Opportunity in the NFL world can translate into success in the fantasy football world. This is where targets come into play. While a wide receiver may have caught only four passes in a given week, his target total might have been double or triple that. Those targets may not have translated into catches one week, but they may in the future.
The following players gained attention because of the number of targets they received in the first three weeks. Are these numbers a trend in the making or simply an aberration?
Fantasy Football on Target
Henry not getting much love
For once we can criticize someone's "looks" and not be called shallow! Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chris Henry has gone from fantasy sleeper to fantasy dud; Henry's looks have everything to do with it. Looks, of course, mean targets and Henry isn't seeing many. He had his second consecutive week of just three targets, and has had just eight passes go his way in three games. His targets didn't improve in Week 3 despite practicing fully late last week; he had been hampered by a tweaked quadriceps earlier this year. It is time to cut bait, as Andre Caldwell's 19 targets in the same span are a lot more attractive to your fantasy squad.
It's time to throw New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem into the same dud category. He is a talented guy, no doubt, and he is on one of the league's most potent offenses. However, six targets in three games just doesn't cut it. He bottomed out at just one look in Week 3.
The Miami Dolphins will be going with quarterback Chad Henne, a second-year pro, at quarterback moving forward. It is important to note that seven of the nine targets wide receiver Davone Bess received in Week 3 came with Henne at the helm against the San Diego Chargers. Of Henne's 19 passing attempts, 37 percent of them were intended for Bess. It's too early to say this will be the norm, but in point-per-reception leagues Bess could see a bump in receptions moving forward.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Nate Burleson has been targeted double-digit times each of the first three weeks. He saw 11 targets in Week 1, 10 in Week 2 and 13 in Week 3. He has piled up 20 receptions, 229 receiving yards and a score along the way. He is being given chances to produce! It is a bit amazing to still see him floating on some waiver wires; jump on him while you can.
After seeing just one target in Week 2, Detroit Lions wide receiver Bryant Johnson saw 13 looks in Week 3. The team wants to get him the football more to take some pressure off Calvin Johnson. In Week 3, it worked out in Bryant's favor, as he found the end zone.
Wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has a long injury history, but his targets this year are starting to catch up. His looks have increased every week, going from just one in Week 1 to nine in Week 2 to 10 in Week 3. In the last two weeks he has 12 receptions, 187 yards receiving and one touchdown.
Hester playing like a No. 1 WR
Can it be? Is Devin Hester finally emerging as a legit receiver? The Chicago Bears' No. 1 option has seen his targets increase every week, going from four in Week 1 to six in Week 2 and topping out at eight in Week 3. Quarterback Jay Cutler seems to be becoming more comfortable with the speedy returner-turned-receiver. He has had no less than four receptions in any game this year and has scored in two out of the three games.
Even distribution seems to be the name of the game for the Baltimore Ravens. Receiver Derrick Mason has been a mainstay on fantasy rosters, and he has been targeted 10 times in Week 1, four times in Week 2 and eight times in Week 3. It's important to realize teammate Mark Clayton saw the same amount of targets in Weeks 1 and 3, and saw one more than Mason in Week 2. Clayton is seeing just as many (more, actually) chances from quarterback Joe Flacco to succeed as Mason is.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who had two touchdown grabs over the weekend, has seen no less than six targets in any game this year. He had a season-high 10 targets in Week 3. As scary as it is to say, it's time you consider getting him into your lineup.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings is going the wrong direction when it comes to targets. After receiving eight looks in Week 1, he has seen a total of eight targets combined the past two weeks, with his targets bottoming out at just three looks last weekend. He has been efficient with his catches, though, averaging 26.1 yards per catch. Teammate Donald Driver, in comparison, has had at least seven targets in every game this season.
Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller only has two catches in the past two games, but he has been targeted eight times in that span. Hopefully, in time, quarterback JaMarcus Russell will utilize other options to open more things up for Miller, who defenses are taking out of the game.
At this point last year, Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal had 29 targets and fantasy football owners were falling in love with him. Fast forward a season, and Royal has just 16 targets. Fantasy owners are quickly losing their love for him, and rightfully so.
Buffalo Bills tight end Derek Schouman (knee), who had 11 targets in two games, went on Injured Reserve last week, which opened the door for tight end Derek Fine to be looked at nine times during Week 3. He converted those looks into five receptions for 34 yards. Keep an eye on this situation, as it appears Buffalo is going to continue making the tight end part of their game plan each week.
Remember: Opportunity can lead to success. Find out which of these players we recommend adding in this week's Fantasy Football Waiver Wire.
Until next time, may all of the passes to your players be on target!
About Ryan R. Bonini
Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA
TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer
of the Year by the FSWA,
received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.
His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo!
Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured
on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA,
FSWA and FSTA.
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