The final edition of Targets and Touches takes a look back at Championship Sunday. We had some monster target numbers for wideouts Sunday, led by A.J. Green's 18 in the Bengals win over Pittsburgh. Green was the number one fantasy wideout for a good portion of 2012 before Calvin Johnson turned superhuman, proving that you can actually eviscerate the Madden Curse. Megatron will once again enter 2013 as the top wide receiver in fantasy football, and Green will likely be right behind him at number two - though a great argument could be made for Brandon Marshall as well. I'm going to go 1-2-3 in that order for next season, with Roddy White and Julio Jones 4 and 5. Now, to the rest of what I hope brought you a title this week, and how to proceed for your draft next summer. It's Christmas and August, all wrapped into one!
Also with 12 targets apiece in Week 16 were Joique Bell, Justin Blackmon, Dez Bryant, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker and Andre Roberts. Roberts and Blackmon will be on my sleeper lists for 2013. Roberts got a lot of attention this season in the passing game, and while his numbers didn't reflect it overall, there's definitely something there. Blackmon will enter next season under the radar due to the success of Cecil Shorts, but he's the real star who really started to come on the last six weeks.
Mike Williams was a big risk/reward type play Sunday, and was that way for most of 2012. However he showed enough to make himself a mid-round pick next season. He's a Top-30 fantasy player at his position who is ending on an upswing. He's almost the wide receiver version of Chris Johnson where he can give you no points for three weeks but then break out and single-handedly bring you a win because he out-pointed your opponents' flex player. He'll be a good flex/low-end number two in 2013.
Williams' teammate Vincent Jackson put together a career season in his first with Tampa Bay. He'll enter 2013 as a potential 3rd-round selection, but as we like to say on NFL Fantasy Live - beware the magical season. He's on his honeymoon with the Bucs right now. But remember, most of the players who came off a 'magical' 2011 (Jordy Nelson, LeSean McCoy, Victor Cruz, Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Graham) disappointed you this year. If you have a choice, I would let someone else take Jackson early in your draft and sit on Williams for later on.
There's no more maddening a player in fantasy than Jeremy Maclin. Five terrific weeks this season to go along with 10 poor ones. Every year we say how the Eagles have great talent at their skill positions but really we see how ordinary they are. Maclin should be someone you avoid until the latest rounds of your draft. It's going to be an off-season of upheaval in Philadelphia, and Maclin is to iffy to begin with.
I projected Reggie Wayne to be the Steve Smith of 2012 and that came through in spades. If you had him this year you reaped the rewards of an 8th round pick or later coming through as a must-start every week. You won't get him that low next season, I can guarantee that. You're looking more at 4th round or so for him. So what do I expect out of Wayne next year? Another Steve Smith-type season - this year's Steve Smith. One who was a good flex play for the majority of the year. You can't expect Wayne to duplicate what he's done, but he won't fall off a cliff, either.
When you take a look at the Top 10 targeted wideouts at the end of the season, you'll see a bunch of players who will be high-round picks next season, but a couple of question marks. Will Wes Welker still be a Patriot? If he is, he's still a big-time fantasy player. If he isn't? He'll be drafted a little lower because he's not in the same system that's allowed him to be a monster the last few years...Larry Fitzgerald? Don't quit on him just yet. If the Cardinals upgrade their quarterback situation (which they almost have to), Fitzgerald will still be a second-round pick, early third at the latest...Andre Johnson won't be the No. 2 wide receiver in 2013 I thought he was going to be for most of this this year, but he's no longer elite. Remember, he cost you more games than he helped you this fall and winter.
Doug Martin and Trent Richardson both are well over the 300 mark for touches this season. A heavy workload may come back to haunt them later on in their careers, but not next season. They'll both be late first/early second round picks depending on how your league weighs quarterbacks and running backs. I'd take Martin ahead of Richardson because he plays on a more explosive offense and goes up against defenses with less resistance in the NFC South than Richardson does in the AFC North.
Is Alfred Morris for real or a one-hit wonder? After all, we've seen that plenty of times in Mike Shanahan-coached offenses. Running backs are replaceable. But Morris is really talented, and rather than hit the rookie wall he busted through it (a well-timed bye likely had a big effect on his late-season production). Morris is a late 2nd round pick at worst in 2013. In fact, here's a list of running backs I would take in the first two rounds next year for sure: Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Martin, Richardson, Morris, Marshawn Lynch, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, C.J. Spiller, and Jamaal Charles. I'll take a wait-and-see approach for Matt Forte, Stevan Ridley and Frank Gore.
Jason Smith hosts "NFL Fantasy Live" on the NFL Network and writes fantasy and other pith for NFL.com. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca, and listen to his Fantasy Podcast with Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison every week on nfl.com. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.