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Andy Behrens

Target Practice: Steve Smith 'played horribly,' gained value

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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The primary reason we run this feature, as you probably know, is to show you which skill players had opportunities to make plays the previous week. Eventually, opportunities lead to fantasy production. It's clearly difficult for any receiver to be an asset in the imaginary game if they're rarely targeted. Not everybody can be Marcedes Lewis(notes) (5.1 targets per game, 7 TDs).

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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