Opportunity in the NFL world can translate into success in the fantasy football world. This is where targets come into play. While a wide receiver may have only caught four passes in a given week, his target total might have been double or triple that. Those targets may not have translated into catches during one week, but they may in the future.
The following players gained attention because of the number of targets they received in Week 1. Are some of these numbers a trend in the making or simply an aberration?
Muhsin Muhammad, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers
Muhammad was targeted 15 times in Week 1, good for 19.61 percent of the team's plays against the San Diego Chargers. He saw four looks inside the red zone. These are impressive figures, but he only caught six passes, and one must keep in mind the Panthers were without suspended wide receiver Steve Smith. It is worth noting D.J. Hackett was targeted 10 times in the game working as the No. 2 receiver, which is Muhammad's typical role. That may even be a bit higher than what Muhammad will have to work with upon Smith's return.
DeSean Jackson, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles
I'll be the first to admit I wasn't crazy about Jackson, a rookie in a complex West Coast offense. However, injuries to Kevin Curtis (hernia) and Reggie Brown (hamstring) have opened a starting job for him and he didn't disappoint. He was the target of 10 passes - he caught six of them for 106 yards receiving - in Week 1, good for 14.13 percent of the offense. He was looked toward once in the red zone. With Curtis still sidelined and Brown's status iffy because of problematic hamstrings, Jackson may be on the receiving end of plenty of Donovan McNabb targets in coming weeks.
Matt Jones, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars
This one makes me shake my head a little bit. Jones was on the verge of being cut for off-the-field problems before having a nice training camp and preseason. He parlayed that into a solid Week 1, catching six passes for 80 yards on the strength of 10 targeted plays (17.31 percent of the offense). He also saw one red zone look. Granted, the team has injuries to some of their top receivers, but Jones is definitely turning heads. Will it continue? In a run-oriented, vanilla Jacksonville offense it might not be worth banking on.
Eddie Royal, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos
Royal lit the fantasy football world ablaze during his Week 1 debut. While he was eating Oakland Raiders cornerback DeAngelo Hall alive on the field, he was piling up the targets - 12 of them. Overall, he was utilized 14 times in the game, including two rushing attempts and one passing attempt. The next closest receiver (Brandon Stokley) was only looked toward five times. Royal showed he can be a big-time player in this league, but keep in mind wide receiver Brandon Marshall's suspension comes to an end this week and he is the team's No. 1 receiver. Marshall was tied for the second-most targets last year (171), seeing almost 11 per game. While Royal and quarterback Jay Cutler showed a strong rapport, seeing him in double-digit targets weekly with Marshall returning may be too much to ask for.
L.J. Smith, Tight End, Philadelphia Eagles
Our sources are telling us to keep a close eye on Smith in the red zone this year, as they struggled there last year and he is one of McNabb's favorite targets. In Week 1, he saw an impressive six looks inside the red zone, including two within the 5. Overall, he was targeted 10 times, good for 14.13 percent of the offensive plays. He only caught five of those passes, but the potential is clearly there in a pass-happy Philly offense and I expect this to continue.
Randy McMichael, Tight End, St. Louis Rams
During the preseason, we talked about offensive coordinator Al Saunders' love for the tight end position. In Week 1, McMichael was the target of seven pass plays for the struggling Rams. With receiver Drew Bennett (foot) out at least a month and a lack of dependable receivers outside of Torry Holt, McMichael's number could be called a lot more. Of his seven targets, he caught five of them for 77 yards.
Seattle Seahawks wide receivers - Nate Burleson (knee), working as the team's No. 1 receiver, suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 1 but was the target of 10 passes before then. Courtney Taylor was next in line with nine. Now that the Seahawks are without their top three receivers, someone has to step up and is going to get a sizeable amount of looks from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. With a hodge-podge of no-name faces at receiver remaining, keep an eye on this situation as it plays out.
Miami Dolphins tight ends - Quarterback Chad Pennington is a master of the efficient short passing game. In Week 1, he targeted tight ends Anthony Fasano (nine) and David Martin (six) 15 times. Fasano, by the way, was the second-most targeted tight end of the week! Inside the red zone, Fasano was looked toward twice with Martin getting three looks. Don't be surprised to see this continue since the Dolphins lack a true go-to receiver.
For a complete list of sortable fantasy football player targets and utilized plays, be sure to check out KFFL's Fantasy Football Utilization Charts!
About Ryan R. Bonini
Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA
TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer
of the Year by the FSWA,
received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.
His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo!
Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured
on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA,
FSWA and FSTA.
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