Targets and touches can influence a fantasy football player's value, but utilization totals fluctuate week to week, depending on game and roster circumstances. In Fantasy Football On Target, we dissect those conditions to determine whether target trends are patterns or flukes.
For a complete listing of targets and touches, check out our Statistics Analyzer and Utilizations pages.
You'll also find more fantasy football risers in our Fantasy Football Waiver Wire.
Andre Ellington, who logged an impressive 36-yard touchdown toss Sunday, looks like the third-down back. Bruce Arians said the rookie can carry the load if given the chance. Ellington could have occasional PPR flex use even as a situational player. His score came when both he and Mendy were lined up in the backfield, so they'll probably continue to find creative ways to get him involved.
Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) will probably be hobbled for the next few weeks and is a much safer play in point-per-reception games.
Ax for S-Jax in Week 3
Steven Jackson (thigh) has been ruled out for Week 3. Expect a split between Jacquizz Rodgers (PPR) and Jason Snelling (goal line duties). The latter will cost you less to FAAB and might wind up offering a better return for the price.
With Roddy White (high ankle sprain) still serving as a decoy, Harry Douglas sustains mild, matchup-based PPR utility.
Baltimore went to Bernard Pierce after Ray Rice sustained a hip injury Sunday, but the backup mustered 57 yards on 19 carries. The starter is day-to-day. Pierce was already considered a threat for touches coming into the season, so he's a must-own now.
Joe Flacco got the ball in Torrey Smith's hands quickly on many of his 13 targets, using short routes to work around Joe Haden -- noteworthy for the Week 9 rematch. Start-worthy Marlon Brown (six targets in each of his first two games) has benefitted from extra attention sent Smith's way and the lack of reliable TE play.
It was another close utilization split between C.J. Spiller (21) and Fred Jackson (18), but Spiller shifted momentum back his way. The workload for both will continue to be more situation-defined than Spiller owners would care for, but he'll still export plenty of RB1 weeks.
Despite Scott Chandler's second straight week with six targets, Robert Woods is the main fantasy aerial complement to Stevie Johnson. EJ Manuel entrusted his fellow rookie seven times in Week 2. Woods' polish makes him worth owning as a WR5.
Steve Smith and Greg Olsen remain the only playable receiving components. Problem is Smith's 9.4 yards-per-grab average reflects how quickly Cam Newton must let go, thanks to their shoddy O-line. Newton is probably trying to do too much, to the detriment of this questionable, often conservative system.
Concerns about Martellus Bennett having to block have been eased: He has 15 targets, 10 targets and three touchdown grabs over his first two contests. Marc Trestman obviously values him as a weapon. Bennett has weekly borderline TE1 value.
Giovani Bernard's two-touchdown Monday night effort should do wonders for his involvement going forward. This offense's big-play ability multiplies by about a billion when he's on the field.
In other news, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert continue limiting each other's ceilings with their continued involvement.
What horrible timing for Josh Gordon: Brandon Weeden (thumb) won't play in Week 3. Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer can't be trusted for deep plays yet. Though they'll continue throwing to Jordan Cameron, among wideouts, they'll probably focus on Davone Bess, Greg Little and Travis Benjamin.
Murray yearning for carries
They say they want to run the ball more. They've said it for awhile, and Bill Callahan's play-calling was thought to be moving roward that. The offensive line troubles will limit for the near future what they can do with DeMarco Murray, outside of a favorable defensive matchup. Tony Romo will keep slingin' it.
Montee Ball's red-zone fumble didn't stop him from being used 14 times, mainly because Denver had a big Week 2 lead. Ronnie Hillman will keep being canceled out by starter Knowshon Moreno. Many of Ball's reps, for now, will come when Denver simply needs to kill clock.
Reggie Bush (knee) should be able to suit up for Week 3, but Joique Bell deserves lineup consideration in most PPR leagues anyway. He's taking advantage of Ryan Broyles' absence by earning targets on his own.
Eddie Lacy's concussion will likely keep him from playing in Week 3. James Starks, a hot pickup, will carry the load, with sprinklings of struggling rookie Johnathan Franklin. Though he's been inconsistent, Starks excelled in the zone-blocking scheme Sunday as he did in the past. Slight chance he remains heavily involved even after Lacy returns, whenever that may be.
The receiver workload varies frequently, but James Jones' 12-target, 11-catch, 178-day reminds you to bench Packers WRs at your own risk.
Ben Tate's smaller workload again out-produced Arian Foster's starter duties. Tate's flex-worthiness will continue putting pressure on Foster to get healthy soon.
A 13-look week propelled DeAndre Hopkins, who's finally rounding back into form after a preseason concussion. Andre Johnson has a head ding of his own, and Hopkins' potential is much better when Johnson is on the field. Still, the potential for more looks, even if they're in more coverage, sustains Hopkins' elevation into nearly every-week WR3 territory.
Ahmad Bradshaw showed a vintage, aggressive running style Sunday, just in time to justify seizing majority work now that Vick Ballard (knee) is done for the year. Donald Brown's secondary value is in jeopardy because the Colts want to acquire another carrier.
Luckily, T.Y. Hilton saw more work because they realized he's a bigger playmaker than Darrius Heyward-Bey. Coby Fleener will continue benefitting as long as Dwayne Allen (hip) remains sidelined.
If Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle) doesn't play in Week 3, it'd be a frustrating split between Justin Forsett and Jordan Todman. Fantasy owners should expect Forsett to get the majority, but neither should be in lineups until they prove worthy.
Shorts' 25 targets through two weeks have only achieved 11 catches and 133 Justin Blackmon's Week 5 return will improve things -- he's a fine fit in this post-catch-influenced offense -- but their lack of QB skill limits his ceiling.
Despite it being a closer contest in Week 2, Dwayne Bowe received just two more targets than in Week 1. No secondary target, outside of Jamaal Charles out of the backfield, has seized the opportunities created by coverage on Bowe. Maybe Donnie Avery will....
Lamar Miller averaged 4.9 yards per carry and found paydirt in Week 2 against a leaky defensive Indy front. Daniel Thomas chimed in with secondary work, but the fact that Miller's scoring scamper came from 10 yards out bodes well for his chances to shut out Thomas eventually.
The 'Phins also came through on their promise to involve Mike Wallace more. Expect continued increases in his midrange routes.
Ordering more Cordarrelle?
Jerome Simpson's productive start to the season and Minny's unequal use of three-wide sets has limited Cordarrelle Patterson's workload. Leslie Frazier said they'll try to use Patterson more. This may lead to a rotation between the two receivers, so it's worth stashing Patterson in cavernous leagues.
Julian Edelman has 27 looks so far. Danny Amendola (groin) will probably remain sidelined for another few weeks. But Edelman only accrued 78 yards in Week 2, and Rob Gronkowski (back, forearm) might be back in Week 3. Drop-plagued rookies Aaron Dobson and fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins are desperation plays.
Shane Vereen's wrist injury continues to buy Stevan Ridley time and touches, even if he's less than effective. He didn't put the ball on the ground Thursday, though, so he should at least be given your flex spot.
Get ready for a committee. David Wilson, Da'Rell Scott and Brandon Jacobs shared the backfield Sunday. Scott was in on many third downs, and Jacobs looks like the goal-line back. Wilson is a risky play but has the most upside; he's still the best long-term play. Is his owner getting impatient?
Chris Ivory ran harder in Week 2 and could be flex-worthy in the right matchup as he backs up Bilal Powell. If Ivory gets in a rhythm and the D has trouble stopping a power back, he'll get more work.
Clyde Gates' eight targets from Week 2 shouldn't prompt a fantasy addition. Stephen Hill looks like the top wideout, but Kellen Winslow and an improving Santonio Holmes will keep this battle close.
Terrelle Pryor and the read-option scheme have opened things up for Darren McFadden. Though Pryor's keeps and Marcell Reece's goal-line cameos will invade on his territory, McFadden has a much more optimistic offensive setup than last year, as long as he's healthy.
Rod Streater still looks like Pryor's top target in the pass game, but that's not a high weekly ceiling.
Over the first two weeks of the NFL season, LeSean McCoy has 49 utilizations. Bryce Brown: 13. McCoy, who's averaging 5.6 yards per carry so far, is in no jeopardy.
Jerricho Cotchery's 17 targets so far are a result of Heath Miller's (knee) continued absence. Don't expect that pace to continue after Ben Roethlisberger's safety blanket steps back on the field.
Eddie Royal's touchdown pace is unsustainable, but he and Antonio Gates are the most trustworthy options in Philip Rivers' efficient, quick-throwing offense. Malcom Floyd's neck injury opens up more chances for Vincent Brown to contribute.
Royal pain for defenders
Danny Woodhead will continue stealing snaps from Ryan Mathews on pass-heavy drives, as well.
Anquan Boldin ran into Richard Sherman in Week 2; he was targeted just four times and caught just one pass. Vernon Davis also was quiet on five looks. The run game ... equally dormant. Colin Kaepernick and company should bounce back in the coming weeks.
Golden Tate (nine targets so far), Sidney Rice (eight) and Doug Baldwin (10) will comprise a weekly guessing game in terms of receiving production. Week 2 was a Russell Wilson dud perpetuated by a stout San Francisco defense that let Marshawn Lynch run wild.
Of the three wide receivers, Tate still has the biggest boom potential.
Daryl Richardson's 16 utilizations dwarfed Isaiah Pead's five in Week 2, Pead's first game back from suspension. Pead will be used in passing-down calls, but Richardson won't lose his majority command yet.
Their tepid run game has prompted Sam Bradford to go wild, though. Tavon Austin was unleashed with 14 looks Sunday. Austin Pettis' 11 shouldn't come as a shock considering the rave reviews his camp earned. Big-play weapons Chris Givens and Jared Cook complicate things, but all four make for acceptable starting-lineup depth, with Pettis dependent on PPR formats.
Rumblings of Josh Freeman's departure -- via benching or trade -- jeopardize Vincent Jackson's season-long viability. He relies on the deep ball. Rookie Mike Glennon doesn't have Freeman's arm strength and would look more frequently on midrange targets to Mike Williams and others.
Kendall Wright: moving up, with 11 targets after four in Week 1. He's a stealthy PPR asset. Kenny Britt: moving down. He was benched for mental mistakes and questions about his blocking effort. Britt's recent tweet hints that Justin Hunter might get his chance as the season goes along.
Besides Pierre Garcon, Washington's receiving options will vary in preference week to week. Leonard Hankerson was much quieter on Sunday than he was in the opener.
More starkly, Alfred Morris has just 28 utilizations. Other than a 32-yard run last week and a TD in Week 1, he's been average. A lot of his future depends on how quickly we can see the old, healthy Robert Griffin III, which might not arrive for a few weeks.
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.
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