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Opportunity Report: Week 8 targets/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 all the backfield touches and passing game targets for every NFL team.

Backfield Touches


San Francisco 49ers

49ers backfield touches Week 8
49ers backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

We start off ugly here. The 49ers were shellacked on the road against the Rams, and their offense in general has no timing or rhythm to it. If San Francisco does indeed reach the point where they consider shutting down Carlos Hyde for the season amidst injuries, these are the two names we need to know. Reggie Bush went down with a torn ACL on a special teams play early in the game. However, the odds that either Mike Davis or Kendall Gaskins returns much fantasy value are minimal. In addition to Bush's injury, Davis fractured his hand and is set to miss some time. Even if Gaskins is the starter by default, this offense is such a sink-hole we can't even recommend him as a volume play.

Chicago Bears

Bears backfield touches Week 8
Bears backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Jeremy Langford saw 12 touches, all via the ground, in this Week 8 contest, as Matt Forte left early with a knee injury. We don't yet have clarity on the extent of Forte's condition, but it looked like a multiple-week issue when the hit took place. With Kadeem Carey not a favorite of this coaching staff, and Jaquizz Rodgers on IR, Langford is the clear handcuff to Forte. He should be added on waivers in all leagues he is available. Langford currently has a 0.4 percent ownership in NFL.com leagues.

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals backfield touches Week 8
Bengals backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Pro Bowl ballot

In a projected high-scoring game, all signs pointed to Giovani Bernard dominating the backfield touches. However, this game finished well under the points expectations with a 16-10 victory for the Bengals. Both Jeremy Hill and Bernard ran really well in their limited looks. Especially for the former, we needed to see him run with more tenacity than he'd shown so far this season. Yet, both finished with single-digit PPR fantasy points. Even in a game that looked predictable, the Bengals backfield was anything but. The only way that either of these two backs will obtain the status of no-doubt every-week fantasy starter, is if the other goes down with injury.

Denver Broncos

Broncos backfield touches Week 8
Broncos backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

The Broncos running game finally looked like an inspired group in their Week 8 win over the Packers. Ronnie Hillman was the starter, and took five more touches than C.J. Anderson. The former also was the primary red zone back, and both of his touchdowns came from inside the 20-yard line. Anderson played on passing downs, and looked healthy for the first time all year. His score came on a 28-yard dart through the heart of the Green Bay defense. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry to Hillman's 3.2. The bottom line here is that both running backs look tremendous, and the offensive system was in gear for the first time all season. Hillman and Anderson earned weekly flex consideration after this game with the way the offense looked.

Cleveland Browns

Browns backfield touches Week 8
Browns backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Isaiah Crowell is playing through a toe injury, and his numbers continue to suffer as a result. His 11 touches led all Cleveland running backs, but he's just not effective enough to consider rostering, much less starting in fantasy. Duke Johnson is the story here, as he looks tremendous every time he touches the ball. He took a short pass for 52 yards in this game, accounting for 73.2 percent of his total yards on one touch. However, the Browns don't seem inclined to feature him as a primary asset in their offense. Especially in a competitive back-and-forth game such as this, three touches for one of their explosive young players seems irresponsible. Robert Turbin averaged a single yard on his three carries, some of which came out of the wildcat formation. It's safe to say those plays should be scrapped from the playbook.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneer backfield touches Week 8
Buccaneer backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

The Buccaneers continue feeding Doug Martin, and he held pace with his average of 24.5 touches per game since Week 4. Even though he didn't go off against the Falcons, it's hard to doubt Martin as an every week RB1 with such a locked in volume. In a matchup that screamed to play him (Falcons allow the most receptions to running backs) Sims came away with a measly seven PPR points. He's a desperation flier play only going forward. He just can't make much of a dent in the stat sheet with Martin taking over 70 percent of the backfield touches.

Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals backfield touches Week 8
Cardinals backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Chris Johnson's 30 carries in Week 8 led all running backs. Teams run on Cleveland with relentless pace, and Arizona certainly looked to exploit that. However, Johnson didn't really return the favor, fumbling twice and clocking in under four yards per carry. We still like Johnson going forward as an RB2 based on volume.

Speaking of which, we can stop taking Bruce Arians as a "straight shooter" 100 percent of the time. He perked our ears saying they planned to get Andre Ellington more work. He took three carries for zero yards and didn't catch a pass. If anyone should take some work of Chris Johnson's plate, it should be David Johnson (16 yards per touch). Both Ellington and David Johnson are high-upside desperation flex plays with their big-play ability in a great offense, but we know they have the lowest of floors, as well.

San Diego Chargers

Chargers backfield touches Week 8
Chargers backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Every few games the Chargers really try to make Melvin Gordon happen. Despite playing against a Ravens secondary ranked 25th by Football Outsiders, San Diego targeted their Week 8 road trip as a game to get Gordon going. Seeing a season-high 23 touches, their first-round pick didn't return the favor. Even if the team plans on giving him this much volume going forward it's hard to trust Melvin Gordon until we actually see him have a big game. This offensive line continues experiencing injuries in waves, and combined with Gordon's running style, there's just nothing to reap here.

Danny Woodhead suffered in the wake of this confusing game plan, seeing a season-low six touches. Assuming rational coaching (always a dangerous proposition) this isn't a trend we expect to continue.

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs backfield touches Week 8
Chiefs backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

The clear favorite of the coaching staff, Charcandrick West posted a second consecutive game with over 20 touches in Week 8. The former undrafted free agent is running hard, and looks at least competent in all phases of the game. His ability as an outlet receiver is a crucial part of this offense. With no competition for work coming from Knile Davis, West is an RB2 going forward, with upside for top-12 weeks.

As for the rest of the bunch, we know De'Anthony Thomas will sprinkle in big plays every now and again in his hybrid running back/receiver role. Don't bother ever chasing that in fantasy. After just 14 touches in the three weeks since Jamaal Charles went down with injury, we know Knile Davis no longer has the favor of the team. You can drop him, provided you were holding onto hope he pushed West for the starting gig.

The name to monitor here is Spencer Ware, who scored on a late goal-line carry. Ware is a talented player, and a Matt Waldman favorite, who struggled to stick amid character issues. Don't rush to pick him up, but monitor his progress in case West gets dinged.

Indianapolis Colts

Colts backfield touches Week 8
Colts backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Fantasy owners who worried about Frank Gore losing touches to Ahmad Bradshaw can breathe easy. Even in a game where the Colts battled from behind for most of the night, Gore out-touched Bradshaw 25 to seven. With steady volume still in the picture, Gore remains a safe RB2, who can push for RB1 status when he finds the end zone.

Conversely, those who rushed to the waiver wire to add Ahmad Bradshaw when he signed with the Colts are left scratching their heads. In a much more functional offense, Bradshaw pushed for RB1 numbers in PPR leagues when healthy last season. In this iteration, he's a mere change of pace option. His lack of volume in the passing game was particularly confusing, as that was his best role with the team in 2014. Until something changes, Bradshaw doesn't fit on most standard league rosters.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys backfield touches Week 8
Cowboys backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

This is all Darren McFadden's show, with Joseph Randle on the shelf. He followed up his 31-touch blow-up Week 7 with a steady 26-touch effort against Seattle. There's nothing here for Christine Michael, who remains a deep league stash only, at this point. Michael has ability, but the Dallas offense is much better when they can ride one running back. For now, that player is McFadden.

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins backfield touches Week 8
Dolphins backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

This game got out of hand early, so the Dolphins couldn't feed Lamar Miller to the tune they had the previous two games under Dan Campbell. Jonas Gray mixed in with four touches, including a few nice catches, but isn't much of a threat to Miller's workload in the long run. Don't panic if you're a Lamar Miller owner, as the first two games of the Campbell era should be more predictive for their running back usage than this one.

Atlanta Falcons

Falcons backfield touches Week 8
Falcons backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Devonta Freeman once again dominated the touches in the Falcons backfield, scoring 13.10 standard fantasy points in the process. At this point, he's one of the safest fantasy backs in the league. Tevin Coleman just doesn't fit much into this offense right now, but do not drop him. If Freeman ever gets hurt, Coleman gets dropped into this same massive workload, and we know he can play too. These are the sort of upside bench stashes you need to carry into the fantasy playoffs.

New York Giants

Giants backfield touches Week 8
Giants backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Every game, all season

The Giants offense continues on as one of the ugliest split-up committees in the NFL. Rashad Jennings is the steadiest runner of the bunch, but the team just doesn't give him enough carries to make a big fantasy impact. Shane Vereen had a big role in the passing game in the Week 8 shootout with New Orleans. However, this sort of production has not been steady this year.

Andre Williams predictably failed on his goal line attempts, before the team finally just called a pass play for Odell Beckham. If there is one player that clearly needs removing from the rotation, it's the ineffective Williams. Orleans Darkwa showed more ability, but got hurt on a second quarter goal-line carry.

New York Jets

Jets backfield touches Week 8
Jets backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Chris Ivory saw his usual workload, handling 15 carries and catching three passes. However, the Jets fell behind early, and out of the ideal game script for Ivory's skill set. He's also struggling through injuries and averaing a ghastly 1.18 yards per carry the last two games. When Ivory is healthy, he's a strong RB1. But we know he struggles to remain in that condition.

For now, Zac Stacy is the backup, but the team did activate Stevan Ridley off the PUP this week. Stacy is a pure volume back, who has no standalone value. If you have a spare spot, consider stashing the more talented Ridely in case Ivory suffers a crippling injury in the stretch run.

Detroit Lions

Lions backfield touches Week 8
Lions backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Under new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, the priority was "establish Joique Bell." In fairness to the veteran back, he looked fine on his seven carries, but the offense fell behind too quickly for him to get anything going. That paved the way for another useful PPR day for Theo Riddick, catching six passes for 30 yards.

With only one carry and two targets for Ameer Abdullah, the writing is on the wall. It pains me to say, because the talent is there, but he's probably safe to drop in fantasy. This offense is just dreadful, and they show no inclination to use him in any creative fashion. Sadly, the path to opportunity is shut for now.

Green Bay Packers

Packers backfield touches Week 8
Packers backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

With James Starks nursing a hip injury, Eddie Lacy saw the bulk of the touches. Unfortunately, with Denver's offense humming and the defense swarming, the Packers fell off script too quickly for Lacy to establish himself. A 12 to seven split of the touches is certainly what Eddie Lacy owners want to see going forward. However, a game against Denver's defense where Starks was not 100 percent doesn't really provide us with the type of sample we need to glean any clarity. Time is running out on Lacy turning around his season.

Carolina Panthers

Panthews backfield touches Week 8
Panthews backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Now officially out of his early season funk, or whatever that was, Jonathan Stewart owns the Panthers backfield. This was his third straight game coming off the bye with 20-plus touches. He ran hard, and played this game with two of his starting interior linemen on the shelf. With the running back landscape in complete flux right now, Stewart is one of the safest bets around. Locked-and-loaded with volume and more red zone chances than expected, Stewart is an RB2 (at worst) going forward. His cakewalk of a rest of season schedule could mean he offers even more.

New England Patriots

Patriots backfield touches Week 8
Patriots backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

In a game where the Patriots blow out their opponent by more than 20 points, LeGarrette Blount will dominate the touches. He was the hammer used to salt away the game against the Dolphins in the Thursday night beat down. However, it's Dion Lewis who plays the feature back role with the base offense. He was one of the best players on the field against Miami, and it's clear what a difference he makes to this team, as he puts the clown suit on defenders with multiple broken tackles every game. When he's healthy, Lewis is an RB2 in standard leagues, and a low-end RB1 in PPR. Blount has value as a touchdown-dependent, upside flex play.

Oakland Raiders

Raiders backfield touches Week 8
Raiders backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

It's all Latavius Murray in Oakland. Even in a prohibitive matchup for the run game, Oakland fed him 21 touches, almost all of which came via the ground. Taiwan Jones scored on a long catch and run, but didn't siphon much work from Murray. Roy Helu saw just one target on the day. With the running back landscape as hellacious as ever, it's hard to come up with 10 running backs you'd want to own over Latavius Murray. He's a high-volume, talented running back in a good offense. You can't ask for much more than that.

St. Louis Rams

Rams backfield touches Week 8
Rams backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

With Le'Veon Bell now out for the season, can anyone formulate an argument against Todd Gurley as the RB1 overall in fantasy? He's averaging over six yards per carry and hasn't dipped below 20 touches since his debut. Gurley runs for 115 yards per game, and that includes his nine yards debut outing. Better yet, he heats up as the game goes along. In each of his last four games, he saves his best work for the final quarter. Jeff Fisher doesn't care about the game script, either, and just keeps feeding his star running back. He can be a league winner. Tre Mason figured into the rotation for the first time in weeks, but has no value with Gurley in the fold.

Baltimore Ravens

Ravens RBs Week 8
Ravens RBs Week 8 (NFL.com)

If you had said Justin Forsett would get 18 touches against the Chargers prior to Sunday, almost anyone would have penciled him in for 15-plus fantasy points. San Diego allowed the highest yards per carry figure coming into Week 8. However, Forsett had an overall mediocre day with just 4.11 yards per touch. The Baltimore offense took to the air to win on Sunday, and that left Forsett with low-percentage runs.

Javorius "Buck" Allen continues seeing a little more playing time each week. If you're a Forsett owner, now might be the time to make sure you own Allen, in case of injury.

New Orleans Saints

Saints backfield touches Week 8
Saints backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Mark Ingram is the second highest-scoring running back in PPR leagues, and owns one of the more secure workloads going forward. He's dipped below 15 touches just once all year.

Khiry Robinson suffered a leg injury mid-way through this game, and is out for the season. He got more run than many expected before this season, and his unfortunate absence should pave the way for more running back touches. C.J. Spiller got into the end zone in this one, and perhaps Robinson's removal from the equation brings him back into focus. If he's on you waiver wire, definitely add him. While frustrating, he has the upside to change your week. That's crucial in the fantasy stretch run.

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks backfield touches Week 8
Seahawks backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Marshawn Lynch dominates the touches for this team when he's healthy. While he doesn't carry quite the same explosive juice this year as he goes through the aging process, he's still a highly valuable tone-setter for his team, and at worst a weekly high-end RB2 in fantasy. Much like with Buck Allen and Forsett, if you own Lynch, Thomas Rawls is a must-have handcuff.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers backfield touches Week 8
Steelers backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

With Le'Veon Bell now on the shelf for the duration of the 2015 season, DeAngelo Williams returns to the fantasy radar. When he steeped in for Bell early in the season, Williams was the No. 1 running back overall in fantasy. Not only does he play in an elite offense, he has no other backs to content with for touches on the roster. Regardless of whether you are a Bell owner or not, do whatever it takes to acquire Williams if he is available in your league.

Houston Texans

Texans backfield touches Week 8
Texans backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Alfred Blue looked like the preferred option of this team to replace Arian Foster, or at least on Sunday. Again, we won't buy in on any of these Texans backs until we see multiple weeks of steady usage for one of them. Chris Polk figured into the equation, while Jonathan Grimes only handled passing game work.

Tennessee Titans

Titans backfield touches Week 8
Titans backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Antonio Andrews put together a competent performance, and has actually played solid football in all his chances this year. At least for the moment, the Titans backfield is rather predictable: Andrews is the early-down banger and Dexter McCluster has some value as a passing-down specialist. We'll still wait to see if David Cobb can take a majority role of this backfield when he returns from injury. Bishop Sankey fumbled a kickoff, so there's that.

Minnesota Vikings

Vikings backfield touches Week 8
Vikings backfield touches Week 8 (NFL.com)

Adrian Peterson continues to get by on volume, but his ceiling is diminished from year's past. A combination of a lack of explosiveness from the passing game, a poor offensive line and his own aging process limits his scoring upside. He's still an RB1 in fantasy, but oddly more of a safer volume back than the week-winner of year's past.

Jerick McKinnon has no standalone value at this point, but is worth an add if you are a Peterson owner. He has talent, and would inherit most of the touches if asked to fill in for the future Hall of Famer.

Passing Targets


San Francisco 49ers

49ers passing targets Week 8
49ers passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Jerome Simpson returned from suspension to lead the 49ers in Week 8 passing targets. With Anquan Boldin out with injury, it's unlikely this is a trend we should expect to continue. Torrey Smith didn't shine in Boldin's absence, as he saw just five targets. He signed on for this, but Smith exhibited clear signs of his frustration with Colin Kaepernick on Sunday.

This offense is just too dreadful for interesting ancillary players like Bruce Ellington or Quinton Patton to get any run. All 49ers pass catchers in this box score belong on the waiver wire in shallow leagues.

Chicago Bears

Bears passing targets Week 8
Bears passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

A follower on Twitter asked me who would be the top-five receivers for the rest of the fantasy season. After much debate, I slid Alshon Jeffery into the back-end of that list of five. With Jay Cutler back in the lineup, outings like this 15-target Week 8 will be the norm. Cutler throws into traffic, and looks for Jeffery in the red zone. Now that he's healthy, Jeffery can carry fantasy owners.

The only other name to note here is Marquess Wilson. Matt Forte's injury takes a chunk out of the target share, Martellus Bennett isn't playing well, and Eddie Royal is hurt again. Wilson played well when given the chance earlier this season, and is a talented young player (he's only 23 years old). With Cutler leading the Bears offense past expectations, Wilson should be owned in most leagues (0.5 percent NFL.com ownership).

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals passing targets Week 8
Bengals passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

The lack of involvement by Giovani Bernard throws this off, but Week 8 showed a near ideal split of the passing target load for the Bengals. A.J. Green far and away held the lead, Tyler Eifert was the No. 2 target, while Marvin Jones was sprinkled in with five targets. With Andy Dalton playing by far his worst game of the season, both Eifert and Jones weren't efficient enough on their targets.

The question is whether that is a trend that will continue, or whether Dalton holds pace with his early season form more often than not. While we love having so many talented players on this offense, even at his best, Dalton can't support a No. 1 receiver, a TE1, consistent production from Jones and a pass-catching running back, all while the team wants to establish Jeremy Hill. He's not 2013 Peyton Manning. At his worst, like we saw in Week 8, only one of these targets will come through for us.

Feel free to rely on Green and Eifert, but recognize that Jones and Bernard will be the ones who suffer the most from any hiccups in Dalton's play. Here's to hoping Andy Dalton isn't turning back into a smashed pumpkin.

Denver Broncos

Broncos passing targets Week 8
Broncos passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

The Packers played off coverage on Demaryius Thomas all evening, and they suffered the consequences. He led the team in targets, as he has for most of the season, and paced the passing game. The interesting portion here was Emmanuel Sanders slinking back to just five targets, as he was nearly neck-and-neck with Thomas for passing targets this season. Sanders did come into this game banged up, and perhaps that is the reason for so many ancillary players getting looks.

Virgil Green saw three targets, which tied his season-high. While that was an identical share with Owen Daniels, there was some talk out of Denver during the bye that they singed blocking tight end Richard Gordon to work Green in more as a receiver. Although those plans may well get flushed with Monday's trade for Vernon Davis. With the tight end landscape as bare as ever, we'll take what we can get. Peyton Manning has the passing game clicking again, Davis is worth keeping an eye on.

Cleveland Browns

Browns passing targets Week 8
Browns passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Gary Barnidge is for real, in case you didn't already know. He's finished no lower than TE6 since his breakout game in Week 3. He led the Browns in targets in Week 8, and is the one player from this offense you can start every week.

With Travis Benjamin locked up with Patrick Peterson for most of the afternoon, Brian Hartline and Taylor Gabriel saw 10 and seven targets, respectively. This was a rough cornerback matchup for Benjamin, but he's still an every week WR3 in more favorable spots. Don't bother adding Hartline in any of your fantasy leagues.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers passing targets Week 8
Buccaneers passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Fantasy Perfect Challenge

We expected Mike Evans to get all the targets in Week 8, but Jameis Winston didn't really show much willingness to force him ball. That's great news for Winston's development, but disappointed Evans' fantasy owners. We know that owning Evans will be a frustrating proposition, but the highs are worth the lows.

Brandon Myers and Cameron Brate combined for five catches on five targets for 80 yards and two scores. While neither of these players are of much consequence, this is a trend to remember for when Austin Seferian-Jenkins returns to the lineup. Winston has a history dating back to college of supreme trust in his tight end despite playing with substandard personnel, and it's continued into the NFL.

Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals passing targets Week 8
Cardinals passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

With John Brown "active" in name only, he played zero snaps, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd paced the team in passing targets. Floyd is trending upwards, but remains an asset reliant on the big play. He's still a flex-worthy option catching passes in one of the league's best offenses. Brown has time over the bye week to heal.

Before you default to the "who??" type of analysis on Troy Niklas, remember that this is a player this regime picked in the second round last year. He's a better blocker than pass catcher, but has size and athleticism to one day make an impact. Darren Fells, Jermaine Gresham and now Niklas have all posted big games in spurts this season. It appears there is a small role to be had in Arians' offense for tight ends when there previously was not. If anyone emerges in the role long-term, it's Niklas.

San Diego Chargers

Chargers passing targets Week 8
Chargers passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

With Ladarius Green going down in the first quarter, Keenan Allen suffering an injury in the second quarter, and Steve Johnson missing portions of the second and third, the Chargers target share was widely spread out in Week 8. Allen may miss multiple weeks with a kidney injury, bring Steve Johnson into prime focus. Allen and Johnson largely play the same role in this passing offense.

This was the semi-annual massive Malcom Floyd game, and with the injuries to Green and Allen, more could be down the line. However, we know Floyd is the highest of high-variance receivers. Tread cautiously when adding him on waivers. Keep an eye on Dontrelle Inman, who showed some speed early in the year.

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs passing targets Week 8
Chiefs passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

With the Chiefs getting over on the Lions 45-10, there wasn't much passing volume to go around. However, at least the two top threats (Maclin and Kelce) found the end zone. Kelce's eight targets was his second-highest total of 2015. That's inexcusable, but hard to imagine changing at this point.

Indianapolis Colts

Colts passing targets Week 8
Colts passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

You know the game didn't go as planned for the Colts offense when Andre Johnson, Coby Fleener and Griff Whalen were the most productive pass catchers. Josh Norman and the Panthers outside cornerbacks struck again, completely blotting out both T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief on Monday night. With Andrew Luck playing off-kilter for most of this game, and the combination with the matchup, both of the Colts starting receivers couldn't get anything done. They could be in for a similar bumpy ride next week with a Week 9 meeting with the Denver Broncos. If both fail to make big dents in the stat sheets for a second week in a row, some interesting buy-low opportunities could arise at the tail end of fantasy trade season.

You can get by with streaming Coby Fleener if you need a tight end to cover a bye week, and Dwayne Allen just no longer fits with this offense. Rumor has it the team is all but ready to move on from him. Don't buy in to Andre Johnson, as his touchdown came off as a result of an uncalled push off of Panthers slot corner, Bene Benwikerie. His typical 4-44 stat lines are the norm for his 2015 season.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys passing targets Week 8
Cowboys passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Darren McFadden led the team with eight passing targets, as Matt Cassel reverted back to a strong preference for the checkdown. Nevertheless, McFadden plays on passing downs, which keeps his weekly floor high enough for you to start him every week.

Dez Bryant only saw six targets in his first appearance since Week 1. His share of the passing game will go up as he gets closer to full health, and isn't playing against Richard Sherman. Don't panic if you own Dez; better days are on their way.

Complementary players like Terrance Williams and even Jason Witten have little to no value as long as Tony Romo remains on the shelf.

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins passing targets Week 8
Dolphins passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry hold down the lead roles in this passing game. Both remain in starting consideration, with Landry a WR2 and Matthews a flex.

Kenny Stills saw seven targets, and the Dan Campbell run Dolphins continue to express a desire to get him more playing time. At worst, he's eliminated the idea that DeVante Parker will make any impact any time soon. We hope you aren't rostering either. Jordan Cameron doesn't have the passing volume to be a usable tight end.

Atlanta Falcons

Falcons passing targets Week 8
Falcons passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Julio Jones will lead this team in targets in every game he's healthy. Jacob Tamme got 12 targets on Sunday, his highest total of the season. The tight end is historically a big part of the Shanahan offense, but with Tamme as their only capable receiver, the Falcons haven't made much use of them. However, if you're desperate with a number of teams on bye in Week 9, Tamme is an option to get you through.

Rookie Justin Hardy saw four targets, second-most among wideouts. Keep an eye on his progress throughout the season. Leonard Hankerson isn't healthy, and currently unable to capitalize on the momentum he created earlier in the season. Hardy is a good technician, and could earn a nice role in this passing game going forward.

New York Giants

Giants passing targets Week 8
Giants passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Despite his 130 yards and three touchdowns, nine targets for Odell Beckham in a game where Eli Manning threw 41 passes feels like too few. Unlike what Houston and Atlanta do with their all-world wide receiver, the Giants show no inclination to differ from play calls, and just feed their star pass catcher regardless of situation. That is the reason for some down games from Odell Beckham, not any individual regression.

Ancillary players like Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris bit off a nice chunk of the pie in this high-flying aerial contest. However, both remain just mathcup based plays in shootout game scripts only.

New York Jets

Jets passing targets Week 8
Jets passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

When Geno Smith entered the contest, he showed both atrocious field awareness, and tunnel vision for Brandon Marshall. The veteran receiver saw 18 targets, which was the highest of any Week 8 pass catcher. Marshall's volume of targets is keeping his fantasy value afloat, as he's displayed some small hiccups in his play the last two weeks.

You can feel free to ignore everyone outside of Marshall and Eric Decker (the league's most efficient touchdown scorer). Especially if Geno Smith starts through an extended stretch, this offense will only funnel through those two players.

Detroit Lions

Lions passing targets Week 8
Lions passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Even in a blowout game script, the only pass catcher who brought any stable fantasy value was Calvin Johnson. Golden Tate couldn't get downfield, despite getting seven targets in a good matchup. This was Eric Ebron's first week in which he played and scored outside the top-12 tight ends. He's worth hanging on to, and seeing if he can maintain consistent value and usage going forward.

Green Bay Packers

Packers backfield report Week 8
Packers backfield report Week 8 (NFL.com)

Randall Cobb led the team in nine targets, but as most came out of the backfield, he only averaged 4.5 yards per reception. That is suboptimal. All of the Green Bay pass catchers disappointed in this nightmare mathcup with the Denver defense.

While you can feel free to mostly scrap this game, in regards to the Green Bay offense, James Jones might be one exception. His 20.7 percent touchdown rate on 4.8 targets per game was simply unsustainable. He came crashing back to earth with one catch for two yards. Everything screams for Jones' fantasy production to regress to the mean. If you can still sell him off his early season output and name value, put him on the trade block immediately.

Carolina Panthers

Panthers passing targets Week 8
Panthers passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

As per usual, Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn led the Panthers in passing targets. Greg Olsen made several tremendous contested catches, including his touchdown over the shoulders of Vontae Davis. There was a bigger game here for Ginn, but his drop issues plagued his evening. He had several ugly misses, including what would have been a long bomb to seal the game in overtime. Ginn is worth a flier in great matchups and game scripts, but know these games are always on the horizon.

Corey "Philly" Brown was the more impressive Panthers receiver on Monday night, catching 60 percent of his targets. His touchdown came off an excellent corner route where he fought for the ball in traffic. Brown really turned things around after a disastrous preseason, and is worth monitoring in deep leagues, and dynasty formats. He's a young talented player. Despite what Devin Funchess' fans on Twitter will tell you, there's no place for the team's second round pick in this passing game. He saw a single target on the day, and continues to provide no real reason for the team to change that. Funchess can make a bigger impact next season with Kelvin Benjamin back in the fold, but it just won't happen this season.

New England Patriots

Patriots passing targets Week 8
Patriots passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

The Patriots passing offense is one of the most predictable in the NFL. The target split between Rob Gronkowski, Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman. Brandon LaFell got seven targets, which is about what you can expect every week. He's a boom/bust flex play going forward, entirely reliant on how he makes due on that target load. Outside of unforeseen circumstances, this passing game should be static all year.

Oakland Raiders

Raiders passing targets Week 8
Raiders passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Despite Amari Cooper's breakout rookie season, Michael Crabtree leads the Raiders in targets. Many threw Crabtree to the scrapheap prior to this season, but a close look at his film revealed that he could still play. He's just behind Cooper as the WR29 in fantasy, and trending up in recent weeks. Crabtree fits Derek Carr perfectly as a strong route runner and great run after the catch player. He's worth a flex play whenever the matchup is right.

This game got out of hand early, mostly on the back of Andre Holmes' two touchdowns, so Clive Walford couldn't string back-to-back strong outings. He's the only bit player worth monitoring here.

St. Louis Rams

Rams passing targets Week 8
Rams passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Tavon Austin is about the only St. Louis pass catcher with any semi-consistent value. When the matchup is right, he can run wild on a substandard defense when the Rams play at home. In addition to his seven passing targets, he scored a touchdown on the ground.

Baltimore Ravens

Ravens passing targets Week 8
Ravens passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

With Steve Smith now out for the season with a torn Achilles, players like Kamar Aiken come into focus. He's produced usable fantasy lines whenever he's gotten at least seven targets this season, and caught 100 percent of his targets on Sunday. Crockett Gillmore gets the high-value targets in the red zone, and should see his role increase, as well.

Don't rule out Chris Givens as part of the replacement plan. Givens owns a career 16.4 yards per reception figure, and already seems to have Joe Flacco's eye on deep passes.

New Orleans Saints

Saints passing targets Week 8
Saints passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Fantasy Survivor

Don't look now, but Benjamin Watson might have some staying power. When Watson gets targets, he posts useful fantasy owners. His stock is trending up, and if you didn't look closely, you'd have throught Jimmy Graham was still in New Orleans on Sunday. This passing offense lacks for stability, but Watson brings a veteran presence, and strong target-in-traffic to help.

With the way this game unfolded into a total shootout, we can toss out stat lines like Marques Colston's. In a normal contest, there would not be this much volume to go around.

Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks each saw eight targets, and that's about the average both players can expect. On this Sunday, both went off, but that won't be the case in most games. We trust Snead to be more efficient with his targets, while Cooks is still very well capable of getting over on big plays.

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks passing targets Week 8
Seahawks passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

The Jimmy Graham situation isn't all that confusing. When he gets eight or more targets, he scores as a TE1. However, it appears they will only do that sparingly. There will be solid days like his 10 target, 75-yard outing in Week 8, but the team's use of Luke Willson (two targets, one touchdown) limits his ceiling.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers passing targets Week 8
Steelers passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

With the return of Ben Roethlisberger, so to came Heath Miller's role in the offense. The Steelers quarterback was clearly a little too antsy in his return to the field, causing him to default to passes to Miller (13 targets) on dump-offs. Miller has some streaming upside when Roethlisberger is in the lineup, including a date with the Raiders in Week 9.

Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown finished second and third on the team for passing targets, and that should continue going forward. Roethlisberger didn't play well enough for them to blow up to their full capacity, but that will soon change.

With Le'Veon Bell on the shelf for the season, DeAngelo Williams will inherit his role in the passing game. Always underrated in that regard, Williams caught all four of his targets on Sunday. He's an every-week RB2, at worst, going forward.

Houston Texans

Texans passing targets Week 8
Texans passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

DeAndre Hopkins continues his insane target pace, notching 11 more on Sunday. You already know he's graduated to the elite class of wide receivers. Nate Washington is the only other player of consequence in this passing game, and he continues to show the big-play ability needed to capitalize on favorable matchups.

Keep an eye on the Jonathan Grimes/Chris Polk split of the passing game. Alfred Blue saw five targets on Sunday, but that's not typically thought of as his strength. If one of these three backs even just emerges as the sole owner of passing downs, they'll have usability in PPR leagues.

Tennessee Titans

Titans passing targets Week 8
Titans passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

It's hard to take anything away from the Titans passing game with Zach Mettenberger strangling the life out of it. Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker figure to lead the team in targets on a weekly basis. Despite whispers to the contrary, there is not push coming to use rookie athletic phenom, Dorial Green-Beckham. You can hold him as an upside stash, but know that the drumbeat for change in his usage is deafened right now.

Minnesota Vikings

Vikings passing targets Week 8
Vikings passing targets Week 8 (NFL.com)

Stefon Diggs is another player graduating from waiver wire add, to skepticism about stability, to every-week starter. His route running looks more like that of a 10-year veteran, not a fifth-round rookie. Now he's adding in big plays downfield. His 12 targets were a season high, but he's never had less than 10 in any game this season. With this volume secure, you can feel safe about putting him in your lineup every week.

With Diggs' emergence, none of these other players have any value. Mike Wallace runs more deep routes with Diggs' handling the underneath work, which fits both best. However, Bridgewater was unable to hit him for any completions on Sunday.


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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