What’s up ballers and shot callers? Like ‘Lil Troy, we all want twenty inch blades on the Impala, but what about those of us who are driving Geo Trackers? Is there time to trick out the Tracker and make one more run at this thing? Others are riding safely in Ford Fusions but is the Fusion stylish enough to take you to paydirt? Does it have enough upside? What about the guys who are driving faux Ferraris? The team looks good but where’s the production? Me? I’d like to be the dude cruising the county in a nice roomy Odyssey. It’s not the flashiest, but the thing is deep and when it comes to winning fantasy championships, depth is second only to luck. The good thing about depth is it’s somewhat controllable. Whether that team you drafted in August has gone bust, or you’re currently sitting atop the standings, you’re still looking for the right dudes to fill your fantasy vehicle. Hopefully I can help with that. Errrbody in the club getting’ targets this week, so let’s see how they were all doled out.
Explanation of Target Breakdown Scoring System
In addition to my comments, my enthusiasm for each player’s potential will be measured out of five tacos. Since we live in America where more is better, the more tacos I rate a player, the more I like him. Why tacos you ask? Well our goal in this fake world is to fill our rosters with so many dominating players that we effortlessly pummel our hapless victims. This pummeling inevitably manifests itself into delight equivalent to a vinegar stroke. If you’ve ever watched The League you’ll know what vinegar strokes are and since this is a family show, I won’t go into an in-depth explanation. You’ll also know that the term was coined by “Taco,” which provides the logic for my use of tacos as positive denotations. That and the fact that I obviously love a good taco. It makes sense in my head.
Vincent Jackson- V-Jax has been jackin’ fantasy homers the last few weeks and Sunday’s performance against the Saints put him over the top. His 216 yards were an NFL best, and he did it all on only seven catches (14 targets). His touchdown gives him four over his last three games and Jackson has amassed an NFL high 382 yards over that span to go along with his 17 receptions on 33 targets. Over the last three weeks, V-Jax is the top scoring fantasy receiver at 23.1 points per game (standard). In short, he is making fantasy owners very happy. Even though the Vikings are in the upper echelon when it comes to the business of shutting down fantasy receivers, I don’t see any reason why these trends won’t continue, especially if Doug Martin can continue to open things up in the run game. He should be able to, considering how badly “the hyphen” hyphenated them last week. Keep the V-Jax train a rollin’.
Victor Cruz– Look out ketchup, salsa is now the official condiment of the fantasy world. With A.J. Green’s forgettable performance against the Steelers Sunday night, Cruz could easily be considered the most consistent fantasy wide receiver. Only three players have more than his 32 targets over the last three weeks (Wayne, Welker, Fitz) and no one else has five touchdowns in that span. He is everything you want in a real and fake receiver. He is a security blanket in short yardage and third downs, and he’s also the team’s biggest deep threat. Against the Redskins on Sunday, Cruz capitalized on seven of his 11 targets, good for 131 yards and a score. Those lucky enough to own Victor are on Cruz control.
Da Packers– Jordy owners are finally getting the full Nelson after what was at first a sleeper hold start. Over the last three weeks, Nelson is fifth in FPPG among WRs (17.1), sixth in yards (272), fourth in receptions (19), and second in touchdowns (4). He’s clearly living up to his billing. Tis’ the season for some Apple cobbler as well and Randall looks like he’s getting a handle on the #2 spot behind Nelson. Just edging out teammate and td vulture James Jones, Cobb is 8th among WRs in FPPG over the last three with 15.7 (Jones is 16th at 12.4). Cobb is actually tied with Nelson for 5th in receptions in that span and he has accumulated one more receiving yard (273) and one fewer touchdown (3). It was Jones who led all packers with 10 targets on Sunday, despite his slightly less impressive stat-line. I have Nelson as a WR1, Cobb as a WR2, and Jones as a solid play this weekend against the beleaguered Jags.
Brandon Marshall-Who needs a sheriff when there’s a Marshall in town? Brandon has been banging this season and he’s near the top in every statistical category among WRs. Over the last five weeks, Marshall is averaging 15.4 fantasy points per game (4th among WRs). He’s averaging over ten targets a game in that span (46 in four games), and has 30 receptions for 434 yards and three touchdowns. The connection between Marshall and Cutler is very real and so is the defense, which gives Cutler and company plenty of opportunities to score. The dude’s a stud, plain and simple.
Marques Colston-Finally more marquee than cold son, Marques is second only to V-Jax in FPPG over the last two (22.2). Colston is averaging eight catches, two touchdowns, and over 100 yards in that span and the way Brees is throwing the rock, it doesn’t matter if Lance Moore vultures some stats; there’s simply plenty to go around. The good thing about the Saints that is echoed by the Pack is that neither team, despite their offensive prowess, likes to run the ball. That’s great news for Colston, Moore, and Sproles owners who would be absolutely crazy to keep any of these guys out of the lineup in what should be a shootout with Denver on Sunday.
Andre Johnson– Is it reasonable to say that it’s actually a burden having Andre the sometimes giant on your team? He’s a guy, who if healthy, you simply can’t bench, and despite his team’s success and the surgeries his quarterback has been performing on opposing defenses, Johnson has been more dwarf than giant this season. Positively for owners, the sleeping beast was awakened on Sunday as Johnson cracked the target top ten for the first time this season (10), catching a league high (tied with Moore) nine passes for 86 yards. In a way it’s kind of sad to get excited about such a relatively mediocre stat-line. On the year, Johnson is 37th among WRs in FPPG with 8.1, one notch below upstart Josh Gordon. He’s ranked 18th in yardage (444), 17th in receptions (34), and 22nd in targets (52). Keep in mind that Johnson, unlike many of the players around him, has played in all seven games. Basically, he’s been a low end WR2 and I don’t see any reason to believe he’s going to start piling on the numbers. He’s also about due for an inevitable injury. Would you start Randall Cobb over Andre Johnson? Smart money says yes but I’d hate to be the owner having to make a decision like that.
Steve Smith (Stl)- Remember when Steve Smith was a Giant? Remember when that was a pun? It seems like that time was light years ago but Smith was heralded as a deep sleeper in this year’s fantasy draft. Up to this point, however, Smith has been non-existent, buried deep, deep, down with only the worms and Lindsay Lohan’s self-esteem to keep him company. But alas, the lowly Smith climbed out of his hole and poked his head out this weekend, catching four of his six targets (2nd on team) for a whopping 26 yards. Is this a sign of great things to come? Will he fill the PPR void left by Amendola? I don’t think so, but it’s fun to think about.
Santana Moss– I’m not convinced that the Mossman prophecy will help you see victory in your fantasy future, but his stats over the last few games are fairly compelling. Playing in a limited capacity this season, Moss has made the most of his opportunities. Over the last three games, Moss is 16th in FPPG (12.4), and 18th in receiving yards (193). He’s also found paydirt three times and he’s been the go-to guy in clutch situations. With Garcon hobbled and Davis on IR, I think you could do worse for a bye week flier but don’t expect the WR2 production to continue. Over the last three weeks, Moss is ranked 53rd in receiver targets (13) which makes him a pretty risky plug and play.
Brandon Lloyd– Lloyd’s lack of fantasy relevance has nothing to do with the game plan but to Lloyd owners, I’m not sure that’s very reassuring. Over the last three games, Lloyd has only ten catches for 120 yards and no touchdowns (4 FPPG). He hasn’t really had a big game all season and owners are getting ever closer to cutting ties. I may be crazy, and I’m sure that I am, but there is a bright side here. His 25 targets over the last three games are actually only one behind Jordy Nelson, good for 15th among receivers and he is actually 8th among recievers in targets on the year with 65 despite his mediocrity in every other statistical category. In spite of his pathetic one catch for six yard performance on Sunday, Lloyd was second on the team with 8 targets (Gronk) and on the year, Lloyd is only nine targets behind Welker who is 3rd in the league in that category. In short, Lloyd is a target whore, but the question is when does a trend stop becoming a trend and start becoming a fact—a rooted, unavoidable and unchangeable fact? I don’t know exactly but in my opinion it’s not time to quit on him just yet. As a target nerd, I tend to look at targets as symbols of upside. With that much in the way of opportunity, how can he not succeed? I actually look at his situation (though somewhat tentatively) and see plenty of buy low upside, and with Brady as his quarterback why not? The chemistry is clearly not quite there but if you hit the round peg hard enough it will eventually fit into a square hole right? Also, like the Packers, you just have to believe that the Pats will wake up at some point, at least offensively. If you have depth at any other position, or roster one of the fill-in running backs (hyphen, Powell, Felix Jones, etc.) that you really don’t need, I’d try to snag him while his production is so low. Once Brady and Lloyd get on the same page, they’re going to explode in a big way.
Mike Wallace Over the last three games, Wallace is tied with Crabtree and behind guys like Chris Givens, Santana Moss, Devery Henderson, and Denarius Moore in terms of fantasy production (7.7 FPPG). Wallace has a serious case of the dropsies on Sunday night and he came out of the contest with only eight catches for 52 yards despite his league high 15 targets. Wallace is another guy who has not capitalized on his opportunities. He’s 11th in targets over the last three games with 27 but he’s not in the top 20 in receptions or receiving yards. Like Lloyd, I’m just not ready to give up on him yet. They’re like the Darren McFadden’s of the receiving world. DMC’s dismal YPC average belies his production as touches in the RB world = production. For me the wide receiver formula for victory is opportunity + quarterback = success. Be patient if you own him and capitalize on impatient owners if you don’t.
Torrey Smith– Smith has had a few quiet ones as of late but see my rationale for Wallace and Lloyd. Smith, though he caught only four passes for 41 yards, led the team with 13 targets. He’s only put up nine catches and a little over a hundred yards over the last three so there is some cause for concern. The targets, however, are still there (21) and I still like him going forward, albeit a bit less than Wallace and Lloyd, respectively.
Calvin Johnson- Megatron has been megagone from the fantasy spotlight for most of the season but it’s not for lack of opportunity. Once again, Johnson was toward the top of target getters this week with 11, but he was only able to capitalize on three for 34 yards. His overall production on the season hasn’t really been that bad however; it’s only the touchdowns that CJ is missing. To me, that’s the easiest category to rectify though it takes some trust on the part of fantasy owners. On the season, Johnson is tied with Harvin for 4th in receiver targets, 9th in receptions (39), and fifth in receiving yards (592). Despite having only one touchdown, Johnson is 14th in FPPG among WRs with 10.9. The stats all point to top five production and I believe the touchdowns will come. Detroit has a relatively friendly schedule when it comes to pass defense the rest of the way and even against arguably the best defense in the league, they should have come away with more points. He’s at the top of the “snag before they explode” list and I’d test the trade waters with less informed owners for sure.
Darrius Heyward-Bey— After having his clock cleaned in week 3, DHB made good in his second game back from a concussion. The former Terrapin put together his strongest fantasy output of the year against the Jags, catching four of his team high seven targets for 85 yards. I liked DHB a lot coming into this year and he started the season with two decent performances (seven catches, 84 yards). I think there’s flex value in the man and I include teammate Denarius Moore in that category as Palmer will continue to need sling the rock. He’s a decent bye week filler against KC this week.
Logan Paulsen– With Davis down, someone needs to step up for the ‘Skins and on Sunday that man was Logan Paulsen, the 6’ 5’’ UCLA grad who was listed third on the TE depth chart. While putting a ton of stock into this guy is risky, especially considering the signing of Cooley, he could be worth watching. Paulsen was second to Hankerson in targets with six, catching four for 76 yards. While obviously not worth a waiver claim, I’m looking to see if they’re looking for Cooley to be security or savior. Those in deep leagues with TE flex may want to pay attention too.
Jeremy Kerley– By now you know who Kerley is but he’s still widely available in many fantasy leagues. I’ve written about him as well of late and he’s a very solid PPR player going forward with Holmes on IR. Against the Pats, Kerley led the Jets with 11 targets, catching seven for 120 yards. While you can’t expect him to find the endzone often, he’s a relatively safe bye week filler and a decent flex play in 10-12 team leagues. Expect him to lead the team in targets every week from here on out.
Titus Young– The youngster has been known more for his tirades than his touchdown dances this season, but with broken Burleson beleaguered with a busted appendage, Titus will have all the opportunity in the world to succeed. He put up decent numbers against Chicago on Monday, catching six of his eight targets for 81 yards. I wouldn’t bet the farm on him, as even Burleson was a marginal flex play at best, but he’s worth a speculative pick up as a bye week filler with a lot of upside.
Chris Givens– Five targets, three catches, 73 yards. He’s a big play receiver who’s a risk reward play in standard leagues.
Brandon Gibson– He’s arguably the most consistent target currently active on the Rams roster. He led the Rams with seven targets last week, catching five for 60 yards. He has less upside than Givens, but is a safer play in PPR leagues.
Josh Gordon– In deep leagues it’s hard to find a player on waivers with a higher upside. He’ll probably never catch six passes in a game but every time he touches the ball he can score. I’m not entirely sold on him as at least three of his four touchdowns have come on busted coverage, but a touchdown is a touchdown. My issue with him is that he doesn’t see a lot of targets (29 over the last five), but you could certainly do worse for a bye week flier.