Sep 11

Touches and Targets: Week One

The final numbers tell one part of the story but fantasy football is a game of volume. Knowing in a 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 favourable situation in Week 2.

The most actionable news of the week may involve a trio of unheralded running backs: Bryce Brown, Ben Tate and Bernard Pierce as each player saw at least 10 touches and should factor into their team’s game plan every week. That, and a bunch of TEs had monster games, and Julian Edelman stands to see an increase on his already impressive target number heading into a Week 2 date with the Jets.

Wide Receiver and Tight End Week One Touches

  • Joe Flacco put the ball in the air 62 times against the Broncos on Thursday night and while he’s unlikely to approach that number again, it’s worth noting that 17 looks went to his TEs with 12 going to Clark. After Jacoby Jones was injured Marlon Brown had 6 looks as well, making good on 4 of them. Given the state of their receiving corps it’s telling that Clark picked up 12 targets despite having significant issues with drops. He’s a good bet to see similar volume moving forward, as long as he’s healthy.
  • Torrey Smith and Kenny Stills (and Travis Benjamin) led the league in 20+ yard pass targets, with 5 and 4 respectively this week.
  • On the other side, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker each had 11 targets with Eric Decker picking up 7. Welker was the only receiver to catch more than half the balls thrown his way, though. If that keeps up, so will Welker’s workload.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman already saw a fair number of looks against the Bills and projects for a bigger workload in Week 2 (Photo: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Patriots WR Julian Edelman already saw a fair number of looks against the Bills and projects for a bigger workload in Week 2 (Photo: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)


  • Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins each finished inside the top 10 in targets at the receiver position this weekend. With 9 passes thrown his direction, Julian Edelman was inside the top 20. Given Amendola’s injury status and the fact that Thompkins seemed lost for most of the game, expect Edelman to see even more this week against New York. Despite making good on just 4 of 14 tries, Thompkins figures to continue to see looks, though – especially if Amendola is unable to suit up. The team opted not to practice in full leading up to the Thursday game so it doesn’t seem as if they’ll be working anyone else into the lineup. With 91, Thompkins led receivers in snaps played this week.
  • Harry Douglas had six targets and led the Falcons in receiving. With Roddy White unlikely to be fully healthy for some time, White should continue to see a fair number of targets from Matt Ryan.
  • Miles Austin was thrown 10 catchable balls on 12 targets (according to Pro Football Focus data) and made good on all of them. With New York doubling Dez Bryant there was plenty of room for Austin to work, and this seems like a good formula for his fantasy production. While teams like Detroit and Houston (Andre Johnson had 16 targets again this week, so the talk of Hopkins easing his workload didn’t pan out in Week 1) have failed to produce a reliable starter from their WR2 position in years past despite the increased attention paid to a dominant outside receiver, Dallas and Austin should be able to make it work.
  • There wasn’t much to be excited about from the Pittsburgh offense but it should be noted that Emmanuel Sanders picked up 12 targets in his first game without Mike Wallace starting in front of him.
  • Speaking of Wallace… he was vocal (before retracting his statement) about his disappointment in his role in Miami’s offense despite their win. Meanwhile, Brian Hartline tripled his looks with 15.
  • Kenny Britt saw just two passes thrown his way while Jake Locker looked to Nate Washington 6 times.
  • Kellen Winslow and Stephen Hill were Geno Smith‘s favorite targets on Sunday, for whatever the Jets passing game means to you.
  • Cecil Shorts was targeted 11 times, so, owners who are concerned about his poor statistical output need not worry about volume. The worry is that his three catches came on the only balls that PFF deemed catchable. With Blaine Gabbert out this week, though, he could see a few more reasonable balls from Chad Henne with whom he had a strong rapport in ’12.
  • Darrius Slay graded as the 6th worst corner in the league in pass protection this week, which may explain why Jerome Simpson outperformed Greg Jennings so significantly despite only besting Jennings by one target (8-7).
  • AJ Green was impressive for the Bengals in Week 1 and was the intended receiver on 39.4% of Andy Dalton‘s 33 pass attempts, scoring two touchdowns. He also led the league, though, in interceptions on passes thrown to him with two (tied with Rod Streater).
  • To go with his 17 targets (boy, was I too low on Boldin despite our @chrismeaney asking me continuously ‘who else are they gonna throw the ball too) and 208 yards Anquan Boldin made five would be tacklers miss, best among Wide Receivers.
  • James Jones saw just two targets from Aaron Rodgers and caught 0 balls. Nelson, Cobb and Finley: a combined 30 looks.
  • Eddie Royal saw six targets operating out of the slot including two in the end zone.

Running Back Week One Touches

  • LeSean McCoy might break before the season is out if his workload continues to look like this, but, his 31 carries led to an average near six, and a league leading 9 missed tackles. The Eagles ran the ball 49 times as well, so you should be able to expect ample work for Bryce Brown (9 carries) as the season progresses.
  • Another backup RB with 9 carries: Bernard Pierce touched the rock 10 times for the Ravens. The carries were split relatively evenly: 12-9 in favour of Ray Rice but Rice‘s 11 pass targets widened the gap. He won’t get 11 looks every week but this part of his game should keep him in business for fantasy owners.
  • Trent Richardson carried the ball 13 times for 47 yards, another sub 4.0 YPC effort. However, when taking into account how poorly Cleveland’s line played against Miami it was actually a fairly strong effort. He made 8 would be tacklers miss and ranked highest (by a wide margin), in PFF’s ‘elusiveness rating’ which measures, essentially, how a back fares without help from his blockers.
  • Despite not seeing a carry in the early going, Montee Ball finished with 8 (to Moreno’s 9 and Hillman’s 4) and looked like the best Denver back when running the ball. Moreno’s receptions made him the most fantasy relevant this week, though.
  • Shane Vereen led the league in runs of 15+ yards this week (with four that accounted for 74.3% of his 101 yards rushing) and he had ten pass targets as well, after Steven Ridley had trouble hanging onto the ball. All of that is a moot point now that Vereen finds himself on the short term IR, frankly a saving grace for Ridley investors. Keep an eye on Brandon Bolden this week, though.
  • A number of would be starting backs in their first opportunities stunk this week: Lamar Miller produced 3 yards on 10 carries as part of a Dolphins offense that produced 17 on 18 from backs; Bilal Powell had 12 carries to Chris Ivory‘s 10 but neither player was productive; and Isaac Redman netted 9 yards on 8 carries. The latter led to the resigning of Jonathan Dwyer who becomes a short term player of interest.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew had only 45 yards rushing for a Jaguars offense that did nothing right against the Chiefs, but, moving forward he has about as firm a grip as anyone on his team’s starting job. His 15 carries were 13 more than the next closest non-QB; ‘offensive weapon’ Denard Robinson.
  • A player I might have sold short, if we can judge by one week’s worth of results (also see Cook, Jared) DeAngelo Williams who had 17 carries – Tolbert was no threat to his workload – for 86 yards against a tough Seattle defense.
New Lions RB Reggie Bush put in work against the Vikings this week and the team is telling us we can expect more of the same moving forward (Photo: Getty Images)

New Lions RB Reggie Bush put in work against the Vikings this week and the team is telling us we can expect more of the same moving forward (Photo: Getty Images)


  • Reggie Bush came out of his 191 total yard 25 touch effort banged up, but, Detroit has no plans to limit his use. Enjoy it, unless and until the injuries pile up too significantly, Bush investors.
  • The plan all week was to limit Ahmad Bradshaw and ease him into action for Indianapolis so we shouldn’t be surprised at the 13-7 carry split in favor of Vick Ballard, but, the fact that Ballard netted 4.8 YPC to Bradshaw’s 3.7 may keep the time share tilted Ballard’s way for another week or two.
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis outcarried Giovani Bernard 14-4, but outgained him by just three yards – further evidence that he won’t remain the starter for much longer.
  • Daryl Richardson salvaged his day with 5 receptions but didn’t grade very well as a rusher and Isaiah Pead returns this week. Don’t expect another 25 touch outing.
  • Despite a lost fumble and a safety Alfred Morris saw 12 carries to Roy Helu‘s 1. No Shanihanigans present this week.
  • So much for easing Arian Foster in, he had 18 carries and 24 touches against San Diego. Ben Tate was the more efficient rusher, though, getting 55 yards out of his 9 attempts and compiling a 4.44 yards after contact per attempt number.

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