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?
PPR leaguers should give him a whirl for at least this week. Jeremy Maclin (shoulder, hamstring) is iffy for Week 11, so there's another opening for Smith, who only two seasons ago registered 107 catches for the New York Giants, Philly's Week 11 opposition. Heck, he could still take over Jason Avant's role permanently. If Vince Young or Mike Kafka is tabbed to start for Michael Vick (ribs), Smith could be leaned on as a midrange safety valve, too, along with Brent Celek.
Warning: Jackson could be more involved if Kafka gets the nod; the Northwestern alum is better at pushing the ball downfield.
Top Week 10 wide receivers
Top Week 10 tight ends
Moore to come
Carson Palmer gushed about Denarius Moore's physical gifts following the Oakland Raiders' win last Thursday. Moore's 19 targets over the last two weeks speak to Palmer's admiration, too. Jacoby Ford (foot) is unlikely to play in Week 11, and Darrius Heyward-Bey is falling out of favor. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy are merely complementary pieces.
Ford's injury during the Thursday contest probably aided Moore's involvement, but it wasn't a cause-and-effect sitch. Moore is turning into what DHB was earlier in the season and must be grabbed everywhere.
Texans' No. 2 step
Put down the beer bong, Matt Leinart, and put a helmet on. You have to fill in for Matt Schaub (foot), who could be out for the season. Luckily, Leinart has a bye to do some work with the offense. Overall, however, he's a downgrade to the passing game's potential as Houston looks to fashion him as a game manager.
How vast is that drop? The Texans were reining in the aerial attack anyway thanks to their voluminous rushing attack. Houston will probably get Andre Johnson (hamstring) back next week. He doesn't necessarily need a big arm to succeed when he's close to 100 percent; owning him at a possible WR2 max value, at this point in the season, is better than not having him at all.
Jacoby Jones probably suffers the most, but he was already walking dead sans his big-play touchdown last week; that's really all he's good for. With Kevin Walter, just expect more of the same blandness.
Tight ends Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen will probably yield similar value to what they've already laid out. Arian Foster, the receiver, shouldn't take a big hit; Leinart should still be able to dump off with the best of them.
The fact that Houston's successful ground game was already carrying their offense bodes well for Leinart at least not crippling those who take a fantasy stab at him. Be open-minded; you have to if your team yearns for any modicum of passing upside.
The Kansas City Chiefs have their own QB quandary with Matt Cassel (hand) possibly out for the rest of 2011. Tyler Palko, for the moment, will start for as long as Cassel is sidelined. He's more of a game manager type, so expect more involvement from KC's running game, as if it weren't heavy already.
For Dwayne Bowe's value, remember Larry Fitzgerald's recent trend. Since taking the slinger reins, John Skelton, he of mediocre abilities as well, has consistently fed the rock to Fitz to allow him to make plays. Look for KC to do the same with Bowe, if on shorter routes, thereby preserving his target frequency. Maybe more offerings will sail off course and limit Bowe's upside, but WR2 territory is hardly unsustainable given his involvement alone.
Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin see a small deduction, with Breaston remaining the likelier option to contribute. Dexter McCluster could add another playmaking dynamic with a QB who needs help there. Maybe Leonard Pope sees more action his way, but that doesn't make him fantasy-relevant.
The Denver Broncos' institution of the read-option offense is making Tim Tebow more comfortable, but it's also squashing the upside of Eric Decker, Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas. Decker is the best bet from here, but Tebow's two - TWO - completions in eight tries last week signify that downturn this aerial game as a whole could easily take with Tebow allowed to take more matters into his hands - err, feet.
(Week 10 targets)
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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