Oct 20

Week 7 NFL Ranks

Just in time for Thursday and early Sunday decision making our Week 7 NFL Ranks are here. As always, check below for a brief discussion of some key areas where I differ from ECR.

Week 7 NFL Ranks

Week 7 NFL Ranks Discussion


  • I’m down on Aaron Rodgers relative to ECR simply because a short week without a run game isn’t a great scenario for him to ‘get right’. Generally, these games are low scoring and I think we’ll see the same in a Packers’ win. Even with 98 yards from Ty Montgomery, largely out of the backfield, last week he still hasn’t topped 300 yards this season. 250 and 2 scores won’t be much better than QB11.
  • After watching Spencer Ware continue to roll in Jamaal Charles’ return, it’s hard to rank him as anything but a top-5 option this week against New Orleans. The Saints continue to be awful against the run (they gave up two scores to Jonathan Stewart last week, and he rarely scores once) and I see a big dose of both backs in this game. 100 yards and a score feels like floor for Ware, who is averaging well over 5 YPC and should approach 20 carries again, as long as the Saints to jump out to an early lead… unlikely on the road.
  • To that end, I’m down on Brandin Cooks this week given the team’s struggles away from the Superdome. Cooks has gone over 100 and scored twice, but otherwise has been held under 70 yards in his three other games, including both of New Orleans’ road games.
  • I’m all in on Hunter Henry as TE3 this week. He’s benefitting from the absence of a pass catching back and the injury to Keenan Allen and should continue to net lots of targets against a Falcons team that

Oct 16

Touches and Targets: Week 6 NFL Review

Each week throughout the season we take a deeper dive into the box score to look at the playing time, opportunities and detail behind the box score in an effort to try to provide you with actionable fantasy advice. To that end, you won’t hear much in this space about Julio Jones‘ 10 target week because at this stage, no one should be surprised… you’ll hear about the 13 that Kendall Wright netted however, as it may represent a shift in Tennessee’s passing game distribution.

With that bit of context in mind, we’re off to the bullets…

Touches and Targets: Week 6 NFL Review

  • After I threw the full weight of my support behind Dontrelle Inman he was a no show for the Chargers this week against Denver, netting just one target. That said, neither Travis Benjamin‘s five targets nor Tyrell Williams‘ 3 is enough to sustain a fantasy week. Rivers threw 30 passes, but directed eight of them toward break out TE Hunter Henry on Thursday Night. Those targets are notable in particular because they came with Antonio Gates in the lineup, and because Henry feasted on them – making six catches for 83 yards and a score. Gates had six targets of his own, and it seems that the Chargers committed to targeting TEs in the middle of the field against Denver. All that being said, I’d count on Henry remaining a part of the offense on a regular basis and his workload negatively impacting that of Gates, Williams… and Inman.


  • The gap between Alshon Jeffery (WR20) and Cameron Meredith (WR36) in my rest of season rankings is now incredibly thin. Sure, that’s a significant conclusion to jump to after just two weeks but the volume certainly supports it as does Meredith’s film. I spoke with FNTSY Sports Network‘s Chris Meaney during the afternoon games today and he shared that he’d conducted a thorough review of Meredith’s snaps from Week 5 and his College career and came away impressed with the converted Quarterback.
    • Eddie Royal left this week’s contest early and Brian Hoyer attempted 50 passes, inflating numbers for both receivers, but Meredith led the team in volume and production again this week. Specifically, Meredith made 11 receptions on 15 targets for 113 yards.  Jeffery got back on track this week with a 13/7/93 line. Meredith’s relevance is in some ways contingent upon Brian Hoyer’s grip on the starting job, as there are no guarantees that Jay Cutler would continue to look his way so often, but with 20 catches and 243 yards on 27 targets over the last two weeks the game planners would be foolish not to continue looking in his direction. That all comes at an expense to Jeffery, who is more of a low-end WR2 in standard matchups at the moment.
  • Don’t look now, but Case Keenum has thrown for more than 250 yards in three straight weeks and is looking like he can keep his receivers fantasy relevant. Specifically, while Brian Quick has seen a lot of the deep looks this season, Kenny Britt has been a productive member of the offense long before his 2TD outing against the Lions. Britt was targeted eight times this week, catching seven balls for 136 yards, scoring twice. Britt, who is averaging 6.7 targets per game, has posted 75 or more yards in 4 of the team’s 6 games (and 67 in another). There is enough volume here to trust him as a regular play in deeper leagues.
  • Ricardo Louis had nine targets this week, ahead of Andrew Hawkins‘ four. It’s conceivable that he could become the team’s second option at WR – at least until Corey Coleman concerns, of course.
  • Preseason buzz recipient Tajae Sharpe has slowed in recent weeks, falling behind Rishard Matthews on the pecking order. Matthews found the endzone against Cleveland this week, though both pass catchers received just three targets. Meanwhile, in his first extended action of the season, Kendall Wright had 13 of 24 Marcus Mariota passes thrown in his direction in Week 6. He hauled in eight of them, including a deep score, for 133 yards. Tennessee doesn’t have a high volume passing game and I wouldn’t necessarily read this as Wright reclaiming his years-ago hold on the top of the WR depth chart in Tennessee, but it is certainly something to monitor. He’s worth an add with an eye toward monitoring the workloads in the weeks ahead.
  • Arian Foster didn’t see a lot of the field in his return to action, and netted just three carries. This seemed to have been the intended script, but Jay Ajayi‘s huge second half could leave him playing second fiddle. All told, Ajayi finished with 25 carries for 204 yards, adding one reception on two targets. I’d expect Foster to take on a greater share of the workload next time out, leaving Ajayi somewhere shy of 20 carries but this performance should keep him in the lead of the timeshare, at least in the short-term.
  • Giovani Bernard out-carried Jeremy Hill against New England 15-13, and intriguingly was heavily used around the goal line early in the game. Bernard also garnered five targets to Hill’s one. The latter isn’t surprising, particularly in a game that Cincinnati trailed but his use as the lead back early in this game is a troubling development for Jeremy Hill owners. If an even split in carries remains a trend, it significantly hampers Hill’s value.
  • Julian Edelman had a healthy seven targets this week, and saw 10 in Tom Brady‘s return, but they’ve been exclusively underneath. He’ll remain a solid PPR play with his work over the middle of the field, but the seams belong to Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, with Chris Hogan (just one target this week, a 39 yard reception) looking to be the deep threat. Edelman should be viewed more as a mid-WR3 than a sound WR2 at this point.
  • Jonathan Stewart promptly asserted himself atop the Carolina RB depth chart in his return, with 19 carries. Notably, it was Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Tolbert in the mix behind him, meaning that Cameron Artis-Payne is back to only having relevance if Stewart sits out. He scored twice against New Orleans – you shouldn’t count on Stewart remaining a high scoring back moving forward, but he’ll get plenty of work for Carolina.
  • Jamison Crowder saved his fantasy day with a TD today, but Pierre Garcon led Washington receivers in targets with 11, including a number inside the 20. Crowder caught three of his four looks, but he won’t be in regular WR3 consideration until he starts to consistently see 6 or 7 looks a week. It’s easy to underwhelm on four targets (which he hasn’t topped since the team’s third game).
  • Following the team’s bye, with Jamal Charles presumably at full health, Spencer Ware drew the start and easily out-touched the veteran. Ware had a 24-9 edge in carries and both backs went 2/2 on their targets. He started hot again this week, and finished the game with 131 yards on the ground (Charles looked solid, and netted 33 yards on his opportunities). He’s simply played too well to yield the job to Charles. Count on a 60-40ish split in the weeks ahead, until Ware fails to produce or his fumbles come up at an inopportune time.
  • Michael Crabtree received just four targets in a game that heavily featured Amari Cooper for the Raiders. Crabtree was targeted in the endzone and nearly had a solid fantasy day as a result, but the passing game has clearly shifted back in Cooper’s favor over the last two weeks. He posted a solid 13/10/129 line in defeat.
  • When Dez (and if Tony) comes back to the lineup, you have to assume that Cole Beasley slows down a bit. After all, he has a history as a middling receiver in this Dallas offense, but he sure was productive again this week. He was Dallas’ most targeted receiver this week (six) and caught every ball thrown his way. A six target, 5-6 reception effort is a fair enough projection regardless of who is in the lineup around him, but you have to assume he falls further down the pecking order around the goal line. Both of his scores came from within the five yard line this week. In any event, you’ve got to give Beasley credit for the time being and it will be hard not to continue to ride him after the bye.
  • I’m not making a whole lot of Ty Montgomery‘s 12 target, 10 catch outing for Green Bay. Injuries in the backfield coming into the game, and Davante Adams‘ injury suffered within it certainly helped to inflate his numbers. He may maintain a regular role – particularly given how good he looked out of the backfield, with James Starks due to miss extended time – but assuming Adams suits up next week I think he goes back to a bit player in Week 7.
  • Jimmy Graham continues to work as the pace car in the Seattle passing game, leading the time with nine targets this week. Baldwin, Kearse and Lockett each had five.

Oct 13

Week 6 NFL Ranks

With a (despite the Chargers’ record) somewhat intriguing Thursday Night game on the docket our Week 6 NFL Ranks are here just in time to prime you for tonight’s game with a look ahead to the weekend. Stay tuned for updates through kickoff.

  • I’m higher than most on Brian Hoyer this week but I favor the Jags to beat the Bears, leading to more late game throwing opportunities. The (not-so-interim-)Bears QB has thrown for 300+ and 2TDs in each of his starts this season and I don’t see that trend stopping this week. Hoyer makes for a great DFS play – a steady output with cost savings that you can build around. The truly adventurous can contemplate whether Cameron Meredith will be his favorite target again this week…
  • I like CJ Anderson on Thursday Night (RB4, ECR 8) against a Chargers D that has given up nine total touchdowns to RBs this season. With Trevor Siemian back in the saddle but still not at 100%, and on a short week, I’d expect a run heavy game plan and a lot of opportunities for Anderson to find paydirt.
  • I’m shocked to see Jamison Crowder ranked outside of the top-35 this week. With Jordan Reed looking unlikely to suit up and a matchup against the Eagles. Philadelphia has been strong defensively this season, but Crowder is set for an increase in workload against them. He averaged 9 standard league points in the first three games of the season where he drew seven or more targets. Count on a similar, productive, output this week.
  • The Titans have been quietly strong defensively this year and will draw a Browns team that starts an ailing Cody Kessler at QB. They are the best available streaming option in a game that should be low scoring and bring its share of turnovers.

Oct 04

Touches and Targets: NFL Week 4 Review

Regular readers won’t need the introduction, but for the others… this weekly article takes a look at touches, targets and opportunities around the league in an effort to use that data to project future behavior. The final fantasy lines tell a part of the story, but there is a big difference in terms of stability between an 11 point effort on 110 yards from six receptions on 10 targets and catching the lone ball thrown your way for a 50-yard touchdown. They both count the same this week, but one of them will be a lot easier to repeat the next time out – particularly if the eight targets are a regular occurrence.

With that in mind, we’re on to an abridged version of the piece with only the most fantasy relevant information shared below.

Touches and Targets: NFL Week 4 Review

Allen Hurns came up big for the Jags this week, but our NFL Week 4 Review suggests his long-term production could wane (Photo: Dan Istitene/Getty Images Europe).

Allen Hurns came up big for the Jags this week, but our NFL Week 4 Review suggests his long-term production could wane (Photo: Dan Istitene/Getty Images Europe).

Allen Hurns found the endzone for Jacksonville and seems to remain as the team’s primary deep threat, but Marqise Lee’s use is picking up in his third season. Lee hasn’t blown up the stat sheet yet, and this piece isn’t a suggestion that he will. That said, it is becoming clear that he is a regular part of the game plan and see such should cut into Hurns’ work. Recall that both players came to the team in 2014, but it was Lee (six targets this week; seven in each of the prior two outings) who carried the draft profile while Hurns (four targets) went undrafted. You can’t stay as a mainstay WR3 on just four targets a week. In fairness, Hurns has had 27 total targets this season but Lee’s rise certainly cuts into his opportunity. After this week’s score, iof there is a buyer at that WR2/3 price, I’m selling.

In last week’s piece, I noted that Dwayne Washington would likely operate as Detroit’s primary between the tackles runner moving forward as he had equal carries to Theo Riddick but was far more effective with the latter netting 1 YPC. It turns out, Detroit didn’t see it that way. Riddick had 11 carries (and a YPC clip of 2.8this week) while Washington had just two before leaving in the second quarter. Riddick added four catches on seven targets, and remains a viable PPR option with 15 weekly touches, but I’d still keep an eye on Washington potentially cutting into that workload moving forward.

Jimmy Graham led the Seahawks, topping 100 yards (eight targets; six catches; 113 yards) for the second straight week. He appears to be fully back from his 2015 injury and can be counted on as a weekly top-5 option at a thin position.

With Justin Forsett inactive; Terrance West had a productive (113 yards) 21 carries. Buck Allen had three just three. Baltimore heads off into the bye, and it seems unlikely that they’ll carry Forsett coming out of it. After all, they’ve already cut him once this season and Kenneth Dixon is expected to return. Over time, Dixon could cut into West’s workload but I’d expect a similar distribution, at least in the early going, as they ease the rookie into the lineup.

It was likely dictated by the matchup, and it didn’t lead to overwhelming offensive results on the whole so it may not linger… but, John Brown’s 16 targets on 47 pass attempts are a noteworthy shift after he’d spent much of the season as the third man on the totem pole.

In an exploitable matchup against the Saints, Dontrelle Inman – and not Travis Benjamin or Tyrell Williams – picked up 11 targets, seven receptions and 120. Inman was Philip Rivers’ favourite target a week after picking up three catches on four. With apologies to Benjamin owners, it’s a trend that could continue. He was expected to play the deep, speedster compliment to Keenan Allen this year and doesn’t expressly have the skill set to replace him on intermediate routes.

On the note of receivers who may be pushing for a shift in the team’s depth chart, or at a minimum a consistent redistribution of targets, Jeremy Kerley has been working well with Blaine Gabbert since arriving in San Francisco. This week, he was heavily used relative to his fantasy-relevant peers, ultimately making six receptions for 88 yards (with a score) on nine targets. Torrey Smith had just two. You’ll want to keep an eye on his health with a short week, but there are worse bye week replacements for PPR leaguers than Kerley.


Sep 29

Week 4 NFL Ranks

Heading into week four you’ll note some significant changes as depth charts and available opportunities continue to be in flux throughout the league. Moreover, in our Week 3 Touches and Targets piece we noted a few defenses that have earned the label of must-avoid, or at least, downgrade through three weeks.

Those are reflected in the ranks below, designed to help you with your start / sit questions. A brief discussion follows the rankings widget.

Week 4 NFL Ranks


Week 4 NFL Ranks Discussion

  • The Raiders D managed to get the hemorrhaging under control against the Titans last week, but I’m all in on Joe Flacco as a top-12 QB in Week 4. Steve Smith is coming on, Dennis Pitta appears back to form, and Mike Wallace is a great fit for the offense. This won’t be an every week position for Flacco and co. but the Oakland D is a matchup that looks to be worth exploiting through three weeks.
  • I don’t want anything to do with Charles Sims (at least as a mid-range RB2) against the Broncos. Denver’s defense has actually given up four TDs to RBs this season and are allowing completions at a 15/17 rate out of the backfield, but Tampa Bay’s hot and cold offense should struggle against them overall. I’m expecting a low scoring contest with limited TD upside for Sims and a front-seven that should keep him in check between the tackles.
  • Doug Baldwin and his QB are both playing through pain this week, but we saw a week ago that with Russell Wilson contained to the pocket he relied on Baldwin (11 targets) and Jimmy Graham. I’m expecting more of the same against a Jets D that will either be without Darrelle Revis or remains exploitable over the top by speed.
  • The Lions have given up five TDs to TEs through three weeks of the season and Zach Miller was heavily targeted in Brian Hoyer’s Week 3 start. I think he’ll see a lot of use again, and remain a solid red zone option. He’s flush with TE1 upside this week.

Sep 28

Touches and Targets: NFL Week 3 Review

As much as weekly and cumulative usage starts to paint a picture at this point of the season, defensive matchups are equally important. Through three weeks, both sides of the equation are coming into focus. Everyone expected that they’d have to temper offensive expectations against Seattle, Carolina, Houston (even now without J.J. Watt) and Denver, but there are a few other legitimate shut down defenses that have shown their ability to cut an opponents fantasy production through the first three weeks. It’s time to start paying attention.

After watching Minnesota sack QB Cam Newton eight times on Sunday and following a defense that has created consistent pressure against the opposing offensive line through three weeks they certainly belong in the ‘downgrade’ category. Aging CB Terrance Newman has allowed a few big plays and has seen a number of pass interference calls go against him as well, but as long as the d-line is generating a significant pass rush he won’t be exploited significantly. At 295 YPG and 13.3 PPG allowed, the ceiling is low on your fantasy stars against the Vikings.

Other surprise entries into the top-7: the Ravens, whose defense appears to be back to form and the Philadelphia Eagles who have a lot of young talent on D and seem to have made the right personnel and scheme (i.e. they aren’t on the field all the time) changes after Chip Kelly’s departure. Say what you will about quality of opponent through three week’s, Jim Schwartz’s defense in Philadelphia is performing – the Eagles have allowed just 9 PPG this year. That number is certain to climb, but make no mistake, this defense is legit.

And now, onto the bullets for the other half of the equation.

Touches and Targets: NFL Week 3 Review

LeGarrette Blount has had a lot to celebrate this season (Photo: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports).

LeGarrette Blount has had a lot to celebrate this season (Photo: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports).

  • LeGarrette Blount out-touched James White 24-4 on Thursday Night Football and I’d expect that trend to continue for the week ahead against Buffalo. As Tom Brady integrates back into the lineup, the team will probably lean more heavily on the run than pass as well, but I’m not expecting a 24 touch workload to be a mainstay for Blount. In fact, if you can find a taker you’ve probably got a ~10 day window to deal him before that number gradually starts to decline. Blount has had more than 22 carries in each of the three games to start the year, but the offense should shift when Brady gets up to speed.
  • Yes, the Cardinals traveled poorly and Carson Palmer showed shades of his 2015-playoff self but there is some silver lining for the fantasy prospects of at least one Cardinal. David Johnson scored twice so you’re already well aware of his solid output, but what was particularly impressive is that he managed a solid workload despite poor game flow. Buffalo went up 23-7 quickly in the third quarter and Johnson still netted 19 carries (83 yards) and made three receptions on six targets. Meantime, with the team trailing, Palmer slung it around a lot as well. Larry Fitzgerald (12) led WRs in targets but John Brown and Michael Floyd finished right behind him (11). In a standard week there won’t be that much volume to go around, but it does seem that Johnson is in line for solid work regardless of game situation.
    • With Sammy Watkins out, Robert Woods led receivers with eight targets for Buffalo. You won’t want to use him regularly, but he could be a decent PPR play when Watkins misses time. Relative unknown Walt Powell (5/3/28) saw as many looks as Marquise Goodwin.
  • After a solid fantasy outing in Week 2, Giovani Bernard had just five carries (8 yards) while Jeremy Hill picked up 17 and the goal line work (as expected). Gio did manage to haul in all five of his targets, but this makes two weeks now where he had 10 touches or fewer. He hasn’t topped five carries in a game The Bengals and Broncos played close for most of the day, despite what the box score suggests, and it seems that they were content to run their base offense most of the day… leaving Bernard without a lot of work. This (averaging five carries per game vs. 9.6 from 2015) seems like the new normal in the post-Jackson offense. If I could get an RB2 trade offer for Bernard after a solid game, I’d take it.
  • Emmanuel Sanders had 13 targets to Demaryius Thomas’ seven a week after griping about the ball not finding its way to him. I’ll be intrigued to see if that holds in Week 4 or whether it was a squeaky wheel situation.
  • The story of Detroit’s outing on offense was Marvin Jones’ big day, but a little deeper look suggests that Dwayne Washington is worth an add. It was speculated that he’d see some work between the tackles for Detroit, and with Theo Riddick struggling to carry the ball (overall he had 10 for 9 yards) he notched 10 carries. He was targeted just once and lost yards, but if the Lions are taking this week as proof that Riddick isn’t ready to carry the load, 12-15 touches isn’t out of the question for Washington moving forward. Riddick received 9 targets and caught 7 balls, so he has the PPR value you’d expect but you shouldn’t anticipate him being a 20 touch back with Abdullah out.
  • Green Bay didn’t need to pass a whole lot, so we won’t read too much into the data, save to note that it’s Jordy Nelson (seven looks; six catches and two scores) and everybody else when the score gets lopsided. Davante Adams scored and has had seven targets in each of the team’s first two games, so he may be worth a look in deeper leagues but will be inconsistent, particularly when the score gets lopsided.
  • A week after netting eight carries while rookie DeAndre Washington had seven and Jalen Richard followed with six, Latavius Murray didn’t fare much better for Oakland. Murray had 10 carries, ran well, and found the endzone but Washington cut into his work load again, ripping off a 30-yard carry and notching 57 total on six – a number matched by Richard. There are plenty of carries to go around, but this is a full blown RBBC in Oakland. He’s tied to a potent offense and there aren’t a lot of 18-20 touch backs out there… but if you could land one who has had a heftier workload through three weeks, it may be a worth a look.
  • One to file away for later: Jace Amaro (and not Anthony Fasano) was the featured Tight End with Delanie Walker out of the lineup. He had four targets, and caught three of them for 59 yards. Not an awful situation if you’re in need of a flier.
  • With Josh Gordon due back after Week 4 I’m not thinking Gary Barnidge’s heavy use will keep up – he was targeted six times and caught five balls this week with Corey Coleman absent from the lineup, but after a slow start to the season I wouldn’t treat this as a long-term sign of resurgence. On the ground, the Browns were predictably run heavy and that proved to be a strong formula. Isaiah Crowell picked up 15 carries (for a productive 79 yards) and did not connect on his lone target while Duke Johnson caught five balls on seven looks (netting just 12 yards) and added 10 carries. I’d count on 13-16 touches a piece moving forward, though those numbers won’t yield particularly attractive fantasy lines unless they score.
  • I went heavy on Devonte Parker last week after he was heavily used by the Dolphins in his return to the field, and he netted just six targets this week – behind Jarvis Landry (expected) and Kenny Stills (8). Stills had four targets to Parker’s 13 a week ago.
  • If Arian Foster misses another week it seems that the Fins are very much committed to a committee approach behind him. Kenyan Drake led backs with nine; while Jay Ajayi had seven (including the overtime game-winning TD) and Isaiah Pead even chipped in with 5. That’s not enough work load to get excited about anyone.
  • Orleans Darkwa scored and was the only back other than the now-injured Shane Vereen to net carries (10) this week. He scored, and put up a 5.3 YPC average and has generally been productive while in the lineup. Bobby Rainey was active in this one as well, while Paul Perkins didn’t see the field. As such, Darkwa is the warranted add and should stay engaged to spell Rashad Jennings even when the veteran is back to health. Meantime, add Darkwa and keep an eye on the injury report for Week 4.
  • It’s getting hard to ignore Jamison Crowder, who was targeted seven times this week (one behind DeSean Jackson and tied with Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed in an even distribution from Kirk Cousins. Crowder caught four balls for 78 yards and a score, and now sits at 25 targets on the young season. The seven looks are actually the lowest he’s seen on the season. Indeed, the ball has been fairly well distributed as Garcon, Jackson and Reed all have more than 20 of their own… which means that some weeks Crowder could be under-productive relative to his peers but he certainly warrants ownership in most standard leagues.
  • Cameron Artis-Payne was active for the first time on the season in the wake of Jonathan Stewart’s injury and he received 12 carries to Fozzy Whittaker’s five this week… essentially, replacing Stewart’s workload. Against a tough defensive front he put up a 3.9 YPC average and should fare well as a back-end RB2/FLEX as long as Stewart is out. For his part, Whittaker got the passing down work and netted six targets to CAP’s 1. The Panthers (having faced the Vikings and Broncos in their first three games) have had a rough start to the season in terms of fantasy schedule, but the sledding gets lighter from here.
  • For the Vikings, the run game didn’t produce a whole lot but the carries were dominated by Jerrick McKinnon. McKinnon had 16 carries (to six for Matt Asiata) and was targeted twice. With the Giants, Texans and Eagles on the horizon the matchups aren’t particularly easy but McKinnon should work fine as a volume play and he has some juicy opponents mid-season. In theory, he’s worth a buy-low trade offer should he struggle to put up points in the next few weeks.
  • Terrance West led the Ravens backfield in carries for the second time in three weeks (10-7 over Forsett) but with Kenneth Dixon’s return looming, the split may become even more troublesome despite the fact that the Ravens offense is operating at a pretty good clip early this year. In the pass game, Dennis Pitta (eight targets) and Steve Smith (11) paced the pass catchers in targets. Smith seems to be returning to form quite well, and his increased workload came directly at the expense of Mike Wallace. Wallace is going to continue to work as a deep threat and will get his looks in the endzone, but his weekly floor is fairly low with Smith dominating looks again. This week’s six targets are nothing to shake a stick at, but they do represent a decline.
  • Chris Ivory saw 12 carries in his return to action for Jacksonville. He didn’t do a thing with them (14 yards) but T.J. Yeldon had just six. The Jags have struggled and have a long trip this week for their overseas game, but Ivory isn’t worth giving up on coming out of the bye.
  • Jimmy Graham’s target count went through the roof this week, nearly doubling his season total with nine. He looked sharp, too, and Russell Wilson knew it. Better yet for fantasy investors: on a day when the Seahawks didn’t have to pass a whole lot, and where Graham’s targets spiked, Doug Baldwin still got his (10-8-164-TD).
  • The Bucs spent far more time passing than anyone projected this week, but Charles Sims still had 13 carries (adding six catches on eight targets) while Jacquizz Rodgers had just five so the rumours of a timeshare seem to have been greatly exaggerated – something to bear in mind now, or later in the season if Doug Martin misses any more time.
  • Adam Humphries’ 12 looks appear to have been a product of an exploitable matchup more than a leaping of Vincent Jackson in the pecking order. That said, he did produce 100 yards on nine receptions while the vet had just six targets and has posted only 99 yards on the season. Jackson isn’t in the WR3 conversation at this stage.
  • Tyrell Williams (nine) out-targeted Travis Benjamin (seven) against the Colts. Judging by the last two weeks, something around (eight) apiece in a standard contest is a fair projection.
  • Y. Hilton was the main beneficiary of Donte Moncrief’s absence, with 11 looks and the game winning score. Meantime, Philip Dorsett caught three balls on four targets – hardly mind blowing numbers. Jack Doyle was the Colts’ most targeted TE (6-5 over Dwayne Allen).
  • Matt Forte has been a workhorse in the first three games, and he notched 15 carries in a contest that the Jets trailed throughout. That said, Bilal Powell still appears to be in the lead as the passing down / catch up back. Powell had only four carries, but was targeted seven times (making six receptions) in the passing game while Forte had four (catching two). It’s worth watching to see if this trend continues, and adjusting expectations for Forte based on projected game flow. You may get a good chance to see New York trail against Seattle.
  • Philadelphia was in control most of the game so this may have been simply taking advantage of an opportunity to get the rookie back touches (15 carries came after half time with Philadelphia well in control), but with Ryan Mathews going down it was Wendell Smallwood (17 total rush attempts) who got the carries. Smallwood impressed, too, with 79 yards and a score. Kenjon Barner pitched in with seven, but the situation is worth monitoring re: Mathews’ health coming out of the team’s Week 4 bye. In the passing game, one week after all my Nelson Agholor love Dorial Green-Beckham saw four targets to his three. This wasn’t a typical gameflow, however, and I still see Agholor as the team’s #2 option and worthy of ownership in deeper leagues.
  • With Jeremy Langford going down and set to miss at least a month, Jordan Howard stepped in with nine carries for 45 yards for Chicago. It looks like the Bears will trail often, limiting his overall opportunities, but Howard demonstrated burst that Langford hasn’t and this could be his job to hold. Further, he was targeted six times in the passing game which is promising. The next test comes with monitoring the snaps and touches when Ka’Deem Carey is available but Howard must be owned in all formats.
  • TE Zach Miller was a favourite target of Brian Hoyer’s, scoring twice on nine targets. Kevin White actually led pass catchers (14) but I’d expect that particular pendulum to swing back in favour of Alshon Jeffery.
  • Both had monster fantasy lines, but just in case you missed it Devonta Freeman slightly out-touched Tevin Coleman (19-15 this week). He outgained him significantly, however, it was Coleman who had the touchdown binge. Both are absolutely worth starting in most matchups; but based on the early returns a projected 60-40 split in favour of Freeman is a fair expectation re: the workload distribution.
  • Last week, we used a healthy 8 target performance to suggest that Coby Fleener would remain engaged in the Saints offense. He certainly did in Week 3 and what’s more, he was finally productive. Fleener drew 11 targets (or just over 20% of Drew Brees’ 54 pass attempts) which tied Michael Thomas for the team lead. The numbers for both will come down, perhaps considerably, when Willie Snead is active but Fleener remains very much a part of the offense and Thomas flashed great potential. I’d still treat the TE as a back-end starting option at the position until he can string together productive outings, but that outlook is much better than what most were giving him at this time last week.

Sep 22

Week 3 NFL Ranks

With two weeks behind us the data points are starting to take on a little more meaning. It’s still not time to abandon any preconceived notions about players, but snap counts, touches, targets and usage through the first two games are starting to take on more meaning. With that in mind, those items have influenced the ranks below which should help you prepare for Week 3.

A discussion of some of the big departures from ECR follows the rankings below.

Week 3 NFL Ranks


Week 3 NFL Ranks Discussion

  • I’ve got Matt Ryan and Drew Brees hovering near the top of my QB ranks this week. Perhaps in Week 3 we’ll all get the 100 point Saints game that we were all expecting in Week 2. Other rankers, and others in your daily games are likely down on Ryan in particular this week after what is being perceived as a strong defensive effort by the Saints in Week 2 against the Giants… except, Eli Manning passed for 368 yards last week and misfired on just nine of 41 attempts. This secondary is still injured (more so) and poor (always), they just got away with a few turnovers last week and a few failed executions from the Giants. Count on Ryan (and + matchup for Mo Sanu, too) putting up numbers against the Saints this week. He’s fantasy’s number one scorer through two weeks of the season. It won’t hold forever, but should last another week.
  • I’m three spots behind ECR on Lamar Miller this week. He’s coming off back to back career high weeks in touches and while I love that he’s getting a featured back’s workload in Houston, I’d expect that to lighten a bit, and him to struggle a bit in Week 3 against the Pats on a short week. Again, he’s still my number 7 RB so it’s not like I’ve given up entirely… but, I can’t rank him top-5 on Thursday Night Football.
  • After a poor showing, I’ve still ranked Golden Tate at #30 as a solid WR3 this week against the Packers. Green Bay’s defense has looked strong through two weeks and Tate’s production is down… but, he had nine targets a week ago. He’s still very much a part of Matthew Stafford’s pass attack. The Lions should lean a little more heavily on the pass with the feature back out of the lineup as well. Count on 8-10 looks again this week for Tate and hope he’s more productive with them.
  • The absence of Corey Coleman for at least a month is just what Gary Barnidge owners are looking for. Without a lot of legitimate weapons (I like Pryor, but he’s hardly a consistent WR1 threat for this offense) I see him becoming the focus of the passing attack again. With the requisite Cody Kessler grain of salt he’s back as a back-end TE1 for me this week.

Sep 20

Touches and Targets: NFL Week 2 Review

Beyond just reviewing the box score, one of the most important ‘next steps’ for upping your fantasy game is understanding the data behind the raw numbers. You can take that analysis to the nth degree, if you’re hardcore, but at a minimum a wise gamer knows that there is a big difference between a 3 catch, 3 target, 120 yard receiving line with most of the yardage being generated on a single blown coverage than a player going 9/7/120 in a similar contest.

Both outings give you 12 standard league fantasy points, but there one line is a lot more easy to count on happening repeatedly over the course of the season… particularly if trends start to emerge.

That’s what this piece is all about, taking that first next step beyond the obvious for you. Beyond the X number of fantasy points that look good (or bad) in your box score and trying to use this and previous weeks’ workload data to project next and future weeks’ outcomes.

With that in mind, each week you’ll find my highlights of a deeper review of the box scores shared in this space.

Touches and Targets: NFL Week 2 Review

Travis Benjamin (pictured) and Tyrell Williams were both effective in the sans-Allen offense for San Diego (Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images North America).

Travis Benjamin (pictured) and Tyrell Williams were both effective in the sans-Allen offense for San Diego (Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images North America).

In San Diego’s first week without Keenan Allen we got a glimpse as to how their workload might shake out moving forward. Of course, with the Chargers plastering the Jaguars and Philip Rivers throwing just 24 passes as a result the data is a bit skewed… but, we can still make meaning from it. Rivers threw just 24 passes in a game that San Diego won handily, but doled out 6 targets each to Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams. Both scored long TDs (Benjamin twice), while Antonio Gates came in behind them (five targets). As we look ahead to Week 3, you don’t love that San Diego is leaving their West Coast home for Indianapolis but you have to love the opponent. Indianapolis has the offense to put up points and they don’t offer much resistance on defense, with their secondary taking further bruises in Week 2.

Last week, Trevor Siemian didn’t score a lot, but didn’t have a lot of trouble finding the open man either. Matthew Stafford carved up this secondary in Week 1. Rivers is more polished than Siemian, and arguably more consistent than Stafford….

Even if Williams and Benjamin split targets again, Rivers should attempt something in the range of 35 passes at least… that looks more like nine apiece than six. Their share of the targets may further grow with Danny Woodhead now out of the lineup for the remainder of the season. Woodhead – who caught 81 balls last year – takes at least 30 receptions with him that will have to be distributed throughout the receiving corps (assuming the backs pick up the rest of the slack).

On the note of the backs, it’s now Melvin Gordon‘s show in San Diego and that might actually be a good thing. Gordon had 24 carries and topped 100 yards this week. He scored his 3rd TD of the season after failing to score any in his rookie year.

I’m all in on Benjamin, Williams and Gordon this week and will happily use Gates at TE in daily leagues and streaming situations.


With that dispensed, lets get on to the bullets:

  • I didn’t watch a lot of the game so can’t speak to this in detail, but Allen Robinson had just 5 targets for the Jaguars… he finished behind Allen Hurns (10) – this is fair, he’s earned his work – Marqise Lee (7), Julius Thomas (7) and T.J. Yeldon (10). (Yeldon managed just 10 yards on eight catches, too). No need to panic as he was used in a high volume role in Week 1, but something to be attentive to when factoring Robinson’s role into start/sit decisions and daily lineups.
  • Dez Bryant, with a highly efficient rookie QB, posted a solid line this week. He finished 7-102 on 12 targets, or 40% of Dak’s 30 pass attempts.
  • Jamison Crowder scored and has 18 targets through two games (8 this week to lead the team; rookie and presumed #3 Josh Doctson had 5 but caught just one).
  • Unsurprisingly, the Patriots employed a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount after Jacoby Brissett came into the game. Blount finished with 29 carries while Brissett threw just nine passes. 19 of those carries came after Garoppolo left the game. Expect more of the same with a short turn around to get the rookie QB ready, though the Houston defense won’t let New England simply grind clock. Blount is an underwhelming play this week despite volume, but could be intriguing against Buffalo if Jimmy G does miss extended time.
  • Devante Parker tied Jarvis Landry with 13 targets in his first game active this year. After some bad press late in August, it seems that it might not be all doom and gloom for him (eight catches, 106 yards). Stills scored and had a decent fantasy day as a result, but don’t let that obscure that Parker may be ahead of him on the pecking order after all. He gets the Browns in Week 3.

I talked Devante Parker; Nelson Agholor and more with Chris Meaney and Ashley Docking of FNTSY Sports Network:

  • Thursday: Forte had 30 carries, scored thrice, and added two catches on four targets. He now has 59 targets through two weeks. Owners may want to sell high on the veteran at a certain point if that keeps up – can he handle 30 touches a week over a 16 game season?
    • Quincy Enunwa missed some time but went 6/6 for 92 and has 14 targets through two games with Brandon Marshall possibly missing time. This week brings a tough matchup against the Chiefs, but don’t be discouraged if he doesn’t have a strong performance there. The Jets haven’t really used Kellen Davis (targeted just once) but Enunwa has a TE body type and runs some routes against linebackers while lining up in tight on a number of occasions. He’s being deployed creatively and is an important part of a better-than-you-want-to-admit offense…
  • Mike Wallace has scored three times in two weeks and looks like a great fit with Joe Flacco, but the real story is Dennis Pitta who had 12 targets (nine catches, 102) to lead hte team. He led TEs last week as well, and is cemented as top option there while healthy. If nothing else, we’ve answered questions around his health through the first two weeks and he warrants an add if available.
  • Terrelle Pryor had a quiet day and a costly penalty, but it should be noted that he was targeted 10 times, which was actually more than Corey Coleman’s 8. Coleman, of course, was excellent… but if you were high on Pryor after Week 1 the ten targets are encouraging.
  • On the note of quiet days with a lot of looks: Before we panic on Tajae Sharpe and his three catch outing, it should be noted that his seven targets led all receivers (Murray also saw seven out of the backfield).
  • The Detroit passing game wasn’t quite as awful as the final stat line portends (including consecutive TDs called back by penalties and a number of costly drops by Golden Tate. Tate had nine targets and made two catches). Better days are ahead for Matthew Stafford and co. Specifically, I like the outlook for Marvin Jones. He led the team with 11 looks and has 21 with 203 yards through the season’s first two games, noteworthy given that these are the first two games of the post-Calvin era.
  • The Saints put the ball in the air 44 times, so everyone got a lot of work, but it’s not time to panic on Coby Fleener yet. He saw eight targets (tied with Willie Snead, one behind Brandin Cooks) in week two and while he and Drew Brees still have some issues in their communication, it seems evident that the team wants their FA acquisition to play a significant role. I’m not ready to use him yet, but if you drafted Fleener as your TE1 I wouldn’t cut ties either. It’s a long season.
  • Eli Manning passed for 368 yards and had just nine incompletions on 41 attempts. Three lost fumbles made the score a lot closer than it should have been, but don’t mistake this for an overall defensive improvement from New Orleans. They get Julio Jones ad Mohamed Sanu next week – the two had just five targets apiece on 34 Matt Ryan pass attempts,m but it’s a plus matchup for both and Sanu saw eight passes thrown his way in Week 1. Jacob Tamme actually leads the team with 16 targets through two games (eight this week).
  • I’m not making too much of Cincinnati’s poor offensive outing in the rain against Pittsburgh, but I will note that Giovani Bernard was targeted 11 times in the passing game (catching nine balls for 101). The weather likely had a lot to do with that as well, but after a seven touch Week 1 it seems that at least in the right matchup and context Bernard remains useful in the post-Jackson offense.
    • Tyler Boyd will be a popular waiver wire add this week – and likely should be – but Dalton threw 54 passes this week and Brandon LaFell had eight looks of his own after going 4/4/91 in the opener. Factor in Bernard and Tyler Eifert’s impending return and most weeks (especially with Cincinnati likely to lead more often than not) and you won’t see eight balls for the 3rd, 4th or 5th option.
  • Jonathan Stewart left the game early for Carolina and as a result Fozzy Whittaker ended up with 16 carries (100 yards) and 3 catches on 4 targets. If Stewart misses time, it seems that the team is content to roll with Whittaker with a similar workload. Keep an eye on chatter around Cameron Artis-Payne, but he’s been inactive for the first two weeks.
  • Lamar Miller didn’t do a whole heck of a lot – just 3.3 YPC – against KC but he ran the ball 25 times and caught two passes. He now has 65 touches through two weeks. By contrast, he didn’t get to that total until Week 5 last year. I’m not crazy about him on short week after a high volume game vs. NE but he’s a lock as a top-3 RB this year as long as he’s healthy getting that volume.
    • DeAndre Hopkins got his, but Will Fuller is clearly a significant part of the team’s passing game after his second career game. He was the only other Texan with more than three looks (seven), catching four balls (for 104).
  • It was an ugly day as part of an ugly start to the season for Seattle, but it was particularly bad for Thomas Rawls who gained just eight yards on 10 touches while Christine Michael – who out-gained him in the opener as well – carried 10 times for 60 yards, adding 26 yards on 3/4 receiving. Rawls left with a minor injury. This backfield is shaping up to be a timeshare, but Rawls can’t afford too many more lackluster performances.
  • Such that you’re interested in being tied to the TD-less, Case Keenum led, Rams offense it should be noted that Kenny Britt led the team in targets (10) and yards (94) a week after leading the team in receiving in the opener (67 yards).
  • Larry Fitzgerald scored again this week, drawing 11 targets. Michael Floyd had a TD of his own to save his fantasy day, but otherwise had just eight yards receiving on six looks. Be it from teams game planning against him, or the Cardinals choosing to focus on Fitzgerald, it’s hard to trust Floyd and his 13 targets through two games (vs. Fitzgerald’s 21) as much more than a WR3/4.
  • Indianapolis had a rough day passing the ball against Denver, but with so many options in the passing game Andrew Luck’s 40 attempts were spread thin. After TY Hilton, the clear lead, had his 11 targets Dorsett (5), Moncrief (3), Allen (4) and other players of interest split the remaining. Moncrief remains a WR2 but in weeks where you’re expecting a down day for Indianapolis offensively it’s fair to note that the ‘many mouths’ may leave the secondary targets without a lot to feed on.
  • Devonta Freeman out-carried Tevin Coleman 17-12 this week, and was much more efficient (93 yards) against Oakland than in Week 1 against Tampa. Still, Coleman went 2/2 on his targets and it was pretty much an even split. Freeman had a solid game for his owners, but don’t let 93 yards obscure the fact that they’re still splitting carries (with Coleman scoring the TD and thus having the better fantasy day this week). More often than not, there won’t be 29 carries for them to split.

Sep 15

Week 2 NFL Ranks

While it’s a small sample size and far too early to read into any perceived strengths or weaknesses across the league, some of our preseason thinking gained more support in Week 1. As such, our Week 2 NFL ranks take into account potential defenses to pick on in your matchups this week.

Below the table, a few quick points on areas where I’m out of alignment with ECR.


  • You only care about this rank if looking for a value DFS play or in a 2QB format, but I’m pleased to be 8 spots ahead of ECR on Trevor Siemian. He fared well enough against a tough defense in Carolina in Week 1 and has had 10 days to prepare for a matchup against a Colts’ secondary that came into the season injured and undermanned and came out of Week 1 even more banged up.
  • No one wants to over-react to Week 1’s results, but I find it hard to rank Todd Gurley as anything other than a middling RB2 this week. Case Keenum admits he was ‘seeing ghosts‘ a week ago and certainly looked under manned against the 49ers. The task is much taller for the entire Rams offense against the Seahawks this week, and while the team may feature Gurley it’s hard to envision them scoring more than once or twice overall against the ‘Hawks in their LA home opener. Keenum and co. are going to struggle to move the ball and as such, there isn’t a lot of ceiling offered with Gurley in Week 2.
  • Stefon Diggs profiles as a top-end WR3/WR2 this week against the Packers. Minnesota’s offense underwhelmed in the opener against Tennessee but could find itself in catch up mode against Green Bay this week. While the switch from Hill to Bradford makes it harder to project how this week will shake out, Diggs remained the clear first option in the passing game a week ago (nine targets) and should easily match that number in Week 2 suggesting that a second 100 yard game to open the season is within reach.
  • With all of their options on offense, the Colts leaned heavily on the TE position a week ago against Detroit. With Denver’s solid defensive backfield matching up against Indianapolis’ WR’s Allen could become a redzone option again this week – don’t be worried about the impact of Jack Doyle, but do count on the TE position being a redzone feature the rest of the way with a speedy-but-slight WR corps featured in Indy.

Sep 09

Week 1 Fantasy Football Ranks

They’re posted a little later than we’d like here inside the locker room, but this is always a rough day job week… so… here they are on Friday AM after the Thursday nighter.

Our Week 1 Fantasy Football Ranks are posted without much discussion, though the bullets below the post highlight some of the players I’m higher or lower on in terms of ECR with an eye toward who I’ll be targeting in DFS this week.


Week 1 is a challenge as a general rule, as you don’t know a lot about schemes on both sides of the ball, and further about which teams will be truly good and bad against the run, pass, etc. Certainly, you can’t base your assessments on last year’s rosters. Alas, here are the high points:

  • I’m well ahead of ECR on Matthew Stafford. I was in my preseason ranks as well, and it has a lot to do with how well he performed under Jim Bob Cooter last year as OC. Losing Johnson hurts, sure, but Tate and Jones aren’t a dismal group at WR. This week in particular, it’s about exploiting an Indianapolis secondary that wasn’t very good to begin with and was hit with the injury bug this preseason. Keep an eye on both QBs in Vegas’ highest projected point total of the week.
  • I’m buying Carlos Hyde in Chip Kelly’s offense and expect a run heavy game plan. There isn’t a lot of talent at WR and Blaine Gabbert is a QB you want to hide not game plan around.
  • I’m not ready to make any season long projections on the Seattle backfield, though I think that Thomas Rawls will get his shot. That said, this week in a game at home with the ‘Hawks projected to win big and be running out the clock, I’m betting on a big outing from Christine Michael. Expect a handful of carries for Rawls and the bulk of the work for Michael in Week 1.
  • I’m not scared off by Dez with Dak. I definitely think you’ll see a run heavy game plan, but the two made some plays together in the pre-season and Dez remains the best option in the receiving game by a wide margin. I don’t expect to see a ton of defense in this contest, and think Dez could put up some serious points on 10+ targets.

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