Typically, we take a mid-week look at the results of each game – who picked up the most looks that week, who was more or less targeted relative to their peers on the team or in regards to a changing context, etc. That piece returns in 2014 and I do hope you found it useful – really, touch/target data is the most actionable information in the game and knowing how to read it helps make informed decisions on a weekly and rest of season basis.
With that said, looking at Week 17 does little, as there is no ‘next week’ for most teams (both real and fake) so we’ll address that from a high level only and offer insights as part of a review of the season as a whole in a separate post.
Touches and Targets Week 17
- Jerrel Jernigan led New York in targets and production. He also had two carries and scored a long TD on an end around, while Rueben Randle drew just one look after the two saw 10 and nine looks respectively in Week 16 with Jernigan delivering much stronger returns. It doesn’t take much reading of the tea leaves to suggest that Jernigan, not Randle should be in line for increased playing time next season if Hakeem Nicks leaves town – though it should be noted that JJ was manning the slot, which should be occupied by Victor Cruz next year in three man sets.
- Ace Sanders drew an impressive 12 targets from Chad Henne, and though he converted just six of them to receptions this marks the third time since Week 11 in which he drew double digit looks. There is a conceivable argument by which he rivals Mike Brown for the 3rd receiver role next season – perhaps with greater opportunities depending on the status of Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon.
- With 11 catches on 15 targets, T.Y. Hilton returned to heavy use for Indianapolis and the plan paid dividends – getting him going bodes well for Indianapolis’ playoff outlook. Still, Hilton doesn’t look to be the type of player who thrives with a 15 target workload. Instead, he’ll be more comfortable with a WR2 workload allowing him to run routes against single coverage. Hilton investors will hope that Reggie Wayne can get back to full strength alongside Hilton offering such a distraction. Trent Richardson and Donald Brown each checked out early after getting out to a big lead, and each scored early touchdowns as part of that but Brown picked up 15 touches to Richardson’s 10 while the latter finished the game with 25 yards rushing, to cap a season in which he never topped 4.0 YPC. Expect he and Brown to split things fairly evenly during the post-season. I ranked Richardson as a top 10 pick this season.
- Roddy White picked up a woeful Pro Football Focus grade for his performance against Carolina, but the outing passed the eye test for me. With 14 looks from Matt Ryan, White made eight catches for 91 yards and found the endzone. His third double digit target game, and third with a touchdown in his last five weeks. A strong close to the season makes an interesting case for another mid round draft pick to be used on White next year.
- Without Steve Smith in the lineup, Cam Newton didn’t get a lot of help from the other receivers. Domenik Hixon – who scored the winning TD in Week 16 – made two catches on three targets, but Brandon LaFell produced a goose egg despite drawing five looks. Newton was just 4/11 on passes intended for his wideouts.
- After a fairly quiet start to his career against them, AJ Green scored a touchdown in both games against Baltimore this season. This week he drew 10 targets, catching just four of them, and produced 61 yards with a score. On the season, he is under 50% at 12/25 but he’s posted over 200 with the two scores. Certainly, the division foe isn’t a downgrade any longer. If you’re thinking playoff daily games: Mohamed Sanu has been either the 3rd or 4th most targeted WR in every game since the team’s Week 12 bye, with just one this week.
- Giovani Bernard had 13 carries (and added five receptions on seven targets) easily out-touching BenJarvus Green-Ellis 18-11. It brings an end to a regular season that saw a fairly even distribution between the two, but a shift in production toward the end of the year. Bernard was the more effective rusher for most of the early part of the year, but he hasn’t topped two yards per carry in each of the last two weeks and has been held under three for three straight games. He’ll finish his rookie year with over 1200 total yards and eight total touchdowns, but his late season slump suggests it is possible that he may a) have hit the rookie wall or b) is better suited for a 200 touch workload. If the team assumes the former, all is well. If it turns out to be the latter, he’ll always have a cap on his fantasy value.
- Andre Caldwell‘s targets rebounded to six (after 10 dropped to 3) in the team’s third game without Wes Welker but this isn’t explicitly relevant unless one of the big three misses playoff time and/or doesn’t return next season. Montee Ball had 10 carries and caught all three of his targets for 94 total yards on a day where Knowshon Moreno took just six rushing reps before checking out, he did add five receptions as part of Peyton Manning‘s quest for the single season passing mark and scored a touchdown, but it was good to see Ball effective. In the playoffs, he’ll have plenty of work but it is Moreno’s show. In 2014, I’m intrigued to see whether or not he can take control of the starter’s job (despite an incredible season from Moreno, who I’m not trying to take anything away from).
- Kris Durham cost me a few daily leagues – he seemed on track for big targets in Calvin Johnson‘s absence, but drew just one target despite playing 48 snaps, while Kevin Ogletree posted a 5/10/75 line.
- In Randall Cobb‘s return, as I projected heading into the week, his snaps directly cut into Jarrett Boykin‘s. Jordy Nelson played 77, James Jones 76, and Boykin/Cobb 39 and 36 respectively. Cobb drew just two targets, catching both for TDs, but should find his snaps on the increase next time out. Boykin has no playoff fantasy relevance, despite a strong season. Jordy Nelson was targeted 15 times and caught 10 balls, for 161 yards. I’m sure he’s thrilled to have his QB back. Andrew Quarless drew just four looks from Rodgers however, down from an average of 5.67 in the three preceding weeks. He’s not that interesting in playoff weekly leagues.
- T.Y. Hilton’s 15 targets this week (which he caught 11 of for 155 yards) were his most on the season, and only the 3rd time he’s seen double digits since Reggie Wayne’s injury. Hilton has come on quietly over the last few weeks though, coinciding with Da’Rick Rogers‘ quasi-emergence as he’s taken a bit of the pressure off of Luck.
- A brief note of credit for A.J. Jenkins who saw his biggest career workload with Kansas City resting their starters and catching three of six Chase Daniel targets for 67 yards. Hardly groundbreaking, but it was nice to see him put together a three catch outing… he’s far down your dynasty league radar, but he should be there somewhere.
- Julian Edelman again drew double digit targets in a game where Tom Brady didn’t pass a whole lot, catching nine of his 11 for 65 yards. We’ll discuss him further below, but it must be noted that his 11 dwarfed the three of Danny Amendola and will continue to do so throughout the playoffs.
- Both Rod Streater and Andre Holmes drew more targets (9/8) than the six passed out to Denarius Moore but it should be noted that his production (four catches, 63 yards) was higher with Terrelle Pryor at QB than it had been with Matt McGloin. Moving into next season, don’t forget about Moore. I’m enamored with Andre Holmes, but the next man behind center in Oakland should target Moore more frequently than the others.
- With Patrick Peterson dedicating coverage to Michael Crabtree (five targets, three catches), Anquan Boldin was able to take advantage to the tune of nine receptions (11 targets, just one of which came against Peterson) for 149 yards and a TD. In playoff matchups against elite corners, you’ll want to have a look at Boldin as it didn’t take long for Crabtree to re-establish himself as the number one threat.
- It is hard to glean anything specific from this, given that the most popular target for Russell Wilson shifts every week but as part of Golden Tate‘s big day (129 yards and a score, on eight catches) he drew nine targets, while all other WRs received two between them.
- Jason Witten drew 16 targets from Kyle Orton on Sunday Night Football, highlighting a) a not researched opinion that I hold regarding the value of TEs with backup QBs and b) the fact that he’s a feast or famine fantasy guy: the 16 targets came after two in Week 16; on the heels of 8; 2 in recent weeks.
- Dennis Pitta‘s targets were back up to 10 this week, giving him 30 in four games with Joe Flacco. An average of 7.5 from the TE position is strong, and he should have the same hype around him coming into next season as he did on the dawn of the 2013 campaign.
- Brent Celek‘s big game came on just four targets (three catches, 71 yards, TD), a number that he has topped just three times this season.
- 27 attempts apiece for LeSean McCoy and Chris Johnson made sense, but you’re lying if you said you saw 27 and 24 (the next highest after the top three) for Knile Davis and LeGarrette Blount coming earlier this season – another reason to avoid playing in Week 17 if you can. Both Davis (81 yards and two scores) and Blount (193 yards, two TDs and a great kick return) produced strong fantasy lines. For Davis though, you’d have liked to see a little better than a 3.0 YPC average in his first extended action. He’s no real threat to any of the workload we saw from Jamaal Charles this year. Blount, meanwhile has been a strong contributor for New England since Stevan Ridley‘s benching (and all season really, averaging 5.0 YPC). He may play himself into the mix next season, but while his workload should remain high through the playoffs I wouldn’t expect many 20+ games in 2014.
- Ryan Mathews carried the ball 24 times (in a game that went to OT) giving him that number or more in each of the last four games to close the season. With seven catches, Danny Woodhead had 12 touches of his own. The ratio should stick at 2:1 or better in the wild card round, but with Woodhead doing work as a receiver he retains value.