Chet Gresham

Targets and Touches

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Week 1 Target Watch: NFC

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $25,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 2. It's $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.




Welcome to the NFC portion of Targets and Touches. The AFC portion is right here!


There were plenty of targets Week one with 1173 passing attempts compared to 813 rushing attempts. Close to 60% of the time a team in this league will throw the ball. So yes, it is a passing league unless you are the Philadelphia Eagles of course.


Here’s a bunch of info about football. Enjoy! But before you do all that, follow me on Twitter because that’s how I get all of my self-worth.



Arizona Cardinals


Larry Fitzgerald: (14), Andre Roberts: (9), Michael Floyd: (6), Andre Ellington: (3), Jaron Brown: (2), Jim Dray: (2), Kory Sperry: (1), Alfonso Smith: (1), Rashard Mendenhall: (1)


Last season Larry Fitzgerald saw plenty of targets, but very few of them were accurate.  So far this year Carson Palmer has been a breath of fresh air. In 2012 Fitzgerald had two catchable passes over 20 yards according to Pro Football Focus. Palmer gave him one on Sunday, which he caught for a touchdown.  And we also saw a nice distribution of targets for Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd. Roberts was the underneath, possession guy while Floyd had two targets over 20 yards.


Another interesting fact is that Fitzgerald ran 18 slot routes for 41% of all his routes, while last season he averaged 8 routes in the slot for 19% of his routes. This diversity will help him create mismatches this season.


The running back production was led by Rashard Mendenhall, but there was a definite even split in snaps, with Alfonso Smith getting 27 snaps to Mendenhall’s 35. Smith was trusted a bit more in pass blocking with 13 to 8 pass pro plays.



Atlanta Falcons


Julio Jones: (9), Steven Jackson: (8), Tony Gonzalez: (6), Harry Douglas: (6), Jason Snelling: (3), Roddy White: (2), Bradie Ewing: (1), Jacquizz Rodgers: (1)


Roddy White was used as a decoy for most of the game, which helped Harry Douglas see more time and targets. Julio Jones was of course the target leader with White not fully healthy.


Steven Jackson’s eight targets were a great sign for his production. Last season he had more than eight targets only one time and finished the year with just 53. Rodgers wasn't a factor and shouldn't cut into Jackson's time.



Carolina Panthers


Greg Olsen: (10), Steve Smith: (8), DeAngelo Williams: (3), Mike Tolbert: (1), Ted Ginn: (1)


Cam Newton only threw the ball 23 times and according to Pro Football Focus, “attempted just two passes over 20 yards in the air and just four more over 10 yards in the air, with 14 of his aimed passes thrown less than 10 yards.”  And to add to that silly stat is another, all six of those passes over 10 yards were catchable, with five receptions and one drop. Ron Rivera has already admitted that they were too conservative in the passing game, so maybe we’ll see them air it out more in the future.


Greg Olsen didn’t put up big numbers, but he was the leading target. The only other non-Olsen/Smith receiver to see a target was Ted Ginn. Brandon LaFell is falling off the map even though he was on the field for one more snap than Smith.


DeAngelo Williams was on the field for 32 snaps and Mike Tolbert was there for 33, but Williams saw 20 touches to Tolbert’s 5 and Tolbert accumulated 4 yards to Williams’ 100.



Chicago Bears


Brandon Marshall: (10), Alshon Jeffery: (8), Matt Forte: (6), Martellus Bennett: (6), Michael Bush: (1), Earl Bennett: (1),


Alshon Jeffery’s eight targets are a bit of a revelation in comparison to last season’s target distribution for the Bears.  Last year only three times did a receiver not named Brandon Marshall have over 7 targets and two of those happened in Week 14 when Cutler gave Marshall 19 targets and threw the ball 44 times. And guess what, even with just ten targets Marshall still had a big game! This better distribution should help everyone on the team.


These target numbers feel like a good base for distribution in Trestman’s offense and even though Matt Forte didn’t catch 100 passes, his 6 targets puts him on pace for 96 targets, 36 more than last season.



Dallas Cowboys


Miles Austin: (12), DeMarco Murray: (10), Jason Witten: (9), Dez Bryant: (8), Terrance Williams: (4), Dwayne Harris: (3), Gavin Escobar: (2), Phillip Tanner: (1)


Dez Bryant was double teamed most of this game so Miles Austin and Jason Witten were the main beneficiaries. The 10 targets for Demarco Murray is something to keep an eye on.  He didn’t do a ton with them, but eight receptions in a PPR league are big especially when he doesn’t get in the end zone. He also was by far the leader in snaps for running backs with 70 compared to Phillip Tanner’s six. If he can somehow stay healthy, his usage will make him extremely valuable.


Dez Bryant hurt his foot so it’s good to take a look at who the third wide receiver was for Dallas. With 36 snaps and 28 routes Terrance Williams was the clear #3 while Dwayne Harris came in for just four snaps.



Detroit Lions


Calvin Johnson: (9), Reggie Bush: (8), Joique Bell: (6), Nate Burleson: (6), Brandon Pettigrew: (4), Patrick Edwards: (3), Joseph Fauria: (3), Kris Durham: (2), Tony Scheffler: (1)


Much like Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson had plenty of extra attention, which led to receptions for Bush, Burleson and Bell, the three B’s, as I will call them from now on and nobody will have a clue what I'm talking about. It seems that Stafford is more comfortable not forcing the ball into triple coverage now that he has Bush on the field. You can’t keep Megatron down of course, so I don’t see this as a big problem. Teams won’t want the three B’s getting 246 yards receiving every game.


The tight ends for Detroit aren’t very good. Brandon Pettigrew led the way with 79 snaps, 36 routes and four targets, but caught two passes for six yards. Tony Scheffler was next with 18 snaps, 10 routes and one target for no receptions and then Joseph Fauria was last in snaps and routes with 11 and seven, but he had three targets which he caught all of for 27 yards and a touchdown. Just think about how many fantasy points are sitting there for a tight end to take in this offense. I think we’ll see more Fauria in the weeks to come.




Green Bay Packers


Randall Cobb: (12), Jordy Nelson: (10), Jermichael Finley: (8), Eddie Lacy: (2), James Jones: (2), John Kuhn: (1), James Starks: (1)


The four main pass catchers for the Packers all had roughly the same number of routes run between 38 and 41.  Cobb, Nelson and Finley all had a good amount of targets (including four for Cobb in the red zone), but James Jones who was on the field the same number of snaps or more than the rest of the receivers, had just two targets and no receptions. This is Aaron Rodgers at his best and worst, at least for Jones owners. He takes what is given and Jones wasn’t there. Jones will see more work going forward and he’ll catch touchdowns when you have him on the bench. But I would have to knock him down a space in the pecking order.


Eddie Lacy was the every down back except when he was briefly benched for fumbling and James Starks came in for eight snaps. John Kuhn did come in to pass block six times, but Lacy held his own and pass blocked nine times and got a positive grade from Pro Football Focus. He played 41 snaps; Kuhn played 15 and Starks eight. I have a feeling we’ll see less of Kuhn next week as long as Lacy can keep pass blocking well.



Minnesota Vikings


Jerome Simpson: (8), Greg Jennings: (7), Adrian Peterson: (4), Kyle Rudolph: (4), Jarius Wright: (2), Cordarrelle Patterson: (1), Zach Line: (1), John Carlson: (1)


Jerome Simpson was the receiving stud for the Vikings in Week one. Go figure. He and Greg Jennings were about even in time on the field and targets. Jennings lined up in the slot on 54% of his routes, more than Jarius Wright. I think this will prove beneficial as we go forward since Christian Ponder’s lack of arm strength and deep accuracy is made for targeting the slot receiver.


Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson only saw five snaps and two pass routes. That will rise as we go along in the season, but the fact it started so low is concerning for his fantasy chances early on.


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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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