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.
The Cardinals did not need to do much on offense with their defense scoring twice and garnering two other turnovers that helped put the scoring unit in a short field. As such, it was good to see all three receivers meet an 8.5 fantasy point floor, especially with David Johnson chipping in with six targets. Next season, this will be an interesting group to project if they all return to the current construction of the Cardinals offense. With Johnson commanding passing volume, there are an awful lot of mouths to feed.
Roddy White had his most effective game of the season, and there was some talk out of Atlanta that if they had used him as a big slot receiver all season, the result would have been better. It's more likely that White is just at the end of the road, and this was an outlier steady game against a team coming in underprepared. This unit needs a massive overhaul in the offseason. Julio Jones clearly won the matchup with Josh Norman, as Next Gen Stats credited him with seven receptions for 91 yards on eight targets against Norman.
Even with Ryan Mallett behind center, Kamar Aiken continues to produce, catching all eight of his targets. He's established himself as an important piece in the Ravens offense, and improves his on-field play seemingly every week. With more pieces around him next season to take the pressure off, he could be an interesting breakout candidate, and could even push for 1,000 receiving yards with a big game in Week 17.
The concern with Sammy Watkins entering the season was that he would struggle to maintain steady production in a low volume passing offense. However, with target shares of over 33 percent in each of his last three games, the lack of volume isn't much of a concern. Watkins has 15 catches for 276 yards and three scores in that same stretch on just a 54 percent catch rate. It will be interesting to see if the late season usage holds up for Watkins next season. If it does, he could follow in the footsteps of his former Clemson teammate, DeAndre Hopkins, and completely explode in his third year.
The Carolina offense lost plenty of fantasy championships in Week 16 -- their worst game of the season . It was a fun ride with Ted Ginn, but you knew the floor you were gambling with if you started him, and unfortunately it came at the worst time. Ginn got banged up early in this contest, and was only out on 38 of their offensive plays.
Zach Miller led the team in target share, and played on 93 percent of the Bears Week 16 snaps. With Alshon Jeffery out, he was the clear leader of the passing game. This was a reminder that the Bears need an influx of new receiving talent in the offseason. However, we should recognize by now that Miller needs to be a big part of those plans. He's outplayed Martellus Bennett this season, with a 73.9 percent catch rate and 12.9 yards per reception to Bennett's 66.3 percent and 8.3. Perhaps something of a late bloomer, Miller is 31 years old but was a high-end athlete entering the NFL.
While Cleveland pushed to re-sign Gary Barnidge in the regular season, they did not do so for Travis Benjamin. The 25-year old receiver will push for 1,000 yards depending on his Week 17 output, and led the team with a 24 percent target share. If he leaves Cleveland, the impressive Benjamin could see his fantasy stock jump in a new landing spot.
There's not much to see here with Kellen Moore behind center. However, keep an eye on Brice Butler for deep dynasty expeditions. He's a talented young receiver the Cowboys made a move to trade for early in the season. Dallas should try to push perennial letdown, Terrance Williams, and perhaps Butler figures in to those plans. The team should shut down Dez Bryant for the final game of the season, and let Butler handle 30-plus percent of the targets again in an audition scenario.
After two one-catch performances the last couple of games out, Calvin Johnson led the team in target share and recorded a touchdown. With his bloated cap number, and the team headed for another shake-up, it makes some sense for the Lions to consider moving Megatron. This and their final game will be important for drumming up a potential trade market. Don't be surprised if he is featured again next week with that in mind.
Rather quietly the Packers have one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL, so the distribution is rather meaningless. James Jones is too inconsistent, and Davante Adams does nothing. Jordy Nelson will be back next year, but the Packers must look to the draft in an effort to bring in some young receiving talent once more. You could visibly see the signs of a season-long frustration creeping into Aaron Rodgers as his team was pummeled on Sunday.
Just another massive target share of the offense for DeAndre Hopkins, who is one of the truly high-end breakout players of 2015. Nate Washington came through once again for those who followed the distribution trail in the Houston offense. Washington averaged double digit targets, and scored four times when Cecil Shorts sat out this season. That is an important nugget for those of you playing in Week 17, and particularly those who need a punt play in DFS.
With one quarterback injury after another, this offense is far off from consideration at this point. Perhaps a late season carousel that saw Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst juggle the quarterback positon, and may ultimately end up passing over to Stephen Morris, will make the Colts receivers draft bargains in 2016 fantasy leagues.
The Jaguars returned to normalcy with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns jockeying for the top positon among the team's target share. When those two are leading the charge, the offense is at its best. With Denard Robinson's influence as a pass catcher, Julius Thomas was the player that fell victim in the target distribution this week. T.J. Yeldon showed signs this year of being the type of player you need to throw the ball to at least five times per game. If he does take a big step forward next year, Thomas may be the most likely candidate to suffer.
No one takes more shots at Marqise Lee than I do. His stock as a player was always overrated, and it's no coincidence the two receivers (Robinson and Hurns) acquired after him in the same draft are out-producing him. However, Lee does have some semblance of ability, as demonstrated by a great college career, and if he can come on as the fourth option in this passing game then the Jaguars have an embarrassment of riches for the future.
The Chiefs tipped their hands in the preseason by showing off a number of unique packages to deploy Jeremy Maclin. That usage was not worth ignoring, as he's been a priority in their offense. Maclin owns a 38 percent share of the Chiefs targets since Week 11, and was a tremendous pickup in free agency. After recording 1,034 yards and seven touchdowns on a 70 percent catch rate, with one game left to play, Maclin reminded us that an influx of talent to a team can change what we believe about their offense.
For the future, we hope to routinely see Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker atop the Dolphins passing target distribution. Parker has a target share of 21 percent since Week 12, with Landry checking in at 35 percent. While Landry is the lynchpin of the Miami passing game, if Parker grows enough in the offseason as seasoned receiver, he should be ready to assume at least a portion of Landry's work. DeVante Parker figures to be an important piece to study in the offseason in preparation for 2016.
With an easy win secured early, there naturally was not much to go around through the air for the Vikings. Since Week 4, which marked his insertion to the lineup, Stefon Diggs owns a 28 percent share of the Vikings passing targets. His target share remained steady all season, but fantasy owners know there was a major dry spell of six weeks where he cracked 50 receiving yards just once and never posted more than 6.6 fantasy points. Week 15 provided an outlier two-touchdown game, but Week 16 was more of the same with just 19 receiving yards on a 20 percent target share. Diggs had a solid rookie year, but certainly fell off later in the season. Much of that had to do with playing in one of the league's lowest volume passing offenses. Diggs will need a philosophical or personnel change in Minnesota to recapture the white-hot four game start to his career on a consistent basis next year.
With Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman out, Keshawn Martin did what he could in filling in for the Patriots at the slot receiver positon. He's an interesting dynasty prospect to monitor, as the team could move on from Amendola this offseason. After Martin kept pace with his predecessors on a 35.5 percent target share Sunday, we were reminded just how valuable that slot spot is in New England's offense.
The distribution and outlooks here remained essentially the same as ever. We will monitor the offseason shakeup that New Orleans seems headed towards, as Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and others in this offense could be big players in fantasy for next year. Yet, any coach or even quarterback changes would shake that up. Benjamin Watson let fantasy owners down, but was a late arrival to the injury report this week, and came in highly questionable.
It's almost like Odell Beckham was the key to the Giants passing game. None of these players saw more than 15 percent of the passing targets, and Rueben Randle caught his lone relevant pass for a long touchdown on a desperation heave. The Giants will make many personnel moves in the offseason, one of which should be bringing in more passing game complements.
Perhaps the Jets buy into some #NarrativeStreet stock, as they seemed intent on getting Kenbrell Thompkins the ball in his "revenge game." His involvement came at the expense of Eric Decker, who salvaged his fantasy day with the game-winning touchdown. This was the first game since Week 9 where Decker saw less than 24 percent of the team targets, so it's an outlier and nothing to fret over.
The Raider offense certainly was more inconsistent to pick from for fantasy purposes in the second half of the year. Amari Cooper slowed down, and Michael Crabtree became less efficient with his targets. However, with Derek Carr and Cooper having another offseason to grow, the Raiders trio could be in for an explosive 2016 campaign where they all exceed expectations. If that occurs, ancillary pieces like Seth Roberts need to be on your offseason dynasty radar.
While the Eagles fall apart, we are seeing their passing offense come together late in the year. Jordan Matthews now has back-to-back 100 yard games with a touchdown. Depending on how he finishes next week, and with an offseason of studying his film, Matthews could be a draft bargain next year entering his third season. Nelson Agholor made a few more splash plays in this one, getting open on some tougher routes. Both Eagles receivers could be in for better 2016 years than what we saw this season, depending on how things shake out with the offensive structure in Philadelphia.
The Steelers have been prone to playing down to their completion in the Mike Tomlin era, at least when it seems like they sense a win before even stepping on the field. You could see it all over their performance yesterday that it came about at the worst time for fantasy owners. Coming in to a matchup with the Ravens secondary, the Steelers super stacks were popular plays in DFS, and plenty hoped that Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and even perhaps Markus Wheaton could help bring home fantasy championship trophies. Instead, disaster struck. The trio of Brown, Bryant and Wheaton (108 yards) was out-gained by the trio of DeAngelo Williams, Heath Miller and Darrius Heyward-Bey (112 yards).
Dontrelle Inman remains a player to watch in San Diego, and he showed why on a 26.5 percent share of the team targets Thursday night. He can make catches in traffic, and has some speed to get down the field. With Keenan Allen on the mend for 2016, and Steve Johnson just a short-area slot receiver, Inman could be tabbed to replace Malcom Floyd next year.
Even in a game where Russell Wilson played far from his best, Doug Baldwin produced eight catches for over 100 yards and another touchdown. His Week 16 game put him over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, and secured his league lead in touchdowns. Perhaps we can take this as the final piece of evidence needed to view this late season surge as what it really is: a new chapter in Doug Baldwin's career. Whatever your views and expectations were for him prior to this run, just throw them out. The time to analyze Baldwin as a different entity than the one we knew before has long come and past.
While much of Mike Evans' season featured a ton of drop criticisms, we did not often hear how the young receiver and his rookie quarterback often just missed each other. Evans certainly let more than few get away from him, but we saw in this game how Winston can sometimes put Evans in bad spots. With more time to grow together, this could be one of the more productive duos in the NFL as they progress. Considering that 70 catches for 1,107 yards in 14 games was something of disappointment for Mike Evans, you see just how much this duo is capable of when they are both on.
After a steady growth of target share leading into this game, Dorial Green-Beckham got completely shut out on his three targets. This was a disappointing effort in what could have been a march toward a breakout 2016 campaign. He's still on our radar for that watch, and having his true franchise quarterback behind center next season will help, but this was a step in the wrong direction.
Washington suddenly has a host of offensive weapons. Pierre Garcon played a tremendous game against the Eagles, while Jordan Reed simply dominated. DeSean Jackson did not meet statistical expectations, but it's clear to the smart eye the room he creates for this offense to thrive underneath. This could be an offense where we get surprisingly good and cheap fantasy production next season, if Kirk Cousins can approach this level of play again.