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, not including byes, of touches (running backs) and targets (wide receivers and tight ends) for each player listed in parentheses. X means player was inactive.
RB: Trent Richardson INJ (20-24-17), Montario Hardesty (0-0-16), Chris Ogbonnaya (5-4-3)
WR/TE: Greg Little (11-2-5), Josh Gordon (1-8-4), Mohamed Massaquoi INJ (X-X-X), Benjamin Watson (6-3-5), Jordan Cameron (6-2-3)
After taking a helmet shot to his right side, Richardson (ribs) is currently listed as day to day. In his absence the Browns continued to run the ball with Hardesty, who got his first action of the season, for 15 carries and 56 yards with a goal line touchdown. Depending on the game day status of Richardson, the team will use Hardesty as needed to keep the ground game on track.
In addition to Richardson's injury, slot receiver Norwood (foot) was placed on Injured Reserve with a return designation, while Massaquoi (hamstring) remains sidelined. Little has dropped five passes, tied for most at wide receiver this season, and is struggling mightily right now.
Over the last two games, Gordon has received significantly more playing time, leading the team with 12 targets, and is creating a strong deep ball connection with fellow rookie Brandon Weeden. You many not find long-term consistency, but Gordon is hitting enough big plays to warrant chancing as a fantasy starter even after the injured players return.
RB: Darren McFadden (20-14-31), Mike Goodson (1-6-5), Marcel Reece (5-8-1)
WR/TE: Denarius Moore (10-8-9), Brandon Myers (4-2-7), Darrius Heyward-Bey (5-X-6), Derek Hagan (4-5-4), Rod Streater (2-2-3)
Moore leads the Raiders with 35 targets on the year and has been aimed at with consistency, getting at least eight looks a game thus far. Myers hasn't found the end zone but is a deep PPR option, averaging 4.2 catches and 58.0 yards per game. DHB is back following a scary concussion but was a non-factor with two targets and zero catches. For now, Moore remains the sole receiver of the Silver and Black to consider calling on each week.
Goodson tailed 96 yards of total offense on just five touches and looks to be exceling as a change of pace for the struggling McFadden. The new zone-blocking scheme doesn't totally agree with DMC, but he would need to suddenly lose a stranglehold on his bulk of the carries to allow Goodson to become more than an occasional and inconsistent big-play contributor. It's possible but not probable anytime soon.
RB: Steven Jackson (20-18-17), Daryl Richardson (9-11-14)
WR/TE: Brandon Gibson (4-4-9), Chris Givens (3-5-7), Lance Kendricks (2-2-4), Austin Pettis (2-3-1)
After seventh-round pick Richardson disposed of second-rounder Isaiah Pead in camp, he is now looking to displace Jackson, who is being granted free agency a year earlier than his contract calls for. Last week, the fresher set of dreads outperformed the vet with 99 total yards on 13 touches to S-Jax's 80 yards on 15 chances. The aging Jackson is clearly no longer viewed as a workhorse and isn't even the most explosive option in the backfield. This is a timeshare right now, but Richardson is a breakout game away from really forcing the issue in his favor.
The box score shows Gibson led the team with seven catches and 91 yards, but Givens, though he dropped some passes, actually played a lot more snaps and made a team-long reception of 65 yards. Gibson will be the hot addition this week, but Givens is getting a lot of opportunities as well and should not be overlooked.
A few backfields in motion....
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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