Week 10 fantasy football barometer
DeMarco Murray, RB, DAL – If Felix Jones remains in the mix
after returning from injury it would hardly be the first time a
coach plays a less deserving veteran over a superior younger
player. However, while a timeshare can’t be ruled out, I’d have a
hard time not treating Murray as a top-10 fantasy back right now,
especially if his involvement as a receiver Sunday is a sign of
things to come. Murray looks like an absolute stud, and while
Dallas’ offense has been very disappointing, it should improve.
Jones has reached 5.0 YPC in just two of his past 16 games played.
Murray has averaged 6.3 or better in each of the last three
contests, the final coming against a Seattle team that entered with
the NFL’s top run defense. Murray’s 3.9 yards after contact average
leads the NFL (minimum 75 rushing attempts). He certainly appears
to be the real deal.
Julio Jones, WR, ATL – Jones is already a star and is well
on his way to being a future superstar – his 50-yard touchdown
Sunday, while triple-teamed, was absolutely ridiculous. And while
the Colts secondary is a joke and took terrible angles trying to
make a tackle, Jones’ 80-yarder was highly impressive as well. It’s
not a no-brainer or anything, but I’d prefer Jones over Roddy White
in fantasy leagues. If you remove the contest he left early with an
injury, Jones has averaged 94.6 yards per game this season, which
would rank fifth best in the NFL among active receivers (Kenny
Britt averaged more, but he’s on IR).
Roy Helu, RB, WAS – Helu served as the feature back in Week
9 and hauled in a whopping 14 catches on 17 targets. Washington’s
offense is definitely worse with John Beck starting over Rex
Grossman, but Helu looks like a third running-back option for
fantasy purposes – with the potential to be much more. Let’s just
hope a healthy Tashard Choice doesn’t randomly find his way into
Tim Tebow, QB, DEN – While there was some concern Tebow
could be benched in Week 9 after another weak performance, his
leash just got a lot longer after his showing in a victory over the
Raiders. Tebow totaled 242 yards and two touchdowns, and he did not
turn the ball over and was only sacked twice. It’s rare to see a
quarterback average nearly four more yards per rush attempt than
per pass, but such was the case Sunday (5.9 YPA versus 9.8 YPC).
Tebow has averaged 73.2 rushing yards as a starter during his brief
career. Michael Vick has averaged 54.0. For all his faults – he
really is tremendously inaccurate – Tebow still possesses
significant fantasy upside as long as he’s starting.
Ben Tate, RB, HOU – Tate doesn’t have a catch since Week 3
and has had a fumbling problem this season, but he’s obviously
quite talented and plays in the NFL’s best running system. Without
question he’d be a top-5 fantasy back if Arian Foster were to go
down; but even in a backup role, he has averaged 75.5 rushing yards
over his past four games and has surpassed 100 yards in two of his
past three. He’s a decent flex play even with Foster healthy.
Reggie Bush, RB, MIA – Bush has totaled 262 yards over his
past two games, averaging 7.5 yards per touch. The important aspect
is that Bush has remained heavily involved even with Daniel Thomas
back in action. While Bush hasn’t received 20 touches since Week 1,
his 4.9 YPC average is well above his career mark of 4.1, and he’s
on pace to approach 50 receptions.
Jake Ballard, TE, NYG – Ballard has averaged 68.6 yards over
his past four games, which would rank fourth among tight ends over
the entire season. He has also scored two touchdowns over that span
and has emerged as a TE1 for fantasy purposes. His two catches on
the Giants’ final drive Sunday – one on third down and 10 and also
the game-winning touchdown – were huge. Eli Manning clearly relies
on him, and the loss of Kevin Boss has proved meaningless; same
with Steve Smith. Eighteen of Ballard’s 23 catches this year have
gone for first downs, and his 17.2 YPR average ranks first among
Jordy Nelson, WR, GB – Nelson appears to be fairly volatile,
as he has recorded fewer than 55 receiving yards with no touchdowns
in three of eight games this year. Still, all receivers are
somewhat inconsistent, and even as Green Bay’s third receiver (at
least sometimes), he’s on pace to finish with 1,140 yards and 10
touchdowns. The fact he’s also on pace for fewer than 60 receptions
indicates he is reliant upon big plays, but with Aaron Rodgers
throwing him the ball, there shouldn’t be concern he will suddenly
become invisible. Nelson is a more than worthy WR3 for fantasy
Vincent Jackson, WR, SD – Jackson had not reached 50
receiving yards in a game since Week 4, but he erupted against the
Packers on Sunday for 141 yards and three touchdowns. He’s
seemingly always battling injuries, but even with Philip Rivers
having a down year, Jackson is still on pace to finish with 1,226
yards and 12 touchdowns. His second half could easily be much more
productive than his first, and at least more consistent. He remains
a top-10 fantasy wide receiver.
Brent Celek, TE, PHI – Celek averaged six catches and 63.3
yards over the past three games while also scoring two touchdowns.
More important, he was targeted nine times in each of those
contests and has clearly become more involved in the offense than
at any other time since Michael Vick took over as the starter. As a
result, he should be treated as a TE1 for fantasy purposes until
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, OAK – Heyward-Bey averaged 96.3
receiving yards in the four games prior to the Raiders’ Week 8 bye;
but for whatever reason, he exited the bye week as the fifth
receiver on the depth chart. No reasonable explanation has been
given, so this is either a random cover-up, or a decision by the
coaches that makes little sense on the surface. Either way,
Heyward-Bey has gone from a WR2 to a potential drop in fantasy
leagues. The best way to treat the Raiders’ receiving situation is
to take a wait-and-see approach, but it has been frustrating. As of
right now, Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford have more value than
Miles Austin, WR, DAL – I’m not sure if it’s good or bad
news that Austin’s latest hamstring pull was on a different leg
than the one that has plagued him throughout the 2011 season.
Either way, it’s not exactly encouraging. He’s looking at yet
another multiple-week absence, so it’s safe to say he’s going to go
down as one of the most disappointing fantasy players this
Curtis Painter, QB, IND – After posting a 4:0 TD:INT ratio
while averaging 9.8 YPA over Weeks 3 and 4, Painter has posted a
1:5 TD:INT ratio with a 4.7 YPA average over his last four games.
He will get another chance after being benched last week, but it’s
clear Painter will be leading one of the worst passing attacks in
Vernon Davis, TE, SF – After scoring 20 touchdowns over the
past two seasons, Davis has been a big disappointment in 2011. He
has been asked to block a lot more than normal with the 49ers
relying on a strong running game and an improved defense. San
Francisco’s schedule gets a bit tougher over the rest of the
season, so the team may be forced to throw more than they would
like. Davis a possible buy-low candidate – even in Alex Smith’s
down times, the two have had a good rapport.
Dallas Clark, TE, IND – Clark’s injury looks serious, and it
could cost him a few weeks or even the rest of the season. He was
already a fantasy disappointment beforehand, but the injury saps
him of any remaining short-term value. Be sure to find a fill-in –
or a replacement.
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