Five things to know for Week 8: Greene, Murray emerging as stars
Minus Week 17, Shonn Greene's remaining opponents allow a combined 4.55 YPC
Brandon Llloyd may average 80 yards receiving each week with Sam Bradford
Jermichael Finley's targets have been affected by wealth of Packers' options
Before you set your lineups, here are a few of the more important realities to keep in mind.
If you have the slightest need for help at running back, Greene looks like an ideal trade target at the moment.
It was against a San Diego defense that has allowed a weak 4.7 yards per carry this year, but Greene still looked impressive Sunday, running for 112 yards on 20 carries. In a year that's short on fantasy running-back options, Greene could be one of the league's better fantasy backs in the second half.
Besides looking the best he has all year Sunday and the Jets showing a firm commitment to the running game, Greene benefits from a favorable remaining schedule. Excluding Week 17, Greene's remaining opponents combine to allow roughly 4.55 yards per carry.
He was definitely an early-season disappointment, but the pieces are in place for Greene to finish strong, and his lack of a high profile means he might be available at a reasonable price.
While it took several improbable turns of events for DeMarco Murray's 253-yard showing to occur Sunday, we were nonetheless wrong to advise low expectations for the third-round pick.
By starting Tashard Choice on Sunday -- a player clearly inferior to Murray and even undrafted rookie Phillip Tanner -- it looked like Jason Garrett was prepared to carry on his tradition of letting seniority overrule effectiveness.
But Garrett can only miss the memo for so long, and Murray's 91-yard touchdown run Sunday was the breaking point in this case. That play instantly prompted Garrett to abandon both his pass-happy game plan and Choice at the same time, resulting in Murray alone finishing the day with more carries (25) than Tony Romo did pass attempts (24).
While I highly doubt Murray is as good a running back as Miles Austin is a receiver, Sunday's showing was certainly reminiscent of Austin's 250-yard, two-touchdown game in his first career start in 2009. Just as it took Jones suffering a high ankle sprain for Murray to get his first real shot, it took a Roy Williams rib injury for Austin to get his audition that day. In both cases, the breakout player in question made a showing too strong to be dismissed.
It's unlikely the Eagles will be half as bad as St. Louis' shockingly weak run defense, and it's even more unlikely that Garrett will call more run plays than pass attempts again, but Murray should remain a good option in Week 8 against a Philadelphia defense allowing 4.8 yards per carry.
Beyond that, Murray's emergence is obviously bad news for Jones. Even if or when he's back to full health -- and who knows how long that might take? -- Jones would be lucky to get anything better than a 60-40 split with Murray.
Despite joining the Rams last Wednesday, Lloyd easily established himself as St. Louis' top receiver Sunday, catching six passes for 74 yards as A.J. Feeley started in place of Sam Bradford (high ankle sprain).
Promising even at a glance, the numbers are more impressive when you consider the Rams only threw for 196 yards against Dallas.
That means Lloyd accounted for roughly 37.8 percent of the team's yardage through the air. If Bradford averages even 225 yards per game upon his return (he averaged 235.4 per game before the injury), Lloyd should have a good chance to pull in about 80 or more of those yards each week.
The worst-case scenario for Lloyd most weeks should be WR3 status in most leagues, and he might turn out to have WR2 upside if a few things go his way. His fantasy-playoff schedule is awful (Cincinnati in Week 15, Pittsburgh in Week 16), but the rest of his remaining schedule (excluding Week 17) combines to allow 8.1 yards per pass.
Few players have failed to live up to their fantasy hype like Finley has the last two years, even when injuries weren't to blame.
It's not a reflection of his real-life utility. There's little doubt that he's too big and athletic for defenses to stop consistently. At least, not as long as those defenses hope to stop Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, too. But those other players pose a problem for Finley's ability to produce. It seems as if defenses understandably prefer to single out Finley and take their chances with Nelson, Jones and Cobb.
Although he's one of the most feared receivers in the game and his offense is led by perhaps the league's best quarterback, Finley has just 46 catches for 635 yards and five touchdowns in his last 11 completed games, with the touchdowns derived from just three games. That's a lot of inconsistency to deal with as a fantasy owner.
As long as Finley is used more as a decoy than a workhorse, I'd definitely rather have Jimmy Graham, Fred Davis, Aaron Hernandez, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates and Rob Gronkowski. If Peyton Manning (neck) sees the field again, include Dallas Clark on that list, too.
Anthony Armstrong is a good player, but he lacks the multidimensional skill set possessed by Santana Moss, who figures to miss 5-to-7 weeks with a hand injury.
Armstrong's game is mostly about burning teams deep, but new quarterback John Beck probably doesn't have the ability to go long. Instead of Armstrong picking up much of Moss' slack, expect most of that production to get picked up by Fred Davis and Jabar Gaffney.
As a career possession wideout, Gaffney figures to be a consistent target for Beck, who is less of a Grossman-type gunslinger and more of a West Coast offense sort of passer. Gaffney quietly totaled 43 targets through six games this year, so he could easily average eight or more targets per game.
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