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 in the revamped Opportunity Report, we'll look all the passing targets for every NFL team. See Part one (above link) for backfield touches.
Perhaps Bruce Arians was being genuine when told us that Michael Floyd passed John Brown as the No. 2 receiver in this offense. The targets distribution of Floyd (19.6 percent) and Brown (6.5 percent) proves it. Even with that being said, there is no way I'm giving up hope on Brown's fantasy season. Maybe as an unabashed John Brown supporter I'm making excuses here, but I'll state my case anyways and you can feel free to adjust for my optimism.
Right after the game, Arians came out and said Brown wasn't going at full speed, and was still reeling with a hamstring injury. Brown was a game time decision headed into the game. Unlike Week 8, Brown played a healthy amount of snaps (59), but still put up a zero for fantasy. It made sense for the Cardinals to deploy Brown against the Seahawks, as defenses must roll coverage to respect Brown's ability to take the top off. It's why Larry Fitzgerald was able to rack up so many yards underneath. Brown was never a part of the game plan, as his three targets game without true design, Jaron Brown took over Floyd's targets when the latter left with a hamstring injury. It's hard to believe that John Brown was so uninvolved for any other reason than he was never intended to be. The Cardinals, Arians and Brown do not care about your fantasy team, nor should they. They want to win the game, and playing Brown regardless of his health status, helped them accomplish that on Sunday night.
With all that being said, feel free to leave John Brown on your bench until he has a big week there. Brown broke out prior to that Cleveland game, both in the stat sheet and how opposing teams played him. I refuse to believe that all the positivity building up to that moment evaporated in three weeks while Brown dealt with a hamstring injury. Even if he does come back to full strength, this is a three wide receiver offense. Michael Floyd is an exceptionally talented player, and looks better now than he did at any point last year.
Seeing a massive 31.1 percent share of the team's targets, Kamar Aiken stepped right into the No. 1 receiver role. You can see he doesn't have quite the skills or juice to fill that spot to its full potential with Flacco, and he had his share of gaffes. Yet, if he gets those targets, he'll be an interesting volume play in fantasy down the stretch. You have to feel safe with his floor after this game.
Chris Givens seeing the second mast targets was an expected move. He and Flacco didn't hook up on a deep ball, but he did sneak in for a red zone score. Givens will be a great punt play in DFS, and an upside flex in seasonal leagues in the march to the playoffs.
Sammy Watkins certainly got the better of Darrelle Revis in coverage at times, but misplayed the ball in the air on more than one occasion. He's still far from a finished product at receiver, although he carries tremendous potential. Watkins is about the only option you want to consider among the pass catchers with the volume being so low. It was inspiring to see LeSean McCoy with five receptions, as his passing game work was a concern coming into the season.
There was some "worry" that Corey Brown or Devin Funchess might pass Ted Ginn for the second fiddle in this passing offense, but that didn't look to be the case on Sunday. Ginn tied for the target lead with Olsen. Funchess merely played in a situation role (32 percent of the snaps), and there are no signs of that changing. No Panthers wideout played more than 45 percent of the snaps.
Credit to Adam Gase, who may finally get that head coaching job next year, for identifying a clear matchup in his team's favor with Jeremy Langford's speed in the open field. The St. Louis defense is tough at home, but the Bears offense made them look foolish with passes to Langford out in space. For his size, he's special there. He led the team in targets as Alshon Jeffery came into the game with yet another injury.
We've cautioned in this column every week that this could happen at any moment. Despite a strong start, Andy Dalton isn't the type of quarterback to make all tides rise for his big three passing weapons and receiving running back on a week in and week out basis. With a bad primetime Dalton game reminiscent of seasons' past, all three weapons suffered. At this point, it's been more weeks of frustration than fantasy goodness for A.J. Green. It's hard to tell yourself a story where this changes, and he's not the type of WR1 that will command 25 percent or more of the targets every week; not to any fault of his own, just the quarterback and construction of the offense. Perhaps one last sell attempt on name value is advised.
Tyler Eifert had a poor showing, with at least two ghastly drops on the national TV stage. This was an outlier game for Eifert, so don't panic about starting him every week. Just know that, like Green, he's a tremendous NFL player, but won't see the target share his fantasy owners are hoping for every week. However, the good far outweighs the bad with Eifert.
Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin owners almost certainly sat both players in fear of Johnny Manziel torpedoing the passing offense again. Give credit to the young quarterback; he actually looked functional distributing the ball to his two best weapons. With the team headed into a bye, and their season all but over, the logical move would be to start Manziel for future implications. At the very least, both Benjamin and Barnidge owners need not worry about their stocks with a change under center. For all the heat Manziel takes, and he deserves a lot, he does have tremendous natural arm talent. As long as he continues to progress, this passing distribution should hold up even with him under center.
In what was likely his last stand as a Dallas starter, Matt Cassel just kept feeding Dez Bryant. Unfortunately, Bryant didn't look much like himself in this game. He failed to attack the ball in his usual fashion on the end of game Hail Mary, and to his credit, he owned up to that after the game. Even when Tony Romo does return to the starting lineup, expect the passing distribution to look a lot like this for the remainder of the season. This aerial attack is quietly talent deficient, and will need to lean on Dez Bryant.
Cody Latimer, welcome to 2015. With Brock Osweiler coming into the game, Latimer saw six targets on Sunday, one more than his career total of five coming into the game. Latimer came into the league with a ton of optimism, but admitted he didn't quite catch on fast enough last year, and reportedly shares a non-existent level of chemistry with Peyton Manning. The young receiver may have a chance to establish himself with fellow backup Osweiler taking over under center. It's clear playing and failing to catch on with Manning robbed Latimer of the confidence he played with at Indiana. Deep league players, and especially dynasty owners should monitor this situation. Latimer is still young, but a total lack of productivity may have forced his owner in your dynasty leaguer to cut bait. There may yet be some life in this situation.
Elsewhere, it's about impossible to project how the passing distribution shakes out in the Brock era. Expect the inexperienced passer to lean on Demaryius Thomas, whose stock may be on the rise with this move, but all other bets are off until we see more.
The Lions passing distribution has stayed static all season. Calvin Johnson usually leads the team in target share, but doesn't get enough downfield looks to do much with them. The only other player you should somewhat rely on in this unit is Eric Ebron. He averages just over five targets per game, and is the second fiddle behind Johnson. Not an every week starter, but far from a poor fill-in at tight end.
Aaron Rodgers threw the ball to Davante Adams on 35 percent of the team's targets. The effort netted them a 47.6 percent catch rate and 79 yards. We're not sure whether Green Bay identified a matchup with inexperienced Lions corner Nevin Lawson they wanted to exploit, or if this was an attempt to get Adams going. Going back to Rodgers' unbridled enthusiasm about Adams from the offseason, the latter seems likely.
The issue: outside of two primetime games as a rookie, Adams has done next to nothing with the targets given to him. That theme continued Sunday. Sure, Rodgers missed him on a few occasions, and you can highlight that if you wish to excuse Adams' lackluster route running and hands in traffic, but that's part of the problem. Throughout his time in Green Bay, Adams struggled to get on the same page with Rodgers. Of course, this is a young player and he could improve, but the evidence to support that happening gets outweighed by the opposing view more and more each time he hits the field.
In his first NFL action, Jared Abbrederis impressed with a few important plays. Keep an eye on him if Adams continues to turn up small with his opportunity. As for Randall Cobb, if he couldn't get over on the Lions facing a favorable cornerback matchup, it's fair to wonder if we ever will see him do so again in 2015.
In a dominant season, this was probably DeAndre Hopkins' worst outing. Outside of his breathtaking touchdown catch, he misplayed the ball on numerous occasions, and dropped at least one pass. Of course, for fantasy, he still posted a solid stat line, despite going without a reception in the first half. With his immense market share of the targets, combined with his talent, makes it almost impossible for him to disappoint his fantasy owners. The 11 targets he saw in this game was tied for the lowest mark of his season. This was just small hiccup, and Hopkins is still one of the best receivers in the game.
The distribution didn't change a lick, but the receiving options did struggle through Blake Bortles' worst game since Week 1. There was more on the table for both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The latter player is reportedly seeing a specialist in Philadelphia for a check in on a core injury he's been dealing with all season. If Hurns were to miss time, Julius Thomas may see an increase in value. Although, Rashad Greene is set to be activated this week from IR Boomerang, and the rookie slot receiver did see 13 targets in Week 1. If he's activated, he'd instantly vault past Bryan Walters and Marqise Lee in the pecking order.
The Dolphins offense is feeding off pumping Jarvis Landry full of targets in the slot, and putting Lamar Miller in positions to make plays out of the backfield. Rishard Matthews remains a high snap player (94 percent), but his target load keeps going down, other than an outlier in Week 8. With Ryan Tannehill and the offense not functioning well enough to sustain multiple targets, it's hard to count on anyone outside of Landry in this passing offense.
With such low volume, the Vikings may have the worst passing offense for fantasy success, not that they care nursing a division lead. After tearing through the NFL in his first four games, Stefon Diggs has 5-88 on seven targets over the last two games. Defenses are paying extra attention to Diggs with no other players emerging as a viable threat. Perhaps Diggs rebounds against a recently leaky Green Bay pass defense as the Vikings welcome them in a contest for the division lead. However, he feels safer on the bench right now.
With Julian Edelman going down for what may be the rest of the regular season, Danny Amendola comes into focus. Unlike when New England lost Dion Lewis, the team has a clear replacement who can offer them 80 to 90 percent of what they lost in Edelman. Amendola was once a highly regarded player, who fell down the pecking order in New England after a rash of injuries and Edleman's emergence. However, he's played well in spot duty, the team has kept him around and he's played in every game dating back to last season. Given the massive role he's set to inherit in the league's best offense, Amendola is likely a must start in PPR leagues going forward. Head to your waiver wire, and if he is available, make sure to grab him at once. This late in the season, it's unlikely we'll see another potential pickup with this much of an upside role and a safe floor projection.
My distaste for Brandin Cooks in fantasy this season had everything to do with expectations relative to his over-inflated redraft and dynasty stock. However, things have changed since then. With Mark Ingram and Willie Snead providing reliable threats underneath, and Benjamin Watson commanding attention in the seams, the Saints are free to ask less of Brandin Cooks. All three were unexpected developments prior to this season.
The Saints aren't trying to pigeonhole Cooks into an Antonio Brown spot in their offense where he dominates the target share and goes against the No. 1 corner. With other threats emerging, they can get him matched up against inferior defenders, and work him down the field more. This is why the five touchdowns he's scored over the last three weeks have come from an average of 29.8 yards out. With the change in situation and expectations for Cooks, you can ride him as a high weekly upside WR2 going forward. After a disastrous start to the season with Cooks playing assignments ill-fitting to his ability, you'll take that if you sunk a third round pick into him in fantasy.
Willie Snead came into this game highly questionable, and was never part of the game plan when the contest was in question. If you have Snead, don't panic. He was right there in terms of team target leaders when he was healthy.
The Giants have definitely adapted the Just Throw It To Your Good Players philosophy with another big target share day for Odell Beckham. Of course, the results were mixed going against Bill Belichick and the quietly solid Malcolm Butler. Dwayne Harris looks to have passed Rueben Randle for the preferred secondary target, and makes for a nice flex flier in PPR leagues when the Giants get into shootout game scripts.
This offense is all Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall all the time. Neither player had their best outing on Thursday, as both needed touchdowns to salvage otherwise disappointing games. Decker took a long pass down the seam, which made up for a costly drop. Marshall continues putting up numbers despite lackluster efficiency.
Derek Carr did not play particularly well in this game, and the Oakland receiving options suffered as a result. However, there's not much to grow concerned with here. The Raiders travel to Detroit to face the Lions this week, and all three of Carr, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree should rebound nicely. Rivera posted a solid stat line, but don't bother chasing it. The vast majority of his production came in garbage time.
Zach Ertz dominated the target share in Week 10, and had a touchdown called back once again. He's up to 58 targets on the season, and still hasn't posted a score. Eventually that will regress to the mean, even if Ertz isn't all that great of a player. The space created by Ertz and Brent Celek may have exposed a weakness in the Dolphins defense.
After a 9-133-1 touchdown line in Week 9, Jordan Matthews got back to what we grew to expect from him early in the season. His target share dipped to 10.4 percent despite Mark Sanchez, who he thrived with last year, finding his way into the starting lineup. You just need to expect this sort of volatility with Matthews going forward as a slot receiver in middling passing offense.
The Steelers are one of the few offenses where over 50 percent of the targets flow through two receiving options. Week 10 reminded you why you play Martavis Bryant. There's a chance you can end up with a 4-40 type line, but you'll take that when the potential reward is this type of explosive day. Bryant is a star in the making, and the best downfield threat in the NFL. However, it's his shockingly high share of the team's targets (24 percent since Week 6) that makes him a far safer bet in fantasy than we could have anticipated.
The Seahawks offense just isn't fully functional right now, with Russell Wilson playing just above average football behind a crippling offensive line. We know Doug Baldwin has these random blowup games in his arsenal, but often follows them up with several clunkers in a row. It's not his fault, he's a solid NFL receiver, but don't chase anything here.
Jimmy Graham continues to be the most frustrating fantasy asset in the NFL. Earlier in the season he's posted the numbers we're looking for when Seattle actually targeted him, but in Week 10, he just played bad football.
With Case Keenum getting the nod to start in Week 11, perhaps this order and output gets shaken up. Nick Foles was quite easily the worst starting quarterback in the NFL prior to his benching. However, don't make any moves to roster any of these pass catchers in fantasy until we see the results this Sunday. Even if Keenum plays well, this will still be one of the lowest volume pass offense in the league.
You may as well refer to this passing offense as Mike Evans and friends right now. Evans stabilized his performance after a multi-drop game in Week 9. He wasn't perfect, but the improvement was encouraging. You start Evans every week with his ceiling immense, and a target share that helps keeps his floor afloat.
With Justin Hunter sustaining a season-ending injury, Dorial Green-Beckham should see more targets as the sole big downfield threat. However, seeing him blanked from the box score was highly disconcerting. The fact that a Hunter injury was needed to project a bigger role should tell you all you need to know about where we're at with this coaching staff's plans for him. Nevertheless, the talent is as real as it gets and you should absolutely roster him in the hopes the opportunity can begin approaching his ability.
As mentioned in the Washing backfield section, Tennessee just showed us when a team faces the Saints defense, their performances should be viewed as a clear outlier. None of the receivers truly had a chance to get work over the course of the game with Wahsington running away from the Saints early. Jamison Crowder led the team in receiving, and deserves some recognition. He's been the steadiest wide receiver on the team this season, and a calming force in the slot. He'll be an interesting option next year if this passing offense takes another step forward. Just like the Titans, Washington will follow up their duel against the Saints with a matchup against Carolina. In that scenario, Jordan Reed will be the only safe start. His role in the red zone, and share of the passing targets in every game, make him the safer tight ends around.