This week's Target Report sees some newer wide receivers cementing their status as consistent, weekly plays that you can depend on for at least 10 points and a possible explosion. It's as if the pecking order for elite wideouts is wide open after Wes Welker and Andre and Calvin Johnson. Is Mike Wallace number four on that list? Possibly, but he may not be the absolute number one guy on the Steelers right now. Can you count on Victor Cruz like you used to count on Santonio Holmes or Miles Austin? It's always fun seeing new stars emerge, and you'll see a lot of their names this week. One name you won't see is Julio Jones, who despite his 30-point day saw just four targets.
Wes Welker and Jerome Simpson also had ten targets each. Simpson is starting to get consistent targets from Andy Dalton which means watch out for the Bengals offense. A.J. Green is drawing more and more attention from opposing defenses which means this trend will continue. Simpson is worth owning if you don't have him, and even though the byes will end in a couple of weeks, he could be worth a flex play down the stretch.
Brandon Lloyd is at the top of this week's list, and expect this to continue. There's no one else for Sam Bradford to throw to and they've already picked up some chemistry in their short time together. Lloyd is a double-digit threat every week and should be started in the flex or even as a No. 2.
I was pleased to see Larry Fitzgerald actually produce with John Skelton throwing passes to him - something Skelton couldn't do last season. Let's not go too crazy, at this point in his career (meaning, without Kurt Warner) Fitzgerald is a guy you can only count on for 8-10 points a game. He's no longer the consistent 100-yards-and-a-TD-a-week threat he used to be. I can say the same for Brandon Marshall, who has a bit more upside because he's the only guy Matt Moore is throwing to (he had 11 targets and the rest of the Dolphins WR's had 12).
Victor Cruz really showed Sunday that he can still catch a lot of passes without Hakeem Nicks in the lineup. He's a slot mismatch and we've seen the Giants take advantage of that regardless of who else is playing. Cruz is a star, and is a great No. 2 play every week. He can turn an 8-yard play into a 15-yarder. Mario Manningham had the game-winning score, but saw just seven targets overall. I can say the same thing for Antonio Brown. He's a star as well and has led the Steelers in targets each of the last three weeks. You can almost say he's a co-number one WR in Pittsburgh with Mike Wallace. Play Brown in your No. 2 every week.
Well, look at Denarius Moore making a return to fantasy relevancy! He made a couple of big plays early in the season, then was quiet, and now the Raiders WR pecking order is officially in flux. De facto No. 1 WR Darrius Heyward-Bey saw one target Sunday while Jacoby Ford is starting to get more attention. It's too early to see who's going to emerge as Carson Palmer's favorite, so I can't recommend starting any Oakland wideout right now. But if any of these guys are available, pick them up and stash them on your bench. When this gets sorted out by December, you may wind up with his favorite target.
Expect Anquan Boldin and Dwayne Bowe to continue to be top 10 in targets the rest of the season. It's all about attention. The emergence of Torrey Smith is making it easier on Boldin, because teams have to cover Smith over the top so Boldin should see the majority of the 'move the chains' passes. And with the Chiefs throwing the football to Steve Breaston, and potentially Jon Baldwin, it's going to be hard to roll all your coverages towards Dwayne Bowe. Breaston and Baldwin may flip-flop on this list every week, but Bowe will be solid.
Rob Gronkowski had a whopping 15 targets in his huge day Sunday while Antonio Gates was second with 11. Gronkowski more than doubled the targets Aaron Hernandez received, but I think this is matchup-based instead of talent-based. Hernandez is still not totally healthy but he's found the end zone in three straight games. Expect big things from both of these guys the rest of the way. This won't be a wrestling match where one player eventually takes over.
Obviously we know how talented Antonio Gates is, but the most important thing for me is that he looked good running, and his foot issue doesn't seem to be a factor (same for Vincent Jackson, who seems to be past his health issues). Expect Gates and Jackson to continue dominating, leading to a Philip Rivers resurgence as a result.
See Jason Smith on NFL Fantasy Live, airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the Red Zone Channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. He writes fantasy and other NFL pith on NFL.com daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.