Opportunity in the NFL can translate to success in fantasy football. Are these target numbers a trend or an aberration for these players' fantasy football value? Do they deserve attention on fantasy football waiver wires?
Note: Last three weeks of touches (running backs) and targets (wide receivers and tight ends) for each player listed in parentheses. X means player was inactive.
Cedric Benson (foot) had done an admirable job as the Packers lead back until suffering a Lisfranc foot injury last week that will keep him out at least eight weeks and possibly the entire season. Green is now listed on top of the depth chart after breaking off a 41-yard run Sunday in relief of Benson. Green's performance on his other eight carries, however, was uneventful. Starks was a healthy scratch in each of the last two weeks, but that was chiefly because he's not a special teams contributor. Green Bay was high on Starks before his preseason woes, and if he learns to pass protect, he has the build to become a full-time back.
The two are most likely headed for a timeshare, at least right away. However, even if one back stands out, that carrier is likely to lose short range scoring opportunities to Kuhn regardless. Green is easily the more exciting runner of the two, but he will need to prove he can shoulder the load to be relevant on a weekly basis.
With Jennings (groin) on the shelf, Jones has done an excellent job in his absence and led the team in targets for the first time this season a week ago. Jones is emerging as the most consistent receiver for a Packers passing attack that seems a bit out of rhythm right now, with Cobb and Nelson having up-and-down results. Keep Jones active but understand the bottom might fall out when Jennings is back to form.
After missing the last three games, Nicks (knee, foot) believes he'll be able to play in Week 6, but the coach staff remains mum. His return obviously takes targets away from the No. 3 wide receiver, whoever that turns out to be. Barden (concussion) missed Week 5 but is now behind Hixon when he's cleared to return. Hixon has caught 11 passes over the last two games and played the most snaps of any Giants receiver last week.
However, it was Randle that led the team in targets despite playing in just 50 percent of the snaps. These secondary receivers gain a lot of their opportunities due to the strict coverage typically applied to Cruz, so the production isn't the most reliable. When Nicks is back, expect Hixon to stay busy in three receiver sets, but the battle between Barden and Randle should be monitored as well. Of course, Cruz has proven decent on the outside, so Hixon might not be out there on every double-wide lineup with Nicks active.
Given his injury history, Bradshaw owners might want to look to move him after his monster Week 5. That knack for getting hurt also makes his backup a player worth paying attention to. Brown (concussion), who has issues with pass protection, may have lost his grip on the gig; his injury might facilitate the transition. Wilson only got two carries he took his late fourth quarter touch 40 yards to the house, but after an opening day fumble cost put the rookie in the doghouse, Wilson is winning back the coaching staff with his contributions as a kick returner, making his explosiveness something to take advantage of on offense, as well.
As Little continues to drop passes and underperform, Norwood and Gordon are each coming off impressive performances. Norwood converted all of his team-high nine targets into receptions while seeing a lot of time in the slot. Gordon only caught two of his eight looks, but both went for touchdowns. If Little continues to struggle, Massaquoi (hamstring) might be bumping him from the starting lineup when he returns.
Investing in the Browns passing game is a risky proposition, but quarterback Brandon Weeden is throwing a lot based on the scoreboard, which will provide his receivers some value if he continues to latch onto one or two of them. Right now, Norwood (PPR preference) and Gordon (standard scoring) stand as the best bets for weekly reliability, but this lot is fluid.
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice. Follow @EricMcClung
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