Chet Gresham

Targets and Touches

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Target Watch: Preseason

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Last season I brought you all the receiving targets from each week and totals as the season went along. And this season? Well, I’ll be doing the same thing!

Targets are sometimes misleading, but on the whole, they are a nice statistic to tell how much confidence the quarterback/coaches have in a receiver.

In our first installment we will look at preseason targets. It’s always difficult to judge how important preseason statistics are. Usually they aren’t important at all, but if we look only at the numbers while the starters were in, we can glean a little something.

A huge thanks to Walter over at Walter Football for compiling these stats.


Arizona Cardinals

John Skelton in at quarterback, the targets looked like so -- Andre Roberts: 7, Larry Fitzgerald: 6, Todd Heap: 5, Anthony Sherman: 3, Jeff King: 2, Rob Housler: 1, William Powell: 1, Michael Floyd: 1

The Cardinals look to be in the same boat (the one stranded in the desert with vultures hopping around) as they were last year. Skelton has been an improvement over Kevin Kolb as far as targeting Larry Fitzgerald, so that’s the one good thing we can get out of him winning the job (for now).

After that, it’s pretty much a wait and see game until Michael Floyd gets going, which may be next season.

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan in at quarterback, the targets looked like so -- Julio Jones: 22, Roddy White: 12, Tony Gonzalez: 10, Michael Turner: 7, Harry Douglas: 5, Lousaka Polite: 2, Jacquizz Rodgers: 2, Drew Davis: 1, Mike Cox: 1, Michael Palmer: 1

All the talk of Julio Jones taking over the #1 receiver position was all just completely accurate.  Mr. Jones went off in preseason and made us fake footballers salivate at the possibilities. He should lead the team in targets and fantasy points this season, I’m sure the numbers will be closer than 2 to 1, but this trend should hold.

The fact that Michael Turner had seven targets seems like an anomaly to me. It may not be, but he’s just too slow to do as much with the ball in open space as Rodgers is. I think it’s a conspiracy.


Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco in at quarterback, the targets looked like so -- Torrey Smith: 16, Anquan Boldin: 10, Jacoby Jones: 8, Vonta Leach: 6, LeQuan Williams: 5, Billy Bajema: 5, Ray Rice: 3, Tandon Doss: 3, Ed Dickson: 2, Bobby Rainey: 2, Bernard Pierce: 2

The up-tempo offense the Ravens employed in preseason is evident with the target numbers for the three wide receivers. But of course Torrey Smith looked like the breakout player this summer, and his targets should continue to be high, whereas last season Boldin and Rice beat him out for total targets.

It is yet to be seen how often the Ravens will go up-tempo and air it out, but so far, the news is good for Smith. But Boldin should lose targets to him, no matter what happens. I’m staying away from Ravens’ receivers not named Smith, even with the more pass-friendly offense.


Buffalo Bills

Ryan Fitzpatrick in at quarterback, the targets looked like so -- Steve Johnson: 20, Scott Chandler: 6, Donald Jones: 6, Fred Jackson: 5, Derek Hagan: 4, C.J. Spiller: 3, David Nelson: 3, Lee Smith: 1

I think Fitzpatrick may prefer Stevie Jay. That leaves us guessing, just like last season, as to how the targets will be distributed after Johnson gets his turn. The Bills have enough passing attempts to give another receiver value, but until someone really steps up, I’m staying away.

Unfortunately we didn’t really get a good look as to how Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will be used. Both saw passing targets and both should get time on the field, but how much time is the question. Jackson should remain the lead back and that’s about all we know.


Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton in at quarterback, the targets looked like so -- Brandon LaFell: 6, Steve Smith: 5, Greg Olsen: 5, DeAngelo Williams: 4, Seyi Ajirotutu: 4, Jonathan Stewart: 2, Louis Murphy: 2, Mike Tolbert: 2, Ben Hartsock: 1

Steve Smith’s toes were rotting off for some of the preseason, so these numbers aren’t perfect, but there’s no doubt that Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen will be the second and third options in the passing game.

The departure of Jeremy Shockey leaves a lot of targets for Olsen and if Newton can improve his passing this season, we could even see LaFell get enough targets to be relevant.


Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler in at quarterback, the targets looked like so -- Brandon Marshall: 12, Earl Bennett: 6, Devin Hester: 4, Michael Bush: 3, Alshon Jeffery: 3, Matt Forte: 2, Kellen Davis: 1

I like both Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett, but it looks like it might be hard for them to compete with the sheer volume of targets Brandon Marshall will see this season.

Marshall should have no trouble being a points-per-receptions stud. But if Jeffery can take over as the full time #2 receiver, he has the opportunity to be valuable, since he should be utilized in the red zone.

continue story »
Chet Gresham writes Target Watch and The Morning After for and is the founder of The Fake Football. Chet can be found on Twitter .
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