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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 Week 9 was dominated by some killer running back performances, there were more than enough wide receivers and tight ends getting the necessary work done to satisfy your fantasy hunger. One thing you’ll notice this week as you look down the targets leaderboard was that quarterbacks, on the whole, spreaded the ball around a lot more than usual. That can be both a blessing and a curse in the fantasy world, as some top names lost looks here and there, while you’ll notice quite a few new “faces” on the weekly targets list. Let’s take a look…

Top Targets from Week 9

Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Brandon Myers TE OAK 59 2 62 13 8 2 28.6% 61.5% 21.0%
Brian Hartline WR MIA 107 0 38 12 8 0 0.0% 66.7% 31.6%
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 74 1 46 12 6 1 50.0% 50.0% 26.1%
Josh Morgan WR WAS 46 0 39 12 6 2 40.0% 50.0% 30.8%
Eric Decker WR DEN 99 2 35 11 8 3 50.0% 72.7% 31.4%
Jimmy Graham TE NO 72 1 27 11 8 1 20.0% 72.7% 40.7%
T.Y. Hilton WR IND 102 1 48 11 6 1 50.0% 54.5% 22.9%
Victor Cruz WR NYG 67 0 24 11 5 0 0.0% 45.5% 45.8%
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 122 3 26 10 9 3 50.0% 90.0% 38.5%
Andre Johnson WR HOU 118 0 27 10 8 0 0.0% 80.0% 37.0%
Dwayne Bowe WR KC 79 0 29 10 8 0 0.0% 80.0% 34.5%
Roddy White WR ATL 118 0 34 10 7 2 66.7% 70.0% 29.4%
Rod Streater WR OAK 54 1 62 10 4 1 14.3% 40.0% 16.1%
Marcel Reece RB OAK 95 1 62 9 8 3 42.9% 88.9% 14.5%
A.J. Green WR CIN 99 1 42 9 7 1 25.0% 77.8% 21.4%
Reggie Wayne WR IND 78 1 48 9 7 1 50.0% 77.8% 18.8%
Miles Austin WR DAL 76 0 35 9 7 1 20.0% 77.8% 25.7%
Davone Bess WR MIA 67 0 38 9 6 0 0.0% 66.7% 23.7%
Donald Jones WR BUF 65 0 38 9 6 1 50.0% 66.7% 23.7%
Jason Avant WR PHI 56 0 41 9 6 1 11.1% 66.7% 22.0%
Laurent Robinson WR JAX 41 0 38 9 6 4 44.0% 66.7% 23.7%
Trent Richardson RB CLE 31 0 37 9 6 0 0.0% 66.7% 24.3%
Rob Housler TE ARI 55 0 46 9 5 0 0.0% 55.6% 19.6%
Greg Olsen TE CAR 48 0 23 9 5 0 0.0% 55.6% 39.1%
Brent Celek TE PHI 47 0 41 9 5 3 33.3% 55.6% 22.0%
Justin Blackmon WR JAX 32 1 38 9 5 1 11.1% 55.6% 23.7%
Denarius Moore WR OAK 66 0 62 9 4 0 0.0% 44.4% 14.5%
Torrey Smith WR BAL 46 1 24 9 4 1 100.0% 44.4% 37.5%
Randall Cobb WR GB 37 2 30 9 3 1 33.3% 33.3% 30.0%

Oakland’s Brandon Myers may not top the targets list each week, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that he is going to be making regular appearances now through the end of the regular season. With a running game that is best described as “in flux” right now, Carson Palmer is going to have to rely a lot more on the passing game and if these last four weeks are any indication, Myers is going to be one hot commodity. With 33 targets over his last four games and a serious increase in red zone looks (seven in total for the season), Myers has already accumulated 422 receiving yards and his two touchdowns are likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Of course I’ll give a special mention to Brandon Marshall’s performance this week. Another 122 yards and another three touchdowns easily locks him in as the top receiver in the game right now, and as you’ll see below, the fact that he’s receiving almost 40-percent of the team’s targets isn’t hurting his chances to do more.

Josh Morgan may be a new face here, but he might be one that you should start getting used to seeing a little more often. With Fred Davis gone for the year and Pierre Garcon's status perpetually in limbo (biggest fantasy tease of the year?), Morgan has stepped up as RG3’s favorite target lately. Santana Moss is getting his share of the red zone looks, but it is Morgan that has pushed aside the unsure hands of Leonard Hankerson to be the team’s go-to guy.

Some new faces that you likely won’t continue to see would be T.Y Hilton, Rod Streater, Marcel Reece, and Jason Avant. I’m somewhat on the fence with Laurent Robinson, but those four red zone targets are looking awfully tasty. If he can stay healthy, Blaine Gabbert should start to lean on him a little more heavily and it won’t just be for inside the red zone.

You also might not see Trent Richardson’s name here too often, but it was definitely encouraging to see him a little more active in the passing game. Baltimore’s defensive schemes allowed for more screens and check-downs, and you might see a little more of this against the Dallas pass rush in Week 11, but he should go back to business as usual against the Steelers’ linebackers and some of the weaker run defenses he’ll be seeing.

As for the overall…

Target Percentage Leaderboard

Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 797 7 242 90 59 14 48.3% 65.6% 37.2%
Victor Cruz WR NYG 717 7 330 100 57 13 25.5% 57.0% 30.3%
Reggie Wayne WR IND 835 3 336 101 61 10 29.4% 60.4% 30.1%
Percy Harvin WR MIN 677 3 284 85 62 5 13.5% 72.9% 29.9%
Steve Smith WR CAR 630 1 239 70 38 7 19.4% 54.3% 29.3%
Dwayne Bowe WR KC 571 3 280 82 45 3 25.0% 54.9% 29.3%
A.J. Green WR CIN 735 8 286 82 51 12 37.5% 62.2% 28.7%
Vincent Jackson WR TB 710 6 253 70 31 14 35.9% 44.3% 27.7%
Steve Johnson WR BUF 416 4 257 71 35 7 28.0% 49.3% 27.6%
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 585 4 355 97 51 14 25.9% 52.6% 27.3%
Brian Hartline WR MIA 662 1 260 71 41 9 25.7% 57.7% 27.3%
Wes Welker WR NE 736 2 323 83 60 8 15.4% 72.3% 25.7%
Michael Crabtree WR SF 440 3 218 55 39 3 15.8% 70.9% 25.2%
Davone Bess WR MIA 483 0 260 65 38 3 8.6% 58.5% 25.0%
Andre Johnson WR HOU 562 2 254 62 42 3 13.6% 67.7% 24.4%
Eric Decker WR DEN 583 7 292 70 46 15 31.3% 65.7% 24.0%
Jason Witten TE DAL 538 1 328 78 58 7 18.9% 74.4% 23.8%
Calvin Johnson WR DET 767 1 359 83 48 9 14.1% 57.8% 23.1%
DeSean Jackson WR PHI 624 2 307 69 37 7 20.6% 53.6% 22.5%
Roddy White WR ATL 709 4 299 67 47 10 24.4% 70.1% 22.4%
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 756 4 292 65 45 6 12.5% 69.2% 22.3%
Greg Olsen TE CAR 395 1 239 53 34 7 19.4% 64.2% 22.2%
Antonio Brown WR PIT 499 1 298 66 42 0 0.0% 63.6% 22.1%
Owen Daniels TE HOU 478 5 254 56 37 4 18.2% 66.1% 22.0%
Julio Jones WR ATL 628 5 299 65 40 10 24.4% 61.5% 21.7%
Mike Williams WR TB 504 5 253 55 29 9 23.1% 52.7% 21.7%
Tony Gonzalez TE ATL 495 4 299 64 50 5 12.2% 78.1% 21.4%
Marques Colston WR NO 626 6 346 74 44 16 29.6% 59.5% 21.4%
Brandon Lloyd WR NE 435 3 323 69 37 11 21.2% 53.6% 21.4%
Sidney Rice WR SEA 421 4 235 50 32 8 22.2% 64.0% 21.3%
Mike Wallace WR PIT 525 5 298 63 39 10 20.8% 61.9% 21.1%
Torrey Smith WR BAL 481 5 279 58 29 3 13.0% 50.0% 20.8%
Miles Austin WR DAL 637 4 328 68 41 8 21.6% 60.3% 20.7%
Anquan Boldin WR BAL 510 1 279 57 36 4 17.4% 63.2% 20.4%
Kendall Wright WR TEN 381 3 331 67 42 9 23.7% 62.7% 20.2%
Donnie Avery WR IND 454 1 336 68 34 6 17.6% 50.0% 20.2%
Justin Blackmon WR JAX 225 1 267 54 23 3 8.1% 42.6% 20.2%
Rob Gronkowski TE NE 580 7 323 65 43 14 26.9% 66.2% 20.1%
Dez Bryant WR DAL 503 2 328 66 42 7 18.9% 63.6% 20.1%
Danny Amendola WR STL 395 2 252 49 32 6 25.0% 65.3% 19.4%
Andre Roberts WR ARI 540 5 355 68 40 5 9.3% 58.8% 19.2%
James Jones WR GB 462 8 330 63 40 12 27.9% 63.5% 19.1%
Malcom Floyd WR SD 509 2 263 50 33 0 0.0% 66.0% 19.0%
Dennis Pitta TE BAL 309 2 279 53 32 7 30.4% 60.4% 19.0%
Brent Celek TE PHI 436 1 307 57 33 9 26.5% 57.9% 18.6%
Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ 478 2 275 51 30 7 20.6% 58.8% 18.5%
Jimmy Graham TE NO 387 5 346 63 38 9 16.7% 60.3% 18.2%
Denarius Moore WR OAK 485 4 331 60 30 11 23.9% 50.0% 18.1%
Randall Cobb WR GB 500 6 330 59 45 7 16.3% 76.3% 17.9%
Jermaine Gresham TE CIN 433 2 286 51 34 5 15.6% 66.7% 17.8%
Heath Miller TE PIT 384 6 298 53 39 17 35.4% 73.6% 17.8%
Jordy Nelson WR GB 532 5 330 58 40 9 20.9% 69.0% 17.6%
Kyle Rudolph TE MIN 242 5 284 49 27 9 24.3% 55.1% 17.3%
Golden Tate WR SEA 283 5 235 40 24 7 19.4% 60.0% 17.0%
Mario Manningham WR SF 278 1 218 37 28 4 21.1% 75.7% 17.0%
Cecil Shorts WR JAX 456 3 267 45 23 5 13.5% 51.1% 16.9%
Andrew Hawkins WR CIN 378 2 286 48 31 5 15.6% 64.6% 16.8%
Brandon Gibson WR STL 381 2 252 42 28 3 12.5% 66.7% 16.7%
Jeremy Maclin WR PHI 356 3 307 50 28 7 20.6% 56.0% 16.3%

Before we look deeper into the TPL, allow me to apologize for a typo in last week’s column. The number of pass attempts for the Detroit Lions was entered incorrectly, thus inflating the target percentage of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew. Therefore, you shouldn’t consider Megatron’s Week 9 percentage a drop-off from last week’s, nor should you be surprised that Pettigrew didn’t even make the cut this week. While I doubt that had any significant impact on your decision-making for Week 9 lineups, you have my apologies for the error.

While overall target percentage has been a great way to isolate which receivers stand the greatest chance to score the most fantasy points, red zone work and touchdowns remain the bread and butter. Case in point: Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. He may be dominating in target percentage on the team, but fellow wide receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Heath Miller have both proven to be more valuable in fantasy. Brown may be a good possession receiver and may have a slight boost in PPR leagues, but it is Wallace and Miller that contribute more on a regular basis.

The same can be said for Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts, although the re-emergence of Robinson could start to inhibit Shorts’ targets. Keep an eye on that situation if you picked up and are using Shorts over the next two sets of bye weeks.

I expressed concern last week that the absence of Ryan Tannehill was hurting the value of PPR-favorite Brian Hartline, but that now seems to be a moot point as their on-field reunion this past week has pushed his number of targets and percentage back up to where it was. Davone Bess is still seeing a slight increase in looks, but that has more to do with a reduction in the number of running plays lately.

The way Josh Freeman has incorporated Mike Williams into the passing game has certainly helped a number of fantasy owners in need of a decent number two/three receiver as he is starting to see a strong increase in targets lately. In fact, his 27 targets over the last three games are actually more than Vincent Jackson has seen in that same span (24) and that includes Jackson’s humongous 14-target, 216 yard performance. Expect to see this consistent production from William continue.

The fact that Danny Amendola has now missed four weeks (one being a bye) and is still holding his place on the TPL says quite a bit about the relationship between the diminutive receiver and Sam Bradford. Not only that, but his six red zone targets still account for a quarter of the work inside the 20 for the Rams. He is expected back this week, so prepare to watch him climb.

Just Missing the Cut This Week: Antonio Gates (16.2%), Dexter McCluster (16.1%), Donald Jones (16.0%), Lance Moore (15.9%), Nate Washington (15.8%)

TPL Risers to Monitor: Golden Tate, Greg Olsen, Brian Hartline

TPL Fallers to Monitor: Brandon Gibson, Dez Bryant, Jeremy Maclin

Week 10 Matchup to Watch: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots – Not only do you have two poor pass defenses here, but you also have two offenses capable of putting up huge points with the right match-up. Sure, the Bills’ defense allows an average of just 248 passing yards per game, but they also have allowed 16 touchdowns through the air this season, so Tom Brady should have no problem picking them apart. With this kind of a match-up, the Patriots should easily get everyone involved in the offense despite the huge number of targets available. Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd should fare extremely well while Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez should contribute plenty from the tight end position. But the Bills should also do just fine against a secondary that allows an average of 281 yards per game with a total of 17 passing touchdowns allowed. Buffalo will likely abandon the run early in an effort to play catch-up, so look for Steve Johnson, Donald Jones and Scott Chandler all to get some quality work in. And, of course, don’t rule out C.J. Spiller who should see his fair share of screen passes and check-downs.

Potential Week 10 Breakouts: Malcom Floyd, Nate Washington, Anthony Fasano

Potential Week 10 Busts: Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson, Kyle Rudolph

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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