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Opportunity report: Week 4 target and touches leaders

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Opportunity is the name of the game in fantasy football. Talent matters, of course, but we want players who see a healthy volume of targets and touches to anchor our lineups, especially in daily fantasy. Every week we'll look over the 10 most targeted pass catchers and the 10 running backs with the most touches from the weekend's slate.

Targets
1) DeAndre Hopkins, WR: 22 targets, 9 receptions, 157 yards
2) Vincent Jackson, WR: 15 targets, 10 receptions, 147, 1 TD
3) Allen Hurns, WR: 14 targets, 11 receptions, 116 yards, 1 TD
4) Martellus Bennett, WR: 13 targets, 11 receptions, 83 yards, 1 TD
5) Jeremy Maclin, WR: 13 targets, 11 receptions, 148 yards
6) Charles Clay, TE: 13 targets, 9 receptions, 111 yards
7) T.Y. Hilton, WR: 13 targets, 7 receptions, 67 yards
8) Demaryius Thomas, WR: 12 targets, 9 receptions, 93 yards
9) Jarvis Landry, WR: 12 targets, 4 receptions, 40 yards
10T) Odell Beckham, WR: 12 targets, 5 receptions, 38 yards
10T) Jamison Crowder, WR: 12 targets, 7 receptions, 65 yards

DeAndre Hopkins is a regular on this list, and it's his second consecutive appearance. Hopkins saw a whopping 22 targets in the Texans blowout loss on the road to the Falcons. Both quarterbacks took snaps in this game, but it didn't matter. The insufficient duo knows the primary objective is just get the ball to Hopkins at all costs. At least they completed that on Sunday. Hopkins presents both a safe floor and a high-ceiling given that he leads the NFL in targets after four games.

Vincent Jackson made a surprise appearance in the top 10 list, after Mike Evans was the preferred option for Jameis Winston in Week 3. Many a number-one receiver has fallen to Josh Norman and the Carolina pass defense over the last calendar year. However, Norman certainly spent his fair share of snaps covering Jackson on Sunday, and Winston tested that matchup, to no avail, several times. If Winston's preference for target pumping is going to vary week-to-week, this will be a tough situation to predict. We'll need to watch in Week 5 to see if we can glean any potential trend here.

Allen Hurns is emerging as a tremendous number-two option in the Jacksonville Jaguars passing game. After Allen Robinson roasted Darius Butler for a 48-yard deep ball, the Colts rolled Vontae Davis to cover him for the rest of the contest. With Robinson consistently drawing the team's top coverage assignment, Hurns has a lot of room to operate. He's had solid lines ever week this season, but this 11 catch blowup was exactly what he needed to truly get noticed. The former undrafted receivers is no longer functioning as just a deep threat, but is making plays all over the field. Hurns should be owned across all formats in fantasy.

Martellus Bennett became just the latest tight end to eviscerate the Raiders this season. The Bears clearly knew about the "start any tight end against Oakland" rule, and peppered Bennett with 11 targets. Alshon Jeffery being out helps, but Cutler does love to lean on a target like Bennett in the intermediate game. He's a strong starting tight end in fantasy going forward, of course.

Jeremy Maclin sees his first week on The Opportunity Report. After being falsely labeled as a sell-high in the wake of a massive garbage time line in Week 3, Maclin went wild on 13 targets against a Bengals defense that features strong corner play. While Alex Smith isn't able to take advantage of Maclin's work in the downfield game, he can effectively get him the ball on short routes so he can break tackles. With this game plan and high volume we can expect efficient performances like this one where Maclin amassed an 84.6 percent catch rate. I'm not sure what the argument against Jeremy Maclin would be at this point. He's a WR2 going forward in fantasy, with a high weekly PPR ceiling when he sees volume like this.

Charles Clay had all the looks of a player in store for a big game, and he delivered. With Sammy Watkins on the shelf, Clay was the clear candidate to lead Buffalo's passing game. Against a team with limited line backers and safeties, using the tight end with frequency was a strong plan of attack. Tyrod Taylor executed to the tune of 13 targets for Clay. Through four weeks, he's been a productive fantasy tight end. You can rely on him as a low-end every week starter.

T.Y. Hilton assumed the focal point role of the team's passing game. However, with a 40-year old Matt Hasselback delivering the passes, it was as a short pass slot receiver. His 13 targets didn't go for much, as he averaged less than 10 yards per reception. Donte Moncrief actually out-produced Hilton on less looks.

Demaryius Thomas fulfills the prediction that we'll see a Denver receiver on this list every week. Lately, it's been Thomas handling the heavy workload the last two weeks. Peyton Manning seems cognizant of his limitations at this point, and is more than fine relying on his great wide receivers to make plays on the ball. That leads to a ton of targets for Demaryius Thomas, who has looked much improved in contested situations. With this peppering of targets regardless of situation, Thomas will continue to be gold in PPR leagues (18 or more points in the last three games).

Jarvis Landry seemed like he was one of the few Dolphins players bringing fire and competitive attitude to the Dolphins in their loss to the Jets. He also got the target level we're expecting every week, with 12 passes going his way. However, all that positivity still only lead to 6.9 standard fantasy points. Perhaps the recent coaching change will lead to more stability for the Dolphins offense. He's a terrific slot receiver, but those players require their offense to be a highly functional one to be consistent in fantasy. If that turn around doesn't come, Landry will remain a solid asset in PPR, but one you can't have great confidence in for standard leagues.

Odell Beckham and Jamison Crowder round out the list tied with others who had 12 targets. It just wasn't happening for Odell Beckham on Sunday. The Bills did a solid job in making things difficult for Beckham on Sunday, but left things open for ancillary players like Dwayne Harris. He'll be fine, don't worry. Jamison Crowder's stock in Washington's offense is rising, and Jay Gruden called him the starting slot receiver on Monday following the game. He's worth keeping an eye on, but with the lack of firepower in this passing game, no action is needed yet.

Backfield touches
1) Chris Ivory, RB: 29 touches, 166 total yards, 1 TD
2) Matt Forte, RB: 29 touches, 155 total yards
3) Le'Veon Bell, RB: 29 touches, 150 total yards, 1 TD
4) Justin Forsett, RB: 27 touches, 150 total yards
5) Doug Martin, RB: 25 touches, 143 total yards, 1 TD
6) T.J. Yeldon, RB: 24 touches, 109 total yards
7) Mark Ingram, RB: 23 touches, 128 total yards
8) Frank Gore, RB: 22 touches, 87 total yards
9) Todd Gurley, RB: 21 touches, 161 total yards
10) Karlos Williams, RB: 21 touches, 70 total yards, 1 TD

Chris Ivory is clearly healthy again. After seeing no work in spite of his active status last week, Ivory took 29 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown. This sort of workload is what needs to get going, and it's indicative to the type of offense the Jets wants to run. It did help that Bilal Powell left with an injury mid-way though the game. But it's apparent what a better unit this is with Ivory on the field. After this game, he's back to being an every week high-end RB2 with RB1 upside.

Matt Forte garnered a heavy workload for the Bears in their win over Oakland. He chipped in with four catches after not seeing a reception for the first time in a full game since 2009 last week in Seattle. Having the starting quarterback makes all tides rise in an offense. With Cutler on the field, Forte is an RB1. The dark looming cloud of a potential trade makes the situation murky, but could actually increase his value depending on landing spot.

Le'Veon Bell doesn't appear to require any downgrading with Mike Vick under center. He shouldered 29 touches, including seven catches, and found the end zone. Vick looked capable of keeping the offense viable, albeit limited, on Thursday night. That would keep Bell's stock from trending off the number-one running back status. We'll have to see if the veteran quarterback is up to the task in a road trip across country in Week 5.

Justin Forsett finally had his breakthrough game with 27 touches, all on the ground, for 150 yards against the Steelers. Oddly enough, he didn't see a single reception, which was the big appeal of drafting a Marc Trestman running back. Expect Forsett to be more involved as a receiver going forward, but we're more interested in just the usage rate to continue. He's seen 81 and 78 percent of the team's snaps the last two games, as opposed to 51 percent in Week 2. In order for Forsett to pay off his redraft ADP, he needs to be the man in the backfield. We're feeling a bit more encouraged that's the reality after Week 4.

Fantasy Perfect Challenge

Doug Martin ran really well through the first three games of the season, but game script held back the team from giving him a steady workload. Despite trailing throughout this game, the Bucs committed to Martin and the ground game, giving him 20 carries and throwing him five passes. This was the game we needed to see from Martin to hang onto him. He's not going to have weekly lines like this, but now that we know he's capable, we can keep him as a flex play depending on matchups and opposition. Martin's involvement in the passing game was the most encouraging sign. Charles Sims scored a touchdown in each of the last two games, and there was concern he could being to siphon more work from Martin going forward. Sims did out-snap Martin on Sunday, 39 to 38, but Martin's five catches should cause less worry about game script killing him on a weekly basis. Both players are worth owning in PPR leagues. While there's still plenty to shake your confidence in Martin as a weekly starter, this performance at least kept him off any droppable lists.

T.J. Yeldon makes another appearance on this list with 24 total touches in Week 5. This time, some fantasy value actually accompanied the workload, as Yeldon averaged 4.7 yards per carry, over his 3.4 average coming into this contest. Yeldon will need the Jaguars offense to take a leap forward to get more shots a bigger fantasy weeks. However, his current volume and workload make him an every week flex consideration.

Mark Ingram is another regular in the backfield touches portion of this list. He saw another 20-plus touch outing, with 23 against the Cowboys. He's been a terrific consistent fantasy asset, and had a touchdown called back on a questionable call late in the Sunday night game. We may have some reason to worry about the sustainability of his volume, however. C.J. Spiller only saw 21 snaps in Week 4, after the coaches talked about getting him more involved, but he made the most of it. Spiller took a reception 80 yards for the walk off game-winning touchdown in overtime. Now healthy, that sort of playmaking potential will prove hard to ignore for an offense that loves throwing to running backs. If Ingram loses some passing down work to Spiller, he won't have the ceiling and floor combination what we've seen in the early portion of the season.

Frank Gore saw 22 touches against Jacksonville, but only managed 6.7 fantasy points. He ran well, but once again fumbled in the red zone. This is the second such infraction this season, which is peculiar for such a traditionally reliable player. It's really the only area where Gore has shown his age this season, if that counts as an age-related problem. Gore will need the Colts offense to kick into higher gear if he's going to meet expectations, but at least the volume is there. One worry: Gore caught five passes on Sunday, but the team worked out Ahmad Bradshaw on Monday. Bradshaw was a top 15 fantasy back when functioning as a specialist receiver for the Colts last season when healthy. His presence would cut into Gore's appeal.

Todd Gurley is the story of this list. The Rams took it slow with him in his first game of the season, but kicked things into high gear with their top draft pick on Sunday. Gurley obliterated all other members of this backfield in snaps (68 percent), and handled 21 touches. He made due on them, collecting 161 combined yards, and being the clear catalyst of the offense. Todd Gurley is special. You could see it almost every time he touched the ball on Sunday. He's the type of talent that dictates how the game will go to the defense, and can threaten them in multiple facets. More likely than not, there will be lackluster days because the rest of this offense isn't on his level. But we saw on Sunday, that when the Rams are playing well, Gurley can be an RB1. If you're not a Gurley owner, you might be looking at the last opportunity to acquire him. It's worth exploring.

Karlos Williams was one of the hottest names in fantasy last week, and played in almost 40 percent of DFS lineups. It wasn't a monster day, but he was the featured back on Sunday with 21 touches. He averaged a poor 2.2 yards per carry, but did find the end zone on a wheel route late in the second half. The Giants have been a sneaky good defense that's improving with each week of the season. His next matchup with the Titans could be the truly explosive game many were hoping Week 4 would bring. He'll also carry a far less foreboding ownership percentage in daily leagues. With LeSean McCoy set to miss at least three games, Williams is still a high-end RB2 as long as he's starting.


Matt Harmon is an associate fantasy writer/editor for NFL.com, and the creator of #ReceptionPerception, who you can follow on Twitter @MattHarmon_BYB.

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