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Nov 06

Touches and Targets Week 9: 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 10 We focus our attention on the pass catchers in this segment but address the touches and targets of ball carriers in a separate post.

Wide Receiver and Tight End Targets Week 9

  • Nick Foles isn’t passing for 400 yards and seven TDs again, he just isn’t. So let’s not spend much time talking about the specific numbers… but… I need to make a point that everyone has noticed: Michael Vick and Nick Foles use Riley Cooper (and Jason Avant) very differently. In the three games started by Foles, Cooper has 18 targets and 15 catches. Avant has drawn 17 looks from Foles as well, but 12 of them came in a dismal three catch performance in a loss against Dallas. Otherwise, he’s had five looks from the apparent starter in Philadelphia moving forward. Noting that it seems to be Foles’ job, at least in the short term, adjust your viewpoint on Cooper vs. Avant. DeSean Jackson gets open regardless. For whatever it’s worth, DJ Hayden definitely got burnt a number of times but Brandon Ross is the Oakland corner we should all be ripping on… Ross gave up 10 catches on 11 targets for four TDs and an average of 15.1 yards per catch. On a day like Sunday, no one was good.
  • Rob Gronkowski caught nine balls on ten targets from Tom Brady, the first time he caught over 50% of his balls since returning to the lineup. Aaron Dobson had a nice game too, and you’ve seen the highlights by now. We’ve covered his progression into the full time X receiver role in this piece over the last month and that became very official this week with the deactivation of Kenbrell Thompkins. Both Dobson and Danny Amendola had nice days as the Pats offense finally got rolling, but, make note that Amendola had just four targets compared to Dobson’s nine, catching all of them. At 140.0 Brady had his highest passer rating of the day when throwing in Dobson’s direction.
  • For all the talk about Antonio Brown being benched for struggles with ‘execution’, he participated in 67 of Pittsburgh’s 76 snaps and saw nine targets, so, that one might be a bit overblown. So too is the reaction to Jerricho Cotchery‘s game. Don’t get me wrong, the three touchdown 96 yard performance was impressive, but, he won’t see nine targets every week – Ben Roethlisberger threw 48 passes and he was still tied with Brown for the second most looks.
  • T.Y. Hilton‘s quiet first half seems to have had more to do with gameplan than it did with the receiver himself. He wound up with 11 looks and seven catches, but, had just two and one (for six yards) in the first half. He’ll draw plenty of top coverage moving forward as Indianapolis’ best receiving threat, but, the team would be wise to get the ball in his direction early and often moving forward. His 7/11/125/3 line is a positive sign, to say the least, as to his production in the post-Wayne reality. Griff Whalen was the next most targeted receiver, but, with three catches on eight targets, and Darrius Heyward-Bey‘s one for five performance the supporting cast didn’t overwhelm.
With a QB who can throw the ball deep and is willing to give it to his top dog, Andre Johnson's needle is pointing up (Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images).

With a QB who can throw the ball deep and is willing to give it to his top dog, Andre Johnson’s needle is pointing up (Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images).

  • Naturally, after not scoring a touchdown in almost a calendar year Andre Johnson caught three of them in the first half against Indianapolis. He was targeted 13 times, catching nine balls for 229 yards. Not every game with Case Keenum will look like that, but, his willingness to put the ball up and let Johnson go get it, coupled with his arm strength, should lead to productive days ahead. DeAndre Hopkins should get plenty of attention from a suddenly strong QB, too. This week, he saw six targets from Keenum, catching three balls.
  • I mentioned in the immediate aftermath of Jay Cutler‘s injury that Josh McCown wasn’t necessarily a downgrade in terms of the fantasy production of Chicago’s wideouts, but then backed off it a little bit as the game approached. McCown was polished, better than projected in terms of his real-life QB play, and led to big days for both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Marshall was targeted 13 times and caught seven balls on Monday night, Jeffery had eight looks and five grabs – each showing enough size and strength to catch jump ball touchdowns and McCown had the awareness to get them the ball. Martellus Bennett didn’t wow in a soft TE matchup, but, had eight targets so he’s getting some attention.
  • Obviously, all of Green Bay’s receivers take a hit in value as long as Aaron Rodgers is unavailable, but, Jarrett Boykin retains plenty despite a quiet week this week. It’s telling that in James Jones‘ return to action he still played 49 snaps. While that, in part, may have been about acclimating Jones back to the lineup it seems safe to assume that he’s still going to be very much involved. Both Jones and Boykin caught just one ball, on two and one targets respectively. Those numbers should go up as Seneca Wallace has more reps with the starters, though.
  • Ok, so, Vincent Jackson isn’t matchup proof with Mike Glennon at the helm – my mistake. He saw just four targets and was shutdown by Seattle’s secondary despite the fact that Tampa moved the ball reasonably well. Those four targets pale in comparison to his typical volume with Glennon, though, and he should be on track to rebound this week. There had been some debate about whether Chris Owusu or Tiquan Underwood would take over the majority of work filling in for Mike Williams and it was Underwood in a landslide (the data had been telling us this in recent weeks, anyway). Underwood played in 54 snaps, the second most on the team behind Jackson and Owusu didn’t play at all, while Skye Dawson was on the field nearly 50% of the game for Tampa Bay. Underwood delivered a serviceable fantasy line, drawing three targets and catching two balls for 29 yards and a score. In weeks where Tampa Bay will pass more, I can see myself ranking Underwood in the WR45 range somewhere.
  • I’ve been spouting all kind of talk about the doom of Doug Baldwin in recent weeks, given the impending return of Percy Harvin, but, it behooves me to note (when my editor reads this, he’ll certainly tell me that I don’t even know what that word means…) that Baldwin started on the outside (not the slot) and played the most snaps of any Seattle wideout (tied with Golden Tate). With 10 looks and eight catches he was easily the most targeted pass catcher with Zach Miller coming in second at four. Yes, when Harvin returns (looking more like it may be weeks and not days after all) it takes targets from everyone, Baldwin may remain relevant after all now that Sidney Rice is on the shelf. In the two prior weeks combined Baldwin only saw two targets.
  • It is worth noting that Torrey Smith saw six of his eight targets facing Joe Haden and caught three balls for 58 yards. It is more noteworthy, though, that Marlon Brown found the endzone twice. Coming into the game I wasn’t sure how things would shake out between he and Jacoby Jones, but, facing secondary coverage options (0 targets vs. Haden, all but one against Buster Skrine) Brown drew eight looks catching five balls for 54 yards. The problem: I’m still not sure how it looks… Brown played 13 more snaps but drew the same eight targets as Jones – he just got touchdown duty this week.
  • I don’t want to rehash the Jordan Cameron line… let’s just hope for a bounce back game. He was targeted just three times. Josh Gordon drew six, but, did little with them while Jason Campbell consistently took what was there with Greg Little. Little has struggled with drops and focus all season, so, he’s not a recommended add – and he saw just three targets from Campbell in his first start last week, so, it’s not like it is a preferred target situation, the veteran QB was simply going where coverage dictated.
  • Tony Gonzalez delivered his first productive line of the post-Julio Jones era with six catches and a score on seven targets. Meanwhile, Harry Douglas had a nice ‘high floor’ game for Atlanta, as it seemed that Carolina made a decision to roll coverage in his direction but he still delivered a few big plays and 82 yards receiving on just five looks. Drew Davis, meanwhile, played on 86 percent of the team’s snaps but saw just two targets catching one ball for two yards. In Week 7 he posted a 1/1/25 line so if you’re looking for a trend it seems to be of the low volume variety as opposed to last week’s seven target outing. Knowing that, it’s hard to trust Davis as even a bye week fill-in in the deepest of leagues. Steer clear.
  • Brandon LaFell flip-flopped with Ted Ginn again as the most fantasy relevant WR not named Steve Smith in Carolina (I’m choosing to be pleased with Smith’s 10 targets rather than disappointed with the 40% catch rate) and if I’m picking between the two in terms of ROS value it’s going to be LaFell who is averaging 5.25 targets per game over the last four as opposed to Ginn averaging just 3.25 looks, but, if I’m starting another pass catcherin Carolina it’s probably Greg Olsen who has been consistent for the Black Cats this year scoring five points or better in all but two games and finding the endzone in back to back games.
  • Greg Jennings caught six balls on nine targets from Christian Ponder and has had games of nine, 10 and 10 targets surrounding a three target outing against Green Bay last week. He’s going to see looks for Minnesota, but, he posted 56 yards on those six catches during one of the more productive games Adrian Peterson is likely to deliver, so, it’s not like there is a huge upside here.
  • Dwayne Harris will get the attention because of the game winning TD, but, he played just 18 snaps and saw two targets. Cole Beasley was on the field more than twice as often and saw nine looks from Tony Romo (on a day where other targets saw their opportunities as well – Witten: 10, Bryant: 11, Williams: 7). Assuming that Miles Austin sticks in a reserve role even when he’s healthy, Beasley is gaining some momentum in 12 team leagues. Terrance Williams, meanwhile, caught just two balls for the second consecutive week despite 17 targets between the two games.
  • As soon as I heard news that Marques Colston was deactivated against the Jets, my spidey senses were all over Nick Toon. And, they were right. Toon saw the greatest benefit of Colston’s absence in terms of playing time. He played 55 snaps, easily the highest of any Saints receiver. But, at the end of the day, I was very, very wrong. He wsa targeted twice and dropped both balls, one of them leading to an interception. Lance Moore (6/9/70), Robert Meachem (who started, and went 4/5/93) and Kenny Stills were all better options. Stills came back down to earth after a big Week 8. He caught another three balls on four targets, which is the type of low-volume line that you really notice when he doesn’t have 60 yard scores. Jimmy Graham, meanwhile, played 60 snaps – up from 18 last week in his return – and caught nine balls on 12 targets for 116 yards with two scores. You don’t need me telling you, but, Graham is fine… deploy as normal.
  • The Jets beat the Saints 26-20 and yet none of their pass catchers did anything of note. Zach Sudfeld had two catches on four targets, but, if we’re making a story out of anything it’s that after Jeremy Kerley left with a significant elbow injury Greg Salas played 28 snaps and made two catches for 57 yards to lead New York in receiving. Two targets won’t feed your fantasy hunger, but, he’s a player to keep an eye on.
  • Kansas City’s passing offense got absolutely nothing done against a weak Bills secondary, so, I’m going to ignore Dexter McCluster‘s underwhelming week other than to use it as a reminder that he doesn’t post a Week 8 line on all that regular a basis so we shouldn’t be expecting him to as a fantasy collective. Dwayne Bowe, meanwhile, received double digit targets for the first time all season (12) but managed to turn them into only seven catches for 67 yards. He’s a WR4 at best at the moment.
  • Marquise Goodwin had another nice, long, touchdown catch and posted a total of 64 yards on two receptions (four targets). This is nothing more than a ‘nice to know’ at this point, though. He’s targeted too sporadically, and, when he doesn’t score from 50 yards out he doesn’t give you much. Scott Chandler was targeted nine times for the Bills… something to keep in mind if Jeff Tuel draws another start, and, something you’re not seeing as part of a three catch 26 yard box score outing.
  • I was high on Jake Locker this week but the Titans passing game didn’t get a lot done against the Rams. That said, Kendall Wright remains their most targeted receiver and their most productive one as well (5/3/68). There are better days ahead for the Tennessee passing attack. I’m not writing off Nate Washington after a goose-egg either, his zero catches hurt his owners, but, he had four looks in a game where Locker spread the targets around a fair bit.
  • With Kellen Clemens running the show and the offense struggling in the redzone while relying on Zac Stacy when they get there anyhow I’m not sure that you want to be invested in any St. Louis pass catcher, but, it definitely isn’t Tavon Austin (again, it definitely isn’t Austin Pettis, Brian Quick or the TEs, and it probably isn’t Chris Givens who saw eight targets). Austin saw two targets, with no catches. I was somewhat hopeful that the shift to Clemens would mean more short passes in Austin’s direction. It didn’t. Dump him in redraft leagues if you haven’t already.
  • Keenan Allen did it again, but, no one is surprised at this point. The rookie caught 11 balls on eight targets over three different Washington corners. If you’re keeping score elsewhere in San Diego, Eddie Royal has seen more targets than Vincent Brown in each of the team’s last two games.
  • Pierre Garcon made a couple of great catches and posted a gem of a game for Washington. He caught seven balls on nine targets for an average of 24.6 apiece catching at least one ball against coverage from five different San Diego defenders. Otherwise, there isn’t really anyone worth looking at… Leonard Hankerson had one of his stronger outings drawing six targets and making good on five of them but the supporting cast at WR all join in and play a handful of snaps apiece so it is hard to project who will be the best #2 from week to week. Jordan Reed was quiet, catching four of five targets for 37 yards but we can’t overreact to those 37 just like we couldn’t expect last week’s 14 targets to be repeated every time he takes the field.
  • Denarius Moore drew 10 targets and caught five of them for a reasonable 82 yards as the Raiders played catch up, and Rod Streater was involved all day as well posting a 5/6/98 line. Of note, though, is that Juron Criner was active for the first time this season and he drew eight targets on 64 snaps. He only caught three balls, but, the Raiders used him while he was in there…:
  • A week after producing four scores on just 18 snaps Marvin Jones saw his most time on the field of the season, participating in 50 plays. Mohamed Sanu received more looks but with Sanu tipping a ball that led to an interception on a perfectly thrown pass while Jones produced another solid game it is another notch in the latter’s belt, which should mean more time moving forward. Andrew Hawkins played just seven snaps for the Bengals in his return to action.
  • Mike Wallace had one of his most productive games of the season in terms of contributions to the offense catching six balls on seven targets for 82 yards. With Brandon Gibson out of the lineup, Rishard Mathews drew four looks.

2 comments

  1. mike allan

    Hi Jon, yeah the Colts game plan is kinda do nothing until you are way behind then let Andrew Luck call his own plays and get you out of the shit,on another note what is your opinion on the Seahawks defence the last 2 weeks? they did not do much against the Rams and i thought they would crush the Bucs at home, 2 games where they have given up over 100yds to rookie RBs, i am thinking of picking up the Texans(Pagano effect) DST next 3 games Cards, Raiders and Jags, any thoughts? keep up the good work, cheers Mike

    1. Jon Collins

      It’s looking that way, Mike. But… for all the criticism/confusion, it works. I’m all over Hilton’s value moving forward.

      I have Houston’s D in a few of my lineups for this week… Carson Palmer has thrown multiple picks in every game but three and at least one in all of them, so, you’re getting freebie points there… but with DST I tend to worry about Week 11 when it comes, so, while that schedule is plenty soft, there may be better options on the wire next week. Finishing up my rankings this evening, but, Houston is definitely a top 10 play for Week 10.

      Seattle’s defense is still an elite unit as a whole, and still a matchup downgrade for most positions. I do notice (and reference in the complement piece to this on RBs) that we have to take note of the success teams have had running against them in the last few weeks. They’ve actually given up more than 10 points to RBs five times in nine games this season, so, there is opportunity to be had here as teams gameplan toward the run to avoid passing on a tough secondary. This week Steven Jackson takes them on, and, he looked a lot better in Week 9 than he did in Week 8, but, I don’t think the Falcons are interested in giving him the type of volume that Stacy and James received, so, my expectations are tempered.

      Thanks Mike for taking the time to read, and to share.

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