For this season I’ll be bringing you Target Watch in two parts, NFC on Wednesdays and AFC on Thursdays. Have at it!
Larry Fitzgerald: (11), Andre Roberts: (9), Todd Heap: (4), Jeff King: (3), Ryan Williams: (3), Early Doucet: (3), La'Rod Stephens-Howling: (1), Anthony Sherman: (1), Michael Floyd: (1)
What can you say about the Cardinals without getting a little sick to your stomach? Well, not much, but I’ll power through.
If you are one of the best receivers in the league, a receiver who can jump out of the stadium while contorting his body to make spectacular receptions, and you get eleven targets, but only catch four of them, you have a problem at quarterback.
Each week last season I started the Cardinals section, “well, the good news is that Fitzgerald saw plenty of targets.” I’m not going to say that this season. He should see the majority of targets and they should be more productive targets. Until that happens, just hold your breath and hope he gets in the end zone and don’t worry about any of their other receivers.
Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells didn’t show much, but we at least know that Williams is the receiving back and worth watching in PPR leagues.
Julio Jones: (9), Roddy White: (8), Tony Gonzalez: (6), Harry Douglas: (4), Jacquizz Rodgers: (2), Michael Palmer: (1)
The superhero duo of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones hooked up for two touchdowns and 100+ yards receiving while Roddy White played second fiddle. But don’t go throwing White into the old used up receiver bin just yet. He finished with the same amount of receptions, six, as Jones and he, like Jones, had three red zone targets. Jones is the better player at this point, but White is still getting his opportunities.
The old man and the Quizz Show duo isn’t quite as dynamic, well, the old man part at least. Michael Turner had no targets of course, but also split snaps almost evenly with Rodgers, 26 for Turner and 25 for Rodgers. Turner is still clearly the goal line back with five carries inside the red zone compared to none for Quizz, but as you can tell by his zero touchdowns and 2.9 yards per carry, he wasn’t too successful. The NFL grim reaper is hovering around Mr. Turner.
Steve Smith: (11), Greg Olsen: (7), Louis Murphy: (5), Brandon LaFell: (5), Mike Tolbert: (3), DeAngelo Williams: (1), Kealoha Pilares: (1)
The Panther’s offense had little rhythm against a surprisingly stout Buccaneers run defense, but we did get to see how Newton spread the ball around. Of course old reliable Steve Smith was the target leader, while Greg Olsen came in second. The two receivers we want to watch as far as playing time and targets are Murphy and LaFell. Both finished with five targets, but LaFell was in on all 52 snaps compared to Murphy who was in on 39. Both are received enough work to be relevant, but LaFell was the one to haul in a touchdown and is currently the one to own.
DeAngelo Williams had a disastrous game with Jonathan Stewart out with an ankle sprain, so we most likely will see the running back numbers change dramatically when he returns to his passing down role.
Brandon Marshall: (15), Matt Forte: (6), Alshon Jeffery: (5), Earl Bennett: (4), Devin Hester: (2), Evan Rodriguez: (1), Kellen Davis: (1)
Cutler to Marshall was the connection of the day and most likely the year. His 15 targets were the third most in week one. He actually had an amazing 11 targets at half time. He will easily be in the top five for targets this season barring injury.
Rookie Alshon Jeffery had a nice game, catching three of his five targets for 80 yards and a touchdown. Jeffery also saw the second most snaps next to Marshall, with 43 compared to 33 for Devin Hester and 18 for Earl Bennett. He’s very much worth adding to your bench, especially since Hester should continue to see less snaps if there is any justice in the world.
Matt Forte continues to get his work in the passing game and even carries in the red zone, but Michael Bush will continue to get goal line work because he’s much better at the job than Forte. I have beat this stat into the ground, but it bears repeating! Over the last three years Forte has had 33 carries inside the five yard line and scored a total of three touchdowns. Just this last Sunday, Michael Bush had three attempts inside the five and scored two touchdowns. The math wins!
Kevin Ogletree: (11), Dez Bryant: (5), Miles Austin: (4), Jason Witten: (3), DeMarco Murray: (2), Felix Jones: (2), John Phillips: (1), James Hanna: (1)
Kevin Ogletree abused the Giants’ weak depth in their secondary and Romo once again showed his ability to go through his progressions. Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and the spleen machine Jason Witten all played this game with hardly any preseason games or practice, so these numbers are a bit skewed. But Romo is good enough to give an array of receivers productive targets, as we saw last season with Laurent Robinson.
Ogletree amazingly was only on the field for 33 snaps compared to 58 and 57 for Bryant and Austin, but his matchups were better and he saw all three of the red zone targets.
Felix Jones was only on the field for 12 plays while DeMarco Murray was in there for 52. Murray is the no doubt man.
Brandon Pettigrew: (10), Nate Burleson: (8), Tony Scheffler: (8), Calvin Johnson: (7), Kevin Smith: (6), Titus Young: (3), Will Heller: (2), Keiland Williams: (1), Stefan Logan: (1)
Brandon Pettigrew continues to be a target hog, which is great for PPR leagues. He also had two red zone targets, which is also good. Now if he could just get into the end zone.
The battle between Titus Young and Nate Burleson was won by Burleson this time around, but Young is the more talented receiver. Does that mean he will take over at any second? No, he still needs to prove himself, but if I’m taking a risk on either, it’s Young
Kevin Smith saw six targets which should keep him in the fantasy picture even after Mikel LeShoure returns.
Green Bay Packers
Jermichael Finley: (11), Greg Jennings: (9), Randall Cobb: (9), Jordy Nelson: (7), James Jones: (6)
The 49ers did a great job of limiting Aaron Rodgers to short to mid-range throws, which is one of the tougher things to do. That boosted up Finley’s and Cobb’s targets and receptions quite a bit.
Usually Rodgers is much more efficient. Last season he only topped 40 pass attempts once and in this game he had 44. Other teams may learn from this, but it will be difficult to execute. These target numbers will drop.
James Jones saw roughly the same amount of snaps as Nelson, Jennings and Finley and two red zone targets compared to one for Finley and none for the other receivers. If Greg Jennings can’t go on a short week, Jones may be the guy asked to step up.