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    Touches and Targets: Browns Duke Johnson Thriving Without Hue Jackson

    Touches and Targets: Browns Duke Johnson Thriving Without Hue Jackson premium
    Brandon C. Williams November 22, 2018 12:00AM EDT

    Your Targets and Touches Report for Week 12

    As we pause for a day filled with family, food and scouting Black Friday prices, let us also be thankful for Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill, knowing when to sell high on Austin Ekeler, the Fantasy owner in front of you who picked Leonard Fournette and allowed Saquon Barkley to fall into your lap and, most of all, the inept Texans offense in the red zone, for where would many playoff-bound Fantasy teams be without the foot of Ka’imi Fairbairn?

    Before the crazy Fox News/MSNBC watching relative of yours turns Thanksgiving into…well…THIS, or if someone hits the strong, brown liquid you can’t buy (legally) on Thursday, make sure your Fantasy lineups are well-tended.

    Still Waiting on That Golden Shower

    The Eagles’ acquisition of Golden Tate was supposed to be a bountiful harvest of Fantasy points for both him and Carson Wentz. Two games in, Tate has produced all of seven catches for 67 yards on 12 targets, while sinking the Fantasy postseason hopes of many an owner who bought high on Tate. Patience, Tate owners, for I sense Sunday will provide a deluge of targets against a Giants defense that is 21st in net passing yards allowed. Philly’s margin of error is about as thin as my hairline, and I would bet offensive coordinator Mike Groh’s quote that fitting Tate in has been “difficult” becomes a punchline. Tate is still more of a WR3/Flex at this point and will be worth the gamble in PPR formats.

    Well, He’s Got Nowhere to Go but Up…

    One can be the loneliest number. It’s also the number of fingers (a certain one, at that) Fantasy owners of Demaryius Thomas put up after the new Texans wideout had one damn target in last week’s win over the Redskins. Someone might want to tell Bill O’Brien and Deshaun Watson that the purpose of uprooting Thomas from the Broncos was for his skill of catching the ball, and you can’t do that with, again, one damn target. Like Tate, Week 12 provides a chance of redemption for Thomas, as he lines up against a Titans secondary that was filleted by Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton last week. Tennessee is 29th in Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing receivers and will be quite willing to make Thomas pay off as a WR3.

    (Almost) Nothing Can Stop the Duke of the ‘Land

    Wanna know who’s most happy about Hue Jackson getting fired? That would be Browns running back and pass-catching specialist Duke Johnson Jr., who’s caught three touchdown passes while going a perfect 13-for-13 in targets over the past two weeks. Now back among the cool kids of PPR, Johnson gets a ringing endorsement from me as a Flex option when Cleveland meets a Cincinnati team that is second only to the Chiefs in Fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs. The Bengals have vulnerable against pass-catching backs, and while I wouldn’t bet my Amazon Prime password on him remaining perfect as a receiver, I will bet that Johnson gets around 6-8 targets and finds the end zone for a third straight game.

    Bronco Busting with Vance McDonald

    It felt like we had lost contact with Steelers tight end Vance McDonald since his Stiff-arm For the Ages in Week Three. His Fantasy owners probably felt the same way, at least before he scored touchdowns in each of his last two games. VMac has a good look at keeping his touchdown streak going at Denver on Sunday, as the Broncos are 24th in Fantasy points per game allowed to tight ends. Opposing TEs are averaging 16 yards per catch against the Broncos, and with the defense putting high priority on Pittsburgh’s wideouts, McDonald can quietly make his presence felt in the end zone and ball out the way a borderline TE1 should.

    Big Brother is Back

    Let’s not mince words: without A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd stunk. He’ll smell better on Sunday, since Green is expected back in the lineup just in time for what could be an offensive free-for-all against the Browns. Cleveland is 30th in receiving yards allowed and in a game where both teams are among the bottom 10 in Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing receivers, Boyd will return as the useful WR3/Flex option of a sidekick who will look a lot like the early season version of himself. He’s been targeted at least seven times in all but three games this year, so the potential high volume makes Boyd more appealing.

    Yes, No, Maybe (Subtitled: Dolph Lundgren Deserves Oscar Consideration for Creed II…Seriously)

    Yes: Marlon Mack, RB, Colts: Not only has he scored four touchdowns in his last four games, Mack also has a pair of two-point conversions. The Dolphins are 30th against the run and 28th in Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing runners, which translates into a monster afternoon for Mack.

    No: Derrick Henry, RB, Titans: The Texans are seventh in stopping the run and allow just 3.7 yards per carry. If Henry is the answer to your Week 12 lineup, then you’ve spent much of the previous 11 weeks asking the wrong questions.

    Maybe: Gus Edwards, RB, Ravens: I really want to like Edwards, who burst on the scene with 115 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries last week. If Joe Flacco’s injured hip can’t answer the bell again, then Edwards becomes an intriguing Flex option, as he and Lamar Jackson should RPO the hell out of the Raiders and their 31st-ranked run defense.

    Come On, Come On, Come On, Come On Now Touch (and Target) Me, Baby

    Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: He’s proven me wrong since the Texans’ O-line has improved. Miller has had at least 17 touches in four of his last five games and is still a good RB2 option against a Tennessee defense ranked 11th versus the run because of the heavy workload.

    Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: The Jets are fourth in fewest Fantasy points per game Allowed to opposing tight ends, but I don’t care because Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick won’t care. The playoff drive kicks into high gear around this time each year for the Pats, who will want to get Gronk back into the flow after he missed the last two games. Expect a vintage Gronkowski performance.

    D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers: The rookie caught seven of his eight targets and turned them into 157 yards and a score in last week’s loss to the Lions. The Seahawks have been more Fantasy-friendly to opposing receivers than in years past, so I’d consider running Moore out as a WR3 who gets the bonus of going against a West Coast team with a 1:00 PM (Eastern) kickoff.

    David Johnson, RB, Cardinals: Look who’s working his way back to elite status. Johnson has a combined 54 touches (46 carries, eight catches) in his last two games and has averaged at least 10.3 yards per catch in his last four games. The meh-like Chargers defense allows nearly 11 yards per catch to opposing backs, but what makes Johnson’s upswing really encouraging is that he’s averaged better than four yards per carry in consecutive games for the first time this season.

    Elijah McGuire, RB, Jets: Isaiah Crowell continues to lope and trudge his way out of snaps, opening the door for McGuire, who had 19 touches in limited play in his first two games back with the Jets. They’ll likely be playing catch-up against the Patriots, a scenario that favors the more versatile McGuire. He’s risky but the Patriots defense isn’t a lockdown group, either, so I could see McGuire flirting with 100-plus yards from scrimmage.

    Dontrelle Inman, WR, Colts: A bit of a longshot here, yet Inman has caught 14-of-17 targets in his first three games with Indy. Miami is 29th in yards per catch allowed (12.4) and if Andrew Luck thinks enough of Inman to get him involved in the passing game this fast, then playing Inman as a Flex in deeper leagues should make you feel better.

    Matt Breida, RB, 49ers: Breida had 20 touches against the Giants in Week 10 and comes fresh off the bye to face the Buccaneers, who have allowed a league-high 14 rushing touchdowns. Breida is also becoming more involved in the passing game. Tampa Bay is 27th in total yards allowed and will have trouble slowing down the hard-charging do-all.

    Gimme A Sleeper!

    Broncos rookie receiver Courtland Sutton has at least one reception of better than 20 yards in all but two games this season. He may not get a high volume of targets, but his size and athleticism could be problematic for the Steelers, especially if this becomes a high-scoring affair.

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