Adam Levitan

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Doug Looks Fresh

Friday, October 26, 2012

Prior to the Bucs’ Week 5 bye, Doug Martin was averaging 60.0 total yards per game, 3.47 yards per carry and had one touchdown. His longest run was 17 yards and coaches were hinting at an expanded role for LeGarrette Blount. Fantasy owners were jumping ship.

What a difference a week off can make. In three games since the bye, Martin is averaging 155.6 total yards per game, 5.10 yards per carry and has three touchdowns. That includes the 32-touch, 214-yard masterpiece in Thursday night’s 36-17 romp over the Vikings.

Martin is now running like he was shot out of a cannon. With a Ray Rice kind of frame, he can get lost and stay patient behind his linemen before exploding. And most importantly, there has been a changing of the guard at the goal line.

Against the Saints last week, the Bucs called three straight runs from the 1-yard line for Blount. All three failed. On Thursday night, Martin was in on just about every goal-line play and punched in a 1-yard score to ice the game in the fourth quarter.  

There aren’t many three-down backs that catch the ball and get the 1-yard plunges. Martin is a major talent and in that category.

* After seeing the Vikings’ defense crumble again, we can knock La'Rod Stephens-Howling’s stock even more. Remember that LSH put 104 rushing yards and a touchdown on these Vikes last week.
* Another miserable night for Kyle Rudolph, who just isn’t the first read on enough plays between the 20s.
* Nothing was really wrong with Vincent Jackson. He saw an end-zone fade come his way and narrowly missed a couple downfield completions. Then the Bucs sat on a big lead. It happens.
* It was only a matter of time before Adrian Peterson broke a 64-yard TD run like he did in this one. He’s running even better than he did before the ACL tear, which really defies all medical history and logic.

The Packers have themselves the most explosive passing game on the planet. They also have themselves a mess right now.

Let’s start with the headline news, as Greg Jennings is set to undergo sports hernia surgery on Tuesday. He’s going to miss anywhere from 3-6 weeks.

"Hopefully I can return before the season ends," said Jennings. "We'll see. But it's not season-ending."

A best-case scenario for Jennings and the Packers would be easing him in during the last few weeks of the season so he can be 100 percent for the playoffs. But for fantasy purposes, we can essentially move on. Randall Cobb and James Jones are locked into every-down roles and legit WR1 or 2 candidates weekly.

Let’s throw another log on the fire in the form of No. 1 target Jordy Nelson’s hamstring strain. It tightened up on him Wednesday and he won’t even test it again until Saturday or Sunday. This will be a true game-time call for Sunday’s 1pm game against the Jaguars. Really desperate owners could roster Donald Driver as a weak handcuff.

The final shoe to drop is Jermichael Finley. He’s been commended by coaches for playing through this shoulder issue, but he’s been extremely limited. Over the last two weeks, Finley has totaled four catches, 31 yards and six targets. And he revealed that the Packers have altered his route tree.

"I'm getting a lot of out routes where they're keeping me close to the (sideline) to protect it," Finley said. "After this game, if I don't get pounded, it should be right again."

Finley projects to see a bump in targets if Nelson sits, but he’s still a shaky TE1 play.

Coach Pat Shurmur thinks Trent Richardson (ribs) looks much better this week than last. And that’s crucial, because Shurmur’s eyes told him to bench T-Rich in the middle of last week’s game against the Colts.

Richardson put in another limited practice Thursday and says he feels “way better.” It’s always a risk to play a guy susceptible to aggravation or benching, but owners are going to be hard-pressed to keep Richardson out of their lineups. The potential reward outweighs the risk.

DeMarco Murray has been overly optimistic about his foot injury since it happened. The fact is that he’s still keeping weight off it and doesn’t appear close to practicing. We know he won’t play against the Giants Sunday and he’s no lock to return in Week 9 either. The foot sprain isn’t as severe as Maurice Jones-Drew’s, but any foot injury is a major roadblock for a running back.

Meanwhile, Felix Jones returned to a limited practice with a knee brace strapped on Thursday. He’s going to start this week and remains a RB2 with upside. Although Jones managed just 74 yards on 20 touches last week, he’s averaging 5.56 yards per touch for his career. It only takes one big run to make a fantasy day.

The Panthers are shifting to a power-running scheme. It’s another boost to projected feature back Jonathan Stewart. … The Redskins said Logan Paulsen, not Chris Cooley, will be the No. 1 tight end. Consider the plodding Paulsen a desperation option only. … The Saints say they won’t trade Chris Ivory at the deadline. … Jabar Gaffney is pushing ahead of Marlon Moore for the Dolphins’ No. 3 wideout spot. … Tim Tebow is not expected to be traded at the deadline either.

Donald Brown (knee) got a full practice in. He’ll likely share the load with Vick Ballard Sunday. … Jonathan Dwyer is on track for another start. Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) is doubtful and Isaac Redman (ankle) is questionable. … Peyton Hillis (ankle) is practicing in full. He’ll be Jamaal Charles’ caddy Sunday. … Jimmy Graham (ankle) appears headed for a game-time call. He’s still not moving too well. … Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) missed another practice. He’ll likely start Sunday, but workload/effectiveness questions will linger with his injury.

Laurent Robinson (concussions) isn’t in game shape yet. Look for one more start out of Cecil Shorts. … Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) practiced in full again. He’s ready to get rocked in Lambeau. … Danny Amendola (clavicle) worked out again. He’s on track for that Week 10 return. … Pierre Garcon (toe) can’t even run full speed right now. He’s a poor bet to play before the Week 10 bye.

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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