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NFL Barometer: Ridley In Reverse

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Ishmael Butler, James Harrison and David Bowie.

RISING

Michael Floyd, WR, ARZ


Floyd appears to have turned a corner for Arizona in the last two weeks. After a slow rookie season and a modest start to this year, the 2012 first-round pick out of Notre Dame is looking like the player the Cardinals thought they were selecting with the 13th overall pick. He has 13 catches for 297 yards and a touchdown in Arizona's last two games, and five or more catches in six of his last eight games. At over 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds with 4.47 speed, Floyd still has plenty of athletic upside to build on, which gives hope for further improvement given that he appears to be making considerable progress with the finer points of playing receiver in the NFL.

Tavon Austin, WR, STL

Austin is still a part-time player in a dubious passing game, so heíll struggle to establish himself as anything better than a WR3 consideration in leagues with 12 or fewer teams, but his breakout performances over the last two weeks have significantly raised his stock. Heís a worthwhile starting consideration after torching the Colts and Bears for a combined 246 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage to go along with a punt return for a touchdown, and the Rams have little choice but to escalate his workload now that theyíre recognizing how to utilize Austinís talents. St. Louis upped his 15 snaps from the Colts game to 30 against the Bears, and with wideouts like Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis showing very little for the Rams these days, Austinís play count should keep rising.

Justin Hunter, WR, TEN

If you took Kenny Britt, made him faster and took away the character headaches, youíd get a prospect a lot like Hunter. Itís why the Titans traded up to the 34th pick in the 2013 draft to keep the former Volunteer in the state of Tennessee. Like Austin, Hunterís rookie rawness and his teamís sketchy passing game make him a fringe starting consideration for the time being, but his value is clearly moving upward, and he has the talent to keep growing. After lighting up Oakland for 109 yards and a touchdown on six catches Sunday, Hunter has eight catches for 160 yards and a score on 13 targets in his last two healthy games (a concussion shorted his game against Indianapolis two weeks ago). Hunter's averaging a very healthy 9.2 yards per target on the year, and coach Mike Munchak said that the rookie earned more playing time after showing well against Oakland.

Ladarius Green, TE, SD

Green has probably been the most underutilized talent at tight end in the last two years, and the Chargers are starting to realize the fact. A fourth-round steal in the 2012 draft, Green was one of college football's most productive receiving tight ends prior to 2012, but was overlooked because he played at Louisiana-Lafayette. But he ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the 2012 Combine at 6-foot-6, 238 pounds, so he clearly has the size and athleticism to pose a serious mismatch to any safeties that try to cover him. Philip Rivers is beginning to notice, as Green earned five targets in both of San Diego's last two games, turning those targets into seven catches for 161 yards and a touchdown. Heís averaging 15.2 yards per target in his two-year career. Green is on the deep league radar at the very least, and could even make an impact in 12-team leagues in an offense that lacks receiving targets aside from Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates. Dynasty leagues should latch on to Green as soon as possible if heís available anywhere, because Gatesí days are numbered as the lead San Diego tight end.

Carson Palmer, QB, ARZ

Palmer was one of the most painful quarterbacks to watch from Weeks 2 through 7, so it feels wrong to include him in the rising list. He's been quite good in the four games since, though, and it's time to give him credit for the fact. After throwing for 1,414 yards (6.3 YPA), six touchdowns and 12 interceptions in the six games following Week 1, Palmer righted the ship by throwing for 1,146 yards (8.9 YPA), eight touchdowns and two interceptions in the four games since. Palmer seems to have really found some chemistry with wideouts Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, as the duo has six touchdowns in Palmerís four-game resurgence.

FALLING

Stevan Ridley, RB, NE


It happened again. Ridley lost a fumble for the third straight week against the Broncos on Sunday, and itís anyoneís guess whether Bill Belichick will give Ridley a noteworthy role in the foreseeable future. He finished Sunday's game with four carries for 14 yards, paving the way for Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden to take a stranglehold of the running back snaps in New England. Vereen finished with 18 touches (10 carries, eight catches) on 46 snaps while Bolden finished with 14 touches (13 carries, one catch) on 34 snaps. Ridley finished with five.

Andrew Luck, QB, IND

Luck is single-handedly keeping the ship (kind of) afloat, but the Indianapolis offense is a mess right now. The receivers have zero talent outside of T.Y. Hilton in light of Reggie Wayneís ACL tear, the offensive line is a liability and the running game is only occasionally existent. Luck's numbers have badly suffered over the last three weeks as a result, and he totaled just 748 yards (6.1 YPA), two touchdowns and four interceptions as a passer while adding 79 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Upcoming matchups against Tennessee and Cincinnati are not obvious candidates for improved production.

Danny Amendola, WR, NE

Although he signed with New England in the same offseason that Wes Welker left for Denver and, like Welker, is a slot receiver who went undrafted out of Texas Tech, there appear to be few similarities between how their production at New England will match up. Perhaps due to Amendolaís constant injury problems, the Patriots appear to have no intention of making Amendola the next Welker. After earning 23 targets in his first two games with New England, Amendola has just 27 targets in the five games since. Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have all gained ground on Amendolaís workload, and Amendola played just 56 snaps against Denver on Sunday while Edelman, Dobson and Thompkins respectively played 74, 36 and 44.

Terrance Williams, WR, DAL

Miles Austin perhaps predictably failed to make a fantasy impact in Dallasí victory over the Giants on Sunday, his first game since Oct. 20 due to hamstring issues, but he managed to negate a bunch of Williamsí value. Williams had produced near a WR2 level in leagues with 12 or more teams from Weeks 5 through 10, catching 17 passes for 367 yards and five touchdowns in those six games, but itís fair to wonder if heíll be anything more than a WR4 in those formats as long as Austin suits up. Austin played 48 snaps compared to 41 for Williams against the Giants, limiting Williams to just a 10-yard catch on two targetse.

Jordan Cameron, TE, CLE

Itís possible that Cameronís value could swing upward a bit if Jason Campbell misses time with the potentially significant concussion he suffered against Pittsburgh on Sunday Ė Cameronís numbers were better with Brandon Weeden as starter than they were with Campbell Ė but it generally looks as if defenses have lessened Cameronís impact in recent weeks by adjusting coverages and making it a point to slow Cameron down. Cameron stated in interviews that it hasnít been usual for defenses to chip him twice off the line of scrimmage on his pass routes, which understandably could be a problem for the third-year pro, who only this year turned a corner as a former basketball convert. Cameron has just one score in his last seven games. Unfortunately for his owners, there probably isnít a better alternative on the wires in most leagues, so in many or most cases they should probably just try to tough it out, because Cameron showed rare upside with five touchdowns in the first four weeks.