A little bit of everything this week in Targets & Touches.
Shock: could Riley Cooper help win you a championship? And better yet, is there a wide receiver you should pick up on the waiver wire ahead of Cooper? This is like going through your Halloween bag and finding seven or eight different varieties of your favorite candies you can set aside and eat all the way to Christmas. So, let's eat.
I know, rub your eyes. Dwayne Bowe had 12 targets on Sunday. Welcome back to ... well, not quite fantasy football but at least to being a player in the waiver-wire conversation! I'm not going to suddenly go crazy that Bowe is back. After all, he only had 67 receiving yards. But the Bowe has delivered in fantasy before, so you know he has the talent, and eventually the offense will have to go back to him if Kansas City is going to move the football the rest of the season. The Chiefs struggled in a big way against Buffalo, and their offense has been slowing down gradually since Week 5. He's still their best playmaker on the outside so he's worth waiting on for at least a little while longer. If Bowe's available, stash him for a potential stretch run, and if you have him on your bench, don't drop him quite yet.
Lance Moore returned from injury and received 12 targets from Drew Brees in the Saints loss to the Jets. With Marques Colston injured and ineffective, by default he becomes the Saints no. 1 receiver. Kenny Stills was nowhere to be found in Week 9, and believe me, Brees is going to trust the guy who's been through it with him before over the flashy rookie. I'll take whatever production I can get from Moore on 12 targets a game compared to the potential of one long pass to Stills. While everyone else is racing to pick up Riley Cooper, make sure you snag Moore. It's pretty simple: do you want the Saints No. 1 wide receiver or not?
For the second straight game, Emmanuel Sanders saw 11 targets from Ben Roethsliberger. Antonio Brown is still the No. 1 option in Pittsburgh, but Sanders has some sneaky good value, especially in PPR leagues or if you're looking for a flex as the bye weeks conclude. Once the byes end his value is uncertain, but he should be owned for at least the next couple of weeks.
Riley Cooper. What can you say about the guy? A tremendous day during a record-setting performance by Nick Foles. He had six targets (with five receptions) as part of his breakout performance. I know a lot of people are split on his fantasy future -- but I like him for the rest of 2013. This is now Foles' job, and every time a new quarterback takes over he picks his own favorite guys to throw the football to, and Cooper has Foles' attention. Obviously he's not going to do what he did Sunday every week, but he's pretty dependable as long as Foles is under center. Make him a high-waiver priority this week, and conversely, if you have DeSean Jackson, don't fret. It's not like he's going to disappear and Cooper's going to take all of his targets. Jackson's still got great value and should be started every week.
I've already started getting the "Should I play Chris Ivory every other week?" tweets and while you can't play him next week (Jets are on a bye), he needs to be started going forward. The weather is getting cold and the Jets are thinking playoff run. Bilal Powell's role is being diminished because Ivory is now becoming the angry, downhill, no-one-wants-to-tackle-me-especially-in-20-degree-weather running back the Jets envisioned when they traded for him this offseason. The offense is continuing to flow toward Ivory. He has 59 touches the last three games compared to 26 for Powell. For those of you thinking this is going to be a time-share situation, it's not. And this is where Ivory's injury situation will help his fantasy value the rest of the season. With just 74 carries on the season, (only 34 through the first five weeks) the Jets can afford to load him up 20+ times a game from here on out because he's fresher. He's a flex and more than likely will be a strong No. 2 running back as the season unfolds.
Yes, Chris Johnson (26 touches) had a huge fantasy game Sunday. And yes, the motivation of hearing he could lose carries to Shonn Greene likely played a big part in it. But don't devalue Greene just because Johnson had his first touchdown of 2013. Greene turned 10 touches into 11.6 fantasy points against the Rams. Greene is the goal line back -- both of Johnson's touchdowns came from outside the 10-yard line. Greene had three goal line carries on the day, and I'll take that during the long haul over Johnson's hit-and-miss production. When Tennessee gets close, Greene, who has the 12th most red zone carries since 2010, will be the guy. He's a nice flex option at least through the bye weeks and beyond if Johnson doesn't maintain consistency. I know I'm saying this after Johnson had a 29-point fantasy day, but I'm more confident in Greene's production between now and the end of the season. I don't think Johnson suddenly becomes the player he was three years ago. This was a great game but let's treat it for what it was: a man playing lights out with his job security on the line.
Danny Woodhead should still be cemented in your flex position. He had 16 touches out of the Chargers backfield against Washington, compared to just seven for Ryan Mathews. Woodhead nearly gave you a touchdown that got called short of the goal line late in the fourth quarter so he could have easily given you a 16-point fantasy day. He's been incredibly consistent as he'll rush for around 30 yards per game and give you about 50 receiving with an average of a touchdown every other game. That's 10-plus points out of your flex spot, which is all you can ask for unless your roster is loaded. Mathews had some nice recent success but Woodhead is the player to trust on a weekly basis.
Jason Smith writes fantasy and other pith for nfl.com. You can see him as the host of NFL Fantasy Live that airs Sunday through Friday on NFL Network at 5pmET/2pmPT and also at 1amET/10pmPT. Listen to him on the NFL Fantasy Live podcast available at nfl.com and on itunes. Reach out to him on Google plus or 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.