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On Target: Keenum's No. 1 Fan

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

If you're still reading these columns and haven't turned the focus of your attention to another sport, then allow me to be the first to congratulate you on making it here to Week 12 with something for which to still play. I'd say you've almost made it through the gauntlet, but considering the sensitivity issues we've had with rookie hazing and other player/coach misconduct behind the scenes in the NFL, I'll have to choose my words a little more carefully, I suppose. So how about we just leave it at congratulations? You've done a fantastic job, and that light up ahead in the distance is the end of the tunnel and the start of your fantasy playoffs.

Just one more hurdle to go.

Week 12 is the final bye week, and for many of you it's going to be a doozy. With Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle and Buffalo getting the week off, there is an enormous amount of front-line talent missing. And considering what the likes of A.J. Green, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and numerous others have brought to the table, there are probably a good number of top teams missing talent. That means those of you sitting on the bubble have your window of opportunity opening just a little bit wider this week.

Your lineup choices become more critical than ever and your waiver picks need to be both smart and productive. Choosing the right players this week could very likely mean the difference between playing in the big dance and starting up your fantasy baseball prep work a month early. So with that, let's just cut to the chase and take a look at what the weekly and cumulative targets leaderboards are telling us.

Week 11 Target Leaders

(Click column headings to sort.)

Andre Johnson, HOUWR1160491710542.958.835.4
Josh Gordon, CLEWR125156155836.433.327.3
Dwayne Bowe, KCWR57145144428.628.631.8
Calvin Johnson, DETWR179246136657.146.230.2
Antonio Brown, PITWR147245137416.753.828.9
Garrett Graham, HOUTE13614913700.053.827.1
Demaryius Thomas, DENWR12104013500.038.532.5
Brian Hartline, MIAWR65035135133.338.537.1
Kendall Wright, TENWR80028129150.075.042.9
Chris Ogbonnaya, CLERB30056126427.350.021.8
Michael Floyd, ARIWR193142116314.354.526.8
Vincent Jackson, TBWR1651251110440.090.944.0
Victor Cruz, NYGWR110035118114.372.731.4
Alshon Jeffery, CHIWR83031117220.063.635.5
Shane Vereen, NERB6504011800.072.727.5
Jimmy Graham, NOTE41043116550.054.527.5
Coby Fleener, INDTE10703610800.080.027.8
Delanie Walker, TENTE911281010150.0100.035.7
Wes Welker, DENWR72040108125.080.025.0
Pierre Garcon, WASWR6803510600.060.032.3
Heath Miller, PITTE6704510818.380.022.2
Ace Sanders, JAXWR61042108250.080.027.0
Brandon Marshall, CHIWR42031104640.040.032.3

Andre Johnson, WR HOU -
Fantasy owners went ballistic Sunday when Texans coach Gary Kubiak made a highly questionable call and replaced Case Keenum with Matt Schaub in the fourth quarter, citing Schaub as the better option to run the hurry-up offense and lead the team toward a comeback. It was a complete mess as Schaub brought the Texans inside the 15-yard line only to come away with two field goals and a blown opportunity in the waning seconds of the game. And no one was more upset than Johnson, who had been thriving with Keenum under center. With Schaub at the helm, Johsnon has zero touchdowns this season. With Keenum, he has five. Johnson saw more targets on average with Keenum under center, and if there was anyone who needed to be on the same page as his quarterback in the final seconds of Sunday's game, it was Johnson. Kubiak has yet to announce his Week 12 starter, but you can believe that if it's Keenum, Johnson is primed for another strong week.

Dwayne Bowe, WR KC -
Word out of Kansas City is that Bowe's arrest was somewhat of a wake-up call for the troubled receiver, and now they say he's re-committed himself to the game. He saw plenty of targets from Alex Smith in this one and caught his first touchdown pass in five games. If he is truly ready to step up his game finally, then this coming week is the perfect time to get him active as he tangos with the weak secondary of the San Diego Chargers. With few options for Smith to use, Bowe should continue to see a strong number of targets this week. I'd say his ceiling for the week is high, but that would just be too cliche, wouldn't it?

Chris Ogbonnaya, RB CLE -
It was announced this last week that Ogbonnaya would be the new primary ballcarrier in Cleveland these next few games, and given the number of targets he sees, 36 over the last five games, the extra touches in the backfield should make him an interesting flex play with the right matchup, particularly in PPR leagues. This isn't to say that you bench proven talent with a rough matchup in favor of him, but if you're short on options, he just might be one to consider.

Shane Vereen, RB NE -
Well, it certainly didn't take too long for Tom Brady to revert back to that Week 1 game plan with Vereen back in the lineup, did it? With 11 targets in just his first game back, you know that this is going to be a beautiful relationship. If Stevan Ridley continues to fumble his way into Bill Belichick's doghouse, then you could be looking at a large number of touches for Vereen. He's already a strong flex play, so additional work should easily vault you into the bonus round.

Delanie Walker, TE TEN -
I honestly thought Walker's day was going to come to a quick end when I saw him get head-butted in the face with his helmet off, but that apparently just fueled his fire. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is all about utilizing the tight end, and Walker has now seen 18 targets and two touchdowns over his last two games. With a matchup against a relatively soft Raiders pass defense, you can assume Walker and Fitzpatrick are looking for an encore performance.

Now, how about that overall leaderboard?

Overall Targets Leaderboard

(Click column headings to sort.)

A. J. Green, CINWR10206407123672428.9%54.5%30.4%
Vincent Jackson, TBWR8275343113562537.8%49.6%35.2%
Andre Johnson, HOUWR9665406113721520.5%63.7%28.3%
Pierre Garcon, WASWR8713381109672532.6%61.5%29.3%
Calvin Johnson, DETWR108311419109593942.1%54.1%25.0%
Antonio Brown, PITWR9525385106741822.0%69.8%28.7%
Brandon Marshall, CHIWR8288367103642623.6%62.1%28.7%
Victor Cruz, NYGWR824436898581326.3%59.2%29.0%
Cecil Shorts, JACWR629134696502422.6%52.1%26.7%
Alshon Jeffery, CHIWR818336795542629.1%56.8%26.5%
Demaryius Thomas, DENWR914940892601817.6%65.2%22.4%
Torrey Smith, BALWR785337791461625.5%50.5%24.4%
Jimmy Graham, NOTE8461040690601927.7%66.7%22.8%
DeSean Jackson, PHIWR985735189581020.9%65.2%25.9%
Dez Bryant, DALWR749837089522625.6%58.4%24.4%
Wes Welker, DENWR648940888613629.4%69.3%21.5%
Mike Wallace, MIAWR534137685441117.5%51.8%23.3%
Kendall Wright, TENWR660132284591125.0%70.2%26.5%
Steve Smith, CARWR512329983461934.4%55.4%28.3%
T.Y. Hilton, INDWR70753578346917.0%55.4%22.6%
Jordy Nelson, GBWR889734882572428.8%69.5%25.5%
Brian Hartline, MIAWR59923768248715.0%58.5%22.5%
Eric Decker, DENWR792340881542417.6%66.7%19.8%
Josh Gordon, CLEWR751441681401715.8%49.4%19.1%
Tony Gonzalez, ATLTE568441280542225.0%67.5%21.3%
Larry Fitzgerald, ARZWR554635979451830.6%57.0%24.2%
Antonio Gates, SDTE664338379562017.5%70.9%22.5%
Steve Johnson, BUFWR471337979411929.4%51.9%21.0%
Jamaal Charles, KCRB383236079492022.9%62.0%20.1%
Jordan Cameron, CLETE629641679562828.1%70.9%18.5%
Julian Edelman, NEWR500238078521524.4%66.7%21.5%
Anquan Boldin, SFWR63032517647928.6%61.8%35.0%
Hakeem Nicks, NYGWR620036876421023.7%55.3%22.5%
Emmanuel Sanders, PITWR509238576421316.9%55.3%20.6%
Denarius Moore, OAKWR569530674372435.5%50.0%25.0%
Harry Douglas, ATLWR754241274511414.1%68.9%19.7%
Jason Witten, DALTE532437072471320.9%65.3%19.7%
Dwayne Bowe, KCWR426336071371418.8%52.1%18.0%
Greg Little, CLEWR344141669291917.5%42.0%16.2%
Golden Tate, SEAWR600432668421225.8%61.8%24.3%
Michael Floyd, ARZWR657335968421122.2%61.8%20.9%
Davone Bess, CLEWR288241666321112.3%48.5%15.5%
Aaron Dobson, NEWR492438065351622.0%53.8%17.9%
Nate Washington, TENWR5212322643159.4%48.4%20.2%
Jerome Simpson, MINWR49203426434411.8%53.1%19.2%
Danny Woodhead, SDRB424438364552225.4%85.9%18.2%
Martellus Bennett, CHITE469436763422425.5%66.7%17.5%
Matt Forte, CHIRB374136762491012.7%79.0%17.3%
Julius Thomas, DENTE5901040862452220.6%72.6%15.1%
DeAndre Hopkins, HOUWR546240661381415.9%62.3%15.3%
Greg Olsen, CARTE492429960401431.3%66.7%20.5%
Charles Clay, MIATE474437660421522.5%70.0%16.4%
Scott Chandler, BUFTE42823796037714.7%61.7%16.0%
Robert Woods, BUFWR34923796026917.6%43.3%16.0%

Target Percentage

Sort the above table by Target Percentage and we have a few names creeping up the ladder. While seeing Pierre Garcon and Victor Cruz shouldn't really come as much of a surprise, it's interesting to note both are seeing an increase while their respective teams seem to be moving in opposite directions. Garcon is seeing the majority of targets almost out of desperation as Robert Griffin III doesn't exactly seem too enamored with his other options, especially when injuries start to pile up. Jordan Reed left Sunday's game with an injury, as did Leonard Hankerson. Griffin tried bringing his team back from a substantial deficit, but with few other trusted options he continued to lean on Garcon.

Meanwhile, the Giants have won four in a row, and Eli Manning seems to be getting his swagger back a little. He's doing a fairly good job at spreading the ball around to his top three receivers, but the heavy lean goes to Cruz, who has been his most trusted ally even through the dark days of Interception City. Rueben Randle should still see his fair share of targets, and red-zone looks while Hakeem Nicks works more like a possession receiver. But Cruz is the receiver who gets Eli's attention first and foremost regardless of where he is on the field. Long or short, it doesn't matter. Eli will continue to look his way which makes him a must start each and every week.

And, of course, an honorary mention to Antonio Brown whose near 70-percent catch rate has hooked in Ben Roethlisberger and is rapidly approaching his second 1,000-yard season. He's a tough play this week, though, as he'll be wearing a Joe Haden blanket for most of his day.

Red Zone Target Percentage

Jordan Cameron, TE CLE -
With Jason Campbell working under center, Cameron's red-zone work has tapered off, and he's just not seeing the red-zone targets like he used to see. In fact, he went from 33.3 percent last week to just 28.1 percent this week. A quick glance back up to the top can shed some light on that as Josh Gordon saw eight red-zone targets alone this week, which was more than 36 percent of the week's share. And not only have Cameron's red-zone looks diminished recently, giving him just one touchdown over the last six games, his overall target numbers have taken a few hits as well.

Greg Olsen, TE CAR -
Not only did Olsen fail to make the overall leaderboard last week, but he burst onto it this week with a solid 31.3 percent of the red-zone looks from Carolina. The recent resurgence of targets, particularly inside the red zone, has increased Olsen's value again, and he's become a must-start tight end lately with three touchdowns in his last four games. He's about 50/50 with good and bad matchups the rest of the way, but considering the overall dropoff in tight-end values we've seen this year, he just might be a must-start regardless of who he is facing.

Potential Risers
(those who failed to make the cut this week)

Keenan Allen
Brandon LaFell
Marques Colston
Garrett Graham
Pierre Thomas

Potential Fallers

Nate Washington
Jerome Simpson
DeAndre Hopkins
Charles Clay
Scott Chandler

Week 12 Matchup to Watch:

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants -
We're just loving these NFC East matchups lately, aren't we? And this game is definitely no exception. I've already mentioned the recent surge by the Giants over the last four weeks, and given the pass defense of the Cowboys, Eli Manning could post a huge day. Between his top three wideouts, who have all been mentioned already, and the potential for tight end Brandon Myers getting in on the mix, we could be looking at a ton of targets and a ton of receiving yards/touchdowns. On the other side, Tony Romo will undoubtedly keep pace and gets another weapon in Miles Austin back this week. With Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten out there as well, the "over" might not be high enough. Well, certainly not higher than Dwayne Bowe. Ba-dum-bum! Thank you. I'll be playing the room all evening. Try the veal and don't forget to tip your waitress.