by Ivar G. Anderson
This week we have a six team bye week, and that means that you may be able to “target” some playmakers yourself in shallow leagues. In leagues with short benches, owners will have to drop some inactive players just to field a full lineup, and you can then swoop in and grab them to improve your roster. My advice? Look for players whose targets are on the rise but are still viewed as second tier receivers or backs.
To do that, you will need to look at a larger sample than I have been presenting in these articles (mostly due to space concerns), but I am willing to provide those readers who want to dig deeper into the target information with but a request. What I mean to say is, should you want to look at my spreadsheet for all targeted players, just drop me a note at the e-mail address below and I will send it your way. Just be advised, I am in Scottsdale this weekend for a fantasy seminar and some Arizona Fall League baseball, so give me some time to turn around your request.
This week I raised the bar a tad and am showing the Top 68 players, mostly because I wanted to get the final couple of tight ends on the chart. On to this week’s target chart:
|Steve L. Smith||BLT||WR||8||65||63|
Despite what I wrote about Larry Donnell being done, I expanded the list the week just to make sure he was included since I think he will be one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets on Monday night. The Colts are tough to throw on outside, and thus have been allowing an average of nearly seven targets per game to opposing tight ends.
When we expand the list as we did this week, we see additional tight ends making the cut. Of the 68 players listed, 11 are tight ends. Compare that to only three running backs and you can see that the tight end position is being used in a pseudo-WR role, ala the argument that Jimmy Graham was making for his arbitration hearing this summer, at least with the “move” tight end players. Of course, those tight ends that mainly block are not part of this discussion in any event. As is to be expected, if you want targeted players go with the wide receivers and, to a much lesser extent, a move tight end such as those on the above chart.
Expanding the list also brings in Andre Ellington as the third RB. He has been a steady source of targets all season, having been targeted an average of six times per game. Coupled with his rushing prowess he is behaving like a RB1.
Fantasy owners have been bemoaning the production of Jason Witten all season, but except for an awful Week 7, where he only saw two targets, he has been seeing his share of passes from Tony Romo he just has not been able to do much with the attention. I credit his uptick to eight targets in Week 8 to the Washington defense and the blitz pressure they applied, which made the check down pass to Witten a safety valve.
Target changes to wonder about:
Some new faces showed a marked increase in targets in Week 8. Below are those that stood out for increases in their target totals based on their Week 8 production with the percent of their total targets that occurred in last week’s games:
- Gregg Little WR CLE 71%
- Theo Riddick RB DET 67%
- Donte Moncrief WR IND 52%
- Timothy Wright TE NE 39%
- Eddie Lacy RB GB 38%
- Stedman Bailey WR StL 38%
- Jonathan Stewart RB CAR 36%
- Kamar Aiken WR BAL 35%
- Branden Oliver RB SD 35%
- Paul Richardson WR SEA 33%
- Cooper Helfet TE SEA 31%
- Jordan Reed TE WAS 28%
Theo Riddick had a break out game in Week 8, where the Lions took on the Falcons in London. With Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson on the sidelines, along with all the Detroit tight ends, he finally received a chance to show off his pass catching skills. Keep him on speed dial for Week 10 after the bye.
Wright was the beneficiary of a New England blow out win, although you have to figure in the Belichick deviousness, and figure maybe this was part of a larger plan to slowly work him in as a compliment to Gronkowski.
Little has never had a problem making something out of his catches, as he showed with his 42 yards on three catches last week, it has been his ability to actually catch the ball. Maybe he has solved this issue, but I would not bet on it. In my book he is a WR4 with WR3 upside, at best.
I do like Moncrief’s potential for further big weeks so long as Reggie Wayne is sidelined. Facing the Giants on Monday night, I would prefer him to Hakeem Nicks if I were pursuing a waiver wire receiver.
Lacy owners had to like the eight receptions for 123 yards last week, but he had not seen more than three targets in a game up to that point. Chalk up his nine total targets in Week 8 to the problems he and the team had running the ball.
Another potential waiver wire darling will be Bailey, especially with Brian Quick being lost for the balance of the season. Just temper your enthusiasm, as he will likely be the fourth option for targets behind Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Jared Cook, and perhaps even Lance Kendricks.
One player I would advise avoiding on the wire is Aiken. He may have been targeted six times in Week 8, but he only caught two passes for 15 yards and dropped the one pass he received that would have gone for six points. He is well down the depth chart in Baltimore, and you should not be swayed by his one week performance, especially with that poor stat line.
Even when Ryan Matthews returns to the Charger backfield, I expect that Oliver will still have value, especially with Danny Woodhead out for the rest of the season. He will be a source of receptions and the yardage that goes with them for his owners.
Now that Percy Harvin is no longer a Seahawk, it was only natural that Richardson would become a bigger part of the Seattle passing game. I see him continuing to get passes thrown his way as the season progresses.
“Cooper Helfet who?” you may be asking. He saw a nice uptick in Week 7 with both Luke Wilson and Zack Miller out, and while he was still targeted four times in Week 8 he is the No. 3 TE on the depth chart when everyone is healthy. You would need to be in a really deep league to want to roster him on the off-chance one of his targets leads to a touchdown, but then again we are in a six team bye week so…
Reed is not a surprise inclusion, as he is an excellent tight end for reception purposes when healthy. He is now playing, so if you can snag him he is a fine TE1 for the rest of the season, or for however long he can stay on the field.
I am going to keep working on developing this series of articles to best determine how you can use target information to succeed at your fantasy football efforts. I am open to suggestions as to how best to present this information for your use, so feel free to comment or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 9 rankings: