Fantasy Football on Target: Week 9

by Tim Heaney on November 2, 2011 @ 13:01:34 PDT

 


Fantasy Football Targets | Fantasy Football Stats

Opportunity in the NFL can translate to success in fantasy football. While a wide receiver or tight end may have caught a few passes in a given week, his target total might have been double or triple that. Those looks may not have turned into receptions one week but might in the future.

Whose involvement is worth watching? Are these target numbers a trend in the making or an aberration?

Hines Ward's health isn't going to define Antonio Brown's fantasy value anymore. He's emerging as a legit midrange threat in the Pittsburgh Steelers' aerial game. He has the trust of Ben Roethlisberger, especially as he's seemingly performing more three- and five-step drops lately because of his lingering foot injury.

Top Week 8 wide receivers

Rk
Player
Tm
Tar
Rec
Rec%
1
Antonio Brown
PIT
15
9
60.0
2
Pierre Garcon
IND
15
7
46.7
3
Reggie Wayne
IND
14
5
35.7
4
Sidney Rice
SEA
14
7
50.0
5
Brandon Lloyd
STL
13
6
46.2
6
Eddie Royal
DEN
13
6
46.2
7
Eric Decker
DEN
12
6
50.0
8
Anquan Boldin
BAL
12
7
58.3
9
Dwayne Bowe
KC
11
4
36.4
10
Greg Little
CLE
11
4
36.4
11
Hakeem Nicks
NYG
10
6
60.0
12
A.J. Green
CIN
10
4
40.0
  • Maybe you can use this stat line to sell Wayne. Maybe. The fact he has caught 49.3 percent of Indianapolis Colts offerings won't do you much good. He's only a WR3.
  • Rice was happy to have Tarvaris Jackson back behind center. For all the grief Jackson earns, he's the better commander of this rusty passing vessel right now, and Rice performs better when his former Minnesota Vikings teammate is locating him. Rice is locked in to WR3 value, at minimum.
  • A little more Rocky this week in the Denver Broncos' targets. They had to rally back from a large deficit in Week 8. Demaryius Thomas, their Week 7 target leader, was nonexistent, while Royal and Decker took the reins, especially in garbage time. This looks like a rotating situation, with Decker and Thomas holding more upside than the reception-defined Royal. Decker is in the slight lead at the moment, but it won't hurt to own a piece of this passing game. Start them? Not as solid a strategy if you have other more efficient wideouts that aren't dependant on Tim Tebow. And given Tebow's disappointing performance, a QB change could be coming, increasing this crop's flux.
  • A furious second half gave Boldin his best game of the year. Joe Flacco showed signs of competency, which should bode well for Q ... except for this week, when the Pittsburgh Steelers will make him a risky fantasy play.

Top Week 8 tight ends

Rk
Player
Tm
Tar
Rec
Rec%
1
Jason Witten
DAL
12
4
33.3
2
Dallas Clark
IND
10
6
60.0
3
Heath Miller
PIT
9
7
77.8
4
Fred Davis
WAS
9
8
88.9
5
Brent Celek
PHI
9
7
77.8
6
Ed Dickson
BAL
9
6
66.7
7
Rob Gronkowski
NE
9
7
77.8
8
Marcedes Lewis
JAC
9
4
44.4
9
Dennis Pitta
BAL
8
6
75.0
10
Jimmy Graham
NO
8
4
50.0
  • The Indianapolis Colts had to make another furious comeback. Clark proved he can be involved; he even had tied his season high in catches. All things equal, he's still a flex play since he typically stays in to block any threatening pass rusher.
  • Much of Miller's production came on the first drive of the game. An isolated air strike shouldn't slap Miller on your radar, but the Pittsburgh Steelers vet remains a capable backup who'll do this once in awhile.
  • Don't write off this Celek workload.
  • Dickson and Pitta will do this from time to time, especially in situations like the Baltimore Ravens' furious second-half comeback last week. Their cannibalism in an already inconsistent offensive role limits either's upside. Dickson is the first choice if you need to dip your toes here. Hopefully you don't.
  • Lewis' season-high involvement and catch total was probably his maximum production as long as Blaine Gabbert is directing the Jacksonville Jaguars' plays. He remains a risky play.

Rivers run dry

"Worst day ever?" Worst season, for sure, in a shocking lack of San Diego Chargers jolt with Philip Rivers' struggles short-circuiting this once electric passing game. Antonio Gates looks relatively safe in his production, and Malcom Floyd has come on since Gates' return opened up more field to work with.

New England Patriots WR Wes Welker
Not all well for Welker?

But Rivers' issues with the deep ball have zapped out Vincent Jackson's production. Good news: V-Jax has been sought out 22 times in the last three weeks; it's not that he's being ignored. Whether Rivers is fighting an injury, dealing with personal issues, overly missing Darren Sproles, or is merely battling bouts of inconsistency, there's some upside to Jackson if No. 17 can right his ship over the next few weeks. And with the Chargers' banged-up backfield, they'll probably be forced to throw often in the coming weeks anyway - back to what they're used to on offense. Heck, Billy Volek is one of the best backups in the league, so Jackson could go nuts with him at QB if needed.

Jackson's buy-low stock outweighs his downside at this point. You'll have to be patient, but the odds of this offense warming up in the cold months. If SD can hold off the pass rush, a matchup with the Green Bay Packers' secondary in Week 9 isn't a bad time to start.

Miles to go

Speaking of perfect storms, Miles Austin's last two weeks are suddenly slapping him with a "sell" label. Against the St. Louis Rams two weeks ago, the Dallas Cowboys leaned on DeMarco Murray's historic ground day while mixing in Jason Witten and Dez Bryant; Austin earned just five targets and two snares. Versus the Philadelphia Eagles' elite secondary, Dallas' offense was flustered overall, and Austin escaped with only three looks (all caught). Romo blamed the coverage for not looking Austin's way enough.

This offense boasts enough weapons that one or two will often get lost in the shuffle; drafters of any Cowboy knew this coming into 2011. But in the next four weeks, Dallas plays the Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. After the receivers' virtual absence Sunday, they'll be shoved back into frequent activity immediately. Buy low on Austin now.

Well, Welker?

Wes Welker's quiet Week 8 can be attributed to the Pittsburgh Steelers' press man coverage - more than they've ever run before, per safety Ryan Clark. Have they found the blueprint in defending the New England Patriots' PPR pest? Hard to bench Welker in any league, but definitely a trend worth watching, especially for owners of Deion Branch, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

***

First-half review

Season leaders: WR catch percentage (min. 40 targets)

Rk
Player
Tm
Tar
Rec
Rec%
1
Mike Wallace
PIT
58
43
74.1
2
Jeremy Maclin
PHI
54
40
74.1
3
Lance Moore
NO
41
30
73.2
4
Michael Jenkins
MIN
40
29
72.5
5
Greg Jennings
GB
58
42
72.4
6
Percy Harvin
MIN
43
31
72.1
7
Jason Avant
PHI
43
31
72.1
8
David Nelson
BUF
44
31
70.5
9
Deion Branch
NE
43
30
69.8
10
Marques Colston
NO
42
29
69.1
11
Nate Washington
TEN
48
33
68.8
12
Wes Welker
NE
83
57
68.7
13
Victor Cruz
NYG
42
28
66.7
14
Stevie Johnson
BUF
59
39
66.1
15
Calvin Johnson
DET
74
47
63.5
16
Steve Smith
CAR
73
46
63.0
17
Miles Austin
DAL
42
26
61.9
18
Hakeem Nicks
NYG
62
38
61.3
19
Sidney Rice
SEA
40
24
60.0
20
Julio Jones
ATL
42
25
59.5
  • Avant, typically a middle-of-the-field option, has flourished this season thanks to opponents' increased efforts to snuff out DeSean Jackson. As they've been doing with Brent Celek, the Philadelphia Eagles want Avant to be more available to Michael Vick for underneath routes to keep the QB upright. The veteran catcher has become sturdy PPR depth.
  • Nelson, despite his recent struggles on adjusting to the outside, has snared eight of the 11 passes sent his way over the last two weeks. With Donald Jones (ankle) possibly returning this week, Nelson could move back inside to the slot, a productive spot in the Buffalo Bills' Chan Gailey-guided offense.
  • Jenkins isn't really a big-play guy, but that's how he accrued most of his Week 7 points. This is a case where you shouldn't trust percentage: Look at his week-to-week target and catch totals. Some inflation from a few big weeks might cause some to overvalue his potential.
  • The presence of many big-play wideouts in general says that type-downgrading guys like Megatron, Wallace, Jennings and Austin in PPR leagues isn't practical. Good receivers will get open at any area of the field.

Season leaders: TE catch percentage (min. 20 targets)

Rk
Player
Tm
Tar
Rec
Rec%
1
Vernon Davis
SF
31
27
87.1
2
Jake Ballard
NYG
24
19
79.2
3
Rob Gronkowski
NE
47
36
76.6
4
Heath Miller
PIT
40
30
75.0
5
Randy McMichael
SD
27
20
74.1
6
Fred Davis
WAS
44
32
72.7
7
Dennis Pitta
BAL
23
16
69.6
8
Evan Moore
CLE
23
16
69.6
9
Brandon Pettigrew
DET
60
41
68.3
10
Jermichael Finley
GB
37
25
67.6
11
Tony Gonzalez
ATL
52
35
67.3
12
Jimmy Graham
NO
74
49
66.2
13
Todd Heap
ARI
20
13
65.0
14
Owen Daniels
HOU
48
31
64.6
15
Aaron Hernandez
NE
45
29
64.4
16
Jason Witten
DAL
64
40
62.5
17
Jermaine Gresham
CIN
41
25
61.0
18
Antonio Gates
SD
28
17
60.7
19
Joel Dreessen
HOU
20
12
60.0
20
Daniel Fells
DEN
24
14
58.3
  • Daniels' touchdown promise has been consistently gnawed at by Dreessen's vulturing. It limits his upside, but Daniels is still a top-10 commodity.
  • Moore, Fells and Heap won't see the field enough to become consistent fantasy options, but this shows they can at least be decent fill-ins for deep leagues.

Buy

Player
Tm
Notes
Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley
SF, GB
When they're involved, they're involved. They boast some primo matchups on the horizon for an improving throwing setup.
Percy Harvin
MIN
As Christian Ponder starts to figure things out, Harvin will statistically follow. MIN gave him a rushing TD - they're figuring out how to get the ball in his hands early, which is vital to him contributing.

Sell

Player
Tm
Notes
Victor Cruz
NYG
Yes, he has talent. But have you seen some of his TDs this year? Big, busted plays, many of them with sloppy missed tackles. He relies on the big play. A Hakeem Nicks injury would give him legit consistent value, but if you can gain a massive profit in an area of need by giving him up, you shouldn't hesitate.
Stevie Johnson
BUF
Depends on your WR situation: 2 upcoming matchups with Darrelle Revis, a passing game that's getting some wind taken out of it.... He's talented and will see targets, but what will he be able to do with them? Depending on your situation, it might be best to let someone else worry about Weeks 9 and 12.

Risers

(Week 8 targets)

Player
Tm
Notes
Jonathan Baldwin (8)
KC
Taking targets from Steve Breaston. Physicality displayed in big Week 8 TD grab. Slot lineup produces matchup issues in passing O that's suddenly clicking. Won't always play this big, but has the potential to do so consistently.
Jake Ballard (7)
NYG
See the TE season leaders table. Becoming a security blanket a la Kevin Boss with Eli Manning at top of his game right now.
Braylon Edwards (7)
SF
Merely by being healthy. This is hardly an air-it-out setup, but Alex Smith is becoming more competent. In deep leagues, any hint of receiving attention is worth pursuing.

Monitor

(Week 8 targets)

Player
Tm
Notes
Taylor Price (1)
NE
Chad Ochocinco ... irrelevant. Price will see more work. Anyone with potential for more reps with Tom Brady is highlighted. Need a WR7?
Brandon Gibson (6)
STL
Another trip on the wideout merry-go-round. Danario Alexander is hurt, and Mark Clayton's 2011 is in jeopardy. Gibson could start on the outside for at least Week 9 versus the Arizona Cardinals.
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Fantasy Football Targets | Fantasy Football Stats

About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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