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
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Demaryius Thomas debuted over the weekend, catching eight passes for 97 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Even better, he was targeted nine times - almost twice as many as the next closest receivers, Eddie Royal (five targets) and Jabar Gaffney (five targets). The playing time for Thomas hurt Brandon Lloyd, who saw his looks drop from nine in Week 1 to five in Week 2. This one bears watching moving forward, as the Broncos are potentially very deep at receiver if their rookie options start showing up weekly. Furthermore, quarterback Kyle Orton isn't afraid to spread the wealth among his targets.
Still has what it takes
Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb must think receiver Santana Moss has a bull's eye on his jersey, because he hasn't been shy about throwing toward Moss over and over. Moss, who saw 10 targets in Week 1, was the target of 13 passes in Week 2. In two games, he has caught 16 of the 22 throws that have gone his direction. The next closest receiver - Joey Galloway - has eight looks in two games, while tight end Chris Cooley comes in second overall with 12 targets in two games. McNabb clearly has his eyes set on Moss and Cooley, everyone else is just seeing scraps.
We have warned fantasy football owners previously about the potential peaks and valleys Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Aromashodu may face on a week-to-week basis. The proof is in the pudding after two games, as Aromashodu was targeted 12 times in Week 1 but none in Week 2 while playing just one snap. He is still worth holding a roster spot on your team, but consider him no better than a streaky No. 4 option.
While San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree struggles (three catches and 44 yards) in his sophomore season, wide receiver Josh Morgan is quietly seeing looks and being productive. He was targeted five times in Week 1 and eight times in Week 2. He quietly leads the San Francisco receivers with nine catches for 102 yards; nothing special, but decent depth player production if you're struggling at receiver.
Despite the disaster going on at quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, star receiver Larry Fitzgerald is still seeing double-digit looks each week. He was targeted 15 times in Week 1 and 12 times in Week 2. Now if he could only catch those targets at a rate better than the 37 percent he currently is.... Needless to say, fantasy football owners miss Kurt Warner almost as much as the Cards do.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker quickly made fantasy football teams forget about him getting skunked in Week 1 by posting 10 catches on 12 targets in Week 2. There is another Jags receiver worthy of your attention these days, too. Mike Thomas now has 15 targets in two weeks, and has caught 10 of them for 132 yards. He isn't posting huge numbers, but seven looks in Week 1 and eight in Week 2 is steady opportunity in the making.
It is tough to get a feel for what the Dallas Cowboys are doing with rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant. In Week 1, the team targeted him 12 times and seemed to make it a point to get him the football. In Week 2, Bryant was the target of just two passes, which he turned into two receptions for 53 yards. This early week-to-week inconsistency needs to be watched closely; if the targets aren't consistently there, playing him weekly will be maddening.
From the consistency level fantasy football players love to see, Miles Austin, the top option for the Cowboys, has been targeted 26 times in two games. His targets ticked up from 11 in Week 1 to 15 in Week 2. Dating back to Week 8 of last season, Austin has been targeted less than double-digit times just five times.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski put a spark in the team's offense in Week 2, and it appears he will start this week. That could be good news for the receivers. Louis Murphy (6-91-1) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (6-80-0) had solid Week 2 games; Gradkowski targeted Murphy six times and DHB nine times. We are seeing both players on a lot of waiver wires, so they may be worth stashing for the time being to see how this plays out.
Seattle Seahawks receiver Deon Butler should be kept an eye on, as his targets bounced from one (a touchdown) in Week 1 to eight, including two looks in the Red Zone, in Week 2. Butler turned those eight looks into five receptions for 50 yards.
Will the looks keep up?
Speaking of the Seahawks, a 10-target Week 2 game for tight end John Carlson now has him with the lead of all receiving targets in Seattle after two weeks. He has caught eight of the 15 targets.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who was just named the team's starting quarterback, spread the wealth in Week 2, but you have to take it with a grain (or pound) of salt, because it was against the poor Detroit Lions secondary. DeSean Jackson (seven targets), Jeremy Maclin (six), Jason Avant (five) and Riley Cooper (three) were all involved. Stay tuned to see how this continues to play out in the coming weeks as Vick's rapport builds with his options.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie tight end Tony Moeaki was targeted 10 times in Week 2, six more than Week 1. In two weeks, he has caught eight of the 14 targets sent his direction, good for 79 yards and a touchdown. He is worth keeping an eye on if you're in need of tight end depth.
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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