NFL Week 5 Twitter Takeaways: Keke catching on

By now if you’ve been following you know the drill, and if you’re new to the post I’m guessing you’ll get a sense of what we’re trying to do in this post pretty quickly.

In short… quick hits of subjects of interest that you may have missed from the weekend that was. You won’t necessarily see headlines or big statistical outputs that are likely covered elsewhere… just some moments of intrigue from the weekend that was.

James White is an Elite PPR Performer

This shouldn’t necessarily be new to anyone, but it’s still noteworthy. Sony Michel deservedly earned an 18 carry workload after a breakout performance in Week 4 and carried that over to Week 5. James White saw just two carries.

Any yet, he finished as a top-10 back in .5PPR. White caught 10 balls for 77 yards (on 14 targets) and scored even with Edelman back in the lineup, Gordon scoring, and Gronk reeling in six balls with Michel pacing the ground game. The backfield puzzle in New England that has befuddled fantasy gamers for years might be finally solved. Start ’em if you got ’em.

RB Usage Isn’t Dictated by Fantasy Twitter

It’s easy for us to justify our critique when the coach we’re targeting loses, but if Mason Crosby hadn’t had an absolute meltdown of a day (in a dome, no less) the Packers would have picked up a road win against a division opponent this week. And they’d have done so while rotating carries and snaps among Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery.

I’m a Jones investor and believer. Regardless of my shares, or your own personal stakes, it’s hard to suggest anyone else on the roster is a more effective rusher of the football. But, that’s not all that goes into playing time at teh position. No matter how much we want it, Jones isn’t running away with the workload, and it doesn’t sound like Mike McCarthy is going to change that any time soon.

Until we see the results – and that may mean until Jones improves in pass protection or other less statistically obvious areas that his coach is looking for – owners would be advised to treat Jones as the ~10 touch back that he is, and not place him into lineups with hopes for something greater. That may well come in due course, but it’s not here now. I learned my lesson this week, and hope you will as well.

Again, even when we appear to be right, fantasy owners aren’t setting the snap count in Green Bay:

Todd Gurley looks like a great DFS play in Week 6

He’ll cost you an arm and a leg, and touting the league’s best all around back who is its touchdown leader as a great play isn’t exactly a dangerous limb to step out on… but, in case you’re still buying the brand name of the Broncos defense this nugget is worth considering:

Though, we should give Isaiah Crowell credit where it is due.

That stat isn’t necessarily actionable, as Crowell is 77% owned, but it’s an eye opener nonetheless. The Jets got the win, but Sam Darnold had another rough overall outing, completing 10 of 22 passes so it doesn’t look like the box will be any less stacked next week. But, it may not matter. I’d be very comfortable starting Crowell as an upside RB2 moving forward.

Start him or sell him, @chrismeaney:

It wasn’t all bad for Darnold, mind you. Last week I read a lot into the work that Quincy Enunwa was getting. And, he still tied for the team lead with five targets, but he didn’t make a single catch. Robby Anderson tied him with five looks of his own, and you’re aware of the two big plays by now. That position is worth keeping an eye on in the weeks ahead, to see if the trust Anderson seems to be earning keeps him relevant moving forward:

George Kittle got it done again this week

You may genuinely have missed this one as a seven point standard league day doesn’t jump off the board at you, but it was another solid day from George Kittle.

The 49ers found themselves playing catchup for much of the second half and C.J. Beathard threw 54 passes which won’t be in the game script every week but seven of those 54 balls were thrown in George Kittle‘s direction. He’s going to continue to get work and has been remarkably consistent so far – with 75 or more yards in four of five games. It should continue, as he is proving to be one of Beathard’s favorite targets.

It shouldn’t come as a great surprise that Pierre Garcon (Marquise Goodwin was out this week, mind you), as he’s more the possession type for the 9ers.

Chris Carson returned to lead the Seattle backfield

Russell Wilson threw just 21 passes in a game where the Seahawks put up 31 points. Hoping to run the ball to keep Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense off the field should not come as a great surprise, but doing so effectively did given how poor the Seahawks have been at running the ball in recent years.

They may have found something with the duo of Chris Carson and Mike Davis. Davis scored a TD a week after his breakout performance, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that Carson rushed for an impressive 116 yards on 19 carries (vs. 12, for 68 from Davis). Carson saw one target to Davis’ two for 20 total opportunities.

They won’t share 31 rush attempts on a regular basis, but a rough 1.5:1 ratio seems about right. It also leaves Rashaad Penny in the cold. He didn’t play a single snap this week and can be released in most leagues.

Be wary of Will Fuller

He always carries a bit of a boom/bust label, and there was no boom in Week 5. He came into the game nursing a hamstring injury so I’m not hitting teh panic button by any stretch, but I’m mindful that quiet weeks could come more often that owners would like moving forward.

Keke Coutee made a nice play on the his short TD and caught six balls on seven targets overall, after a week in which he made the most receptions for a player in his first game in NFL history. There was a TON of buzz around him coming out of camp, and two games into his career it seems that Coutee is ready to live up to that.

Fuller is a unique talent in his own right, of course, but for a player that relies on a long reception or two to define his fantasy value any targets that a consistent 3rd receiver behind him squirrels away makes that big play less likely to happen from a volume perspective. This week, he saw just three targets on 44 Deshaun Watson pass attempts.


Certainly he’s getting enough work to cut into Fuller’s production and perhaps to deliver some sustained value of his own:

NFL Week 4 Twitter Takeaways: Trubisky takes off; Sony Michel makes major strides

Each week of the NFL season I’ll aim to give you my quick hit rundowns and fantasy worthy notes with some support from trending tweets, must-follow profiles or random online chatter. Whatever fits.

These are not intended to be exhaustive, but simply to highlight things that may have been missed as the week’s action unfolded.

We’ll mix in a dose of twitter takes to support the observations in an effort to give you a rundown from my own views on the week that was supported by the best in the industry. Or trolls. Or both. You’ll see some early-week numbers to bolster points where available, but this is intended to be a ‘first reaction’ piece with time in the week ahead to research things from a variety of sources.

Here they are for Week 4, in no particular order.

Atlanta, Pittsburgh defenses continue to make everyone a must start

Most NFL coaches and fantasy analysts alike take a look at a season in four week chunks, suggesting that any tendencies and/or overall performances are hard to assess in smaller segments. Well, through four Weeks Atlanta and Pittsburgh have been absoultely horrific in all phases.

The Falcons were dealt some significant blows with season-ending injuries in their secondary, and even with Takkarist McKinley back in the lineup this week they offered very little resistance to the Bengals. Atlanta did a fair job against Nick Foles in Week 1 with a full squad, but since then has allowed three straight 300-yard; three TD passers. Andy Dalton got Tyler Boyd to triple digits and found A.J. Green way too open for the game winning score after Giovani Bernard punched two in earlier in the contest. Previously, Atlanta had given up a ton of points to backs as pass catchers. Of interest, Boyd – who we noted last week was serving as a safety blanket for Dalton – nearly doubled Green in targets with 15 on 41 Dalton pass attempts. He now leads the team (with a modest 33-31 edge over Green). The Bengals won’t face the Falcons every week, but Boyd has sufficient volume and the offense looks good enough (losing Tyler Eifert won’t help) to lock him in as an every week WR3.

Meanwhile, Matt Ryan was dealing again and found Calvin Ridley for two more scores. Ridley is legit, folks. I’ll admit, I faded him in daily games assuming he’d be over played and couldn’t possibly match last week’s production. Alas, he nearly did. Ridley runs great routes and with Julio Jones still producing across from him will continue to face softer coverage. All that said… I may be thinking the same thoughts next week. After all, he was third on the team in targets behind Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Ryan, meanwhile, will have to sling it all year. You want to be on both sides of Atlanta and Pittsburgh games moving forward.

As for Pittsburgh, they clamped down against the Ravens in the second half – at least as far as touchdowns go – but they still gave Joe Flacco his best statistical line in his resurgent season and allowed John Brown to beat them twice over the top.

I remain all in on opposing offenses against New Orleans as well. The Giants played dink and dunk all day and really didn’t exploit the issues that the Saints so clearly have in the secondary, but Sterling Shepard went 10/10 on his targets , and that actually represented an improvement on =passer rating allowed for CB P.J. Williams.

A changing of the guard in Chicago?

After Week 3, coach Matt Nagy urged patience with QB Mitch Trubisky‘s overall production and explained that it was going to take some time for things to ‘click’ with the offense. It turns out that that time was six days. There will be a lot of buzz about Trubisky this week, and deservedly so, but that shouldn’t take your attention away from the real fantasy news – Tarik Cohen is in the driver’s seat in the backfield.

I’d expect Howard to still get his, and he wound up with 11 carries in this one (though, virtually all his work came in the 2nd half with the game well in hand), but the offense looked much better with Cohen driving the car. The sell-high window on Howard has closed. Owners should expect to find themselves in a time-share scenario, at best. All told, Cohen wound up with the above-noted 20 touches on 13 carries and 7/8 as a pass catcher.

It is also noteworthy that Taylor Gabriel (7/7/104/2TD) led all non-Cohen’s in targets when this offense looked the best it had all season. The shifty receiver can line up all over the field for Nagy’s Bears and should continue to get looks in what intends to be a dynamic, innovative offense. He’s had seven or more targets in three of the team’s four games, so he clearly has a role on the offense. But, until today had produced a max of 7.5 YPR and 34 yards. That boom or bust output is likely to continue but he is as good a ‘boom candidate’ as any in Chicago this year.

Aaron Jones is the back to own in Green Bay

Much like the Cohen-Howard conversation from above, there is still room for some shared distribution, but Aaron Jones was the best back on the field for Green Bay this week. Decisive and explosive when running the ball, Jones picked up right where he left off last year in an impressive performance against Buffalo.

He was the third back to get into the game for the Packers, with both Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery getting carries before him but when he touched the ball he was easily the most effective. This is likely to be a three-headed monster moving forward but as he continues to be the top performer I expect Jones to take over. I’d be surprised if he didn’t draw the start in Week 5, and to be working in the 16-20 touch range by the second half.

Seattle RB “Rotation”

There are two ways to look at Mike Davis‘ breakout performance this weekend and the subsequent news that he has worked his way into the ‘rotation’ at RB.

One would be to laud Davis for getting it done behind a Seattle line that few runners have succeeded with in recent years; and the other would be to run for the hills when you hear the word rotation. For me, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It seems fairly clear that Davis has stepped ahead of Rashaad Penny who will be given time to acclimate to the offense, and he warrants an add if you have the roster space as a result. But, indeed, it will be a rotation and the Seahawks still rank right around the middle of the league in rushing offense. With just 105 YPG to go around and carries split among all three tailbacks I wouldn’t plan to hitch my wagon to Davis’ fortunes any time soon.

I may have buried Andrew Luck‘s arm a little prematurely

Stephen Holder may have a point here. Luck looked the part in OT against the Texans had the Indianapolis offense performed well in the second half in particular. A few more games like this and Luck will look like a steal, while last week I expressed significant concerns about his durability.

Keke Coutee had a debut to remember

Elsewhere in that game, Keke Coutee caught 11 balls in his debut with the Texans offense showing some signs of life. Of course, he did it with Will Fuller leaving early due to injury, but Coutee was picking up some hype early in camp this year and a double-digit catch debut is clearly nothing to sneeze at. He’s worth an add in all formats.

Sony Michel could develop into an every week RB1

The Patriots dismantled the Miami Dolphins at home this week with a balanced offensive attack, and Sony Michel was a feature of that. I was hard on Michel last week, deservedly so, for a number of tentative runs against the Lions that ultimately led to a hole closing quickly and a carry for no gain. Those runs were still present against the Dolphins… but there were enough positive carries (particularly on rushes to the outside) mixed in that I’m feeling much more bullish on Michel than I was at this time last week.

Of his 25 carries, four went for no gain or a loss while four went for 10+ yards (and two more for 9). He’s still finding his way, and I’m hopeful that the hesitation we’re seeing will dissipate as he gains more confidence. There’s still a lot of upside here.

And, I suppose it follows logically that he just needed some time after missing much of his first training camp.

Nick Chubb is another back eating into the leader’s touches

Though, in this case I’m not willing to anoint Chubb the carry leader moving forward. His two-TD debut is the stuff of legends:

But, Carlos Hyde has been productive with Baker Mayfield behind centre and is the veteran presence that the offense needs. Again, Chubb’s two long scampers for scores in a barn burner against the Raiders were a lot of fun to watch but Hyde churned out a workmanlike 82 yards on 22 carries and scored what most thought would be the winning touchdown. Chubb had just three carries, bringing his season total to ten. No doubt this outing earned him more work, but I’d expect Hyde to continue to outsnap him by a fair amount. At least in the short term.

Meantime,  while we’re on this game… this is more just a personal observation than anything else, but I’ve heard a lot of conversation dwelling on Baker Mayfield‘s four turnovers in his first start. For me, I take his 295 yards and the offense’s 42 points as an incredibly positive sign, particularly on the road in the Black Hole.

NFL Week 3 Twitter Takeaways

Each week of the NFL season I’ll aim to give you my quick hit rundowns and fantasy worthy notes with some support from trending tweets, must-follow profiles or random online chatter. Whatever fits.

These are not intended to be exhaustive, but simply to highlight things that may have been missed as the week’s action unfolded.

We’ll mix in a dose of twitter takes to support the observations in an effort to give you a rundown from my own views on the week that was supported by the best in the industry. Or trolls. Or both. You’ll see some early-week numbers to bolster points where available, but this is intended to be a ‘first reaction’ piece with time in the week ahead to research things from a variety of sources.

Here they are for Week 3, in no particular order.

Baker can sustain the Browns’ fantasy stars

The names may evolve over the course of the season, particularly as rookies Antonio Callaway and Nick Chubb bite into the playbook a little further but for now, particularly as someone who had dynasty shares of each before their change of address this offseason, is how things panned out for Jarvis Landry and Carlos Hyde after Baker Mayfield stepped into the offense.

Hyde and Landry had been reasonably productive from a points-scored standpoint in the first two weeks but didn’t look like elite playmakers as part of the Tyrod-led-offense in Cleveland. With Mayfield at the helm, it looked like an NFL calibre offense with two stars producing alongside their Quarterback.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the rookie QB had no reps with the starters before taking the field with them mid-way through Week 3. My initial reaction is both pleased that he was able to find chemistry with his two stars so quickly, and mindful that he may find ways to distribute the ball a little more evenly after getting those practice reps in. For now, though, Hyde and Landry look like very safe plays with Mayfield under center.

Sure, narrative twitter saw it coming with Hyde:

But I think it is critical that we note that on a day when he showed up to the stadium late after awaiting the birth of hid child, he was all over the field for the Browns. Hyde had 23 carries and three targets vs. four total opportunities for Duke Johnson and two for Nick Chubb. He also had three carries inside the five. At least for the time being, he’s as locked in as they come as his team’s RB1.

Calvin Ridley’s coming out party… presents a buy low on Julio Jones?

There is a lot to unpack from the Saints / Falcons game. For starters, neither defense (unless Atlanta can get healthy and figure it out) presents any resistance. Start ’em all against this pair of NFC South Rivals. Beyond that, Calvin Ridley is good. Really good. In fact, maybe one day he’ll be great. He’s fast (4.43-40), and moreover is already playing ‘quick’ suggesting a strong grasp of life in the NFL for a veteran of three games.

So, go on ahead and be excited about Ridley who was open over-the-top multiple times against the Saints, but don’t let it cloud your judgement on Julio Jones. I mean… there is this nugget:

But, Jones is still an elite NFL WR who was held just shy of 100 yards this week. If anyone in year league is feeling tentative about the ‘coming out’ of the new rookie WR impacting Jones’ season long production I encourage you to make a move.

As for Atlanta’s Defense…

Again, they’re not looking great with a lot of losses along the line and in the secondary. If Takk McKinley is able to make his way back to the field in Week 4 things should improve, but this is a unit down some important bodies that might be picked on throughout the year.

Through two weeks, they are certainly being exploited by pass catching running backs.

That’s something worth knowing about Giovani Bernard, if Joe Mixon is unable to go next week. And, it’s worth exploiting. Though… as we tend to overreact to small sample sizes in September it is important to note that McCaffery and Kamara were already going to see a ton of targets against Atlanta and all opponents. Bernard, for his part, had nine targets against the Panthers this week and could be in line for a similar or growing workload against Atlanta in Week 4.

Kamara, meantime, seems to be holding up just fine as an every down back. This week, he had 16 carries for a 4.1 average and an obnoxious 20 targets (with 15 receptions).

And again, as much as I’m preaching to approach Bernard with a grain of salt this week… it’s noteworthy that teams certainly appear to be targeting the position against the Falcons:

Mark Ingram will be back by Week 5 and should cut into that silly workload a little bit, but Kamara hasn’t shown any reason through three weeks to suggest that he can’t handle bell cow duties. If you own Ingram, it’s worth hanging onto him. He’s been a highly productive back in recent years and will be in line for significant work if Kamara misses any time, but… if you’re counting on him to save your fantasy backfield in two weeks’ time you’re going to be highly disappointed.

Ryan Tannehill had another nice game

Tannehill has now thrown multiple touchdowns in every game this season, including a rain-soaked mess to start the year against Tennessee. He appears healthy has has a full command of Adam Gase’s offense. At a minimum, you may want to consider him as a bye-week replacement in the coming weeks. Or, even a steady fill in for Jimmy G depending on how deep your league is. He’s won 10 of his last 11 starts. Oh, and the 3-0 Dolphins roll into New England last week. One… of interest given the Pats’ early struggles. Two… we’ve seen little reason not to like the Dolphins, their QB, and their speedy receivers who can exploit a slower defense.

Andrew Luck is going to have to turn the corner soon

One QB in the Eagles-Colts tilt was coming back from a leg injury, the other from an issue with his throwing shoulder, so I suppose it stands to reason that one looked much more like their former self this week in Philadelphia, but… I didn’t see a whole lot from Andrew Luck to make me confident that he’ll suddenly turn it on.

While this week’s game marked his first without a turnover, it was decidedly average. Luck did just enough to lose and threw for an average of 4.1 YPA. Moreover, he was taken off the field for the final deep ball of the game. If you believe the team, there is nothing wrong with him, but of course they have said that before…

I’m sure that the logic here has to do with not exposing his shoulder to further injury… if not, it means he simply doesn’t have the arm strength. In either case,  it isn’t good news. He could build that over the course of the season, but with more than a year off from throwing the ball we certainly have to hope that it has to do with building up arm strength more than protecting a sore arm.

Either way, the QB doesn’t have enough right now to make any of his weapons all that exciting. TY Hilton had scored in both of the team’s first two games and is picking up double digit targets, but if Luck continues his low YPA and otherwise underwhelming fantasy performance in the coming weeks I’d look at trying to deal Hilton off his next big game.

Not convinced? This:

A pair of young receivers are earning their QB’s trust

Tyler Boyd stayed hot, with 132 yards on seven targets from Andy Dalton. An interesting tidbit was shared after Week 2, noting that Andy Dalton looks his way while under pressure:

And that is exactly what happened again this week with Boyd running open on a broken play and finding the endzone:

The 2016 2nd round draft pick seems to be ‘getting it’ through three weeks. AJ Green will continue to demand a significant number of targets, but Boyd seems to be earning his QBs trust and is showing that he can be counted on by fantasy gamers in a Bengals offense that has been more productive than we expected through two weeks.

Meantime, Mike Williams of the Chargers is showing that his injury marred rookie year was spent productively learning the pro game. He tied Keenan Allen for the team lead with seven targets in Week 3 and made good on four of them, including two TD grabs.

Coming into the game,  he had caught seven of his eight targets on the year. Keenan Allen (who lost another fumble this week) will still get his, but this was the type of game analysts suggested that Williams had in him when pointing on the red zone gap left by Hunter Henry’s injury. In these early days, it looks like Boyd is getting more consistent work, with some of Williams’ production in Week 3 due to the attention paid to Allen by the Rams’ tough secondary (with Williams’ the main beneficiary of injuries that occurred throughout the game) but both WRs are proving their worth in the early going.

While Los Angeles continues to thrive on offense

Alongside Kansas City, two of the most innovative offenses in the game. It seems that owners of most of the fantasy talent on both sides will watch games this year with bated breath wondering who the production will flow through (is this a Hill or a Watkins week?; Can I trust Kupp in the redzone or is it going through Cooks?).

My best advice at this point? Start ’em all, and enjoy the show. There will indeed be weeks where one star or another lays an egg because his teammate went off, but outside of the most relevant player-specific matchups it’s going to be tough to tell and you’ll want to be as attached to both offenses as you can.

And, you may wish to divest yourself of shares in offenses on the other side of the spectrum. The Chiefs are getting it done with great play from Patrick Mahomes and a playbook that has some of the best spacing in the receiving game in the NFL; and the Rams continue to build on the innovation that made Sean McVay the coach of the year last year.

Meantime… many other offenses simply look stale. Dallas springs to mind immediately. But, they aren’t the only offender. Whether it’s Rosen or Bradford, tweeps have been rightfully lambasting Mike McCoy’s offensive decision making.

It’s true, and it is becoming evident. If you’ve got a space on your bench, why not invest a little early in a player like, say, Anthony Miller or Taylor Gabriel (who had 10 targets this week, though he did admittedly little with them) rather than hang onto Allen Hurns hoping he emerges from the cluster of WR3s trying to masquerade as top dogs in Dallas?

As it relates to Dallas specifically, Zeke may have lost a fumble and made a few other questionable plays, but he did have a few long runs and put up his best stat line of the season in Week 3. He’s been a noteworthy slow starer throughout his NFL career and may be showing signs of turning the corner.

John Brown is consistently producing

I was a hard no on John Brown coming into the season. Injury history, new and uncertain offense, deep threat only… etc.

And, I was wrong.

He had a very under the radar game against the Broncos this week, but was targeted nine times from Joe Flacco (second only to Michael Crabtree’s 10) and picked up five receptions for 83 yards. Frankly, for a player like Brown who tends to rely on long balls and deep TDs to produce for fantasy owners a modest 5/9-83 line is as good a sign as any. He’s a safe WR3 as it stands right now.

Le’Veon Bell prepares to ride off into the sunset

James Conner looked mortal against a tough Tampa front (running out of the gun all night, mind you) but contributed in the passing game and continued his serviceable start to the season on Monday night. He looks like a back that Pittsburgh can build an offense around. He doesn’t look like Bell, mind you, who remains a unique talent. But, his value has been undermined by a strong start. Meanwhile, the Jets have expressed interest in a trade and for his part Bell is making it clear he’s open to moving on.

The Jets have the cap space to give him what he wants – though, it will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next four years if they do make a trade and commit to a special back who might impact the team’s ability to put special players around him while others in the league save at the position. Having Darnold on a rookie contract helps, mind you.

Meantime, Peyton Barber showed a little life  in his limited action for the Buccaneers and Ronald Jones III remains inactive. So, the end might not be in sight after all. All that said, the Bucs have been a prolific offense through three weeks and he’s been fantasy irrelevant… so, you probably don’t want to hitch your prospects to that wagon any time soon.

Bonus: A Fun Matt Breida Fact?

There is very little fun about the Jimmy Garoppolo injury, but if you’re a Matt Breida owner I wouldn’t panic. Yet. This tidbit suggests his PPR value may hold after the injury:

Rest assured, San Francisco’s overall offensive efficiency will suffer. But, Beathard looks like the type of QB who keeps an eye on his backs.

NFL Week 2 Twitter Takeaways

Each week of the NFL season I’ll aim to give you my quick hit rundowns and fantasy worthy notes. These are not intended to be exhaustive, but simply to highlight things that may have been missed.

We’ll mix in a dose of twitter takes to support the observations in an effort to give you a rundown from my own views on the week that was supported by the best in the industry. Or trolls. Or both.

I believe an awful lot in numbers, in particular relative target and opportunity share within an offense, so you’ll see a fair bit of that injected but the ultimate intent of this article is simply to tell you what I took away from the weekend’s games. There will be a week ahead to look at matchups and to substantiate further with facts and figures.

Here goes… in no particular order.

JuJu Smith Schuster might be the WR to start in Pittsburgh

In season long formats you’ve already got your hands on either Antonio Brown or JuJu Smith Schuster, but for DFS gamers its worth noting that the 2nd year receiver has been getting a lot of attention from Big Ben through two weeks. Opponents have to pick their poison with the Pittsburgh offense and, rightly so, they’ve been keying on Antonio Brown to start the year. AB is still making plays and I don’t expect that to stop, but JuJu has proven incredibly apt at taking advantage of the space that that creates in the defense and has carried over some momentum from late last season into 2018.

If you’re into reading lips, it seems that Brown doesn’t like the attention that his fellow receiver is getting. And that Ben doesn’t care an awful lot:

And the Pittsburgh media has taken note. For his part, Brown hasn’t taken too kindly to critics.

None of this noise is relevant to the product on the field and please don’t mistake this as me suggesting that the demise of Brown as a fantasy stud is near… just saying, if you see a plus matchup on the slate for the Steelers I’d dig a little deeper into the numbers before I auto-add AB.

The Chiefs are a Fantasy Buffet

You don’t need me telling you this as it relates to the offense, and there are much brighter people breaking down Patrick Mahomes‘ early career dominance (I will say I’m impressed with his ability to read coverages, and to choose the ‘right’ throw to fit a situation, he’s got more zip  on his throws than just about any QB but knows when to execute a touch pass as well). So, I’ll focus on the defense.

Unless this two week start to his career as a starter is some kind of beautiful  mirage (and indeed, 10 TDs through two weeks is not going to continue) we can count on the Chiefs to put up points all season. We can’t, however, count on their defense to hold opponents in check with similar ferocity. In fact, the unit has been a sieve through two weeks. Admittedly, that comes against two strong offenses and they’ll eventually get Eric Berry on the field, but I would expect Chiefs’ games to approach 60+ total points regularly.

Last season, the Chiefs yielded top-8 FPPG to QBs and top-2 to WRs. They haven’t looked like a unit prepared to reverse the trend through the season’s first two weeks.

The moral here, pick both sides of their games. Particularly opposing pass catchers. Looking ahead to Week 3, I wouldn’t be surprised to see KC find another early lead and force Jimmy G and company to the air. Goodwin (if he returns), Garcon and company are all worth starting.

Michael Thomas is a top-3 WR in almost any matchup

For all the talk about the pieces that New Orleans has added this offseason, Thomas continues to be the lead dog. He posted a ridiculous 12 catch (13 target) 89 yard line with a score to go with his 16 reception Week 1. He won’t average 14 grabs a week but the passing offense runs through him. In a week where the Cleveland Browns’ offense did a great job of keeping Drew Brees out of rhythm and otherwise causing problems for the Saints moving the ball – and by the way, they may do that to more teams than you originally thought this year, this young D is no joke – Thomas still found a way to get his.

With volume like that, and with the trust of his future Hall of Fame QB Thomas is as matchup proof as they come. Again, he won’t catch 14 balls a week the rest of the way, but I’d be willing to take wagers on him setting the single season reception record as long as he stays healthy.

Quincy Enunwa appears to be Sam Darnold‘s Favorite Target
Which is important for his own value, but also may have an impact on Robby Anderson‘s value over the course of the season.

Analysts were on top of the trend of Robby Anderson‘s relative target share after the Week 1 distribution against the Lions, and it didn’t get any better in Week 2.

Anderson scored in Week 2 and has now done so in both games this season, but he’s had just six targets through the team’s two contests vs. Enunwa’s 21. Terrelle Pryor has been in the mix as well, and at least for the early part of the season it seems that Anderson’s weekly targets and therefore his fantasy stability are significantly more at risk.

The shine is coming off Peyton Barber

It may have been missed in the midst of another Tampa Bay offensive outburst; and really Fitzmagic is going to dominate the news cycle for the team this week… not for another 400 yard, four TD performance, but simply for this:

And yet, despite a big day for Tampa through the air that should have opened up a few holes Barber struggled on the ground. Ronald Jones III was inactive yet again, but a strong preseason will only carry Barber so far.

He dominated the workload this week (16 carries vs. five for Jacquizz Rodgers) but netted just 22 yards, bringing his season total to 35 for 91 through two games. And, he’s not being used in the passing game either (just two targets). If you’re a Barber owner you’ve likely already taken note, but the message here for now is not to get distracted by a hot start from the Bucs, and ultimately to keep an eye on Jones who could find his way into the lineup before too long.

As for Fitzpatrick, you can stunt like that when you ball like this:

Get him on your roster. The Bucs have a tough decision to make in a few weeks and there is no guarantee he starts the rest of the season, but it’s worth riding this wave.

Kenny Golladay looks like an every-week start

Golladay, put simply, looks the part. We’ve all been attentive to a hopeful year two breakout from Corey Davis that has yet to fully materialize and yet Golladay has shone through two weeks. He’s still available in a high percentage of leagues (38% available in Y!) and might be someone you can still trade for with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate continuing to get looks, but, Golladay is flashing significant upside through two weeks.

The Lions look like they’re going to continue to (have to) pass the ball plenty this year and his 21 targets over the first two weeks of the season could be a sign of things to come.

David Johnson is in trouble

Friend of the site Chris Meaney points out that the buy-low window on Johnson exists, and he’s probably right, but I wouldn’t give up anywhere near his draft day cost to acquire him.

Johnson is running behind a struggling offensive line on a team that looks like it has no offensive identity. And one that seems to have forgotten how to use him.

Don’t assume that Josh Rosen will be the key to him figuring it out, either. For one, as rough as it has been for Sam Bradford to start the season the team doesn’t appear to be in a rush to start the rookie QB.

For another, it would be foolish to underestimate the impact of Bruce Arians’ retirement on the team in general and the offense specifically. While the below tweet represents just one ‘fun fact’ of the change in use that Johnson is seeing so far in 2018, it highlights that he is playing in a different scheme. And, so far… no good:

Ultimately, Johnson should find a way to stay involved in the receiving game and expand (he had nine targets in Week 1 so certainly this week’s two looks is an aberration) but we are seeing a lack of creativity from the offense and a general poor looking team overall. The latter will continue over the course of the year, and it makes Johnson hard to trust among the elite RB1s.

Update: this almost hilarious usage chart showing his virtually-exclusive inside runs from Week 2 suggest that the path to fixing the problem might be easier than you think. That said, a few shots to run outside don’t solve the overall offensive woes that look to be destined to plague the Cardinals through two weeks.

Week 3 NFL Ranks 2017

Last week was a good one here inside the Locker Room, finishing as Fantasy Pros’ 5th most accurate expert for Week 2. That didn’t translate into any DFS cash, mind you, but I’ll still take the outcome and try to keep it rolling into Week 3.

Most of you know my strategy isn’t particularly complex… understand matchups, and understand a team’s relative distribution of workload. Knowing that RBA gets 80 percent of his team’s work and he matches up against DEFB that yields the 3rd most FPPG to backs allows you to make a clean, straightforward decision. There’s more nuance than that, but it is a very good place to start. With that in mind, this week’s ranks are introduced with a review of changing fantasy depth charts throughout the league to help you make your start/sit decisions.

  • I’ve been lower than most on Joe Mixon throughout the offseason and into the year, but he’s led the trio of backs in Cincinnati by a very small margin in both each of the team’s two games, and with the change in offensive coordinator I’m expecting them to pick a back and ride him. Or at least, to not rotate the three players to the point that there is no tempo to their games. I think you see Mixon, who averaged 4.0 YPC in Week 2, assert himself this week and start to pull away from the others in terms of workload as we head into October.
  • Kerwynn Williams wasn’t particularly effective for Arizona, while Chris Johnson gave the run game a bit of a spark. He finished with an 11-9 edge in carries and should grow that margin this week. If you’re desperate for an RB start / add, he’s certainly worth a look. According to The Daily Audible, Johnson is the 24th ranked RB this week and Williams is the 33rd. 
  • If you’re a Blount owner, you won’t need me to tell you that he didn’t have a single carry last week. I’d expect him to maintain a role of some sort in the offense, but through two weeks it is clear that Darren Sproles is the only viable fantasy back in that offense. He’s hit double digit opportunities (carries+targets) in both games so far, and while that’s nothing to write home about it’s at least consistent opportunity which isn’t always easy to find on offenses these days.
  • I’ve been banging the Kendall Wright drum all season, and I was happy to see his double digit target week against the Bucs. I’ve also noted five looks for Deonte Thompson, however, and made a speculative add in a few deeper leagues. With limited options available and zero pedigree associated with Josh Bellamy I’d encourage you to do the same.
  • Allen Hurns, a waiver wire gem I advocated for a week ago, got his work this past week and scored a TD. But, I’d note that Marqise Lee had 12 targets and was used consistently throughout the game, while Hurns had just seven and most of that came in the second half while the game was getting away from the Jags. Now, Jacksonville looks like they’re going to let their fair share of games get away from them, but in the early going Lee looks like the best bet for consistent volume.

Week 3 NFL Ranks 2017

Why I’m Fading DeVante Parker, Chasing Kendall Wright and Other Pre-Draft Thoughts

All it takes is a top-10 annual draft accuracy ranking to get an invite to go on air with an old friend and neighbour, I guess. In any event, it was a pleasure as always to share the thoughts on video below with Chris Meaney and FNTSY Sports Network viewers.

Click play, listen and critique as you like but the two salient points I’d like to share are pretty straight forward. Hype isn’t worth paying for, and context is critical.

As it relates to hype, the discussion Chris and I have at the 3 minute mark below is a prime example. I like DeVante Parker this season because he’s shown well in the offseason, Jay Cutler will take chances downfield (at the expense of Jarvis Landry) and in his second year he’s just better prepared to compete with Kenny Stills as the deep threat and second receiving option in the Miami offense. Those three general points give Parker a certain draft-day value. Currently, he’s my 41st ranked wide receiver, and I’d be really happy to draft him in most leagues even as a WR3. But, that’s all I’m paying for.

Meantime, Jay Cutler innocuously states that he’s like a “faster Alshon [Jeffery]” and for a day or two the fantasy football world goes berserk. Per FantasyFootballCalculator.com Parker’s ADP has risen consistently since. In fact, he’s up 10 spots over the past week after a fairly consistent low eighth round cost all offseason:

DeVante Parker‘s ADP is steadily rising and may soon prove too costly.

Put simply, the random pull quote in a post-game conversation does not make Parker any faster, better, or more likely to factor into the Dolphins offense this year. But, we’ll spend the next few weeks treating it like it may. My rankings are holding put for the time being, and you won’t see me draft him any higher.

Some things are worth reacting to – i.e. my early season ranking on Blake Bortles has plummeted. Whether they start Chad Henne out of the gates or not, there will come a point when the Jags cut bait on him for salary, performance or otherwise – but more often than not when the pre-season news machine is in full force, I’m ready to let others take the bait.

Elsewhere in the video below Chris and I chat Carlos Hyde, Jamison Crowder and Kendall Wright. Wright is on the other side of the spectrum. No one is talking about him, he won’t cost you a thing, and he may very well lead the Chicago Bears in targets this year with no legitimate threats around him. Listen for why I think he’s worth a gamble:

2017 NFL Draft Rankings (Standard)

Take it for what you will, but I had the honor of ranking with some heavy hitters in  the top-10 of Fantasy Pros’ 2016 Draft Accuracy Ranks and have had a reasonably consistent run with them since 2013.

For me, there’s not as much science to draft rankings as many would have you believe. It’s a simple matter of assessing a player’s context from year-to-year (both personal, health, team and environment) and considering how that will impact his relative value.

You’ll see a number of areas where I deviate significantly from the Expert Consensus Ranks and I’m always happy to discuss those gaps in the comments. So please review, and use our 2017 NFL Draft Rankings to help you prep for this year’s draft.

The rankings below will be updated as training camp evolves, so stay tuned.

 

 

2017 NFL Draft Rankings Highlights

Jamison Crowder may be undersized but is prepared for a significant role in the Washington offense (Photo via Sports Illustrated).

 

  • I’m eight spots ahead of ECR on Eddie Lacy at time of publishing, and while he may not have made his third weight milestone I think he fits the mold of the power back Seattle wants and needs. His 2016 season was derailed by injury, but don’t forget that Lacy was enjoying a rejuvenation of sorts last year. He carried the ball for a 5.1 YPC average and moves to an offense that should give him plenty of opportunities on first and second down.
  • Likewise, I’m eight spots ahead of ER on Blake Bortles. The Jaguars are committed to him for 2017 at a minimum, they’ve added Leonard Fournette who projects to improve the offense overall, and he finished as the 9th overall Fantasy QB in a season that everyone treats as a lost year. It should go without saying, but you aren’t drafting for history or for wins and losses. Bortles’ raw numbers should be enough to help your team compete again this season.
  • I like both Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder more than ECR. That may sound contradictory, but simply put there is a lot of production to replace in the Washington offense and I believe they can do it. Pryor continues to develop into a strong outside receiver and while he’s being challenged to learn a new system, all signs are that he’s enjoyed a great camp. Crowder, meanwhile, has flashed impressive speed and talent behind DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon over the last two season. Expect him to see a significant increase in target share and improve upon a 2016 season that saw him finish in the top-30 in WR scoring.

Jameis Winston looking forward to season with new tools on offense

Jameis Winston enters his third year with plenty of weapons and room to improve (Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)

There are plenty of reasons to be bullish on Jameis Winston heading into the 2017 Fantasy Football season. Maturing as a signal caller, he’ll be entering his third year coming off a 4,000 yard 28 touchdown season. He’ll have some impressive assets to work with as well, after the Bucs spent their offseason gathering assets to support him through free agency and the draft. No doubt, the needle is pointing up on his fantasy stock.

That said, the question for early drafters isn’t whether or not he’ll be effective this season. It’s whether his current draft stock will pay dividends from September-December. According to FantasyPros he’s being drafted as the 9th QB off the board, #80 overall (a mid-seventh round selection) following a season where he finished with 256.5 standard league points. That total was good enough for 16th overall among Quarterbacks, trailing the number nine spot by roughly one fantasy point per game. It’s not a significant hill to climb, but certainly there are names with less hype who performed just as well in 2016 or better.

One of the most significant reasons for optimism around Winston has been the addition of DeSean Jackson as a big money free agent. Jackson will be paired with Mike Evans at receiver and TE O.J. Howard who came to the team via the 19th overall selection. On paper, the addition of one of the league’s premiere deep threats is a great fit for the prospects of the strong-armed young QB.

Indeed, Winston threw for 4,090 yards last season with Vincent Jackson sidelined and without a lot of success with the deep ball. In fact, according to analytics website SharpFootballStats.com Winston was a considerably below average deep ball passer last year. His numbers are below.

< 15 Yards Att< 15 Yards Comp< 15 Yards Int< 15 Yards Int/Att< 15 Yards Comp %
43129492.1%68.2%
> 15 Yards Att> 15 Yards Comp> 15 Yards Int> 15 Yards Int/Att> 15 Yards Comp %
1285186.3%39.8%

Winston actually closed the season quite well on deep passes, but still finished under 40% completions on passes over 15 yards. Moreover, he was intercepted more than once every 20 attempts. It’s an area where the Bucs hope he can grow for their own prospects, and an area where incremental improvement can produce significant fantasy results.

His QB Rating is also well below the league average in this area. Sharp Football Stats breaks that down for us as well:

Jameis Winston QB Rating on deep balls vs. league average, from SharpFootballStats.com

You’ll see that Winston is right around the average in throws between 0 and 15 yards in the area, but when the ball traveled more than 15 yards his numbers are well below the overall league Quarterback Rating. Meantime, DeSean Jackson is known to be one of the best deep ball receivers in the league. He was targeted just 33 times over 15 yards a year ago in Washington, but reeled in 52% of those balls. Kirk Cousins threw for an impressive 115 QB Rating when targeting Jackson on those 33 throws. Mike Evans, meanwhile, was targeted 58 times on balls over 15 yards. He caught just 38 percent of those, and Winston’s rating was a dismal (by comparison) 78.

That’s not to say, necessarily, that the pair don’t work well on deep balls. Just that they weren’t particularly effective. One reason for that: opposing defenses may have known it was coming. The next most targeted Buccaneers pass catcher was Russell Sheppard who saw 15 looks on passes over 20 yards. Jackson is a new tool for the offense, and both he and Howard will bring some needed diversity.

He shouldn’t be expected to cure what ails Winston all on his own, of course, as the QB’s deep passing accuracy and its translation to the pro game has been a subject of discussion throughout his career. That said, it’s clear that the 30-year-old receiver was brought in to fit a specific need on the Tampa offense. His presence should negatively effect Evans’ share of the overall targets, but it may have a net zero effect on the number one receiver’s own prospects as defenses will be kept honest all over the field. What’s clear is that the speedy Jackson should give Winston more options. For their part, the team has no concerns in sharing that they have high expectations for the significant signing.

Ultimately, there is a lot of growth required to propel Winston into fantasy’s upper tiers at his position, but the elements are in place for significant growth entering his third year. Owners willing to pay an admittedly expectant price should find themselves with a fairly low floor and intriguing ceiling option for the cost of a 7th or 8th round pick.

Per USA Today, the 3rd year QB is looking forward to the season and his owners should be too:

[W]e’re just looking forward to working more with [DeSean Jackson]. I don’t know who we will be taking in the draft, but I know it’s going to be someone good. I’m excited. I’m just ready to get this team finalized and get ready for the season

Touches and Targets: Week 14 NFL Review

If you’ve been reading, you know the score. We go deeper into the box scores each week to review workload distribution and how it may impact players moving forward.

With the season nearing an end, there is a clear ‘who can help me now’ focus to this week’s piece. And, to that end… on to the bullets.

Sammy Watkins is thankful to be healthy and back in the lineup for Buffalo (Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images North America).

Sammy Watkins is thankful to be healthy and back in the lineup for Buffalo (Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images North America).

Touches and Targets: Week 14 NFL Reivew

  • Sammy Watkins found the endzone in the snow, posting 54 yards on six targets. After playing 68.1% of the snaps last week, he was on the field for 94.2% of the team’s offensive snaps in Week 14, up from 68.1% the week prior. Its as good a sign as any that he’s back to full health and ready to go for your stretch run. You’ll want to consider his value if Cardale Jones is inserted as the starter, but if all things are the status quo – and they are for Week 15 – it looks like Watkins is back on the WR2/3 radar to close the season.
  • Travis Kelce went over 100 yards for the fourth straight week, doing so on five catches and eight targets. During that same stretch, he’s had at least eight looks in every game and is a focal point of the KC passing attack, such as it. Lock him in as a top option against a tough Titans defense again next week.
  • Meantime, in Jeremy Maclin‘s (three targets) return, Tyreek Hill maintained a healthy six looks and carried the ball once, suggesting that he’s a safe play in the closing weeks of the season as well.
  • Not much went right for Cleveland’s offense in RGIII’s return to action, but it should be noted that Corey Coleman was targeted 11 times on 28 Griffin passes this week. Terrelle Pryor had just three looks.
  • I’m not expecting Theo Riddick to miss another week, so this is only passingly relevant… but, Dwayne Washington led the backfield with 16 carries (64 yards), while Zach Zenner had seven.
  • Cameron Meredith led the Bears with eight targets, though the volume was evenly distributed (Josh Bellamy seven, Daniel Brown six). Looking ahead to Week 15, Alshon Jeffery is expected to be back in the lineup with his suspension now behind him. With 8+ targets in two of his last three games, Meredith is the best bet to stay relevant upon that return but I’m probably fading the full trio if the expectation is that Jeffery will get meaningful snaps.
  • In his first game with the Broncos, Justin Forsett kept up his woeful YPC performance (6-17) but his six carries were double the three bestowed upon Devontae Booker. Forsett continued to get opportunities despite his lost fumble as well, and he did have a 33 yard carry called back by penalty. I’d count on the gap being at least proportionate next week. Sorry, Booker owners. It’s time to start looking elsewhere if you survived this week’s dud. The team’s inability to move the ball on the ground ultimately cost them the game this week… so, I wouldn’t go jumping at the opportunity to use Forsett next week… I’d just steer clear of Booker.
  • With a winnable game against Jacksonville on the docket, it should be noted that Houston’s game script expressly limited Brock Osweiller pass attempts, even against a poor Indianapolis pass defense. Lamar Miller picked up a healthy 21 carries, as expected. But, they managed to find 16 carries (for 55 yards) for Alfred Blue as well… if you’re in a deep league or are desperate for a fill in, Blue could be a good bet for 10+ opportunities against the Jags as well.
  • Before getting over-hyped on J.J. Nelson‘s big game, bear in mind that a) Carson Palmer was terrible in this rainy contest and has been for much of the season and b) he had just three total opportunities. A carry, and two targets.
  • While some of his workload was likely a result of Darren Sproles‘ injury, it should be noted that Ryan Mathews had 15 carries in his return while Wendell Smallwood carried the ball just three times. If Sproles misses Week 15, Mathews becomes an intriguing play… though, the workload distribution in that backfield has been hard to trust all season.
  • With 13 targets (10 receptions) against Washington, Zach Ertz has now drawn double digit looks in three of his last four games. Trey Burton picked up 10 as well, with Brent Celek injured. Perhaps some of the volume was attributed to a limited number of options with Dorial Green-Beckham a game day deactivation, but Ertz is still a solid high-volume option going forward. Philadelphia draws an imposing Ravens defense that has allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to TEs this season, but he’ll be a certain TE1 all the same.
  • You don’t need this bullet to know he’s a warranted add, but with Melvin Gordon knocked out early, Kenneth Farrow carried the ball 16 times in a game that San Diego trailed throughout. He added six receptions on six targets, and will be a low RB2 / FLEX if Gordon misses any time. Dontrelle Inman led San Diego receivers with seven targets, and has become a regular on offense.
  • With Allen Hurns out of the lineup, Allen Robinson was the fifth most targeted Jaguar. Minnesota’s secondary has done a fine job of limiting receiver production this season, but when you’re getting out-targeted by Neal Sterling it’s hard to be productive. Robinson hasn’t topped 31 yards in a month and draws a tough WR matchup in the Houston Texans next week. Nope.
  • Bryce Petty targeted Robby Anderson 11 times (six receptions, 99 yards) against the 49ers. All told, he’s been his favorite target this season. The matchup on Saturday night against Miami isn’t expressly appealing, but it will be hard to keep Anderson out of your lineups. This week’s pass distribution wasn’t even close, with Quincy Enunwa drawing seven looks and Brandon Marshall five. Then, there’s this from Evan Silva:

  • Christine Michael was far from perfect, and Ty Montgomery continues to look like the best Green Bay running back, but it should be noted that Michael had 10 carries to lead the team. Montgomery was close behind with nine, but James Starks finished far back with just three totes. I likely wouldn’t use either Michael or Starks moving forward, but I’m certainly steering clear of Starks in all situations.
  • Tyler Lockett was quiet this week, but still drew a healthy six targets from Russell Wilson and had a few chances as a ball carrier, as well.
  • Doug Martin carried the ball 23 times against New Orleans, a week after there was evidently some thinking that he’d split carries. His dismal YPC didn’t get any better, (66 yards, 2.9) but he did help keep the Tampa offense rolling and he found the end zone. Charles Sims had four carries in relief, while Jacquizz Rodgers had two. Sims was targeted four times; Martin twice. As the former works his way back into game shape, I’d expect to see him eat into Martin’s workload to a degree, but this week shows you that that won’t be immediate. Use Martin as you typically would in the short term.
  • Paul Perkins looked live against the Cowboys, on a quiet day for the New York offense as a whole. While he matched Rashad Jennings in limited production, the difference in energy was observable. With 15 carries apiece, Perkins has taken on a greater share of the offense in recent weeks. The match ups aren’t particularly exciting to close the season (vs. Detroit and at Philadelphia) but if you’re in need of some unexpected volume…
  • I’ve been speaking about Kenneth Dixon taking over a more significant share of the carries in this space for the past month, and it finally happened against New England this week. All told, he carried the ball 11 times to just two for Terrance West. Further, Dixon held a 42-14 snap edge against the veteran back, with no apparent signs of injury impacting either party. On top of the carries, Dixon added eight receptions on 11 targets. I wouldn’t count on 20 carries every week, but I would view this as a sign that West’s days with significant workload are limited. Like Perkins, the matchups against the Eagles isn’t that appealing but if the workload keeps up the way it is trending, you’ll like him against Pittsburgh’s 4th most generous RB defense.

Touches and Targets: Week 13 NFL Review

At this point in the season, the weekly reading of the box score tea leaves becomes much more about recent trends than season long observations. After all, as fantasy gamers the season has just become a week to week proposition.

With that in mind, Malcolm Mitchel’s impressive outing headlines our piece again this week.

Touches and Targets: Week 13 NFL Review

Malcolm Mitchell is becoming a fixture in this piece, and the New England offense (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

Malcolm Mitchell is becoming a fixture in this piece, and the New England offense (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

  • Malcolm Mitchell‘s 10 targets against the Rams are enough to place him in must add territory. Just a week ago, with Gronkowski apparently healthy (and Danny Amendola in the lineup, for what its worth) I was less convinced that Mitchell could sustain his recent run. Now, with Julian Edelman drawing top coverage and likely to continue his chain-moving role, Mitchell is drawing some downfield looks from QB Tom Brady. He’s now topped 80 yards in two of his last three games, and has had 22 targets over that span after seeing 15 through his prior six outings. He’s done little with this extended use to squander the opportunity, and I’d count on Mitchell remaining as a fixture in a productive offense. I shared as much with the folks at Fantasy Pros earlier this week.
  • With Stefon Diggs healthy and effective (eight catches, eight targets) Adam Thielen remained a feature of the offense for Minnesota. On 45 Sam Bradford pass attempts, Thielen drew nine targets and made seven receptions. bringing his two week total to 20. 10 per game is a high average to maintain, but he has been a consistent part of the offense for Minnesota. I’d keep an eye on Thielen in Week 15 against Indianapolis.
    Matt Ryan attempted just 34 passes, with the bulk of them directed at Julio Jones as usual. Still, Taylor Gabriel followed his big week with a healthy six targets, and with Mohamed Sanu and Jones leaving this game banged up he’s due for more. Gabriel hasn’t had fewer than five targets in four games.
  • In two games since Giovani Bernard‘s injury, Jeremy Hill has averaged 1.8 and 1.4 YPC respectively, with a long carry of seven. This week he had 23 totes, and was targeted just three times after drawing six looks in the prior contest. There is a ‘get right’ opportunity coming against the Browns, but the output doesn’t bode well for his rest of season prospects.
  • Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd split targets in the wake of AJ Green’s injury again this week. All told, LaFell had the score and the big game, but his seven targets were on par with Boyd’s. With no clear number one, it’s hard to choose the most likely achiever in a given week… but, each will have their opportunities.
    A week after his public airing of grievances Brandin Cooks was the Saints’ most targeted receiver. All told, he saw 36 of 44 Drew Brees pass attempts. Meantime, Michael Thomas‘ targets were down to five. I won’t suggest that the Saints were trying to force the ball to Cooks, but do note that the entire unit looked out of sync against an improving Lions’ pass defense throughout the day. Moving forward, I’d count on a more fluid target experience with weekly targets being directed as the matchup dictates.
  • Andre Roberts picked up seven targets with Marvin Jones out of the lineup. Relevant information should Jones miss another week.
  • Devontae Booker struggled against the Jaguars, with 18 carries for 35 yards. Still, Kapri Bibbs contributed just five and left with what is reported as a high ankle sprain. Count on Booker maintaining a similar workload with Bibbs on the shelf and the newly signed Justin Forsett unlikely to be called upon for immediate contributions. Trevor Siemian‘s imminent return should help open things up.
  • With 17 attempts, Denard Robinson actually outcarried TJ Yeldon (17-14), a fact that speaks more to Yeldon’s rest of season value than it does to Robinson’s, upon Chris Ivory‘s return.
  • While Terrance West found the endzone twice and was productive overall, he held just a 13-10 total opportunity edge over rookie Kenneth Dixon. In recent weeks, I’ve been suggesting that Dixon was primed to take over the committee in short order but a) this was a strong outing from West and b) the workload split has followed a similar pattern in recent weeks. Dixon was productive again (77 total yards on his 10 opportunities) but his best bet may be for 50% of the workload, or 10-12 weekly touches. If that fits in your lineup, roll with it. If not, there might not be an opportunity to count on more the rest of the way.
  • Its nothing but a one week aberration, but it should be noted that in a game where the Raiders were in full on comeback mode Amari Cooper was targeted just four times on 35 Derek Carr pass attempts. Michael Crabtree saw 11.
  • Sammy Watkins caught just three balls from an erratic Tyrod Taylor, but the more important number was his nine targets in his second game back in action. I’d count on Watkins with a reasonably high ceiling (though low floor) the rest of the way.
  • Ladarius Green was a huge part of the offense for Pittsburgh this week. He drew 11 targets from Ben Roethlisberger, on 36 pass attempts. Jesse James drew just four. All told, he made six receptions for 110 yards and a score. Count on him to maintain a healthy target share. Outside of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown (seven targets each), no one has established themselves on offense. The workload is there for the taking.
  • Thomas Rawls had a number of strong runs against Carolina, including an impressive 45 yard score (as part of two total on the night). He left briefly, and Troymaine Pope picked up eight carries of his own, but the 20 touch workload from Rawls in a productive game is a great sign after a quiet week in his second game back in action. With no significant competition for touches, that workload seems secure the rest of the way.