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Sep 18

Touches and Targets Week Two: 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 3. We focus our attention on the pass catchers in this segment but have shared thoughts on the touches and targets of ball carriers in another post.

Wide Receiver and Tight End Week 2 Targets

Aaron Dobson finished well behind Julian Edelman in both targets and catch rate, but, he outpaced fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins despite playing fewer snaps (Photo: Charles Krupa/AP)

Aaron Dobson finished well behind Julian Edelman in both targets and catch rate, but, he outpaced fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins despite playing fewer snaps (Photo: Charles Krupa/AP)

  • No one was surprised to see Julian Edelman wind up on top of the Patriots’ pecking order with Amendola missing their Week 2 contest against the Jets, but most will be surprised with 18 targets. The 6.0 YPC leaves something to be desired, but that type of volume can’t be ignored. You’ll want him in your lineup as long as Amendola is injured (the timeline remains ambiguous, though for his owners it’s good to hear that he should avoid surgery). Both rookie receivers struggled again for New England, but it is worth noting that in Aaron Dobson‘s first career game he received 10 targets to Kenbrell Thompkins‘ 7 despite participating in 21 fewer snaps.
  • Fred Davis had a respectable Week 1 but played in just 16 snaps last week garnering two targets. Jordan Reed was much more involved (29 snaps, 4 targets and a score). Saying Davis has slipped behind the rookie is perhaps a bit reactionary, but it’s looking like a situation where each player takes time from and thus kills the value of the other.
  • Torrey Smith hasn’t found the end zone yet so you’re not seeing any ‘wow’ stat lines from him, but he followed a 9 target, 4-catch 92-yard effort with a 12-7-85 line. With the amount of volume he’s destined to see for Baltimore he’s looking more like a reliable anchor WR you can start from week to week rather than a deep threat whose only real value comes when he splashes six. He’s scored 7 and 8 TDs in his two  years in the league, so those will come with time.
  • Last week in this space I spouted off on Dallas Clark‘s impressive TE value given that he received 12 targets from Joe Flacco while putting forth a middling effort on opening night. The logic was simple… if Flacco will throw the ball to him on an off night, he’ll have to do the same if Clark gets it together. I’ll own the fact that I was dead wrong, at least for Week 2. Clark played in just 27 snaps for the Ravens with one catch on one target for eight yards. In total, Ravens TEs had just three looks in the passing game. Marlon Brown, however, made good on my prediction in that same article with another 6 target 4 catch effort, to go with his second TD of the season.
  • Week 1 distribution of targets in Denver: Welker, D. Thomas, J. Thomas, Decker. Week 2: Decker, J. Thomas, Welker, D. Thomas. Bottom line is that every player is start worthy in standard leagues but the distribution looks to be variable based on game flow, opponent, etc. We expected no less from Peyton Manning. Welker’s drop-plagued game (on the heels of Decker’s similar effort) should quiet the talk of his being the ultimate weapon in Denver’s offense, even if only slightly. Sticking witih the Broncos, our Esten McLaren gave you Andre Caldwell‘s name as a deep waiver play but it’s more of a ‘file it’ type of recommendation… he’s played just 9 snaps this year.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson electrified Vikings fans on the team’s opening play this week, going 105 yards on a kickoff return. From there, he went straight to the bench and stayed there pretty much the entire game. He played in 6 snaps (though he caught a pass on 33% of them) after seeing just 5 the week before. Coach Leslie Frazier vows to rectify the situation, but we’ll need to see it on the field before it becomes actionable.
  • Andre Roberts and in particular Michael Floyd experienced down weeks for the Cardinals but they have 17 and 13 targets respectively on the season, so in terms of volume they should be on your radar each week.
  • I had a brief back and forth (below) with Rich Hribar of XN Sports regarding the Rams receiver targets distribution. It is far too early to call it a trend, but, while the numbers changed the pecking order remained the same: Tavon Austin, Austin Pettis, Chris Givens. Givens remains the more viable fantasy option but it is a distribution worth keeping an eye on.

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  • Rueben Randle had a quiet night in your box scores but there is plenty of volume to go around for all three Giants receivers. Randle caught just three balls for 14 yards but was targeted 9 times, so, it appears to have been an unwarranted down week. If his looks start going elsewhere then it’s time to worry, but as long as the targets remain high there is nothing to be too concerned about (plus, the 3rd receiver saw 62 of a possible 79 snaps).
  • DeSean Jackson has 23 targets on the season, good for sixth most in the league, and the number rose considerably in Week 2 up to 14 from 9 in the opener. Vick threw an additional 11 passes, but the upward trend after a big opening night is nice to see all the same.
  • Right behind Jackson: Pierre Garcon. Washington fans and league analysts alike are in panic mode right now, but they’re passing plenty and Garcon is the main beneficiary. He’s earning borderline WR1 status moving forward, matchups pending.
  • Antonio Gates led the Chargers in targets during the game in which the team lost Malcom Floyd but its worth noting that rookie Keenan Allen got involved this weekend as well. On the note of rookie receivers benefiting from injury, DeAndre Hopkins got it done for the Texans after Andre Johnson left the game. All indications are that AJ should be OK to play this weekend but Hopkins’ breakout performance in the come-from-behind win should earn him looks from Matt Schaub on a consistent basis. To date, Hopkins ranks as Pro Football Focus’s best receiver when considering only pass routes. It will be hard to rival Johnson’s volume, though… he’s your target leader after two games with 27.
  • Vincent Jackson has 12 catches for 231 yards on the year. He’s yet to score, but, we’d all be talking much louder about his effort against New Orleans if a) the Schiano-Freeman debacle wasn’t so distracting and b) his long TD had stood (called back on a penalty) giving him his second consecutive week with 150 yards.
  • Santonio Holmes, perhaps in part due to the injury to Jeremy Kerley, saw his snap count increase significantly from 45 plays to 69. He had 7 targets and while I’m not enthused about any part of the Jets offense this should register in our fantasy consciousness. After all, in 2011 Holmes played in 16 games and was a very serviceable WR3 (29th at the position). Also… maybe I’m a little enthused about second year pro Stephen hill: he’s had 14 looks from Geno Smith making 10 receptions, and his 86 yards this week were noteworthy.
  • Kenny Britt was benched this weekend for taking it a little too easy. It’s funny, many in the fantasy community spent the preseason talking about how a quiet offseason on the injury and distraction fronts suggested this may finally be Britt’s year. Now, it seems like it may be his last year in Tennessee. The benching is good news for Kendall Wright owners, though. Britt has 5 catches for 43 yards on 10 targets this season, and he played in 62 snaps last week (up from 44) despite the benching. Kendall Wright has seen the field on just 52 plays through two games, so if Britt takes a back seat his playing time stands to increase significantly. Also, with 11 looks Wright was targeted on 1/3 of his snaps this week, clearly he has Locker’s eye.
  • We covered the Packers in our Week 2 review so I’ll spare you additional detail here. The point? They’re all very startable, but it’s interesting to see that Week 1′s target order went: Nelson, Finley, Cobb, Jones while Week 2′s looked like: Jones, Cobb, Finley, Nelson. The contrast with James Jones is stark (which is interesting, because the contrast with James Starks is jone…) given that he had no catches on 2 targets in Week 1 and followed with 11 looks from Aaron Rodgers.
  • Through two weeks, the Seahawks defense is strong enough that the receiving data against them is almost negliible in terms of what it means for teams in their next game, however, the fact that Boldin went from 17 targets to 3 is compelling. It will be tough to recommend anyone who is in the typical low WR2/WR3 range against them in any given week if this keeps up.
  • With Dwayne Allen out of the lineup Coby Fleener went from one target to seven. The Colts also made good on their promise to get TY Hilton more involved. He played in 50 snaps as compared to 27 in week 1 and saw 11 targets. Investors breath a sigh of relief. Update: Allen is out for the season, so, you can look for Fleener to maintain this number moving forward.
  • We mentioned that DeSean Jackson‘s 24 targets were good for a top 6 ranking. Cecil Shorts is the man ahead of him, with 24 balls hurled near enough to him that they count. He’ll get plenty of looks until Justin Blackmon returns and perhaps beyond, but it’s tough to be excited – Shorts has the fewest receptions and yards of anyone in the top 10.
  • The good news on Roddy White is that he’s catching everything thrown at him; the bad news is it won’t be much until his ankle gets right. Julio Jones doesn’t mind, as he saw 13 looks this week for 182 yards. Even if you take away his impressive run for 81 yards and a score Jones still topped 100 on the day. With Steven Jackson shelved for at least week 3 both Jones and Harry Douglas should see more work.
  • After many rushed to add Jermaine Kearse after his week 1 touchdown he didn’t get a single look from Russell Wilson this week.
  • Ted Ginn played in 42 snaps this week, up from 23 in the opener. Like Kearse, he’s not going to score every week so we won’t over react here, but the snap/target counts from the Buffalo game are probably better indicators of a typical matchup than are those against a tough Seahawks D. Ginn is officially on the radar, particularly as Brandon LaFell continues to underwhelm (6 targets, 13 yards, ranked as PFF’s 9th worst receiver through two games).
  • Mike Wallace drew 11 targets after complaining about his use in Week 1, more than double the previous week’s 5. Now, Brian Hartline should complain as his number dipped from 14 to 6.
  • Don’t forget: Josh Gordon comes back this week for the Browns. Travis Benjamin‘s snaps are likely to be limited – he’s played in 115 but has drew just one pass attempt from Brandon Weeden this week. Gordon should be in line for plenty of work right out of the gate, too, given that Benjamin and Greg Little have struggled. Jordan Cameron enthusiasts need not worry, though. He’s locked in as part of a scheme that features the position.
  • Denarius Moore saw just two targets this week, and Rod Streater has led the Raiders in the category in each of their games.
  • Emmanuel Sanders has received more targets than Antonio Brown for the second straight week, with an edge of six (22-16) on the season. Brown is unhappy.

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