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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.

It was another big week for passing here in the always-crucial and highly pivotal Week 13, as eight of the top ten non-QB scorers in standard play (14 of the top 20) were wide receivers and tight ends. Despite reports of inclement weather in many areas, which was supposed to inhibit passing, the skies stayed relatively clear and plenty of quarterbacks were chucking the rock around as if running backs didnít even exist. In fact, eight quarterbacks threw the ball 40 or more times while an additional nine had 35 or more passing attempts. Thatís the highest weíve seen since Week 3, when passing yardage was off the charts. So letís take a look at where all of these, or at least most of these, passes landed.

Top Targets for Week 13

Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Calvin Johnson WR DET 171 1 46 20 13 1 16.7% 65.0% 43.5%
Wes Welker WR NE 103 1 40 18 12 4 57.1% 66.7% 45.0%
Brandon Myers TE OAK 130 1 54 15 14 1 25.0% 93.3% 27.8%
Chris Givens WR STL 92 0 39 14 11 0 0.0% 78.6% 35.9%
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 165 0 26 14 10 0 0.0% 71.4% 53.8%
Donnie Avery WR IND 91 2 54 14 5 4 57.1% 35.7% 25.9%
Jacob Tamme TE DEN 89 0 38 13 9 0 0.0% 69.2% 34.2%
A.J. Green WR CIN 85 0 39 13 9 2 28.6% 69.2% 33.3%
Aaron Hernandez TE NE 97 0 40 13 8 2 28.6% 61.5% 32.5%
Cecil Shorts WR JAX 77 1 41 12 7 2 33.3% 58.3% 29.3%
T.Y. Hilton WR IND 100 0 54 12 6 0 0.0% 50.0% 22.2%
Mike Williams WR TB 93 1 39 12 6 2 40.0% 50.0% 30.8%
Anquan Boldin WR BAL 81 1 34 12 5 2 66.7% 41.7% 35.3%
Jared Cook TE TEN 51 0 45 12 4 2 50.0% 33.3% 26.7%
Pierre Garcon WR WAS 106 1 21 11 8 3 100.0% 72.7% 52.4%
Lance Moore WR NO 123 0 50 11 7 1 25.0% 63.6% 22.0%
Michael Crabtree WR SF 101 0 32 11 7 0 0.0% 63.6% 34.4%
Marques Colston WR NO 71 0 50 11 6 0 0.0% 54.5% 22.0%
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 99 2 38 10 8 3 60.0% 80.0% 26.3%
Danario Alexander WR SD 102 0 48 10 6 1 25.0% 60.0% 20.8%
Kendall Wright WR TEN 78 0 45 10 6 0 0.0% 60.0% 22.2%
Brian Hartline WR MIA 84 0 29 10 5 1 33.3% 50.0% 34.5%
Antonio Brown WR PIT 58 0 36 10 5 0 0.0% 50.0% 27.8%
Hakeem Nicks WR NYG 43 0 33 10 5 1 33.3% 50.0% 30.3%
Juron Criner WR OAK 26 0 54 10 4 1 25.0% 40.0% 18.5%
Owen Daniels TE HOU 43 0 35 10 3 1 50.0% 30.0% 28.6%
Michael Floyd WR ARI 22 0 31 10 2 0 0.0% 20.0% 32.3%

One of the things that is paramount to your success, particularly now during fantasy playoff time, is reliability and itís nice to see so many familiar names this week. Some, like Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, weíve seen all year, while others, like Cecil Shorts, T.Y. Hilton and Danario Alexander, weíve seen fairly consistently over the last few weeks. These are the guys you should be starting each and every week as you move through the playoffs, rather than taking a shot on some outlier who, potentially, could put up 20 points in one week and zero the next. Itís all about reliability at this time of year.

And speaking of some of the outliers...

Chris Givens actually made one appearance here back when Danny Amendola first went down, but even then, it was Brandon Gibson who was seeing the majority of targets. Well now, with Amendola trudging around in a walking boot and Gibson seeing just three targets with no catches over his last two games, it would appear that Givens is the new golden boy in St. Louis. Heís certainly not a number one or number two guy, but with his strong deep-play ability, his upside is perfect for a WR3 spot.

Safe to say that Pierre Garcon is ready to be back in your starting lineup each week? Absolutely. Especially with the way RG3 looks for him regularly, as well as him seeing all of the red zone looks this week.

Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme has now seen 20 targets over his last two games and is finally starting to look like a decent option again. He started the year seeing plenty thrown his way, but tapered off as Peyton Manning was finding Eric Decker and Joel Dreesen instead. He could be worth a start in a favorable match-up, but be careful, as it could just be a matter of time before Peyton starts focusing on Decker and Dreesen again.

After weeks of sitting out due to injury, Antonio Brown makes his way back up the Targets Leaderboard thanks to Charlie Batchís strongest game in what seems like a bazillion years. Even so, monitor the situation before making any rash decisions, because Batch isnít going to bathe in the Fountain of Youth before each game. Also, with reports of Ben Roethlisbergerís return in Week 14, Batch could be heading back to the sidelines. Though Brown has done hardly any endzone dancing this year, he could return as a strong PPR option when Big Ben is back under center.

Juron Criner? Really? With all the talent at wide receiver, Carson Palmer is picking Criner as his preferred target? I know the weather was supposed to be a disaster and the Raiders were gearing up for a much shorter passing game, but 10 targets for a relative no-name is pretty strong. However, once Oakland's coaches have a look at Criner's catch rate, he just might get phased right back out.

And speaking of a poor catch rate, will this be the last time we see Michael Floydís name listed here (two catches on 10 targets)? I know the wind at Met Life Stadium can be a bit treacherous and Iím sure Ryan Lindleyís overall accuracy has little to be desired, but reallyÖ? Just two catches out of a possible 10? You can only blame so much on the QB and the wind.

Now let's look at the overall...

Targets Percentage Leaderboard

Player Name Pos Team Yards TD Pass Att Targets Recpt RZTgts RZTgt% Catch % Target %
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 1182 8 354 138 91 15 39.5% 65.9% 39.0%
A.J. Green WR CIN 1107 10 414 126 76 18 33.3% 60.3% 30.4%
Reggie Wayne WR IND 1156 3 503 153 88 14 28.6% 57.5% 30.4%
Steve Johnson WR BUF 705 5 374 109 55 14 29.2% 50.5% 29.1%
Dwayne Bowe WR KC 731 3 385 112 57 4 14.8% 50.9% 29.1%
Wes Welker WR NE 1064 4 464 133 92 15 21.4% 69.2% 28.7%
Steve Smith WR CAR 890 2 359 100 53 10 20.4% 53.0% 27.9%
Brian Hartline WR MIA 891 1 382 103 60 11 26.2% 58.3% 27.0%
Victor Cruz WR NYG 883 8 439 118 68 15 22.1% 57.6% 26.9%
Andre Johnson WR HOU 1114 3 418 112 74 5 13.2% 66.1% 26.8%
Vincent Jackson WR TB 1014 7 389 103 50 15 27.3% 48.5% 26.5%
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 650 4 465 123 56 18 29.0% 45.5% 26.5%
Calvin Johnson WR DET 1428 5 547 144 86 14 16.3% 59.7% 26.3%
Davone Bess WR MIA 728 1 382 97 56 4 9.5% 57.7% 25.4%
Michael Crabtree WR SF 668 5 323 82 57 5 14.3% 69.5% 25.4%
Jason Witten TE DAL 818 1 493 120 88 11 17.7% 73.3% 24.3%
Roddy White WR ATL 1023 4 462 107 68 14 21.2% 63.6% 23.2%
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 1114 8 447 103 69 13 19.7% 67.0% 23.0%
Anquan Boldin WR BAL 750 2 430 96 55 7 19.4% 57.3% 22.3%
Percy Harvin WR MIN 677 3 384 85 62 5 9.8% 72.9% 22.1%
Mike Williams WR TB 718 6 389 85 43 11 20.0% 50.6% 21.9%
Greg Olsen TE CAR 636 4 359 78 50 10 20.4% 64.1% 21.7%
Sidney Rice WR SEA 623 7 319 69 43 9 19.1% 62.3% 21.6%
Torrey Smith WR BAL 732 7 430 92 42 6 16.7% 45.7% 21.4%
Mike Wallace WR PIT 718 6 439 93 52 13 22.8% 55.9% 21.2%
Tony Gonzalez TE ATL 770 7 462 97 73 13 19.7% 75.3% 21.0%
Dez Bryant WR DAL 978 8 493 103 71 11 17.7% 68.9% 20.9%
Marques Colston WR NO 828 8 497 102 61 19 25.7% 59.8% 20.5%
Julio Jones WR ATL 931 6 462 94 58 15 22.7% 61.7% 20.3%
Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ 701 2 385 78 48 8 17.8% 61.5% 20.3%
Justin Blackmon WR JAX 557 3 416 84 39 6 12.8% 46.4% 20.2%
Kendall Wright WR TEN 516 4 438 88 54 12 22.6% 61.4% 20.1%
Randall Cobb WR GB 675 7 419 84 64 7 13.0% 76.2% 20.0%
Cecil Shorts WR JAX 824 7 416 83 43 10 21.3% 51.8% 20.0%
Eric Decker WR DEN 702 8 447 89 56 18 27.3% 62.9% 19.9%
Donnie Avery WR IND 675 3 503 100 49 10 20.4% 49.0% 19.9%
Owen Daniels TE HOU 598 6 418 83 50 8 21.1% 60.2% 19.9%
Kyle Rudolph TE MIN 412 8 384 75 45 15 29.4% 60.0% 19.5%
Hakeem Nicks WR NYG 585 2 439 84 46 14 20.6% 54.8% 19.1%
Brandon Lloyd WR NE 561 3 464 88 50 13 18.6% 56.8% 19.0%
Danny Amendola WR STL 576 2 394 73 51 10 24.4% 69.9% 18.5%
Andre Roberts WR ARI 639 5 465 86 50 7 11.3% 58.1% 18.5%
Brandon Pettigrew TE DET 556 3 547 99 57 12 14.0% 57.6% 18.1%
Jimmy Graham TE NO 654 8 497 89 59 11 14.9% 66.3% 17.9%
Miles Austin WR DAL 773 5 493 88 51 11 17.7% 58.0% 17.8%
Malcom Floyd WR SD 765 4 424 75 51 0 0.0% 68.0% 17.7%
Jermaine Gresham TE CIN 593 5 414 73 51 10 18.5% 69.9% 17.6%
Brent Celek TE PHI 601 1 449 79 50 10 23.3% 63.3% 17.6%
Brandon Myers TE OAK 721 4 505 88 69 12 18.8% 78.4% 17.4%
Heath Miller TE PIT 613 7 439 76 56 19 33.3% 73.7% 17.3%
Antonio Brown WR PIT 557 1 439 76 47 0 0.0% 61.8% 17.3%
Brandon LaFell WR CAR 577 4 359 62 34 6 12.2% 54.8% 17.3%
Denarius Moore WR OAK 635 6 505 87 38 13 20.3% 43.7% 17.2%
Jeremy Maclin WR PHI 542 4 449 77 44 10 23.3% 57.1% 17.1%
Lance Moore WR NO 822 4 497 84 52 10 13.5% 61.9% 16.9%
Jacob Tamme TE DEN 449 2 447 75 47 5 7.6% 62.7% 16.8%
Josh Morgan WR WAS 399 0 334 56 39 4 10.0% 69.6% 16.8%
Golden Tate WR SEA 486 7 319 53 35 9 19.1% 66.0% 16.6%
Donald Jones WR BUF 410 4 374 62 38 11 22.9% 61.3% 16.6%
Dennis Pitta TE BAL 442 4 430 71 45 10 27.8% 63.4% 16.5%

Backing up the notion of reliability, it just goes to show that you canít get too disgruntled after one of your prime receivers has a couple of off weeks. Itís definitely a pain, but it certainly doesnít make a guy droppable unless youíre in an eight-team league where everyone has crazy-good depth. Case in point: Brian Hartline. Last week, I noted the fact that Davone Bess had been closing the target percentage gap between him and Hartline over the last few weeks, only to see Ryan Tannehill go back to what he is most comfortable with: throwing the ball to Hartline. His 10 targets moves him back into the top 10 in overall target percentage, and should that continue, he should be back in the top 20 in PPR scoring in no time.

After a three-week lull, it looks like Tampa Bayís Mike Williams is back on track with Josh Freeman, as he saw a season-high 11 targets this week and came away with double-digit fantasy points (standard scoring) for the first time since Week 9. Obviously Vincent Jackson is still the go-to guy for the Bucs, but Williams has been a solid number two for most of the season and was starting to close the gap in target percentage until his slump. He should continue to see similar results to his Week 13 performance, with favorable match-ups against Philadelphia, New Orleans and St. Louis coming up over the next three weeks.

And speaking of number twos closing the gap on number ones with respect to target percentage, what has happened to Eric Decker recently. A nod to all of you who swore that Decker would never surpass Demaryius Thomas, but I never thought it would separate this much by the end of Week 13. Maybe itís the type of coverage the Broncos are facing, maybe itís the play calling or maybe Decker said something derogatory about Peytonís momma, but whatever it is, heís just not getting the looks anymore. As I said above with respect to Jacob Tamme, who finally returns to the TPL this week, perhaps the two will rekindle their on-field relationship, but until they do, Decker is certainly no longer a must-start as he drops down the list here.

Sometimes, certain changes in a teamís receiving pecking order can be tough to see when looking at an overall leaderboard and thatís whatís happened in San Diego. If youíve noticed, Malcom Floyd has seen a steady drop down the TPL over the last month, but because weíre looking at pass attempts from the entire season in our calculations, the target percentage of Danario Alexander doesnít come close to cracking the top 60. However, over the last four weeks, Alexanderís target percentage is at 22.4% while Floydís sits at 15.5% and that difference is showing up in receptions, yardage, touchdowns and fantasy points. Thus, be sure when making your lineup decisions that youíre looking at current situations in addition to overall results.

Another name you wonít see here but is certainly on the rise is Green Bayís Greg Jennings, who saw a team-high eight targets this week. With the Packers offensive line starting to wither here in the closing weeks of the season, it looks like reliability is where Aaron Rodgers is looking, and after all these years, that reliability sits with Jennings. Also, with Jordy Nelson out, Jennings should start to see a whole lot more work, which may come at the expense of targets for Randall Cobb and James Jones.

Just Missing the Cut This Week: James Jones (16.5%), Vernon Davis (16.4%), Mario Manningham (16.4%), Scott Chandler (16.0%), Martellus Bennett (15.5%)

TPL Risers to Monitor: Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Antonio Brown
TPL Fallers to Monitor: Larry Fitzgerald, Denarius Moore, Justin Blackmon

Week 14 Matchup to Watch: New Orleans Saints at New York Giants Ė For the second week in a row, Iím looking at Big Blue here for a potential explosion in the passing game. It wasnít exactly a points bonanza last week against the Redskins, but sometimes those division rivalries can change a lot of what we would normally expect. Not in this case though, as the Saints give up an average of 287 yards per game and have coughed up 23 touchdowns through the air this year. They are weak in every aspect of pass coverage, so look for Eli Manning to find Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks in usual fashion, while we could see another explosive week from tight end Martellus Bennett. For the Saints, you canít tell me that Drew Brees isnít looking for some vindication this week. I donít see him tossing five INTs to zero TDs this week at all, especially against a defense that has allowed 245 passing yards per game and 19 passing touchdowns. Expect Marques Colston and Lance Moore to get their usual work in, but look out for Devery Henderson as a sleeper pick for me this week. The G-Men have played the tight end pretty strongly this year, so temper your expectations for Jimmy Graham.

Potential Week 14 Breakouts: Dennis Pitta, Reggie Wayne, Owen Daniels
Potential Week 14 Busts: Percy Harvin, Brandon LaFell, Brandon Pettigrew

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