Opportunity Report: Week 13 passing game targets

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.

With all hands on deck for the Cardinals receiving corps, there's some volatility to the individual players' weekly outlook. We should expect Floyd, Brown and Fitzgerald to regularly be the three most targeted players, although the order will rotate weekly. Brown and Floyd are a bit more boom/bust, but Brown has been more efficient all season. Fitzgerald has the highest weekly PPR floor, but with all the options here, we can't expect him to maintain a WR1 ceiling. J.J. Nelson's continued involvement and David Johnson's acumen as a pass catcher should help round out the group, but also threaten the floor of the big three.

The crumbling Falcons offense only flows through Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. With the poor play behind center, neither player looks capable of mortgaging their massive volume into the ceilings we saw earlier in the season. Freeman and Jones owners are now finally justified in worrying about a playoff stretch that features two games with Carolina.

Kamar Aiken's volume of the target share makes him a safe floor play in PPR leagues. Yet, we see here the volatility that comes with him being outstretched from a comfortable complimentary receiver role, and playing with Matt Schaub. Outside of Buck Allen (21 catches in three weeks), who is benefitting more from the Marc Trestman reception bump than Justin Forsett ever did, and Aiken, you can punt this passing game entirely in fantasy.

As Rotoworld's Graham Barfield pointed out this morning, this was one of the first games this season where Sammy Watkins didn't own a large share of the passing targets but still produced in fantasy:

Watkins only has 18 second half targets on the season, compared to 35 in the opening two quarters. His inconsistent usage makes him impossible trust, but his talent and ceiling make sitting him quite foolish.

For the time being, it looks like Corey Brown's return sent Devin Funchess back to a non-feature role in the passing game. Funchess played just 32 percent of the snaps in Week 13, compared to 81 percent in the two games prior. The big rookie showed off his immense gifts during the Washington game, but his Reception Perception evaluation indicated there was still more than enough evidence to show he wasn't ready for a featured role. The Panthers apparently agree.

With Martellus Bennett back, he siphons off the value Zach Miller could potentially hold, but Miller still cancels Bennett out. With the exception of Alshon Jeffery, nothing in this pass catching corps interests us for fantasy.

The Bengals blew out the Browns 38-7, making this spread out distribution difficult to use for forward projection. However, we did see how making this a two receiver concentrated offense makes the outlook more predictable for fantasy. With Tyler Eifert not expected to miss much time, that won't continue much longer.

Austin Davis has a preference for Brian Hartline, apparently. This was the second straight game the veteran had double digit targets. With Johnny Manziel rumored near to getting the starting nod for the rest of the season, change could be on its way. With Travis Benjamin going down early in Week 13, we need to monitor his status. If he sits, we only trust Gary Barnidge for fantasy, and that comes with a much lower ceiling in the Manziel-led offense.

With Brock Osweiler under center, and the running game the focus of Gary Kubiak's offense, the Broncos would prefer to remain one of the NFL's lower passing volume offenses. It's a winning formula for the team, but slices off the ceiling of several Denver passing assets. Gone are the days when both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas produced starting numbers on a week-in-week-out basis. Of their remaining games, only Week 15's duel with the Steelers looks like a contest where they'll need to open things up.

Detroit's offense is at least treading water, which is more than we could say during the first two and a half months of the season. With the current functionality of the offense, we have clear cut roles and usability guidelines for the offense. Calvin Johnson is back to at least a high-ceiling WR2 option, Golden Tate a starter in PPR and Theo Riddick a fine RB4/flex in PPR, as well.

Richard Rodgers made a play to save the Packers season, and had the best game of his career against a Lions defense with one of the worst touchdown rates allowed. Of course, that matchup was a big reason for what was a massive outlier game. At this point in the season, strange as it is to say, we can't rely on any pass catcher in this offense for anything consistent down the stretch.

DeAndre Hopkins caught a gorgeous touchdown in the second half, which eased the fantasy players with him in their lineup after a quiet first half. The Texans receiver ran away with the WR1 title early in the season but only has 124 yards and a single touchdown with a 59 percent catch rate the last two weeks. While there's no reason to fear monger over his playoff outlook, things have changed in Houston. With the defense soaring to the heights of preseason expectations, and the team running less offensive plays as a result, Houston doesn't have to get into the game scripts that frequently plagued them early in the season. Immense volume and Houston's offensive pace mixed with his ability made Hopkins the WR1 overall, despite poor quarterback play. It's not to take anything away from Hopkins' prowess as an individual player, but winning football does shave off come of his fantasy production.

Having Matt Hasselbeck under center finally showed up for the Colts. All Indianapolis pass catchers torpedoed in the wake of a boat race courtesy of the Steelers. A Week 14 date with Jacksonville should be just what they need to rebound, however.

With Allen Hurns out of the picture, Allen Robinson saw a season-high 15 targets. Bortles just about only had eyes for Robinson on Sunday, as he absorbed 41.7 percent of the team's targets. Robinson is a tremendous player, and now sits as the WR3 overall in standard fantasy leagues. The only question remaining with him now is just how high he will go in 2016 fantasy drafts?

T.J. Yeldon's involvement in the passing game is important to his fantasy value. He doesn't have a game this season with less than three targets. Hurns' return will shake things up for the other pass catchers on this roster, with Julius Thomas being the only relevant player dinged.

Over the last two weeks Jeremy Maclin owns a 43.1 percent share of the Chiefs' targets and catch rate of 85.9 percent. With a favorable rest of season schedule, as the clear leader of the passing game, Maclin is an every week fantasy starter.

Ryan Tannehill only threw 19 passes in this game, which was rather astounding considering how much he seemed to believe the coordinator switch benefited him. The Dolphins will try to play out the string as a run-heavy team, but they are not a good enough squad to not lean on the pass in at least a few spots. DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry should both have value, and as they did in this game, will lead the team in target share. For fantasy, you can expect that lead to provide them with more than five targets apiece in most games.

At this point, you'd have to be quite the optimist to start a Vikings pass catcher. If you wanted to drop Stefon Diggs for a high-value handcuff or a usable running back like Shaun Draughn, do it without mercy. With such a low-volume offense to contend with, it's hard to tell yourself the story where Diggs returns the production of that mid-season swoon.

Brandon LaFell is just having a poor season, and making his surprising top-25 fantasy season of 2014 look more and more like a fluke. He leads the NFL with the most targets in the NFL without a touchdown. If you want to send him back to the waiver wire from whence he came, no one should talk you out of it. With Danny Amendola back, he's the clear wide receiver leader here. There won't be many game scripts where Amendola gets less than 10 targets.

Scott Chandler showed why he can be a plug and play fantasy option for Gronk, but doesn't offer much to the offense in featured role. Outside of Amendola and James White, you cannot justify playing any Patriot receiver without Gronk in the picture.

Brandin Cooks got loose in a busted coverage by the Panthers secondary, which propelled his fantasy day. At this point, he's an every week starter, but still comes with volatility, especially when the Saints are on the road. New Orleans gets the Bucs, Lions and Jaguars for the duration of the fantasy playoffs, with only Tampa Bay as a road trip. You'll want to find reasons to get Cooks, and even Willie Snead when he's healthy, into your lineups.

Outside of Odell Beckham, the only player to take notice of is undrafted rookie tight end, Will Tye. Not much in the way of an athlete, Tye shows good hands and concentration in traffic. He's the last man standing in the Giants' tight end room, and has 19 targets over the last three weeks, bringing him into the streaming radar. With the way Rueben Randle keeps making mistakes, it makes sense for the steady Tye to assume a larger role.

We say this every week, and nothing changed in their most recent game. The Jets are a highly concentrated, two wide receiver offense.

This was a rebound game for the Oakland passing game, as Derek Carr chucked up 330 yards and three scores. Seth Roberts doesn't figure to post another stat line like this, but is worth keeping an eye on. His role was on the uptick of late, and this is not his first game with a strong showing of big plays. The offense flows through Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but Roberts may be a player on the rise for dynasty leagues.

Zach Ertz (66 targets) caught his first touchdown of the season, and he was one of the clearest touchdown regression candidates in the NFL this late in the season. Regardless, you are hard pressed to find a reason to trust any of these players on your fantasy roster.

Markus Wheaton at least looks like a competent No. 3 wide receiver in this offense. Being that it's one of the best in the NFL, there's some value there. However, the distribution so heavily favors Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and DeAngelo Williams out of the backfield, it won't amount to much without an end zone trip.

Steve Johnson went down early in this game, and Dontrelle Inman left motionless with a neck injury. This is yet another passing offense that you can punt for fantasy purposes, as Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green may well be the only healthy competent players they have left in Week 14.

Blaine Gabbert really only targets Boldin and Draughn, who are both safe floor plays.

At this point, Doug Baldwin is a fantasy starter. He has a great playoff schedule, and is in the middle of the best season of his pro career.

There will be no viable passing here thanks to this man:

(Hat tip to JJ Zachariason )

Austin Seferian-Jenkins retuned to play his first game since Week 2, and passed up Vincent Jackson in the target share. Perhaps that may not be a permanent situation, but he'll be a fixture in the passing game as long as he's healthy. He plays the Saints in Week 14, who have allowed 10 touchdowns to tight ends this season.

Dorial Green-Beckham is hard to trust, as he only played 59 percent of the snaps and scored his touchdown on a long ball. However, we saw the talent on display that will make him one of the top sleepers for 2016.

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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