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
Brandon Marshall rewrote the history books with his 21-reception outing in which he had 28 targets. The rest of the top five in Week 14 wideout looks seems normal: Andre Johnson (16), Wes Welker (14), Calvin Johnson (13), Devin Aromashodu (12) - wait, what?
Devin Hester's (calf) absence allowed Aromashodu to snare eight catches for 76 yards and a score. Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been itching to let the third-year wideout (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) contribute; the Bears need size in their corps. DA's career-best effort and chemistry with Cutler don't guarantee more work, though; Hester may return this week. DA is hard to count on, but his long-term fantasy Aroma can't be ignored.
Swimming with Miami Dolphins wideouts is dangerous and frustrating, but Greg Camarillo has 17 targets, 11 catches and 171 yards in his last two games. The 'Phins continue to divvy WR targets among Cammy (seven in Week 14), Davone Bess (six), Brian Hartline (four) and Ted Ginn Jr. (three). Camarillo may be finally coming around from his knee injury and establishing a connection with QB Chad Henne. Potentially working in favor of the fourth-year wideout: Bess (ankle), Camarillo's skills mirror, is dinged up.
Mark Bradley saw eight Kansas City Chiefs looks in Week 14 but only caught three passes for 35 yards. Expect him to be deemed inactive with Dwayne Bowe returning this week. Bobby Wade probably has done enough to earn a gameday spot, while Chris Chambers and Lance Long should keep their roles.
An impending return you should care about is the New Orleans Saints' Lance Moore (ankle, hamstring), who may play in Week 15. He probably won't make an immediate dent, but the Saints want a more secure No. 4 than Courtney Roby. Scoop up Moore if you're looking for a spark, though he's best served for Weeks 16 and 17, if at all. It wouldn't be surprising if the Saints wanted to work him in before the postseason as they go for 16-0 and potentially rest other wideouts.
Struggling New York Giants wideout Mario Manningham continues his route-running woes and doesn't appear to be an offensive priority. He was sought out just four times for the second straight week. Hakeem Nicks, who started in place of Manningham Sunday night, overcame his own gaffes and went 4-110-1 in nine looks. We may start seeing more of tight end Kevin Boss (eight targets), too.
Philadelphia Eagles rooke Jeremy Maclin's (foot) one- and possibly two-week absence opens up time for Reggie Brown, who saw four looks Sunday night and has nine in the last two weeks. He's the better option to play on the outside; Jason Avant fits naturally in the slot. Though Brown has just six catches in his last three games, he has averaged a healthy 21.8 yards per grab in that time.
If the Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald (knee) has to miss time or serve in a limited capacity, expect more work for the recently quiet Steve Breaston, who has seen at least six targets in five of his last six games. Early Doucet wouldn't be playable unless Fitzgerald misses the upcoming contest.
Keith Null's impact on St. Louis Rams wideouts may not reflect his name. As one would guess, the first-time starter learned toward possession in Week 14 via Brandon Gibson (11 targets) and Danny Amendola (eight), with Donnie Avery (six) bringing up the rear. The pathetic Rams have to throw a bunch. Hopefully you're not resting your hopes on this group, but if Kyle Boller (thigh) is able to suit up, Week 15 will probably bring Avery back to the pack.
We may soon be saying goodbye to Josh Cribbs' listing in this section. The Cleveland Browns are exploring using him as a running back more often; his eight carries for 87 yards against a depleted Pittsburgh Steelers defense added more justification. A shift to a Percy Harvin-type or full-time tailback role may open up a few more passing looks for Chansi Stuckey, tight end Evan Moore (more in a bit) and others.
Deon Butler shares No. 3 reps with Deion Branch, but the Seattle Seahawks rook saw six targets (three catches, 34 yards) last week after back-to-back one-target efforts. His one target in Week 14, though, resulted in a clutch 32-yard reception that set up the game-winning field goal. Their passing game has been so-so this year, with pass protection being one of Seattle's biggest weaknesses. Wideout Nate Burleson (ankle) was injured in Week 14, so we may see more Butler this week; his fantasy relevance doesn't warrant a lineup spot unless you're desperate. Think long term here, especially if they cut Branch's ugly contract after this season.
Few Oakland Raiders fans are glad to see JaMarcus Russell back behind center for with Bruce Gradkowski (knees) likely missing the rest of the year. Zach Miller didn't mind the switch; he received 13 looks in a near-even balance between the two QBs. In Week 14, nine of Russell's 16 attempts went to Miller or Brandon Myers.
However, Miller (concussion) is looking uncertain for Week 15, and Oakland is deciding whether Russell and Charlie Frye will take snaps. It's hard to count on other Raiders receiving options - outside of hybrid Darren McFadden - from here on out.
Why not end on a Cleveland Browns note? Evan Moore has 17 looks in his first two games as the Browns' main tight end. It's hard to justify playing Moore in any league unless you're desperate, but if you have to, he has some enticing matchups in the near future.
Remember: Opportunity can lead to success. Find out which 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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