The following is a list of the Week 9 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.
Week 9 provided many thrills on the field, with an offensive explosion by the Colts (they now rank only second to Eli Manning's Giants in points per game), another banner day by second-year starter Carson Palmer, and some positives for the Vikings.
Of course, we also witnessed a large number of running backs exit action early due to injury. As a result, this week's tour into the play-by-play includes some new names and some heroes of fantasy seasons past.
Let's break it down.
Michael Vick wanted to display his arm strength and pocket presence to critics this past week, and finished the game with his best passing marks on the year. It also signaled another solid effort from Brian Finneran, who finished with 92 receiving yards and a rare touchdown. Finneran was targeted 13 times by Vick in Week 9. When last he hit the field, Finneran caught five passes for 103 yards. Clearly, Vick is comfortable with his veteran receiver and will continue to rely on him in the passing game. Look for him to put up another solid effort this week against Green Bay.
Andre Johnson returned to action, despite late-week reports that he'd be forced to miss another week with his calf injury. Instead, he turned in his best performance of the year, a nine-catch, 91-yard effort. He finished with 11 Looks from David Carr on the day. The ball was spread around more with the absence of Domanick Davis from the backfield.
Say what you will about the 49ers and their struggles to put up points, but Brandon Lloyd has talent. Yes, his terrific one-handed grab at the one-yard line was wiped away by a penalty, but Lloyd has shown that in the right system and with the right (that is, consistent) QB, he could really be a force. Fantasy owners looking for help at wideout may still want to look his way, as he tallied 10 Looks this past week with a total of 57 for the year.
I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the big week from an unexpected source in Detroit. Marred by injuries to virtually every wideout, and the loss of their top tailback Kevin Jones to a nerve injury, Joey Harrington became myopic and fired the ball consistently to the unheralded Scottie Vines. Vines led all receivers with 17 Looks this week in Detroit's loss to Minnesota. Right now, he and Marcus Pollard are the lone healthy options for Harrington, so he'll see another healthy workload when the Cardinals visit Detroit this week.
Peyton Manning and the passing attack got all the headlines this week, but the Colts leaned heavily on Edgerrin James' legs once again. James led all backs with 37 Touches this past week, bringing his season total to 219 (one behind LaDainian Tomlinson) and that includes the bye week. Tomlinson and the Chargers have a Week 10 bye. James has shown tremendous durability and is on the quest to be the last healthy back standing. He's averaged over 27 Touches per game this season.
Larry Johnson made the most of his start against the Raiders last week, combining his rushing and receiving efforts to defeat the Raiders and prove that he is indeed a No. 1 back. He finished with 25 Touches, including a pivotal 36-yard reception late that set up his game-winning one-yard plunge. He'll have ample opportunity for repeat performances now that Priest Holmes is lost for the year, starting with this week's game against the Bills. Opponents are averaging 30 rushing attempts per game against the Bills, so look for Johnson to appear at or near the top of the Touches column next week.
Sam who? Samkon Gado is one of the hottest pickups on the waiver wire this week, as he's the lone healthy running back in Green Bay (OK, technically there's nothing wrong with ReShard Lee). After Lee's fumble early against the Steelers, Mike Sherman rode the legs of the rookie back to 27 Touches. Gado even found the end zone before it was done. He'll have another big workload in Week 10 against Atlanta, as it's unlikely that Tony Fisher (ribs) will rejoin the fray.
And, Week 9 saw the return of Duce Staley to the field opposite Gado and the Green Bay Packers. After missing the first half of the year, Staley was fresh and ran with power and determination. He ultimately finished the day with 17 Touches after relieving the injured Willie Parker. Both Parker and Jerome Bettis are unlikely to be ready for Week 10 against Cleveland, and Ben Roethlisberger has already been ruled out. That means a big day on the ground for Staley.