G’day mates. Let’s put another win on the barbie. Two thumbs up to all of you who get the allusion to one of my all-time favorite movies, Dumb and Dumber—a true stroke of Farrelly brothers’ genius. I’m not sure exactly why I’ve got that film on my mind, but sometimes this fake sport can make you feel pretty dumb. For instance, I’m currently lamenting my dumb decision to start Rashard Mendenhall in the flex over Jordy Nelson and Doug Martin, a decision that ultimately ended up costing me a win. Ironically, it’s the frustration and its subsequent release that keeps us coming back to this fake sport. There’s something musical about the whole thing. It’s like golf in the way that a bad lineup decision can be like a dick duff drive in the dirt (a la Mendenhall) but a risk reward play like my decision to start Stephen Hill over Steven Ridley (different league) can feel like a five iron pin high. But regardless of where you stand, there is still a lot of season left to go. In a ten team, two quarterback league last year, I started off 1-5, only to lose by a point in the championship game (four team playoff). I’m sure I’ve lost out after 5-1 starts as well, so I think we could all learn from the great philosopher Lloyd Christmas. “Week six, huh? Well, see ya later.” It’s onward and upward from here.
This week you’ll need to find replacements for Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Jacob Tamme, Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Antonio Gates, and Malcom Floyd. That’s a lot of studs to make up for so we’re going to have to get pretty deep in this edition of target breakdown. Also, in an effort to avoid redundancy for my loyal followers, please see previous weeks’ write-ups on strong bye-week fillers such as Kendall Wright, Stephen Hill, Dominik Hixon, Andre Roberts, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Kyle Rudolph, Dennis Pitta, Justin Blackmon, Donnie Avery, T.Y. Hilton, Fred Davis and company. I still like those guys but I’m going to try to keep things fresh. As I said, I’m going to get pretty deep in this session, so let’s start drilling
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.
Dez Bryant- I’ve been looking at Bryant like a poor man’s Julio Jones—a feast or famine player whose fantasy production hinges on what he does with the four to five receptions (ceiling) he’s likely to get in any given game. The Cowboys are a mess. They don’t know where or when to line up. The receivers don’t know where to go, and Bryant is arguably the most culpable culprit. But to Romo, it doesn’t seem to matter. He keeps feeding Bryant the ball, and despite how questionable the Cowboys look in real life, the numbers suggest that Bryant is going to be feasting more than fasting. Leading the NFL with 15 targets, Bryant caught 13 for 95 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. He should have capitalized on a two-point conversion as well, but characteristically, he dropped the ball. What I’m noticing from Bryant is actually a steady increase in production and targets, despite his miscues on the field. Before the bye, Bryant was second on the team (Witten) with 13 targets, eight of which he caught for 105 yards and he more than doubled up the typically more consistent Austin in the target department (6). The game before he had one fewer target than Miles (8 to 9) and caught six passes for sixty-two yards. In summary, Dez’s production is increasing and he’s becoming PPR relevant with the number of targets he’s seen of the last few games. The ‘Boys will most certainly need to keep passing with Murray and Jones dinged up this weekend and you have to like the matchup against the Carolina Kittens.
Jeremy Maclin– Mac regained daddy status after his six catch, 130 yard, one touch, ten target performance (all team highs). It’s been a frustrating season for Maclin owners, but those who have waited patiently through his ailments are finally being rewarded. If you look at Maclin’s production over the last three weeks, you can see that a positive correlation between his health and his production is undeniable. Week five, the first week that he was really healthy, Maclin posted a mediocre statline of five catches and 39 yards. However, he did lead the team in targets (8) and now that he is fully recovered I expect him to be the most productive and consistent Eagles receiver. I actually like that he has a bye week coming up as a desperate owner may be willing to part with him for less than he is worth. Deeper teams may want to set up a package deal and take a stab at Maclin this week.
Antonio Gates– Gates finally swung in his owners’ favor this week, catching six of his 10 targets for 81 yards and two touchdowns. He, like any other Charger, did the bulk of his damage in only one half. Imagine the numbers he could have put up if Rivers was able to dislodge Elvis Dummerville’s foot from his hind quarters before the end of the fourth quarter. His performance is certainly a welcome sight for owners who have been faithful in starting the one time beast now beleaguered. As a not so casual observer, I have noticed that Gates has looked quicker over the last three games or so and I expect him to be a steady hand going forward. Unfortunately, he’s one of many on bye this week so you’ll need to wait yet another week before plugging him in. If Kyle Rudolph is available, he’s my go-to backup. Though he has only posted 87 receiving yards over the last three games, Rudolph is third among TEs in that span when it comes to targets and his five touchdowns on the season leave him alone at the top in that category.
Sidney Rice- No one is going to mistake him for Jerry, but this version of Rice-aroni could be a nice side dish this Thursday and beyond. His soft tissue shoulder injuries gave me a lot of concern early in the year, but he actually seems to be holding up pretty well and so is his rookie quarterback. While Rice’s ceiling is never going to be through the roof, he has been fairly consistent over the last few weeks, posting 12 catches for 189 yards and a score over that time. His six targets tied him with Golden Tate for the lead on Sunday and I think you can definitely do worse for a desperation bye-week filler. He’s pretty much a safe bet for about four catches and fifty yards. Like I said, it’s not a lunar ceiling but you’re no lunatic for giving him a shot, especially with six teams on bye this week.
Denarius Moore– Fantasy owners desperate enough to cry on the shoulder of Maury Povich may want to first consider drying their eyes with Denarius. I think it’s safe to say that Moore is Palmer’s favorite target (14 more targets than 2nd best on the team) and though he’s somewhat of a one trick pony, Moore stores decent value for a low price. Leading the way with nine targets on Sunday, Moore caught five for 104 yards and a touch. He has big play ability any time he touches the ball and he’s actually tied for 21st in fantasy PPG among WRs with 10.2 (standard), despite catching only two touchdowns. P.S. the Raiders have a solid matchup against the Jags at home this weekend. I like; I love it; I want some Moore of it.
Mario Manningham– I like that Mario is getting more involved in the offense every week and he continues to build chemistry with Alex Smith. He’s not the worst bye-week hail Mary, and I actually think he’s a safer play than Gordon or Givens, but his ceiling is pretty low as the third receiving option in San Francisco and his production on Sunday was likely due in large part to the ‘Niners trailing big. His season stats are certainly not super; Mario has 33 targets on the year, 11 behind Crabtree, six fewer receptions (24) and 79 fewer yards (258) but over the last three games, Mario’s been making a push to close the gap. In that span Manningham is tied with Crabtree in targets (20), has one more reception (12), nine fewer yards (145) and the same number of scores (1). Manningham actually led all 49ers with 10 targets on Sunday, catching five for 72 yards. I wouldn’t be shocked if “The Plumber” usurps Crabtree as Smith’s #2 behind V.Davis by the end of the year and he’s not a horrible play against Seattle where they may look to Manningham for a matchup advantage.
Josh Gordon– Flash Gordon has been burning defenders over the last two weeks, averaging 36.2 yards per catch in that span. I was a somewhat harsh on him in my write-up of fallen comrade Jordan Norwood last week, but with yet another Browns receiver biting the dust, the time is right for Gordon to assert himself as Weeden’s right-hand man. That being said, his prodigious YPC is actually a bit concerning to me as a number that high is simply not sustainable. Gordon does lead the league in YPC with 22.8 on the year (all positions) but unfortunately you don’t get fantasy points for stats like that. His 12 catches on the year (128th) and his 26 targets (85th) leave much to be desired. That being said, half his targets have come over the last three weeks and those who are looking for upside may consider taking a flier on Gordon, especially against Indy this Sunday.
Brandon Myers– With a handful of notable TE1’s on the bench and a nice matchup against the Jags coming up on Sunday, Myers should no longer by mired in the waiver wire. While he’s not going to go Michael Myers on the competition, he does rank 10th among TE’s in receiving yards on the year (290) despite being only one of two TEs in the top ten to play fewer than five games (Olson). He’s also 18th in receptions (21) and posts an absurdly high target to catch ratio at 88% (21 of 24). He’s currently averaging nearly five targets a game and I like him as a sneaky plug and play this week against the Jags.
Chris Givens– With Amendola ailing, can anyone on the Rams roster be a dependable receiving option? In short, I think that answer is “no, not really”, but those in very deep leagues should take notice of Givens’ big play ability in a fairly serviceable offense. Over the last three games Givens is averaging an astonishing 37.2 YPC, amassing 188 yards on only five catches. Givens also has a touchdown in that span, a 51 yard jaunt against the Cards in week 5. This past week, Givens led the Rams with seven targets, catching three for 85 yards. With so many studs out this week, I like Givens as a high upside guy in passer friendly matchup against the Packers this weekend.
Marlon Moore– The former undrafted free agent out of Fresno State saw his first action of the year against the Rams on Sunday, catching all three of his targets for 46 yards and a score. His four targets were good for fourth on the team and that’s pretty much where his ceiling is going to be in terms of options in the passing game. Though Tannehill is improving each week, Davone Bess, a receiver clearly ahead of Moore in the pecking order, remains a borderline fantasy prospect. There’s simply more fish in the sea. Leave the Marlon off the hook for now.
Michael Jenkins– Jenkins put up solid numbers on Sunday, catching six of his 10 targets (3rd on team) for 67 yards and a score. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that this type of production will in any way be sustainable. Jenkins has caught four passes for 39 yards combined in his previous two games and his production was partly due to the sheer volume of passes coming from Ponder as the Vikes’ trailed throughout the game. I’m still holding out hope for Jerome Simpson, but even if he misses more time, Jenkins can’t be trusted at all from a fantasy standpoint.
Rueben Randle– Zero catches, zero yards, zero targets. The Giants didn’t need to pass a whole lot but with Hixon healthy and Nicks back in the picture, the talented rookie is nothing more than a stash at this point.