Targets are the key

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Want to draft one of the top-10 receivers in your fantasy league this season?

The answer is relatively simple. Select a player who will finish among the top-20 in the NFL for "targets."

In a study of the top-10 fantasy receivers over the past five years (2006-2010), 48 of the 50 wide receivers were among the top-20 in targets. (The only two who bucked the trend were Mike Wallace in 2010 and Vincent Jackson in 2009).

If your receiver finishes the season in the top-20 among targeted wideouts, you have an 80-percent chance of finishing the season as a top-20 fantasy receiver.

What the numbers are saying is that in the NFL "opportunity equals success." Because in the NFL, even the least talented among the players, are good enough to post excellent statistics given enough chances.

So who should you select in 2011?

Despite the addition of talented Alabama wideout Julio Jones, Roddy White figures to be among the target leaders again in 2011. He finished as the No.1 targeted receiver in 2010, just ahead of Reggie Wayne.

In addition to White, I like Steve Johnson, Andre Johnson, Hakeem Nicks, Davone Bess, Wes Welker and Miles Austin to improve on last year's numbers.

Steve Johnson figures to be the No.1 target in Buffalo as Lee Evans' career continues to wind down and there still is no one ready to take Evans' place across from Johnson.

Andre Johnson figures to get better simply because Matt Schaub wasn't very good last year and should improve and Johnson missed a number of games due to injury after going injury-free in 2008 and 2009.

Nicks is a star for the Giants, who was on his way to a "monster" season (653 yards, 9 TDs in his first eight games) before missing four games due to a leg injury.

Bess will pick up receptions that went to Brandon Marshall last year, Welker will be much healthier now that he is almost two years removed from his major knee surgery and Austin will get his starting quarterback back under center after he played just six games last season. Tony Romo looks towards Austin a lot more than Jon Kitna did.

Wayne finished second in 2010, but figures to see his numbers drop in 2011 with the return of tight end Dallas Clark and good health from Pierre Gaston and Austin Collie. Beware of a drop out of the top-10 for Wayne this season.

Look for a drop in Larry Fitzgerald's numbers as well, what with the muddled situation at quarterback. Though Fitzgerald was targeted 173 times last season, he caught only 90 balls, or 52-percent.

And beware of drafting Brandon Lloyd too early. Last year was easily Lloyd's best almost doubling his previous top yardage total. And he'll likely be catching balls from Tim Tebow, not Kyle Orton who threw him the most balls last season. He could also lose goal line targets as Tebow prefers to run the ball into the endzone from in close. Lloyd caught three touchdown passes from Orton inside the 10-yard line, but none from inside the 10-yard line with Tebow under center.

2010 Top Receivers by Targets
No.Player, TeamTarCmpYdsTDFantasy Rank
1.Roddy White ATL1791151,389103
2.Reggie Wayne IND1761111,35567
3.Larry Fitzgerald ARI173901,137614
4.Brandon Lloyd DE153771,448111
5.Brandon Marshall MIA146861,014327
6.Santana Moss WAS145931,115616
7.Steve Johnson BUF142821,0731010
8.Terrell Owens CIN13972983913
9.Andre Johnson HOU138861,21689
10.Calvin Johnson DET137771,120126
11.Dwayne Bowe KC133721,162152
12.Marques Colston NO131841,022718
13.Hakeem Nicks NYG128791,052118
14.Mike Williams TB128649551111
15.Chad Johnson CIN12667831436
16.Greg Jennings GB124761,265124
17.Danny Amendola STL12385689349
18.Wes Welker NE12386848722
19.Davone Bess MIA12279820532
20.Miles Austin DA119691,041717

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