Fantasy football Risers/Sliders: Hunter, Reece carve out roles
Marcel Reece is an increasingly important receiver out of Oakland's backfield
Chris Johnson has averaged 112.8 rush yards per game in his last four contests
Cam Newton has thrown more than one touchdown in just one game this year
During Week 7 we learned that Joe Flacco may not be an elite quarterback, that Chris Johnson may still be one of the league's best runners and that it's better to stay clear of Carolina whenever possible.
Chris Johnson, Titans -- After screaming for weeks about the sky falling, Johnson's owners have been pleasantly surprised by his performance of late. Over the past four weeks Johnson has averaged 112.8 yards per game, tops in the league, and 7.3 yards per contest more than Adrian Peterson's second-place average. Sure, having two touchdowns vultured by Jamie Harper hasn't been ideal, but there should be no more complaints about Johnson (although, personally, I'd still try to trade him).
LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals -- The William Powell era in Arizona took a step backward Sunday as Stephens-Howling carved up a tough Vikings defense for 104 yards and a touchdown on the ground and added four grabs for 45 yards in the air. With the 49ers coming up next, neither is a good play for Week 8.
Kendall Hunter, 49ers -- The 49ers run a lot. In fact they're one of just four teams league-wide that runs more than it throws. Yes, part of that scheme is to minimize stress on Alex Smith, and part is to minimize the time San Francisco's defense is on the field, but it is also done to maximize the talent that lines up in the backfield. Frank Gore is having a tremendous season, but so is Hunter, who quietly has been one of the best backups in the league, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and placing among the league leaders among true RB2s. With so much of San Francisco's offense predicated on the run, and with the desire to limit wear and tear on Gore, Hunter's role will only expand down the stretch. He's an excellent player to have on your bench.
Marcel Reece, Raiders -- After years of toying with fantasy owners with ever-so-brief glimpses of greatness, Reece seems to have finally caught he Raiders' attention as one of their best offensive weapons. A former wide receiver with the body of a tight end, Reece has carved out a niche as a receiver out of the backfield, displaying tailback moves at the fullback position. He has caught at least four balls in three of his last four games, including four for a season-high 58 yards on Sunday against the Jaguars. Oakland's offense is dysfunctional, thanks in large part to a subpar line. That, conversely, should set up nicely for Reece to continue to grow in the game plan. With quality running backs dropping like flies during bye weeks, Reece is a flex consideration, especially in PPR leagues.
Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, Panthers -- Things are getting ugly in Charlotte as Cam Newton just can't get his head wrapped around the Panthers' dedication to a running game that has produced just 59 rushing yards per game. Frustrated, Newton spoke out to the media following another loss on Sunday, and given the results who can blame him for moaning about the team's play-calling. No Panthers back has run for even 50 yards in a game in a month and it doesn't seem like it'll be getting better anytime soon, especially following the loss of All-World center Ryan Kalil for the season with a foot injury.
Alex Green, Packers -- The good news for Green coming out of the Packers' win in St. Louis was the fact that he ran the ball 20 times. The bad news was that he gained just 35 yards. Counting his receiving yardage, he managed just 6.4 points in standard leagues and 10.4 in PPR leagues. Those numbers are what you expect from your kicker, not a starting tailback.
Jeremy Kerley, Jets -- With Stephen Hill suffering from a case of the dropsies, Chaz Schilens looking a lot better in the huddle than he does while running a route and Jason Hill trying to get up to speed in the Jets' offense, Kerley is the most reliable member of a deservedly-maligned receiving corps. Andy Dalton's old target at TCU caught seven of the 11 balls thrown his way against the Patriots for 120 yards, all career highs.
Randall Cobb, Packers -- One of the signs of a great receiving corps is that the members take turns being the hero. In recent weeks James Jones and Jordy Nelson have assumed the role, but in Week 7 against the Rams it was Cobb's turn. The second-year man had a monster game with eight catches for 89 yards and two scores, while adding an additional 19 yards rushing as icing on a 30-point PPR day. That lifted him to 10th place among all wide receivers in PPR points for the season, not bad for someone considered as a utility receiver when the year started.
Joseph Morgan, Saints -- For years Devery Henderson has filled the position that Morgan has slipped into. He doesn't catch a lot of balls, but those he does often go all the way. For the second time in three games Morgan caught one pass from Drew Brees and took it the distance. The latest saw him get behind the secondary, his specialty, and as he adjusted to the pass, he flipped Tampa Bay defender Eric Wright and eluded two other Bucs defenders en route to the end zone. A project the last two seasons, Morgan is someone for dynasty owners to grab and others to keep a keen eye on.
Santana Moss, Redskins -- The loss of tight end Fred Davis for the season with a torn Achilles should open up more opportunities for the veteran Moss, who used his newfound burst of speed, acquired when he recently lost some weight, for two touchdowns against the Giants. Now used almost exclusively in the slot, he's the most reliable pass catcher that Robert Griffin III now has.
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