Perhaps its the spread offense, or maybe the new breed of quarterback like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, but teams are throwing the ball downfield more and not to the running backs. Only three traditional running backs, Darren Sproles, Ray Rice and rookie Trent Richardson have been targeted more than four times per game this season. Dexter McCluster is more of a slot back and Marcel Reece an H-back, whose numbers will diminish with Darren McFadden back. Injuries have slowed the super-tight end's, with the "King Of Pain" Jason Witten running away as the most targeted at the position.
Week 14 is the beginning of the playoffs for many teams, crunch time baby! It's also the time of the year when we begin to see teams starting to rest starters for the post season. We also have to be concerned that the have nots will be taking a look at youngsters for next season. Most importantly, as we navigate December, every player has various bumps and bruises, just some are in worst shape that others.
Running backs continue to be a disappointing source of passing targets with only Darren McFadden and Darren Sproles averaging more than five per game. Fantasy rosters will be re-populated by the likes of Steven Jackson and Frank Gore this week with Trent Richardson and Albert Morris coming up on their bye week. Tight ends coming off bye include fantasy superstar Rob Gronkowski and Fred Davis among others, with underachieving Jermichael Finley along with his counterparts at Arizona, Cleveland and Washington enjoying a week ten bye. Don't forget Thursday night Colts and Jaguars when submitting lineups.
I haven't compared historical numbers, but fantasy owners just aren't getting the passing numbers (targets) to supplement the dreaded running back by committee. Ray Rice owners have quickly moved him back into starting lineups after his bye week. The Buffalo duo of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, the law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and fantasy god Arian Foster are also returning. Shonn Greene, Frank Gore, Stephen Jackson and the New England committee are on vacation in week nine. Tight ends Jermaine Greshmam, Dennis Pitta, Scott Chandler and Owen Daniels are back in starting lineups, with Dustin Keller, the struggling Vernon Davis and fantasy favorite Rob Gronkowski taking a seat this weekend.
Week 17 is a wild card when it comes to Fantasy Football. Some leagues are in their Super Bowl, some leagues are done, some use the last week as a tiebreaker and some use it as any other week. What can we learn from the final weeks of the season? Teams looking to next season are using the final weeks as an audition for next season, while those locked into a playoff berth are resting starters, creating a great deal of uncertainty.