Chet Gresham

Targets and Touches

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Week 3 Target Watch – NFC

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Now that we have two games under our belt, I’ll be showing you the per-week targets and the total number of targets. So for Larry Fitzgerald you’ll see “Larry Fitzgerald: 11-5 (16).” That means he had eleven targets Week 1, five targets Week 2 for a total of 16 targets. Math!!

Before we get to the NFC team breakdowns for this week (AFC on Thursday), let’s take a quick look at the top targets overall for the NFL at each position.


Rk Wide Receiver Tar   Rk Running Back Tar   Rk Tight End Tar
1 Victor Cruz 28   1 Darren McFadden 25   1 Dennis Pitta 24
2 Reggie Wayne 25   2 Darren Sproles 22   2 Jimmy Graham 23
3 Danny Amendola 25   3 Ray Rice 14   3 Brent Celek 19
4 A.J. Green 23   4 LeSean McCoy 12   4 Owen Daniels 17
5 Percy Harvin 21   5 Matt Forte 11   5 Jermichael Finley 16
6 Brandon Lloyd 21   6 Reggie Bush 10   6 Tony Gonzalez 16
7 Dwayne Bowe 21   7 Chris Johnson 10   7 Martellus Bennett 16
8 Hakeem Nicks 21   8 Arian Foster 10   8 Rob Gronkowski 15
9 Vincent Jackson 20   9 Curtis Brinkley 9   9 Coby Fleener 14
10 Brian Hartline 20   10 Kevin Smith 9   10 Brandon Pettigrew 14
11 Brandon Marshall 20   11 Ronnie Brown 9    



The surprises on these lists are Hartline, Brinkley, Brown, Pitta, and to a lesser extent Bennett and Amendola. But really, for the most part, I would not have been surprised at all if someone would have given this to me before week one.


Arizona Cardinals


Larry Fitzgerald: 11-5 (16), Todd Heap: 4-9 (13), Andre Roberts: 9-1 (10), Early Doucet: 3-4 (7), Ryan Williams: 3-2 (5), La'Rod Stephens-Howling: 1-2 (3), Jeff King: 3-0 (3), Anthony Sherman: 1-1 (2),  Rob Housler: 0-1 (1), Michael Floyd: 1-0 (1), Beanie Wells: 0-1 (1)

So far the Cardinals are winning with defense, so they aren’t airing it out all that often. The quarterback situation is, as always, a painful one for those who have Larry Fitzgerald on their team. The good news is he’s too good to be held down for long.

Andre Roberts continues to be the #2 wide receiver with 30 pass routes to 20 for Early Doucet, but his one target is of course troubling, even though he got into the end zone.

Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams split time evenly, but Williams’ near game losing fumble will most likely cost him time on the field for a while.


Atlanta Falcons


Roddy White: 8-11 (19), Tony Gonzalez: 6-10 (16), Julio Jones: 9-7 (16), Harry Douglas: 4-3 (7), Jacquizz Rodgers: 2-1 (3), Michael Palmer: 1-0 (1), Jason Snelling: 0-1 (1), Michael Turner: 0-1 (1)

With Julio Jones having one of his worst games as a pro, Roddy White stepped up in a big way and led the team in targets, just like the olden days of last season. I wouldn’t worry much about Jones. Tracy Porter seems to have found the fountain of youth the first two games.

Once again Michael Turner looked like a fat pug trying to roll uphill, but he was still in on 43 plays compared to 26 for Jacquizz Rodgers. It seems like only a matter of time before that becomes more of an even split.



Carolina Panthers


Steve Smith: 11-4 (15), Brandon LaFell: 5-8 (13), Greg Olsen: 7-3 (10), Louis Murphy: 5-0 (5), Mike Tolbert: 3-2 (5), Kealoha Pilares: 1-1 (2), DeAngelo Williams: 1-0 (1), Jonathan Stewart: dnp-1 (1)

Steve Smith left the week two game against the Saints to have his knee checked on, which might have slowed him down some, while Brandon LaFell picked up the slack. LaFell’s usage is right on par with Smith’s and as long as the Panthers’ defense gives up points, LaFell will be needed.

The rushing game for the Panthers was on fire last week with all three running backs and Cam Newton getting into the end zone. But that also means we will continue to see the carries and targets split up thinly. Jonathan Stewart is the best back on the team, but he is still dealing with ankle trouble.


Chicago Bears


Brandon Marshall: 15-5 (20), Matt Forte: 6-5 (11), Earl Bennett: 4-6 (10), Alshon Jeffery: 5-2 (7), Kellen Davis: 1-6 (7), Devin Hester: 2-1 (3), Matt Spaeth: 0-2 (2), Evan Rodriguez: 1-0 (1)

The Thursday night game was an ugly one for the Bears. Brandon Marshall dropped a touchdown pass and 10 targets from week one. Of course this was a rivalry game on the road against an elite Packers team that didn’t want to go 0-2.

The targets for Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett are going to need monitoring. If Jeffery isn’t the clear cut #2 receiver, it will be hard starting him consistently.

Kellen Davis saw a nice uptick in targets and found the end zone in the process. If he continues to see targets he could become a consistent red zone player.



Dallas Cowboys


Miles Austin: 4-10 (14), Jason Witten: 3-10 (13), Dez Bryant: 5-7 (12), Kevin Ogletree: 11-1 (12), Felix Jones: 2-5 (7), DeMarco Murray: 2-4 (6), John Phillips: 1-2 (3), James Hanna: 1-0 (1)

The best news to come out of week two for the Cowboys is Miles Austin playing injury free and seeing ten targets which he caught five of, one for a touchdown. He’s once again an every week start.

From the ‘we all saw this coming’ files, Kevin Ogletree had one target. He has value still as the #3 receiver in Dallas, but being low on the totem pole means he’ll have games like this, especially against good defenses.

Jason Witten still doesn’t look to be completely back, but his 10 targets are a good sign. He should round into form soon.

Felix Jones had a lot of targets, but Murray is still the main man and had four targets of his own. He’ll rebound against Tampa Bay.



Detroit Lions


Calvin Johnson: 7-12 (19), Brandon Pettigrew: 10-4 (14), Tony Scheffler: 8-3 (11), Nate Burleson: 8-3 (11), Kevin Smith: 6-3 (9), Titus Young: 3-3 (6), Joique Bell: 0-3 (3), Will Heller: 2-1 (3), Keiland Williams: 1-0 (1), Stefan Logan: 1-0 (1)

The Lions passing game has come up against two good pass defenses in the Rams and 49ers and Matt Stafford’s 2 touchdowns to four interceptions ratio can attest to that. But there is no doubt this team is going to throw the ball and throw it a bunch.

Titus Young once again ran behind Nate Burleson as far as snaps are concerned, but he did have the same number of targets. That’s a good sign, but not definitive. Young is the better talent at this point though.

With Mikel Leshoure coming back it’s hard to know how the running back situation is going to shake down. Last week Smith was on the field for 36 plays and Bell for 20. Next week we will probably see Smith and LeShoure split work, with LeShoure getting early down work and goal line carries.



Green Bay Packers


Jordy Nelson: 7-9 (16), Jermichael Finley: 11-5 (16), James Jones: 6-5 (11), Randall Cobb: 9-2 (11), Greg Jennings: 9-dnp (9), Cedric Benson: 0-4 (4), John Kuhn: 0-3 (3), Donald Driver: 0-1 (1), D.J. Williams: 0-1 (1)

With Greg Jennings out, James Jones picked up most of his snaps. It didn’t translate into production as Jones had two receptions for negative-one yard, but there it is.

Jordy Nelson remains the stalwart in the passing game and is the guy to own. In more pass friendly games, the Packers receivers will have value besides at the top, so Jones and Cobb shouldn’t be judged by this game alone.

Cedric Benson looks to have sewn up the starting running back position with 20 carries and four targets.  Even with James Starks coming back soon, Benson is easily the guy to own.

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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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