Opportunity in the NFL can translate to success in fantasy football. Are these target numbers a trend or an aberration for these players' fantasy football value? Do they deserve attention on fantasy football waiver wires?
Note: Last three weeks of touches (running backs) and targets (wide receivers and tight ends) for each player listed in parentheses
Tossing to Cobb
RB: Cedric Benson (9)
WR/TE: Greg Jennings INJ (9), Jordy Nelson (7), Jermichael Finley (11), Randall Cobb (9), James Jones (6)
Even when they aren't facing an elite run defense like the San Francisco 49ers, it looks unlikely that the Packers are going to get much out of their running game. The newly signed Benson only took the field a third of the time and was outgained on the ground by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A fully stocked passing attack isn't the only reason to consider the running backs of the Packers irrelevant. The new wrinkle in the offense this season is using Cobb out of the backfield, particularly on third down, for quick strikes and exploiting mismatches. While he didn't receive a carry, Cobb may evolve into a role similar to that of Percy Harvin. All told, Cobb is the top waiver wire addition this week.
Not only was Finley the most targeted Packers receiver, but he was thrown to more than any other tight end in Week 1. His line of seven catches, 47 yards and a touchdown would have been even better if not for a pair of drops. Even though the early return on Finley was encouraging, Rodgers was under distress much of the day and had to settle for shorter pass attempts.
Perhaps the biggest headline in Green Bay right now is the groin injury that Jennings suffered on the final drive of the game. The short week has him doubtful for Thursday night's contest. If Jennings can't suit up, Jones becomes an intriguing pickup. Even veteran Donald Driver, who only played a handful snaps at the end of the game, could earn some extra opportunities.
New England Patriots
RB: Stevan Ridley (24), Danny Woodhead (6), Brandon Bolden (5)
WR/TE: Rob Gronkowski (6), Brandon Lloyd (8), Aaron Hernandez (7), Wes Welker (5), Julian Edelman (2)
With the Patriots in total control of the game and able to gash the Tennessee Titans run defense at will, the typical array of short passes to Welker weren't needed. Also concerning was the number of snaps Edelman played in Welker's typical slot position.
It's too early to press the panic button, and McDaniels said it was part of the gameplan (NE alters it seemingly week to week). But should New England continue to run this frequently, the 31-year-old Welker, playing on a one-year deal, is in danger of being the odd man out. Lloyd, a favorite of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, led the team in targets. Brady looked his way on a pair of long passes, overthrowing his new deep threat on a likely touchdown bomb.
Even though Ridley played the part of work horse with 125 rushing yards and a touchdown, the Pats running game is far from a sure thing on a week to week basis. With an OC that loves to fling the ball around and red zone targets galore, Ridley may have set the bar higher than what he'll be able to live up to the rest of the season.
Short Routes and Quick Runs....
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.
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