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?
Much to his owners' delight, Brandon Marshall was not ejected Monday night. Luckily, Matt Moore didn't shy away from challenging Darrelle Revis, though most of Marshall's production came on a 46-yard catch when he broke free from Antonio Cromartie and his day could've been bigger if not for some red-zone miscues.
As usual, Marshall is relying on his sheer volume of looks; this Miami Dolphins offense can't always maximize his production. On a positive note, it looks like "Moore" of the same for No. 15 with the QB change, so at least you can rely on the offensive attention he'll get; consider Marshall's Week 6 a C-plus, a much better grade than most have earned when lining up versus the New York Jets' cornerbacks.
Top Week 6 wide receivers
Top Week 6 tight ends
McDaniels: I'm lovin' it
Brandon Lloyd's arrival in the Gateway City sets him up to close the door for any other wideout to improve their target haul. His 2010 breakout performance in Josh McDaniels' system should hasten his transition to the WR1 in this attack.
Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson will continue sharing duties across from Lloyd ... but Mark Clayton (knee) is inches away from retuning from the Physically Unable to Perform list and corrupting that picture further. Greg Salas has taken over the slot from Austin Pettis; he might have the best chance to survive Lloyd and Clayton's inclusion, but his contributions will most likely be dictated by game pace.
Clayton is worth a flier, but his payoff is limited by Lloyd's arrival. Alexander probably will remain the most effective wideout in that spot for at least another few weeks, so enjoy the value while you can.
As for the Denver Broncos, Demaryius Thomas (finger) and Eddie Royal (groin) are close to returning, just in time to take advantage of target openings. Tim Tebow takes over, and Eric Decker, despite his potential decrease in fantasy potency, remains the No. 1 target. Thomas has after-the-catch upside; Royal is more designed as a dump-off slot option. Thomas' upside is greater, but it might take more time to develop into production. Both are worth desperation pickups.
Goin' back to Cali
While he'll probably need a few weeks to feel comfortable again, Carson Palmer, who looks like the Oakland Raiders' Week 7 starter, shouldn't need a widespread educational adjustment. Oakland's playcalling verbiage is similar to those he used with the Cincinnati Bengals; the system uses numbers instead of names, following West Coast tendencies.
Don't forget his reunion with vertical-offense advocate Hue Jackson, Raidas head coach and former Palmer confidant at USC and the Cincinnati Bengals. Oh, and Palmer isn't Kyle Boller. Once he regains his downfield stride, this offense should at minimum match its performance when Jason Campbell (collarbone) was taking snaps, with the potential for finally harnessing optimal potency of their wideout speed.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, who now looks more like a receiver than a go-route guy, should remain the top choice; he's not just relying on deep shots anymore, though his ability to challenge downfield will keep him as a favorite. Denarius Moore, who's playing the outside most of the time, and Jacoby Ford, mainly the slot man at this point, receive boosts, as well. An up-to-speed Louis Murphy might eventually muddle the non-DHB picture, though.
No longer Pondering change
Rookie Christian Ponder has been named the Minnesota Vikings' starting QB. Donovan McNabb's dink-and-dunk act was tiresome; though the same could continue with Ponder, especially with a shaky O-line, at least he has better arm strength to fit this O, even if he's a shaky fantasy start himself. Chad Pennington probably can heave the rock farther than McNabb today.
Ponder's emergence should open things up for Percy Harvin, who had a season-high seven catches and 78 yards in Week 6. Of course, Minny was in comeback mode, but Harvin should see more opportunities in space with a snap-taker who can get the ball in his hands more efficiently and keep passing plays alive. Check if someone in your league gave up on No. 12.
It's still a goose chase, though, to pick someone from Michael Jenkins, Bernard Berrian, Devin Aromashodu or Greg Camarillo to stand out, but Ponder looked to Jenkins four times after entering in Week 6, for what it's worth. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe will probably suffer; Kyle Rudolph, another NFL freshman, might have a connection with Ponder.
Beck to drawing board
Rex Grossman out, John Beck in for the Washington Redskins - should you be excited? Meh. Fred Davis stands atop the pecking order either way. Santana Moss' targets remain abundant, but his conversions aren't. Beck, despite earning rave preseason reviews, doesn't stand to improve that. Jabar Gaffney, whom Beck went to frequently after entering, still only holds matchup-play value that might get a few more catches each week with Chris Cooley on the shelf, but he's nothing to fawn over.
Look for the 'Skins to continue running as much as possible to avoid putting the game in Beck's hands.
Slingless in Seattle
Who'll start at QB for the Seattle Seahawks? There's a chance Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral) could go in Week 7, but Charlie Whitehurst is taking first-team reps. Whitehurst's approach is more conservative but less prone to turnovers.
With that in mind, Doug Baldwin could be Seattle's top receiver play as long as Whitehurst leads the huddle; the long-locked launcher leaned on the rook last week, and Baldwin's PPR-friendly style fits what Whitehurst prefers to do under center. Sidney Rice still holds the top spot in name, but his fantasy stock favors Jackson playing - i.e., more downfield challenges. Safe to say Ben Obomanu will still be involved, but it will vary week-to-week regardless of quarterback.
Rowdy over Roddy
Roddy White's disappointing fantasy season continued, on the surface, in Week 6, when he caught just two passes for 21 yards. His line of 34-373-2 hardly matches his 2011 draft value. But look deeper: He drew two pass interference penalties in the end zone versus the Carolina Panthers.
He's still averaging 9.8 targets per game for the Atlanta Falcons. Touchdown production is erratic for most football players; at least White remains on pace for around 90 catches on the season - the reason you drafted him. When Julio Jones (hamstring) returns, it'll take some coverage away from White. Throw No. 84 on your buy-low list. Once he starts scoring sixes....
(Week 6 targets)
(Week 6 targets)
(Week 6 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.
Don't miss these great reports....
Recent KFFL releases
Fantasy Football Rankings: Standard Scoring
Fantasy Football Rankings: PPR Scoring
Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts: White Sox chaos coming?
Fantasy Football Rankings: Scoring only