Curtis Samuel has seen 8-9-8 targets the
last three weeks along with three rushing attempts.
Grab a Helmet
Samuel @ CLE: Like Packer fans before them (Aaron Jones),
the Carolina faithful have been openly wondering all season why
Ron Rivera et al. seemed so uninterested in using one of their most
dynamic offensive weapons. It took the former Buckeye a full seven
games to accumulate 24 touches and yet he managed to convert these
limited looks into an astonishing six touchdowns. I was an English
major, but even I can do that math and any coach worth his salt
should be able to find a place for someone who scores every fourth
time he touches the pigskin. Riverboat Ron figured it out last week
(11 total targets and a rushing attempt), although maybe not soon
enough to save his job. Mike McCarthy learned the hard way that
underutilizing stars is hazardous to oneís coaching health, so letís
hope itís not too late for Rivera. Start Samuel Sunday.
Ebron @ HOU: Indyís Week 13 disappearing act was one
of the most mystifying and disappointing of the season. How does
a squad riding a five-game hot streak and averaging nearly 30 PPG
get skunked by a team on an epic skid (seven straight losses) starting
a backup QB whoís never won a single NFL game in eight career tries?
Itís part of what makes the NFL such a fascinating product, I guess.
The only saving grace for us is that guys like Ebron werenít sucked
into the undertow. The former Lion TE managed to post a healthy
81 yards and 10 grabs and led all TEs with 16 targets in the losing
effort. Down Jack Doyle and without a serviceable foil for T.Y.
Hilton, you can expect Ebron to continue being heavily involved
in the Coltsí offense. Iíd start him over everyone not named Travis
Kelce or Zach Ertz.
Lockett v. MIN (Mon): To the surprise of precisely no
one, Antonio Brown, Davante Adams, and Tyreek Hill are leading the
league in receiving touchdowns through 13 weeks of the season. To
the surprise of just about everyone, the sparsely-targeted Lockett
is tied for fourth with Adam Thielen, the luminary heíll oppose
on Monday night. This is especially noteworthy since Lockett plays
in the leagueís most run-dominant offense and has commanded EIGHTY
fewer targets than Thielen (and Brown) and even 44 fewer than fellow
speed demon Hill. Talk about efficiency! Iím all about targets this
time of year, but itís hard to look past Lockettís insane efficiency.
Heís only failed to catch 11 Russ Wilson targets all year and failed
to tally a six-pointer in just 3 of his 12 outings. Itís possible
to do more with less, it appears, so keep riding the Hawksí diminutive
home run hitter.
Grab Some Wood
Parker v. NE: As he wants to occasionally, Parker looked
like one of the Dolphinsí best offensive weapons against Buffalo
last Sunday, turning seven targets into four catches, 43 yards,
and a score in a narrow victory. And by all accounts, he SHOULD
be one of Miamiís best offensive weapons. He was a high draft
pick, has great size, and can win 1-on-1 battles receivers have
to win. Unfortunately, he never seems to be healthy and rarely
strings together multiple good games in a row. He wonít do that
this week, either, against a Pats defense that rarely allows its
opponentsí best players to dominate. With the exception of Tyreek
Hill in Week 6 and Corey Davis in Week 10, opposing WR1s havenít
fared very well against New England. That would probably have
included Parker himself in Week 4 but, alas, he didnít play. You
get the idea here.
Ridley @ GB: This one has tremendous backfire potential
now that the plug has officially been pulled on the Packís playoff
hopes and the team has moved on from its long-time head man. Thereís
just no telling how a locker room will respond to a sudden mid-season
firing. Iím already on record as saying the offense will be fine,
mostly because interim coach Joe Philbin was most recently the
teamís offensive coordinator. Iím not as convinced Mike Pettineís
defense, which hasnít been great all year and has suffered several
recent injuries, will hold up the rest of the way. All of that
aside, can we really trust Ridley when the games matter most?
Heís been the ultimate boom-or-bust rook, scoring more than 12
FPts/G in five contests and fewer than 5 in his other seven starts.
His wintry nickname notwithstanding, Matty Ryan hasnít been great
outside. Sit Ridley down.
Williams v. CIN: Two weeks ago, I recommended readers
sit Williams, the Chargers’ explosive but rarely targeted
sophomore wideout. Talk about a tremendous backfire! All the Clemson
product did was catch two touchdown passes in a Week 12 beatdown
of the Cardinals. You know what, though? I didn’t regret
sitting him down (yes, I practiced what I preached) and I only
played him last week because he had a marginally better matchup
than my other options. Thankfully, his three-reception, 52-yard
effort didn’t sink me. Williams was out-targeted 19 to 3
in that scintillating Week 13 win at Heinz Field by Keenan Allen.
19 to 3! It appears Phil Rivers only has eyes for his WR1 most
weeks, so back to the bench goes Williams in Week 14. I suggest
you follow suit unless you think Los Angeles somehow needs a big
effort out of him to beat lowly Cincinnati.