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. "X" means player was inactive for game.
Was someone restless over Young?
RB: Shonn Greene (28-11-21), Bilal Powell (4-11-15)
WR/TE: Santonio Holmes (8-11-14), Stephen Hill (6-2-7), Jeremy Kerley (4-4-3), Dustin Keller INJ (1-X-X), Jeff Cumberland (4-5-6)
Holmes has seen his number of targets increase each week, culminating in nine catches on 14 targets for 147 yards in Week 3, his biggest total in a Jets uniform. However, quarterback Mark Sanchez is barely completing half of his pass attempts, which puts a relatively low ceiling on what to expect from Holmes on a weekly basis unless sudden improvements are made. Until Sanchez gets it figured out, or Tim Tebow is allowed to throw the ball, secondary options like Stephen Hill (hamstring) and Keller (hamstring) are dicey plays, even when healthy.
With cornerback Darrelle Revis (knee) out for the season due to a torn ACL, the offense will likely need to find a spark to keep the team competitive should the Revis-centric defense begin to crumble without their cornerstone. That answer could turn out to be second-year running back Powell, who continues to outplay Greene. Powell led the team with 45 rushing yards on 10 carries last week while Greene only totaled 40 yards despite getting nine more attempts. On the season Greene is averaging a pathetic 2.8 yards per carry and has yet to record a run of 15 yards or more.
RB: Mikel Leshoure (X-X-30), Joique Bell (1-9-10), Kevin Smith (19-19-0)
WR/TE: Calvin Johnson (7-12-12), Nate Burleson (9-5-14), Brandon Pettigrew (10-4-12), Titus Young (4-3-7)
Following an MRI on his right leg, quarterback Matthew Stafford (hamstring) and the Lions aren't giving out many details on the results. Backup QB Shaun Hill completed 10 of his 13 passes for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns after taking over due to Stafford's injury. Back in 2010, Hill played 11 games because of an issue with Stafford's throwing shoulder and had varying degrees of success. Hill typically looks for shorter passes, which allowed tight end Pettigrew to lead the team in receptions numerous times and is likely the biggest beneficiary if Stafford has to be put on the shelf.
Burleson, who matched Johnson with a dozen targets and 10 catches last week, is holding onto the secondary wide receiver job despite assumptions Young would bump him as Megatron's top wingman this season. Young was quiet in the passing game the first two games of the season but caught six passes for 75 yards and reeled in a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown last week. Check your waiver wire to see if rival owners bailed on Young too early.
After a pair of respectable starts, Smith may have tumbled on the depth chart to the No. 3 running back spot. New starter LeShoure carried the ball 26 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, making him a player that should be universally owned.
Bell saw more than 20 snaps, mainly on passing plays and should see a lot of action on third down. Smith only took the field five times and did not receive a carry or a target, but Jim Schwartz insists that using Bell so much was situational. Keep an eye on this situation for the long term, and deep leaguers shouldn't give up on Smith just yet if they're clinging to any RB hope.
Fortune, not necessarily favor
RB: Stevan Ridley (24-22-14), Danny Woodhead (6-9-17), Brandon Bolden (5-0-2)
WR/TE: Brandon Lloyd (8-13-12), Rob Gronkowski (6-9-3), Aaron Hernandez INJ (8-1-X), Wes Welker (5-11-10), Julian Edelman INJ (2-6-9), Deion Branch (X-X-3)
Just when Ridley was starting to look like a safe play he only registered 37 yards on 13 carries Sunday night while playing half as many snaps as Woodhead. Oh, and he was passed over for a short touchdown run in favor of Bolden. Ridley remains the only Pats running back to roster, at least for now, but Woodhead will continue to take away playing time when the team opts to spread it out. Yup, it's the same type of frustrating, matchup-based New England backfield we've come to loathe.
Welker continues to catch lucky breaks, literally. The reduced snap count in Week 1 was a result of the team's desire to use Edelman (hand) over Welker for blocking situations in two-wide sets. However, with tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle) missing several weeks and the aforementioned Edelman leaving last week's game due to a hand injury on a touchdown catch, Welker is now in the clear as the team's unquestioned slot machine.
- Heading into the season, New York Giants rookie Rueben Randle was the assumed No. 3 wide receiver. Scratch all that. Ramses Barden took advantage of Hakeem Nicks (foot) being unable to play on a short week and a defense that threw a ton of coverage at Victor Cruz converting nine of his team-high 10 targets into 138 yards. With Nicks due to return, Barden continues to offer value as the No. 3 receiver in the pecking order on an offense that loves taking big shots down the field. Even when Nicks is active, Barden should continue occupying an outside spot while Cruz slides inside to his comfortable slot placement.
- With Oakland Raiders tight end Brandon Myers (concussion) and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion) getting battered, Denarius Moore is surging ahead as Carson Palmer's top target. Even running back Darren McFadden has dropped four passes. Only eight of Moore's 18 targets have turned into receptions, but the lack of healthy bodies makes him the leading receiver by default.
- With Jeremy Maclin (hip) out of action, rookie wide receiver Damaris Johnson led the Philadelphia Eagles with 11 targets, five catches and 84 yards Sunday. They believe Maclin will be ready for Week 4, but Johnson is the name to remember if there's a setback.
- Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers totaled 67 yards and a touchdown on 15 touches in Week 3, as he continues to play a bigger role and eat into Michael Turner's opportunities. In an up-tempo offense, Turner is not a good fit, making Rodgers a decent flex play when the Dirty Birds are flying high. Owners may want to take advantage of Turner's 80-yard, one-TD effort and explore trade options before the aging back reverts to the poor performances he had in Weeks 1 and 2.
- Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson continues to look awful, so the team is going to the air. Tight end Jared Cook (shoulder) scored on a long touchdown but was injured and may not be able to practice until the end of the week. Thankfully, Kenny Britt (ankle) continues to work his way back from knee surgery. He caught half a dozen passes on 11 targets, matching rookie Kendall Wright, for 55 yards. Without Cook, Britt would take over as the top option in the red zone. Either way, Britt's risky but elite potential may start to show up more often soon.
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.