Chet Gresham

Targets and Touches

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Week 1 Target Watch: AFC

Thursday, September 12, 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 AFC version of Target Watch. You will find all of the AFC teams below, with all of their passing targets, plus some snap count data and words I came up with in my brain. If you click here you’ll find the NFC version of this article and if you click here you will be transported into a magical world called my Twitter.


Baltimore Ravens

Dallas Clark: (12), Ray Rice: (11), Brandon Stokley: (10), Torrey Smith: (8), Marlon Brown: (6), Ed Dickson: (5), Vonta Leach: (4), Jacoby Jones: (4), Bernard Pierce: (1)


Joe Flacco threw the ball an amazing 62 times and to some old, old guys. They were trying desperately to find something that worked in the passing game and really never did. The fact that Dallas Clark saw 12 targets and Brandon Stokley 10, probably isn’t the best sign for your team’s success.


Ray Rice was heavily used in the passing game, which is good since he wasn’t used much in the running game. They won’t go up against a seven touchdown throwing Peyton Manning again, so we should see the run game step up and these crazy target numbers settle down.


Ray Rice was in on 53 snaps and ran the ball 12 times while Bernard Pierce was in on 35 snaps and ran it 9 times. This was such an abnormal game with an abnormal number of plays that it’s difficult to know if this usage is a precursor to things to come or not.



Buffalo Bills


Steve Johnson: (6), Scott Chandler: (6), C.J. Spiller: (6), Fred Jackson: (5), Robert Woods: (2), T.J. Graham: (1), Marquise Goodwin: (1)


With E.J. Manuel at the helm, the Bills didn’t try to overreach in the passing game and it shows in the target stats. He only threw seven passes over 10 yards so tight ends and running backs like Chandler, Spiller and Jackson were going to get work.


Fred Jackson outperformed C.J. Spiller on the field and had 26 snaps to Spiller’s 38. I suspect Spiller taking a hard hit had a little to do with this, but that’s conjecture at this point. It’s very much something to keep an eye on, especially because Manuel’s running ability can help the running back and Fred Jackson is one of those.



Cincinnati Bengals


A.J. Green: (13), Mohamed Sanu: (5), Jermaine Gresham: (5), Tyler Eifert: (5), Giovani Bernard: (2), Marvin Jones: (2), BenJarvus Green-Ellis: (1)


It doesn’t look like any other wide receiver is going to start taking many targets away from Green soon and for good reason, but as far as fantasy goes, we’ll have to look at the tight ends for possible production in the passing game from a non-Green.


Tyler Eifert was in on 41 snaps and ran 22 routes and Jermaine Gresham had 59 snaps and ran 28 routes. Both caught each of their five targets and pretty much canceled each other out, but Eifert ran six routes out of the slot, where he had three of his five targets. If he can get more time in the slot, I could see him breaking out some time soon.


The running back situation is of course an interesting one. The incumbent BenJarvus Green-Ellis took the lead with 37 snaps to Giovani Bernard’s 22. He also ran the ball 14 times for 25 yards for 1.8 yards per carry, one reception for four yards and a goal line touchdown, while Bernard had four carries for 22 yards for 5.5 yards per carry with two targets in which he caught one for eight yards. The sample size is of course way too small, but it’s a small step in the right direction for Bernard to see more looks.



Cleveland Browns


Jordan Cameron: (13), Greg Little: (10), Davone Bess: (10), Travis Benjamin: (8), Trent Richardson: (6), Chris Ogbonnaya: (3), Tori Gurley: (2), Gary Barnidge: (1)


Brandon Weeden threw the ball 53 times. That may have been a few too many when you have Trent Richardson as your running back. Just a thought. But it gave plenty of targets for us to look at and Jordan Cameron was the winner both in targets and production. He’s Weeden’s go-to guy right now and there’s a good chance that will continue even when Gordon returns.


After Cameron it’s a little deceptive due to the numerous targets and the absence of Josh Gordon. We also see a very even distribution between Little, Bess and Benjamin. You’ll need to be in very deep leagues to want to decipher that mess.


Richardson’s six targets is a good sign and should be a staple of Norv Turner’s offense. Hopefully he’ll get more rushing attempts next week though.



Denver Broncos

Demaryius Thomas: (11), Wes Welker: (11), Julius Thomas: (7), Eric Decker: (7), Knowshon Moreno: (3), Ronnie Hillman: (2), Andre Caldwell: (1)


When Peyton Manning throws for seven touchdowns you know there were some juicy targets out there. The good news is that no single receiver was over targeted and he gave everyone a chance to put up fantasy numbers, which they did, well, except Eric Decker who couldn’t hold onto anything.


The breakout star of course was tight end Julius Thomas. He was on the field for 74 snaps compared to Jacob Tamme’s seven and Tamme didn’t run one route compared to Thomas’ 27. Of course getting four receivers enough targets to be fantasy relevant each week will be impossible, but Manning is one of the few quarterbacks who can do the impossible.


The three headed running back monster started with Knowshon Moreno and he had the bulk of the snaps with 40 compared to Montee Ball with 18 and Ronnie Hillman with 15. They didn’t really have the running backs do much pass blocking with Moreno handling three pass blocking assignments, Hillman two and Ball one. This situation remains murky. Moreno seems to be the most trusted with Ball the guy they want to give work to when they can.



Houston Texans

Andre Johnson: (16), Arian Foster: (8), Owen Daniels: (7), DeAndre Hopkins: (6), Garrett Graham: (5), Ben Tate: (2)


The Chargers got up to an early lead and left the Texans in passing mode, which accounts for the 16 targets to Andre Johnson.  The three touchdown passes from Schaub are more than he had in 14 of his 16 games last season.  The addition of DeAndre Hopkins may change that somewhat, but with Arian Foster and Ben Tate and a strong defense, I just don’t see them getting too pass happy.


Speaking of DeAndre Hopkins, he was a full go as the #2 receiver. He ran 41 routes compared to Johnson’s 44. He also was in the slot for over half of those routes. It’s good to see they are lining him up all over the field. We’ll just have to see how much they use him when they aren’t behind before I get too bullish on him for fantasy. 



Indianapolis Colts

Reggie Wayne: (8), T.Y. Hilton: (5), Darrius Heyward-Bey: (4), Vick Ballard: (2), Dwayne Allen: (2), Ahmad Bradshaw: (1), Coby Fleener: (1)


The Colts started off fast in the passing game in their opener against the Raiders, but then let up. Andrew Luck completed 18 of 23 passes, but for just 178 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a 78.8% completion percentage, which was the best (or worst if you’re the Raiders) in Week 1.  It seems odd that he wasn’t allowed to throw more.


I’ve been worried about T.Y. Hilton not being in on two-receiver sets and I still don’t like that Heyward-Bey is ahead of him, but Hilton did see one more target than DHB and a similar number of routes run with 21 for Hilton and 23 for Heyward-Bey. The Colts said after the game they wanted to get Hilton more involved, so we shouldn’t worry too much about him just yet, but what we should worry about is their best player only throwing the ball 23 times.


For now it looks like Vick Ballard is the lead back in Indianapolis. He was in on 41 snaps compared to Ahmad Bradshaw’s 15, while also pass blocking very well. His numbers were better than Bradshaw’s too, with 4.8 yards per carry compared to 3.7.



Jacksonville Jaguars

Cecil Shorts: (11), Ace Sanders: (9), Justin Forsett: (5), Allen Reisner: (5), Jordan Todman: (4), Mike Brown: (3), Maurice Jones-Drew: (2), Clay Harbor: (1), Will Ta'ufo'ou: (1)


The Jaguars averaged 2.5 yards per play, 2.6 yards per pass and were sacked six times. Well, instead of Jaguars you could probably just say Blaine Gabbert, because he was the engine that moved this team slower than a turtle repairing a lawn mower.


Thankfully for everyone involved we’ll see Chad Henne in Week two and these target and usage numbers might equate into fantasy production, because if you don’t count yards after the catch, Blaine Gabbert threw for just 23 in Week one while Henne, on just six attempts and three completions, threw for 21.


With Justin Blackmon suspended Ace Sanders saw his snaps and targets, but didn’t have any luck, much like the rest of the team. Maurice Jones-Drew was on the field 46 times, Justin Forsett 13, Jordan Todman 11 and Denard Robinson seven.


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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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