Opportunity in the NFL can translate to success in fantasy football. While a wide receiver or tight end may have caught a few passes in a given week, his target total might have been double or triple that. Those looks may not have turned into receptions one week but might in the future.
Whose involvement is worth watching? Are these target numbers a trend in the making or an aberration?
John Skelton had no issues feeding the ball to Larry Fitzgerald. Sadly, as expected, there were issues connecting in Week 9 without Kevin Kolb (ankle), who might miss Week 10, as well. The Arizona Cardinals' drop-off at QB will hinder Fitzgerald's production, but his frequent targets should keep him in fantasy lineups. As evidenced in his garbage-time TD, he's strong enough to make things happen on his own regardless of QB. The duo had quite the connection late in 2010.
Top Week 9 wide receivers
- Last week, this space covered V-Jax's struggles. Safe to say he, and Philip Rivers, rebounded with authority versus the Green Bay Packers. Hard to count on days like this every week, but it's a reminder of how he can single-handedly win a week.
- The Oakland Raiders changed some things coming out of the bye, and Moore was heavily involved as a result. Scroll down further for more on what is shaping up to be a frustrating situation.
- Simpson's inconsistency shone through, even in a 10-target day. With tight end Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) expected back at practice and maybe the game field this week, Simpson won't see this many looks in the near future. Still, his big-play ability sustains his WR3 value, if on the low end most of the time.
Top Week 9 tight ends
- Blocking frequently or not, Gronkowski, along with teammate Aaron Hernandez, remain near the top of the fantasy plays at the position just for days like this.
- This looks like the norm for Celek; that's three straight weeks with nine looks and two straight with seven receptions. He's starter-worthy now.
- The Pitta-Ed Dickson target dance will continue for the near future. It's risky to count on either in fantasy.
- Ballard made good on his rising stock. He's on the Celek level of fantasy utility.
- Sure, Dallas Clark (leg) might be out for the year, but don't expect a Tamme repeat of 2010 with Curtis Painter, not Peyton Manning (neck), behind center. His Week 9 target-to-catch ratio illustrates the struggles Painter has feeding his receivers across the board. Tamme won't be worthy of a lineup spot in the heavy majority of leagues.
Silver, Black and Blue
Carson Palmer had his bye week to get himself more accustomed to the Oakland Raiders' offense ... definitely more so than his Week 8 desperation cameo. Palmer's schematic understanding wasn't the only thing that surfaced from the off-week. Jacoby Ford seems to have a rapport with Palmer, and it showed in his five catches in six targets this past Sunday. Denarius Moore? Though he only caught four passes, he was looked at 12 times.
Complications arising: Darrius Heyward-Bey ... one target, no catches. Hue Jackson claimed DHB's absence came because of specific sets they were running against the Denver Broncos' defense. This might make sense to a degree because they had Champ Bailey covering some of their wideouts, but it's hard to think Heyward-Bey, their top wideout up until the Palmer acquisition, wouldn't be used in three-wideout sets.
Maybe following Al Davis' passing, the Raiders are more inclined to go with individuals they've considered better football players instead of the speed-first offensive mantra he preached throughout his ownership career. Still, that's not a full-fledged argument because DHB has improved in technical football aspects.
A Little more patience required
This looks more like a case of a new slinger finding a new favorite target. Consider Ford in the target lead, albeit slim, especially because he did more with his looks; he deserves waiver wire attention. Consider the playmaking Moore flier material; there's talent there, but don't think he'll see that many looks again, and he didn't even translate many of them into receptions.
As for Heyward-Bey, he's still worth a roster spot, if not a start. It's hard to expect early-season numbers from him, unfortunately, but the Raiders' game plans could fluctuate, and it isn't bad to have a piece of a potentially dangerous vertical offense if your wideout corps needs help.
A Little trouble
Greg Little has snared just six of his 19 targets over the past two weeks. The latter figure and his after-the-catch ability still warrant lineup consideration; unfortunately, the former total, feeling the after-effects of Colt McCoy's offensive guidance, makes him risky. Without Mohamed Massaquoi (head), Little would become an even bigger defensive attention-grabber.
Play him for the looks, especially with Cleveland's disastrous backfield. Cross your fingers for the production. Luckily, he plays the sieve-like St. Louis Rams this week. (Oh, and don't ignore Joshua Cribbs, either, if you need a WR6 or 7.)
Let Tim be Tim
The Denver Broncos are catering to Tim Tebow with their transition to a read-option offense. Getting a return of WR3 value is suddenly a little more promising - especially in point-per-reception setups - for owners of Eric Decker, his top receiving target, and speculators of Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas have some more hope, even if it's not a high ceiling. Allowing Tebow to throw more on the run - by design, not as a result of broken plays - should help all three, to a degree. Consistency? Think we're Tebowing a little too much here....
(Week 9 targets)
(Week 9 targets)
|Lavelle Hawkins (7)
|Looked to 7 or more times in 3 of his last 4 games. With Nate Washington (hip) in doubt for the near future, the Hawk could fly a little higher for PPR consideration.
|Leonard Hankerson (5)
|With his newfound starting gig, Hankerson might have the best shot to emerge outside of Jabar Gaffney. With the way Washington's game plans change, though, this will be a production carousel.
|Mark Clayton (PUP)
|Sigh. Another Ram. His activation of PUP looks likely; given how long it'll take him to get in shape, combined with STL's glut of wideouts, he's a stash stab.
About Tim Heaney
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.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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