Hey gang. I hope I find you basking in the glow of victory this fine Tuesday. Week ten has come and gone and we’re officially entering the final push for the fantasy playoffs. This week we witnessed some pretty crazy stuff, from concussed QBs to the first regular season tie since Donovan McNabb shamelessly admitted his ignorance of the NFL rule book. Some dormant dudes woke up this week and I’ve been tracking a few trends that could work in your favor come playoff time, so even if you’re swallowing gulps of defeat in form of Genny Cream Ale, why not stick a taco or two down that man sized gullet of yours? Dust yourself off and play on playas.
Explanation of Target Breakdown Scoring System
In addition to my comments, my enthusiasm for each player’s potential will be measured out of five tacos. Since we live in America where more is better, the more tacos I rate a player, the more I like him. Why tacos you ask? Well our goal in this fake world is to fill our rosters with so many dominating players that we effortlessly pummel our hapless victims. This pummeling inevitably manifests itself into delight equivalent to a vinegar stroke. If you’ve ever watched The League you’ll know what vinegar strokes are and since this is a family show, I won’t go into an in-depth explanation. You’ll also know that the term was coined by “Taco,” which provides the logic for my use of tacos as positive denotations. That and the fact that I obviously love a good taco. It makes sense in my head.
Danny Amendola– The PPR powerhouse is resurrected! Owners who held onto Amendola through his injury are saying prayers of thanks after his eleven catch 102 yard performance against the tough Niners defense on Sunday. To add to the hype, Amendola caught an 80 yard reception in overtime, a play that would have put him near the top in fantasy points if it weren’t called back due to an illegal formation. It’s pretty clear who Bradford’s favorite target is and it’s also pretty clear that the coaching staff considers Amendola the Starsky to Steven Jackson’s Hutch. Regardless of what others are calling him, you can simply call him an every week starter.
Hakeem Nicks: Notoriously nicked up, Hakeem looked pretty healthy on Sunday, badgering the Bengals for a team high of nine catches, 75 yards and fourteen targets. Unfortunately for Nicks owners, while Hakeem looks healthy, Eli looks anemic. On the bright side, the two will get plenty of time to gel before their divisional playoff rematch with Green Bay in week 12. Nicks owners should be happy, and with added time to lick his wounds, Nicks and the Giants should be ready to start some fires.
Kyle Rudolph– Rudolph the redzone reindeer finally took a break from making goose eggs in Santa’s toy shop, leading the Vikes in targets this past week with nine. He caught seven of those passes for 64 yards and a score though I’m willing to bet his production was all for naught for many owners, including myself, who sat him on the bench this week (I played Olsen instead). His numbers, though not even that outstanding, essentially equaled his efforts over the previous four games (8 catches, 73 yards, one touchdown) so the question is whether or not Rudolph is truly back. I’m sure Rudolph benefited from the absence of Percy as well as AP’s beastly rushing effort and with the Vikes on bye, they’re expecting Harvin back for the next game. Personally, I’m not ready to throw him in my fantasy lineup just yet as I’m also not sold on Ponder. The Vikes also have a brutal matchup with the Bears in week 12. In short, I’d sell Rudolph for an upside guy like Alexander, Robinson, Shorts, or even Josh Gordon at WR or Daniel Thomas, J. Bell, or Marcel Reece at RB if there are any suitors provided you have depth at tight end. I don’t think you want to deal with the headache.
Denario Alexander– Denario was squashing Tampa Troopas like Mario on mushrooms this Sunday, catching five of his team high seven targets for 134 yards and an 80 yard score. In only his third game of the season, Alexander has gotten better every week and he’s looking like the receiver they hoped Robert Meachem would be. He was also one of the more productive players in the “I’d rather get kicked in the balls than watch this” bowl a week ago against the Browns, hauling in three passes for 61 yards. He has the flash to take it deep and with Rivers at least capable of slinging the rock all over the globe, Alexander deserves some serious scrutiny in the flex department when the Bolts take on the Broncos next week.
Laurent Robinson– Robinson finds himself atop the target big board this week with 15, snagging nine for 77 yards. Fellow teammate, consummate deep threat, and dude in the running for coolest name, Cecil Shorts III didn’t do too bad either, catching six of his 13 targets for 105 yards and a score. The numbers for both players were undoubtedly inflated due to the Colts stampeding to an early lead, but let’s be honest, this has not been an uncommon theme in the past, nor will it be going forward. I think we all agree on how terrible the Jags are. The good thing about fantasy football is that we don’t really care about little things like a team’s wins and losses. In fact, playing from behind will more than likely increase the value of both of these guys. It’s also interesting to note that MJD’s undersized understudy, Rashad Jennings, failed to record a catch on his only target of the game. Since Robinson returned last week, Jennings has a combined three catches for seven yards on five targets. Those passes are leaving the incapable hands of Jennings and going to the suppler, stickier, and generally more savory hands of Laurent Robinson. I’ll put it this way, the way Rex Ryan feels about feet is the way Blaine Gabbert feels about Laurent Robinson’s hands. Expect this trend to continue. For the record, I like Shorts and Robinson as flex players—Shorts a little more in standard leagues as he’s more of a deep threat playmaker, and Robinson a bit more in PPR leagues, as he’s the—dare I say—steady hand.
Donald Jones– I rostered Jones after Nelson went down, hoping that he and Fitz would fulfill at least a shred of the potential they have as offensive weapons. That wasn’t the case however, and I soon dropped Jones to the waiver wire wayside. However, Jones and that Buffalo offense have stepped up a bit over the last few weeks and Jones’ value is trending upward. Against the Pats on Sunday, Jones followed up a nine target game with a ten target performance, catching six for 74 yards and a touchdown. Over their last three games, Jones’ production has actually been slightly better than Stevie’s. In that span, Donald has 24 targets to go along with 16 catches for 186 yards and two scores to Stevie’s 23, 14, 186, and 1 respectively. With Miami focusing on stopping the run and the potential loss of Fred Jackson, I like Donald Jones as a sneaky flex play this Thursday night.
Greg Olsen– Olsen has been a frustrating player to own these last two seasons as he’s shown flashes of brilliance sandwiched between bouts of iniquity. He showcased the former on Sunday however, catching a team high nine passes on a team high ten targets for 102 yards and two touchdowns. While endorsing any mid-level tight end this season is like trying to burst a piñata with a toothpick, Olsen has been steady, though unspectacular, since the bye. The word out of Carolina’s camp is that Cam was getting tunnel vision for Steve Smith and ignoring Olsen who was getting open with regularity. They’ve worked on that and it’s starting to show, though until this week, Olsen’s numbers haven’t been off the charts. He’s caught 17 passes for 173 yards and two scores over the last three, the bulk of which came this Sunday. It’s also fair to note that the Broncos are atrocious when it comes to defending tight ends (3rd worst), so that could have certainly played a role in his success. Either way, Olsen is back in the mix for positions 6-12 in the TE1 conversation and he’s available in a lot of leagues.
Jason Avant– My endorsement of Avant has nothing to do with his one catch for negative one yard on two targets on Sunday. Instead, it has everything to do with Maclin’s back injury and Vick’s brain injury. If both guys are out, Foles will be thrust into the starting role and with the coaches preaching ball security to no end this week, he will surely be checking down when in doubt. Insert Avant, a crisp route runner who is a checker downer’s best friend. Particularly if Maclin misses time, Avant will be a sneaky flex play, particularly in PPR leagues. Even with Maclin and Vick healthy, in the two games prior, Avant caught a combined ten passes for 101 yards. Not a bad play, particularly in PPR leagues.
if Vick and/or Maclin are out
Jarius Wright– Ready for some hyperbole? Will the next Percy Harvin please stand up? Not so fast, but the speedy fourth rounder from Arkansas did his best impression while filling in for the injured MVP candidate. In Harvin’s stead, Wright wrangled in three of his five targets for 65 yards and a score. He also notched one rush for three yards. If you have heard of this guy before, you’re actually a larger football degenerate than I am, and if you haven’t, it’s because this was his season debut. There’s not a lot to go on here but Wright is clearly talented and the fact that we haven’t seen much of him is more than likely due to the fact that the staff sees him performing a Harvin type role and with Harvin healthy, there’s simply been no reason to unleash the beast. While he had a nice day, the Vikes are on bye this week and if Harvin’s healthy he’ll likely relegate Wright to right bench. Harvin’s status is worth keeping an eye on though as Wright provides a nice upside spark to fantasy lineups if Harvin can’t go.
when Harvin is out
Mohamed Sanu– Right now, unless you’re in a 16 team league, Sanu is not for you. However, the sizeable speedster out of Rutgers is worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks. Sanu found the endzone for the first time against the Giants on Sunday, making a spectacular, Hakeem Nicks type of catch. He has been getting more involved in the offense these last few weeks and on Sunday he was second on the team with six targets, catching four for 47 yards and a score. The wide receiver waters are a bit muddied in Cinci, so I don’t blame you if you want to avoid the situation all together, but it’s clear that the coaching staff is still looking for that number two next to A.J. Green. By all accounts, Binns and Tate have been disappointing at best, and Hawkins, though solid, is more of a slot receiver. Therefore, the stage is set for Sanu to Kung-Fu his counterparts. Be patient grasshopper, but be ready to strike when the time is right.