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
Steve Smith was appeased by the Carolina Panthers with 15 targets in Week 15; he led all wideouts last week. A more encouraging sight was Dwayne Bowe's 10-spot in his return for the Kansas City Chiefs. He snared four of them for 56 yards.
We told you last week about the New Orleans Saints reincorporating Lance Moore. He only had two targets last week but turned one into a seven-yard score. If the Who 'Dats clinch the top NFC seed and decide to rest some of their weapons, Moore could be seen ... well, more.
Meanwhile, Devery Henderson was targeted eight times Saturday night but only grabbed two passes for 22 yards. The Saints can't be happy with Hendo's dropped touchdown, either. He might be the one to suffer now that Moore is back, especially since Robert Meachem (six targets) has established himself.
Pierre Garcon (hand) left Week 15 action, but his injury isn't considered serious; he could've returned for the Indianapolis Colts, but he wasn't re-entered. Were they resting him for the postseason? If Garcon were to miss any time, Austin Collie would see a jump in targets, but the biggest beneficiary would be Hank Baskett, who hasn't been targeted since Week 8. Worth a fantasy pickup? Not if Anthony Gonzalez (knee) is ready to return this week. A-Gon practiced Monday, and Indy hopes he'll suit up this week. A-Gon is worth a speculative addition; he may get the Lance Moore treatment.
Greg Camarillo (10 targets) has now been sought out 27 times in three games. Even among the cluster of Miami Dolphins wideouts that also include Davone Bess, Brian Hartline and Ted Ginn Jr., Camarillo ranks just one look behind Bess in the last three games. Hartline and Ginn are nowhere near as involved.
Once again without Devin Hester (calf), the Chicago Bears continued to take a whiff of Devin Aromashodu. The 6-foot-2, 201-pounder was targeted 10 times (22 since Week 13) but wasn't as productive this week with just two grabs for 10 yards. In fact, the Bears may be targeting him to a fault: Three Bears interceptions (two by quarterback Jay Cutler, one by Caleb Hanie) came on attempts toward DA. Hester might be available this week, but since the Bears need a tall impact wideout, this probably won't be the last of DA. Now, if defenses are keying on him....
As expected with Nate Burleson (ankle) out, Deion Branch (10 targets) and the speedier Deon Butler (eight) saw increased workloads. They're desperation fantasy options from here on out; it looks like Burleson will miss Week 16, as well. Butler's big-play ability makes him more intriguing but riskier. The biggest beneficiary, however, is coming up later on....
The San Francisco 49ers' spread offense continues to benefit Josh Morgan, who has now seen at least eight targets in three of the last four games. The final two weeks? The Niners face the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams.
Speaking of the Rams, Donnie Avery has seen just six targets in each of the last two weeks as the Rams kept the playcalling a bit conservative for quarterback Keith Null. St. Louis may opt for Kyle Boller (thigh), who seemed to favor Avery more, giving the speedster 21 targets combined in Weeks 12 and 13. Brandon Gibson has seen respectable looks totals regardless of who has been slinging the rock of late.
Was that JaMarcus Russell or Joe Montana out there last week? In all seriousness, despite the dramatic nature of the Oakland Raiders' win this week, their quarterback and wideout spots remain in flux. Charlie Frye (head) will reportedly start Week 16 if he's healthy and if Bruce Gradkowski (knees) can't go.
The looks were closely split between Louis Murphy (nine), Chaz Schilens (eight) and Johnnie Lee Higgins (seven) last week with a mixture of Frye, Russell and J.P. Losman at the helm. Before you get too excited, remember, tight end Zach Miller (concussion) was on the sidelines and could return in Week 16. If we were forced to pick one receiver, we'd probably go with Schilens since he had the most overall chemistry with the quarterbacks before his early-season injury.
Without Mark Clayton (knee, hamstring) and Kelley Washington (ankle), Demetrius Williams gave the Baltimore Ravens four catches, 71 yards and one score on six looks. Both Clayton and Washington are expected to return in Week 16; if that stands, Williams will be returned to a Hail Mary fantasy option.
Josh Reed made four catches for 63 yards on eight targets, but the Buffalo Bills wideout dropped a potential touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was replaced due to ineptitude, but Trent Edwards (ankle) wasn't much better and is now out for the season. Lee Evans saw seven targets, and Terrell Owens only saw two. Don't let this sway you into thinking the uninspiring Reed has any fantasy value.
Welcome back, John Carlson! The Seattle Seahawks tight end was recently struggling to shake off defenders but has come alive with touchdowns in back-to-back games; he also had seven grabs for 86 yards on eight targets in Week 15. He should continue to be more involved as long as wideout Nate Burleson (ankle) remains out.
With Jeremy Shockey (toe) out for Week 15, the already involved David Thomas saw 10 targets and responded with eight catches for 77 yards. We've talked about Thomas' impact as an H-back even when Shockey was healthy. The Saints play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, meaning we could see more DT if N'awlins decides to rest Shockey for the postseason.
Capping things off, Todd Heap (six targets) continued his fantasy tease for the Baltimore Ravens with a two-touchdown effort on six targets. He played some reps at wide receiver given the Ravens' injuries at the position mentioned above; he netted some favorable matchups against safeties. He has only seen more than six targets in a game twice since Week 5, though, and they probably wouldn't do the same if their banged-up wideouts return.
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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