Here are 20 random and AFC-based deep thoughts from a strangely vexing Week 5:
1. There'll be no gloating on my end about Reggie Wayne's personal-best day (yardage-wise, at least) of 13 catches, 212 yards and one touchdown.
But I will rejoice in Wayne collecting 20 targets against the Packers. In his last six games (dating back to last year), he racked up double-digit targets five times. And for this season, the Colts dynamo boasts per-outing averages of 15 targets.
It should be fairly obvious now, but Wayne is an untouchable trade commodity in points-per-reception leagues.
2. During the preseason, I took a lot of heat for installing Wes Welker (13 catches, 104 yards, one TD vs. Denver) as the No. 2 overall receiver—for both standard-scoring and PPR leagues—ahead of Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. But my August rationale was quite simple:
He who collects the most targets, and has an all-world quarterback to rely on, shall inherit the coveted spot behind Calvin Johnson.
In Welker's case, that meant choosing Tom Brady over Kevin Kolb and the respectable, but injury-addled Matt Schaub.
3. I cannot list one viable reason why PPR owners should trade Trent Richardson (128 total yards, one TD on Sunday) in the coming weeks—short of fleecing another owner in a lopsided blockbuster deal. In just five pro games, the Browns tailback has stealthily emerged as a comfortable weekly lock for 90 total yards and one touchdown.
Of equal importance, Richardson routinely collects six or seven targets for a Cleveland offense that's averaging 40.5 passes per game.
4. With his monster effort against Green Bay, Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck (386 total yards, three TD) has officially earned a promotion in 12-team leagues, becoming a must-start asset during the NFL bye period of Weeks 4-11.
For 14-team leagues, Luck (1,208 yards passing, eight TD this year) remains an automatic start; and if there's someone blocking his path to that in Week 6...you'll need to trade your way out of that pleasant conundrum. Immediately.
5. Maybe Chargers tailback Ryan Mathews (139 total yards) should sign with the Saints after his contract expires in a few years. The cushy Superdome turf apparently agrees with the hot-and-cold Mathews, who escaped from coach Norv Turner's proverbial doghouse to post big-time numbers on Sunday.
Or, were fantasy owners simply reading too much into Jackie Battle (17 total yards) being listed ahead of Mathews on San Diego's official midweek depth chart?
6. Major props to Rashard Mendenhall (101 total yards, one TD vs. Philly) for fostering one of the most impressive reboots off major knee surgery you'll ever see—regardless of position or era. And I could be wrong here, but did Mendy look quicker and trimmer on Sunday, compared to the bulky build of last season?
7. Check out the Broncos' quirky box score from their loss to the Patriots: Three players with 50-plus receiving yards had zero touchdowns...and three players with 21 or less yards tallied one touchdown apiece.
Obviously, owners of Demaryius Thomas (nine catches, 188 yards) went home happy regardless, but PPR gurus could also find some relief in Eric Decker's pedestrian four-catch, 21-yard, one-TD outing.
Especially with Decker collecting his fifth straight game of seven or more targets.
8. It was great to see rookie Kendall Wright tally nine catches for 66 yards (and 11 targets) against the Vikings. But the Titans' passing game remains a hot mess for all to witness, so much that Nate Washington (three catches, 29 yards) and Kenny Britt (two catches, 23 yards) are barely flex considerations these days (12-team leagues). And that's only during bye-ravaged weeks.
9. As for Chris Johnson (29 total yards vs. Minnesota), here's the reality of the situation: Either trade him this week for pennies on the dollar (roughly 65 cents of his $1 preseason value), or continue to start him every Sunday...on the often-ambitious hope that he'll find consistency in the Titans' disheveled offense.
Bottom line: There is no gray area with Tennessee's most prominent fantasy asset. He's an all-or-nothing proposition right now...who's simply too good, too fast and too explosive to be benched on a regular basis.
10. The official NFL schedule might not reflect the change, but the Bills have two bye weeks this year. One for Week 8...and one from the Sunday thrashing (45-3) that Buffalo endured against San Francisco. But hey, at least Ryan Fitzpatrick (126 yards passing, zero TD), Fred Jackson (34 total yards) and C.J. Spiller (24 total yards) walked away from it relatively unscathed, injury-wise.
Live to fight another day, you know.
11. Fantasy owners should have a little perspective on Joe Flacco (187 yards passing, zero TD on Sunday) before filling out their Week 7 lineups (Nov. 21). In Flacco's last six regular-season road outings, he's averaging a paltry 198 yards passing and 0.83 total touchdowns. That's Blaine Gabbert territory, folks.
12. Speaking of Gabbert, I'm not going to penalize him too much for a wretched day against the Bears (143 total yards, zero TD, two interceptions). He was a bottom-rung fantasy quarterback before Sunday's head-shaker...and he'll remain a bottom-rung quarterback for the foreseeable future.
13. There are no obvious explanations for Maurice Jones-Drew's tally of 80 total yards or less in all three home games this season. For the previous three seasons, MJD (59 total yards vs. Chicago) was only held to the 80-and-under threshold twice at EverBank Field.
14. I love how Reggie Bush (72 total yards, one TD vs. Cincinnati) is now the fantasy gift that keeps on giving...even during so-so afternoons in the rain.
Verdict: The Dolphins back (513 total yards, three TD in 2012) shall remain a must-start (RB2 or flex slot)—now that Miami QB Ryan Tannehill and WR Brian Hartline are successfully distracting opposing defenses on a weekly basis.
15. Cleveland's Brandon Weeden has per-outing averages of 293 yards passing and 1.25 touchdowns in his last four games, including Sunday's come-from-ahead loss to the Giants. This is the calling card of a rookie quarterback who deserves starter consideration in the Browns' next three games against the Bengals, Colts and Chargers.
16. Greg Little (zero catches)...where art thou? Thank goodness Josh Gordon (two catches, two TD vs. the Giants) has been busy perfecting his catch-to-touchdown ratio.
17. I've been waiting for either Andrew Hawkins (five catches, 47 yards vs. Miami) or Armon Binns (four catches, 41 yards) to emerge as the Bengals' clear-cut No. 2 receiver. And Hawkins (13 targets) might have taken a significant step forward in his team's home loss.
But alas, it makes no sense to endorse/support a young receiver until he notches back-to-back games of six-plus catches, eight-plus targets and/or one touchdown.
18. The Bengals' love affair with BenJarvus Green-Ellis (16 total yards vs. Miami) may have taken a hit in recent weeks, but club officials might have to renew their faith—now Bernard Scott (knee) is done for the season. But that rejuvenation shouldn't be a problem in Week 6, as Cincy takes on Cleveland's Charmin-soft run defense (200 rushing yards allowed to Ahmad Bradshaw on Sunday).
19. Don't let the pedestrian Sunday box score fool you. In his last two games, Jaguars rookie wideout Justin Blackmon (three catches, 40 yards in Week 5) has accumulated 18 targets...suggesting his PPR breakout may come sooner than later.
20. There's probably no way of tracking this stat, but has an NFL game ever featured two tailbacks of 100-plus rushing yards...despite zero touchdowns from either team?
On Sunday, the good people of Kansas City were treated to rock-solid performances from Ravens RB Ray Rice (118 total yards) and Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (161 total yards)—but little else. (Unless you're counting five combined field goals from Justin Tucker and Ryan Succop.)
And by all appearances...that fan frustration boiled over when the crowd cheered the injury-related exit of Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel (106 total yards, two interceptions vs. Baltimore) later in the game.
Which brings me to this...
There's no credible defense for Chiefs fans applauding the, uh, removal of Cassel. So why go there?
Subsequently, offensive tackle Eric Winston was completely justified in ripping the Kansas City fans for their unfortunate act.
But I will say this: Three years from now, when Cassel is a full-time clipboard holder with some random NFL team, he may long for the days of 2012...when he was still good enough to warrant a loathsome response from a passionate and historically courteous fan base in Kansas City.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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