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NFL Barometer: Fitzgerald Back on Track

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


Peyton Hillis, RB, CLE – Hillis totaled 220 yards and two touchdowns in Week 10 against a Patriots team that had yet to give up 100 yards to a single back all season. Coach Bill Belichick was so impressed with Hillis’ effort that he went out of his way to congratulate Hillis after the game. Hillis has scored in seven of his eight games this season, and he looked explosive and powerful against New England after getting a week of rest due to the Browns’ bye. Pro Football Focus has Hillis ranked as the second best blocking back in the league to boot (Ahmad Bradshaw is No. 1), so there does not appear to be any glaring weaknesses in his game. The Browns rely on Hills as much as any other team relies on a non-quarterback, so he should continue to see work. Brandon Lloyd has been fantastic, but Hillis has been the best waiver-wire addition this season.

Percy Harvin, WR, MIN – Playing through a badly sprained ankle, Harvin hauled in nine catches for 126 yards Sunday, alleviating concerns he would be unproductive with Randy Moss out of town. Harvin clearly benefited from Brett Favre’s 47 attempts, but he impressed despite being hobbled and should be a mainstay in fantasy lineups from here on out (assuming his latest headache problem is minor). Harvin is second in the NFL with 276 yards after the catch (Miles Austin leads with 288 YAC), and he has put up decent numbers even though he is not among the top 20 in targets. With Moss gone, Bernard Berrian also deserves an upgrade.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI – Fitzgerald entered Week 8 with just 331 receiving yards, but he has averaged 6.5 catches, 89.5 yards, and a touchdown over his last two games. It is no coincidence that Fitzgerald’s resurgence has coincided with Derek Anderson re-assuming the quarterback duties for the Cardinals. Anderson might be the least accurate QB in the league, but he is unafraid to take shots downfield and has resurrected Fitzgerald’s fantasy value. Fitzgerald was targeted 10 times last week and should have another strong game Sunday against the Seahawks. The opportunity to buy Fitzgerald low has likely passed.

Steve Johnson, WR, BUF – Johnson’s five-game scoring streak ended Sunday, but he racked up 11 catches for 145 yards and continues to be Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target (Johnson’s 14 looks tied for the third most in the league in Week 9. ) Johnson is averaging 8.0 catches and 113.3 receiving yards over the past three games, and he has scored six touchdowns over his past six contests. Fitzpatrick has taken a step back recently, but he has attempted a whopping 99 passes over the past two games and should continue to put it up a lot thanks to Buffalo’s horrendous defense. Johnson cannot be called a nice complement to Lee Evans any longer because he has emerged as the Bills’ No. 1 receiver.

James Jones, WR, GB – Jones, hauled in eight balls for 123 yards and a touchdown Sunday night, but his increased value may only last as long as it takes Donald Driver to get back on the field. Still, Jones’ domination of an overwhelmed Dallas secondary revealed a player with a ton of upside, and it appears that opportunities and ball security are the only things keeping him from becoming a major force. Jones can be maddeningly inconsistent, but it’s not a stretch to call him Green Bay’s most explosive offensive weapon behind Greg Jennings. Driver is getting up there in age, so Jones is valuable property in dynasty leagues.

Mike Goodson, RB, CAR – With DeAngelo Williams (foot), Jonathan Stewart (concussion), and even Tyrell Sutton (ankle) banged up and unlikely to play Sunday, Goodson has been named Carolina’s starter for Week 10. Goodson has just 38 career rushing attempts (he has averaged 2.6 YPC) and plays for a bad Panthers’ offense that will be forced to start Jimmy Clausen at QB, but his receiving abilities should allow him to approach 20 touches. Tampa Bay has allowed 5.0 YPC this year - the second highest mark in the NFL - so his matchup is favorable. Goodson is a worthy flex play in Week 10.

Nate Washington, WR, TEN – Washington racked up 117 receiving yards and a touchdown against the Chargers in Week 8 and became Tennessee’s No. 1 receiver after Kenny Britt left the game with a serious hamstring injury. Since then, the Titans have had a bye week and have also acquired Randy Moss. With Britt sidelined indefinitely, Washington will be the starting receiver opposite Moss; and while Moss will take away some targets, his addition should be considered a plus for Washington’s value. Even while losing a step or two (or three), Moss remains a decoy that demands attention from opposing defenses; and while Washington is a better downfield threat than a slot receiver, he has the speed to exploit the favorable matchups he will be presented with. Lastly, the Titans’ schedule over the next six weeks (@MIA, WAS, @HOU, JAC, IND, HOU) is as good as it gets.


Brandon Marshall, WR, MIA – Marshall was held to just five catches for 30 yards during Miami’s loss to Baltimore last week, and he still has just one touchdown this season. Marshall has recorded 75 receiving yards in only two of eight games, and his current 11.9 yards per reception average is outside the top 50 in the league. Marshall is seeing constant double, and even triple coverage, and while he is still especially useful in PPR formats, he can no longer be considered a top 10 fantasy wide receiver. The switch from Chad Henne to Chad Pennington at quarterback might help in the red zone since the latter is more accurate, but on the other hand, the offense could become even less explosive.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, NYJ – Over the last three games, Tomlinson has rushed the ball 48 times for just 156 yards, which is good for just a 3.3 YPC mark. The fact that all three opponents (CLE, GB, DET) are in the bottom third in run defense is cause for even further concern. While benefits from running behind one of the best lines in the league and remains active as a receiver, no one should be surprised by the decline in performance since he recently surpassed the 3,000-carry mark for his career. I’d rather own Shonn Greene from here on out.

Miles Austin, WR, DAL – After recording only two catches for 17 yards in Week 9, Austin has failed to surpass three receptions or reach 40 receiving yards in three of the past four games. It has been a small sample, but Dez Bryant appears to have emerged as Jon Kitna’s favorite target and Jason Witten has commanded plenty of looks as well. Austin should not be benched in fantasy leagues by any means, but he has been a boom-or-bust option, totaling 571 yards in four games and just 86 yards in the other four contests. Dallas should continue to throw a lot, so hopefully Austin can gain some measure of consistency from here on out.

Matt Schaub, QB, HOU – Schaub averaged 298.1 passing yards per game and threw 29 touchdowns last season, but he has averaged 250.6 passing yards and thrown just 10 touchdown passes at the midway point of 2010. Schaub has had trouble hanging onto the ball and has been sacked 21 times after being taken down a total of 25 times last year. While Schaub’s 7.5 YPA mark remains solid, it’s a far cry from last season’s 8.2 yard average. Moreover, Schaub has posted a 3:5 TD:turnover ratio over the past four games, three of which have come at home. While Schaub’s performance has no doubt declined, the emergence of Arian Foster has further hurt Schaub’s fantasy value.

Steve Smith, WR, CAR – In the three games Smith has played this year in which Jimmy Clausen saw significant action, he has averaged 2.0 catches, 14.0 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns. Smith has not scored since Week 2, and with Matt Moore (shoulder) out for the season, Carolina will be relying on Clausen (or possibly Tony Pike) for the foreseeable future. Smith is borderline droppable right now.

Matthew Stafford, QB, DET – Stafford’s latest shoulder injury is once again serious, and he appears unlikely to play another snap in 2010. Stafford is not soft, but at this point durability has turned into a big concern. A franchise player simply can’t miss 19 games over a two-year stretch, especially one charged with the task of resurrecting his team. Shaun Hill becomes a decent fantasy option in deep leagues the rest of the way.