1. Doug Martin Owners Should Hesitate to Sell
His rushing average (3.5 yards per carry) has disappointed all year, and he saw his workload drop to eight carries against the Redskins prior to Tampa Bay's Week 5 bye, but those who own Doug Martin probably shouldn't move him yet.
It's not just a matter of selling him low, though that certainly does apply. More important, there's reason to believe Martin can still present starting value for at least the next two weeks.
Martin has home matchups against the (likely Brady Quinn-led) Chiefs this week and the Saints in Week 7, teams that have combined to allow 5.1 yards per carry to running backs in road games this year. The Chiefs defense should be even more vulnerable than usual with Matt Cassel (concussion) likely out because Quinn figures to lead more three-and-outs than Cassel, upping the snap count for Tampa Bay's offense.
Although the upcoming schedule may ease the rushing average concerns with Martin, it was obviously his light workload against Washington that kicked the panic into high gear - poor efficiency can be offset when the number of carries is sufficient, but eight carries does not qualify as sufficient when you're averaging 3.5 yards per carry, particularly when the previously invisible LeGarrette Blount gets six carries in the same game.
The workload concern with Martin, however, is also likely overblown. Although he might average closer to 18 carries per game than the 21 per game he had in the first three weeks, Martin will nonetheless be closer to 20 carries than 10 in almost all the games from here. The Buccaneers threw 39 times against Washington, which can't be expected to occur more than once or twice again this year since the Buccaneers threw 28 times or less in the three previous games. That, and the Buccaneers are a good bet to run more plays in general after averaging just 56.76 plays per game in the first four weeks, a figure that ranks third-to-last in the league.
2. Lamar Miller Should be Owned in 12-Team Leagues
Daniel Thomas left Sunday's game against Cincinnati with a head injury, but before he did he had 10 carries for 29 yards and a touchdown. A head injury, unfortunately, is typically code for concussion, and Thomas suffered a confirmed concussion in Week 1 against Houston.
If Thomas suffered a second concussion Sunday, he likely would be week-to-week with the issue, allowing the explosive Lamar Miller to get his foot in the door in the Miami running-back rotation. If that happens, there's a strong chance that Miller will run away with the role.
Thomas has just 113 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries (3.1 YPC) this year, as well as two lost fumbles. When you combine that with his 581 yards and no touchdowns on 165 carries as a rookie (3.5 YPC), there's reason to suspect that Thomas just can't cut it as an NFL runner. Miller, on the other hand, has 126 yards and a score on just 23 carries (5.5 YPC) this year, and he consistently showed rare big-play ability throughout his college career.
With the Dolphins surprising commitment to the run (their 169 attempts are fifth-most in the league) and the fragility workhorse Reggie Bush showed prior to arriving in Miami, there's reason to believe Miller will be among the league's most active backup runners by year's end.
3. Alex Green is the GB Back to Own
His fantasy value is nowhere near where Cedric Benson's was prior to his foot injury, and fellow Packer running back James Starks is also worth a bench spot in most leagues, but Alex Green is the most desirable healthy running back in Green Bay.
Given Green's inexperience and that this will be his fourth game back from an ACL tear, it appears likely the Packers will use a rotation with Benson out, with the strongest candidate to cut into Green's snap count being Starks, a third-year player and former starter for the Packers. Since he's much more experienced than Green, Starks might have an advantage when it comes to blitz pickup and general attention to finer details.
But against the Colts on Sunday, Starks was left inactive despite the belief that he was nearly fully recovered from the turf toe injury he suffered in the preseason. Since the Packers left Green one injury away from the top running back role against Indianapolis, perhaps Green Bay coaches don't believe Green is as far behind Starks as a blocker as conventional wisdom suggests. Indeed, after playing in Hawaii's pass-heavy spread in college, Green has had a great deal of exposure to passing down responsibilities.
If the gap between Green and Starks is as small as it seems in blitz pickup, then Green has a significant advantage as a fantasy option because he's definitely the better athlete between the two and probably a better pure runner, too.
4. Jeremy Kerley will Keep Producing
The (expected) imminent return of tight end Dustin Keller (hamstring) figures to put a slight dent in Jeremy Kerley's target count, but with Santonio Holmes (foot) out for the year, there's enough space in the Jets passing game for Kerley to present WR4 value - at least as long as Mark Sanchez is throwing the ball.
At 5-foot-9, 188, Kerley has to battle the idea that he's too small to be more than a slot receiver, an idea that threatens to keep his snap count percentage closer to 75 than 90 most weeks, but he's proving too productive for the Jets not to utilize him more often in the passing game. On just 23 targets he has 15 catches for 291 yards and two touchdowns, meaning he's averaging 12.7 yards per target. In an offense averaging 4.7 yards per play, that kind of upside can't be ignored. He also has a punt return for a touchdown.
Since the top two alternatives are a raw rookie (Stephen Hill) and an injury prone, underwhelming talent (Chaz Schilens), it's nearly certain that Kerley will remain the top receiver for the Jets, no matter his lack of size.
5. Don't Expect Josh Gordon to Stay Hot
Between his size and speed and the profound lack of receiving talent in Cleveland, Josh Gordon makes a fine dynasty league stash at receiver. As far as 2012 goes, though, he figures to post a whole lot of dud box scores.
His upside was illustrated clearly by his touchdown catches of 62 and 20 yards against the Giants on Sunday, but for the most part, Gordon has shown an inability to capitalize on that upside during the other four games this year. Even with his breakout game against the Giants, Gordon is still averaging just 7.95 yards per target, making just 175 yards out of the 22 passes thrown his way.
Mohamed Massaquoi, Greg Little and even Travis Benjamin are all more polished than Gordon, who can't be expected to be more than a one-trick pony on deep routes as a rookie. It's not saying much, but you'd be better off with Stephen Hill, and you'd be no worse off with St. Louis' Chris Givens.