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On Target: Ravens Role Reversal

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's Week 15 and that's playoff time, baby! Win or go home. No need for pleasantries here or some clever introduction. Let's just get to the meat of this piece and figure out who's worth starting this week, and who needs to sit on the bench. Let's start with a quick recap of last week's targets.

Week 14 Target Leaders

(Click column headings to sort.)

PLAYERPOSYARDSTDPASS ATTTARGETSRECRZ TRGTRZ TRG%CATCH%TARGET%
Andre Johnson, HOUWR1540582113436.461.936.2
Shane Vereen, NERB1530521712466.770.634.0
Garrett Graham, HOUTE73158148327.357.124.1
Marques Colston, NOWR1252421393214.069.231.0
Larry Fitzgerald, ARIWR961321212342.9100.037.5
Greg Olsen, CARTE40034128116.766.735.3
Eric Decker, DENWR117159128211.166.720.7
Pierre Garcon, WASWR3704212500.041.729.3
Marlon Brown, BALWR92150117116.763.622.4
Dennis Pitta, BALTE48150116233.354.522.4
Steve Johnson, BUFWR6703311500.045.533.3
Jimmy Graham, NOTE58242116642.954.526.2
Roddy White, ATLWR74035108133.380.029.4
Josh Gordon, CLEWR151144107133.370.023.3
Demaryius Thomas, DENWR88159107527.870.017.2
Wes Welker, DENWR61159105316.750.017.2
Charles Clay, MIATE97233107440.070.030.3
Greg Jennings, MINWR5303810500.050.026.3
Rod Streater, OAKWR130136107360.070.028.6
Alshon Jeffery, CHIWR8413695110.055.625.0
Matt Forte, CHIRB7313697330.077.825.0
Jordan Cameron, CLETE12114499133.3100.020.9
Da'Rick Rogers, INDWR10724696240.066.719.6
Coby Fleener, INDTE310469500.055.619.6
Julian Edelman, NEWR6415296116.766.718.0
Riley Cooper, PHIWR7402293375.033.342.9
Antonio Brown, PITWR13713995125.055.623.1
Jerricho Cotchery, PITWR6213995125.055.623.1
Le'Veon Bell, PITRB2803995125.055.623.1

Andre Johnson, WR HOU -
Nothing we can say here that hasn't already been said about Johnson. It's just good to see that it doesn't matter who is under center for the Texans. With the firing of Gary Kubiak, it looks like Case Keenum will take the reins for good, and that works just fine for Johnson and his owners as the five touchdowns he's scored this season have all come from Keenum's arm.

Shane Vereen, RB NE -
Hard to argue with 17 targets, right? The Patriots cutting down to a short passing game worked perfectly for fantasy owners as Tom Brady turned to Vereen regularly, and the expectations everyone had coming into the season for these two finally came to fruition. With the Dolphins ranked 27th in the league against running back pass plays, Vereen could be a huge play once again.

Roddy White, WR ATL -
For two weeks in a row, White has seen double-digit targets and now has 18 catches for 217 yards in that span. His return to fantasy glory was discussed last week and with a matchup against the Redskins, the discussion continues. Washington cornerback Josh Wilson isn't going to be able to keep pace with him in this one, and Matt Ryan is going to help White prove it all day.

Dennis Pitta, TE BAL -
Another late-season addition done good as the Baltimore tight end came back from a near season-long hip injury to grab six catches off a team-high 11 targets and find his way into the end zone Sunday. He should make for a decent add if you're struggling at tight end, but keep in mind that his next opponent is Detroit, which ranks third in the league against the tight end. The week after, however, is New England, which ranks 19th against the position.

Wes Welker, WR DEN -
Just a moment of condolence for all of you Welker owners. He's already been ruled out for Thursday's game, and Week 16 could be a problem as well.

Da'Rick Rogers, WR IND -
If it wasn't for the fact that Darrius Heyward-Bey's hands were made of granite, I wouldn't even suggest looking into Rogers. But with the Colts already locking up their division, they can play around for the next three weeks and test some of their rookie receivers. Rogers had a big game last week and should be tested again to see if he's capable of maintaining this level of play.

Overall Targets Leaderboard

(Click column headings to sort.)

PLAYERPOSYARDSTDPASS ATTTARGETSRECRZ TRGTRZ TRGCATCHTARGET
Andre Johnson, HOUWR12775528149951322.463.828.8
Pierre Garcon, WASWR10173482144891730.961.830.4
Calvin Johnson, DETWR134812525138752635.654.324.7
A.J. Green, CINWR11758465138781530.056.530.0
Antonio Brown, PITWR12407502133901520.367.727.2
Brandon Marshall, CHIWR10909486132841723.363.627.8
Vincent Jackson, TBWR10336410129641632.749.632.4
Alshon Jeffery, CHIWR11936486127751824.759.126.7
Cecil Shorts, JACWR7773448123661623.253.725.2
Josh Gordon, CLEWR14008552123711218.257.721.5
Dez Bryant, DALWR90810465118701526.359.325.5
Jimmy Graham, NOTE104614519117742030.363.222.9
Demaryius Thomas, DENWR114911538117741818.463.221.8
Victor Cruz, NYGWR9734458115711225.561.726.6
Wes Welker, DENWR77810538111732424.565.820.7
Larry Fitzgerald, ARZWR77410470110671937.360.924.6
Julian Edelman, NEWR7755523110761828.669.121.4
Torrey Smith, BALWR9634489110551524.250.022.7
Brian Hartline, MIAWR855449411067915.360.922.7
Eric Decker, DENWR10888538109711818.465.120.3
Mike Wallace, MIAWR7623494109581016.953.222.5
Harry Douglas, ATLWR9262533107681115.363.620.5
Jordan Cameron, CLETE8257552105721928.868.618.4
Kendall Wright, TENWR857242510573921.469.525.1
T.Y. Hilton, INDWR798547410458915.355.821.0
Steve Smith, CARWR6814400103601431.158.326.3
Anquan Boldin, SFWR9155332103671229.365.034.6
Antonio Gates, SDTE7763487102681215.866.722.5
DeSean Jackson, PHIWR10808407101651020.464.425.4
Emmanuel Sanders, PITWR6615502100581418.958.020.4
Tony Gonzalez, ATLTE678653399651926.465.719.0
Steve Johnson, BUFWR593344498511234.352.022.6
Jordy Nelson, GBWR1046745397671625.469.122.1
Jamaal Charles, KCRB460346390571621.963.318.0
Garrett Graham, HOUTE545552889491322.455.117.2
Michael Floyd, ARZWR886447089561121.662.919.9
Dwayne Bowe, KCWR602546389491317.855.117.8
Greg Olsen, CARTE651540088581431.165.922.4
Charles Clay, MIATE678649487601423.769.018.0
Jason Witten, DALTE632746585551424.664.718.4
Hakeem Nicks, NYGWR78904588549919.157.619.6
Jerome Simpson, MINWR67014518543612.250.619.2
Keenan Allen, SDWR902548784611317.172.618.5
Greg Little, CLEWR384255284351116.741.714.7
Davone Bess, CLEWR35325528341710.649.414.5
Matt Forte, CHIRB518248682651115.179.317.3
Nate Washington, TENWR6712425824349.552.419.6
Greg Jennings, MINWR570345181481122.459.318.3
Marques Colston, NOWR721451981561116.769.115.9
Golden Tate, SEAWR71043818052820.565.024.0
Coby Fleener, INDTE575447479491322.062.015.9
Martellus Bennett, CHITE588548679531621.967.116.6
DeAndre Hopkins, HOUWR707252877441017.257.114.9
Danny Woodhead, SDRB 534648776652127.685.516.7
Rod Streater, OAKWR78734047650820.565.819.3
Jared Cook, STLTE60644367643913.856.617.6
Denarius Moore, OAKWR569540474371128.250.018.8
Brandon LaFell, CARWR55354007445715.660.818.9
Chris Givens, STLWR514043674311015.441.917.1
Dexter McCluster, KCWR439146374461013.762.214.8
Kris Durham, DETWR471252572351115.148.612.9
Riley Cooper, PHIWR714740770371020.452.917.6
Kenbrell Thompkins, NEWR466452370321015.945.713.6

Anquan Boldin, WR SF -
With the addition of Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree to the 49ers passing attack, Boldin isn't seeing the blanket coverage he used to see throughout the year, and Colin Kaepernick is having a much easier time getting him the ball. The veteran receiver has been outstanding since the Week 9 bye and his 42 targets over the last five games have officially pushed him to the top of the leaderboard for target percentage. Even better is that he's backing that up with stats as he's turned those targets into 29 catches for 324 yards and three touchdowns. He has a bit of a tough matchup this week against Tampa Bay, but next week against Atlanta? Oh baby!

Torrey Smith, WR BAL -
The upcoming Monday night matchup with Detroit practically makes him a must-start, but keep in mind that his target percentage is on the way down - 24.1-percent last week to 22.7 this week - and it could drop even more with the addition of Pitta to the passing game and the increased level of play Marlon Brown has recently brought to the table. Deep-league owners will obviously leave him in the lineup as the Ravens' No. 1 guy, but if you're in a shallow league and have a comparable option with a better matchup, you may want to think about the switch.

Chris Givens, WR STL -
His 17.1-percent target rate is down slightly from last week, and rightfully so. He saw just two targets, and no, it's not because the Rams passing game is inept. Well, it kind of is, but that's not the point to be made here. The point to be made is that in the two games prior to this week, Givens totaled 15 targets and had just two catches. Sorry, but your quarterback isn't coming back to you with a catch rate that poor. Deep-league owners hoping he'd eventually come around can easily move on, if you haven't already.

Red Zone Target Percentage

Pierre Garcon, WR WAS -
His 30.9-percent target rate inside the red zone has been solid, but what will things look like with Kirk Cousins under center for the next three weeks? Cousins has made two appearances this season and really didn't look good in either one. I'm guessing a strong effort from Alfred Morris all game, including a lot of check downs inside the red zone. Garcon should still see a fair amount of work, but it's not like it's going to be what it was with RG3, who always looked for Garcon before anyone else, under center.

Charles Clay, TE MIA -
He had two touchdowns last week and has three over his last four games. Ryan Tannehill is growing more comfortable with Clay, especially inside the red zone, as evidenced by his target rate inside the 20 jumping from 20.4 percent to 23.7 percent. If you're looking for help this week, keep in mind that the Patriots rank just 19th in the league against the position. The opposition is throwing an average of 8.6 passes to the tight end against them, averaging 64.2 yards per game.

Potential Risers

Julius Thomas
Tavon Austin
Roddy White
Marlon Brown
James Jones

Potential Fallers

Dexter McCluster
Chris Givens
Kris Durham
Nate Washington
Jared Cook

Week 15 Matchup to Watch

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos -
Well, let's just get the part started with what should be the highest-scoring Thursday night game we've seen this season. The Chargers pass defense ranks dead last in the NFL and Peyton Manning has some records to smash this season. Sure, the ground game will get its fair share, but Manning should be good to find Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and returning tight end Julius Thomas quite a bit to pad his already puffed-up totals. And obviously with a desire to keep pace, Philip Rivers will take it to the air as well, finding Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green downfield as much as he can. Danny Woodhead should find his way into the action as well, so happily consider him for a flex option.