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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.

With the fantasy regular season coming to a close, it's as important as ever to make sure you're using the right receivers in your starting lineup. For many, Week 13 presents a "win and you're in" scenario, while others are fighting for a better seeding in the upcoming playoffs. Not to mention, thereís probably a ton of pride riding on your league, so even if youíre out of contention, nothing says, "I love you, man," more than playing spoiler and knocking your buddy out of the playoffs with a late-season victory. While most that are headed to the postseason are locked in with some of the top wideouts and tight ends, there are still numerous situations being affected by injuries and production. So letís take a look at who the big guns were this past week...

Top Targets for Week 12

Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 92 0 31 17 12 0 0.0% 70.6% 54.8%
Calvin Johnson WR DET 140 1 61 17 8 2 25.0% 47.1% 27.9%
Andre Johnson WR HOU 188 0 48 15 9 0 0.0% 60.0% 31.3%
Jason Witten TE DAL 74 0 62 15 9 1 8.3% 60.0% 24.2%
Brandon Pettigrew TE DET 74 0 61 15 8 2 25.0% 53.3% 24.6%
Steve Johnson WR BUF 106 0 33 15 6 2 50.0% 40.0% 45.5%
Reggie Wayne WR IND 102 0 37 14 8 2 40.0% 57.1% 37.8%
Andre Roberts WR ARI 92 0 52 13 9 2 40.0% 69.2% 25.0%
Torrey Smith WR BAL 144 0 51 13 7 0 0.0% 53.8% 25.5%
Cole Beasley WR DAL 68 0 62 13 7 1 8.3% 53.8% 21.0%
Hakeem Nicks WR NYG 77 1 30 13 5 6 66.7% 38.5% 43.3%
Ryan Broyles WR DET 126 0 61 12 6 1 12.5% 50.0% 19.7%
Dwayne Bowe WR KC 41 0 26 12 4 0 0.0% 33.3% 46.2%
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 31 0 52 12 3 1 20.0% 25.0% 23.1%
Dez Bryant WR DAL 145 2 62 11 8 2 16.7% 72.7% 17.7%
Rob Housler TE ARI 82 0 52 11 8 1 20.0% 72.7% 21.2%
Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ 86 0 36 10 7 1 16.7% 70.0% 27.8%
Wes Welker WR NE 71 1 28 10 7 1 25.0% 70.0% 35.7%
Jarius Wright WR MIN 49 0 43 10 7 1 20.0% 70.0% 23.3%
Ray Rice RB BAL 67 0 51 9 8 1 50.0% 88.9% 17.6%
Davone Bess WR MIA 129 0 26 9 7 0 0.0% 77.8% 34.6%
Darren Sproles RB NO 65 0 41 9 7 1 16.7% 77.8% 22.0%
Julio Jones WR ATL 147 1 32 9 6 4 66.7% 66.7% 28.1%
William Powell RB ARI 63 0 52 9 6 1 20.0% 66.7% 17.3%
Dennis Pitta TE BAL 42 1 51 9 6 1 50.0% 66.7% 17.6%
Tiquan Underwood WR TB 77 0 31 9 5 0 0.0% 55.6% 29.0%
Kyle Rudolph TE MIN 55 1 43 9 5 3 60.0% 55.6% 20.9%
Mohamed Sanu WR CIN 29 2 30 9 5 2 50.0% 55.6% 30.0%
Nate Washington WR TEN 54 0 40 9 4 1 16.7% 44.4% 22.5%
A.J. Green WR CIN 111 0 30 9 3 0 0.0% 33.3% 30.0%

As we stated early in the season, it was just a matter of time before the cream rose to the top, and Week 12 added credence to that belief. Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson led the way in targets this week with Jason Witten and Steve Johnson right behind - none of which should be a surprise. Brandon Pettigrewís lofty standing on the weekly leaderboard was unexpected, but he always has been somewhat of a favorite for Mathew Stafford. As you scroll down the rest of the list, youíll find plenty of names out there that you would expect to see, including Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Dwayne Bowe and Wes Welker to name a few. Bottom line: when it comes down to it, itís all about reliability and these guys rarely let you down.

Cole Beasley appears to be the new Kevin Ogletree (remember him and all those wasted waiver claims?) in Dallas after racking up 13 targets on Thanksgiving, which included one red zone look. But are we looking to add him to our fantasy rosters, people? No, we are not. The Redskins pass defense has more holes in it than the story my nephew gave regarding the juice stain on my carpet, so even a backup to Miles Austin (strained hip flexor) is capable of getting open. Austin is still questionable for Week 13, but against a tougher Eagles defense, look for Tony Romo to rely on Witten and Dez Bryant a lot more than the third and fourth options.

Not only was it great to see Eli Manning get back to business, it was great seeing Hakeem Nicks serve as a focal point in the passing game. He racked up double-digit targets for the second game in a row, and the half dozen red zone looks he got foreshadow good things to come when the Giants play Washington and New Orleans over the next two weeks.

It could be time for Ryan Broyles to send a thank you note to Titus Young as the former racked up a dozen targets and came away with six catches for 126 yards on Thanksgiving. Granted, the 50 percent catch rate leaves something to be desired, but if you watched that game while cramming some candied yams in your face, youíd have noticed that Stafford wasnít the most accurate on that day. Rumor has it that Jim Schwartz is looking to extend Youngís suspension, which would certainly put Broyles in line for another big game this week when the Lions face the Colts.

With the Cardinalsí QB situation in such disarray, look for tight end Rob Housler to continue seeing decent target numbers as Ryan Lindley,or Kevin Kolb, or whomever is under center leans on the short passing game a little more. This weekís opponent, the Jets, have given up more fantasy points to tight ends than all but six teams.

Another Cardinal to keep an eye on, particularly if you have a flex spot to fill in your lineup, could be William Powell. Again, with Lindley under center, there should be a lot of screen work and check-downs, and Powell could be supplanting LaRod Stephens-Howling (ribs) as the teamís third-down back. I wouldnít go rushing out to grab him just yet, but put him on your watch list.

While Jarius Wright saw plenty of work, remember that it was in the absence of Percy Harvin, who was dealing with a knee issue. Wright certainly has talent, but will go back to being the teamís number three receiver when Harvin gets back. Keep an eye on him though as Jerome Simpson isnít exactly lighting it up as the teamís number two wideout.

For the second week in a row, Miamiís Davone Bess saw more targets than teammate Brian Hartline. Bess is gradually becoming the top option for rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In fact, if you look at the overall Target Percentage Leaderboard below, youíll see that the gap in target percentage between the two receivers is getting smaller and smaller each week.

Tiquan Underwood makes his second appearance here this season, which should tell you already that heís not really an option for most. However, Mike Williams has seen his targets diminish over the past few weeks, so Underwood, with the right matchup, could end up being a sneaky play.

And finally, it would appear that we have a new number two in Cincinnati as Mohamed Sanu has supplanted the banged up Andrew Hawkins. Sanu is more of a possession receiver, but heís the guy getting the red zone targets as defenses try to neutralize A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham once the Bengals get inside the 10.

Now letís take a look at the overall...

Target Percentage Leaderboard

Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 1017 8 328 124 81 15 42.9% 65.3% 37.8%
Reggie Wayne WR IND 1105 3 449 144 84 12 28.6% 58.3% 32.1%
A.J. Green WR CIN 1022 10 375 113 67 16 34.0% 59.3% 30.1%
Steve Johnson WR BUF 687 4 357 104 53 13 29.5% 51.0% 29.1%
Dwayne Bowe WR KC 667 3 362 105 53 4 18.2% 50.5% 29.0%
Andre Johnson WR HOU 1058 3 383 105 69 5 13.9% 65.7% 27.4%
Steve Smith WR CAR 770 1 332 91 48 9 19.6% 52.7% 27.4%
Vincent Jackson WR TB 959 7 350 95 47 15 30.0% 49.5% 27.1%
Wes Welker WR NE 961 3 424 115 80 11 17.5% 69.6% 27.1%
Victor Cruz WR NYG 779 8 406 110 63 14 21.5% 57.3% 27.1%
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 627 4 434 116 55 16 25.0% 47.4% 26.7%
Brian Hartline WR MIA 807 1 353 93 55 10 25.6% 59.1% 26.3%
Davone Bess WR MIA 715 1 353 91 55 4 10.3% 60.4% 25.8%
Calvin Johnson WR DET 1257 4 501 124 73 13 16.5% 58.9% 24.8%
Michael Crabtree WR SF 567 5 291 71 50 5 17.2% 70.4% 24.4%
Jason Witten TE DAL 710 1 466 112 82 11 19.0% 73.2% 24.0%
Percy Harvin WR MIN 677 3 359 85 62 5 10.2% 72.9% 23.7%
Roddy White WR ATL 1003 4 429 100 67 13 21.0% 67.0% 23.3%
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 1015 6 409 93 61 10 16.4% 65.6% 22.7%
Greg Olsen TE CAR 589 3 332 74 49 10 21.7% 66.2% 22.3%
Tony Gonzalez TE ATL 712 6 429 92 69 12 19.4% 75.0% 21.4%
Sidney Rice WR SEA 524 6 282 60 37 8 19.5% 61.7% 21.3%
Eric Decker WR DEN 685 8 409 87 54 18 29.5% 62.1% 21.3%
Torrey Smith WR BAL 699 7 396 84 39 6 18.2% 46.4% 21.2%
Anquan Boldin WR BAL 669 1 396 84 50 5 15.2% 59.5% 21.2%
DeSean Jackson WR PHI 700 2 415 88 45 8 19.5% 51.1% 21.2%
Mike Wallace WR PIT 572 6 403 85 47 13 24.1% 55.3% 21.1%
Mike Williams WR TB 625 5 350 73 37 9 18.0% 50.7% 20.9%
Dez Bryant WR DAL 880 6 466 97 65 10 17.2% 67.0% 20.8%
Justin Blackmon WR JAX 548 3 375 78 38 5 9.1% 48.7% 20.8%
Brandon Lloyd WR NE 551 3 424 88 49 13 20.6% 55.7% 20.8%
Danny Amendola WR STL 576 2 355 73 51 10 27.0% 69.9% 20.6%
Marques Colston WR NO 757 8 447 91 55 19 27.1% 60.4% 20.4%
Randall Cobb WR GB 613 7 384 78 58 7 13.7% 74.4% 20.3%
Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ 664 2 357 72 45 8 18.2% 62.5% 20.2%
Julio Jones WR ATL 883 6 429 86 53 15 24.2% 61.6% 20.0%
Kendall Wright WR TEN 438 4 393 78 48 12 24.5% 61.5% 19.8%
Andre Roberts WR ARI 639 5 434 86 50 7 10.9% 58.1% 19.8%
Donnie Avery WR IND 584 1 449 86 44 6 14.3% 51.2% 19.2%
Owen Daniels TE HOU 555 6 383 73 47 7 19.4% 64.4% 19.1%
Cecil Shorts WR JAX 747 6 375 71 36 8 14.5% 50.7% 18.9%
Kyle Rudolph TE MIN 361 7 359 67 39 13 26.5% 58.2% 18.7%
Jimmy Graham TE NO 595 8 447 83 55 11 15.7% 66.3% 18.6%
Miles Austin WR DAL 727 4 466 86 49 11 19.0% 57.0% 18.5%
Hakeem Nicks WR NYG 542 2 406 74 41 13 20.0% 55.4% 18.2%
Brandon Pettigrew TE DET 513 2 501 91 54 10 12.7% 59.3% 18.2%
Malcom Floyd WR SD 704 4 376 68 47 0 0.0% 69.1% 18.1%
Rob Gronkowski TE NE 748 10 424 76 53 17 27.0% 69.7% 17.9%
Jermaine Gresham TE CIN 558 4 375 67 47 8 17.0% 70.1% 17.9%
Denarius Moore WR OAK 604 6 451 79 36 13 21.7% 45.6% 17.5%
Brandon LaFell WR CAR 563 4 332 58 32 6 13.0% 55.2% 17.5%
Jordy Nelson WR GB 648 6 384 67 45 10 19.6% 67.2% 17.4%
James Jones WR GB 495 8 384 67 42 13 25.5% 62.7% 17.4%
Heath Miller TE PIT 516 6 403 70 51 17 31.5% 72.9% 17.4%
Donald Jones WR BUF 410 4 357 62 38 11 25.0% 61.3% 17.4%
Jeremy Maclin WR PHI 504 4 415 72 41 10 24.4% 56.9% 17.3%
Vernon Davis TE SF 487 5 291 50 35 4 13.8% 70.0% 17.2%
Dennis Pitta TE BAL 423 4 396 68 44 10 30.3% 64.7% 17.2%
Brent Celek TE PHI 528 1 415 71 43 9 22.0% 60.6% 17.1%
Golden Tate WR SEA 390 6 282 47 30 8 19.5% 63.8% 16.7%

There really hasnít been much movement in the top half of the TPL over the last few weeks as, again, the cream has risen to the top. We all know who the big favorites are, so letís concentrate a little further down as there is definitely some movement to be monitored.

One of the important things to keep in mind is the number of quarterback changes weíve seen. Iím pretty sure I stated this a week or two ago, but it definitely bears another mention Ė backup quarterbacks tend to rely a little heavier on the secondary receivers. Letís face it, for timing purposes, who does the backup throw to in practice all the time? San Franciscoís Colin Kaepernick has leaned on Mario Manningham and Delaine Walker a little more than they are used to; and while neither has cracked the TPL just yet, Manningham just barely missed the cut. Cecil Shorts continues to climb up the TPL as Chad Henne uses him fairly often on deep passes. With DeSean Jackson landing on IR, and Nick Foles likely to remain the starter, Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson could surprise this week.

Conversely, you have to expect that a number of receivers will continue to fall due to the same situation. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree are already starting to fall, while Mike Wallace and Heath Miller are feeling the effects of a Charlie Batch-led offense. For their sake, hopefully Ben Roethlisberger returns this week.

Independent of quarterback issues, although Steve Smith owners may disagree, itís nice to see Brandon LaFell creep back into the TPL last week and then see an increase this week. Carolina has some decent matchups coming up, so if Cam Newton doesnít decide to run every play, LaFell could turn into a sweet third option for you PPR folks.

And finally, look for Greg Jennings to return to action when the Packers take on the Vikings this week. He may not come out of the gate white hot, but you can probably expect a decrease in targets for Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones moving forward. Jones has already disappeared into the night Ėeven though his early season targets have kept him afloat on the TPL over the last few weeks Ė but if Jennings is healthy and gets back into his old routine with Aaron Rodgers, you can probably say bye-bye to Cobbís value as well.

Just Missing the Cut This Week: Josh Morgan (16.5%), Lance Moore (16.3%), Brandon Myers (16.2%), Mario Manningham (16.2%), Nate Washington (16.0%)

TPL Risers to Monitor: Davone Bess, Andre Roberts, Torrey Smith
TPL Fallers to Monitor: Mike Williams, Vernon Davis, James Jones

Week 13 Matchup to Watch: New York Giants at Washington Redskins Ė Whatís not to love about this matchup? The Redskins have the 31st ranked pass defense and have allowed 23 passing touchdowns to go along with an average of 301 passing yards per game. With Eli Manning back in form and Hakeem Nicks healthy, things are going to open up even more for the Giants passing attack. Victor Cruz remains a must-start and Martellus Bennett should be let loose as the Skins rank a poor 24th in the league against opposing tight ends. For Washington, itís Robert Griffin III facing a pass defense that ranks just 25th in the league, allowing an average of 253 yards per game as well as 18 passing touchdowns this season. Santana Moss and a now healthy Pierre Garcon might be doing a little more en dzone dancing than Tom Coughlin would like.

Potential Week 13 Breakouts: Eric Decker, Josh Gordon, Martellus Bennett
Potential Week 13 Busts: Danny Amendola, Torrey Smith, Dustin Keller

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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