Originally posted on Fantasy Sports Locker Room  |  Last updated 12/18/13

With Jay Cutler under center both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery gave top-end WR performances, as we’ve come to expect. Martellus Bennett made six catches for 71 yards and was a useful TE. Cutler threw two picks. Arguably, you could have seen all of that coming. Where it gets interesting though, is when you note that Cutler threw no incompletions on passes intended for either of the Bennetts, or Alshon Jeffery and six (including both picks) to Brandon Marshall who saw 12 targets and made six receptions. This is noteworthy moving into next week against Philadelphia. Again, Jeffery is in unquestioned must start range, but with Cutler under center he fell back to second fiddle after having 41 opportunities to Marshall’s 38 over the last four games. Well, we’ve learned one thing about Keenan Allen over the last two weeks – he doesn’t need a lot of volume to be a top scorer. The rookie receiver has had five catches and four TDs on just eight targets in his last two outings. Rivers now looks to him in the red zone in a similar way that he did Eddie Royal to start the season. Meanwhile, the Ladarius Green fun is over, with the receivers back healthy, he hasn’t had a catch in two weeks. Pierre Garcon had a typical target load, with ten looks against Atlanta, but the results were quite different. He connected with first-time starter (this season) Kirk Cousins on a 53 yard pass that turned into a TD and wound up with seven receptions for 127 yards. Interestingly, Santana Moss came in right behind him with nine targets and caught eight of them, also scoring. With just one week remaining in the fantasy season, and such a small sample, it’s too early to assume that this is an actionable trend of course. With Wes Welker unavailable for Denver, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker played every snap, and Julius Thomas missed just five. Between them, they had 16 targets and it was Andre Caldwell who was the apple of Peyton Manning’s eye (6/10/59/2TD), playing 37 of 54 snaps. That is fewer snaps than Welker typically plays, but still a good chunk. This isn’t actionable if Welker makes a quick return – Caldwell hadn’t had more than one catch in a game all season – but it puts him back on the dynasty/keeper radar and is a move worth making if it looks like Welker will miss another game (this is his second concussion in two weeks, so it isn’t inconceivable – he has missed early week practice). Roddy White came into the game questionable with a knee injury, no shock in a season filled with those concerns, and wound up with five catches for 53 yards on seven targets. Each Falcons pass catcher of note (Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas) had seven with the veteran TE catching a score. If I’m starting any receiver next week, it’s White. We’ll dispense of the Jordan Cameron notes first: he followed a strong outing in New England with a 3/6/23 performance, back to the quiet weeks that had surrounded his Week 14 effort. Beyond that, all you care about is Josh Gordon who made just three catches on ten targets, but did manage a garbage time score. Of interest, for the second straight week he was criminally underused in the first half, picking up just one of his ten looks during that time. If you’re following Bills, you’ll note that EJ Manuel was much more effective this week, as part of what was deemed a simplified gameplan to suit his level of preparedness. That plan featured Robert Woods heavily (5/6/86/TD) with a dose of Scott Chandler (five catches on five targets), very little Steve Johnson (three looks) and no Marquise Goodwin. It’s just one game, so hard to draw any significant conclusions from but it is relevant given the focus on simplifying things for  the rookie. Do note: Johnson played Sunday after learning Saturday of the death of his mother – so, it is hard to know as to whether this had an impact on his use as well. Ace Sanders scored his first pro touchdown, but had just two catches on three targets – down from an average of eight over the last month. I’ve been on the bandwagon for a while, so it was nice to see him cross the chalk but three looks are troubling. He’s not usable as anything more than a WR4/5 right now despite the score. Mike Brown meanwhile, had seven looks with Cecil Shorts out of the lineup and Kerry Taylor saw an uptick in playing time. Both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola were remarkably effective despite a tough matchup against Miami and the fact that their usage was incredibly predictable. With 31 targets between them they made 23 catches for 270 yards (13/17/139/TD, 10/14/131). It looked easy in the middle of the field with Brady simply picking the open man and getting the ball there, but the offense failed in the redzone, a predictable fact when relying on undersized WRs and facing a defense that had given up just four TDs to WRs on the season coming in. Still, they’re both attractive WR2s the rest of the way. Josh Boyce made four catches on seven targets but he will likely lose snaps when/if either Aaron Dobson or Kenbrell Thompkins get back on the field. Don’t read anything into the Hoo-man’s TD (1/2/13). When the dust settled, Mike Wallace (6/9/105/TD), Brian Hartline (5/7/70) and Rishard Matthews (5/8/64) were the most productive pass catchers for Miami, but Ryan Tannehill did a great job of spreading the ball around to whomever was open for the Fish. That meant a quiet day for Charles Clay (two targets) who I’d ranked as my number three TE on the week. It was nice to see another strong outing from Wallace, though. He successfully bounced back after being held down against Pittsburgh the week prior. DeSean Jackson was active for Philadelphia, drawing his highest target load of the Nick Foles era (15) and making 10 catches for an impressive 195 yards. Riley Cooper saw plenty of volume as well but turned in a quiet 5/9/31 line, while Zach Ertz picked up nine targets as well – his highest number of the season. He’ll be a player of great interest in 2014. With Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart sitting this one out, Minnesota learned something about it’s passing game… it isn’t awful. Matt Cassel looked the part of a pro QB, and is absolutely the best on their roster. He connected 11 times with Greg Jennings on 13 targets for 163 yards and a score. Cordarelle Patterson picked up seven touches – adding two carries to a 5/6/35/TD line – and Jerome Simpson saw just three looks. Unfortunately, for those invested in the passing game, we’re expecting AP back in Week 16 and you won’t see Cassel given the same type of leeway to chuck it against the Bengals and their depleted defense. Doug Baldwin had a nice day for Seattle (6/7/71/TD) while Golden Tate disappointed (2/6/25) but Tate just missed… a golden opportunity… failing to secure what would have been an impressive TD of his own. Heading into a matchup against Arizona, I’d have liked to have seen a more productive outing from Zach Miller (1/3/8) especially relative to Luke Wilson (2/2/23) but the veteran TE did play more snaps and is the player most likely to benefit from the juicy matchup. The Giants passing game (and offense as a whole) was an unmitigated disaster against Seattle. Victor Cruz suffered a concussion and other ailments, and is likely going to be shut down for the season. With a 2/7/25 effort as part of an awful outing, that’s probably a good thing anyway as it removes decision making on you end regarding his matchup against Detroit. Cruz was still the best receiver in New York on Sunday, though. I’d be inclined to recommend Rueben Randle with Cruz out had he not gone 0/2 with a drop. Hakeem Nicks didn’t have that problem as none of the balls thrown his way hit the ground. He made one catch, and the other four were intercepted. Credit Marques Colston for defying my expectations this week. He caught his first road touchdown of the season and saw 13 targets from Drew Brees, catching nine of them for 92 yards. Jimmy Graham was a quiet 2/6 despite playing virtually all (73) of New Orleans’ offensive snaps. St. Louis’ pass rush did a great job, but this game (played inside a dome, no less) highlights the challenges that the Saints face when taking their show on the road (which they’ll do next week against Carolina). In Tavon Austin’s absence, Kellen Clemens spread the ball around evenly. No pass catcher had more than four targets and thus, no pass catcher was useful. We shouldn’t be shocked by low yield games from Larry Fitzgerald (6/9/49) and Michael Floyd (2/5/33) against a Titans defense that allows the second fewest fantasy points to WRs. We should be disappointed in Fitzgerald’s concussion and mindful of it’s effect on his availability but also the level of targets for Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts next week, should he miss time. With Justin Hunter deactivated for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, Kenny Britt played 62 snaps – by far his most since Week 2. He was targeted five times, catching three balls for 29 yards. Not exactly a showcase worthy of a player looking for a new team in 2014. Mike Preston, active because the team shut down Hunter also had five targets but was a key cog in the team’s late drives to tie the game, catching two TDs. Delanie Walker went off from the TE position with eight catches on ten targets, suggesting that the Titans wisely targeted the Arizona linebackers with the TE position, and became the latest in a long line of TEs (for a minute I thought about posting a link to a lineup of naked asses, but I refrained, it’s legit) to score against Arizona this year. Oh, and Kendall Wright was ridiculous: he saw 19 targets, caught 12 of them (including 6/7/96 against Patrick Peterson) for 150 yards, including a couple of clutch catches on Tennessee’s drive to tie the game. This week makes last Sunday’s three target outing all the more shocking, but moving forward he’s locked in to big volume again. It was a less than awesome day for Case Keenum, and Andre Johnson who has voiced his displeasure with the men throwing the ball in Houston before must be disappointed. He had nine targets but made just four catches for 18 yards – without Garrett Graham or Owen Daniels available, you’d have expected it to be his day, but Ryan Griffin (6/6) was the main beneficiary while DeAndre Hopkins (3/5/52) also posted a better line. Da’Rick Rogers’ big Week 14 had a residual effect in Week 15 for Indianapolis. While he had a drop this week and was just 2/5/23 his outing in Week 14 forced the Texans to pay some attention to the vertical passing game outside of T.Y. Hilton, and that left Hilton free to produce. After failing to top 50 yards or five catches in four straight games, Hilton posted an 8/12/78 line, his first respectable outing since Week 10 and while it won’t win you a game on its own, it was something to be pleased with if you’re a Colts fan or a Hilton investor. Darrius Heyward-Bey didn’t have a look. In a positive sign for anyone invested in the pre-Michael Crabtree situation with the 49ers, Vernon Davis’ targets were up this week and Anquan Boldin’s were consistent. Both had seven, and Davis was in the endzone again – the 5th straight week he has scored. Also, with Bruce Miller likely to miss the rest of the season his three targets per game have to go somewhere. That’s not a bounty by any means, but it is good news if you’re hoping that each of the three pass catchers can stay relevant. Vincent Jackson caught five balls on eight targets from Mike Glennon and is destined to finish as one of the top 10 most targeted wideouts in the league this season. It looks like he’ll be paired with Glennon again in 2013, and as his QB progresses, hopefully Jackson’s 51.5% catch rate (by far the lowest of anyone in his target range) will come up a bit for 2014. I didn’t see much of the Jets/Panthers game. In fact, I intentionally turned away while New York had the ball on offense and caught a few Carolina drives, but Santonio Holmes’ day was pretty bad. He spoke out about the Panthers secondary being their weak link and proceeded to catch two balls on eight chances for 14 yards. Worst of all, five of the targets came against a corner who ranked as a -2.3 on the day per PFF and Holmes/Smith still couldn’t connect. Jeremy Kerley drew just two looks after seven in his return last week. With the Panthers settling for field goals early no one had a ‘wow’ day for Carolina, but Greg Olsen kept up his steady TE1 relevance, and Brandon LaFell (3/3/61) again out-gained Steve Smith (3/4/20). I was interested to see how things shook out in the passing game for Kansas City without Dexter McCluster in the lineup (he’d been averaging almost seven targets per game since their Week 10 bye) but then Jamaal Charles was so ridiculously good that no one else had to do anything. If McCluster misses another one, I still think Dwayne Bowe picks up some of his work and ranks as a WR2 (3/4/24). Andre Holmes had seven targets and scored this week. He’s averaging 7.5 since Week 12 and I’m officially intrigued by his 2013 prospects. This week, he did it with Denarius Moore in the lineup. Moore had two targets and caught both of them for 46 yards in his return. Rod Streater led all receivers with nine looks, marking 19 over the last two weeks (somewhere Kendall Wright scoffs that it took Streater two weeks to accomplish the task). There was no one single culprit in the meltdown of Dallas’ secondary, though Orlando Scandrick had a pretty ugly game, surrendering a score he could have stopped and allowing five completions on six passes thrown his way (for 84 yards). There was no one receiving hero for Green Bay, either. Jordy Nelson led the team in targets (eight) followed by James Jones (seven, three catches) and Jarrett Boykin (6/6). Andrew Quarless had six catches on seven looks. He’s scored in back to back weeks and has caught 12 balls during that span. Green Bay draws a middling TE matchup against Pittsburgh next week though. Both Terrance Williams and Miles Austin were on the field for 55 snaps against Green Bay, suggesting that Dallas was in three wide sets at least 74% of the time (I know they didn’t overlap every time, but Cole Beasley was out there for a dozen, including the ill fated final play). It’s obnoxious. I’m still ranting about it and it’s Wednesday. If they’re going to continue to throw the ball all day it behooves us to note that Williams had more targets (five) and catches (four) than Austin (four and two). Dez Bryant had a great day with 11 catches on a massive 17 targets. A.J. Green and Marvin Jones each had lots of work. Jones caught five of nine for 48 and a score against the Steelers, while Green saw 16 targets this week, catching nine of them for 93 yards. Ike Taylor covered him on just six of those 16 looks so it seems as if I have to come off my ‘every WR1 will crush it against Pittsburgh because Taylor is having a rough year’ statement, as he has moved around a fair bit the last two weeks. The Steelers didn’t have to do much in the passing game on Sunday night, but Antonio Brown managed to catch five balls on six targets (for 66 and a score), getting him to at least five catches in every game this season. Pierre Garcon has accomplished the feat so far as well, which is impressive given that just one other receiver has done as much in league history through a full season. Dennis Pitta’s usage was curious this week to say the least. He played 30 snaps – down from 36 in his return to action – and drew four targets from Joe Flacco (down from 10 last week) catching two balls for 24 yards. I still think Pitta will be one of the higher volume TE’s next week, but this week’s effort shows us that his use in that offense is somewhat fungible. It’s too bad they didn’t get him more involved, given their struggles moving it on Detroit’s side of the field (unless you were a Justin Tucker owner, then it isn’t too bad at all). Calvin Johnson was a bit off for the Lions, as you noted when watching his two drops on Monday Night football, but even on a bad night volume (13 targets) and talent assured him a great outing by most other receiver’s standards (6-98-0). Nate Burleson saw five looks again, catching four for 51 yards. There is nothing wrong with that, but he’s been quiet since his first game back. I’m ranking Bulreson as a WR4 at best in Week 16. The post Touches and Targets Week 15: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends appeared first on Fantasy Sports Locker Room.

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