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?
Graham, other Saints stop marching?
Vincent Jackson was ineffective in Week 16 while playing through a groin injury. The San Diego Chargers are eliminated from postseason contention and probably won't push V-Jax much in Week 17 unless he drastically improves in practice. This would lead to more looks for Vincent Brown.
Malcom Floyd, on the other hand, shined in Week 16 and has paid off on his big-play ability lately. Jackson is still getting most of the defensive attention, leaving Floyd in favorable matchups. He looks like Philip Rivers' favorite receiver at the moment with at least four snags and 95 yards in four of his last five games. He has three scores in that duration, including one in each of the last two weeks.
Top Week 16 wide receivers
- Wayne and Garcon should see similar target loads and outputs in Week 17 against a hole-filled Jacksonville Jaguars secondary. The Indianapolis Colts' aerial game has improved with Dan Orlovsky taking snaps. Don't expect Indy to roll over in their Andrew Luck Bowl.
- Sure, Lloyd is the only reliable option for St. Louis Rams wideout targets, but if Kellen Clemens has to start at QB again, he can't be much better than a No. 3 fantasy wideout, especially versus the San Francisco 49ers' D. It's likely to be another case of volume failing to yield production.
- The New Orleans Saints might rest their starters, including Colston and tight end Jimmy Graham, for at least a portion of Week 17 depending on how the concurrent San Francisco 49ers game goes; a win gives SF a first-round bye. This could lead to more reps for Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson; both are viable flex plays for the desperate, with Meachem being the better addition.
- Dillard remains the closest to being a useful Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver; his double-digit target load last weekend, which produced five receptions and 61 yards, marked the third time in the last four games he has logged six-plus. Desperate PPRs could take a try with him, especially against a vulnerable Indianapolis Colts defense, but it's risky. He's someone to watch for deep 2012 reception-rewarding formats, too, if Blaine Gabbert can, you know, eventually look like an NFL QB.
Top Week 16 tight ends
- A 59-attempt day from Mark Sanchez helped bloat Keller's workload as the New York Jets attempted a comeback. Even with this inflation, Keller remains the favorite in this passing attack.
- Cook cashed in on his one-week play recommendation and has 19 looks, 17 catches, 272 yards and one touchdown over the last two weeks. He has been used effectively at times by both Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker, so whoever starts for the Tennessee Titans in 2012, Cook has an even stronger case to deliver as a sleeper tight end next season. Kenny Britt's return from knee surgery could open up even more space for Cook to bake on the field.
- With Kyle Williams (concussion), Ted Ginn Jr. (ankle) and Delanie Walker (jaw) banged up, Davis should see plenty of looks in Week 17 for the San Francisco 49ers. He has 18 targets over the last two weeks. The St. Louis Rams' pass rush isn't good enough to force Davis to stay in to block.
- With Benjamin Watson (concussion) on Injured Reserve, Moore finally took advantage of his undisputed playing time with a 5-35-1 Week 16. The Cleveland Browns need a more consistent weapon to complement Greg Little. Seneca Wallace, in taking over for Colt McCoy (concussion), has given them more downfield push, too. Moore is a sneaky Week 17 play against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that probably won't be focusing on him; he isn't used much for blocking anyway.
- Witten saw a bunch of Nnamdi Asomugha last weekend and was taking passes from Stephen McGee, not Tony Romo (hand). The Dallas Cowboys tight end probably won't have as much resistance against the New York Giants' secondary in Week 17, but they'll be focused on guarding him nonetheless. Miles Austin's return has prevented Witten from regaining looks that Laurent Robinson (shoulder) stole.
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 LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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