Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Week 7 targets

RotoWire.com Howard Bender
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With respect to targets and target percentage, there's a Catch-22 that fantasy owners continuously face when making final decision as to which players to start each week and which to bench. On one hand, a player with a high target percentage is obviously afforded greater opportunities to put points up on the fantasy scoreboard. On the other, it means there are fewer alternatives for the quarterback and defenses will start to key in on said receiver. A high number of opportunities eventually leads to tighter coverage. While you think you may be increasing your odds of scoring bigger points, you may actually be running a higher risk of being shut out as defenses begin to wise up and take that receiver out of the offensive equation with more blanket coverage.

Take Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green, for example. He has a 32.7-percent target rate, which leads all receivers in the NFL and is vastly higher than any other receiver on the team. And while he was likely one of the first five (and that's being conservative) wide receivers off the board in your drafts, he's been held to 61 or fewer yards in four of six games and has been held out of the endzone in three of those. That means, in standard scoring leagues, he's scored six points or fewer in half his games. Scoring in PPR formats doesn't really help much either.

Meanwhile, if you look at teams with quarterbacks who like to spread the ball around, you'll notice a number of receivers have comparable fantasy point totals to the "elite" wideouts, simply because the defensive coverage cannot be so concentrated. Jordan Cameron continues to score big for his fantasy owners as Josh Gordon is pulling coverage away from him and vice versa. In Denver, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have all seen similar target numbers and because of that, or maybe even as a result of that, each has been productive enough. It actually doesn't matter if it's the chicken or the egg coming first; the fact remains that guys like Welker, Thomas, Cameron and even Gordon have all scored similarly to Green despite not being as highly targeted by their respective quarterbacks because of fewer double-teams and lighter coverage.

So is it better to go with receivers who have a lower target percentage? Sometimes. Sometimes not. As we said, a higher target percentage usually means more opportunities to score, so if you're using receivers in a lower grouping of target percentage, you may get more consistent scoring, but with a lower ceiling and with less potential for that explosive 150-plus yard, multi-touchdown game. It's probably a safer route, but really ... no guts, no glory.

That's why, in leagues that start three receivers, I like to own one who sees a much higher percentage of targets on his team and then complement him with a pair of receivers who share the looks fairly evenly on their respective teams. It's all the potential for those big games from your high-end wideout with the consistency from the other two in case your top receiver gets blanketed by coverage. That, to me, is the safer route than having, say, Green and Calvin Johnson on your team as both continuously see the double-teams and, so far, it's worked out pretty well.

A little more than just two cents, but hey, that's why you subscribe, isn't it?

Now let's hit the target leaderboards.

Week 6 Target Leaders

 

PLAYER POS YARDS TD PASS ATT TARGETS REC RZ TRGT RZ TRG% CATCH% TARGET%
Justin Blackmon, JAC WR 190 0 29 20 14 6 50.0 70.0 69.0
Pierre Garcon, WAS WR 69 0 39 15 6 1 33.3 40.0 38.5
Vincent Jackson, TB WR 114 2 43 14 9 5 100.0 64.3 32.6
Kris Durham, DET WR 83 0 43 13 8 0 0.0 61.5 30.2
Keenan Allen, SD WR 107 1 33 12 9 3 40.0 75.0 36.4
Chris Ogbonnaya, CLE RB 61 1 34 12 7 3 16.7 58.3 35.3
Darren Sproles, NO RB 58 0 36 12 6 3 37.5 50.0 33.3
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI WR 117 1 41 12 6 1 33.3 50.0 29.3
Vernon Davis, SF TE 180 2 29 11 8 2 20.0 72.7 37.9
Antonio Brown, PIT WR 86 0 31 11 9 2 50.0 81.8 35.5
A.J. Green, CIN WR 103 1 36 11 6 3 28.6 54.5 30.6
Brandon Marshall, CHI WR 87 2 36 11 9 7 75.0 81.8 30.6
Julian Edelman, NE WR 57 0 43 11 5 1 25.0 45.5 25.6
Kyle Rudolph, MIN TE 97 1 44 11 9 3 50.0 81.8 25.0
Jordy Nelson, GB WR 113 1 32 10 4 1 50.0 40.0 31.3
Denarius Moore, OAK WR 82 1 34 10 5 0 0.0 50.0 29.4
Knowshon Moreno, DEN RB 62 0 38 10 7 0 0.0 70.0 26.3
Aaron Dobson, NE WR 63 0 43 10 6 4 50.0 60.0 23.3
Greg Jennings, MIN WR 34 0 44 10 6 3 50.0 60.0 22.7
Jamaal Charles, KC RB 50 0 31 9 5 1 33.3 55.6 29.0
Josh Gordon, CLE WR 126 0 34 9 7 1 16.7 77.8 26.5

Justin Blackmon, WR JAC - Obviously, the Cecil Shorts injury helped pave the way for 20 targets to Blackmon, but let's face it ... since returning from his suspension, he's been the most-targeted receiver on that team. Still, should this rib/sternum injury keep Shorts on the sidelines, Blackmon will likely start to suffer the same fate as those high-target rate players we just discussed above. With both in the lineup, each should remain productive, but take one out, and they both suffer.

Kris Durham, WR DET - That's now three consecutive weeks that Durham's targets have increased and that's more than enough for me to label him as the regular No. 2 wideout in Detroit and recommend his use. With Megatron absorbing most of Joe Haden's attention last week, Durham was freed up for a season high in both targets and receptions. Given Johnson's reputation and abilities, that's a pattern you should consistently see now, which makes Durham a strong play against some of the less spectacular pass defenses.

Keenan Allen, WR SD - Also standing tall on the consistency front is Allen, who is the new top banana in the San Diego receiving corps. Three strong weeks in a row, increasing targets and back-to-back 100-plus yard games could very well be sitting out there on your waiver wire staring you right in the face. And considering the resurgence we've seen from Philip Rivers, you can bet that Allen's ascension in the overall rankings is going to continue.

Chris Ogbonnaya, RB CLE - One of the reasons we like to look at the target leaders each week alongside the overall targets leaderboard is to help identify the random receiver who may epitomize the expression of the sun shining down on a dog's backside at least once. And that dog's backside this week just happens to be Ogbonnaya. Thanks to the Lions' complete inability to contain the running back on passing plays, Ogbonnaya saw as many targets Sunday as he did in the three games prior, combined. Is that going to happen every week? No. You have to study the match-ups and specifically look for whether it's a favorable one for him, and even then, there's still plenty of risk as he is not, nor has he ever been, the go-to guy for the Browns.

Vernon Davis, TE SF - Did you see what Davis did Sunday? Thanks to the excessive double-teams that Anquan Boldin sees each week, Davis has posted increasingly better numbers since he returned from his hamstring issue. He's the Durham to Detroit's Megatron, but we'll hit on that a little later.

Kyle Rudolph, TE MIN - We'll have to keep an eye on Rudolph now as his big week poses the question of whether this was a one-time thing or if it's indicative of what's to come. Matt Cassel may be a whole world of blah to most, but he's still a better passer than Christian Ponder. With Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson out there, targets could be spread out enough that Rudolph could start producing on a more consistent basis. Given his touchdown total from last season (nine), he's certainly worth a look if you're lacking at the position.

Overall Targets Leaderboard

 

PLAYER POS YARDS TD PASS ATT TARGETS REC RZ TRGT RZ TRG% CATCH% TARGET%
A.J. Green, CIN WR 464 4 211 69 37 17 47.4 53.6 32.7
Andre Johnson, HOU WR 495 0 255 65 44 4 10.3 67.7 25.5
Cecil Shorts, JAC WR 411 1 210 63 31 16 21.2 49.2 30.0
Julian Edelman, NE WR 411 2 239 61 41 14 29.0 67.2 25.5
Victor Cruz, NYG WR 541 4 233 60 35 6 29.4 58.3 25.8
Pierre Garcon, WAS WR 408 2 209 59 35 16 40.9 59.3 28.2
Julio Jones, ATL WR 580 2 219 59 41 17 19.1 69.5 26.9
Jimmy Graham, NO TE 593 6 237 59 37 10 21.9 62.7 24.9
Brandon Marshall, CHI WR 465 5 218 58 40 16 22.9 69.0 26.6
Vincent Jackson, TB WR 406 2 180 55 26 5 28.6 47.3 30.6
DeSean Jackson, PHI WR 589 5 193 55 34 9 30.8 61.8 28.5
Torrey Smith, BAL WR 568 1 235 55 28 5 17.2 50.9 23.4
Dez Bryant, DAL WR 459 6 218 54 34 19 25.8 63.0 24.8
Jordan Cameron, CLE TE 460 5 245 54 38 20 43.3 70.4 22.0
Antonio Brown, PIT WR 498 2 194 53 41 9 29.2 77.4 27.3
Jamaal Charles, KC RB 300 2 216 53 33 17 31.0 62.3 24.5
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI WR 405 4 222 52 30 9 33.3 57.7 23.4
Anquan Boldin, SF WR 421 2 161 50 29 7 31.6 58.0 31.1
Reggie Wayne, IND WR 453 2 191 50 33 11 30.0 66.0 26.2
Alshon Jeffery, CHI WR 456 2 218 50 29 16 25.7 58.0 22.9
Wes Welker, DEN WR 378 8 239 50 37 25 32.5 74.0 20.9
Kenbrell Thompkins, NE WR 318 4 239 50 21 18 32.3 42.0 20.9
Eric Decker, DEN WR 477 2 239 50 34 16 17.5 68.0 20.9
Demaryius Thomas, DEN WR 528 4 239 49 37 9 15.0 75.5 20.5
Antonio Gates, SD TE 466 2 248 49 36 9 11.4 73.5 19.8
Jason Witten, DAL TE 340 3 218 48 31 12 25.8 64.6 22.0
Calvin Johnson, DET WR 337 4 239 48 24 20 41.9 50.0 20.1
Tony Gonzalez, ATL TE 339 3 219 47 33 20 29.8 70.2 21.5
Kendall Wright, TEN WR 335 1 189 46 31 8 25.0 67.4 24.3
Randall Cobb, GB WR 378 2 184 45 29 15 32.1 64.4 24.5
Robert Woods, BUF WR 274 2 202 45 18 6 28.6 40.0 22.3
Hakeem Nicks, NYG WR 442 0 233 45 25 4 17.6 55.6 19.3
Denarius Moore, OAK WR 399 4 173 44 25 15 35.0 56.8 25.4
Mike Wallace, MIA WR 281 1 182 44 22 7 31.3 50.0 24.2
Emmanuel Sanders, PIT WR 301 1 194 44 23 5 16.7 52.3 22.7
Martellus Bennett, CHI TE 349 3 218 44 31 17 28.6 70.5 20.2
Steve Smith, CAR WR 224 2 153 43 23 16 42.1 53.5 28.1
T.Y. Hilton, IND WR 385 2 191 43 25 1 5.0 58.1 22.5
Darren Sproles, NO RB 366 1 237 43 32 5 15.6 74.4 18.1
Julius Thomas, DEN TE 381 7 239 43 31 17 25.0 72.1 18.0
Josh Gordon, CLE WR 429 2 245 43 25 2 6.7 58.1 17.6
Nate Washington, TEN WR 377 2 189 42 23 4 10.0 54.8 22.2
Michael Floyd, ARI WR 345 1 222 42 26 6 33.3 61.9 18.9
Greg Little, CLE WR 161 1 245 42 16 10 20.0 38.1 17.1
Davone Bess, CLE WR 223 0 245 42 23 7 16.7 54.8 17.1
Tavon Austin, STL WR 159 2 233 41 24 12 20.0 58.5 17.6
Rueben Randle, NYG WR 333 3 233 41 20 3 11.8 48.8 17.6
Danny Woodhead, SD RB 267 3 248 41 36 14 25.0 87.8 16.5
Owen Daniels, HOU TE 252 3 255 41 24 9 17.2 58.5 16.1
Golden Tate, SEA WR 269 1 166 40 23 3 20.0 57.5 24.1
Jordy Nelson, GB WR 484 4 184 40 27 8 25.0 67.5 21.7

Target Percentage Leaders

Once again, A.J. Green and Anquan Boldin sit atop the target-percentage leaderboard. We discussed Green and the double-teams he's endured because Andy Dalton looks for him more than anyone else on that Bengals team, and the situation is no different in San Francisco with Boldin. He claims that he's now seen more double-teams this year than he has at any other point in his professional career. And like Green, his numbers are suffering because of it. With back-to-back games of less than 30 receiving yards and zero touchdowns, Boldin's owners are dying for a second wideout to start drawing away some of the coverage.

And while Cecil Shorts, the man who made up the third part of the target-rate triumvirate, is still plenty high up, Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson has pushed his way up thanks to four double-digit target games in the five he's played. Jackson was high up here last year as neither Mike Williams nor Dallas Clark, the Bucs tight end last season, pulled enough focus away from him to cut down his actual targets and now that Williams is hurt and there's simply no other worthwhile option at the tight-end position, Jackson should continue to stay atop this list.

Keep an eye on DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon as both could find themselves suffering from the same fate as Green and Boldin.

Red Zone Target Leaders

Wes Welker, WR NE (25) - That's now four weeks in a row atop this section, and while his overall target percentage is nearly identical to that of fellow wideouts Decker and Thomas, it's the extensive red-zone looks that push his value past so many others. His yardage totals may not be all that great, but he certainly makes up for it with a league-leading eight touchdown grabs.

Jordan Cameron, TE CLE (20) - He's been an animal this entire season, and while his numbers have suffered a bit these last two weeks, things should definitely smooth out once he's done adjusting to the transition back to Brandon Weeden. And as we've seen, the presence of Josh Gordon is only going to help his game.

Calvin Johnson, WR DET (20) - It's been a tough season for Johnson so far as he's yet to show what he's really capable of doing thanks to the abundance of blanket coverage. However, if he's now going to see the majority of red-zone targets for that team, his value should quickly rise back to a level to which we've all grown accustomed.

Tony Gonzalez, TE ATL (20) - If staying atop the red-zone targets leaderboard after a bye week doesn't tell you all you need to know, just check back with last week's column headline. Yes, the old man's still got it, and no, it's not going away any time soon.

Other Notables

Danny Woodhead, RB SD - The scrappy, little running back made a name for himself during the Jets' tranining camp aired on HBO's "Hard Knocks" as he ended up getting cut and picked up by the Patriots. He succeeded in New England in a limited role, but has fully blossomed this season as a go-to option for Philip Rivers. Yes, Keenan Allen is the new No. 1, but when he's being covered, Rivers is more inclined to dump it off to Woodhead than he is to wait and see if Vincent Brown can finagle his way into open field. The reliable 87.8-percent catch rate isn't hurting either.

Jordy Nelson, WR GB - He's been on and off the overall leaderboard with Aaron Rodgers having so many targets from which to choose, but now that Randall Cobb is out for several weeks, Nelson should see a serious increase in targets. James Jones will also see a potential increase, but he's also been dealing with recent injuries, so the heavy overflow should land Nelson's way.

Potential Risers (those who failed to make the overall leaderboard)

Brian Hartline
Jerome Simpson
Vernon Davis
Greg Olsen
Aaron Dobson

Potential Fallers

Randall Cobb
Julio Jones
Tavon Austin
Greg Little
Hakeem Nicks

Week 7 Matchup to Watch

San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars - Highlighting the Cowboys/Eagles game is far too much of a no-brainer and given the abundance of fantasy points we've seen from both teams, there's no need to tell you to start almost everyone involved. So instead, I turn to some of the lesser must-starts, and that's here with the Chargers vs the Jags. The Chargers pass defense is lukewarm at best and gives up a ton of yards each week. Chad Henne will regularly find Blackmon, Shorts is going to try to play and if he doesn't, look for Ace Sanders to make a splash. I'd throw Marcedes Lewis in there as a possible sleeper, but that's still low end. Maurice Jones-Drew stands a better chance given the fact that the Chargers play the running back on passing downs just like Detroit. On the other side, Antonio Gates should be a hot start, and while Keenan Allen has been money in the bank these last couple weeks, I'm going to say that Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown just might be the ones to shine instead.

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