The following is a list of the Week 16 leaders in looks and touches. It defines those running backs and receivers who received the most attention this past weekend.
Touches is defined as the number of times a running back carried or caught the football.
Looks is defined as the number of times a player was the intended target of a pass.
We've hit the final turn, with just one weekend of games left on the 2006 schedule. It all ends with the Sunday night matchup between Dallas and St. Louis. Can Dallas hit the playoffs? Can Julius Jones possibly approach his ridiculous yardage total attained on 36 Touches last weekend? Will Drew Bledsoe turn in a huge performance against the Rams to allow owners to claim victory?
We'll get those answers soon enough, as well as better indications of which teams and players will be making early exits to allow for 2006 auditions or to preserve health heading into the playoffs. For this championship week, I've expanded the Looks table to get you the skinny on as many receiving targets as possible.
Let's tear it up!
Troy Walters enters Week 17 as the top receiving option for the Colts, with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne unlikely to see much time, if any at all, and Brandon Stokley injured in Week 16. Walters was targeted 11 times in Week 16, hauling in eight passes for 91 yards and a score. He'll be Jim Sorgi's top option against the Cardinals.
Rookie Tight End Alex Smith of the Buccaneers leads the other rookie Alex Smith by two touchdowns with one game to play. The Bucs TE was targeted 12 times by Chris Simms in last week's OT thriller against the Falcons. That effort was good enough to lead all TEs this past week and placed Smith in the Top 10 Looks for this week.
Veteran Derrick Mason has to be happy with the recent string of performances from QB Kyle Boller. First, Mason reached the 1,000-yard mark for the year on nine receptions for 103 yards in Week 16. He was targeted 11 times in this game, and holds an average of 8.87 Looks per game on the season. Ravens brass confirmed that Brian Billick will be back in control for 2006, meaning that the growth of Boller should continue unfettered.
With another huge week from the passing game under the direction of Josh McCown, Anquan Boldin tallied 16 Looks to reclaim the season lead. He maintains a one-Look lead over Chris Chambers of the Dolphins. In the final week, you can bet balls will be flying against the Colts. Boldin and teammate Larry Fitzgerald are very close to reaching the statistical mountain that is 100 catches. Boldin needs six, while Fitzgerald needs only three. Torry Holt, another leader in the overall Looks column, needs two receptions against Dallas to hit the century mark.
Plaxico Burress dropped a sure TD to start the rivalry matchup versus Washington. It set the tone for the game, and the Giants watched the Redskins roll to a 35-20 win. Burress was still targeted eight times in the game (165 for the year), but saw teammate Amani Toomer's role increase drastically. Toomer was targeted 14 times by Eli Manning, and was but a holding call away from a two-TD day.
The final stretch of games for the Packers has not been pretty to watch. Brett Favre is working with a mis-matched cast, with a number of role players and waiver wire acquisitions thrust into bigger roles. The lone familiar face is that of Donald Driver, who was targeted 13 times by Favre in the loss to Chicago. Here's thinking of another huge number of tosses in Driver's direction at Lambeau Field this weekend, as Favre looks to give the home fans something to cheer about in the finale.
Marion who? After facing injury and a threat of his playing time, Julius Jones picked championship week to pull out his first 100-yard performance of the year. The second-year back handled the ball 36 times in going over 200 total yards. Alas, many owners couldn't trust the workload split and had relegated Jones to the bench.
Larry Johnson continues to pile up a monstrous workload as the Chiefs finish the regular season. Despite having only one 20-carry game in the first half of the season, Johnson has racked up 341 Touches. He's accrued 29 or more Touches in seven straight games. Look for more of the same against Cincinnati this week as KC tries to keep its playoff hopes alive.
With his 16 Touches in Week 16, Edgerrin James topped 400 for the season. That's an average of 27 per game, which is a great testimony to his offensive line and his conditioning. With the number of injuries that have befallen running backs this season, that stat is staggering.
Tatum Bell accrued 19 Touches in Week 16, as Mike Anderson sat down with a sprained ankle. Bell needs 131 yards to reach 1,000 on the season and will face the Chargers, who have allowed only one 100-yard rusher all season. Larry Johnson did it in the 20-7 Chiefs win just last week, accumulating – you guessed it – 131 yards on the ground.
Ricky Williams took advantage of Ronnie Brown's absence in posting his "Remember Me?" game of the '05 season. Williams handled the ball 27 times, keeping in line with Nick Saban's "We'll run more" strategy. Williams will likely shoulder the load again this week in the finale against New England.
After breaking a seven-game scoring drought in Week 15, Willis McGahee was again held out of the end zone against Cincinnati. He did compile 26 Touches to cast aside some doubts about his health, but it was interesting to see the Bills utilize different options in goal line situations. The third-year RB (second on the field) averaged 22 Touches per game and piled up over 1,100 yards rushing. Fantasy owners can survive without the 100-yard games (he hasn't had one since Week 8), but one TD in the second half left those who selected him in the first round wanting.