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On Target: More Than Just The Looks

Howard Bender

Howard Bender

Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. For more from him, you can find his personal musings on his blog RotobuzzGuy.com or follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy. For questions, thoughts or comments you can email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com.

While the rest of the fantasy world is scrounging for running backs on the waiver wire this week, it’s time to once again turn your focus towards the receiving game. Receivers and tight ends seem to be the best place to try and maximize your points for the upcoming week.

Though the total number of passes thrown was down this week form last, for the third straight season total passing is on the rise overall. Of the top 30 non-quarterback point-scorers, half of them are wide receivers and tight ends. Granted, the receiver position is a much deeper and throwing in tight end options increases the field even more. However, with the rash of injuries at the running back position and the lack of sufficient replacement players leading to more backfield committees, your focus should be on the passing game if you’re looking to make improvements to your team.

Top Targets from Week 5

Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Reggie Wayne WR IND 212 1 55 20 13 2 22.2% 65.0% 36.4%
Marques Colston WR NO 131 3 45 18 9 6 85.7% 50.0% 40.0%
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 144 1 39 17 12 2 40.0% 70.6% 43.6%
Wes Welker WR NE 104 1 31 15 13 1 20.0% 86.7% 48.4%
Julio Jones WR ATL 94 1 52 15 10 1 50.0% 66.7% 28.8%
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 92 0 50 15 8 3 37.5% 53.3% 30.0%
Tony Gonzalez TE ATL 123 1 52 14 13 1 50.0% 92.9% 26.9%
A.J. Green WR CIN 65 1 43 13 9 1 25.0% 69.2% 30.2%
Andrew Hawkins WR CIN 47 0 43 13 5 2 50.0% 38.5% 30.2%
Steve Smith WR CAR 40 0 29 13 4 0 0.0% 30.8% 44.8%
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 188 0 44 11 9 0 0.0% 81.8% 25.0%
Kendall Wright WR TEN 66 0 48 11 9 2 33.3% 81.8% 22.9%
Jacob Tamme TE DEN 50 0 44 11 6 0 0.0% 54.5% 25.0%
Devery Henderson WR NO 123 1 45 10 8 0 0.0% 80.0% 22.2%
Percy Harvin WR MIN 108 1 35 10 8 1 16.7% 80.0% 28.6%
Antonio Brown WR PIT 86 0 37 10 7 0 0.0% 70.0% 27.0%
Anquan Boldin WR BAL 82 0 27 10 4 1 33.3% 40.0% 37.0%
Steve Johnson WR BUF 39 0 26 10 6 2 40.0% 60.0% 38.5%
Andre Roberts WR ARI 39 0 50 10 5 0 0.0% 50.0% 20.0%
Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ 94 0 32 9 5 1 50.0% 55.6% 28.1%
Rueben Randle WR NYG 82 0 37 9 6 2 25.0% 66.7% 24.3%
Jordan Norwoood WR CLE 81 0 35 9 9 0 0.0% 100.0% 25.7%
T.Y. Hilton WR IND 37 0 55 9 3 1 11.1% 33.3% 16.4%

Though total passing was down this week, we still seem to have a few outliers here on the Weekly Targets Leaderboard that don’t show up on the Target Percentage Leaderboard. That should immediately cause you to investigate further to see if some players are a one-week wonder or if there is any potential staying power. Let’s take a look:

This may be the first time we’ve seen Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme, but his 11 targets this week actually adds him to the TPL below for the first time too. Though his yardage could stand for some improvement, the fact that he has seen double-digit targets in two of the last three weeks as well as a handful of red zone look bodes well. Tamme is being incorporated into the passing game a little more lately and should continue down this path.

You’d like to think that Devery Henderson is here to stay. His level of production is in direct correlation to Lance Moore’s health. When Moore has been in the lineup, Henderson has been an afterthought. If you’re thinking about adding him to your roster, just make sure that Moore is out before you start him. Maybe after this week things will change, but so far it does not look like Moore and Henderson can coexist.

When Santonio Holmes went down for the year, someone had to step in as the top target for Mark Sanchez. Jeremy Kerley appears to be that player. He will likely be one of the premier targets for the team, though he comes with some issues. Aside from the fact that he has suspect QBs throwing him the ball, there is also Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller to watch out for once they are both healthy.

We all know that Victor Cruz is Eli Manning’s number one guy, and when Hakeem Nicks is in the lineup, he is up there too. But with Nicks banged up, it looks like there is going to be a rather unpredictable distribution of targets between Reuben Randle and Domenik Hixon. Not to mention Ramses Barden will be in the mix when he is healthy. Randle and Hixon have outstanding potential, but they cannot be relied upon for consistent production just yet.

Jordan Norwood is a guy we could see climb up the charts and could be an option if you are looking for a potential third wideout to start. We already know that Greg Little has unreliable hands. Now, with Mohammed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin hurt, Norwood is getting the chance to shine. He’s got 19 targets over the last two games and a 68.4-percent catch rate. Norwood should be on your radar now with Brandon Weeden seemingly becoming more comfortable with him.

And finally, T.Y. Hilton may have seen a decent number of targets this week, but Andrew Luck is still more comfortable with the likes of Reggie Wayne and Donnie Avery. Hilton had a great game against the Jags two weeks ago, but with just a 44.4-percent catch rate, he may be a suspect choice for your roster.

Now let’s see what’s new on the TPL this week…

Target Percentage Leaderboard
Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 496 3 156 56 35 7 41.2% 62.5% 35.9%
Reggie Wayne WR IND 506 2 177 60 36 7 29.2% 60.0% 33.9%
Danny Amendola WR STL 395 2 147 49 32 6 46.2% 65.3% 33.3%
A.J. Green WR CIN 493 4 170 56 36 8 32.0% 64.3% 32.9%
Vincent Jackson WR TB 304 2 119 38 16 4 33.3% 42.1% 31.9%
Dwayne Bowe WR KC 402 3 179 57 31 3 30.0% 54.4% 31.8%
Brian Hartline WR MIA 514 1 169 53 29 7 25.9% 54.7% 31.4%
Steve Johnson WR BUF 234 3 151 46 21 7 33.3% 45.7% 30.5%
Percy Harvin WR MIN 407 1 158 48 38 3 13.0% 79.2% 30.4%
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 337 2 185 55 30 10 25.0% 54.5% 29.7%
Victor Cruz WR NYG 438 5 199 57 37 8 25.0% 64.9% 28.6%
Wes Welker WR NE 484 1 185 52 38 4 15.4% 73.1% 28.1%
Michael Crabtree WR SF 311 1 139 38 27 1 8.3% 71.1% 27.3%
Steve Smith WR CAR 388 0 140 38 21 2 11.8% 55.3% 27.1%
DeSean Jackson WR PHI 391 1 185 46 24 4 23.5% 52.2% 24.9%
Antonio Brown WR PIT 326 1 157 39 25 0 0.0% 64.1% 24.8%
Brandon Lloyd WR NE 321 1 185 45 28 7 26.9% 62.2% 24.3%
Greg Olsen TE CAR 293 1 140 34 22 5 29.4% 64.7% 24.3%
Tony Gonzalez TE ATL 388 4 199 47 39 5 17.2% 83.0% 23.6%
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 513 2 197 46 30 3 9.7% 65.2% 23.4%
Kendall Wright WR TEN 214 2 190 44 27 7 29.2% 61.4% 23.2%
Calvin Johnson WR DET 423 1 186 43 29 4 16.7% 67.4% 23.1%
Julio Jones WR ATL 313 4 199 46 26 9 31.0% 56.5% 23.1%
Roddy White WR ATL 481 3 199 45 31 7 24.1% 68.9% 22.6%
Davone Bess WR MIA 346 0 169 38 22 2 7.4% 57.9% 22.5%
Sidney Rice WR SEA 199 1 125 28 17 7 28.0% 60.7% 22.4%
Eric Decker WR DEN 343 2 197 44 28 8 25.8% 63.6% 22.3%
Justin Blackmon WR JAX 119 0 148 33 13 2 11.1% 39.4% 22.3%
Owen Daniels TE HOU 311 3 152 33 23 3 25.0% 69.7% 21.7%
Vernon Davis TE SF 303 4 139 29 20 2 16.7% 69.0% 20.9%
Marques Colston WR NO 444 4 240 50 28 13 32.5% 56.0% 20.8%
Dez Bryant WR DAL 269 0 161 33 21 0 0.0% 63.6% 20.5%
Jason Witten TE DAL 188 1 161 33 21 1 10.0% 63.6% 20.5%
Anquan Boldin WR BAL 331 1 186 38 23 4 26.7% 60.5% 20.4%
Malcom Floyd WR SD 358 1 168 34 20 0 0.0% 58.8% 20.2%
Dennis Pitta TE BAL 210 2 186 37 21 6 40.0% 56.8% 19.9%
Donnie Avery WR IND 198 1 177 35 17 4 16.7% 48.6% 19.8%
Andre Johnson WR HOU 283 2 152 30 17 2 16.7% 56.7% 19.7%
Scott Chandler TE BUF 215 4 151 29 16 3 14.3% 55.2% 19.2%
Mike Wallace WR PIT 251 3 157 30 19 4 18.2% 63.3% 19.1%
Kyle Rudolph TE MIN 169 4 158 30 19 7 30.4% 63.3% 19.0%
Jordy Nelson WR GB 289 1 190 36 23 3 13.6% 63.9% 18.9%
Brent Celek TE PHI 324 1 185 35 21 3 17.6% 60.0% 18.9%
Andre Roberts WR ARI 268 4 185 35 20 4 10.0% 57.1% 18.9%
Andrew Hawkins WR CIN 294 2 170 32 20 3 12.0% 62.5% 18.8%
Brandon Pettigrew TE DET 223 1 186 35 23 4 16.7% 65.7% 18.8%
Mike Williams WR TB 219 2 119 22 11 4 33.3% 50.0% 18.5%
Rob Gronkowski TE NE 295 3 185 34 23 5 19.2% 67.6% 18.4%
Jacob Tamme TE DEN 175 1 197 36 21 3 9.7% 58.3% 18.3%
Jermaine Gresham TE CIN 238 1 170 31 22 5 20.0% 71.0% 18.2%
Miles Austin WR DAL 300 3 161 29 18 3 30.0% 62.1% 18.0%
Ray Rice RB BAL 190 0 186 33 23 2 13.3% 69.7% 17.7%
Fred Davis TE WAS 266 0 148 26 20 2 18.2% 76.9% 17.6%
Jimmy Graham TE NO 252 3 240 42 25 7 17.5% 59.5% 17.5%
Darren McFadden RB OAK 111 0 162 28 18 4 21.1% 64.3% 17.3%
Torrey Smith WR BAL 370 3 186 32 19 1 6.7% 59.4% 17.2%
Brandon LaFell WR CAR 226 1 140 24 13 3 17.6% 54.2% 17.1%
Nate Burleson WR DET 200 1 186 31 22 1 4.2% 71.0% 16.7%
Mario Manningham WR SF 186 1 139 23 19 3 25.0% 82.6% 16.5%
Jermichael Finley TE GB 198 1 190 31 22 4 18.2% 71.0% 16.3%

Having removed Santonio Holmes from the TPL due to his placement onto season-ending Injured Reserve, I was tempted to pull Danny Amendola as well given the fact that he is expected to miss six-to-seven weeks with his shoulder injury. However, since Amendola should be back in time for your playoffs, you don’t want to forget about him. Keep an eye on which Rams receiver, Brandon Ginson or Chris Givens, could step up into his place.

While Michael Crabtree’s target percentage remains relatively unchanged, it’s interesting to see Mario Manningham make his first appearance of the season here. You could that to quarterback Alex Smith facing a porous Bills pass defense and throwing for 303 yards. However, Smith only threw the ball 24 times on Sunday, his second lowest number of attempts this season. The secret to their success has been Smith and Manningham working harder at practice to improve their on-field chemistry. So far, it looks like it's working.

Not only did Percy Harvin have a breakout game this past week, but he actually improved on his catch rate as well. Hopefully you stuck with him after focusing on that and his target percentage rather than his lack of yardage or touchdowns. It would be a shame to have lost out on such a big day. With match-ups against Washington, Arizona and Tampa coming up, you’re going to want to make sure he is active each week.

Justin Blackmon saw his target percentage increase this week, which is always an encouraging sign. However, be wary as Blaine Gabbert might revert away from him again with such an atrocious catch rate. Not that there are many targets on that team to begin with, but he’ll certainly look to Marcedes Lewis and Cecil Shorts more if Blackmon can’t come down with the ball on a consistent basis.

While Roddy White and Julio Jones are starting to see an equal number of targets, Tony Gonzalez is seeing a significant increase in looks from Matt Ryan. By year end, all three might be sitting with roughly the same target percentage. That’s not too shabby for a 36 year old tight end.

I’m going to wait another week before casting judgment on Marques Colston and figuring out just how much his 131-yard, three touchdown performance will skew the numbers here. He remains a must-start, especially with Lance Moore out, but I’m wary of any player dealing with plantar fasciitis. If his health is up and down, obviously his numbers will be, too.

If Buffalo is going to continue to give up points and yardage like this, then Steve Johnson and Donald Jones are going to see a significant increase in targets as Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to air it out and play catch-up.

TPL Risers to Monitor: Fred Davis, Andrew Hawkins, Scott Chandler
TPL Fallers to Monitor: Brandon LaFell, Jordy Nelson, Jimmy Graham (ankle injury)

Week 6 Match-Up to Watch: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers – We’ve got a real grudge-match brewing here as these teams face each other for the first time since last years NFC Championship game. The Niners pass defense ranks fourth in the NFL but they haven’t been tested in the last two weeks. The Giants are a pass-heavy team and the emergence of three (maybe four if Martellus Bennett’s knee is ok) viable options in addition to Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks is going to put the Niners’ secondary to the test. Meanwhile, the emergence of Mario Manningham is well-timed and the San Francisco passing attack led by Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis is enough to make any secondary crazy.

Week 6 Potential Breakouts: Golden Tate, Brandon Gibson, Mike Wallace, Mike Williams (TB)

Week 6 Potential Busts: Victor Cruz, Brian Hartline, Torrey Smith, Brandon Lloyd

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Have a question or need some advice from Howard Bender? Follow @rotobuzzguy on Twitter, or feel free to e-mail him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com