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 this past week. Are these numbers a trend in the making or simply an aberration?
Fantasy Football on Target
St. Louis Rams wide receiver Mark Clayton wasn't even with the team for an entire week when the team took the field for the first game of the season. Regardless, rookie quarterback Sam Bradford had his sights set on Clayton early and often. Clayton was the target of 16 passes in Week 1, catching 10 of them for 119 yards. As mentioned in this week's Waiver Wire, he should be high on your list of free-agent pickups. Receivers Laurent Robinson and Danny Amendola each received nine looks, too, so the Rams are not afraid to let their rook quarterback put it in the air often when they're playing catchup.
Don't read too much into the targets wide receiver Jordan Shipley (seven) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (10), both rookies, received during Week 1. The Cincinnati Bengals were down to the New England Patriots early, and quarterback Carson Palmer spent the entire day throwing - his 50 attempts were six higher than his season high last year. Receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, who both had 13 targets each, will typically leave scraps for the others most weeks.
White led all WRs in targets
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White may make fantasy football players smile all season long if Week 1 was any indication of the amount of looks he is going to see this year. He was targeted a league-high 23 times, seven more than the next closest receiver, during Week 1. He hauled in 13 passes, tops in the NFL during the first week, for 111 yards.
The Dallas Cowboys didn't take any time working rookie receiver Dez Bryant into a heavy workload. Despite missing all of the preseason, Bryant was targeted 12 times in Week 1, and caught eight passes for 56 yards. He actually saw one more look than star receiver Miles Austin and five more than veteran Roy Williams, who started ahead of him.
With San Diego Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson out of the picture, Malcom Floyd saw No. 1 looks during Week 1. Unfortunately, he was only able to snag three of the 12 passes sent his direction against an aggressive Kansas City D in poor weather. Legedu Naanee, however, made good one five of his eight targets, going for 110 yards and a touchdown.
It is not clear how much time Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder) will miss. However, for those fantasy footballers that have wide receiver Calvin Johnson, you can rest a little easier knowing Shaun Hill has an eye for him. Nine of Megatron's 10 targets in Week 1 came with Hill at the helm of the offense, and that accounted for nine of Hill's 19 attempts. If Johnson would have been given credit for a controversial late touchdown reception, his numbers would have looked much better than the four-reception, 45-yard stat line he finished with.
Outside of Week 17 last year when New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, he saw double-digit targets in every game he played. Welker, who scored two touchdowns Sunday, was back in his familiar slot role and being targeted time after time, to the tune of 11 looks from quarterback Tom Brady during Week 1. It's scary to say, but he doesn't look like he was ever injured.
Don't overvalue his Week 1 looks
The Baltimore Ravens clearly had a pass-first mindset against the New York Jets, so don't jump for joy over tight end Todd Heap's 11 Week 1 targets. Offseason addition Anquan Boldin was quarterback Joe Flacco's favorite target among the receivers, catching seven of his 11 targets for 110 yards. Newcomer T.J. Houshmandzadeh matched veteran Raven Derrick Mason with six looks apiece.
Now that Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal is back in his natural slot role, the targets and receptions followed in Week 1. Quarterback Kyle Orton did a nice job spreading the ball around, but Royal's 10 targets led the way. He hauled in eight of them for 98 yards on the day.
Despite some question about how much playing time Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Aromashodu would see, he led the team's receivers with 12 Week 1 targets, five more than Johnny Knox and 11 more than Devin Hester. Aromashodu hauled in five of them for 71 yards against the Lions. Don't read too much into this one just yet, as our sources in Chicago said Aromashodu's looks may be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis.
Remember: Opportunity can lead to success. Find out which of these players we recommend adding in this week's Fantasy Football Waiver Wire.
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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