Sunday brought another week of football excitement as fantasy leagues begin to wrap up their regular seasons. Carolina beat Miami to win their seventh straight. During that streak, the Panthers have held each of their opponents to 20 points or less. After upsetting Indianapolis, the Cardinals have now won four in a row. Tony Romo led the Cowboys on a game-winning drive over the Giants as time expired. And the Vikings and Packers paid homage to Donovan McNabb Sunday, proving once again that ties are indeed possible in football.
Target: Julius Thomas
Denver’s 6-foot-5 tight end began the year with one career catch for five yards. That pass was thrown in week two of 2011, when Julius Thomas was a rookie making his first career start. The quarterback on the field was Kyle Orton, who had only six starts remaining in his Bronco career. Then came Tebowmania.
A lot has happened since then. But for Thomas, all was quiet until this season. His second career reception came on a ball from the four-time NFL Most Valuable Player, Peyton Manning. In week one of this year, the former Portland State Viking made five receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. In college, Thomas was a four-year basketball starter, but only played football during the 2010 season. He caught 29 passes for 453 yards and two scores en route to being named First-team All-Big Sky Conference.
Thomas is on pace to make 72 catches for 944 yards and 16 touchdowns. Only Jimmy Graham and Calvin Johnson have more receiving touchdowns so far this season. Manning is on pace to break the NFL records for both passing touchdowns and yardage. And within the red zone, Thomas is second on the team in both targets and receptions. He missed Week 12’s showdown in Foxboro because of a knee injury, but is not expected to miss any more time. Adding a solid tight end could be the edge your team needs to push through the postseason.
Target: Terrance Williams
Miles Austin has opened the door for the emergence of rookie receiver Terrance Williams. Austin’s history of hamstring injuries is an overplayed story for Dallas fans. 2010 was the only time Austin managed to start all 16 games. But his best year was 2009, when he stepped up for the injured Roy E. Williams. Austin earned 81 catches for 1,320 yards and 11 scores that season.
Terrance Williams played for the Baylor Bears alongside Robert Griffin III. But his senior year without Griffin was when Williams shined the brightest. He made 97 receptions for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. That was during a 13 game NCAA schedule, with junior quarterback Nick Florence throwing to him. Imagine what he could do with an NFL passer.
In 11 games this season, Williams has earned 30 catches for 508 yards and five trips to pay dirt. Projecting the numbers he has produced since Austin’s absence, the 6-foot-2 wideout is on pace for 825.5 yards and 8.1 touchdowns. Williams is only going to get better as he matures and grows more comfortable with Tony Romo. In the final five weeks of the season, Dallas will face the 25th, 17th, 21st, 26th, and 31st ranked pass defenses. Williams could be a dependable WR2 for your title run.
Target: Roddy White
Roddy White entered 2013 as arguably the most consistent player in all of fantasy. Only one wideout had appeared among the top 20 fantasy receivers for six consecutive seasons. And no other wide receiver had finished in the top ten for five of the last six seasons. In fact, White managed that in five straight years, ranking 8, 8, 3, 6, and 5, going back to 2007.
This season has been a very different story, obviously. It’s week 13, and White has earned only 20 receptions for 209 yards and one touchdown. He has only surpassed three catches in one game this year, when he made four grabs for 45 yards against the Jets in week five. Hamstring, ankle, and shoulder issues have wreaked havoc on the once-impervious beast. White had never missed an NFL game in his first eight seasons, but sat three weeks this year.
With Julio Jones gone until 2014, there is still great opportunity available in this Falcons offense. The next three games for White come against the 25th, 17th, and 27th ranked defenses. If he has returned to full health, he may be due for some breakout performances.
Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com, footballguys.com, espn.com, goviks.com, and wikipedia.org.
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