Target Risers and Potential Breakouts, Week 14

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Week 13 once again saw a handful of truly studly performances from staple fantasy commodities. Keenan Allen became the first player in NFL history to post three straight games with at least ten catches for at least 100 yards and a touchdown, but insofar as he's generated write-ups in each of the last two weeks, I'll merely note his accolade here and state the obvious- he's a must start going forward.

On the other end of the spectrum was the ever-frustrating Julio Jones, who followed up his brilliant Week 12 in which he recorded the highest single game fantasy total for any wide receiver on the season at 50.8 PPR points, with a potentially season-ruining two catch effort for just 24 yards in a game that many fantasy owners likely needed to secure a playoff spot.

Perhaps the most interesting story line from Week 13 was the return of Josh Gordon after a three-year absence from football. Could he overcome pedestrian quarterback play and a hopeless 0-12 team to be the fantasy savior we've been waiting for since fantasy owners have been stashing him after the first rumblings of his return from a few months ago? This week's target column looks at some of the biggest and/or most noteworthy target totals from Week 13, as well as identifying some potential fantasy commodities likely to emerge in Week 14.

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Rising Target Grabbers

WIDE RECEIVERS

AJ Green (WR, CIN) - 17 Targets

I'll save the substantive analysis for actionable players, but it is worth mentioning that Green, in this contest drew a mammoth 46% target share en route to six catches for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns. AJ Green has become the picture of consistency at the WR position over the last seven years since his rookie season, averaging 88 catches, 1,310 yards, and 9 TDs per 16 games. Were it not for a hamstring tear suffered late in 2016, he'd be working on his seventh straight 1,000+ yard season, in his seventh year in the NFL.

Antonio Brown (WR, PIT) - 14 Targets

Mid-week panic about Brown's toe sent millions of fantasy owners into a frenzy as many feared they might close out their Week 13, and potentially their fantasy season, without the NFL's #1 overall WR. Brown put those fears to rest by racking up eight catches for 101 yards and a score, his third consecutive game recording 100+ yards and at least one touchdown.

Brown fell just two catches shy of duplicating Keenan Allen's feat of logging three straight 10+ catch 100+ yard games with at least one score, something that had never been done in NFL history prior to this week (as I mentioned in the preamble), but almost happened twice in the same weekend.

Kenny Stills (WR, MIA) - 13 Targets

Stills's fantasy point totals in 2017 have been all over the map, as he has posted single digit fantasy points in 5 of 11 games and only exceeded five receptions twice on the season. For as inconsistent as he has been, however, the net result is the overall WR19 in PPR formats.

With Kenny Stills, it's probably a fair criticism to say that the whole has been less than the sum of its parts, as it is very difficult to know exactly when he's safe to insert in your lineup, but the potential rewards are massive. On this occasion, Stills caught just 5 of 13 targets, but did rack up 98 yards and a touchdown against a Broncos defense that had been allowing the third fewest points to the WR position.

Next up is Matt Patricia's suddenly improved New England Patriots defense that held Stills in check to the tune of three catches for 47 yards just 10 days ago in Foxboro. Stills owners can hope for a better outcome in a home date this time around, but he remains a risky WR3, albeit with a sky-high ceiling.

Nelson Agholor (WR, PHI) - 12 Targets

After drawing some early season hype with a hot start that included five TD receptions over his first seven games, fantasy owners likely became fatigued of Agholor's unreliable volume, as he posted 10 straight games with four or fewer receptions from Week 2 to Week 12. In Week 13 however, Agholor took center stage, drawing 12 of Carson Wentz's 37 targets, and parlaying them to career highs in receptions (7), yards (141) and a touchdown. A

lthough it remains difficult to trust Agholor's volume, he makes for a decent high-risk, high-reward flyer, and could play an expanded role over the middle of the field once again if Zach Ertz fails to clear the league's concussion protocol in time for a Week 14 contest at the Los Angeles Rams.

Josh Gordon (WR, CLE) - 11 Targets

I don't have any metrics to back up this claim, but I daresay that no player has generated more hype in fantasy football circles despite not playing for three years than Josh Gordon has this season. Rumors of his reinstatement absolutely saturated the message boards for the last three months and his 2017 debut, while not a monster output, did nothing to pour cold water on his triumphant return to the NFL.

Gordon secured 4 of 11 Deshone Kizer targets for 85 yards against the Chargers on Sunday, good for the second highest yardage total against Los Angeles on the season to Odell Beckham's 97 yard output in Week 5. Furthermore, it seems that Gordon has already rendered Corey Coleman absolutely useless for fantasy purposes, as the latter didn't manage a single reception in Week 13 in an obviously Josh Gordon-heavy gameplan.

I could call Gordon something other than a must-start in his Week 14 contest at home against Green Bay, still working with one sample of data over a three year period, but I'm reasonably confident that there isn't a single Josh Gordon owner who would leave him on the bench for Week 14. I don't think I can blame them. I would still consider Josh Gordon to be a player with a very wide range of outcomes over the course of the rest of the season, with Deshone Kizer throwing him the football and almost certainly drawing the near-singular focus of opposing defenses, but there should be little doubt that the top of that range of outcomes is a top-5 overall WR for the fantasy playoffs.

 

TIGHT ENDS

Stephen Anderson (TE, HOU) - 12 Targets

You could be forgiven if, prior to this five catch, 79 yard, one touchdown effort, you had no idea who Stephen Anderson was. The second-year undrafted free agent out of California was only thrust into this role thanks to a litany of injuries to the Houston Texans pass catchers on Sunday and earlier in the season. This week's casualties include Bruce Ellington and CJ Fiedorowicz who are heading to injured reserve and Braxton Miller who is already looking unlikely for Week 14's matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.

Will Fuller's potential return looms, but it's pretty hard to imagine Anderson not once again playing a significant role for Tom Savage and company regardless. With Rob Gronkowski suspended and Zach Ertz in the concussion protocol, Anderson should rightfully be a hot commodity as a TE1 streamer for what is, for many leagues, the opening round of the fantasy football playoffs.

Trey Burton (TE, PHI) - 7 Targets

As I mentioned above, Zach Ertz suffered a concussion in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night and we have yet to receive any clarity on his potential availability for Week 14. Ertz owners who feel compelled to wait before dropping a valuable bench player, or really any fantasy owner who is hurting at the TE position would be wise to take note of the fact that Trey Burton immediately slid into a featured role on offense after Ertz's departure.

We've already seen Burton in spot duty once this season, as he caught two of four balls for 41 yards and a TD against the Broncos in Week 9 when Ertz wound up surprisingly scratched for that contest. Ertz's backup would once again be an interesting option if the Eagles are again without their star tight end for a Week 14 matchup at the Los Angeles Rams. 99% available in Yahoo leagues and dirt-cheap on DFS, Burton deserves consideration as a streamer if Ertz sits.

 

Potential Week 14 Breakouts

Marquise Goodwin (WR, SF)

Essentially limited to the role of deep threat over the season's first 12 weeks, Goodwin entered Week 13 with some amount of intrigue, as he would play his first game of the season with the newly acquired Jimmy Garoppolo under center. We knew he was capable of getting behind defenses and making big plays. He had caught a pass of 48+ yards four times over his last six games. Maybe Garoppolo offered the sort of shakeup to his situation that could elevate his floor, and turn him into something more than a high-upside WR4 with the threat of posting a goose-egg in any given week.

To that end, it was encouraging to see him post an uncharacteristically "possession receiver" fantasy line of eight catches on eight targets for 99 yards. We already know the big play ability is there, but if we can count on Goodwin to command even a half-dozen targets or more on a week to week basis, the occasional deep ball mixed in could really see him break out over the season's final month. Up next is a Houston Texans defense allowing the ninth most fantasy points to wide receivers. Goodwin should be a WR3 for this matchup with tremendous upside, and he's still available in 64% of Yahoo leagues.

Cameron Brate (TE, TB)

For as scorching hot as Brate had been to open the 2017 NFL season, catching touchdowns in four consecutive games from Weeks 2-5, and posting double digit fantasy points in PPR formats from Weeks 2-7, Brate has been comparatively ice cold over the four week stretch from Weeks 9-12, failing to catch more than one pass or clear a measly three PPR points over that span. It doesn't require any special insight to take note, however, of the fact that Brate's cold streak coincided almost entirely with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing quarterback for most of those four contests.

Enter Jameis Winston, back from a shoulder injury in Week 13, and Brate immediately reprised his role as featured red zone weapon, catching 2 of 6 targets for 39 yards and a pair of TDs. Streaming the TE position is so often a mere chase for red zone opportunity. If your league is like the 45% of Yahoo leagues in which Brate owners cut bait over the last month, he's worth re-deploying as a top 10 option with Winston back, and against a Lions team giving up the 11th most fantasy points to opposing TEs.

Giovani Bernard (RB, CIN)

It seems strange that the Bengals have essentially shelved Bernard over the past seven weeks of the season after they had shown such a commitment to using all three of their backs prior to Jeremy Hill's move to injured reserve. Instead, the Bengals angled toward completely featuring rookie Joe Mixon, despite the fact that their pitiful offensive line seems at least equally well-suited to the installment of a running back boasting Bernard's NFL proven pass-catching skill set.

Bernard can be safely ignored in the event that Joe Mixon clears the concussion protocol in time for a home date with the Chicago Bears in Week 14, but if Mixon can't go, Gio becomes extremely interesting against a defense that has been a completely different, and much less stingy unit away from Soldier Field. Bernard needs to be added in all leagues, at least to block potential playoff opponents, and held unless and until such time as Mixon is cleared to start.

 

More Week 14 Lineup Prep