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Along with Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte, the top 10 fantasy backs on Sunday included the likes of Latavius Murray, Isaiah Crowell, and LeGarrette Blount. Just another reminder that high-end RB1 production is available almost weekly in even the deepest of leagues, if you just prey on matchups and opportunity.
Let’s take a look at some players still available in nearly all leagues that can post top-12 numbers given their newfound opportunities and upcoming matchups.
Zach Mettenberger (Owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues): In the real world, the Titans have lost every game in which Mettenberger has played. In the fantasy world, Mettenberger has been a gold mine, eclipsing 260 yards and posting two touchdowns in three of his four starts this season.
The road is pretty clear for Mettenberger down the stretch. Next week he’ll face a Houston team that allowed him to complete 66 percent of his passes for 299 yards and two scores in his first ever NFL start just five weeks ago.
After that he’ll face a Giants team that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to post over 21 fantasy points in four of their last five games.
Then he’ll face an awful Jets secondary giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing passers.
Opportunity plus matchups equals top-12 numbers.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (6 percent): With Ryan Mallett out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, the most likely scenario is that Ryan Fitzpatrick starts over rookie Tom Savage for a Texans team still technically in the playoff hunt.
Like Mettenberger, FitzMagic wasn’t particularly successful in the real world, losing four of his last five games. In the fantasy world, however, Fitzpatrick finished as QB10 or higher in two of his last three weeks behind center and even proved a capable runner, posting six carries for 49 yards in Week 9.
His matchups aren’t as enticing as Mettenberger’s but he does have intra-division games against middle-of-the-road fantasy defenses in Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Indy in four of the next five weeks.
Running Back Targets:
Dan Herron (23 percent): Herron got the start over veteran Trent Richardson on Sunday and out-touched the first-round bust to the tune of 17-13. Boom looked good, carrying the ball 12 times for 65 yards (5.4 YPC). Even better, he caught all five of his targets for 31 yards, adding more than a touchdown worth of points through the air in leagues that count receptions. Look for Herron to take over Ahmad Bradshaw’s role in the offense and have added value in PPR leagues.
Latavius Murray (25 percent): Murray put up one of the most efficient games in NFL history on Sunday, carrying the ball just four times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. The plan was clearly for Murray to get more work but his day was cut short by a concussion.
Regardless of the short-term injury, Murray is clearly rising up the depth chart and will likely get plenty of work down the stretch as the Raiders fight for absolutely nothing. Aside from the impressive work on the ground, Murray has proven serviceable in the passing game as well, catching six of seven ball thrown his way for 35 yards, giving him extra value in PPR leagues going forward.
Wide Receiver Targets:
We’ve been over this, if you’re in a non-PPR league, Landry is clearly touchdown-dependent and not as attractive, having surpassed 55 receiving yards just once this season. Despite that, he now has four touchdowns in as many weeks and has been targeted 32 times over that stretch, including 11 times on Sunday. He’s being targeted at the same rate as Mike Wallace and doing more with his opportunities. He’s a good get down the stretch in PPR leagues.
Charles Johnson (1 percent): Even with Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson healthy, Johnson led the Vikes in receiving yards and was targeted twice as much as any other receiver, seeing 11 passes from Teddy Bridgewater thrown his way.
Johnson has now been targeted 18 times over the last two weeks and is clearly rising up the depth chart to perhaps even WR1. With 159 yards, a touchdown, and a 2-point conversion over the last two weeks, I would definitely target Johnson against two porous defenses in the Panthers and Jets over the next two weeks.
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