by Bryce McRae
on December 8, 2009 @ 13:21:00
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 caught only four passes in a given week, his target total might have been double or triple that. Those targets may not have translated into catches one week, but they may in the future.
The following players gained attention because of the number of targets they received this past week. Are these numbers a trend in the making or simply an aberration?
Fantasy Football on Target
The Atlanta Falcons' Roddy White has been among the league leaders in looks at wideout for the last four weeks. Last week, he set a season high with 21 from quarterback Chris Redman, who was starting his first game of the year. No. 1 QB Matt Ryan (toe) could return this week; White's targets won't disappear, but will Ryan still be able to hit White deep if his toe is still bothering him?
Davone Bess, one of the Dolphins' many possession guys, was looked at 14 times and finished with 10 receptions for 117 yards. The Pats, maybe surprisingly, threw a few double teams at Bess, who beat them. As for Brian Hartline, who was supposed to see his role increase, he finished with eight looks, an increase of one over his Week 12 workload. Ted Ginn Jr. finished with just three looks, while Greg Camarillo finished with 10 looks - a decent day's work for someone that was sliding down the pecking order for targets.
The San Francisco 49ers ran the ball just four times in the first half while attempting 26 passes. They weren't necessarily trying to pass more; it's just what the defense gave them. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was the recipient of 13 looks Sunday, though he finished with just six catches for 60 yards.
Was it the cold weather that caused the Green Bay Packers wideouts to drop the ball, literally, on Monday Night Football? Greg Jennings: 12 targets, six receptions; Donald Driver: eight targets, three receptions; James Jones: seven targets, four receptions. The usually sure-handed wideouts have three more games in potentially freezing conditions, too.
Bobby Wade led the Kansas City Chiefs wideouts with 12 targets last week. He had 12 in the previous two games. Lance Long also re-emerged with eight targets after surpassing five only once in the previous five games. Wade's return to relevance (if you can call four receptions for 36 yards that) could be short-lived. Suspended wideout Dwayne Bowe returns after this week's game. When he was active, Wade sat in Weeks 9 and 10. Going in Wade's favor: Mark Bradley was deactivated for Week 13; when Bowe comes back, could they keep Wade in the fray ahead of the often ineffective Bradley?
The New Orleans Saints' Robert Meachem caught eight passes for 142 yards and one score last week. He was targeted 10 times; two weeks ago, he was looked at just three times. Most of Meachem's value has come from his touchdowns. He has eight in just 29 catches this year. It's hard to see him keeping up that pace, even with some favorable matchups in the coming weeks. Defenses might start planning for him more; the Carolina Panthers, his Week 17 matchup, said they noted him as a player to watch in their earlier matchup, when he was just starting his five-game touchdown streak.
Antonio Bryant and Maurice Stovall finished with 11 and 10 targets, respectively, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 13. Even when Michael Clayton (knee) returns, the latter will continue to see time. Head coach Raheem Morris feels Clayton is a better wideout when he has fewer snaps. Stovall, at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, has some talent but has found it tough to stay healthy. He'll have more chances to stay on the field, per Morris, even when Clayton returns. It'd be tough to play Stovall this year, but keeper leaguers should stash him if they have the room.
The Washington Redskins' Devin Thomas turned in the best performance of his career (seven receptions, 100 yards, two touchdowns) in Week 13. A second-round draft pick in last year's draft, Thomas has shown improvement in each of the last two weeks, at least in the stats column. His targets have increased, slightly, in the last couple of weeks; he had a season-high eight in Week 13. The early draft picks the 'Skins invested in some offensive weapons during the draft last year might finally be paying off. Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis have both showed improvement of late, too.
Half of Santana Moss' 10 targets in Washington's loss last week came in the red zone, yet the shifty wideout failed to find the end zone.
Opposing teams have been taking away the Indianapolis Colts' Reggie Wayne. After seeing double-digit targets in four straight games (Weeks 8-11), Wayne has just seven in each of the last two games. Pierre Garcon has stepped up to lead the receivers in targets in each of those games, though Austin Collie has seen his targets climb the most, relatively speaking. Like Wayne, tight end Dallas Clark has also seen his looks vary, with just six last week after 10 the week before and three in Week 11.
Jason Witten led all tight ends in targets with a season-high 16 for the Dallas Cowboys last week. It was at least twice as many as he had in Week 12, in Week 11, in Week 10 ... all the way back to Week 3.
The Cleveland Browns' Evan Moore was the "who dat?" candidate for Week 13; he finished with 11 targets after not registering a catch or look in the previous 12 weeks. He caught six passes for 80 yards. He went from the practice squad a month ago to the active roster Saturday and leading the team in receptions Sunday. Apparently he had been killing on the scout team in practice, per Josh Cribbs, and head coach Eric Mangini came away impressed, too. Quarterback Brady Quinn has also started throwing the ball around a bit more, too, which could see Moore continue to be looked at. You can find more on him in our Waiver Wire for Week 14.
Todd Heap finished fourth in targets for tight ends with 10 for the Baltimore Ravens. One reason why he was looked at more: Green Bay was able to put decent pressure on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, forcing the need for quick passes, while Defensive Player of the Year candidate Charles Woodson limited the impact of Baltimore's top wideout, Derrick Mason.
'Skins tight end Fred Davis has nine targets in each of the last two weeks. After his breakout game (Week 7) when Chris Cooley (ankle) went down with his season-ending foot injury, Davis disappeared. However, perhaps the second-year tight end is finally getting more comfortable in the offense, which didn't have much room for him while Cooley was in.
Finally, Green Bay's Jermichael Finley was targeted eight times last week. He hauled in seven passes for 79 yards and two scores in the game. He'll be an important weapon for the Pack in the final four games, especially in the red zone where they haven't been too efficient.
Remember: Opportunity can lead to success. Find out which players we recommend adding in this week's Fantasy Football Waiver Wire.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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