RotoWire Partners

On Target: More Than Just The Looks

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 or follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy. For questions, thoughts or comments you can email him at

Well, Merry Christmas to all of you taking time away from family and friends to assuage your obsessive/compulsive behavior and catch up on the latest fantasy football information. While most of you have completed your season and are expecting a recap of the information we’ve learned with respect to targets and fantasy production, you’ll have to sit and wait one more week. There are still some out there who play through Week 17 and are in need of our regular programming.

Obviously, though, things are a little different here in the final week of the season. Aside from the rash of injuries we saw, there are plenty of teams that are not likely to play their regular game. Sure, coaches like Marvin Lewis said that he will continue to use his regular starters despite already clinching a playoff spot, but really, how long will they play? The Ravens have locked up the AFC North, so neither team has anything to play for. Maybe the starters will play the first half, but if the scoreboard gets tilted one way or the other, it’s easy to see both coaches going with the second string in the second half. As you’re setting your lineup, you’ll have to keep all of the playoff scenarios in mind.

With that, let’s get back to our regular format and see what happened during Week 16 and what we might expect moving forward…

Top Targets from Week 16

Player NamePosTeamYardsTDPass AttTargetsRecptRZTgtsRZTgt%Catch %Target %
A.J. GreenWRCIN116041181000.0%55.6%43.9%
Mike WilliamsWRTB132154177225.0%41.2%31.5%
Calvin JohnsonWRDET2250561611120.0%68.8%28.6%
Vincent JacksonWRTB108054157450.0%46.7%27.8%
Demaryius ThomasWRDEN102143149240.0%64.3%32.6%
Jeremy MaclinWRPHI116148148250.0%57.1%29.2%
Brandon MarshallWRCHI68126146150.0%42.9%53.8%
Marques ColstonWRNO1530531310120.0%76.9%24.5%
Wes WelkerWRNE881411210112.5%83.3%29.3%
Dez BryantWRDAL22424312900.0%75.0%27.9%
Joique BellRBDET7305612900.0%75.0%21.4%
Larry FitzgeraldWRARI11104912800.0%66.7%24.5%
Jason AvantWRPHI70048128125.0%66.7%25.0%
Justin BlackmonWRJAX79151127440.0%58.3%23.5%
Brandon LloydWRNE62041126337.5%50.0%29.3%
Reggie WayneWRIND81136125150.0%41.7%33.3%
Andre RobertsWRARI4404912500.0%41.7%24.5%
LeSean McCoyRBPHI7704811900.0%81.8%22.9%
Jimmy GrahamTENO8805311700.0%63.6%20.8%
Julio JonesWRATL7113211718.3%63.6%34.4%
Cecil ShortsWRJAX54051116110.0%54.5%21.6%
Torrey SmithWRBAL88136115333.2%45.5%30.6%

Given what we’ve seen all season long, it’s somewhat interesting to see almost no outliers here. Maybe we can consider Joique Bell or LeSean McCoy outliers because they don’t show up here very often, but we’ve actually seen both at some point during the season. McCoy, now that he’s back on the field after missing four weeks with a concussion, remains a must start given his role in the offense, but Bell is still a sketchy play. The Lions are looking to play spoilers in the final week of the season and will shatter the last remaining hopes of the Bears with a win, but with Chicago ranking third in the league against running backs in the passing game, it doesn’t appear as if Bell will play lead spoiler.

Getting back to the Eagles, we’ve seen Jason Avant here a few times since Nick Foles took over. The two built up a tremendous on-field rapport early in the season during practices, and when Foles took over, it extended into game action. But with Foles dealing with a broken hand and the likelihood of Michael Vick getting the start, it could be slow going for the veteran wideout. Vick will use Jeremy Maclin often and had a decent connection last season with Riley Cooper. Avant should get his share of the targets, but don’t expect him to get the same number he’s seen lately.

Hard to believe the Falcons will do much to put their players at risk before heading into the playoffs, so this could be another week where we see Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson topping the targets list. We expected VJax to be a major player this year as the Bucs brought him in to rejuvenate the passing game, but his presence has really benefitted Williams as well. While defenses key on Jackson, Williams has been able to break coverage and become a huge offensive threat for the Bucs. Over the last four games, he’s seen 43 targets; and while his yardage totals are anything but eye-popping, he does have three touchdowns in that span. Of course, Josh Freeman needs to clean up his act a little, but he’s still heaving the rock a ton.

It’s nice to see Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts back on the weekly leaderboard. Things have been downright disgusting this year in Arizona this year and Fitz has been mostly a bust, but maybe the switch to Brian Hoyer at quarterback can do something for the final game. Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn’t decided on a starter yet, but with the epic failure that has been his quarterback position this year, he may as well give Hoyer a shot.

Before we head to the overall list, let’s just take a moment to look at the fantasy kick to the groin that Krampus gave you this holiday season during what was, most likely, your most important week of the season. A big rousing “thanks for nothing” to Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Owen Daniels, Aaron Hernandez, T.Y. Hilton, Steve Johnson, Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace, and Danny Amendola. We couldn’t have lost it without you.

Target Percentage Leaderboard

Player NamePosTeamYardsTDPass AttTargetsRecptRZTgtsRZTgt%Catch %Target %
Brandon MarshallWRCHI1466114541781131837.5%63.5%39.2%
A.J. GreenWRCIN132411515162952234.4%58.6%31.5%
Reggie WayneWRIND131556001831021627.1%55.7%30.5%
Steve JohnsonWRBUF9356485139731727.9%52.5%28.7%
Steve SmithWRCAR11014456129701321.7%54.3%28.3%
Michael CrabtreeWRSF9337407114771018.9%67.5%28.0%
Andre JohnsonWRHOU14574518145100714.6%69.0%28.0%
Calvin JohnsonWRDET189256981901171616.7%61.6%27.2%
Wes WelkerWRNE126056061631101720.0%67.5%26.9%
Brian HartlineWRMIA10141469124691218.5%55.6%26.4%
Vincent JacksonWRTB13348531140692027.8%49.3%26.4%
Larry FitzgeraldWRARI7854574151691828.6%45.7%26.3%
Victor CruzWRNYG10409527137821922.4%59.9%26.0%
Dwayne BoweWRKC801346011459410.5%51.8%24.8%
Demaryius ThomasWRDEN13129554133871922.6%65.4%24.0%
Roddy WhiteWRATL13097571133871820.0%65.4%23.3%
Jason WittenTEDAL98326211401031317.6%73.6%22.5%
Davone BessWRMIA77814691056157.7%58.1%22.4%
Justin BlackmonWRJAX7864544119581116.4%48.7%21.9%
Mike WilliamsWRTB9318531116571622.2%49.1%21.8%
Greg OlsenTECAR800545699651321.7%65.7%21.7%
Mike WallaceWRPIT8368549119641721.8%53.8%21.7%
Julio JonesWRATL114210571122761921.1%62.3%21.4%
Anquan BoldinWRBAL921452711265917.3%58.0%21.3%
Sidney RiceWRSEA748738681501324.1%61.7%21.0%
Dez BryantWRDAL131112621130881418.9%67.7%20.9%
Eric DeckerWRDEN98811554115782327.4%67.8%20.8%
Torrey SmithWRBAL8558527109491019.2%45.0%20.7%
Brandon LloydWRNE9024606125731618.8%58.4%20.6%
Donnie AveryWRIND7813600123601322.0%48.8%20.5%
Tony GonzalezTEATL8898571115881617.8%76.5%20.1%
Randall CobbWRGB954851910480811.9%76.9%20.0%
Jeremy KerleyWRNYJ73924589053914.1%58.9%19.7%
Jeremy MaclinWRPHI8356581113651625.8%57.5%19.4%
Owen DanielsTEHOU6896518100591122.9%59.0%19.3%
Marques ColstonWRNO11028632122782021.5%63.9%19.3%
Cecil ShortsWRJAX9797544105551623.9%52.4%19.3%
Kendall WrightWRTEN 5864525101621322.0%61.4%19.2%
Kyle RudolphTEMIN473945587511628.1%58.6%19.1%
Hakeem NicksWRNYG6923527100531720.0%53.0%19.0%
Jimmy GrahamTENO8678632119761516.1%63.9%18.8%
Andre RobertsWRARI741557410861711.1%56.5%18.8%
Antonio BrownWRPIT76545491036456.4%62.1%18.8%
Percy HarvinWRMIN6773455856258.8%72.9%18.7%
Miles AustinWRDAL9436621116661317.6%56.9%18.7%
Heath MillerTEPIT8168549101712025.6%70.3%18.4%
Jermaine GreshamTECIN737551593641320.3%68.8%18.1%
Denarius MooreWROAK7366601108501519.7%46.3%18.0%
Danny AmendolaWRSTL639351592591221.8%64.1%17.9%
James JonesWRGB7221351991581928.4%63.7%17.5%
Dennis PittaTEBAL669752792611325.0%66.3%17.5%
Nate WashingtonWRTEN 72545258845711.9%51.1%16.8%
Josh GordonWRCLE766553488461118.0%52.3%16.5%
Golden TateWRSEA583738663421120.4%66.7%16.3%
Brandon MyersTEOAK753460198751317.1%76.5%16.3%
Dexter McClusterWRKC44714607551615.8%68.0%16.3%
Greg LittleWRCLE60935348750711.5%57.5%16.3%
Kenny BrittWRTEN 568452585431118.6%50.6%16.2%
Martellus BennettTENYG611552785541618.8%63.5%16.1%
Lance MooreWRNO920663298611516.1%62.2%15.5%

Back in Week 1, we said we expected the cream to rise to the top. In looking at the top 20 here on the TPL, we can definitely agree that it has. With a few minor exceptions like Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, as well as maybe Justin Blackmon, everyone in the top third of this leaderboard is a no-brainer, must-start every-week player. OK, mitigating circumstances with Fitzgerald, but in deeper leagues, despite the QB troubles, he was still giving you a better chance than some of the bottom-feeders you see on your waiver wire. At least with Fitz you knew he was still going to see the targets regardless of who was under center.

Because of that, we’re going to stay down in the bottom third and look at some of the new faces that have appeared the last couple of weeks…

Two, count ‘em, two Cleveland receivers on the TPL now. Hard to believe, isn’t it? We saw Greg Little appear early in the season, and Josh Gordon has been in and out over the last few weeks, but to have them both? It’s like a Christmas miracle….for Browns fans, at least. Owners of Trent Richardson can sure tell you why, as the rookie running back has tired the last few weeks. While he was still getting his carries, he was relatively ineffective, causing a greater need for the passing game. With Richardson now dealing with an ankle injury and the Steelers’ secondary battered and bruised, you can probably expect the Browns to continue airing it out in the final week.

Lance Moore is another one who has been in and out of the TPL for most of the season. He’s had four games this season where he’s seen double-digit targets, but for the most part, he sees roughly five or six per game. However, since Jimmy Graham has been dealing with the hand/wrist injury, Moore has been seeing consistent red zone looks and now has four touchdowns in his last six games. The trend should continue into Week 17 as the Saints look to save a little face and at least finish the season with a .500 record.

It didn’t take long for Dexter McCluster to find a permanent home on the TPL in the wake of Dwayne Bowe landing on IR. He had been teetering on the fence for a good portion of the year, but has now been the target leader on the Chiefs for a couple weeks. In truth, that doesn’t amount to a whole lot given the ineptitude of the Kansas City offense, but if you’re looking at several of your starters sitting during the final week, he could make for a passable replacement, especially during garbage time against Denver.

Just Missing the Cut This Week: Josh Morgan (15.4%), Brandon LaFell (15.1%), Chris Givens (15.0%), Andrew Hawkins (15.0%), Brandon Gibson (14.8%)

Week 17 Matchup to Watch: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins – There’s no one specific game with bigger playoff implications, and for that reason alone, this figures to be an all-out donnybrook between the two teams. If the Redskins win, they clinch the division and send the Cowboys packing for the year. If Dallas wins, there’s a whole mess of things that could happen. Both teams have quality running backs and will likely try to establish the ground game early, but this is going to turn into Tony Romo vs. Robert Griffin III, and the beneficiaries will be the receivers and their fantasy owners. Romo has attempted 40 or more passes in each of his last three games, and the last time he faced the Redskins, he had 62 pass attempts. Dez Bryant has been a beast of late, Miles Austin is a consistent threat and Jason Witten just set the NFL single-season record for most catches by a tight end. Griffin’s knee has obviously been a factor the last two weeks, but if you go back to the game against Dallas a few weeks before, you’ll see he threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns. The ball will be in his hands this week, which makes Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss and even Josh Morgan, very dangerous.

Potential Week 17 Breakouts: Justin Blackmon, Andrew Hawkins, Delaine Walker
Potential Week 17 Busts: Danny Amendola, Andre Roberts, Brandon Myers

Have a question or need some advice from Howard Bender? Follow @rotobuzzguy on Twitter, or feel free to e-mail him at