Sep 20

Touches and Targets: NFL Week 2 Review

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

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

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

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

Touches and Targets: NFL Week 2 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

With that dispensed, lets get on to the bullets:

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

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

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

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