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.
Find more fantasy football risers in our Fantasy Football Waiver Wire.
Mike James' hard-charging performance against a suddenly vulnerable Seattle Seahawks run defense has cemented him as the chief of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backfield, as long as Doug Martin (shoulder) is hurt. You have to wonder if Greg Schiano (if he still has a job) will relent on his Martin optimism and simply rest him in a lost season. Also, don't underestimate Brian Leonard's PPR value; he has 17 utilizations over the last two weeks, mostly in passing downs.
Bill Belichick cut Stevan Ridley some slack on the back's fumble to open the second half, essentially crediting Troy Polamalu for a solid play. Belichick's faith led to 60 more yards and a late score for Ridley. It's a good sign that the New England Patriots should ride Ridley as their chief carrier following the bye. Shane Vereen (wrist) will inherit a tandem role upon his expected re-emergence from the Injured Reserve/designated to return.
A matchup with the sieve-like St. Louis Rams marked a fine occasion for the Tennessee Titans to feed Chris Johnson, who had a monster outing, Shonn Greene's opening-drive touchdown notwithstanding. Many forget how well Johnson worked with a capable second back in the LenDale White years. If Tennessee can deploy Johnson in the right means, he should take full advantage of his favorable remaining schedule.
WAIVER WIRE: Rashad Jennings handled a big workload, with mixed results, when Darren McFadden was hurt earlier in the year. Guess what? DMC is nursing a bum hamstring. Marcel Reece and Jeremy Stewart may threaten to vulture Oakland Raiders touchdowns, but Jennings' skill set best fits carrying the load among these three.
WAIVER WIRE: Arian Foster (back) left Week 9 action early and didn't return. Will he play next week? Ben Tate and Dennis Johnson split work afterward. The Houston Texans' passing game has been rejuvenated by Case Keenum, but the run game, the crux of their identity, is in flux. Tate, whose ribs probably still bother him, saw a similar split of reps even with the top dog out of the game; for that reason, Johnson deserves a speculative add. He's a decent stash complement who averaged 4.5 per tote Sunday.
- WAIVER WIRE: Andre Brown (leg) is likely to rejoin the New York Giants this week from IR-R. Peyton Hillis will probably take a back seat, though he's proven solid in both ground and air work. David Wilson (neck) might not return this season. Grab Brown. Now.
- James Starks should continue being a major part of the run game. The Green Bay Packers said they want to temper Eddie Lacy's work, and with Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) hurt, they'll probably lean on their suddenly improved run blocking. Of course, defenses will expect this, so it's a matter of how effective run defenses will perform.
- It was another Danny Woodhead game (19 utils Sunday) for the San Diego Chargers. Expect another pass-happy contest against the Denver Broncos, who should contain Ryan Mathews (seven).
- Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have enjoyed the alterations in the running strategy and the addition of Bryant McKinnie along the Miami Dolphins' O-line. Mike Sherman says Miller's recent stretch of success could earn him more carries, though they'll probably still incorporate Thomas often. Miller's the fantasy target, though your buy-low window looks like it has closed.
- Not surprising the New York Jets sent out Chris Ivory often versus his old team, the New Orleans Saints, to help keep Drew Brees off the field and perhaps get some personal redemption after a tumultuous stay in the Bayou. Bilal Powell is still the preferred option in likely situations when they'll have to throw, but the Geno Smith-led Gang Green will attempt to control time of possession more often than not. That gives Ivory the edge moving forward.
- Jonathan Stewart collected 12 utilizations in his return to the Carolina Panthers' backfield, which complicated things, as expected. Mike Tolbert (10) still found paydirt. DeAngelo Williams (15) dominated the reps still but took a hit in his value. Moving forward, Stewart's better skills in passing situations should move him atop the hierarchy. Tolbert's work will depend on game score and goal-line opps. Williams looks like he's in purgatory.
- Despite his big-play runs on Sunday and his assertion that he feels good Monday, C.J. Spiller came up limp a few times during action and said his ankle still isn't 100 percent. He's a fine flex play that'll typically yield more, but Fred Jackson is still likelier to carry the Buffalo Bills, and Spiller will still be restricted enough that he'll probably have to rely on breaking big trots.
- DeMarco Murray still suffers in his workload because Tony Romo loves to check out of run plays. He's doing more at the line of scrimmage now that he has more control over the offense. The Dallas Cowboys just aren't a running team, and Murray's work as a chief guy will come when the game situation dictates it. It's hard to predict when Murray will make fantasy noise.
Josh McCown didn't shy away from Brandon Marshall, who may even get Jay Cutler (groin) back next week. Things are looking good for No. 15 regardless of who takes snaps.
The same game had major ramifications for the Packers, though. Aaron Rodgers' collarbone injury is expected to sideline him for about a month, maybe more. If they get someone competent to run the system, the trio of Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jarrett Boykin can still survive, but it'll be a lot riskier each week. Stay tuned to see who'll take the helm for updated analysis on each receiver.
They had a bye, but the Jacksonville Jaguars lost Justin Blackmon, who was suspended indefinitely for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He won't be eligible for reinstatement until next season. The droppable commodity will be replaced by Mike Brown in terms of looks. Ace Sanders isn't as valuable a commodity. Cory Bonini likes Stephen Williams as a potential red-zone threat, so keep tabs there in deep formats.
Looks like T.Y. Hilton will earn Andrew Luck's trust as the top target with Reggie Wayne (knee) out. Of course, much of Hilton's success relies on the deep ball, so the Indianapolis Colts may have to help him round out his midrange game. Either way, Wayne's absence helps Hilton's value because he'll be on the field almost all the time.
Week 9 marked a season high in terms of targets for Dwayne Bowe. The Kansas City Chiefs, guided by Alex Smith, haven't tried forcing it to their top wideout this year but were probably looking to jump-start him, given the close games they've played of late. If you look at Dwayne Bowe's upcoming schedule, this could only be the beginning of his revival.
WAIVER WIRE: With Sidney Rice (knee) done for the year and Percy Harvin (hip) taking his time coming back, Doug Baldwin stepped up alongside Golden Tate. Baldwin should line up more frequently now. Jermaine Kearse has more deep-league appeal, as well, but he's a stash for the fantasy postseason, when the Seattle Seahawks may begin resting their starters.
Lance Moore probably won't be this involved if Marques Colston (knee) can return for the New Orleans Saints, but it looks like Drew Brees has rekindled his Moore crush of late, as the shifty snare has trapped nine of the 14 targets that have traveled his way since he returned. Robert Meachem (five looks) also stepped up, but it's harder to count on him each week; he and Kenny Stills will often cancel each other out.
- WAIVER WIRE: With 31 targets over the last four weeks, including nine Sunday, Aaron Dobson has supplanted Kenbrell Thompkins for the Patriots; Thompkins was a healthy scratch Sunday.
- WAIVER WIRE: Joe Flacco remembered Marlon Brown existed as they connected on two touchdowns. If you're struggling to fill byes, you could try recapturing this Baltimore Ravens magic, but remember that Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss will continue cutting into Brown's snap count.
- Nick Foles hearts Riley Cooper as much as he loves throwing touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders. As long as Foles is at the Philadelphia Eagles' helm, Cooper makes for a decent flex play.
- Juron Criner's nine targets probably resulted from the Raiders' comeback attempt in their blowout loss. But he has the physical tools that warrant a fantasy dice roll in cavernous games.
- Vincent Jackson fell victim to the Richard Shermanator with just four targets; he compiled 49 in the previous three weeks. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wideout has a much friendlier schedule on the way, so expect more of his good weeks moving forward.
Guess Jimmy Graham's pain management of his foot is getting better. He played much more frequently than he did last week. His ability to play this much consistently for the Saints may not hold up, but even if he's on the field part-time, he's a better play than almost any other tight end.
The Cowboys were trying to figure out ways to involve Jason Witten more often heading into Week 9. The Vikings' defense was a ripe opportunity to test it. Look for more of this as he becomes a safer start down the stretch.
The three most-targeted tight ends over the last four weeks: Jordan Reed (35), Rob Gronkowski (32) and ... Scott Chandler (27). Even with EJ Manuel (knee) possibly returning, Chandler should continue being heavily involved. Unfortunately, he has only hauled in 12 of those passes that came his way for 116 yards, so you're asking a lot to start him over more established options. Bye-week filler? Sure.
WAIVER WIRE: Andrew Quarless might see even more targets with Rodgers' injury as Seneca Wallace or someone else (Matt Flynn?) may check down a bit more. Quarless still won't be anything more than a TE2, even with Jermichael Finley (spine) still uncertain to play again this season.
WAIVER WIRE: Kyle Rudolph ranks fourth in that listing with 26, but his foot injury is expected to keep him out four to six weeks. Enter John Carlson, perhaps, as the Minnesota Vikings option to assume many of those targets. Christian Ponder's presence under center in theory helps the tight end position. Of course, given the erratic QB play, it's hard to bank on anybody improving with increased attention. Probably better off trying deep threat Cordarrelle Patterson.
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 the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
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