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Looks and Touches: 2008 projections

Matt Buser
Yahoo Sports

The following projections are made with assumed 16-game health for the majority of players. In cases where players have a consistent history of missing games (DeShaun Foster, Darrell Jackson, etc), or a player's contributions will likely be limited in at least the early going of this coming season (Dominic Rhodes, Kevin Jones, etc), the projections are qualified based on the anticipation of time or effectiveness lost.

Touches is defined as the number of times a running back carried or caught the football.
Looks is defined as the number of times a player was the intended target of a pass.

RB Touches
Only one RB reached 375 touches in 2007 (LaDainian Tomlinson, with 375) after five reached the number in 2006, including three with over 400 touches (Larry Johnson 457, Steven Jackson 436, Tomlinson 404). With more and more teams spreading the workload around to keep players fresh and defenses off-balance, the 2006 season may have been something of a last hurrah for the 400-touch back. The quality of touches becomes that much more important as more and more players have the opportunity for quantity, although that's not to say that it wasn't a concern previously.

Jamal Lewis may seem like a surprise at No.2 on the list, but he's about as safe of a bet for complete domination of his team's touches as you'll find. Don't make the mistake of underrating him on draft day – he also benefits from very good offensive line play and a dynamic passing offense that opens things up even further for him.

Steven Jackson's holdout neared a critical stage before it came to an end this week. He's only been bumped slightly for the purposes of this column because of timing – the lost time hurt a little considering there's a new offense in place in St. Louis.

Love Edgerrin James' historical workload, but put more weight on the subsequent results. Over the past two respective seasons, he's finished fourth and fifth in touches, but only 10th and 15th in total yards and 13th and 25th in touchdowns. Tim Hightower's potential for stealing touches over the course of the season is very real.

Marion Barber (248 touches in 2007), Marshawn Lynch (298), Steven Jackson (275), and Ryan Grant (218) did not finish the 2007 season in the touches top 10 but project to do so in 2008. Willie Parker (344), Thomas Jones (338), Willis McGahee (337), and LenDale White (323) finished the 2007 season in the top 10 but don't figure to repeat in 2008.

Other notes: Even if Larry Johnson stays healthy, he won't be run into the ground like seasons past. With that said, it's not hard to envision his missing a game or two … Ryan Torain's elbow injury creates a golden opportunity for Selvin Young to emerge as, by the Broncos' standards, an every down back … Reggie Bush's number is buoyed by his reception total – he's totaled 161 catches in his first 28 career games … Chris Brown figures to see the most action among Houston's RB, but that doesn't figure to be a pretty situation either way. Things would clear up a bit if the Texans decide to cut the perpetually inactive Ahman Green.

The platoon watch notes when a team's RB2 is given at least half as many touches as the RB1, regardless of the reason. Expected platoons for the 2008 season include: Carolina (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart), Cincinnati (Rudi Johnson, Chris Perry, Kenny Watson), Houston (Chris Brown, Steve Slaton, Ahman Green), Jacksonville (Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew), Miami (Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams), Minnesota (Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor), New Orleans (Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas), NY Giants (Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw), Oakland (Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas), Pittsburgh (Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall), Seattle (Julius Jones, Maurice Morris), and Tennessee (LenDale White, Chris Johnson).

WR Looks
Consider both the quality and quantity of looks when sizing up these lists, just as you do with touches for RB. An example: Marty Booker projects to have a higher volume of looks than Santonio Holmes, but Holmes gets the nod when it comes to catch percentage and it's not close in terms of who will be in a better position to score touchdowns.

Larry Fitzgerald finished third in looks in 2007 (167) but was the only WR among the top nine that did not appear in all 16 games and led the league in looks per game (11.1). His workload will not decrease this coming season, particularly when Anquan Boldin misses his game or two.

Derrick Mason (164 looks in 2007) is the only player who finished among the top 10 in looks last season but does not project to in 2008 – he's been replaced by Roddy White (130).

Don't let Brandon Marshall (league-leading 170 looks in 2007) or Steve Smith's (148) suspensions make you bump them too far down your cheat sheets. Both players figure to be among the leaders in looks per game upon their returns and the goal in fantasy football is to win the league championship, not the first two matchups of the season.

Someone is going to emerge as PPR gold in San Francisco – four players had at least 90 looks for the Lions in 2007, with the top four averaging 104 looks as a group.

A decent amount of Nate Burleson's work is going to come in the early going, as both Bobby Engram and Deion Branch are sidelined by injuries. Engram totaled 134 looks in 2007 (8.4 per game), while Branch recorded 85 (7.7 per game).

TE Looks
Kellen Winslow looks to take the mantle as the most-targeted TE in 2008. Tony Gonzalez led the position with 154 in 2007, with Winslow coming in a close second at 148. Also of note: Jason Witten (141) was the only other TE with at least 140 looks last season – Antonio Gates finished fourth with 117.

Owen Daniels was a touchdown or two away in 2007 from being more than a late-round sleeper in 2008. He was seventh at the position in looks (94), catches (63), and yards (768) last season, but reached the end zone only three times. Ironically, he scored five times in 2006 despite only 34 catches.

If Bo Scaife managed almost five targets per game in 2007 (78 total), you have to like a now-healthy Alge Crumpler's chances in 2008. His history with another run-oriented QB (Michael Vick) should help ease the adjustment process to working with Vince Young.

Projected 2008 Touch Leaders
RANK PLAYER TEAM TOUCH
1 L. Tomlinson SD 395
2 Jamal Lewis CLE 350
3 Clinton Portis WAS 348
4 Marion Barber DAL 347
5 Brian Westbrook PHI 342
6 Marshawn Lynch BUF 340
7 Steven Jackson STL 336
8 Joseph Addai IND 331
9 Edgerrin James ARI 330
10 Ryan Grant GB 327
10 Frank Gore SF 327
12 Willis McGahee BAL 325
13 Larry Johnson KC 313
14 Earnest Graham TB 312
15 Thomas Jones NYJ 311
16 Michael Turner ATL 308
17 Matt Forte CHI 302
18 Kevin Smith DET 290
18 Adrian Peterson MIN 290
20 Lendale White TEN 284
21 Darren McFadden OAK 269
22 Selvin Young DEN 268
23 Willie Parker PIT 267
24 Ronnie Brown MIA 260
24 Reggie Bush NO 260
26 Brandon Jacobs NYG 258
27 DeAngelo Williams CAR 257
28 Laurence Maroney NE 245
29 Jonathan Stewart CAR 239
30 Julius Jones SEA 227
31 Fred Taylor JAC 225
32 M. Jones-Drew JAC 223
33 Justin Fargas OAK 213
34 Rudi Johnson CIN 211
35 Ricky Williams MIA 209
36 Maurice Morris SEA 204
37 Chris Brown HOU 188
38 Chester Taylor MIN 187
38 R. Mendenhall PIT 187
40 Chris Johnson TEN 163
41 Felix Jones DAL 146
42 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG 144
43 Ray Rice BAL 141
44 Ladell Betts WAS 137
45 Chris Perry CIN 135
45 Pierre Thomas NO 135
47 Jerious Norwood ATL 130
47 Warrick Dunn TB 130
49 Steve Slaton HOU 129
50 Andre Hall DEN 122
51 Leon Washington NYJ 116
52 Fred Jackson BUF 115
52 Dominic Rhodes IND 115
52 Kenny Watson CIN 115
55 DeShaun Foster SF 114
56 Ahman Green HOU 109
57 Jamaal Charles KC 107
58 Tim Hightower ARI 106
59 Kevin Faulk NE 105
60 Brandon Jackson GB 100
60 Derrick Ward NYG 100
Projected 2008 WR Look Leaders
RANK PLAYER TEAM LOOK
1 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 162
2 T Houshmandzadeh CIN 156
3 Randy Moss NE 152
4 Terrell Owens DAL 151
4 Torry Holt STL 151
6 Chad Johnson CIN 149
6 Roddy White ATL 149
8 Braylon Edwards CLE 148
8 Reggie Wayne IND 148
10 Brandon Marshall DEN 146
10 Marques Colston NO 146
12 Andre Johnson HOU 143
13 Wes Welker NE 142
14 Steve Smith CAR 136
14 Roy Williams DET 136
16 Donald Driver GB 135
17 Laveranues Coles NYJ 132
18 Lee Evans BUF 128
18 Greg Jennings GB 128
18 Plaxico Burress NYG 128
21 Jerricho Cotchery NYJ 127
22 Anquan Boldin ARI 126
22 Santana Moss WAS 126
24 Derrick Mason BAL 125
25 Dwayne Bowe KC 123
26 Calvin Johnson DET 121
26 Kevin Curtis PHI 121
28 Marty Booker CHI 118
29 Hines Ward PIT 117
30 Joey Galloway TB 112
31 Ted Ginn Jr. MIA 109
32 Justin Gage TEN 107
33 Ronald Curry OAK 106
33 Bryant Johnson SF 106
35 Marvin Harrison IND 105
35 Santonio Holmes PIT 105
37 Nate Burleson SEA 101
38 Darrell Jackson DEN 98
38 Reggie Brown PHI 98
40 Chris Chambers SD 97
41 Patrick Crayton DAL 96
42 Isaac Bruce SF 94
43 D.J. Hackett CAR 93
44 Mark Clayton BAL 92
44 Jerry Porter JAC 92
44 Sidney Rice MIN 92
44 Drew Bennett STL 92
48 Laurent Robinson ATL 90
48 Devin Hester CHI 90
48 Kevin Walter HOU 90
48 Derek Hagan MIA 90
48 Robert Meachem NO 90
53 Donte Stallworth CLE 88
53 Amani Toomer NYG 88
53 Michael Clayton TB 88
56 Bernard Berrian MIN 86
57 Reggie Williams JAC 85
58 David Patten NO 85
59 Courtney Taylor SEA 84
60 Steve Smith NYG 81
60 Javon Walker OAK 81
62 Bobby Engram SEA 80
63 Michael Jenkins ATL 78
63 James Hardy BUF 78
63 Ernest Wilford MIA 78
66 Anthony Gonzalez IND 77
67 Antwaan Randle El WAS 76
68 Early Doucet ARI 75
69 Dennis Northcutt JAC 74
70 James Jones GB 72
Projected 200* TE Look Leaders
RANK PLAYER TEAM LOOK
1 Kellen Winslow CLE 140
2 Jason Witten DAL 131
3 Tony Gonzalez KC 127
4 Antonio Gates SD 117
5 Jeremy Shockey NO 105
6 Chris Cooley WAS 102
7 Owen Daniels HOU 96
7 Alge Crumpler TEN 96
9 Dallas Clark IND 94
10 Todd Heap BAL 93
11 Vernon Davis SF 86
12 Greg Olson CHI 81
13 Randy McMichael STL 74
14 Zach Miller OAK 73
15 Ben Watson NE 72
16 Tony Scheffler DEN 70
17 Heath Miller PIT 69
18 L.J. Smith PHI 67
18 Chris Baker NYJ 67
20 Jeff King CAR 66
21 Marcedes Lewis JAC 64
22 Donald Lee GB 62
23 Desmond Clark CHI 60
24 Dustin Keller NYJ 58
25 Ben Utecht CIN 57
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