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What Did We Learn – Week 13

Marshawn Lynch is a legit Top 10 running back.
Lynch has stepped his game up this season, embracing the feature role on a team no one thought would be able to move the ball. With Tarvaris Jackson providing a modest passing threat, Lynch has chosen not to acknowledge that opposing defenses are stacking the box against him. On Thursday night, he torched the Philadelphia Eagles for 148 yards and a pair of scores, and had it not been for an upset stomach, he might have gone for 200 yards. He’s rushed for almost 600 yards in his past five games, with nine touchdowns in his last eight games. He should feast once again next week when the Seahawks host St. Louis, the league’s worst rushing defense.

Chris Johnson has remembered how to run the football.
This may not matter as much for this year, as most teams that drafted Johnson in the first round of their drafts probably didn’t do all that great. But it seems that, after weeks of under-achieving, Johnson has broken out once again. Johnson carried the ball 23 times on Sunday, racking up 153 yards and two scores of his own. More important than his numbers this game, however, was his trademark speed and quickness that have returned to him. Johnson makes for a very interesting keeper, and someone who will once again be highly regarded going into next season. If you’re lucky enough to have made the playoffs and have Johnson, he has a fantastic schedule remaining, with New Orleans, Indianapolis and Jacksonville ahead.

Reggie Bush is now a feature back.
Coming into the season, Bush was a mid-round target, slightly more interesting in points per reception leagues. The Miami Dolphins insisted that they thought Bush could be a feature back, but we’d heard that before. Plus they’d drafted Daniel Thomas, who had all the makings of a solid NFL runner. But when Thomas started slow out of the gate, it was Bush who began to solidify his role. In Week 13 against the Oakland Raiders, he ran for 100 yards and a score on 22 carries. And he should have plenty of opportunities to build on that effort, as he faces Philadelphia, Buffalo and New England the next three weeks.

Percy Harvin is picking up the slack for Adrian Peterson.
With Peterson out the past few weeks, Toby Gerhart has been the starting running back. But it’s been Harvin stepping into Peterson’s role as a playmaker, lining up in the backfield and taking screens out wide. Those screens act like a long handoff, getting him the ball in space, and allowing him to make plays in the open. On Sunday, Harvin ran the ball five times for 19 yards and caught eight passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. It’s clear that he has the confidence of quarterback Christian Ponder, but his role once Peterson returns is a mystery.

Tom Brady has Rob Gronkowski on his fantasy team.
That’s the only explanation. Gronkowski caught just five balls for 64 yards, but two scores, and he ran the ball once for two yards and a score. The rushing attempt was a swing pass that was technically a lateral, so don’t think that Gronkowski is going to start getting goal line carries. Gronkowski has been a stud all season long and obviously has Brady’s eye, especially in the red zone, where his massive frame can be used to box out defenders. Gronkowski might be the top tight end going into next season.

Dan Orlovsky likes throwing to Pierre Garcon.
Orlovsky, who wasn’t bad against the New England Patriots, was remarkably effective against the league’s worst pass defense. Garcon was targeted 12 times, catching nine balls for 150 yards and two touchdowns. All season, it’s looked as though Garcon has been on the same page first with Curtis Painter and then with Orlovsky. While he’s been hit or miss for much of the year, his 55 catches, 805 yards and six touchdowns, largely boosted by his Week 13 performance, have made him surprisingly productive.

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