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?
Laurent Robinson continued his touchdown parade with a pair on Thanksgiving. The Dallas Cowboys might be getting Miles Austin (hamstring) back in action for Week 13, but there's room in this offense for both, plus Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, to coexist.
At this point, L-Rob looks like the red zone favorite. Maybe that'll change if Witten sees more 1-on-1 coverage. Even if you have to temper Robinson's value to WR3, there's still ample reason to start him in your league, especially with some receiver-friendly matchups on the horizon and his budding connection with Tony Romo. More will come for Witten and Bryant with Austin back, as well; Austin might be more valuable as a decoy than as an actual producer, especially if he takes a few weeks to get up to speed.
Top Week 12 wide receivers
- Avant and Cooper (five looks) will again benefit from Jeremy Maclin's (hamstring, shoulder) expected Week 13 absence. Avant's target load was a result of the Philadelphia Eagles playing catch-up. It's not like Avant is a stranger in this O. It'll be hard to expect this frequency again, but following DeSean Jackson's benching and possible residence in Andy Reid's dog house, Avant could remain heavily involved. Cooper will probably be on the field more often, though, and also remains an intriguing play thanks to his red zone capabilities.
- Johnson logged 11 catches against Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets this season. The Buffalo Bills wideout, beyond borderline inappropriate TD dances and dropped passes, logged his highest target total and best line since Week 2. Ryan Fitzpatrick made a point of getting Johnson involved in their second flight against the Jets. Johnson faces Champ Bailey's Denver Broncos in Week 16 but otherwise has an acceptable schedule coming up.
- Even while scoring his first NFL touchdown, Little was plagued once again by dropsies in Week 12 with four. He has small hands and sometimes has lapses in concentration; Colt McCoy's ongoing development isn't helpful, either. Still, Little leads all rooks with 47 catches, and he'll continue to be McCoy's favorite destination; that alone is worth playing him.
- Nicks compiled his highest reception total since his 10-catch Week 4. Of course, a lot of that had to do with the New York Giants' comeback attempt against the New Orleans Saints and the absence of Mario Manningham (knee). Defenses probably still pay the most attention to Nicks, which in turn has made Cruz the top G-men wideout.
- Kyle Orton will get the chance to win the Kansas City Chiefs' starting QB job before Week 13. We could pencil him in and say Bowe would at least sustain his already high target load, if not converting it into more production. Steve Breaston (eight looks last week) and Jonathan Baldwin (two) would become more desirable plays, at their respective values of WR2 or 3, and flex.
- The Seattle Seahawks' Baldwin saw those targets thanks to injuries to Sidney Rice (head) and Mike X. Williams (shoulder). Rice has been placed on Injured Reserve. The slot man Baldwin should see a similar target load, since you can hardly count on any other Seattle wideout to chip in, even with the intriguing Golden Tate's rise in playing time. Baldwin should take advantage of a Philadelphia Eagles secondary that is scrambling for competency, especially in guarding the Y.
- Is Knox Caleb Hanie's favorite? As speculated - albeit guardedly - in last week's report, their time together as backups might have nurtured this connection. Roy Williams and Devin Hester don't appear to be target threats. Earl Bennett owners could still hang on to him as PPR depth if they're clinging, but the explosive Knox is in a tenuous lead among this sleuth and warrants a pickup.
- The Oakland Raiders were missing Denarius Moore (foot) and Jacoby Ford (foot), so Heyward-Bey, even with a sore neck, slid back into WR1 duty. He couldn't do much, reminding us of the difficulty he has had connecting with Carson Palmer. Of course, you can blame his injury for some of it, but Moore will take over top dog duties, in all likelihood, once he returns to the field.
Top Week 12 tight ends
Indy changing horses
Dan Orlovsky will get the Week 13 start for the Indianapolis Colts. Expect a safer passing game, with possibly more effectiveness. This isn't exactly Secretariat stepping in, but this Colt could lead to more payouts for Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, especially in Week 13 versus the secondary-challenged New England Patriots.
(Week 12 targets)
|David Nelson (8)
|Turns out Nelson will remain in his natural slot position, with Brad Smith starting on the outside opposite Stevie Johnson. Nelson is worth owning again, especially for his red zone prowess.
|Lance Moore (7)
|Speaking of inside-the-20 impact, Moore hit paydirt twice on Monday night. This is a careful listing because the targets fluctuate frequently for New Orleans, but this was his highest target total since Week 8. Still flex-relevant, especially in PPRs.
|Santana Moss (7)
|One of Rex Grossman's biggest lobbyists was rewarded for his loyalty in returning from the sidelines. Is he still available in your league?
|Danario Alexander (inactive)
|Mark Clayton (knees) joins the Rams' IR residents. Big-play artist Alexander (hamstring) is slated to return to start opposite Brandon Lloyd. Flier? Absolutely.
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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