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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.

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