If I've written it once, I've written it ... well, more than once. Opportunity is the lifeblood of fantasy football success. You can't control what happens once a player has the ball in his hands. But as a fantasy owner, you can do your best to start the players who get the ball more often. It's all about figuring out which players are consistently seeing the rock on a weekly basis. That's what we'll do in this space every Monday. Check back every week to find out which running backs and pass catchers are picking up the most chances throughout the season.
Plenty of people expected Dennis Pitta to see plenty of targets as a favorite of Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco. Few expected that Baltimore's tight end would lead the league in targets after the first Sunday of the season. Even fewer would have anticipated that Steve Smith would be tied for that lead. But it's all a by-product of Flacco attempting 62 passes in Baltimore's Week 1 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Donnie Avery was another name that jumped off the page among the Week 1 target leaders. The Chiefs' offense was fairly miserable on Sunday, but Alex Smith repeatedly looked in Avery's direction. It's not a particuarly encouraging sign for Kansas City that the veteran wideout was the team's most targeted player by a wide margin. Hopefully that changes a little bit when Dwayne Bowe returns from a one-game suspension. Otherwise, it could spell doom for Jamaal Charles, who will continue to see stacked boxes until the Chiefs can find some semblance of a passing game.
And then there's Andrew Hawkins. When Josh Gordon's season-long suspension was announced, Hawkins vaulted to the top of the Browns' wide receiver pecking order. That designation took on added significance when Jordan Cameron left Sunday's game with a shoulder injury. Considering the inconsistent nature of Brian Hoyer, Hawkins is a risky play going forward, but it's good to know where the football is going in Cleveland.
Last week, Bill O'Brien said he planned to ride Arian Foster in Houston's Week 1 game against Washington. He wasn't lying. The bulk of Foster's work came as a running back with a league-high 27 carries in Week 1, but he also had a couple of pass targets for good measure. It's worth wondering if the Texans will give Foster that type of workload all season long after the running back's offseason battle with back and hamstring issues. Yet with the proper matchup, there's reason to have renewed confidence in Foster's ability to return to his previous form.
In 2013, Knowshon Moreno averaged more than 15 rushes and nearly five targets per game. In the first week of the new season Moreno's replacement, Montee Ball, was able to top that. His total of 25 targets and touches certainly bodes well for his chances to post Moreno-like numbers in 2014 ... now he needs to take advantage of that opportunity. Ball's fantasy total of 14.30 points was more than adequate, but his 2.9 yards per carry average was concerning. If he can find the end zone every week, we'll forget about it.
Finally, we expected to see Giovani Bernard be a dual threat this season and he didn't disappoint in the season opener. The Bengals running back saw the ball in all sorts of scenarios and posted 110 scrimmage yards. Once he's able to find the end zone a couple of times, the numbers will look even better. But at least Jeremy Hill (four carries) wasn't the factor we expected him to be.