes for 100 yards and scored two touchdowns. This just further proves my point from last week that the big tight end and his quarterback Drew Brees are virtually unstoppable. Alley-oop.

DeAndre Hopkins (3 targets): Andre Johnson was targeted 11 times. Any questions?

Kyle Rudolph (2 targets): No more Christian Ponder could spell agony for Rudolph owners. The big tight end was probably the only pass-catcher the small statured Ponder could spot down the field. Roll Matt Cassel.

Robert Meachem (1 target): For all those who thought Meachem was back as a fantasy threat, think again. Of the 413 yards quarterback Drew Brees threw for, the returning receiver accounted for zero. Coach Sean Payton has decided that Kenny Stills and Nick Toon are more valuable commodities to his football team.

Ryan Broyles (1 target): I was wrong about Broyles last week, and I apologize. I followed the conformed path and got burned. The good news here is that his performance suggests that tight end Brandon Pettigrew is back on the fantasy map. The Detroit Lions also recently signed Kevin Ogletree .

CATCH RATE

Antonio Gates (81 percent): Thanks to a new simplified offense, Gates and quarterback Philip Rivers have unearthed that offensive fairytale again. Gates is not only seeing passes fly his way in bunches, but they’re accurate spirals. He is on pace for a 100-catch season, which isn’t unrealistic considering the state of the San Diego receiving corps.

Tavon Austin (59 percent): Austin’s year-to-date catch rate is deceiving. His inconsistent tendencies through four games are becoming a concern. In games one and three, Austin recorded a catch rate of 86 percent. In games two and four, Austin recorded catch rates of 50 percent and 25 percent. To me it seems like the St. Louis Rams are trying so hard to incorporate Austin in to the offense at times that it’s backfiring. The fact that Chris Givens ‘ catch rate is only 48 percent also poses a concern.


DYNASTY CORNER

While USC’s Marquise Lee suffered a serious knee injury during the Trojans’ loss to Arizona State, several other wide receivers improved their draft stock in what is potentially shaping up to be one of the strongest wide receiver classes dynasty fantasy owners have seen in a while.

Clemson’s Sammy Watkins set the tone for the Tigers with a 64-yard touchdown reception early in their 56-7 shredding of Wake Forest. Watkins finished the day with six receptions for 113 yards. He is drawing comparisons to that of former teammate DeAndre Hopkins , who continues to be the Houston Texans’ most impactful addition and a fantasy sweetheart. Watkins would thrive in a spread-type offense where he could get isolation on a defensive back.

Texas A&M’s Mike Evans continues to add to his 2013 highlight reel, as he showed up big as Johnny Manziel ’s top target against Arkansas. Evans caught six passes for 116 yards, two of which went for touchdowns. At 6-foot-5, he is a wide receiver NFL teams will covet come draft day, especially if he continues to show he can beat the jam.

As good as Evans and Watkins were, the wide receiver who stole the show last week was Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis, who was matched up against Ohio State’s Bradley Roby all night. For those unfamiliar with Roby, he is regarded as a top-10 overall pick, and the top defensive back in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Abbrederis exploded for 10 receptions, 207 yards and a phenomenal 36-yard touchdown grab with Roby mauling him while the ball was in the air. The Wisconsin senior is projected out as a fifth-round pick, but with this performance on the national stage his draft stock will rise big time.

Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks continued his statistical barrage with nine receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns against Colorado. Cooks now leads all of college football with 52 receptions, 807 yards and nine touchdowns through five games. He is currently projected as a third-round prospect due to his 5-foot-10 size, but if he keeps putting up video game numbers teams may look past his undesired height.



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