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Oct 23

Touches and Targets Week 7: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

The final numbers tell one part of the story, but fantasy football is a game of volume. Knowing any given week who is going to get the looks, and in what situations those looks are coming, can help you make important lineup decisions – touches and targets on a weekly basis play as big a role as the name on the back of the jersey. With that in mind let’s take a look back at workloads from this past weekend and start thinking forward to who may find themselves in a more favorable situation in Week 8 We focus our attention on the pass catchers in this segment but have addressed the touches and targets of ball carriers in a separate post.

  • One particular out-route sticks in my mind to suggest that Miles Austin isn’t up to speed/back to health just yet, but we have to take note of his three target, zero catch performance for how it stands up to Terrance Williams‘ 7-6-71-TD game. My hope is that Williams stays ahead of Austin on the depth chart for the remainder of the season, however, there is no concrete evidence that that is Dallas’ long-term plan yet. Williams leads qualified receivers with an impressive 85.7% catch rate to date, an impressive mark for any player let alone a rookie. Conversely, Austin is catching just 57.7% of the balls thrown his way.
Lambeau Leaper Jarrett Boykin should maintain his relevance moving forward (Photo: USAT Images)

Lambeau Leaper Jarrett Boykin should maintain his relevance moving forward (Photo: USAT Images)

  • A week after going 1/5 on his targets when being thrust into action Jarrett Boykin had a much better game making 8 catches on 10 looks for 103 yards with a score. He played 70 of 72 snaps for the Packers and is in line for plenty of work moving forward, regardless of James Jones‘ status given the injury to Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb‘s extended absence. It’s a shame about Finley from a football sense (as well as his own health concerns) too, he was having a very productive season and had gone 5/5 for 72 and a score on Sunday before getting hurt.
  • Rob Gronkowski looked a little off on some plays in his return but with 51 of 79 snaps played and 17 targets it’s safe to say he can be deployed as normal moving forward. Josh Boyce and Austin Collie (27 snaps, 4 targets) have officially swapped positions on the depth chart, for anyone that is tracking. So have Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, at least in the fantasy world.
  • Garrett Graham was the most targeted Texan this weekend against the Chiefs (8) and that trend is likely to continue as long as Case Keenum is under center. It was amplified by facing a team with a strong pass rush but expect the young guy to look to his TE safety blanket as he builds confidence.
  • This piece has typically been an opportunity to lambaste the Chiefs for their use of Dwayne Bowe but Week 7 wasn’t so bad. He saw 9 targets, including some deep looks, and reeled in 5 passes – both KC highs. The nine targets represent a season high for Bowe and are hopefully indicative of an upward trend.
  • After everyone got all amped up on Marquise Goodman following his long TD in Week 6 he played just five of 68 snaps for Buffalo this week with Steve Johnson back in the lineup, seeing no targets. Johnson drew 11 in his first game with Thad Lewis.
  • Charles Clay scored a TD this week, but, had his lowest target total of the year as Miami split the work pretty evenly between Wallace, Hartline and Gibson (10-11-8).
  • Jeremy Kerley came up big for the Jets delivering eight catches on nine targets for 97 yards and a score. When/if Santonio Holmes finds his way back to the field Kerley’s value takes a bit of a hit, but until that time he’s going to get plenty of looks from a rapidly maturing Geno Smith.
  • Riley Cooper was the Eagles best receiver, or at least the one the QBs connected with most regularly, this week catching six balls on seven targets for 88 yards. DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant managed just three grabs on eight and 12 targets, respectively. Hold one more week on the Riley Cooper hype train, though. He was largely ignored early in the season with Vick at pivot.
  • It’s hard to know how the Bears will fare with Josh McCown as a medium-term answer at QB, and while I suggested earlier in the week they’d be ‘just fine’ I do have some reservations about how things work out for Marshall/Jeffery. The target data, though, suggests Martellus Bennett is most at risk. He drew just two looks this week.
  • Hype on Jordan Reed (nine targets, nine catches) justified. On Aldrick Robinson (2-2-12 snaps) not. Reed’s playing time and targets are up significantly in his two games since the team’s bye.
  • Colin Kaepernick threw just seven balls to wide receivers this week, with six of them heading toward Anquan Boldin.
  • Kendall Wright has no business on your league’s waiver wire. His 12 targets and nine catches were both season highs but he’s been getting consistent work all year and Jake Locker‘s return helps everyone.
  • The Cleveland passing game continues to confound me with Brandon Weeden at the helm. Jordan Cameron had another nice fantasy game but it felt like he didn’t do anything until the final quarter again/until the game had been decided. Josh Gordon saw just six targets and let a number of catchable balls hit the ground.
  • Jacoby Jones played 52 snaps and drew six targets compared to 47 and 4 for Marlon Brown, a disappointing trend for anyone invested in the latter.
  • For the first time since Week 2 Eric Decker was the most targeted Bronco, but, as usual there was plenty of value to be had from the receiving/end corps.
  • TY Hilton finally drew a start and played 55 of Indianapolis’ 75 snaps this week, drawing 10 targets. If you’re expecting more excitement to come with this bullet, don’t get your hopes up. He caught just two balls. Still, with the unfortunate injury to Reggie Wayne he should see the field more than he had in Weeks 1-6, and Darrius Heyward-Bey‘s value comes up a tick as well. He scored a very impressive touchdown on a fake reverse but still struggles with drops a little too much to be an overly exciting fantasy commodity.
  • Each of Minnesota’s big-three (medium-three?) was targeted at least eight times, and each failed to catch 50% of their targets in Josh Freeman‘s debut. There is plenty of room for growth, there, so we won’t try to read too much into a game Freeman clearly was asked to start too soon. It is worth noting that he had 16 overthrows, however, so it wasn’t just ‘playbook’ stuff that was off.
  • While he received just three targets, Rueben Randle‘s touchdown allowed him to post a productive fantasy night and he did catch all three of his looks. This is an important factor on a night where Hakeem Nicks had three drops and went 2/9 and after 6 of the 41 passes thrown in Randle’s direction heading into the night had resulted in interceptions.
  • Mike Brown had eight targets and led the Jaguars in receiving with 120 yards, though the number is a bit inflated by a 67 yard grab. Still plenty of work for Shorts (12 targets) and Blackmon (8) but without any touchdown passes, again, their floors are capped on days where they aren’t catching 10+ balls apiece.
  • Even in a week when Calvin Johnson received a full workload (14 targets, including a 50 yard touchdown that was caught despite the fact that it had no business being thrown to him) Kris Durham received seven targets. The fantasy numbers don’t jump off the sheet at you, but, he’s the clear second option while Burleson is out. Ryan Broyles did see four looks but caught only two balls for 16 yards while Kevin Ogletree played just 10 snaps (to 41 for Broyles) and had two targets, two catches, and 50 yards.
  • While AJ Green was dominant, we knew that was going to be the case this season. I’m more interested in the battle for the #2 WR position in Cincinnati. For the second straight week, Marvin Jones was the more productive fantasy asset when compared to fellow WR Mohamed Sanu. Sanu played 56 snaps while Jones was available only in three wide receiver sets, but, in just 23 plays he drew six targets (to two for Sanu) for 54 yards and a score. He won’t be in the endzone every week so it’s hard to survive off 50 yards, but, he’s become a player of interest.
  • Golden Tate led the Seahawks in targets for the 5th week running, but, his role will be one to monitor as Percy Harvin returns to the lineup. My guess is that it will have a more significant impact on Tate than it will on Sidney Rice. With that said, Doug Baldwin is presently taking 71.2% of his snaps from the slot so his playing time may be in for the biggest shakeup. 
  • Vincent Jackson received 22(!) targets from Mike Glennon, and now has a total of 45 looks from the rookie in his three games. In two of the contests he has caught less than 50% of them, but he’s also gone over 100 with two tds in each of the last two games. Glennon’s willingness to put the ball in the air to his big body is a huge fantasy boost to Jackson’s value. A 22 target boost obviously inflates the numbers a bit but Jackson is tied for the league lead in targets (at 75) with AJ Green through seven weeks. The rest of the TB receiving corps are less appealing, though – including Week 7 super sleeper Tim Wright who saw just three looks against the Falcons.
  • I was right on some of Atlanta’s receiver use in the wake of Julio Jones‘ injury, and quite wrong in other areas. Harry Douglas was the most targeted WR and caught all 7 of the passes thrown his way, notching 149 yards and a score, however, Tony Gonzalez drew just two looks from Matt Ryan and Drew Davis saw just one. Still, Davis’ 43 snaps to Brian Robiskie‘s 2 (targeted on both) and Kevin Cone‘s 1 show that he’ll be Atlanta’s #2 target as long as Roddy White is out. A lot has been made about Douglas’ limitations as a receiver, but, it should be noted that he’s catching 71.9% of his targets so far this season, good enough for the 13th highest rate in the league.
  • Steve Smith‘s workload has picked up after the bye, with 22 targets in the past three weeks. Given that Cam didn’t have to throw a ton of passes in this week’s win his 6 targets are worth noting, given that they made up more than 1/3 of the total pass attempts and the veteran found the endzone for the second consecutive week.

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