RotoWire NFL Target Analysis 091813

The only thing a fantasy football owner hates more than losing

his weekly matchup is that stupid game of “Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda”

that gets played either late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

You know the game I’m talking about. You can almost hear the

internal monologue from millions of losers right now. “I coulda won

this game. I shoulda beaten this clown. I woulda won … if I just

started Mike Wallace instead of Steve Smith.” Cue the sound we know

so well.

Sometimes the lineup choices we are faced with each week can be

incredibly annoying. We read all the updates, we study all the game

matchups and we try to get inside the thought process of offensive

coordinators everywhere with the hope of starting the right player

each week and not having to play that stupid game afterward, as we

see another notch get placed in the loss column. Sometimes we get

it right, otherwise we’d just give up, but then sometimes even when

we do get it right, we still play that stupid game because we know

that come season’s end, every point matters.

And that, my friends, is where this column comes in.

As the inaugural piece of the season stated, what we do here is

feed you as much relevant data as we can to help make your tough

decisions a little easier. We try to determine how trusted these

receivers are by their respective coaches and quarterbacks by

looking at targets, target percentage and red-zone looks while also

checking players’ reliability with statistics like catch rate. With

enough information, we’ll help you narrow your choices and

hopefully eliminate “Coulda, Shoulda, Would” altogether.

Each week, we’ll look at two tables. The first will is the

top-20 target leaders from each week and the second will be a

cumulative targets leaderboard for the season. It’s a slight

deviation from what we were going to run with but I received enough

feedback from many of you asking for it to be organized this way.

We’ll track risers and fallers as well as look at the top players

in most of the stat categories. While small sample size might be

considered an issue in the early going, remember, three weeks in is

usually a quarter of the regular season in fantasy, so it’s really

not that small.

Now let’s look at the top targets this week. (Click column

headings to sort.)

 

PLAYER

POS

YARDS

TD

PASS ATT

TARGETS

REC

RZ TRGT

RZ TRG%

CATCH%

TARGET%

Julian Edelman, NE WR 78 0 39 18 13 4 60.0 72.2 46.2
Jimmy Graham, NO TE 179 1 46 16 10 0 0.0 62.5 34.8
DeSean Jackson, PHI WR 193 1 37 15 9 1 16.7 60.0 40.5
Cecil Shorts, JAC WR 93 0 38 14 8 0 0.0 57.1 36.8
A.J. Green, CIN WR 41 0 45 14 6 4 66.7 42.9 31.1
Julio Jones, ATL WR 182 1 43 14 11 0 0.0 78.6 32.6
Pierre Garcon, WAS WR 143 1 40 13 8 3 25.0 61.5 32.5
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU WR 117 1 48 13 7 6 28.6 53.8 27.1
Andre Johnson, HOU WR 76 0 48 13 8 0 0.0 61.5 27.1
Eric Decker, DEN WR 87 0 43 13 9 3 40.0 69.2 30.2
Dez Bryant, DAL WR 141 1 42 13 9 5 50.0 69.2 31.0
Torrey Smith, BAL WR 85 0 33 13 7 0 0.0 53.8 39.4
Tavon Austin, STL WR 47 2 55 12 6 8 45.5 50.0 21.8
T.Y. Hilton, IND WR 124 0 43 12 6 0 0.0 50.0 27.9
James Jones, GB WR 178 0 42 12 11 2 22.2 91.7 28.6
Greg Little, CLE WR 33 0 37 12 4 0 0.0 33.3 32.4
Kendall Wright, TEN WR 54 1 30 11 7 2 33.3 63.6 36.7
Vincent Jackson, TB WR 77 0 22 11 5 0 0.0 45.5 50.0
Austin Pettis, STL WR 78 1 55 11 8 4 18.2 72.7 20.0
Victor Cruz, NYG WR 118 0 49 11 8 3 28.6 72.7 22.4
Mike Wallace, MIA WR 115 1 34 11 9 1 100.0 81.8 32.4
Matt Forte, CHI RB 71 0 39 11 11 3 12.5 100.0 28.2
Steve Smith, CAR WR 52 0 38 11 5 2 25.0 45.5 28.9

While I’d love to sit here and sing the praises of the likes of

Jimmy Graham, Andre Johnson and Julio Jones, that’s just not being

productive. You don’t need a fluff piece, you need knowledge. That

said, I’m only going to highlight what’s new or what might be

considered a statistical anomaly for the week. We’ll save the

rah-rah stuff for another time.

Julian Edelman, NE – As many expected, Tom Brady’s new

favorite was a targets beast last week. Brady is still trying to

work on his timing and on-field rapport with rookies Kenbrell

Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, so rather than spend the majority of

his time screaming at rookies (even on passes he clearly

overthrew), he simply kept going back to Edelman. The fifth-year

receiver should continue to see this much work, at least while

Danny Amendola is out, but don’t be surprised to see his targets

drop as the weeks pass and Brady feels more comfortable with some

of his other options. Oh yeah, and Rob Gronkowski is coming back

soon too.

Cecil Shorts, JAX – I was a big fan of Shorts last season

and love the move to Chad Henne for the Jaguars. He and Shorts

combined for some fantastic numbers last year, and their first game

together this year was no different. But just be conscious of the

fact that Shorts’ targets will likely diminish once Justin Blackmon

returns from his suspension. But don’t worry. With the decrease in

targets comes softer coverage as he won’t be double-teamed as

often. So while he may see fewer targets, he could still end up

with more receiving yards and touchdowns. It’s about quality, not

quantity sometimes.

DeAndre Hopkins, HOU/Tavon Austin, STL – It’s a rookie

receiver bonanza in the red zone here as DeAndre Hopkins and Tavon

Austin combined for more red zone looks than Megatron, Graham,

Julio and DeSean combined. The way Matt Schaub is throwing, and

with Andre Johnson hindered by a concussion, Hopkins has the

potential to put up ridiculous numbers, not just this week, but for

the season. The Texans have been in dire need of a high-quality

second receiver, and they now finally have one.

As for Austin, he is a budding star in an offense that is just

warming up. Sam Bradford is feeling much more comfortable, and with

Austin, Chris Givens and Jared Cook, the passing game should be

front and center each and every week. Both guys are capable of

putting up some serious yardage, but if they continue to see the

abundance of red-zone looks, watch out.

Eric Decker, DEN/T.Y. Hilton, IND – Fantasy owners are

probably very thankful to see Eric Decker and T.Y. Hilton back on

the leaderboards after such poor Week 1 performances. Decker will

still have to fight for targets and could simply be at the whim of

Peyton Manning each week, but Hilton is going to benefit

significantly with Darrius Heyward-Bey injured.

Greg Little, CLE – Take a good look at Little because now

that Josh Gordon is back, this could be the last time you see him

on the targets leaderboard. He’s still considered the team’s No. 2

wideout, but with Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron, Little is

not likely to see a lot come his way. You see what I did there?

Thank you. Don’t forget to tip your waitresses and try the

veal!

Matt Forte, CHI – I love seeing Matt Forte pop up here and

be a more active participant in the Bears passing game. Although he

hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard these first two weeks, he has

the potential to really take his game to the next level as he gets

the majority of touches out of the backfield, sees the goal-line

carries and becomes an integral part of the passing attack. If you

already own him, you’re going to have a lot of people knocking on

your door to talk trade, and if you don’t, well, you better get

ready to pony up some good players for your trade offers because he

won’t come cheap.

And with two weeks’ worth of data to compile, here’s a look at

the overall targets leaderboard. (Click column headings to

sort.)

 

PLAYER

POS

YARDS

TD

PASS ATT

TARGETS

REC

RZ TRGT

RZ TRG%

CATCH%

TARGET%

Andre Johnson, HOU WR 222 0 93 29 20 0 0.0 69.0 31.2
A.J. Green, CIN WR 203 2 78 27 15 10 80.0 55.6 34.6
Julian Edelman, NE WR 157 2 91 27 20 8 41.7 74.1 29.7
Cecil Shorts, JAC WR 133 0 79 25 11 0 0.0 44.0 31.6
Vincent Jackson, TB WR 231 0 53 24 12 0 0.0 50.0 45.3
DeSean Jackson, PHI WR 297 2 62 24 16 1 14.3 66.7 38.7
Pierre Garcon, WAS WR 207 1 89 24 15 3 20.0 62.5 27.0
Jimmy Graham, NO TE 224 2 81 23 14 3 25.0 60.9 28.4
Julio Jones, ATL WR 258 2 81 23 18 5 16.7 78.3 28.4
Emmanuel Sanders, PIT WR 135 0 70 22 12 2 28.6 54.5 31.4
Brian Hartline, MIA WR 182 1 72 22 14 1 50.0 63.6 30.6
Randall Cobb, GB WR 236 2 79 22 16 12 46.7 72.7 27.8
Greg Little, CLE WR 59 0 90 22 8 3 25.0 36.4 24.4
Anquan Boldin, SF WR 215 1 67 21 14 3 33.3 66.7 31.3
Dez Bryant, DAL WR 163 1 91 21 13 5 16.7 61.9 23.1
Kenbrell Thompkins, NE WR 89 0 91 21 6 7 25.0 28.6 23.1
Torrey Smith, BAL WR 177 0 95 21 11 1 9.1 52.4 22.1
Brandon Marshall, CHI WR 217 2 72 20 15 4 20.0 75.0 27.8
Eric Decker, DEN WR 119 0 85 20 11 6 30.0 55.0 23.5
Jordan Cameron, CLE TE 203 1 90 20 14 5 50.0 70.0 22.2
Steve Smith, CAR WR 103 1 61 19 11 6 42.9 57.9 31.1
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI WR 113 2 80 19 10 7 42.9 52.6 23.8
Victor Cruz, NYG WR 236 3 91 19 13 5 25.0 68.4 20.9
Brandon Myers, NYG TE 140 1 91 19 13 9 25.0 68.4 20.9
Wes Welker, NE WR 106 3 91 19 12 9 40.0 63.2 20.9
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU WR 183 1 93 19 12 8 30.8 63.2 20.4
Tavon Austin, STL WR 88 2 93 19 12 8 29.4 63.2 20.4
Greg Olsen, CAR TE 140 1 61 18 12 2 28.6 66.7 29.5
Davone Bess, CLE WR 85 0 90 18 10 4 25.0 55.6 20.0
T.Y. Hilton, IND WR 144 0 66 17 9 0 0.0 52.9 25.8
Matt Forte, CHI RB 112 0 72 17 15 3 10.0 88.2 23.6
Stephen Hill, NYJ WR 125 0 74 17 10 1 16.7 58.8 23.0
Calvin Johnson, DET WR 153 2 79 17 10 6 40.0 58.8 21.5
Andre Roberts, ARI WR 133 0 80 17 11 0 0.0 64.7 21.3
Demaryius Thomas, DEN WR 213 2 85 17 10 2 20.0 58.8 20.0
Jason Witten, DAL TE 82 2 91 17 11 5 25.0 64.7 18.7
Austin Pettis, STL WR 94 1 93 17 11 6 17.6 64.7 18.3
Reggie Wayne, IND WR 142 1 66 16 13 2 20.0 81.3 24.2
Steve Johnson, BUF WR 150 2 66 16 11 8 44.4 68.8 24.2
Antonio Brown, PIT WR 128 0 70 16 11 0 0.0 68.8 22.9
Jerricho Cotchery, PIT WR 93 1 70 16 7 6 28.6 43.8 22.9
Jamaal Charles, KC RB 71 1 70 16 11 7 50.0 68.8 22.9
Mike Wallace, MIA WR 130 1 72 16 10 1 50.0 62.5 22.2
Ace Sanders, JAC WR 78 0 79 16 8 5 33.3 50.0 20.3
Julius Thomas, DEN TE 157 3 85 16 11 1 10.0 68.8 18.8
Miles Austin, DAL WR 103 0 91 16 13 0 0.0 81.3 17.6
DeMarco Murray, DAL RB 88 0 91 16 13 3 25.0 81.3 17.6
Jared Cook, STL TE 151 2 93 16 8 5 17.6 50.0 17.2
Kendall Wright, TEN WR 65 1 50 15 9 3 50.0 60.0 30.0
Martellus Bennett, CHI TE 125 3 72 15 10 9 40.0 66.7 20.8
Jermichael Finley, GB TE 121 2 79 15 11 5 20.0 73.3 19.0
Rueben Randle, NYG WR 115 0 91 15 8 1 6.3 53.3 16.5
Hakeem Nicks, NYG WR 197 0 91 15 9 2 12.5 60.0 16.5
Brandon Stokley, BAL WR 70 0 95 15 8 2 9.1 53.3 15.8

While this leaderboard is organized by total targets for easy

reference, let’s break things down by some of the other statistics

worth noting.

Target Percentage Leaders

Vincent Jackson, TB (45.3%) – If you followed this column last

season you would have seen that VJax finished 11th overall in

target percentage last year, and there’s obviously no reason to

expect anything less this year. Josh Freeman will give Mike

Williams plenty of looks as well, but Jackson is his go-to guy.

With little supporting cast in the passing game, Jackson’s target

numbers and subsequent yards total should be big. Don’t worry, the

touchdowns will come too.

DeSean Jackson, PHI (38.7%) – Similarly to VJax, DeSean doesn’t

have a whole lot of competition for targets, either. The Eagles

lost two receivers to injury in preseason, and it doesn’t look like

Michael Vick is going to spread the ball around too much. Sure,

Riley Cooper and Jason Avant will see their fair share of looks,

but Jackson will be the guy and should put up numbers we’ve been

waiting for since 2009.

A.J. Green, CIN (34.6%) – Another no brainer here, right? Sure,

Green’s Week 2 totals were a relative disaster, but Andy Dalton

will keep coming back to this well often. I said this wouldn’t be a

fluff piece so we’ll end the discussion here.

Red-Zone Target Leaders

As we move further into the season, Red-Zone Target Percentage

will be what we look at more, but with the small sample size, the

actual number of red-zone targets is more important.

Randall Cobb, GB (12) – The fact that more than half his targets

have come in the red zone is huge for overall value. We already

know that Cobb is a beast in PPR leagues based on how Aaron Rodgers

has utilized him in the offense, but if he’s going to see this much

red-zone action as well, then his touchdown total should jump

significantly and push him farther up the ladder in standard

leagues as well.

A.J. Green, CIN (10) – High target percentage, a lot of red-zone

looks, Green has it all, which is why he’s one of the most coveted

receivers in fantasy. I’m doing it again, aren’t I? We’ll just keep

going.

Brandon Myers, NYG (9) – Now here’s a name I bet many overlooked

on draft day. Myers finished among the top tight ends last year

when it came to targets and target percentage. He’s got great hands

and already has the trust of Eli Manning, obviously. Victor Cruz

and Hakeem Nicks will see the lion’s share of targets, but when the

Giants get inside the red zone, Myers is a major factor. He’s going

to become a highly coveted tight end, particularly in PPR leagues,

so if you’re weak at the position and want to strengthen without

paying too steep a price, he should be on your radar.

Others Worth Noting

Martellus Bennett, CHI TE – Watching Bennett build his on-field

rapport with Jay Cutler has been a pleasure, and he has paid off

big-time for those who waited on the position and drafted him. With

a 20.8-percent target rate, nine red-zone looks and three

touchdowns already, Bennett ranks amongst the top tight ends in the

early going. He had an issue with drops last year, so if he could

just increase that catch percentage and keep it up, everyone

involved would feel more confident.

Mike Wallace/Brian Hartline, MIA WR – So many were ready to

throw in the towel early on Wallace after such a dismal showing in

Week 1, but those with the ability to exhibit even just a little

bit of patience were handsomely rewarded by a 115-yard,

one-touchdown effort in Week 2. Meanwhile, Hartline continued to

look strong and these two could end up as one of the more

underrated tandems this year. We’ve all seen Wallace be a stud in

the past, so it’s a job we know he capable of doing. But now

Hartline should be kicking in with red-zone work in addition to his

possession-receiver prowess, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill is

enjoying every minute of it.

Kenbrell Thompkins, NE WR – I refuse to give up on this guy and

don’t think Brady is done with him just yet. That touchdown catch

he dropped Thursday was overthrown, and a few of his missed targets

were just as much Brady’s fault as his. While Edelman likely will

dominate the targets, Thompkins will still see his fair share, and

once he starts hanging onto everything that comes his way, he’s

going to be a huge fantasy asset. Enough of this undrafted free

agent talk. The guy has skills and just needs to have that one

solid game to show it. Might not be this game, though, as the Bucs

corners are tough.

Potential Risers (players who failed to make the overall

leaderboard)

Eddie Royal

Jordy Nelson

Dwayne Bowe

Marques Colston

Greg Olsen

Vernon Davis

Jason Witten

Potential Fallers

Greg Little

Stephen Hill

Ace Sanders

Davone Bess

Austin Pettis

Week 3 MatchUp to Watch

Carolina Panthers at New York Giants – The Giants defense

has had a rough go of it through the first two weeks, facing Dallas

and Denver, and has been battered for 570 passing yards with four

touchdowns and 199 rushing yards and another two scored. Cam Newton

has yet to bust out, is primed for a big game and should have no

trouble finding Greg Olsen and Steve Smith throughout the day. The

G-Men also struggle with screens to the running backs, which could

make for another strong week for DeAngelo Williams. Throw a sleeper

watch on Brandon LaFell this week too. On the other side, it’s

pass, pass, pass for the Giants against the Panthers’ 21st-ranked

pass defense. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks should have a field day

with the Carolina corners, Rueben Randle should see plenty of

action, Brandon Myers will get his looks and let’s be on the

lookout for David Wilson as Carolina also struggles with the

screens to the running backs (23rd against RB-pass plays).

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