Fantasy Football On Target: What Julio Jones' injury means for the Falcons

by Tim Heaney on October 8, 2013 @ 11:57:25 PDT

 

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KFFL Target Data

Targets and touches can influence a fantasy football player's value, but utilization totals fluctuate week to week, depending on game and roster circumstances. In Fantasy Football On Target, we dissect conditions to determine whether target trends are patterns or flukes.

For a complete listing of targets and touches, check out our Statistics Analyzer and Utilizations pages.

Find more fantasy football risers in our Fantasy Football Waiver Wire.

Week 5 utilization leaders
 Rk
Player
Tm
Wk 5
1
Ray Rice
BAL
34
2
Jamaal Charles
KCC
31
3
Pierre Thomas
NOS
28
4
LeSean McCoy
PHI
28
5
Willis McGahee
CLE
28
6
Arian Foster
HOU
26
7
Knowshon Moreno
DEN
24
8
Eddie Lacy
GBP
24
9
Fred Jackson
BUF
23
10
BenJarvus Green-Ellis
CIN
20
11
Maurice Jones-Drew
JAC
20

Running backs

The Baltimore Ravens' run game hasn't flown, but they made no bones about feeding their stud against a steady ground defense. Ray Rice is off the injury report following his hip ailment, so return Bernard Pierce to the handcuff/desperation bin.

Three of Pierre Thomas' biggest statistical games have come against the Chicago Bears (first two in 2007 and '08). The New Orleans Saints decided to slow the game down and keep the Bears off the field. PT should continue in this flex-worthy role with Mark Ingram (toe) hobbled and essentially a dud.

WAIVER WIRE: Willis McGahee needed three chances to score from the 1 and failed to on another goal-to-go possession. Still, he's the closest thing the Cleveland Browns have to a featured back. Expect plenty of work, especially with Brian Hoyer (knee) done, but also a lot of mediocre yards-per-tote averages. Maybe, however, he'll start running a bit better as he gains more steam. He was essentially signed off the street, after all.

Ben Tate was utilized just nine times (17 last two weeks), and his threat to Arian Foster's workload is waning, if not already stopped. The Houston Texans will rely consistently on both to their respective degrees, though, given the problems surrounding Matt Schaub.

There'll be weeks when Eddie Lacy loses some touches to Johnathan Franklin. Week 5 wasn't one of them. The Green Bay Packers controlled the clock in the second half, and Lacy averaged a solid 4.3 per carry on the day. The Pack set out to embrace the run more in 2013, and though he won't dominate the efforts every week, Lacy looks like he's on his way to holding RB2 standards each week. If Franklin's costly fumble leads to more issues, he could slide behind James Starks (knee) in the near future.

If not for a breakaway 54-yard scoring scamper, C.J. Spiller would've been a dud. Fred Jackson leads this backfield for the moment, yet Spiller's flash of his old self says it may be a good time to sell the elder back. EJ Manuel's knee injury and Thaddeus Lewis' ascension to starter mean that the Buffalo Bills will face plenty of stacked fronts, so it could take awhile for Spiller to regain his first-round luster.

Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice
Rice once again cooking

Despite his sloppy performance, keeping Tom Brady off the field was probably in the Cincinnati Bengals' wishes Sunday. Thusly, they turned to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard (16 utilizations). Law Firm isn't worth dropping yet because there'll be plenty of instances like this one. If he doesn't score a touchdown, he typically doesn't do as much with his allotment as Bernard does, though.

  • WAIVER WIRE: Zac Stacy's performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars has earned him at least another week as the lead bruiser. The St. Louis Rams needed something, and he at least did that with a 5.6 YPC. They'll mix in Daryl Richardson (13 touches Sunday), Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead, maybe, and Stacy might not be on the field if they have to mount a comeback, but Stacy has the momentum moving forward.
  • WAIVER WIRE: Another PPR riser is Brandon Bolden, who has the Shane Vereen (wrist) role locked down until the incumbent returns (earliest Week 11). LeGarrette Blount's involvement is tied to Stevan Ridley's (knee) availability.
  • David Wilson (neck) has been ruled out for Thursday Night Football. The New York Giants re-signed Da'Rel Scott to pair with Brandon Jacobs in the event Wilson misses time. Not much punch in this backfield, but Scott has flashed utility as the third-down/passing-down back and is the better PPR gamble. The less than ideal goal-liner Jacobs needs a fine matchup in which to maximize his plodding style. Plus, it helps Scott that the 0-5 Giants don't find themselves in many clock-killing situations.
  • Chris Johnson only received 10 carries on Sunday but had five targets. With Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, Johnson could see more check-downs and dump-offs because Fitz is less likely to challenge downfield than the injured Jake Locker (hip, knee) would. Maybe this is the outlet for production CJ?K's owners have been begging for.
  • WAIVER WIRE: Bilal Powell remains the lead New York Jets back, but his 14 utilizations gave way to a returning Mike Goodson (five) and Chris Ivory (four). Powell's domination over the playbook will start to fade more heavily. Goodson and Ivory make decent pickups, with the former the PPR preference. The latter boasts the most upside of the trio.
  • The Miami Dolphins' devotion to Daniel Thomas isn't the only thing holding back Lamar Miller (seven utils). The preseason sleeper hasn't proven capable of creating big plays on his own; he's leaning on the O-line to create holes. That's terrible timing given this front five's woes. Buying low -- subterranean -- on the more talented Miller isn't a bad idea, but it's not going to be a team-saving move for fantasy players anytime soon. Will the bye week help them straighten things out?

Wide receivers

Week 5 utilization leaders
 Rk
Player
Tm
Wk 5
1
Mike Wallace
MIA
16
2
Alshon Jeffery
CHI
13
3
Rueben Randle
NYG
13
4
Robert Woods
BUF
13
5
DeSean Jackson
PHI
12
6
Hakeem Nicks
NYG
12
7
Victor Cruz
NYG
12
8
Golden Tate
SEA
11
9
Julio Jones
ATL
11
10
Dez Bryant
DAL
10
11
Cecil Shorts
JAC
10
12
Andre Johnson
HOU
10
13
Steve Smith
CAR
10
14
Randall Cobb
GBP
10

Mike Wallace caught just seven of his 16 looks. The Dolphins can't protect Ryan Tannehill, and Wallace hasn't backed up his notion that he's more than a go-deep guy. He had a solid game, though, even for his lack of execution, but enough flaws exist with him and his system to back off on buying low.

Alshon Jeffery isn't yet better than Brandon Marshall, but he's trying to make a case with his two-week dominance (24 looks, 15 catches, 325 yards, two scores). Marshall (five targets) was double-covered by the Saints and has hinted, but not cried, that he needs the rock more. They'll probably placate him in the coming weeks, but Jeffery is showing that both can display fantasy WR1 ability in the same week within Marc Trestman's setup.

WAIVER WIRE: The Giants haven't been using Brandon Myers much in the last three weeks; they're probably asking him to stay in and block more because of their offensive line troubles. Of course, they weren't using Rueben Randle much until his 6-96-2 explosion in Week 5. New York's lack of a cohesive run game should prompt them to keep using the breakthrough candidate.

WAIVER WIRE: Catch-22 for Robert Woods' value: Stevie Johnson (back) is day-to-day, and Woods is earning weekly fantasy consideration with at least eight targets in each of the last three weeks. But Lewis is taking over Buffalo Bills snaps, and though he looks to possess similar traits to Manuel, it's risky to think Lewis will display the same underwhelming but somewhat useful effectiveness in the passing game. Still, Woods has enough juice to be a low-end WR3 for the near future.

WAIVER WIRE: Though the wideouts aren't a major part of the Seattle Seahawks offense, Golden Tate is Russell Wilson's most consistently targeted option. He has 26 targets over the last three weeks. Is he still available? His downfield ability can really get going if Wilson takes more shots.

WAIVER WIRE: Julio Jones's foot injury could cost him the season. If his second opinion holds, the Atlanta Falcons will have to deploy Harry Douglas, a modest free-agent grab, as a starter. Roddy White (hamstring, ankle) has to heal before fully taking advantage. Drew Davis and Kevin Cone aren't worth a look yet. Not so fast on the blind Tony Gonzalez upgrade, either. More below.

Sometimes, having more options in the offense can help. Justin Blackmon's return, thusly, can only boost Cecil Shorts, who had been getting plenty of target but also defensive attention. Chad Henne's ascension due to Blaine Gabbert's hamstring injury should also improve the Jacksonville Jaguars' aerial makeup.

  • Danny Amendola's nine looks cut into the work of Julian Edelman (five) and Kenbrell Thompkins (four), even though the pair was on the field almost twice as often. Amendola's limited presence to Patriots three- and four-wide sets means they're looking to use him in those formations. The other two were run-blocking a bunch. The impending return (finally?) of Rob Gronkowski should further jeopardize Thompkins' and Edelman's respective weekly ceilings.
  • WAIVER WIRE: Vincent Brown (18 looks) and Keenan Allen (15) have been the most involved San Diego Chargers wideouts in the last two games. They'll eat more yards with their chances than Eddie Royal, who often clashes with Antonio Gates. Brown has the better immediate payoff if you must choose.
  • Kris Durham's eight looks say he'll benefit the most with Nate Burleson (arm) sidelined, but Calvin Johnson (knee) was absent, too, so that inflated Durham's role a little. The Detroit Lions' hierarchy behind Johnson can change on a whim, so don't invest too much in Durham's involvement.

Tight ends

Week 5 utilization leaders
Rk
Player
Tm
Wk 5
1
Tony Gonzalez
ATL
14
2
Julius Thomas
DEN
12
3
Jimmy Graham
NOS
11
4
Antonio Gates
SDC
10
5
Jason Witten
DAL
10
6
Owen Daniels
HOU
9
7
Tony Scheffler
DET
7
8
Tyler Eifert
CIN
7

Most people blindly say Jones' injury helps Tony G. But he can't really be targeted much more than he has been. This offensive line and the constant brackets he'd face with the shaky depth at receiver seem to downgrade his value. Anyone itching to buy him? Take advantage if you have a legit alternative.

Julius Thomas had just eight total targets in the two weeks leading up to his brilliant Week 5, which was a case of abusing the Dallas Cowboys' Tampa 2. The Denver Broncos will target Thomas enough, though, to keep him within TE1 limits every week; he had 16 targets over the first two games of the year.

WAIVER WIRE: Owen Daniels (leg) could miss six weeks and should miss at least a few. Garrett Graham may earn more weekly credence in his stead. The Houston Texans' passing game is suffering enough that tight end check-downs could become a more frequent course of action.

Tony Scheffler's output won't be that great, even if he continues to have his number called with Calvin Johnson (knee) sidelined. There are too many mouths to feed ahead of him to count on any persistent production.

WAIVER WIRE: Tyler Eifert will still have to share with Jermaine Gresham, but the mediocre performances by the rest of the receivers beneath A.J. Green on the totem pole have opened things up for Eifert. He's seen 12 looks over the past two weeks and has caught 17 of the 24 tosses directed at him this year. He's reliable.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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