Fantasy football on target - Week 4

by Ryan R. Bonini on September 23, 2008 @ 09:44:43 PDT

 


Opportunity in the NFL world can translate into success in the fantasy football world. This is when 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 the past three weeks. Are some of these numbers a trend in the making or simply an aberration?

Fantasy football on target

A variety of items (tight defensive coverage, poor throws by a rushed quarterback or a case of bad hand syndrome, etc.) can lead to a receiver not catching a football intended for him. However, increasing the ratio of catches to targets can make a huge change in weekly production any given week. Keep in mind that Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens (caught 50 percent of targets), Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (48 percent), Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison (48 percent), Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian (35 percent) and many others could see a significant jump in production based off the targets they are seeing if they can connect more frequently with their quarterback.

Speaking of Berrian, he did not see his intended targets boost greatly with Gus Frerotte at the helm. He was targeted eight times in Week 1 and four times in Week 2 with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. In Week 3, he saw just five targets....

Philadelphia Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson continues to be the focal point of the Eagles' passing game. In three games, the rookie has been targeted 26 times, second only to versatile running back Brian Westbrook among Eagles offensive players; that's an average of 8.67 targets per week. Now if only Jackson could just figure out where the end zone is....

I'm by no means a fan of the Chicago Bears passing game, but if you're struggling to find a wide receiver that's seeing some looks, it may be worth checking out Brandon Lloyd. After seeing just three targets in Week 1, he has been targeted nine times in each of the last two weeks.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has had double-digit targets in each of the first three weeks of the season. He has caught 52 percent of the passes intended for him, too. Roy Williams, who had been the team's No. 1 receiver for quite some time, has not seen double-digit looks in a single game yet this season and is only catching 40 percent of his intended passes.

New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss had 10 targets during Week 3, which matched his total from the first two weeks of the season. Unfortunately for everyone that took him in the first or second round this year, Moss isn't doing much with his looks so far - he has just 163 yards receiving and one touchdown. On a positive note, he is catching 60 percent of the passes sent his way.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall may have missed a game due to suspension, but the fantasy football dynamo is already tied for second amongst receivers in targeted plays (33). He has caught 73 percent of the passes sent his way and is making fantasy football owners that took him in the middle rounds look like geniuses so far!

New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre has always loved spreading the football around. With that in mind, it might be time to start considering No. 3 receiver Chansi Stuckey. Stuckey is on pace to score 16 touchdowns this season! OK, so his three-game scoring streak is unlikely to be a weekly occurrence, but it is worth noting Stuckey saw eight targets in Week 3 after seeing six combined targets the first two weeks of the season. He has caught 86 percent of the passes thrown his way.

With the San Diego Chargers working the air game, one would think the team should have a clear-cut No. 1 receiver in targets. Through three games, receivers Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson are very similar. Chambers has been targeted 19 times to Jackson's 17. During Week 3, while Chambers found the end zone, he was the target of just two passes.

Looking for some consistent looks? Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Ike Hilliard has been targeted six times in Week 1, six times in Week 2 and seven times in Week 3. Hilliard, who has caught 84 percent of the passes intended for him, has also found the end zone twice this year. The Bucs receivers are tough to depend on, but if you're looking for a bye week replacement or a flex option Hilliard has to start receiving some consideration. The ceiling is very low on his fantasy football potential, though.

Speaking of the Buccaneers' receivers, did you notice Antonio Bryant was targeted 19 times during Week 3? He made good on them, too, catching 10 of them for 138 yards. In three games, he has been targeted 30 times!

Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley was a forgotten man in Week 1, seeing just one target during the game. Since then, he has posted seven in each of his last two games. That's music to fantasy football players' ears....

Denver Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler may be part of a three-headed monster at tight end, but he is getting looks weekly in the high-flying Broncos' offense. He has been targeted fifth-most amongst tight ends, with 17 targets.

Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss was a player we talked about a lot in the preseason as a potential fantasy football sleeper this year. Through three games, he is being consistently targeted seeing at least nine looks in all three games. He has caught 19 of the 29 passes thrown his direction and scored three touchdowns along the way.

Through three games, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe leads all receivers with 34 looks. Now if Kansas City only had a quarterback he might have more than 15 catches....

The Oakland Raiders seem to only know how to run the football this year, which is killing tight end Zach Miller. Miller, a fantasy football sleeper for many, has been targeted just four times in the last two weeks after seeing six looks in the opener.

It is amazing what a few weeks of statistics can do for a player. In Week 1, both Carolina Panthers tight end Dante Rosario and Miami Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano exploded onto the scene, being targeted eight and nine times, respectively. Oddly enough, both saw just one target each in Week 2 and three targets each in Week 3. Are they twins or something? That's eerie. Fasano at least found paydirt in Week 3 on the end of a pass from running back Ronnie Brown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Alex Smith has been targeted 16 times through three games, but don't be surprised if that number goes down with Jerramy Stevens back on board. Stevens saw 10 targets in his first game back from suspension while Smith saw seven.

I'm not quite ready to completely give up on Tennessee Titans tight end Alge Crumpler yet. Here is a stat that might bear watching: He was targeted twice in Week 1, three times in Week 2 and four times in Week 3. A trend in the making? If so, by Week 10, look out! OK, that's a little too much wishful thinking, even for me.

Do the New Orleans Saints need to get wide receiver Robert Meachem more involved? He has only been targeted three times in the last two weeks but has caught all of them. Despite the Saints being pass-happy, there hasn't been much to work with here yet.

Oh, and guess what? San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz still does not know how to use a tight end despite all of his raving about Vernon Davis during the summer. Through three games, Davis has just four catches for 68 yards. He has been targeted 11 times in that span.

For a complete list of sortable fantasy football player targets and utilized plays, be sure to check out KFFL's Fantasy Football Utilization Charts!

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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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