Carolina's Steve Smith hasn't really had many opportunities this season, because he's dealt with injuries and atrocious quarterback play — and at least one of those problems isn't going away. When a receiver is in his situation, they generally need a ridiculous number of looks in order to be a respectable fantasy option. Larry Fitzgerald(notes), for example, is clinging to relevance because he's sixth in the NFL in total targets. But you won't find Smith's name among the year-to-date target leaders, and he currently ranks outside the top-40 at his position in per-game standard scoring.
Smith is coming off a week in which he "played horribly" (his words), yet still delivered his highest reception and yardage totals of the season. In fantasy terms, he made a small value leap, despite "one of my worst games in my career."
(If you're interested in reading quotes from an athlete who's completely willing to take responsibility for a loss, check out this post-game piece from the Charlotte Observer. Whatever else you want to say about Smith's performance against the Rams, understand that he's not happy about it, either. Here's a highlight: "These guys are looking for me to make plays, and I made plays for the other team.")
Smith was targeted 15 times on Sunday, which tied him with Calvin Johnson(notes) for the week's heaviest workload. If this keeps up, there's a useful day coming. The Panthers' end-of-season schedule isn't too intimidating — CLE, SEA, ATL, ARI in Weeks 12-15 — so he's a reasonable option for bargain shoppers. (Or he's fantasy death, because Carolina is totally inept. Your call, gamer).
At last, the new leads…
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