Opportunity in the NFL world can translate into success in the fantasy football world. This is where targets come into play. While a wide receiver may have caught only four passes in a given week, his target total might have been double or triple that. Those targets may not have translated into catches one week, but they may in the future.
The following players gained attention because of the number of targets they received this past week. Are these numbers a trend in the making or simply an aberration?
Fantasy Football on Target
TO rewarded by Ocho's doubles
On the heels of Terrell Owens' monster Monday night (15 targets, 10 catches, 141 yards, two touchdowns), the Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Ochocinco caught just one pass for 15 yards last night despite seeing seven targets. He let loose his frustrations on his quarterback last night, his frustration over facing the majority of defensive attention boiling over. Ocho's attention is helping TO break loose. Ocho remains a tenuous fantasy play, but at least his 31 looks over the past three weeks affirm his involvement.
The Miami Dolphins' Brandon Marshall also vented his desire for more opportunities to make offensive noise. He saw ample double coverage in Week 9, but Chad Henne still looked toward him eight times; Marshall's 41 targets since their Week 5 bye are tied for second among wideouts.
Jacob Tamme (Indianapolis Colts) led all tight ends with 18 Week 9 looks and is quickly becoming one of the more secure fantasy tight end plays. Also, with Anthony Gonzalez (knee) returning home to Injured Reserve and Austin Collie (concussion) iffy for next week, wideout Blair White should build on his five targets from Week 9 for as long as Collie remains dinged.
In a game that featured the Minnesota Vikings and Brett Favre posting a furious aerial comeback against the Arizona Cardinals, Bernard Berrian (13 Week 9 looks) registered 89 yards on nine grabs. While he's a logical pickup post-Randy Moss, Berrian has a lot working against him keeping up his recent production. Percy Harvin and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe remain steady options. Sidney Rice (hip) is on track to return soon and cut into Berrian's chances.
Welcome back, Michael Vick, says Philadelphia Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson (7-109-1 on 11 looks). In Vick's three complete games of work this year, D-Jax averaged 5.33 catches, 132.33 yards and 1.00 touchdowns per game. Jeremy Maclin (eight targets) has not lost much production, regardless of whether Vick or Kevin Kolb has been slinging, but owners of tight end Brent Celek (one) - however many are left - still yearn for Kolb.
As Darrius Heyward-Bey did in Week 8, Jacoby Ford stepped up in an injury-marred receiving game Sunday and delivered six catches and 148 yards on nine targets for the Oakland Raiders. Ford is still just a desperation addition, despite his dangerous speed; tight end Zach Miller (foot) and wideout Louis Murphy (lung) both missed Week 9 and aim to be ready for Week 11. Chaz Schilens (knee) might make his 2010 debut soon, too.
Outside of Miller and running back Darren McFadden, no Raiders receiving target has stable down-the-road value right now. Count each receiver as a last-ditch flex play at best.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Moore (shoulder) was placed on Injured Reserve. Knock some long-term value off wideout Steve Smith (six Week 9 looks), who was just starting to turn his fantasy year around. Maybe David Gettis rekindles his connection with fellow rookie Jimmy Clausen, but the former Notre Dame slinger might cede to Tony Pike - really? This passing game takes a severe hit as a whole. Play Gettis and Brandon LaFell at your own risk. It'll also be hard to trade Smith at this point.
Roscoe Parrish's 11 Week 9 targets will be for naught, as the Buffalo Bills wideout hit Injured Reserve. Lee Evans and Steve Johnson have even less competition for looks now.
Kitna connecting with Bryant
The Dallas Cowboys have done a lot of throwing while being outscored 80-24 in their last two games. Wideout Dez Bryant has seen 10 looks in each of those games with Jon Kitna taking snaps, and the rookie saw all of his Week 7 looks when Kitna took over for Tony Romo (clavicle). Bryant and Kitna are on the same page, and Bryant offers similar intermediate target value to tight end Jason Witten.
Witten saw just four targets in Week 9 but was often staying in to block dynamic Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. Witten's long-term value isn't damaged. Miles Austin (six targets) can't be taken out of your lineup but might not be as secure against a tough matchup.
Hope you enjoyed Seyi Ajirotutu's Week 9 (4-111-2 on five targets) as much as you do saying his name. The San Diego Chargers' rook's fantasy shelf life might already be expiring, with Patrick Crayton still around and the post-bye returns of Malcom Floyd (hamstring) and holdout Vincent Jackson on the horizon. Tutu, at best, is worth a trial dance for the chance the injury to Floyd lasts as long as tight end Antonio Gates' plantar fasciitis. If you drop something with long-term value for Ajirotutu, you'll pull a muscle.
The Detroit Lions might be losing quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder) for the season, but Shaun Hill kept it afloat, and Drew Stanton, while a downgrade, showed in Week 6 he could air it out if needed. Owners of Calvin Johnson shouldn't worry much; Stanton and Megatron connected for a big Week 6 play, so there's hope for more of the same. Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson should remain notable parts of the O, as well.
No Donald Driver (quadriceps), no problem for the Green Bay Packers. James Jones garnered nine targets Sunday night, and Jordy Nelson came away with six to complement Greg Jennings' seven during their rout of the Dallas Cowboys. If Driver can return following the Packers' bye, Nelson can return to your waiver wire. Jones is still worth taking a chance on moving forward.
Owen Daniels (hamstring) is uncertain for Week 10, which means the Houston Texans might once again seek out Joel Dreessen (seven looks last week) and James Casey (six, two in the red zone). The athletic Casey offers a better red zone matchup if you need to take advantage of Daniels' absence, but despite Dreessen and Casey's productive Week 9, they might statistically cancel each other out.
Remember: Opportunity can lead to success. Find out which of these players we recommend adding in this week's Fantasy Football Waiver Wire.
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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