Each week throughout the season we take a deeper dive into the box score to look at the playing time, opportunities and detail behind the box score in an effort to try to provide you with actionable fantasy advice. To that end, you won’t hear much in this space about Julio Jones‘ 10 target week because at this stage, no one should be surprised… you’ll hear about the 13 that Kendall Wright netted however, as it may represent a shift in Tennessee’s passing game distribution.
With that bit of context in mind, we’re off to the bullets…
Touches and Targets: Week 6 NFL Review
- After I threw the full weight of my support behind Dontrelle Inman he was a no show for the Chargers this week against Denver, netting just one target. That said, neither Travis Benjamin‘s five targets nor Tyrell Williams‘ 3 is enough to sustain a fantasy week. Rivers threw 30 passes, but directed eight of them toward break out TE Hunter Henry on Thursday Night. Those targets are notable in particular because they came with Antonio Gates in the lineup, and because Henry feasted on them – making six catches for 83 yards and a score. Gates had six targets of his own, and it seems that the Chargers committed to targeting TEs in the middle of the field against Denver. All that being said, I’d count on Henry remaining a part of the offense on a regular basis and his workload negatively impacting that of Gates, Williams… and Inman.
- The gap between Alshon Jeffery (WR20) and Cameron Meredith (WR36) in my rest of season rankings is now incredibly thin. Sure, that’s a significant conclusion to jump to after just two weeks but the volume certainly supports it as does Meredith’s film. I spoke with FNTSY Sports Network‘s Chris Meaney during the afternoon games today and he shared that he’d conducted a thorough review of Meredith’s snaps from Week 5 and his College career and came away impressed with the converted Quarterback.
- Eddie Royal left this week’s contest early and Brian Hoyer attempted 50 passes, inflating numbers for both receivers, but Meredith led the team in volume and production again this week. Specifically, Meredith made 11 receptions on 15 targets for 113 yards. Jeffery got back on track this week with a 13/7/93 line. Meredith’s relevance is in some ways contingent upon Brian Hoyer’s grip on the starting job, as there are no guarantees that Jay Cutler would continue to look his way so often, but with 20 catches and 243 yards on 27 targets over the last two weeks the game planners would be foolish not to continue looking in his direction. That all comes at an expense to Jeffery, who is more of a low-end WR2 in standard matchups at the moment.
- Don’t look now, but Case Keenum has thrown for more than 250 yards in three straight weeks and is looking like he can keep his receivers fantasy relevant. Specifically, while Brian Quick has seen a lot of the deep looks this season, Kenny Britt has been a productive member of the offense long before his 2TD outing against the Lions. Britt was targeted eight times this week, catching seven balls for 136 yards, scoring twice. Britt, who is averaging 6.7 targets per game, has posted 75 or more yards in 4 of the team’s 6 games (and 67 in another). There is enough volume here to trust him as a regular play in deeper leagues.
- Ricardo Louis had nine targets this week, ahead of Andrew Hawkins‘ four. It’s conceivable that he could become the team’s second option at WR – at least until Corey Coleman concerns, of course.
- Preseason buzz recipient Tajae Sharpe has slowed in recent weeks, falling behind Rishard Matthews on the pecking order. Matthews found the endzone against Cleveland this week, though both pass catchers received just three targets. Meanwhile, in his first extended action of the season, Kendall Wright had 13 of 24 Marcus Mariota passes thrown in his direction in Week 6. He hauled in eight of them, including a deep score, for 133 yards. Tennessee doesn’t have a high volume passing game and I wouldn’t necessarily read this as Wright reclaiming his years-ago hold on the top of the WR depth chart in Tennessee, but it is certainly something to monitor. He’s worth an add with an eye toward monitoring the workloads in the weeks ahead.
- Arian Foster didn’t see a lot of the field in his return to action, and netted just three carries. This seemed to have been the intended script, but Jay Ajayi‘s huge second half could leave him playing second fiddle. All told, Ajayi finished with 25 carries for 204 yards, adding one reception on two targets. I’d expect Foster to take on a greater share of the workload next time out, leaving Ajayi somewhere shy of 20 carries but this performance should keep him in the lead of the timeshare, at least in the short-term.
- Giovani Bernard out-carried Jeremy Hill against New England 15-13, and intriguingly was heavily used around the goal line early in the game. Bernard also garnered five targets to Hill’s one. The latter isn’t surprising, particularly in a game that Cincinnati trailed but his use as the lead back early in this game is a troubling development for Jeremy Hill owners. If an even split in carries remains a trend, it significantly hampers Hill’s value.
- Julian Edelman had a healthy seven targets this week, and saw 10 in Tom Brady‘s return, but they’ve been exclusively underneath. He’ll remain a solid PPR play with his work over the middle of the field, but the seams belong to Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, with Chris Hogan (just one target this week, a 39 yard reception) looking to be the deep threat. Edelman should be viewed more as a mid-WR3 than a sound WR2 at this point.
- Jonathan Stewart promptly asserted himself atop the Carolina RB depth chart in his return, with 19 carries. Notably, it was Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Tolbert in the mix behind him, meaning that Cameron Artis-Payne is back to only having relevance if Stewart sits out. He scored twice against New Orleans – you shouldn’t count on Stewart remaining a high scoring back moving forward, but he’ll get plenty of work for Carolina.
- Jamison Crowder saved his fantasy day with a TD today, but Pierre Garcon led Washington receivers in targets with 11, including a number inside the 20. Crowder caught three of his four looks, but he won’t be in regular WR3 consideration until he starts to consistently see 6 or 7 looks a week. It’s easy to underwhelm on four targets (which he hasn’t topped since the team’s third game).
- Following the team’s bye, with Jamal Charles presumably at full health, Spencer Ware drew the start and easily out-touched the veteran. Ware had a 24-9 edge in carries and both backs went 2/2 on their targets. He started hot again this week, and finished the game with 131 yards on the ground (Charles looked solid, and netted 33 yards on his opportunities). He’s simply played too well to yield the job to Charles. Count on a 60-40ish split in the weeks ahead, until Ware fails to produce or his fumbles come up at an inopportune time.
- Michael Crabtree received just four targets in a game that heavily featured Amari Cooper for the Raiders. Crabtree was targeted in the endzone and nearly had a solid fantasy day as a result, but the passing game has clearly shifted back in Cooper’s favor over the last two weeks. He posted a solid 13/10/129 line in defeat.
- When Dez (and if Tony) comes back to the lineup, you have to assume that Cole Beasley slows down a bit. After all, he has a history as a middling receiver in this Dallas offense, but he sure was productive again this week. He was Dallas’ most targeted receiver this week (six) and caught every ball thrown his way. A six target, 5-6 reception effort is a fair enough projection regardless of who is in the lineup around him, but you have to assume he falls further down the pecking order around the goal line. Both of his scores came from within the five yard line this week. In any event, you’ve got to give Beasley credit for the time being and it will be hard not to continue to ride him after the bye.
- I’m not making a whole lot of Ty Montgomery‘s 12 target, 10 catch outing for Green Bay. Injuries in the backfield coming into the game, and Davante Adams‘ injury suffered within it certainly helped to inflate his numbers. He may maintain a regular role – particularly given how good he looked out of the backfield, with James Starks due to miss extended time – but assuming Adams suits up next week I think he goes back to a bit player in Week 7.
- Jimmy Graham continues to work as the pace car in the Seattle passing game, leading the time with nine targets this week. Baldwin, Kearse and Lockett each had five.