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.
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.