Heading into Week 10 there were only four running backs with more yards rushing than Baltimore’s Justin Forsett. There aren’t too many NFL fans that could have told you that stat. He racked up another 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries against Tennessee. Pretty safe bet to say he will remain in the Top-5 when this week comes to a close.
Forsett, now in his seventh season, has bounced around the league. His first three seasons were spent in Seattle, followed by stops in Houston and Jacksonville. Prior to arriving in Baltimore, he averaged 4.9 yards-per-carry over 347 career totes. At 5’8”, 197 lbs. he was always viewed as a third down back despite his strong overall numbers.
It looked like he was going to be buried on Baltimore’s depth chart behind starter Ray Rice and third-year man Bernard Pierce. That changed quickly, as we learned Rice thought it was cool to hit a woman and got cut (and indefinitely banned), and Pierce proved his rookie season was an outlier.
Out of necessity, Forsett got his opportunity and has run with it. His 5.4 yard-per-carry average this year leads all running backs. His eight carries of 20-plus yards trail just DeMarco Murray (9) for the league lead. Murray has done his damage on 244 carries, Forsett has done his with 111 fewer opportunities.
In a season that has offered the Fantasy community a serious lack of options at running back, owners that picked up Forsett more than likely find themselves sitting pretty right now. His ability to rip off chunk yardage in both the run and pass game locks him in as a RB1 for the remainder of the season. He will see 18-plus touches a game, and with that volume he should rack up plenty of yardage.
The Lions and Fantasy owners alike were elated that Calvin Johnson returned to the lineup. Golden Tate owners, probably not so much. Johnson missed three games, but really ended up missing just about five games in total since he was injured in Week 4 against the Jets and was used as a decoy in Week 5 against the Bills. During those five games Tate caught 39 passes for 599 yards and three scores. It was presumed Johnson would really eat into Tate’s workload. After one week it sure looks like they are going to be able to co-exist. Johnson hauled in seven of his 15 targets for 113 yards and a score while Tate nabbed 11 of his 13 targets for 109 yards. These two accounted for 28 of Mathew Stafford’s 40 pass attempts. If this usage pattern continues these two will thrive. Tate will see a ton of single coverage ,while Johnson benefits from having a viable weapon line up beside him that defenses need to scheme for. If you own Tate you should be encouraged by what you saw. He should return WR2 value from here on out.
Job security isn’t a luxury in the NFL. Montee Ball was Denver’s starter prior to going down with a pretty severe groin injury in Week 5. Ronnie Hillman moved up the depth chart in his place and has been lights out; at least, until this week that is. Hillman suffered a foot injury during the game and was limited to just 22 total yards on eight touches. All this week, news about Ball losing weight and looking spry in practice had the local media believing Denver would use a hot-hand approach upon his return. A banged up Hillman is going to have a tough time competing. Hillman has been the better player this year, but the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league and Ball needs just one big game to usurp Hillman into that top slot. If you are counting on Hillman as a RB2 moving forward, it’s time to worry.
Rookie Martavis Bryant has appeared in just four games this year. In standard scoring leagues he has scored no less than 10 Fantasy points per game. In PPR leagues, he has scored no fewer than 12 FPPG. In Pittsburgh’s Week 10 loss to the Jets, he racked up a career-best 143 receiving yards and a touchdown on four grabs. Six of his 14 receptions have gone for touchdowns. A player doing this for a game or two is generally considered a fluke. But four straight games with touchdowns to open your career while averaging 22.1 yards-per-reception is enough proof for me that he is legit. His size/speed combo is exactly what Ben Roethlisberger and this offense needed. He has averaged six targets per game; that number will go up. The Steelers have thrown the ball at least 30 times in every game this season, averaging 38.1 attempts per contest. There is plenty of work to go around, which will ensure Bryant is a WR3 moving forward with room to grow.
Seattle ran for a franchise record 350 yards in their 38-17 drubbing of the Giants. Marshawn Lynch led with way with 140 hard charging yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries. Quarterback Russell Wilson chipped in with 107 and a touchdown on 14 carries. These two worked the read option to perfection and the Giants had no answer for it. Christine Michael chipped in 71 yards on four carries and Robert Turbin rounded out the effort with another 32 yards on six carries. There are two takeaways from this game. First being, Seattle got back to their bread-and-butter. They pounded the rock. Expect this to continue. Lynch will continue being a RB1 and Wilson is going to be an option worth starting against defenses that struggle against the run. The second takeaway is that the Giants are a plus matchup for running backs. They have given up at least 70 yards to running backs in every game this season, while yielding 10 touchdowns.
Non-contact injuries usually don’t end well. Carson Palmer was barely touched on his shoulder prior to dropping on the field in agony. After a look at the replay, it was easy to see that his left knee buckled. Early reports out of Arizona have many fearing he tore his ACL. Drew Stanton looks like the starter for the remainder of the season. That isn’t going to be a good thing for this offense. Stanton has now appeared in four games this season, completing 46-of 93 passes for 614 yards and three touchdowns. A 49-percent completion rate just isn’t going to cut it. Opposing defenses are going to stack the box and challenge Stanton to beat them through the air. Andre Ellington’s value takes a hit here as a result. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown are probably going to see plenty of single coverage. Unfortunately, they will also be dealing with a very inaccurate quarterback. For a little perspective, Geno Smith has completed 56.2-percent of his passes this year. Rough times ahead here folks.
Vincent Jackson is listed as the WR1 on Tampa’s depth chart, but rookie Mike Evans has severely outplayed him this year. Jackson has 40 catches for 518 yards and two touchdowns on 80 targets. Evans has 39 catches for 585 yards and five touchdowns on 63 targets. It was expected that the younger Evans would be more explosive. The surprise is definitely how much more efficient he has been. There shouldn’t be questions moving forward about whether you should start Evans. On the season, he not only has out-produced his teammate Jackson, but also guys like Pierre Garcon, Roddy White and Andre Johnson. Evans uses his 6’5”, 231 pound frame to high-point jump balls down the field. We knew he could do this out of college. He is starting to be a factor all over the field. With the Bucs giving up an average of 30.2 points-per-game this team is going to need to throw a lot. Evans is now a WR2.