Target Town: Week 14
December 11, 2013 | John Kerwin
Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Marques Colston lead the way from a target perspective at the wide receiver position this past week. Johnson garnered nearly double the targets of the other two receivers, and could be a potential workload monster in the final weeks of the fantasy playoffs. Fitz looks like he is finally healthy, and the Cardinals are making a strong push for the playoffs. Carson Palmer has been looking his way in the red zone this entire year, and I expect a stellar finish for fantasy owners. Colston was beginning to scare owners as one of the bigger busts this season, but finally paid off in a big way in Week 14 with nine catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He should be a solid WR2 the rest of the way.
Eric Decker has strung together a few very impressive games, and it appears Wes Welker may be in danger of having his fantasy season ended. Peyton Manning doesn’t show any signs of slowing down the Broncos potent offense any time soon, and Decker is going to be an integral part of the game planning without Welker on the field. There is a fairly strong chance that most owners have the luxury of playing Decker in a WR3 role, and his production should continue to exceed his draft value. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Decker help decide some championship outcomes.
Riley Cooper continues to see his fair share of targets, but hasn’t scored in the last three games and hasn’t hauled in more than three passes in any of those contests either. It looks as if Cooper’s value is going to rely on his big play ability, and that is a risky road to take when your season is on the line. I would avoid taking the risk on Cooper unless I am in deeper leagues or simply have no other options.
Rod Streater finally had the breakout performance many were waiting for, and it could continue if Denarius Moore remains out of the lineup. Andre Holmes had an impressive game on Thanksgiving, but Streater is clearly the number one option without Moore. The Raiders haven’t been the most prolific offense, but they get plenty of garbage time opportunity, and the running back situation has been dreary as of late. I expect Streater to be a reliable WR3 this upcoming week.
Wes Welker has been diagnosed with his second concussion within a one month span, and it is a scary thought for a guy that has taking so much punishment this season. Welker has been on the wrong side of many bone-jarring hits this year, and the Broncos should be very reluctant to put their x-factor in harms way with cruise control set heading towards the playoffs. It is a shame for fantasy owners, but it simply comes down to player safety. We have to just chalk this up to the physicality of the game, and hopefully owners can salvage the loss of Welker if he is shut down for an extended period of time.
Roddy White isn’t the target king of old, but he sure is showing flashes. White was a major disappointment across the board this year with nagging injuries that he was just too stubborn to let fully heal. His streak was eventually snapped and he was sidelined for a few games as the Falcons watched their season stretch beyond their grasp. White has returned noticeably healthier, and the Falcons seem to be playing with a sense of pride down the stretch. Expect White to pay dividends to owners that were stubborn enough themselves to hang on through the difficult times, because it is always better late than never.
Greg Olsen hasn’t posted any Graham-esque type stat lines this season, but he has been a model of consistency over the last four weeks. He has posted more than five catches in each of his last four, and has eight or more targets in three of the four games. Olsen isn’t going to win you a championship, but he sure could be a crutch for an already stout team. The Panthers are in the middle of a heated playoff push in the NFC, and Olsen should be a big part of the game plan over the final weeks.
Garrett Graham has managed to be exactly who we thought he was; the main beneficiary of the Owen Daniels season ending injury. Graham has continued to gather targets in a Top 5 fashion, and has been a sneaky play over the last month. Keep Graham plugged into your lineups as the free falling Texans continue to put up garbage time production.
Dennis Pitta has returned, and Joe Flacco made sure we all knew about it. Pitta wasted no time finding his rhythm in the Ravens offense in his first game back, and even connected with Flacco on a short touchdown reception. Pitta will be a very solid fantasy option the final weeks of the season. Torrey Smith will continue to stretch fields and open up the middle for Pitta to find space, and expect Flacco to keep the targets coming.
Jimmy Graham, enough said.
Jordan Cameron seems to have been resurrected stemming from his performance this past weekend. Josh Gordoncontinues to fill up highlight reels, but it was Cameron who finally emerged again as the safety blanket for the Browns offense. There is still hope for fantasy owners that have made it this deep into the playoffs with Cameron underperforming as of late. I don’t expect to see the monstrous stat lines we saw earlier this year, but it looks like he can be counted on as a reliable option over the final weeks of the season.