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On Target: Fewer Targets for Davis?

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

Ah, the fantasy playoffs. Such a wonderful time of year. Your belly's still full from Thanksgiving, and you're all nestled in, cradled by the warmth of a continued season while others sit out in the cold, lamenting the poor decisions they made throughout the season. It's like being wrapped up in a big, fuzzy blanket, sipping on some warm cocoa in front of a roaring fire, isn't it?

But before you get too comfortable, let's not forget the task at hand. Your job is far from done as you still have games to win and a championship to attain. Your lineup decisions are more crucial than ever, and if you make a mistake, there is no tomorrow. So toss aside that blanket, chug that cocoa and get back to work. We have targets to count and receiver decisions to make, so let's get to it.

Week 13 Target Leaders

(Click column headings to sort.)

Alshon Jeffery, CHIWR249236151200.080.044.1
Josh Gordon, CLEWR261240151000.066.738.0
Brian Hartline, MIAWR127143159240.060.035.7
Harry Douglas, ATLWR73047156240.040.031.9
Roddy White, ATLWR143047141000.071.429.8
Anquan Boldin, SFWR98028139240.069.246.4
Pierre Garcon, WASWR61032129120.075.037.5
Eric Decker, DENWR174435128450.066.734.3
Rob Gronkowski, NETE12714112600.050.029.3
Julian Edelman, NEWR101041129350.075.029.3
Garrett Graham, HOUTE360301132100.027.339.3
Andre Holmes, OAKWR13603011700.063.636.7
Kendall Wright, TENWR7703711600.054.530.6
Ace Sanders, JAXWR67041118240.072.726.8
Cecil Shorts, JAXWR64141116120.054.526.8
Emmanuel Sanders, PITWR43144116225.054.525.0
Calvin Johnson, DETWR101135106225.060.029.4
Torrey Smith, BALWR93135106250.060.028.6
Keenan Allen, SDWR10603710800.080.027.8
Michael Floyd, ARIWR9914110500.050.024.4
Charles Clay, MIATE80043107120.070.023.8

Alshon Jeffery, WR CHI -
We've talked plenty about Jeffery this season as he's emerged as a fantastic, high-end No. 2 receiver. He's posted five 100-plus yard games with two of those games surpassing 200 yards and has five touchdowns on a team that spent all last year and the first two weeks of this year throwing to no one but Brandon Marshall. But a dinged up Marshall helped open the door for Jeffery, and the results have been outstanding. I'm curious to see what Jeffery would do if he didn't have an all-pro, top-five wideout across the field drawing coverage his way, but fortunately, that's not something we need to worry about now. For now, we can relish in the fact that he's seen 10 or more targets in four of his last five games and faces a horrible Dallas secondary this week that ranks 32nd in the league against opposing No. 2 receivers.

Brian Hartline, WR MIA -
Even in PPR leagues, Hartline has been a disappointment this season. Maybe it's the presence of Mike Wallace and the Dolphins trying to move to a different style of passing game, but whatever the case, Hartline's 4.6 catches and 57.5 yards per game with zero touchdowns over the six weeks prior to Week 13 has been unacceptable. Or at least not helpful, should I say? Unfortunately, it could be more of the same ol' Hartline this week as, not only do the Fins face a tougher pass defense in that of the Steelers, but you can bet Wallace is chirping in Ryan Tannehill's ear about wanting to show up his former team. If the Steelers focus on shutting down Wallace, then Hartline could have a decent game, but that's no guarantee, which pushes me toward the numbers that say that Pittsburgh is giving up just 51 yards per game to opposing No. 2 receivers this year.

Roddy White/Harry Douglas, WR ATL -
This is exactly what we envisioned when Julio Jones first went down, only we didn't know that it would take White nearly the entire season to get back into the swing of things. Now with White back, the passing game open a little more and some favorable match-ups, perhaps we'll see the Falcons offense as it should be. It's a bummer that the game is actually in Green Bay, but it's only supposed to be cold - no precipitation. The Packers pass defense is atrocious and allows 251 passing yards per game and has given up 22 touchdowns through the air this season. Detroit manhandled the Packers on Thanksgiving so they'll be looking to prove something, but with these two receivers and a healthy Tony Gonzalez, this could be a big week for Atlanta.

Eric Decker, WR DEN -
Just a quick acknowledgment here as you can't ignore a 174-yard, four-touchdown performance, right? While it's doubtful that he'll see a repeat performance this week, it's worth noting that the Titans play No. 1 receivers super tough (fourth in the league, allowing just 44.5 yards per game), and Demaryius Thomas may still have some lingering shoulder issues form last week. If he's taken out of the game by the Tennessee pass defense, things should stay somewhat open for Decker to have a decent game.

Andre Holmes, WR OAK -
If you listened to the RotoWire Thanksgiving Day draft last week on Sirius/XM, you would have heard co-host Derek Van Riper talking up Holmes and his role as the team's new primary receiver with Denarius Moore on the shelf. Now the question is, can he do it again? Well, it all depends on Moore's status. He was targeting a Week 14 return, so if he's back, then Holmes was a flash in the pan. If he's not, well then Holmes has a seriously tasty matchup with the Jets, who allow 85.2 yards per game to opposing No. 1 receivers.

Overall Targets Leaderboard

(Click column headings to sort.)

Calvin Johnson, DETWR129912500133722637.154.124.9
Pierre Garcon, WASWR9803440132841731.563.630.6
A.J. Green, CINWR11037430130721328.955.430.4
Andre Johnson, HOUWR1123547012882919.164.127.9
Brandon Marshall, CHIWR9909450124781523.862.928.2
Antonio Brown, PITWR11036463124851420.068.527.6
Vincent Jackson, TBWR9635385121611432.650.432.8
Alshon Jeffery, CHIWR11095450118701727.059.326.9
Cecil Shorts, JACWR7642420117641422.254.725.4
Dez Bryant, DALWR8969440114681325.559.626.2
Josh Gordon, CLEWR12497508113641118.056.621.7
Victor Cruz, NYGWR9314426109661125.660.627.1
Demaryius Thomas, DENWR106110479107671316.362.622.3
Jimmy Graham, NOTE98812477106681426.964.222.6
Torrey Smith, BALWR9524439105541526.851.424.1
Mike Wallace, MIAWR743346110456816.353.823.1
Kendall Wright, TENWR840240110271921.469.625.8
Brian Hartline, MIAWR804346110262816.360.822.6
Julian Edelman, NEWR7114471101701729.869.322.1
Wes Welker, DENWR7179479101682126.367.321.1
Harry Douglas, ATLWR9062498100661115.966.020.5
T.Y. Hilton, INDWR79154289956917.356.622.7
Larry Fitzgerald, ARZWR678943898551636.456.123.6
Eric Decker, DENWR971747997631620.064.920.3
Antonio Gates, SDTE726345996641216.966.722.5
Jordan Cameron, CLETE704650896631829.565.618.4
Anquan Boldin, SFWR822530395611233.364.235.3
Steve Smith, CARWR632336695541230.856.826.5
DeSean Jackson, PHIWR102173859561920.064.225.2
Emmanuel Sanders, PITWR604446394541318.657.420.9
Jordy Nelson, GBWR961742193631627.667.722.9
Tony Gonzalez, ATLTE653549893621826.166.719.1
Steve Johnson, BUFWR526341187461232.452.921.3
Jamaal Charles, KCRB452244087551319.463.218.2
Michael Floyd, ARZWR86044388454818.264.320.1
Dwayne Bowe, KCWR533444084451217.953.617.6
Jason Witten, DALTE622644082541223.565.918.9
Keenan Allen, SDWR843345981581216.971.619.0
Greg Little, CLEWR370250880331118.041.315.4
Davone Bess, CLEWR34325087940711.550.615.2
Hakeem Nicks, NYGWR65404267844920.956.419.4
Jerome Simpson, MINWR62204137739510.450.619.1
Charles Clay, MIATE581446177531020.468.817.1
Greg Olsen, CARTE611536676501333.365.821.2
Nate Washington, TENWR6472401764149.553.919.2
Garrett Graham, HOUTE472447075411021.354.716.3
Denarius Moore, OAKWR569536874371132.450.020.7
Martellus Bennett, CHITE545545073481523.865.816.6
Matt Forte, CHIRB44514507358812.779.516.6
Golden Tate, SEAWR64543567246821.163.923.4
Chris Givens, STLWR493040972301015.441.717.7
Greg Jennings, MINWR517341371431122.960.617.6
Danny Woodhead, SDRB482545971611825.485.916.7
Brandon LaFell, CARWR53153667043717.961.419.6
Jared Cook, STLTE55744097040913.857.117.2
Coby Fleener, INDTE544442870441325.062.916.1
DeAndre Hopkins, HOUWR63124707041817.058.615.3
Kenbrell Thompkins, NEWR466447170321017.545.715.3

Target Percentage

Cecil Shorts, WR JAC -
Not only has he been dinged up lately, but Ace Sanders has proven to be quite the reliable target lately. Early in the season, when Justin Blackmon was dealing with his suspension, Shorts was doing it all on his own. He was both the possession receiver and the deep threat. Now, with Sanders grabbing 26 targets the last three games, it's no wonder that Shorts' target percentage has dropped from 27 percent to 25.4 percent in just a week's time. While he still has the groin issue, he practiced Tuesday and is apparently good to go for Thursday's game against the Texans. After seeing 11 targets last week and finding the end zone against Joe Haden, there's little reason to believe that he can't do, at least, the same against a Houston pass defense that ranks 26th against No. 1 receivers.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR ARI -
For many, Fitzgerald isn't the no-brainer must-start every week that he used to be, and watching his target percentage drop from 25 percent to 23.6 percent probably gives people pause now that Michael Floyd seems to be emerging. But similarly to the situation in Chicago with Jeffery and Marshall, let's not forget who is still the team's No. 1 receiver. Fitz is the premier guy in this passing attack, and if it wasn't for the coverage he draws, Floyd probably wouldn't be putting up the numbers he's put up recently. Look for Fitz to bounce back this week and get the majority of the looks against a Rams pass defense that ranks 31st against No. 1 receivers and gives up 85.1 yards per game to the position.

Vernon Davis, TE SF -
OK, so he's actually not on the leaderboard as he only has 66 targets this year. But Davis still has a 24.5-pecrcent target rate and is still very much a big component in the 49ers passing attack. Just keep in mind that with the return of Michael Crabtree and the already solid rapport between Colin Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin, Davis' targets are likely to suffer a bit. He's too great a receiver to downgrade, but he still probably won't see more than half a dozen targets per game.

Red Zone Target Percentage

Greg Olsen, TE CAR -
He continues to shine in the red zone with an improved 33.3-percent target rate and has two touchdowns in his last three game. He and Brandon LaFell have been the most consistent targets for Cam Newton inside the 20 lately with Olsen seeing his role grow with every week that passes. The overall numbers say he has a rough start this week against a Saints pss defense that ranks 11th in the league against the tight end, but after watching Zach Miller rack up 86 yards and a touchdown against them last week, I'm making sure Olsen is active for my team.

Antonio Gates, TE SD -
There's been a lot of chatter lately with the emergence of Ladarius Green, and fantasy owners are wondering if this is the end of Gates' tenure as the top dog in San Diego. But even with Green finding the end zone in each of the last two games and also racking up more yardage, it should be noted that Gates is still seeing more targets and his red-zone target percentage of 16.9 hasn't changed the last two weeks. We may start to see a little more equality the rest of the way, but given the fact that Philip Rivers really only has Keenan Allen as a wide receiver target, both tight ends need to stay active in the passing game to give their quarterback options. Like I said in my recent Depth Chart article, it may not be Gronk and Hernandez, but both should remain productive.

Potential Risers

Rod Streater
Aaron Dobson
Rueben Randle
Rob Gronkowski
Darren Sproles

Potential Fallers

Chris Givens (How this guy is still seeing targets is beyond me. Last two games - 15 targets, two catches, 30 yards. Gross)
Kenbrell Thompkins
DeAndre Hopkins
Hakeem Nicks
Charles Clay

Week 14 Matchup to Watch

Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles -
The Lions lit it up against the Packers on Thanksgiving and now get to face another weak pass defense in the Eagles, who have given up the most passing yardage in the NFL. The Eagles allow 297 passing yards per game and have given up 20 touchdowns through the air. Matthew Stafford will obviously hit Calvin Johnson repeatedly, but look for him to re-connect with Nate Burleson, as well. Both receivers should see a heavy load of targets and plenty of yards. I'll also make Brandon Pettigrew a sleeper pick here as well. On the other side, Nick Foles will get his chance to attack a Lions pass D that allows 262 yards per game and has given up 21 passing touchdowns this year. I like both DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper in this one, though I'm still not sold on the Zach Ertz/Brent Celek tandem.