What’s up weekend warriors? It’s time for another installment of Target(s) Practice. It’s hard to believe that we’re already a quarter of the way through the regular season and so far this year the only thing that’s been predictable is that all of your best fantasy players are going to get injured. At least that’s the case with my team and I’m sure it’s the case with many of yours. The good news about this fake sport is that there are always guys out there on the waiver wire, waiting to be snagged by savvy owners. We don’t make excuses in this game, we make moves. So let’s see if I can help you out.
Formidable, Fortuitous Week Four Footballers
Laurent Robinson: The ‘Boys scooped up former Ram, Robinson two weeks ago as an insurance policy for the injured Miles Austin. Starting this week after a solid week three effort in which he caught three passes for 49 yards on five targets, Robinson showed why he was so heavily hyped last year before his injury. Robinson tied Witten for the team lead in targets in week four with 10, catching seven of those passes for a team high 116 yards. Though Austin and Bryant will clearly be the most delectable in Big D, the injury concerns surrounding both players mean that Robinson is a solid add in deeper leagues, even though Austin hopes to be back after next week’s bye. If you have a spot to stash stop gap talent, here’s to you Mr. Robinson.
Matt Forte: For some reason I feel compelled to state the obvious. Forte is the Bears’ entire offense. I addition to gaining 205 yards on the ground, he once again led the team in targets with five. Because of his dominance, there is really no one worth owning on the bears’ receiving core (with the possible exception of Johnny Knox if you’re desperate). He has nine more receiving targets than any other Bears receiver.
Brandon Lloyd and Eric Decker: Awakening from his slumber, Lloyd, along with touted teammate Eric Decker, were the beneficiaries of a forced Orton air attack as the Broncos were down early to the world champion Packers. Lloyd lovers were rewarded as he led the team in catches, yards, and targets, putting up eight for 136 and 11 respectively. Those doting on Decker should not be disappointed either, as it was clear that a healthy and productive Lloyd didn’t denote despair. Decker was second on the team with ten targets, catching five passes for 56 yards and two scores. He also had one carry for a yard and he now has 22 targets over the last two weeks. You have to like both guys going forward as the Broncos are sure to be throwing it down, even if they’d rather not.
Julio Jones: Many experts touted Jones over Green in preseason predictions, only to be disappointed by a hapless Matt Ryan. Finally, much to the delight of Ryan owners, he woke up a bit this week and Julio emerged as his workhorse. Catching eleven passes for 127 yards, Jones also bested former target champion of the universe Roddy White after earning 17 targets to his 11. Though it’s too early to suggest that he’s Ryan’s new shower bunny, his production over the last two weeks (17 catches, 242 yards) gives owners the green light to plug him into their starting lineups. Oh yeah, and Jones is third among receivers over the last three weeks in total targets with 32, behind only Welker and Jeremy Maclin.
Antonio Brown: This is the third time in four weeks that I have written about Antonio Brown despite the fact that he is not on the major networks’ fantasy radars (actually I just saw his name on waiver adds for ESPN). After a game in which he commanded a team high 10 targets (six more than any Steeler), Brown now leads the team in total targets for the year (33 to Wallace’s 31). Brown caught five of those targets for 67 yards and it should be very clear that he is officially the team’s number two option in the passing game, especially after Ward and Sanders combined for a total of two catches for 29 yards and six targets. The downside of Brown is that he hasn’t gotten into the endzone, a problem that will inevitably change sooner rather than later. Roethlisberger’s boot is a bit of a concern, but if he’s healthy enough to play you’ve got to believe that the coaching staff will figure out it’s o-line issues. There’s too much pride in that organization to stand pat. He continues to put up WR3 numbers and he could elevate to WR2 status. Those who look for safety and security in their fantasy flex positions should listen to the logistics and ship their fantasy dreams with Brown. Ok, I’m officially done with the UPS puns.
Montario Hardesty: After a solid week three performance by Hardesty, Hillis owners were hoping their boy would still be the undisputed king of the hill. However, it looks like young talent Hardesty has hemmed on Hillis’ mountaintop, earning seven carries to Peyton’s 10. The good news for Hillis owners is that Hardesty averaged only slightly more than three YPC to Peyton’s 4.6. The most disconcerting numbers came from Hardesty’s command of receiving targets of which he garnered 9 (5 catches, 49 yards) to Hillis’ 6 (5 catches 23 yards). As a fellow Hillis owner, in multiple leagues I might add (keeper from last year), I want to believe that the reported 10-12 pounds Hillis lost as a result of his strep was what resulted in a lighter workload. With a bye week coming hope, hopefully Hillis can answer that every elusive question, where’s the beef and gain some pounds. Regardless, adding Hardesty is a good decision. I put him third behind Ryan Torain and Steven Ridley for priority waiver pickups this week.
Jermaine Gresham: Gresham is tied with Finley and Gronkowski with 20 targets over the last three weeks. He was second to teammate A.J. Green on Sunday with seven, catching four passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. He made some filthy catches in this game, most notably his touchdown grab, and it seems like he is quickly turning into Dalton’s comfort blanket. Despite all of the hype I and others gave Fred Davis, I’m starting to like him a bit more going forward. Unlike Davis,Gresham doesn’t have a bye this week and he doesn’t have anyone else to compete with at his position. I like him a lot against Jacksonville as they’ve been torched by Jimmy Graham, Greg Olson, and Dustin Keller over the last three weeks respectively.
PrestonParker: Even though I only classified him as a player to watch, some yahoo berated me by saying that he doesn’t even belong on this list. But three weeks later, the schoolboy himself is the Bucs leading receiver and anyone who watched the game on Monday saw that Parker was clearly a big part of the Bucs’ gameplan. A few facts to consider: Parker is averaging 7.1 Fpts. per game in standard leagues to Mike Williams’ 5.4. He also leads the Bucs in receiving with 16 receptions for 223 yards and a touchdown. Though he has only been targeted 21 times to Williams’ 30, he has 68 more receiving yards and one more reception than his highly touted teammate. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice shame on you. Against a very vulnerable ‘Niners secondary, Parker could be a cagey bye week plug in this week.
Detroit Lions: Last week we talked about Titus Young’s potential emergence as the Lions’ #2 receiver and though that didn’t change much with the stats this week, I think we really need to recognize that Pettigrew is clearly the #2 overall target for Stafford. What can I say? The man Pettigrew on me this week with his 9 target (2nd to Johnson), six reception, 64 yard performance. Supposed target vulture Scheffler laid eggs in every category aside from his one measly target, and it seems safe to say that Pettigrew is here to stay. Burleson owners should be a bit concerned after an nearly identical performance this week as he had in week three (2 for 16yrds. vs. 2 for 12 yrds. last week) and once again, Titus garnered more targets (5 to Burls’ 4) and was more productive (3 for 41 yrds.). Instead of once loving the prospect of playing Burleson as a solid flex guy I no longer feel comfortable with Young or Burleson as long as Pettigrew is the one cleaning up Calvin Johnson’s refuse.
Nate Washington: I’m putting him back on the list this week to tell Washington owners not to panic. Though he did come back to earth a bit last week, owners have to remember one very important fact: Matt Hasselbeck completed 10, that’s right, 10 passes! If Washington is still available in your league you need to take him. If he’s owned by some schmuck who doesn’t do his homework, try to make an offer for him. My bet is that you won’t be disappointed.
Premature Echampulation-don’t crown these guys just yet.
Jared Cook: Cook was a guy on a lot of peoples’ fantasy radars and with a solid week four performance we are all hoping that he will turn into what we expected him to when we drafted him. However, beware of his two catch, 93 yard and one TD outing. Despite his team high six targets last week, Cook has only a total of 13 targets on the year. Here are some names of guys who have as many or more targets than Cook this year: Anthony Fasano, Leonard Pope, Randy McMichael, Daniel Fells, Brent Celek, Heath Miller, do I really need to go on? Now, I’m not saying he doesn’t have potential, especially with Britt out for the year, but I need to see more than one productive week before I pick him up, let alone plug him into my lineup.
Devin Aromashodu: Those who look at total fantasy points will think that Aroma’s 9.4 points smell pretty good. However, be aware that he only had one catch and that he was only targeted twice. Also, the Vikings are one errant pass in the turf from McNabb away from Shanahaning him and who knows what Ponder will do? We are only left to wonder.
James Casey: Ok, I’ll admit that I plugged Casey last week and this week he did nothing. What can I say? I wanted to believe, but one target for one catch and eight yards is nothing to believe in. They are using him more often as a fullback and it looks like his production will be game plan based. P.S. Walter and Jones combined for 0 yards and 0 receptions on two targets in Johnson’s absence. It’s hard to say who will step up. Stay tuned.
Deion Branch: After straight killin’ it in the first two weeks, Branch has fallen far from the tree over the last two, catching a total of one pass for four yards. If you played him last week, at least he got you a td, but his four total targets over the last two weeks are concerning. I do believe that he will emerge every now and then with big games, but in my opinion, consistency is what is most important in fantasy and I just don’t see him being consistent (Ocho has been more productive these last two weeks). If I were you, I would sell him while he still holds some value.