- Ken Daube, Fantasy Football
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There haven't been many performances recently that were as authorative as the two masterpieces delivered from the starting running backs in the Philadelphia Eagles-Detroit Lions game this past Sunday, as LeSean McCoy and Jahvid Best brought their "A" games. The best part of both performances is that based on the underlying support metrics, neither was a fluke. Each player turned more than 40 percent of his rushes into first downs, each had four runs that went for more than 10 yards and each turned his lone carry inside his opponent's 10-yard line into six points for his respective team. With no other solid options for their respective coaches to turn to, both players are on the fast track to finishing as Top 15 fantasy backs this season.
Receiving yardage is the most variable form of yardage, which makes sense because so much of it is dependent on where the quarterback elects to throw the ball. Because of this, variations in the number of times a player is targeted by his quarterback can greatly change a player's value.
The following players finished as the top 50 most targeted players this past week:
There aren't enough superlatives to describe how well Best played Sunday. After showing in Week 1 that he can be fantasy useful, even when he didn't have a decent game yardage-wise, Best showed the world why the Lions are so high on him.
Al Davis is going to want to give Darrius Heyward-Bey every opportunity to succeed, but it looks like it's questionable who the Oakland Raiders start at quarterback. Under Bruce Gradkowski, Heyward-Bey was targeted nine times in just one half of play. If Gradkowski is appointed the starter, the chances for Heyward-Bey to perform might increase dramatically.
The Broncos feel that they got their replacement for Brandon Marshall when they drafted Demaryius Thomas. Thomas' initial chance at making a favorable impression didn't disappoint. When it's considered that he missed almost all of the preseason, Thomas' Week 2 production is simply amazing. He won't have to fight a receiver like Miles Austin for looks, and that elevates Thomas as the top fantasy option among rookie wide receivers.
A lot has been made about Mike Williams and Deion Branch, but take notice of Deon Butler's opportunities. Butler is in his second year, and head coach Pete Carroll's only loyalty will be to rebuilding the Seattle Seahawks.
Wes Welker scored his third touchdown of the season against the New York Jets. That matches his total from 2008 and is one under than his total from last year. It'll be hard to trade for him, but with the number of targets, receptions and yards he'll get Welker will become a top-3 receiver, if he can manage 12 scores for the season.
Tony Moeaki of the Kansas City Chiefs is the second consecutive tight end to find himself with more than five targets against the Cleveland Browns (Kellen Winslow). Keep an eye on this as the bye weeks begin to creep up, in case you need a fill-in tight end in deeper leagues.
Visanthe Shiancoe and Adrian Peterson finished first and second among Minnesota Viking receivers in terms of targets. Percy Harvin was usable, but unless the Vikings add another weapon at wide receiver (Vincent Jackson?), those who drafted Brett Favre looking for anything close to his 2009 campaign are going to be sorely disappointed.
Big plays and up close
Nobody was a bigger proponent of LaDainian Tomlinson last year than I was, and therefore nobody was burned as badly when injuries to Tomlinson and his offensive line apparently signaled the end of the line for the future Hall of Famer. That conclusion appears to have been premature, as Tomlinson has already amassed five runs for more than 10 yards in his first two games. Last year, he managed just 14 such runs in 14 games. Forget about Shonn Greene's fumbling issues in Week 1, the real threat to Greene is a healthy Tomlinson.
Clinton Portis had five runs inside the opponent's 10-yard line (I-10). On one of those carries, he ran for four yards. On the other four, he lost a total of two yards. He still managed to cross the goal line twice. I don't know if that's good, bad or indifferent.
Rashard Mendenhall had two I-10 carries, but he lost yardage both times.
Knowshon Moreno led the NFL with six I-10 carries this weekend. Three of those came on consecutive goal-to-go plays from the Seattle Seahawks' 1-yard line. Keep this in mind, if Laurence Maroney is active next week, see how he is used.
The names that make up the past weekend's list of players with a Big Play Rush (runs greater than 10 yards) are as expected: Peterson, Best, McCoy and Ahmad Bradshaw. Among others on the list who might be available on your league's waiver wire: Mike Tolbert, Jason Snelling and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Josh Freeman. Snelling makes the most compelling case to be added because he is a handcuff for Michael Turner, who missed a significant portion of last season.
Ken Daube is a fantasy football analyst for ESPN.com. His ESPN.com fan profile is available at: http://myespn.go.com/KenD17.
Ken Daube takes a closer look at some underlying statistical trends, and was impressed by LeSean McCoy and Jahvid Best in their battle on Sunday.