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 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 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 %
> 15 Yards Att> 15 Yards Comp> 15 Yards Int> 15 Yards Int/Att> 15 Yards Comp %

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

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.

Touches and Targets: Week 12 NFL Review

At this point, the week to week trends can only tell us so much, with a 75% of a season’s worth of data in the books, but there are still notable weekly and recent usage changes that are worth dissecting… and, that’s what we do here after all.

A breakdown of the box scores is shared below, to provide actionable fantasy info to help your team over the season’s final month.

Touches and Targets: Week 12 NFL Review

Malcolm Mitchell scoring the second of his two TDs against the Jets (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images North America).

Malcolm Mitchell scoring the second of his two TDs against the Jets (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images North America).

  • Dion Lewis picked up six carries, more than half of LeGarrette Blount‘s 11, and six more than the goose-egg James White put up in that department. I’d still treat Blount as a startable RB2, and more often than not New England will be closing out games rather than playing catch up as they were this week but through two weeks it is clear that Lewis’ presence caps the upside of both of his backfield mates. In particular, it’s hard to trust White. He had a healthy nine targets this week (Lewis added seven, for a 13-9 total opportunity edge) but I wouldn’t expect that to be a regular occurrence if Rob Gronkowski is able to stay on the field.
  • Speaking of Gronk, with his early departure, and with a suddenly juicy matchup against Darrelle Revis, Malcolm Mitchell found the end zone for the second straight week. This time, he scored twice. All told, Mitchell finished with seven targets, second to Julian Edelman‘s 11 among receivers. Again, I’m looking at his usage as more of a result of Gronkowski’s absence than any clear indication that he is a part of the team’s plan. Mitchell is worth an add right now, on the assumption that it’s all coming together during his rookie season, but there may not be enough opportunities to go around in a healthy lineup to treat him like a regular starter. This run to close his rookie season, however, is appealing for his dynasty prospects. Just don’t tell that to Aaron Dobson.
  • Adam Thielen saw 11 targets in Stefon Diggs‘ absence, which was forseeable even if rookie WR Laquan Treadwell was named a starter going into the game. Treadwell, despite that status, did not see an official target. While this information isn’t actionable for season long gamers as Treadwell hasn’t been a factor, his inability to contribute (and Minnesota’s inability to bring him along… see pre-2016 Cordarrelle Patterson) is troubling for his dynasty stock as well.
  • Against a Vikings’ team that had previoulsy faced 81 TE targets, Eric Ebron was targeted just once. He was Detroit’s leading receiver in all three of his games since his return… meantime, Marvin Jones saw 11 looks and Anquan Boldin and Golden Tate had nine and seven respectivelly. I wouldn’t count on Boldin continuing that level of work (though he had nine the week prior, as well) but I would suggest that this is a good reminder that there are no dominant mouths to feed in Detroit and therefore there are no guarantees with weekly workload distribution.
  • Jordan Reed caught 10 balls on 12 targets with a separated shoulder. Meantime, Vernon Davis posted a five catch, seven targets, 68 yard line. If Reed misses time, Davis, who has topped 50 yards receiving in five of six games is a warranted TE1 consideration.
  • After averaging seven targets per game over his prior three outings, Eli Rogers was targeted just twice against the Colts. With a commanding lead, the Steelers really didn’t have to throw the ball heavily to anyone – Big Ben threw just 20 passes on the night – but for anyone getting excited about him in PPR formats, this should serve as a reminder that game flow has an impact. Rogers was targeted behind Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell as expected, but also trailed Ladarius Green and Sammie Coates who each had three looks. On that note, Green’s three looks topped Jesse James‘ one. He’s still working his way into the offense, but could become a streaming option in the final weeks of the season.
  • Tevin Coleman was unproductive as a runner in his return to the lineup, but he did have eight carries. That number marks half of Devonta Freeman‘s 16. Each back added two catches (Freeman on three targets, Coleman two). Before his injury, Coleman was logging a rough 30% touch split with Freeman, so it seems that that committee is right back where it should be. The presence of Coleman didn’t hamper Freeman’s production early in the season, nor yesterday, so I wouldn’t expect it to moving forward.
  • Taylor Gabriel‘s big day shouldn’t come as a significant surprise, he’s been doing it all season. That said, his five targets (four catches, 75 yards, two scores) are a clear uptick over his regular workload. What remains to be seen is whether this week’s numbers were a product of limited use of Julio Jones who had just seven targets and four receptions, drawing Patrick Peterson most of the day, or whether it is a response to Jacob Tamme‘s injury and/or Gabirel’s production. I expect that they’ll find opportunities to get the playmaker the ball in space, but as Jones’ weekly looks get back into the double digit range, there won’t be five per week to go around. There likely won’t be eight targets again for Sanu, either.
  • Sammy Watkins was targeted just three times in his return to the lineup, but made an impressive catch on a 62 yard reception (that came on a windy Buffalo day) to go a perfect 3/3, for 80 yards. The performance was enough to suggest that Watkins is good to go moving forward, and should warrant WR3 consideration at the moment. In particular, there should be lots of work to start coming his way if Robert Woods continues to miss time. Even with Woods in the lineup, Watkins should get regular usable target share down the stretch. Marquise Goodwin led the Bills with four targets on a day where Tyrod Taylor attempted just 18 passes.
  • Rishard Matthews caught three balls, including one touchdown, on a team-leading seven targets for the Titans. He’s either scored or gone over 100 yards in six straight games. Lock him into your lineups.
  • On a day where Matt Barkley threw 54 passes in come-from-behind mode, and where Chicago receivers were plagued by drops, Marquess Wilson led the team with 11 looks (followed by nine each for Cameron Meredith and Deonte Thompson) and posted eight receptions for 125 yards with a score. You won’t find him priced at the minimum on daily sites any longer. Still, with Jay Cutler‘s status up in the air and the Bears expected to continue to trail as they play out the string, there may be enough volume to keep Wilson interesting the rest of the way, at least until Alshon Jefferey’s return. Last week (four targets) was his first game active all season, and he looks to be in good form.
  • Sterling Shepard had a carry against the Browns, but was held off the score sheet otherwise. The rookie receiver didn’t see a target, while Victor Cruz caught five. Shepard came into the game with no fewer than six in any game since Week 1, so there was reason to believe that a big game was in store against the woeful Browns, but alas, owners were left watching the Odell Beckham Jr. show. I’d expect Shepard to get back on track, but this game served as a good reminder that there are other names on the depth chart in New York and that game flow and coverage may dictate quiet days from him in certain weeks.
  • I projected a big game for DeVante Parker against a futile 49ers defense, and while he finished just one target behind Jarvis Landry with six, the box score disappointed (three catches, 64 yards). On two of those missed connections, replay review overturned an impressive catch by the second year receiver, including one that ended in a touchdown. Now, they were overruled because he was legitimately out of bounds on both plays, but ultimately he finished just a couple of inches away from a 120 yard receiving line with a score. His six targets vs. Landry’s seven mean that the pair is tied over their last five games with 32 apiece. That’s good news for Parker owners who, by all appearances, can trust him as a WR3 on a regular basis. It’s bad news for Landry owners who were counting on volume when they picked him early in PPR drafts. Right now, they’re both averaging roughly 6.5 targets per week over that five game stretch. Useful WR3 volume, but not a lot more.
  • Rod Streater (five) had more opportunities than both Quinton Patton (one) and Jeremy Kerley (three). To the extent that any is relevant to you deep leaguers, Streater is worth a speculative add. He’s actually been on the field, quietly, for 17% of San Francisco’s offensive plays this year, so there isn’t a lot of reason to assume that he’ll become a fixture moving forward. Colin Kaepernick targeted 10 different pass catchers on his 46 attempts yesterday. Chris Harper, who had two targets last week, also saw four looks. In short, the ball is being spread around and you want nothing to do with this passing game (except for Kaepernick) if you can avoid it.
  • Jared Goff has a strong first half against New Orleans and overall a more-than-tolerable stat line which is something that the team rarely said with Case Keenum at QB. Of course, they rarely faced New Orleans, but the outing bodes well for skill position players in LA the rest of the way. Kenny Britt got his, which is heartening. He finished with five receptions, 52 yards and a score on 10 targets. In his two games with Goff, Britt has seen 17 targets with Goff under Center. While he is the clear lead option, Lance Kendricks‘ seven targets and Tavon Austin‘s four (plus a carry) should be noted as well.
  • Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower stuffed the stat sheet on the other side of what was ultimately a lopsided game, with 14 and 15 carries, respectively. Each added two targets, with Ingram scoring twice and Hightower once. Ultimately, that even workload should be a fair projection the rest of the way. Ingram had the explosive rush and overall outplayed Hightower on the ground, but while there may be a bit of riding the hot hand during the game I wouldn’t expect weekly workloads to be determined based on a one week window of production. It’s important to bear in mind that New Orleans won’t run away with every game, and thus 29 carries between them (with many of the clock killing variety) won’t always be the case. Almost certainly, there won’t be three scores to go around in another game this fantasy season. As such, the pair certainly limit one another’s upside but both are likely fair RB2 plays.
  • Josh Hill had a sneaky six targets, ahead of Colby Fleener’s four. Both players caught all four balls, the first time that Fleener has had more than three catches in a game since Week 5.
  • A QB tidbit: Joe Flacco hit Breshad Perriman (1/1/14) for a TD less than five minutes into this game. He still finished without multiple touchdowns in a game for the 10th time in 12 tries (he’s 10/10 in non-Browns games). Please, no DFS love for Flacco. Steve Smith was quiet, going 4/4/20 on a day where Flacco distributed his 36 pass attempts in the direction of nine receivers. It’s hard to trust any pass catchers on this offense, but the four targets are his lowest total on the season (outside of the Washington game, where he was injured after securing three catches on three looks), so I wouldn’t give up on him as a WR3.
  • Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West matched each other with 13 carries and four targets, and posted nearly identical total yardage numbers on the day, though the rookie got the better of the vet and caught all four balls thrown his way as well. At the moment, I’m benching West and holding Dixon if I have better options. Over the next few weeks, I think he continues to assert himself in time to deliver a starter-worthy stat line by the fantasy playoffs.
  • Jeremy Hill picked up 12 carries against a tough Ravens’ front (Rex Burkhead chipped in five) but it’s his six receptions on six targets (for 61 yards) that are most exciting for the post-Gio Bengals. With him on the field in passing downs, he could have a nice close to the season.
  • Tyrell Williams surprised with a) a big game in a tough receiver matchup against Houston and b) a significant target-share in Travis Benjamin‘s return to the lineup. After posting 11 targets in his absence, he followed with 14 and eight receptions. Dontrelle Inman scored a long TD and topped Benjamin as well, with six looks. I’d expect Benjamin’s two to increase in coming weeks, as he gets back to full health, but Inman has been productive and may have earned a consistent 8-12 target work load for a productive offense. For some perspective, he picked up 14 targets against a Texans team that had seen just 111 (or 11.1 per game) to all wide receivers through their first 10 contests.
  • Thomas Rawls had 12 carries on a day where Seattle could not establish the run, and trailed throughout. Alex Collins didn’t have any. Meantime, Russell Wilson was under constant pressure, so I don’t think we can read anything into the fact that Rawls was targeted just once. There are concerns that he won’t be used as a receiver… and perhaps he won’t. But, I won’t let a low number in an unproductive game for Seattle confirm that for me just yet.
  • Doug Martin picked up 23 carries against Seattle, while Peyton Barber pitched in just five in relief. He’s back in full control oft he backfield and evidently in good health.
  • Ted Ginn Jr. scored on an 88 yard pass from Cam Newton, but his 10 targets are the more intriguing number. Newton attempted just 28 passes. That said, Ginn caught just four of those 10 balls and has consistently been held under five catches this season. I wouldn’t treat his big outing as an immediate need to make a waiver claim.
  • After it appeared he was being deprioritized, Quincy Enunwa‘s five targets were well ahead of Robby Anderson‘s two. Anderson also dropped a fumble, while Enunwa made an impressive grab for a score.
  • Travis Kelce was a target machine (15) against the Broncos, but I’m more focused on the fact that Tyreek Hill continued to play a significant role in the offense. He had 10 targets, reeling in nine of them, and adding a carry. All told, he notched just 55 total yards but scored twice. Jeremy Maclin missed yet another contest, affording Hill the opportunity. His case continues to be a troubling one, as when/if Maclin returns, I worry that there isn’t enough production and overall passing game opportunity to keep Hill boxscore relevant… but, he’s clearly done enough this season to get your attention. Receiver needy teams can trust him as a WR3/FLEX with Maclin out, and he should continue to see a significant proportion of the targets (sometimes a low number) when he returns. Just bear in mind, it took 44 Alex Smith pass attempts to get him to those 10 looks, and that won’t be a regular occurrence.
  • Philadelphia found themselves in a second half hole this week, but Wendell Smallwood still led backs with nine carries, while Darren Sproles added three. Sproles’ seven targets significantly outweighed Smallwood’s one, as expected. If Ryan Mathews continues to miss time, I think you’ll like Smallwood more than Sproles in games that the Eagles lead, given that he’s in the more traditional early down back role.
  • Dorial Green-Beckham made six receptions (82 yards) on 10 targets with Nelson Agholor out of the lineup. Jordan Matthews drew just six this week, and more often than not he’ll be the key contributor in the passing game… but, DGB seems primed to pick up Agholor’s target share and put it to good use. If he’s available, you’re interested for the stretch run.

Touches and Targets: Week 11 NFL Review

As we do every week, we go beyond the high-level box score to look at workload and usage, trying to make the most of workload distribution around the NFL to inform your roster for the week ahead.

Touches and Targets: Week 11 NFL Review

  • Mark Ingram left early with a head injury, and Tim Hightower took full advantage this week as he has for much of the season. All told, Hightower picked up 69 yards on 12 carries and added eight receptions on nine targets for 57 yards. Since fumbling issues arose for Ingram, the backfield balance has been in question, and while he hasn’t done anything since to lose his job, Hightower continues to prove effective with the ball in his hands. As such, workloads in the 10-13 touch range are much safer projections for Ingram than the 16-18.
  • A.J. Green went down on the second snap of the game this week, and all accounts suggest he is lost for the season. Behind him, Brandon LaFell led receivers with nine targets while Tyler Boyd was more effective (8/6/54/TD). All told, the injury to Green means more opportunities for both players. That said, Boyd has seen more consistent use overall (19-13 targets over the last three games) since the start of November and is getting looks in the red zone. Given that LaFell had been playing more frequently in two receiver sets (572-402 snaps coming into the week) Boyd is due for the greatest uptick in value and is likely the safer bet for regular production. Tyler Eifert may be the biggest beneficiary of the bunch, however.

Eli Rogers gets some work for the Steelers

  • As expected, the Steelers’ offense ran through Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown on a windy day in Week 11, but it should be noted that Eli Rogers saw a healthy six targets on a day when Big Ben threw 36 passes overall and 27 to non-RBs. Cobi Hamilton saw five with Sammie Coates out of the lineup.
  • Ezekiel Elliot had 25 carries and 29 touches (4/5 receiving) against the NFL’s best rush defense. You knew this, but in terms of workload and production (127 total yards) he’s as matchup proof as they come.
  • Marqise Lee found the endzone for Jacksonville, and produced four receptions for 52 yards on eight targets. Meanwhile, Allen Hurns had one catch on two looks. The score was the first of the season for Lee, but his target-load is becoming more of a pattern. It marks three of the last five weeks in which he’s seen more opportunities than Hurns, and in fact he led the team in Week 11. WR desperate owners should look to him on the waiver wire this week, while those still hanging on to Hurns as a WR3 are wise to jettison the 2014/15 good news story.

Eric Ebron finds the endzone

  • On a day where Matthew Stafford was largely held in check, and was ultimately held out of the endzone, Eric Ebron remained productive. He (tying Theo Riddick this week) led the Lions in receiving yards for the third straight game and found the endzone on an unconventional one yard carry. His five targets tied a season-low, but it’s clear that Ebron remains a significant part of the plan for a productive Lions’ offense.
  • On a day where Tennessee’s recently impressive offense underwhelmed, and the Titans trailed early, DeMarco Murray stayed engaged throughout the game. He finished with 21 carries for 70 yards, and added three receptions while finding the end zone as a pass catcher. Derrick Henry didn’t touch the ball. His injury did not seem to be a factor as much as the fact that Tennessee was playing from behind – something to bear in mind as the 5-6 Titans look to close out the season in the tight AFC South race.
    • Rishard Matthews was targeted heavily, meanwhile, with nine receptions on 13 targets. That workload marks his second double digit target game in his last three outings.
  • Travis Kelce led the Chiefs with nine targets, while Albert Wilson found the endzone. Elsewhere, while WR-starved gamers and DFS value seekers debated Chris Conley and Tyreek Hill, it was Conley who saw eight targets to Hill’s five. The rookie remained Kansas City’s most effective wideout this week after a solid Week 10, but with Jeremy Maclin due to return to the lineup in short order, his utility is coming to an end.
  • He didn’t really show up on your scoresheet after stringing together a series of strong games, but Stefon Diggs saw a healthy seven targets (or 25% of Sam Bradford‘s 28 pass attempts) despite drawing coverage against Patrick Peterson. Diggs and the Vikings play the much more generous Lions’ pass defense on the short week, and you can count on a similar workload distribution. Adam Thielen is likely to hang in around five, not seeing much of a boost despite teh fact that Peterson hung with Diggs for much of the day, while Cordarrelle Patterson, who had an impressive kick return this week, is unlikely to see eight targets on a regular basis.
  • While Jeremy Langford scored the short-TD, Jordan Howard out carried him 17-6 and massively outproduced him (4.5 YPC vs. 1.3) which should put to rest any questions as to which is the Bears’ lead back. a 65-35 split seems reasonable moving forward, and I wouldn’t necessarily take Langford’s short plunge to suggest that he’s the goal line back of record. It’s worth noting, however, that Jay Cutler and Howard were incredibly out of sync in the passing game. Overall the rookie saw eight targets but secured just one, while this season’s presumed starters caught all three balls thrown his way. Again, there isn’t much reason to assume that Langord will get more passing down work moving forward but that inefficiency suggests that the situation is worth monitoring.
  • In the first game of Alshon Jeffery‘s suspension, with Zach Miller suffering a season ending injury mid-way, Cutler simply distributed the ball among his receivers. Cameron Meredith and Marquess Wilson split four targets apiece, while Eddie Royal checked in with just three on 30 attempts from a conservative Cutler. While Meredith has the most recent run of sustained usage, I’ve got my eye on Wilson of the trio. In great likelihood, you’ll see the ball spread around the offense in similar fashion the rest of the way, but that he tied for the team league in targets in his first game active portends greater potential to come.

DeVante Parker featured again

DeVante Parker was active for the Dolphins for the second straight week (Photo: Getty Images).

DeVante Parker was active for the Dolphins for the second straight week (Photo: Getty Images).

  • In an odd game script against a strong Rams defense, Miami didn’t do much on offense until halfway through the fourth quarter. Meantime, DeVante Parker finished with eight receptions on 10 targets, finishing with 79 yards and a score. That marks back-to-back games in which he’s had more passes thrown his way than Jarvis Landry. It also marks the third straight game in which Landry has had six or fewer targets. The formula, of leaning on Jay Ajayi and spreading the ball around to receivers has worked fora Dolphins team that has reeled off five straight wins. Parker warrants regular consideration, while Landry is more of a WR2/3 consideration despite his score than a solid WR2, even in PPR formats.
  • It isn’t a huge surprise to see a rookie QB lean on his TE underneath, so Lance Kendricks‘ seven targets aren’t surprising. Still, Kenny Britt investors will be heartened to see that he tied Kendricks for the team lead in targets in Jared Goff‘s first start. The 43 yards on seven looks leave a lot to be desired, but Goff’s YPA should pick up over time. Britt is a hold at the moment, but a tough start until the QB of the future in Los Angeles starts taking some shots downfield.
  • In Dion Lewis‘ first game active, he carried the ball five times and saw five targets. James White did not get a carry, but he was targeted six times, catching them all and finding the end zone. While it came in a game where Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan were unavailable, the pair still accounted for more than 25% of Tom Brady‘s 40 pass attempts. Julian Edelman had the bulk of the remainder with 17. While one game is too soon to make any broad sweeping assertions, their use is concerning, with the potential to limit one another’s weekly touch ceiling. Though, that was probably to be expected.
  • Both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles went down for Philadelphia, though the severity of the injury suffered by Sproles is unknown at this point. Still, Wendell Smallwood picked up 13 carries in their wake, adding four catches on five targets for 31 yards to make for 79 total on the day. That effort comes on the heels of a 13-70 rushing line the week prior. Smallwood is a priority add, and has shown he can handle a decent workload in recent weeks.

Thomas Rawls back to work

  • With injuries on the other side of the Philadelphia/Seattle tilt, Thomas Rawls played 40 snaps and netted 14 carries in his return to action. He acquitted himself quite well, with 57 yards on the ground against a stout run D and an additional 31 yards through the air on three receptions (four looks). With C.J. Prosise looking unlikely for the week ahead, he should have plenty of work in Week 12. Alex Collins will be in the mix behind him with Troymaine Pope also banged up. Gamers who hung on to Rawls are set to be rewarded.
  • The Packers found themselves in a second half hole and reliant on the pass, but it’s not a huge surprise that James Starks finished this game with single digit carries either way. He managed to find the endzone on 5/6 receiving, but without his 31 yard scamper for a score it was an underwhelming day. It isn’t looking like there will be enough volume here to trust Starks as an RB2 or Flex, despite his return as the team’s starting back. Christine Michael should be active in the weeks ahead, as well.
  • Elsewhere for the Packers, Jared Cook led the team in targets in his return to the lineup. Jordy Nelson saw a lot of Josh Norman which had an impact on Cook’s workload, no doubt, but he looked good with the ball in his hands and should continue to see significant workloads with the Packers continuing to trail and lean on the pass.
  • Matt Jones spent another week on the bench, while Rob Kelley mashed his way to three touchdowns on 24 carries. There simply isn’t much reason for Washington to look elsewhere right now, with the offense rolling.

Touches and Targets: Week 10 NFL Review

Each week, we take a deep dive into the box scores to provide some insight on workload distribution and what to make of it for the week that was. Ultimately, this is a view to rest of season player valuation with some insight into weekly waiver wire plays. With that in mind, this week’s top story has significant waiver implications.

Touches and Targets: Week 10 NFL Review

Kenneth Dixon ran through the Browns defense when given opportunities this week (Rob Carr/Getty Images North America).

Kenneth Dixon ran through the Browns defense when given opportunities this week (Rob Carr/Getty Images North America).

Terrance West dominated the rushing workload with 21 carries against a soft run defense, but managed just 65 yards. Meanwhile, rookie RB Kenneth Dixon looked electric against the Browns. He finished with six carries for 38 yards, adding five catches on seven targets for an additional 42. While Baltimore has gotten back on the right track in recent weeks, Dixon looks like the spark they need to keep moving in the right direction. On the season, he has just 21 carries for an unimpressive average, but I’d expect him to continue to take on a larger share of the workload, ultimately unseating West. If he remains available in your league – and as of today, he’s up for grabs in more than 80% of Yahoo! leagues – he’s worth a roster spot down the stretch.

For his part, Dixon thinks he’s up to taking on more work, per the Baltimore Sun:

“I feel like I’m back 100 percent, and I’m ready for the workload that the team gives me,” Dixon said Thursday in the locker room underneath M&T Bank Stadium. “Everything that they give me, I just want to take advantage of. We have two great running backs out there. In the game, it gets a little tight. So I’m just waiting for my moment and taking advantage of it.”

The Score’s Justin Boone and I agreed on Dixon’s value in a recent waiver ranking for FantasyPros.


For the rest, we’re on to the bullets:

  • In the aftermath of a mess of a game for Green Bay, no one is paying attention to the backfield workload… but, it’s worth noting that James Starks led carries 7-3-3 vs. Aaron Ripkowski and Ty Montgomery in his return to action. With Green Bay playing catch up, he also had four targets vs. just two for Montgomery. I’m expecting Green Bay to continue to favor the pass moving forward, but to the extent that I’m willing to extrapolate from a one week sample it seems that Starks’ return to health spells an end to Montgomery’s utility. Jordy Nelson (18), Davante Adams (9), Randall Cobb (8) and Richard Rodgers (7) all finished comfortably ahead of Montgomery in overall opportunities this week.
  • You’d have hoped for a better rushing average against a poor Saints run D, but for all the talk that both Devontae Booker and Kapri Bibbs would garner carries this week, Booker out-carried his backfield mate 23-7, and was targeted twice to Bibbs’ one. Nothing to see here.
    • On the other side, Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower finished with a much tighter 11-8 carry split. Ingram was the more effective back for the second straight week, however, and he’s hanging onto the football. It should be assumed that he’ll continue to lead the committee.
  • You get the sense that a QB change is in the offing in Los Angeles… and after another week without a TD it should be… but, at the moment, Kenny Britt remains a must-start. He had 10 targets again this week, netting seven receptions and 109 yards, and has drawn six or more looks in all but one of LA’s games so far this year. If and when the change comes, you’ll want to see how usage, chemistry and overall offense (can’t get much worse…) look with Goff, but until then,deploy freely and happily.
  • Naturally, Ryan Mathews went off for Philadelphia after consecutive weeks of five carries or fewer and a declaration that Darren Sproles was the “number one”. Sproles saw plenty of work in the passing game (10 targets, eight receptions) but it seems that the experiment with him as a primary ball carrier is behind us. I wouldn’t count on another week with 19 carries for Mathews moving forward, and I’d further note that Wendell Smallwood worked his way into the mix this week as well, carrying the ball 13 times. In short, if you can avoid this situation.. do so. And, if you’re counting on Sproles as a standard league starter, don’t count on carries.
  • Taylor Gabriel will be noticed because he caught a 76 yard TD this week, but I’m more interested in the four balls he didn’t catch. Overall, he had five targets in Week 10 and continues to see regular use for the Falcons. You’re relying on a score to put you on the board for fantasy purposes, but at a minimum Gabriel is worth a look in GPP’s in the right matchup.
  • Doug Martin had 16 ineffective carries (33 yards) in his return to action while Peyton Barber pitched in with 13. That said, Martin was heavily involved early and the final numbers don’t tell the story. With a big lead, they didn’t need a big contribution from Martin down the stretch. 10 of Barber’s carries came in the 4th quarter. Moving forward, it’s safe to deploy Martin as you regularly would.
  • Cameron Meredith‘s Hail Mary TD helped to bolster anyone who was left starting him after a strong run mid-season but otherwise his day was very quiet. He drew just one additional target and in each of his last three games, two of which come with Jay Cutler at the helm, he’s had two total targets. The run appeared to be over, but with news that Alshon Jeffery will miss the next four games it’s conceivable that Meredith could find himself back in the 10 target/week range… at a minimum, he’s worth a hold to see how Cutler (assuming he stays at the helm) shares the targets between he and teammate Eddie Royal.
  • With Matt Jones as a healthy scratch this week, Rob Kelley carried the ball 22 times and posted a solid 4.4 YPC average against a tough Vikings’ front. Assuming Jones works his way out of the doghouse and onto the active roster, he’ll likely chip away at Kelley’s total in the weeks ahead, but that is a lead back’s workload and it certainly looks like Kelley will be treated that way down the stretch.
  • With DeSean Jackson inactive, Pierre Garcon drew a healthy 10 targets this week. Jamison Crowder was next, with six (and a score).
  • Tyreek Hill is Kansas City’s TD leader and has been a sneaky player of interest for much of the season, but should certainly be on your radar now after being featured in the second half against the Panthers. Overall, he drew 13 targets and caught 10 balls for 89 yards, adding 12 yards on a carry. Those 101 total yards and 14 opportunities come with Jeremy Maclin out of the lineup, but he had 11 total looks in the two prior contests and is carving out a role as part of the KC offense. Deep leaguers, take note. Chris Conley had an underwhelming three targets.
  • DeVante Parker led Miami in targets with eight, catching five balls and topping 100 yards while Kenny Stills had just three looks. Overall, Miami’s passing game looked strong against the Chargers but Parker’s effort has earned him some additional looks. I’d want to see another week with a significant target load before I trusted him in my lineup, mind you.
  • Philip Rivers‘ 44 pass attempts were more than he’d like in a given week, but it should be noted that a healthy nine targets went to Dontrelle Inman with Travis Benjamin out, including a number with the game on the line. A tidbit to file away in the right matchup, if Benjamin misses more time.
  • While Pittsburgh funneled almost all of their offense through Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, it should be noted that Eli Rogers was effective on his five targets this week. He caught four balls, and found the endzone.
  • I received a text from a friend during the Patriots game that read “I thought that Brady’s return would spell the end for LeGarrette Blount“… I’m still not sure if it was a direct shot at me, or a general shared observation, but I do know that I’ve expressed that sentiment in this space before. And yet, here we are five weeks later, and Blount is averaging 1.6 TDs a game and he’s had fewer than 18 carries just once. With 21 of those and three scores this week, he remains very much a part of the picture. James White worked in as well (two carries, four receptions on four targets) but Blount is the man in the backfield. Brady, White, nor the return of Dion Lewis appears set to change that at the moment. Carry on with Blount. But you didn’t need this post to tell you that.
  • C.J. Prosise had seven catches on seven targets for 87 yards and looked great as both a receiver and a rusher (adding a healthy 17 carries for 69 yards). Ultimately, with Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls both expected to return to health those 17 totes are unlikely to be sustained… and his limitations around the goal line and in pass protection with both evident on Sunday Night, but it was a great display to watch all the same and Prosise looks like he’ll be worth regular use in PPR leagues.