Opportunity Report: Week 15 passing 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.

Larry Fitzgerald's new role in this passing game tanks his fantasy stock. Over the last five games, Larry Fitzgerald has an average depth of target of just 6.5 and plays almost exclusively from the slot. With that usage, he has a crawlspace like ceiling. When his volume drops below 20 percent of the team targets, as it did in this game, he even loses a usable floor. At this point and going forward, he is the third-most valuable fantasy receiver in the Arizona offense.

The song remains the same for the Falcons. Julio Jones dominates the target share while Devonta Freeman essentially operates as the No. 2 receiver. Atlanta desperately needs to upgrade their pass-catching corps in 2016.

If you used Kamar Aiken in the hopes of secure volume being enough for your WR3 spot, you were greatly rewarded. Bear in mind, he did accrue most of his production on a 48-yard Hail Mary touchdown to end the second half. However, the production is a trend worth following for Aiken. Since Steve Smith went down for the season, Aiken averages six catches and 78 yards per game and found the end zone four times. He's clearly not fit to be a No. 1 receiver, but 2015 was quietly a solid breakout affair for Aiken.

Sammy Watkins averages nine targets per game the last four weeks, and amassed 459 yards and six touchdowns in that span. His game is coming together before our eyes, and the Bills funneled the offense through him the last month. He's a fun player to watch grow, as his route running potential is quite stellar. He has another exploitable matchup in Week 16 as the Bills welcome the Cowboys to Buffalo.

We're at the point where you bench Ted Ginn at your own risk. You know you're playing with fire and the most volatile receiver in the league. However, he has six touchdowns in three games. If you feel your championship team needs pure upside, then Ginn is the best way to unlock that outside of the high-end receivers. Elsewhere in the passing game, Devin Funchess and Corey Brown chipped in, but are not worth looking at outside of dynasty leagues.

Alshon Jeffery's, what felt like, 100th injury of the season threw the passing distribution out of whack, with Eddie Royal and Marc Mariani emerging as contributors. However, a pass-catching running back and Zach Miller still led the way. Miller didn't access his ceiling in this spot, but still came away with 11.7 PPR points and caught 100 percent of his targets.

With AJ McCarron under center, there was some thought that he would get tunnel vision for A.J. Green, due to his history with high-end wideouts in college. That did not happen, however, as McCarron spread the ball around on a light workload of only 21 attempts. With the second-year passer under center, this offense figures to be more conservative, despite Hue Jackson's insistence that they won't change the system they used under Andy Dalton.

The volume of the pass offense in general figures to decrease with Johnny Manziel under center. Despite Travis Benjamin's great play this year, Gary Barnidge is the only one we can consider in our lineups without a second thought.

Kellen Moore showed much more of preference to look for Dez Bryant and not much else than his predecessor. However, Bryant still has a capped ceiling with Moore, who ran the offense rather poorly.

We're back at the point where we began with the Denver offense, where we only consider the two primary receivers. Brock Osweiler's play deteriorated over the past few weeks, to a point where he cannot support ancillary targets. He struggles to come off his first read, which should funnel targets to Sanders and Thomas. Expect to see Peyton Manning back soon, and for all your Broncos assets to carry volatility.

We never thought it would come to this, but suddenly Golden Tate is the most trustworthy player in the Lions passing game. With a target share consistently over 20 percent, and an average depth of target under 5.0, Tate is locked in for a predictable stat line. Even better, Tate is a fixture of Jim Bob Cooter's red zone offense. Since Week 8, Tate has 40 percent of the team red zone targets (12), for 10 catches and five touchdowns.

The passing offense in Green Bay is unstable. Randall Cobb looked to be back on top last week, but fell to third in the pecking order on Sunday. James Jones led the team in target share, but we know he is the most up and down ride in this offense. Davante Adams remains only a down. You'll feel better not entrusting your fantasy championship game to any Packers receiver next week, as weird as that is to say. Jeff Janis is a player we all want to see more of, but he failed to catch any of his four targets.

As he has all season, DeAndre Hopkins dominated the targets share on Sunday. If he can get eight catches for 94 yards on 11 targets from mostly Brandon Weeden, he may actually be able to do anything.

There is little synchronicity or consistency to the passing distribution in the Colts offense with Matt Hasselbeck starting, but consistently leaving games due to injury. All Indianapolis assets are extremely volatile, but enter a great matchup in Week 16 with the Dolphins.

Perhaps it was the pass-heavy, come-from-behind game script, but Denard Robinson's involvement in the pass attack was interesting. T.J. Yeldon never saw that sort of volume through the air, so that was an interesting development, but not one we can likely count on going forward. The necessity for Blake Bortles to dump the ball off caused both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns to see less volume than we're used to.

With the Chiefs on a winning formula, they won't up the volume of their passing offense unnecessarily. Naturally, their No. 1 target in Jeremy Maclin showed up, but Travis Kelce made a small dent as well. Kelce had not topped 70 receiving yards since Week 7, but caught 85.7 percent of his targets for 73 yards on Sunday.

DeVante Parker had a much better game in Week 15 than what he showed in Week 14 against the Giants. He's been out for at least 90 percent of the team's snaps in every game since Rishard Matthews went down with a rib injury. We know Parker has big-play potential, and he might be worth a look as an upside flex play against the Colts in Week 16, if he gets matched up with non-Vontae Davis Indianapolis corners. Parker is still raw, and splits the targets behind Jarvis Landry with Kenny Stills, however.

Week 15 was Teddy Bridgewater's best and most efficient game of the season, but the volume was still quite low with just 20 targets dispersed to the passing weapons. Stefon Diggs bounced back for fantasy, but at 20 percent of the team targets with only four, he's still as shaky of a play as ever. More research during the week could change the projection, but you may want to shade on the side of not chasing those points in Week 16.

The New England passing offense is pretty straightforward when Gronk is in the picture. Danny Amendola suffered another injury and left this game. His absence could shake the distribution up, and make Brandon LaFell, coming off his best game in weeks, an interesting dart throw in DFS down the stretch. Talks of a Julian Edelman return in Week 16 are out there, but it's hard to envision that actually taking place.

It looks like Benjamin Watson is an every-week starter at tight end. It's been an amazing season for the veteran tight end, who is in the midst of a Pro Bowl-caliber season at age 35. Watson leads the team in red zone targets with 14, and saw a whopping six last night against the Lions. Willie Snead (12 targets) and Brandin Cooks (13 targets) are also consistent parts of this passing offense. Cooks is at his best when his other two teammates are in full force to take defensive attention.

It's all about Odell Beckham. We are so privileged to be fans of the game at the same time he is playing it. In terms of the Giants offense, it's time to view Will Tye as a legitimate contributor. He's had at least five targets in four of his last five games, and Eli Manning and the Giants have long held a preference for the tight end positon as a steady short passing option. If you don't have a top-five tight end at the position, Tye is well worth weekly consideration as a streamer.

Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. Just rinse and repeat every week. Bilal Powell essentially functions as the third receiver of late, and that makes him an every-week flex play, especially in high-pace games. Quincy Enunwa regularly plays the third receiver spot, and this was his best game of the season. He's someone to monitor for deep dynasty leagues.

It was good to see Amari Cooper get back on track. After totaling 69 yards on 16 targets over the previous two games, Cooper got open at will against the Green Bay secondary, despite trailing Michael Crabtree in target share. Seth Roberts looked as if he emerged as the clear third wideout in the Raiders passing game, but had just one target that he failed to haul in. Instead, former sleeper darling Andre Holmes came out of nowhere to garner eight targets. Holmes has that same amount from Weeks 9 through 14.

When we drew up the Eagles passing game at the beginning of the preseason, this was what we imagined it would look like, with Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews leading the way to big fantasy days. However, remember that this was a clear outlier game for the Eagles passing attack. Coming into Week 15, a non-running back pass catcher finished with double digit targets just once, and more than 20 percent of the team targets just twice since Week 11.

Pittsburgh showed the blueprint to taking down a great secondary like the Broncos. You just keep hammering your great players with targets. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, no one can match the embarrassment of riches that the Steelers carry in their passing game, and that includes Markus Wheaton now. The much maligned receiver has target totals of 13, six, seven and 11 the past four weeks. He developed into a functional third wide receiver this season, and in the league's hottest offense, that has value.

Antonio Gates, with target totals of nine, eight and nine the last three games, remains a solid floor play at tight end. The interesting player here in Danny Woodhead. While his fantasy scoring was quite robust, his target share was right in line with what we saw over the last month. Heading into Week 15, Woodhead had target totals of six, seven and six his last three games. With Melvin Gordon on the shelf for the season, and Steve Johnson still on the mend, Woodhead could push for double digit targets against Oakland Thursday night, a feat he accomplished twice this season already.

Trying to leverage off of Anquan Boldin's volume (9.25 targets per game the last four weeks) was a strategy that sunk you in Weeks 13 and 14. However, Boldin posted a fine game in Week 15. If you want to try to play that guessing game in the fantasy championship, good luck, but you better be desperate. Outside of the ageless one, you are not touching this passing game where 11 players saw at least one target, and nine managed at least one catch.

The Seahawks did not need much passing to win this game, and there were only 29 distributed. Luckily for fantasy owners, Russell Wilson is crushing efficiency marks, so all the pass catchers essentially came through. Doug Baldwin continued his massive scoring streak, and deserves a massive amount of respect for putting up stud numbers down the stretch. There is no other way around. Tyler Lockett also came through with an impressive touchdown. Lastly, Jermaine Kearse remains a fine desperation flex play based off Wilson's play alone.

Tavon Austin came through for the owners with the gall to start him in the playoffs, chipping in an additional 32 yards and a second score on the ground. However, as we've preached for a few weeks now, using anyone from this offense is a dangerous dance. Case Keenum distributed just 16 targets, and it took his absolute best effort to come away with big games for Austin, Kenny Britt and even a usable outing for Jared Cook.

It's been a trend all season, where Mike Evans just gets pummeled with targets whenever Vincent Jackson sits. When you consider the other options for Jameis Winston, it makes sense. The veteran receiver looks unlikely to return in 2015, making Evans a must-start in fantasy for the championship games, and an upside play in DFS. While Evans did not play his best football this season, not a huge knock considering his potential, the volume is just too much to ignore.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins did not play well in this game, and only salvaged the outing with a late touchdown. The young tight end just does not bring the hype to the field on a consistent basis, and his health is always a concern. Even with Jackson out, he only managed to accrue six targets, the same number he had in each of his first two games back from injury.

Dorial Green-Beckham continues watching his role grow in the Titans offense. He has targets totals of five, six, seven and nine the past four games, a clear steady increase. With Marcus Mariota out of for the season, Green-Beckham may not have the safest floor imaginable down the stretch. However, backup passer Zach Mettenberger is well known for his reckless tendencies, and will throw the ball into traffic, which fits the rookie receiver's game. The Titans garner a matchup with the Texans next week, and Green-Beckham could have DFS value written all over him in that spot.


With Kirk Cousins playing lights out football (you read that right), all of his targets get a nice bump. DeSean Jackson makes a huge difference for Cousins, as he is a huge reason why the ascending quarterback keeps hitting his ceiling in favorable streaming matchups:

Against the Eagles in Week 16 (#NarrativeStreet alert), both are high-end plays against a poor and banged up secondary.

Jordan Reed established himself as one of the NFL's best tight ends this season, which is why he garners such a consistent volume in this offense. Reed has either eight or nine targets in every game dating back to Week 11.

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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