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Opportunity report: Week 6 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

NFL's top-10 most targeted players in Week 6
NFL's top-10 most targeted players in Week 6 (NFL.com)

Demaryius Thomas led the NFL in targets for Week 6. With that in mind, it's odd that his 10 catch 111-yard performance feels a little disappointing. Thomas dropped at least two passes, and generally mishandled a few more against a secondary that let up the sixth highest passing yards per attempt in the NFL coming into this game. The big plays haven't been there for Thomas, but he's been a rock solid PPR play, averaging 17.45 points per game in that format. That's not quite what we expected from Thomas, but it'll have to do in an offense that is vastly underperforming relative to expectations.

Antonio Gates followed up his two touchdown debut with more of a steady PPR day, catching nine passes. The 16 targets may well be a high point for Gates this season. Philip Rivers threw 65 passes against the Packers, a game script this team won't be keen on repeating. Either way, we've seen a touchdown dependent game, and a steadier one from the veteran tight end. You can feel free to ride him as a TE1 the rest of the way.

DeAndre Hopkins continued his bonanza 2015 season with a 15 target effort against the Jaguars. He hadn't scored since Week 3, but rectified that with two trips to the end zone in Week 6. Hopkins is as good a bet as anyone to finish as the WR1 overall in fantasy, and is climbing ever higher in the current pantheon of NFL receivers.

Keenan Allen seems to be an almost an every other week proposition in terms of his involvement. His target total for this season goes as follows: 17, 4, 18, 7, 10, and 15. Allen would have finished with more looks this week, but left with a hip injury in the second half. He's infuriating to rank or project as a fantasy asset with such a volatile involvement level. However, his Week 2 16-yard game is the clear outlier, and we know he's capable of a blow up PPR week where he catches 93.3 percent of his targets, as he did on Sunday.

John Brown blew up your television on Sunday. You could tell by watching his previous performances that this sort of game was on the horizon for John Brown. He was getting open consistently, and the mind meld between he and Carson Palmer was apparent. This was a pretty steady game for Brown, with a 45-yard reception being the outlier of his catches. We've actually seen more of Brown's floor than his ceiling in several games this season, and his worst output was a 5-45 line in Week 2. You'll take that in PPR. Brown is an emerging player, and will be seen as one of the best second-tier receivers in just a few seasons. Currently the WR18 in PPR, he's a No. 2 fantasy receiver the rest of the way.

Julius Thomas was the talk of the Jaguars' camp this summer, with some talk that he would be the focal point of the offense. The emergence of Allen Robinson (more on him in a bit) put that on the shelf, but Thomas did lead the team in targets on Sunday. Unfortunately, he suffered a rib contusion in the losing effort. Thomas is a TE1 when he's healthy, but those moments are growing fewer and farther between.

Travis Benjamin continues to prove he is an every week WR2; not sure what else we need to see from him. In what was supposed to be a prohibitive matchup, Benjamin posted his best fantasy outing since Week 2. Currently the PPR WR11, Benjamin is a true fantasy starter.

Charles Clay bounced back from a one catch for seven yards fluke in Week 5 to catch nine passes for 62 yards with EJ Manuel as his quarterback. We've been pleased with Clay as a cheap-flier taken late in drafts at tight end this season. Yet, despite his Week 5 clunker, he's been as reliable as anyone outside of Gronk and Eifert.

Every game, all season

Marvin Jones pops back up on this list after two relatively quiet weeks. Jones can make your week if he catches a long ball or a touchdown, and he did both on Sunday. However, we know he has a tangible low floor. As mentioned in previous renditions of this column, Andy Dalton took an incredible step forward as a player, but still isn't the type of quarterback to lift multiple players to fantasy relevance every week. As such, with A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert being every week starts, there will be volatility in Jones' game logs. We do know these week-turning games are in his range of outcomes, however.

Malcom Floyd had one of his trademarked inefficient, but long-ball inflated games. He's been doing this his whole career. This was yet another target total inflated by Rivers throwing an insane 65 passes. Floyd can always help get you through a pinch with a quick waiver pickup, but he's not worth rostering on a weekly basis.

Allen Robinson is a star in this league, it is happening, and he is the WR9 in PPR and WR4 in standard fantasy. He had one bad game in Week 1, but has otherwise been a consistent difference maker in the Jaguars passing offense. His catch rate will always be inefficient with Blake Bortles bringing high-variance as his quarterback, but Robinson is more than making up for that by averaging 10.8 targets per game and making big plays. Like Julius Thomas, he left this game with an injury, but appeared to escape major harm. Monitor his status throughout the week, but Robinson is trending toward WR1 status when he plays.

Benjamin Watson had a career day on Thursday night, despite this being his 12th NFL season. It was fun to see for guy who has always been a role player on great teams. We won't count on Watson as an every week fantasy play, but he can fill in if you're desperate at tight end. Just remember that Watson averaged 3.58 points per game coming into Week 6. He's worth a speculative pickup because the tight end landscape around the NFL is so bleak, but only if you have the space, and is not a priority.

Emmanuel Sanders, much like Demaryius Thomas, is making due for fantasy owners despite the Broncos offense sinking. Although most of his Week 6 output came on the back of a 75-yard touchdown, and he only caught 33.3 percent of his targets. Both Thomas and Sanders are too talented, and too heavily targeted, to sell off in fantasy despite their quarterback's slipping status.

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Bryan Walters currently occupies the role of the slot receiver in the Jaguars offense. In a shootout game featuring some bad defense, Walters saw 12 targets go his way. There's nothing to see here, despite his 16.7 PPR output. Those targets will normally funnel to Allen Hurns and Rashad Greene will resume the slot receiver role when he comes back from IR Boomerang.

Jimmy Graham got back on track snaring eight receptions for a season-high 140 yards. The Seahawks figured out it's not that hard to "use" your good players, you just have to actually target them. Graham's 12 targets from Sunday blew his previous high-mark of eight away. We have to hope that his early season funk was more a product of him acclimating to the new team slowly, and not a utilization trend. Graham and Russell Wilson looked much more in tune with each other Sunday.

Backfield touches

NFL's top-10 running back touches in Week 6
NFL's top-10 running back touches in Week 6 (NFL.com)

Adrian Peterson was one of Sunday's biggest disappointments. He was in a great spot at home against a floundering team, but came away with a meager 5.7 fantasy points. That's highly concerning considering he led the NFL in Week 6 touches with 26 carries and just a single reception. Peterson was a popular safe pick at No. 1 overall, but two clunker games (Weeks 1 and 6) have him sitting at RB7 in standard, and outside the top 10 in PPR leagues. We're not panicking on Peterson, but his low moments are lower than usual this year.

Matt Forte continues to be as steady as they come in terms of fantasy running backs. Outside of Week 1, the astronomical games haven't been there as usual, but he's still the RB2 in both PPR and standard. Fantasy owners scored pretty big with Forte falling to the late first or early second round of drafts this summer with the masses fearing a decline was coming.

Le'Veon Bell saw 24 carries, but didn't catch a single pass on Sunday. That is quite unusual for this player. It looked like this was the first time the Mike Vick effect took a dig into Bell's stock, in addition to Antonio Brown. The good news is that Ben Roethlisberger's return is just around the corner, and Landry Jones looked much better in relief of a banged up Vick. Even if Jones has to start in Week 7, Bell will be more than fine. We'll almost certainly look back on his 8.8 fantasy points from Week 6 as the lowest mark of his 2015 season.

Justin Forsett surprised fantasy owners by touching the football 24 times, despite not practicing for most of the week leading up to this game. Interestingly enough, Forsett's seven catches were his highest total of the season, and he's caught four in every other game-outside of a zero reception Week 4. Overall, Forsett's stock is trending way up after a quiet start to the season. Rookie Buck Allen did nothing on Sunday to threaten the veteran's touches going forward. He's currently an RB1 in both PPR and standard leagues, and there's little reason to think that changes going forward.

Carlos Hyde saw plenty of volume, handling 23 touches, but only clunked his way to six fantasy points in standard leagues. There's just not much more to say right now regarding Carlos Hyde. He's talented enough to blow up any week, as he did in the first and fifth games of his season. However, this offense is bad enough to take him out of the game script at any moment. Even when it's firing on all cylinders, as it was in Week 6, Hyde can still get taken away by the opposition. Prepare for a frustrating season, and just make sure you bask in the big weeks when they do come.

Mark Ingram actually had a tough go of things on Thursday night, averaging 2.6 yards per touch. However, he's still finishing in the top 10 among running back touches every week, and the team continues to show no inclination to get C.J. Spiller more involved. There's little reason to project a change in Ingram's workload, at this point.

Chris Ivory is a treat to watch play football. When he's been healthy this year, he's played like the Marshawn Lynch we remembered from years' past. Not many running backs have the guaranteed week-in-week out touches load that Ivory does. He's a fantasy RB1, when healthy, as all the 2015 evidence suggests he should be.

Ronnie Hillman took 23 touches for 115 yards on Sunday, but forgive me if I continue to preach caution when it comes to this situation. Again, we've seen this story before. Hillman took 20 carries for 109 yards against the Chargers just last season, but followed that up with consecutive games under 20 yards and was soon cast aside by C.J. Anderson. This is who Hillman is. He can flash in spurts, but doesn't sustain effective play. Credit to Hillman, he played better than Anderson against one of the NFL's worst run defenses (second highest yards per carry allowed), putting the final nail in the latter's 2015 outlook. However, Anderson was still on the field in important situations in overtime, and played just four less snaps than Hillman overall. I'd rather avoid this backfield all together going forward, than consider Hillman a fantasy difference maker the rest of the way.

Arian Foster had the big game many projected him to against the Jaguars. He took 21 touches for 112 total yards and a score. We love how predictable the Texans offense is, and how the work funnels to their two best players in Hopkins and Foster. Both will be mainstays in this column.

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Jonathan Stewart surprised everyone coming off the bye to have a big fantasy day. Coming off four straight games with good matchups and ideal game scripts, Stewart was painfully unproductive. He goes on the road in Seattle and scores twice. Got it. Stewart looked refreshed off the rested week, and should certainly still be rostered. If he can sustain this production going forward, he'll be a big boost to fantasy owners that were at the end of their wits with him just a few weeks ago. We must remain in wait and see mode with Stewart, however, as this ceiling game was quite the outlier from what we saw early in the year.

Lamar Miller was a beautiful exhibition to NFL coaches that it just doesn't need to be that hard. He averaged 11.75 touches per game in the first four weeks, but that was quickly corrected by interim head coach, Dan Campbell. Miller handed 21 touches in Week 6, despite being pulled late in the blowout win over the Titans. If Miller is set to be the workhorse of this offense, and rational coaching showed he 100 percent should be, his fantasy owners could have a sneaky low-end RB1 on their hands. Six weeks into the NFL season, we don't like to drastically alter expectations away from what the majority of the current season's evidence has shown us to be the new reality. However, in this case, the coaching change provides a clear and distinct variable. So Lamar Miller could prove to be the exception to that rule.

Devonta Freeman checks in with another appearance on The Opportunity Report, handling 21 touches on Thursday night. This was an important data point, as it showed the first game with Freeman and Tevin Coleman together. Coleman looked quite good himself, and although he did fumble in the red zone, he stayed in the game throughout. However, you're lying to yourself if you can't plainly see who the better player is right now. Freeman is playing like one of the best running backs in that league, and there's no rational reason to alter his projection for the rest of this season.

Wake up and watch with the world. The NFL is live on Yahoo. For the first time ever the NFL is streaming a live game on Yahoo. Bills vs. Jaguars live from London, Sunday October 25th 9:30 am ET.


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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