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.
Laurent who? The Dallas Cowboys' new No. 3 wide receiver, Kevin Ogletree, led his team with 11 targets, eight receptions, 114 yards and a pair of scores. Given the Boys' success out of this position a year ago, Ogletree is an obvious waiver wire addition. Just don't get carried away as he played less than half of the offensive snaps. Keep in mind the injury-riddled secondary Ogletree faced. Also, tight end Jason Witten (spleen) wasn't 100 percent, and receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) was slowed by a hamstring injury.
A McCluster of targets
- Another leading receiver from last week to target, especially in PPR formats, is Kansas City Chiefs slot receiver Dexter McCluster, who caught six passes on 10 targets for 82 yards. Meanwhile, popular sleeper wide receiver Jon Baldwin saw a limited number of plays and was not targeted at all. Dwayne Bowe is still working his way into top game shape after his holdout, and it looks like Brian Daboll is trying to use McCluster more, at least early on, because of that.
- Indianapolis Colts rookie tight end Coby Fleener saw 10 targets, catching six passes for 82 yards as he continues to produce with quarterback Andrew Luck, his former Stanford teammate, under center. However, three of his receptions came during the two-minute drill near the end of the first half. This may happen often for Indy this year, but it's premature to make Fleener an every-week play.
- Not only did Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta see more targets than tight end Ed Dickson, but his nine targets led all the team's receivers. He also caught a nice jump ball in the end zone during quarterback Joe Flacco's beatdown of the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Ravens' pass attack continues to be this lethal, Pitta and Dickson should see a healthy dose of chances in the red zone.
- Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins was a YAC machine in Week 1 and led his team with 86 yards. Much of this production came against a Ravens defense that was playing with the lead and employing a lot of zone coverage. It remains to be seen if Hawkins can produce on a weekly basis, but this is a team that needs a secondary receiver to step up. Get Hawkins on your watch list.
- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton looked bad, but the running game was simply dreadful against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that was basically a paper bag in 2011. (They might be better this year, though.) Running back DeAngelo Williams only managed one positive run on six attempts and finished the day in the red. Even Newton, a prolific runner, only managed four yards on the ground. It's fair to argue they abandoned it too quickly based on game flow, but the Panthers can only hope the return of running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) can stabilize their befuddled offense.
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also 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.
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