Fantasy Football On Target: Arian Foster returning to vintage form?

by Tim Heaney on October 1, 2013 @ 11:16:11 PDT

 

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KFFL Target Data

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 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.

Running backs

Looks like Arian Foster is starting to run more like his 2012 form, according to Gary Kubiak. The Houston Texans shied away from Ben Tate a bit more in Week 4; the backup only had eight utilizations. There's still weekly risk in terms of workload, but Foster may force his way back into his old domination over reps soon.

Week 4 utilization leaders
 Rk
Player
Tm
Wk 4
1
Arian Foster
HOU
35
2
Doug Martin
TBB
31
3
Jamaal Charles
KCC
29
4
Adrian Peterson
MIN
24
5
Reggie Bush
DET
24
6
C.J. Spiller
BUF
23
7
Rashad Jennings
OAK
23
8
Ryan Mathews
SDC
23
9
Frank Gore
SFO
22
10
Le'Veon Bell
PIT
21
11
Trent Richardson
IND
21

WAIVER WIRE: The Buffalo Bills' C.J. Spiller (ankle) aims to play Thursday. If active, however, he'll still be splitting touches with Fred Jackson (knee), if he goes, and Tashard Choice, who's not exciting but offers speculation, perhaps around the goal line, in the event one of the first two backs can't provide enough punch.

WAIVER WIRE: Rashad Jennings took over after Darren McFadden (hamstring) and Marcel Reece (knee) went to the sidelines. Jennings mustered 45 yards on 15 carries, but his eight-catch, 71-yard performance was the real payoff. The status of the two injured backs is up in the air, and Jennings would get the most work in their absence. Still, this O-line is weak, and they may mix in Jeremy Stewart, as well. If Reece can go, he's the better option in the long haul of a DMC-less group.

When the San Diego Chargers have Ryan Mathews on the field, he's almost a certainty to run. But on Sunday, he was more involved in the passing game. Of course, so was Danny Woodhead, the primary option in such situations. Mathews is becoming more than a flex play, but not by much.

Le'Veon Bell's foot looked more than OK in his NFL debut. He won't find paydirt twice every week, but his performance gives the Pittsburgh Steelers such glee in scraping the RB committee.

With Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) out, Trent Richardson took on more responsibility in his second game with the Indianapolis Colts. He averaged 3.0 yards over his 20 totes, but he found the end zone again. Bradshaw, whenever he returns, should eat about 10 touches, but Richardson should stick as the starter.

The Baltimore Ravens ignored the ground game for most of the second half Sunday, so we didn't get a full gauge of Ray Rice's return from injury. Expect a better judgment this coming week. Bernard Pierce still has low-end flex worth, though.

Giovani Bernard's utilization totals since the start of 2013: six, 10, 14 and 17. Looks like the Cincinnati Bengals are primed to make him the primary backfield weapon and make BenJarvus Green-Ellis his minority complement.

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard
Gio on the way up

WAIVER WIRE: Alfred Morris' (rib) Washington Redskins are on bye this week, but Roy Helu makes for a decent flier in case Alf's prognosis doesn't improve.

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was anything but enthusiastic over Rashard Mendenhall's Week 4 performance, indirectly reminding you to keep Andre Ellington tucked away in deeper PPR leagues.

The Jacksonville Jaguars' switch to a power-blocking scheme still hasn't paid off. Maurice Jones-Drew was called on just 14 times in Week 4. This would require them actually being competitive in games, but in the hope Jacksonville realizes he's their best weapon and feeds him, fantasy owners could try buying low on MJD. An impending return of a skill player might free him up.

The St. Louis Rams' backfield remains an open competition. Isaiah Pead was inactive last week because they planned to use Tavon Austin frequently out of the backfield. Benny Cunningham's special teams play means he'll be active most weeks, so it could be a weekly showdown of Pead and Zac Stacy swapping healthy scratches behind the uninspiring Daryl Richardson.

Willis McGahee will continue sharing Cleveland Browns backfield duties with Chris Ogbonnaya (the best PPR option) and Bobby Rainey. Dynasty leaguers and desperate RB chasers should monitor the raw but talented Foswhitt Whittaker, who was just claimed off waivers.

Wide receivers

Week 4 target leaders
 Rk
Player
Tm
Wk 4
1
Victor Cruz
NYG
16
2
A.J. Green
CIN
15
3
Antonio Brown
PIT
14
4
Brandon Marshall
CHI
14
5
Julio Jones
ATL
13
6
Cecil Shorts
JAC
12
7
Alshon Jeffery
CHI
12
8
Torrey Smith
BAL
12
9
Andre Johnson
HOU
12
10
Reggie Wayne
IND
11
11
Jerome Simpson
MIN
11
12
Kenbrell Thompkins
NEP
11
13
Vincent Jackson
TBB
11

Antonio Brown's demand for more passes his way has been met. He's accrued 27 targets over the last two weeks, good for third among wideouts behind Josh Gordon (29) and tied with Cecil Shorts (27). Todd Haley's proper deployment of their best aerial weapon should guarantee Brown WR3 production with a ceiling of a PPR 1.

WAIVER WIRE: Targets are targets, and for as poor as Jacksonville's passing game has been, Shorts has them. Many will claim Justin Blackmon's Week 5 return will hurt Shorts, but it should aid this passing game as a whole. See if Blackmon is available in your league, though.

WAIVER WIRE: Alshon Jeffery had his season-high workload this past weekend. He'll probably trade production many weeks with Martellus Bennett, but the sophomore shouldn't be available on so many free-agent lists. Safe to say the Chicago Bears' offense suits him well.

Another week, more confidence in Kenbrell Thompkins shown by Tom Brady -- but the New England Patriots should welcome back Rob Gronkowski (back, forearm), and possibly Danny Amendola (groin) this weekend. Those two, naturally, would jump back to the top of the hierarchy. Thompkins looks like he's ahead of Aaron Dobson, though, and could jump ahead of Julian Edelman over time.

Mike Glennon didn't hesitate to work in the direction of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' top option. Unfortunately, Vincent Jackson planted another dud and has just five catches for 61 yards in the last two weeks. Maybe the bye will help Glennon get up to speed, but it'll probably be awhile before V-Jax puts up top-shelf numbers consistently.

Roddy White had nine targets, and though he didn't do much with them, the Atlanta Falcons see that he's slowly improving. Matt Ryan is still going his way. Your buy-low window may be closing.

The Kansas City Chiefs have a nearly even split in season targets between Donnie Avery (27), Dwayne Bowe (24) and Dexter McCluster (19). Expect Alex Smith, who's all about ball security, to settle for what defenses give him.

WAIVER WIRE: Despite a costly late-game fumble, Terrance Williams had a solid Week 4, catching seven of his eight targets for 71 yards. He should continue this role as long as Miles Austin (hamstring) is absent, though he could still be involved even if Austin returns soon.

Michael Floyd has been targeted 16 times in the last two weeks, including 10 last week. Carson Palmer has moved away from Andre Roberts, who has just six looks since Week 2.

WAIVER WIRE: Keenan Allen's six targets marked a season high. Vincent Brown's nine, however, says that the week-to-week beneficiaries of this passing game, besides Antonio Gates and probably Danny Woodhead, remain fluid. Either receiver looks like a decent depth grab, though, as Philip Rivers is at the top of his game.

Tight ends

Week 4 target leaders
 Rk
Player
Tm
Wk 4
1
Tony Gonzalez
ATL
14
2
Jordan Cameron
CLE
12
3
Martellus Bennett
CHI
12
4
Owen Daniels
HOU
11
5
Antonio Gates
SDC
10
6
Jason Witten
DAL
10
7
Jared Cook
STL
9
8
Kellen Winslow
NYJ
9
9
Dallas Clark
BAL
9
10
Heath Miller
PIT
8
11
Coby Fleener
IND
7
12
Brandon Pettigrew
DET
7

Dallas Clark has 29 targets on the year, ranking ninth among all tight ends. Clark's connection with Jim Caldwell and the erratic performance of wideouts not named Torrey Smith should continue to prevent Ed Dickson from becoming a bigger contributor.

With injuries to Stephen Hill (concussion) and Santonio Holmes (hamstring) not expected to play in Week 5, Kellen Winslow again could be a frequent find for New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith.

Heath Miller has 12 targets in his first two weeks back on the field. Think Ben Roethlisberger and this passing offense missed him?

WAIVER WIRE: With Dwayne Allen on Injured Reserve, Coby Fleener gets to enjoy undivided attention as the primary tight end in what looks like a surging offense. He went 5-77-1 this past Sunday.

Brandon Pettigrew caught a lot of underneath routes, only gaining 54 yards on his seven grabs. Ryan Broyles should become more involved in the Detroit Lions' offense as he gets his footing. Detroit also likes to go to Joseph Fauria in the red zone, which limits Pettigrew's upside.

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About Tim Heaney

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.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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