Aug 05

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.

May 22

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

Dec 13

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.

Dec 05

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.

Nov 29

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.

Nov 21

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.

Nov 14

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.

Oct 31

Touches and Targets: NFL Week 8 Review

You know the deal by now… we’re digging into the box scores to take a look at touches, targets and opportunities to provide some context to big games that were, those that could have been, and duds that aren’t yet worth panicking over… along with those that are.

With that, on to the bullets.

Touches and Targets: Week 8 NFL Review

We’re all well aware that most of Jacksonville’s scoring came in garbage time… as it often does. That said, Allen Robinson owners can’t say his lack of production came from lack of trying this week. He was involved throughout, and drew a total of 15 targets. Blake Bortles put the ball in the air 54 times, mind you, but he still had a solid target share. The two simply aren’t connecting. We’ll see if the ouster of OC Greg Olsen does anything to help scheme him open to give the two more regular opportunities to connect…

Washington was content to feed the ball to Rob Kelley in Matt Jones’ absence, and he responded fairly well with 21 carries for 87 yards. Most of the yardage came late in the game, but his workload clearly eclipsed that of Chris Thompson (seven carries) on the ground. Thompson went 5/5 as a receiver while Kelley missed on his two targets. Looking ahead, when Jones is back on the field Kelley has likely done enough to earn sustained work. That, and the fact that Jones can’t seem to hang onto the ball. Owners with better options would be wise to monitor the workload next week to confirm, but I’d count on a timeshare with Kelley leading the way.

Jordan Reed had 13 targets in his return, tied with Jamison Crowder for the team lead. Deep-leaguers will want to note that Vernon Davis remained involved despite his return, catching all five of his targets for 93 yards. It’s worth noting that Cousins threw 56 passes, in the overtime tie, mind you.

I’ve had a few unpleasant things to say about Julian Edelman’s fantasy outlook in this space over the last few weeks… and that won’t change despite his TD in Week 8. It was a great play and Edelman showed fight to turn a short route into a TD, but it came on just eight targets (to lead the team, mind you) and all of his catches were on underneath routes. The receptions will be there for PPR gamers, but in standard leagues this weeks 37 yards won’t get it done any better than the prior output with Brady under center.

RB Charcandrick West could be the last man standing in KC (Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America).

RB Charcandrick West could be the last man standing in KC (Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America).

Charcandrick West totalled 60 yards on 14 carries and two receptions (14-52) against the Colts, after Spencer Ware left with a concussion. The concussion won’t be a long-term issue for Ware, but with Knile Davis traded and Jamaal Charles checking in with Dr. Andrews this week, West could dominate the touches in Week 9 as he did in the second half of this one. The ideal fantasy scenario likely sees Charles getting a clean bill of health and magically feeling rejuvenated, but the prudent play is to add West and make use of him if you can next week against Jacksonville.

It took T.Y. Hilton’s partial absence due to injury, and he and Andrew Luck weren’t particularly efficient, but Donte Moncrief led the Colts (by a wide margin) with nine targets in his return. He left another TD on the field as well, finishing 4/9 for 41 with a score. Consider him safe to deploy as you would have in September.

C.J. Prosise was the recipient of a 43 yard reception on a backward pass trick play this week, but was involved in the run game as well. Seattle only attempted 17 carries and three belonged to Russell Wilson. Otherwise, he split the RB carries 4-10 with Christine Michael. Further, he out-targeted him 4-1, finishing with 80 receiving yards on four catches. The lead job still firmly belongs to Michael, but Prosise appears to be the next man up and the passing down back, at least until Thomas Rawls’ return.

Mark Ingram put the ball on the ground early, after just three carries. He never saw the field again, leaving Tim Hightower with 26 for 102 and one catch on three targets. That now gives Ingram fumbles in back-to-back weeks and he’s carrying the ball at just a 3.9 YPC clip. Coming in, Hightower had just 19 carries on the season so it would be a big leap to suggest he’s going to replace Ingram, but this week’s benching certainly places him on the hot seat. Word is, the coaching staff thinks that Hightower has ‘definitely‘ earned more work.

Latavius Murray, with 11 carries, essentially split the rushing work 50/50 with the duo of DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard behind him. He bolstered his totals with a healthy five receptions on seven targets, but isn’t due RB1 consideration except in the juiciest of matchups given volume concerns.

If you’re tracking secondary targets in Tampa Bay, Cameron Brate saw five ahead of Adam Humphries (4) and Russell Shepard (3). Players in standard size leagues shouldn’t worry about the WR position behind Mike Evans. He wasn’t particularly productive this week, but dwarfed the others in targets with 11 and is pretty much a weekly lock for double digits.

With Michael Floyd active but banged up and Jaron Brown now lost for the season, J.J. Nelson played a significant role for Arizona. In fact, he led the team with 12 targets in the comeback effort. Larry Fitzgerald saw 11 of his own, while John Brown had just four and again, Floyd didn’t factor in. That balance should shift when Floyd returns to health, but it will be a tough time projecting weekly targets behind Fitz and leaves all parties as dicey WR3s at best.

In Theo Riddick’s return to the lineup, he was given 11 carries to Zach Zenner’s three (and Justin Forsett’s 0). Moreover, he added eight receptions on 11 targets with Detroit playing from behind. No doubt, the fact that they were trailing influenced the amount of time Riddick spent on the field, but he remains the team’s go-to option. Speaking of big workloads in return, Eric Ebron had 10 targets compared to nine and seven for Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. I wouldn’t count on that distribution continuing, but it’s a good reminder that Ebron’s presence changes the target distribution. Cole Wick was not involved in the passing game in his absence.

On the note of active TEs, C.J. Fiedorowicz tied Deandre Hopkins for the team lead with seven looks, and caught five balls, finding the end zone. That gives him seven or more targets in his last four games, and TDs in three of six. The third year TE already has career highs in all receiving categories and appears to be a part of the offense with Osweiller at the helm. He can be used as a bye-week fill in, at worst.

Devontae Booker hurt his shoulder early in his first game as the Broncos’ starter and didn’t have a particularly effective outing. His final fantasy production wasn’t all that bad, with 84 total yards and a score, but outside of a couple of long bursts the Chargers kept him contained between the tackles most of the day. In fact, he lost a fumble and San Diego’s ability to bottle Booker up behind the line (he hadn’t been stopped at the line or behind it all season, coming in) is what kept them in the game late this week. Still, an injured and under-effective Booker finished with 24 touches vs. just two for Kapri Bibbs. This is his backfield for the next seven weeks at minimum, and the volume should lead to plenty of production.

With 23 carries this week, Melvin Gordon is just 23 off the total from his rookie season. He took those 23 totes for 111 yards (4.8 YPC) and added 44 yards on four of seven receiving for an impressive 155 total yards. Jeremy Hill carried for a 5.7 YPC against them earlier this year and stopped just short of 100 yards at 97, but today’s outing makes Melvin Gordon the first 100 yard rusher Denver has allowed this season. If you haven’t already come around to him as a regular mid-to-top RB1 then it’s about time you do.

With Ty Montgomery out, DeVante Adams was this week’s outlet. This week, he made 12 receptions on 14 targets to give him double digit targets in consecutive weeks. Jordy Nelson was next on the team with nine. Meantime, Aaron Rodgers ran the ball six times but otherwise, the backs had just 13 opportunities on the ground. It’s clear that this offense will remain tilted heavily toward the pass. In the weeks ahead, Montgomery should be back on the field (though the team is monitoring a kidney issue), and Randall Cobb will make his way back to the lineup… so, 8-10 looks is a more reasonable outlook, but there is enough volume to yield fantasy production from everyone involved.

Ryan Mathews got in some early work and found the endzone for Philadelphia (scoring on consecutive snaps, with one called back due to penalty) but otherwise finished with just four carries for 10 yards. It’s hard to argue with Doug Pederson’s reliance on Darren Sproles, given his production, but I don’t think any of us anticipated a 15-4 carry split with an additional five catches on seven targets. I’m not sold on a 20-5 imbalance between the two on a regular basis but Pederson’s West Coast Offense is fond of getting the ball to backs in space and in the flat, so I’d suggest that regular Sproles appearances are here to stay. Mathews is still getting the goal line work, so, there’s that… but, if you have any reasonable options behind him he’s a tough play at this point. It seems that he’s in the doghouse for underwhelming production and fumbles, with the team considering going to Sproles as the starter.

Dak Prescott targeted Dez Bryant to a fault in his return to the lineup, but overall a 14 target outing with a game-tying score is heartening. The two have hooked up for scores in back-to-back games where Bryant saw the field.

Dorial Green-Beckham (nine targets) not Nelson Agholor (four) was Carson Wentz‘ second option this week. Both players were guilty of drops yet again… so, it’s a tough position to trust either way.

Oct 24

Touches and Targets: Week 7 NFL Review

Another week is in the books, filled with its own shares of injury and underproduction that leads to a redistribution of targets and opportunities throughout the league. We’ll take a deeper look at all of the above, and any trends of note in assessing the meaning of another week’s worth of data.

Touches and Targets: Week 7 NFL Review

Ty Montgomery continues to get work as a ball carrier and receiver (Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images North America).

Ty Montgomery continues to get work as a ball carrier and receiver (Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images North America).

  • I’ll admit that I said something very different in this space last week, but with knowledge of the extent of Eddie Lacy’s injury and with another game of data to review… it seems that the Packers are content handing the ball to Ty Montgomery. He had nine carries this week, to go with 13 targets (Aaron Rodgers threw 56 passes, and that number trailed Randall Cobb and Davante Adams who had 16 and 15 respectively) and was even used to carry the ball from the goal line. With Knile Davis set to be active and engaged in the extended game planning period that comes after a Thursday Night game he should be ready to roll this week, but I’d expect to still see Montgomery in the mix in the backfield, and in the short passing game.
  • With two targets, Cameron Meredith’s workload came crashing back down to earth. I still think he’s a player the Bears are intended to use, but with an impending change at QB you’ll want to give it a game or two to see how his post-Hoyer workload looks.
  • The risk in using Kenny Britt, who has developed into a solid-WR3 this season, is that he can be marginalized when the Rams shift their focus. That happened this week, with Tavon Austin drawing 15 targets and catching ten balls (adding a carry). It was the Austin show against New York, but Britt (a healthy eight targets) is still their go to receiver in the middle of the field.
  • Rob Kelley found the end zone and is the most likely candidate to benefit from Matt Jones’ ugly, three fumble day, but it should be noted that it was Chris Thompson spelling Jones in the early part of the game and that while Kelley was the one to score in a critical moment, he had just four carries (12 yards) on the day to go with his reception. Thompson meanwhile, carried the ball 12 times for 73 yards and went 4/4 receiving for 40. He won’t be used all that often as a between the tackles guy, but if Jones is in the doghouse it’s conceivable that he and Kelley split work with Thompson chipping in. The rookie is worth an add, but expectations should be tempered.
  • Kendall Wright’s workload came back down to earth this week, with two catches on four targets (behind Matthews, Sharpe and Walker).
  • Jack Doyle drew 10 targets and made nine receptions for Indianapolis, trailing only TY Hilton (12). The next most targeted Colt had five. It may not be like that every week, but it seems certain that he is the team’s go to TE with Dwayne Allen out and that they’ll still emphasize passing to the position. Donte Moncrief’s return will change things, but for the time bein he’s a solid play. In fact, he’s my early week TE3 in a soft match up.
  • Drew Brees, put up a big number thanks to an effective second half, on the road. He did it by relying on his three main receiving weapons, distributing targets to Brandin Cooks (9), Willie Snead (11) and Michael Thomas (13). Thomas turned those looks into 10 receptions and 130 yards, and while that isn’t a number to count on every week he’s grown into an important part of the offense in his rookie year. Over the past four games, he’s had a TD in three and now his first career 100 yard game, on 38 targets. Brees targeted often on screen and short routes, and Thomas showed quickness and sure hands. Count on all of the above becoming a mainstay of the team’s offense.
  • You know well about Jay Ajayi’s monster two week stretch, so I won’t dwell on it. I’ll note, however, that Arian Foster had just three carries after a quiet Week 6 return and was used behind Damien Williams as well as Ajayi. One more week of that, and it becomes very safe to sever ties. Foster was targeted three times in the passing game, in addition to his three carries, but that isn’t enough to feed your offense or to presume he’ll be a lock for work should something happen to Ajayi. Update… Foster went and retired while this was being published, so you can probably go ahead and release him. Unless you’re nostalgic like friend of the site, Neil Parker.
  • Matt Forte got back on track this week, with a 30 carry workload in a game focused on keeping the offense moving down the field and avoiding making mistakes. Bilal Powell was given just four carries behind him, and while Forte picked up just 3.3 YPC (adding four catches on four targets for 54 yards). He’s back on the 25+ touch workload program after a few quiet games, and while it’s hard to imagine he can sustain this it seems like the formula for success for the Jets. In games where they are expected to trail, his prospects take a hit… but, if they can keep it close, he’s going to get the ball.
  • Dennis Pitta couldn’t convert, but he had another 10 targets with Steve Smith out of the lineup. Mike Wallace (13/10/120 was the main beneficiary) and Smith will return, but Pitta continues to be an important part of the offense. Don’t be discouraged by a 40 yard stat line.
  • Matt Asiata’s 12 carries came with Jerick McKinnon briefly sidelined, but he was quite effective with 55 yards on the ground. Ronnie Hillman, in his first game active, lost six yards on one carry. Meanwhile in the passing game, Cordarrelle Patterson was targeted seven times to lead all receivers. He caught all of them, for 67 yards and a score. He’s quickly becoming a significant part of the team’s plans in the passing game, with Charles Johnson seeing just one look and Stefon Diggs netting five in his return to action, matching Adam Thielen. I wouldn’t put him on Diggs’ level just yet, but this game didn’t come out of nowhere. Patterson had been steadily gaining steam and seems to have eclipsed Johnson. He’ll get regular work moving forward and is worth a roster spot, not yet a starting job, in 12 team leagues.
  • With six looks, to lead receivers, Nelson Agholor is still getting a lot of work. He caught just two balls and has a dangerous tendency to hover at or below the 50% conversion rate, but it hasn’t cost him opportunities just yet. He was open deep in this contest and nearly converted a long score.
  • Latavius Murray carried the ball 18 times (scoring twice) with just five totes for Deandre Washington in his return to action, receiving five targets in the passing game as well. His grip on the starting job is firm.
  • Allen Robinson had eight targets to lead the Jags… he just did very little with them in a becoming-tough matchup against Jalen Ramsay. It’s time to start worrying about him in an underproductive Jaguars lineup.
  • Antonio Gates was targeted 10 times against the Falcons, catching five balls. Meanwhile, Hunter Henry saw just three looks. He missed some time last week with a concussion, but was splitting targets while on the field as well. I’m still sold on Henry as a TE1, but Gates is very much in the mix and his presence will lead to games like this from time to time, capping his weekly upside.
  • Jaquizz Rodgers’ 26 carries were notable, given that Doug Martin’s absence could linger… but, that both he and Peyton Barber rolled right through the San Francisco run defense is more important. Each had a 40+ yard run and averaged 5.9 YPC or more.
  • Russell Shepard, not Adam Humphries, was the main beneficiary of Vincent Jackson’s placement on IR. It’s too early to determine if this was a result of matchup or otherwise… but, it’s certainly a trend worth monitoring.
  • Julian Edelman had another 10 target, low output game… his third such outing since Tom Brady’s return (27 targets; 10.5 standard league points). He continues to be a PPR weapon and you love the volume in standard leagues, but his role has shifted almost exclusively to chain moving, underneath routes. A fumble and a big drop this week didn’t help, either.
  • Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown got theirs in the passing game (13 and 11 targets respectively) but there wasn’t much room for the others in Landry Jones’ 2016 debut. It should be noted that Sammie Coates had just one target while Darrius Heyward-Bey had seven and Cobi Hamilton had six, though.

Oct 20

Week 7 NFL Ranks

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

Week 7 NFL Ranks

Week 7 NFL Ranks Discussion

henry

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

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