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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.

No time for pleasantries or clever introductions here as we’re getting into some serious crunch time in fantasy football. We’re about to hit the halfway point in the NFL season and we’re just a few short weeks away from starting the fantasy playoffs. Every decision needs to be well thought out and every roster move has to be made with purpose. With the running back position just a total nightmare this year - and yes, it really is a nightmare - the choices you make at the wide receiver and tight end positions are going to be paramount to your success. Don’t mess it up!

As always, let’s start with this week’s target leaders…

Top Targets from Week 7

Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Mike Wallace WR PIT 52 0 38 15 8 0 0.0% 53.3% 39.5%
Vincent Jackson WR TB 216 1 42 14 7 5 45.5% 50.0% 33.3%
Torrey Smith WR BAL 41 0 43 13 4 0 0.0% 30.8% 30.2%
Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ 120 0 41 11 7 1 20.0% 63.6% 26.8%
Fred Jackson RB BUF 49 1 35 11 8 0 0.0% 72.7% 31.4%
Reggie Wayne WR IND 73 0 29 11 6 1 50.0% 54.5% 37.9%
Victor Cruz WR NYG 131 1 40 11 7 2 25.0% 63.6% 27.5%
Calvin Johnson WR DET 34 0 46 11 3 3 25.0% 27.3% 23.9%
Hakeem Nicks WR NYG 53 0 40 10 5 2 25.0% 50.0% 25.0%
Lance Moore WR NO 121 0 37 10 9 1 16.7% 90.0% 27.0%
Owen Daniels TE HOU 59 1 37 10 7 1 50.0% 70.0% 27.0%
Andre Johnson WR HOU 86 0 37 10 9 0 0.0% 90.0% 27.0%
Brandon Myers TE OAK 44 0 46 10 7 3 33.3% 70.0% 21.7%
Cecil Shorts WR JAC 79 1 32 10 4 0 0.0% 40.0% 31.3%
Marques Colston WR NO 73 1 37 10 7 2 33.3% 70.0% 27.0%
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 81 1 32 10 6 4 66.7% 60.0% 31.3%
Josh Gordon WR CLE 59 1 41 10 2 1 25.0% 20.0% 24.4%
James Jones WR GB 53 0 37 10 6 2 40.0% 60.0% 27.0%
Rashad Jennings RB JAC 58 0 32 9 7 1 50.0% 77.8% 28.1%
Jordy Nelson WR GB 122 1 37 9 8 2 40.0% 88.9% 24.3%
Louis Murphy WR CAR 48 0 37 9 3 3 37.5% 33.3% 24.3%
Steve Smith WR CAR 83 0 37 9 7 1 12.5% 77.8% 24.3%
Rob Gronkowski TE NE 78 2 42 9 6 2 40.0% 66.7% 21.4%
Andre Roberts WR ARI 103 1 36 9 7 1 20.0% 77.8% 25.0%
Miles Austin WR DAL 97 1 34 9 5 2 66.7% 55.6% 26.5%
Shonn Greene RB NYJ 34 0 41 9 6 1 20.0% 66.7% 22.0%

No need to go over some of the more prominent names as plenty of these guys already have must-start status each week. But there are still a few names here that command an explanation.

We don’t really get a chance to see Mike Wallace here too often and, to me, that’s kind of a head-scratcher. Yes, Antonio Brown is the main possession guy, but Ben Roethlisberger needs to incorporate Wallace a little more than he does. Only twice this season has Wallace seen double-digit targets and only once, has he topped 100 yards in a game. A bit disconcerting, but certainly no reason to take him out of your lineup. He still ranks up there in target percentage despite the low amount of targets he gets.

With Santonio Holmes done for the season and Stephen Hill in and out with a lingering hamstring issue, Jeremy Kerley has become the top target for Mark Sanchez these days. Kerley is actually a decent play if you’re looking for a third wide receiver or a flex play in deep leagues as he will see plenty of looks moving forward. He may start to lose some to returning tight end Dustin Keller, but he should still see a minimum average of six to eight targets per game.

Brandon Myers is becoming more and more popular in Oakland now that their passing game is starting to blossom. Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Rod Streater are helping to spread out the field which is giving Myers a little more room in the middle. He also saw three red zone looks this week, which is really what you’re hoping for if your tight end doesn’t rack up a whole lot of yardage.

Jacksonville wide receiver Cecil Shorts hasn’t been seen here since Week 1, but with 10 targets this week, he pops back onto fantasy owners’ radar. He’s not one to pick up right now, as we need to see how he and new quarterback Chad Henne get along on the field, but if the two continue to build a strong rapport over the next few weeks, he could have some serious value when he gets a stretch beginning in Week 12 when he faces Tennessee, Buffalo and the Jets in consecutive straight weeks.

Nine targets is a season-high for Louis Murphy, but I wouldn’t expect that trend to continue. He’s still considered fourth on the targets list in Carolina, behind Greg Olsen, Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. He might get a few targets here and there, but consistency is not likely.
There was so much talk of an improved Larry Fitzgerald with the return of John Skelton, but it was Andre Roberts reaping all the benefits this week. If the Cardinals passing game moves into full-swing soon enough, Roberts could post some seriously big numbers moving forward. Some tough match-ups in the future, for sure, but he is more than capable of doing some damage as the team’s number two.

No, that is not a typo – nine targets for Shonn Greene. Don’t get used to it though.

And now for the overall…

Target Percentage Leaderboard

Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 577 4 188 66 41 11 50.0% 62.1% 35.1%
Reggie Wayne WR IND 666 2 250 81 47 8 28.6% 58.0% 32.4%
Vincent Jackson WR TB 586 5 187 60 27 11 39.3% 45.0% 32.1%
Dwayne Bowe WR KC 427 3 217 66 34 3 30.0% 51.5% 30.4%
Victor Cruz WR NYG 627 7 267 81 50 13 27.7% 61.7% 30.3%
A.J. Green WR CIN 636 7 244 73 44 11 39.3% 60.3% 29.9%
Percvy Harvin WR MIN 577 2 227 67 53 3 9.4% 79.1% 29.5%
Steve Johnson WR BUF 387 4 219 64 32 7 30.4% 50.0% 29.2%
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 459 3 257 74 40 11 23.9% 54.1% 28.8%
Brian Hartline WR MIA 514 1 198 53 29 7 24.1% 54.7% 26.8%
Steve Smith WR CAR 471 0 177 47 28 3 12.0% 59.6% 26.6%
Wes Welker WR NE 688 2 285 74 54 6 15.0% 73.0% 26.0%
Michael Crabtree WR SF 368 1 199 50 34 1 6.7% 68.0% 25.1%
Antonio Brown WR PIT 442 1 235 57 36 0 0.0% 63.2% 24.3%
Calvin Johnson WR DET 592 1 277 67 38 8 17.4% 56.7% 24.2%
Davone Bess WR MIA 388 0 198 47 28 3 10.3% 59.6% 23.7%
DeSean Jackson WR PHI 465 1 231 54 29 4 19.0% 53.7% 23.4%
Eric Decker WR DEN 441 3 227 53 34 10 30.3% 64.2% 23.3%
Andre Johnsoin WR HOU 444 2 227 52 34 3 15.8% 65.4% 22.9%
Tony Gonzalez TE ATL 430 4 236 54 43 5 16.1% 79.6% 22.9%
Julio Jones WR ATL 376 4 236 54 30 10 32.3% 55.6% 22.9%
Brandon Lloyd WR NE 407 1 285 65 35 7 17.5% 53.8% 22.8%
Roddy White WR ATL 553 4 236 53 37 8 25.8% 69.8% 22.5%
Danny Amendola WR STL 395 2 220 49 32 6 26.1% 65.3% 22.3%
Dez Bryant WR DAL 378 2 231 51 36 6 28.6% 70.6% 22.1%
Greg Olsen TE CAR 324 1 177 39 26 7 28.0% 66.7% 22.0%
Sidney Rice WR SEA 312 2 175 38 22 7 24.1% 57.9% 21.7%
Marques Colston WR NO 517 5 277 60 35 15 32.6% 58.3% 21.7%
Jordy Nelson WR GB 532 5 264 57 40 8 22.9% 70.2% 21.6%
Donnie Avery WR IND 304 1 250 53 25 4 14.3% 47.2% 21.2%
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 542 3 227 48 32 3 9.1% 66.7% 21.1%
Owen Daniels TE HOU 416 4 227 48 33 4 21.1% 68.8% 21.1%
Mike Wallace WR PIT 397 4 235 49 29 6 20.0% 59.2% 20.9%
Jason Witten TE DAL 320 1 231 48 33 3 14.3% 68.8% 20.8%
Kendall Wright WR TEN 304 2 267 55 36 9 24.3% 65.5% 20.6%
Justin Blackmon WR JAC 126 0 180 37 14 2 10.0% 37.8% 20.6%
Anquan Boldin WR BAL 453 1 255 52 31 4 18.2% 59.6% 20.4%
Kyle Rudolph TE MIN 225 5 227 45 25 9 28.1% 55.6% 19.8%
Dennis Pitta TE BAL 276 2 255 50 30 7 31.8% 60.0% 19.6%
Andre Roberts WR ARI 389 5 257 50 29 5 10.9% 58.0% 19.5%
Mike Williams WR TB 368 3 187 36 19 5 17.9% 52.8% 19.3%
Torrey Smith WR BAL 435 4 255 49 25 2 9.1% 51.0% 19.2%
Malcom Floyd WR SD 418 1 209 39 25 0 0.0% 64.1% 18.7%
Miles Austin WR DAL 428 4 231 43 25 5 23.8% 58.1% 18.6%
Brent Celek TE PHI 357 1 231 43 25 5 23.8% 58.1% 18.6%
Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ 435 2 221 40 25 6 23.1% 62.5% 18.1%
Brandon LaFell WR CAR 279 2 177 32 17 4 16.0% 53.1% 18.1%
Rob Gronkowski TE NE 434 5 285 51 35 9 22.5% 68.6% 17.9%
Heath Miller TE PIT 290 5 235 42 31 13 43.3% 73.8% 17.9%
James Jones WR GB 323 7 264 47 29 10 28.6% 61.7% 17.8%
Brandon Gibson WR STL 335 2 220 39 25 3 13.0% 64.1% 17.7%
Jermaine Gresham TE CIN 325 2 244 43 28 5 17.9% 65.1% 17.6%
Denarius Moore WR OAK 323 3 241 42 21 7 22.6% 50.0% 17.4%
Brandon Pettigrew TE DET 298 1 277 48 31 5 10.9% 64.6% 17.3%
Vernon Davis TE SF 340 4 199 34 23 2 13.3% 67.6% 17.1%
Lance Moore WR NO 408 2 277 47 28 6 13.0% 59.6% 17.0%
Andrew Hawkins WR CIN 346 2 244 41 27 3 10.7% 65.9% 16.8%
Antonio Gates TE SD 224 2 209 35 19 6 24.0% 54.3% 16.7%
Jacob Tamme TE DEN 202 1 227 38 23 3 9.1% 60.5% 16.7%
Leonard Hankerson WR WAS 277 1 198 33 22 3 15.8% 66.7% 16.7%
Anthony Fasano
TE
MIA
176
2
198
33
22
7
24.1%
66.7%
16.7%
Mario Manningham WR SF 258 1 199 33 24     72.7% 16.6%
Nate Washington WR TEN 374 3 267 44 23     52.3% 16.5%
Ray Rice RB BAL 245 0 255 42 29     69.0% 16.5%
Scott Chandler TE BUF 234 4 219 36 19     52.8% 16.4%
Randall Cobb WR GB 435 3 264 43 37     86.0% 16.3%
Darren McFadden RB OAK 167 0 241 39 25     64.1% 16.2%
Jeremy Maclin WR PHI 295 3 231 36 20     55.6% 15.6%
Darren Sproles RB NO 267 3 277 43 32     74.4% 15.5%

Not that it should come as a complete surprise, but for the first time this season, there are no running backs listed here. You would think that we’d see a few more other than what we’ve had – Darren Sproles, Ray Rice and Darren McFadden -- but there have apparently been fewer designed screen passes this season and a lot more downfield action.

While my faith in Jay Cutler remains limited, at best, you cannot deny that Brandon Marshall has been a huge addition to the Bears offense this season. Of course, any receiver worth his salt would have been an improvement to the Bears passing attack. Still, it doesn’t seem to matter who gets him the ball, just so long as it heads his way. He’s go the highest target percentage in the league, a fantastic catch rate and he gets plenty of looks in the red zone. He may not get the most yardage out of the receivers, but everything else he does more than makes up for it.
Malcom Floyd is certainly turning into one of the bigger disappointments of the season this year. He’s seeing a fair amount of targets but doesn’t rack up a whole lot of yardage and zero red zone looks through seven games is totally disconcerting.

Similarly to Floyd, Antonio Brown has been a bit of a problem lately as well. He’s putting up about average yardage, but with zero looks inside the redzone, it’s going to be awfully hard to use him outside of PPR leagues.

49ers tight end Vernon Davis has seen his target percentage take a significant hit over the last two weeks. After starting the season on fire, he’s now averaging less than four targets per game over his last four games and hasn’t found the endzone since Week 3. He spoke up a little after Thursday’s game putting the onus on offensive coordinator Greg Roman for a lack of ingenuity in the play calling. Opposing defenses are shutting down Davis’ normal routes and Roman hasn’t rolled with the punches and found alternatives routes for Davis to run just yet. Continue to monitor this situation.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Brandon LaFell could be someone to target after his bye week as the match-ups looked plenty tasty and he seemed to be improving his route-running. Well, one game past the bye and he’s seen a slight boost in targets against a tough Dallas defense and even found the endzone. Two of his next four match-ups come against Washington and Tampa Bay and whil ehe’s got a few tough ones on paper, some of these top defenses he’s focusing on give a lot of latitude to the number two receiver.

Two of the biggest surprises that sit on this least are: 1. Kendall Wright has managed to maintain his position here on the TPL and continues to get solid looks and 2. Justin Blackmon is still here. It’s not that he’s seeing an increase in work as it’s more of a lack of other viable options in Jacksonville. As for Wright, the guy has been a solid waiver pick-up this year and should actually continue to see strong target numbers in spite of Kenny Britt and Nate Washington.

Just missing the cut this week, but likely to re-appear on the TPL next week include: Ray Rice (16.5%), Scott Chandler (16.4%), Randall Cobb (16.3%), Darren McFadden (16.2), Jeremy Maclin (15.6%), Darren Sproles (15.5%)

TPL Risers to Monitor: Lance Moore, Miles Austin, Leonard Hankerson

TPL Fallers to Monitor: Brandon Lloyd, Andrew Hawkins, Vernon Davis

Week 8 Match-Up to Watch: San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns – The Browns pass defense is one of the worst in the league, allowing an average of 277 passing yards per game and a whopping 15 passing touchdowns. This could be the game Philip Rivers has been waiting for which should certainly help things along for Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and even Robert Meachem. Meanwhile, the Chargers pass D isn’t much stronger, allowing an average of 268 passing yards per game with 14 passing touchdowns allowed. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has built solid rapports with Josh Gordon and Greg Little while he also had a TD pass (though it was negated by a penalty) to tight end Ben Watson.

Week 8 Potential Breakouts: Chris Givens, Kyle Rudolph, Denarius Moore

Week 8 Potential Busts: Santana Moss, Hakeem Nicks, DeSean Jackson

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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