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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.

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