Chet Gresham

Targets and Touches

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Week 5 Target Watch: NFC

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Welcome to the NFC targets and touches for Week 5 of the NFL season. The AFC portion will be up tonight, so set your DVRs for that. And if you are new to the column let me take you through a quick look at how I set things up. You'll see something like this "Julio Jones: 9-14-12-13 (48)” which just means that Jones had 9 targets in Week 1, 14 targets in Week 2, 12 in Week 3 and 13 in week 4 with 48 total.  It’s as easy as following me on Twitter.



Arizona Cardinals


Larry Fitzgerald: 14-5-6-9 (34), Michael Floyd: 6-7-6-10 (29), Andre Roberts: 9-8-4-2 (23), Andre Ellington: 3-2-6-6 (17), Jim Dray: 2-7-0-1 (10), Jaron Brown: 2-2-2-2 (8), Rashard Mendenhall: 1-2-1-4 (8), Rob Housler: dnp-dnp-3-2 (5), Alfonso Smith: 1-1-1-1 (4), Stepfan Taylor: 0-0-1-0 (1), Kory Sperry: 1-0-0-0 (1)


Michael Floyd led this week in targets, receptions and yards, but Larry Fitzgerald grabbed the game-tying touchdown. Both put up good numbers and if the offensive line could hold together better, there would be plenty of games where these two both put up startable numbers.


After Week one when it looked like Andre Roberts could have PPR value, his targets have slid dramatically going from 9 to 8 to 4 to 2, and of course his production has fallen off a cliff.  This probably isn’t going to be helped by Rob Housler’s presence now, but even though he is getting all the tight end snaps, Housler’s target numbers are tiny. We’ll see if he gets more integrated into the offense, but for now he’s off the fantasy radar.


The running back committee voted off Alfonso Smith who had just two snaps, so that helps a little, but it’s still a committee attack with Rashard Mendenhall getting 44 snaps to 20 for Andre Ellington. That many snaps would be okay for a better back and system, but it’s not enough for Mendenhall who totaled 34 yards on 14 touches, while Andre Ellington totaled 51 yards on seven touches. Ellington is worth owning as long as he’s outplaying Mendenhall.


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 5. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.


Atlanta Falcons


Julio Jones: 9-14-12-13 (48), Tony Gonzalez: 6-8-5-14 (33), Harry Douglas: 6-5-6-6 (23), Roddy White: 2-3-4-9 (18), Jason Snelling: 3-4-5-3 (15), Jacquizz Rodgers: 1-4-3-6 (14), Steven Jackson: 8-2-dnp-dnp (10), Levine Toilolo: 0-1-1-2 (4), Bradie Ewing: 1-1-dnp-dnp (2), Drew Davis: 0-0-1-0 (1)


This game for the Falcons had a garbage time element to it even though the final score was close. Matt Ryan threw the ball 54 times, which usually means a team is losing most of the game, and they were. This of course is great for the passing game stats and Ryan threw the ball over 400 yards and two Falcons receivers topped 100 yard receiving.


Tony Gonzalez was the major beneficiary catching 12 of 14 targets for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan knew that to move the chains he could throw it to Gonzo even if he was draped with defenders because he has hands of steel and glue and wisdom.


Julio Jones keeps topping 100 yards with his third straight 100 plus yard game, which puts him as the leader in yards receiving for wide receivers. He’s lagging behind a bit in touchdowns with two, but we know how fluky touchdowns can be and he can get those in bunches.


Roddy White was once again slowed somewhat by his ankle and age, but did play 74 of 76 snaps, tying Gonzalez for the most on the team. It seems like he is ready to return to full power soon.


The guy with the most snaps and touches, Jacquizz Rodgers, finally won the running back situation. I’ve been on the Snelling bandwagon and still think he’s a good play, but Rodgers is showing he’s improved from last season.  His inability to score this season has hurt his value, but this week he stepped up in the receiving game catching six of six targets for 56 yards and outgaining Snelling by a bit in the rushing game. The snaps split for Rodgers to Snelling was 42 to 36.



Carolina Panthers


Steve Smith: 8-11-7 - BYE (26), Greg Olsen: 10-8-8 - BYE (26), Ted Ginn: 1-8-4 - BYE (13), Brandon LaFell: 0-6-5 - BYE (11), DeAngelo Williams: 3-0-2 - BYE (5), Mike Tolbert: 1-3-0 - BYE (4), Armanti Edwards: 0-2-0 - BYE (2), Domenik Hixon: dnp-0-1 - BYE (1)


(With the Panthers on bye last week let’s rewind to Week 3)


Cam Newton is sitting at 23rd in completion percentage and 28th in yards passing, but he finally got his fantasy points against the Giants in a blowout.  His seven rushing attempts for 45 yards and a touchdown are the most promising of all his stats since Mike Shula hasn’t been using him in the run game much early this season. His three touchdown passes came on just 15 completions and a 55% completion rate. I’m not sold he’s going to turn things around abruptly in the passing game, so I hope Shula allows him to run more going forward.


The Panthers ran the ball 46 times in the blowout and 23 of those were for DeAngelo Williams who rushed for 120 yards. He still was barely used in the passing game with two targets which he caught one of for negative three yards. With Jonathan Stewart getting closer to returning and the Panthers getting a bye this week it might be a good time to trade him for someone with more upside, especially with Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton getting red zone carries.


Brandon LaFell caught two touchdowns after not making any sort of impact on the first two games of the season. He’s still behind Ted Ginn for targets this season and it will be difficult for him to ever come close to those three receptions for two touchdowns again.



Chicago Bears


Brandon Marshall: 10-10-8-14 (42), Alshon Jeffery: 8-5-8-11 (32), Martellus Bennett: 6-9-5-12 (32), Matt Forte: 6-11-4-6 (27), Earl Bennett: 1-2-3-4 (10), Michael Bush: 1-0-1-0 (2), Steve Maneri: 0-1-1-0 (2)


This was a game Jay Cutler would like to forget, but it was a breakout game for Alshon Jeffery. His catch rate was poor, as he caught just five of 11 targets, but he turned those five receptions into 107 yards and a touchdown and shows the ability to be a top receiver. Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett were both targeted more, but didn’t turn them into quite his numbers.


Matt Forte had his usual 100+ total yard game with 95 yards rushing for one touchdown on just 14 carries and five receptions on six targets for 22 yards. Trestman continues his historical ways of getting the ball to running backs in the passing game and it’s put Forte at the top of all running backs in receptions with 24.


Earl Bennett has increased his targets each week by one, so by Week 16 he should have 16 and the statistical side of my brain will have completed a circle and will shut down.



Dallas Cowboys


Dez Bryant: 8-13-6-9 (36), Jason Witten: 9-8-6-10 (33), DeMarco Murray: 10-6-3-5 (24), Miles Austin: 12-4-5-dnp (21), Terrance Williams: 4-3-0-8 (15), Dwayne Harris: 3-1-1-2 (7), Gavin Escobar: 2-1-2-0 (5), James Hanna: 0-5-0-0 (5), Cole Beasley: dnp-dnp-1-3 (4), Lance Dunbar: dnp-1-0-0 (1), Phillip Tanner: 1-0-0-0 (1)


Your reception leader in this one was rookie Terrance Williams and that is because Dez Bryant was getting all of the attention. But with a critical fumble by Williams at the end of the game, there’s always the thought that even if your best receiver is getting double coverage that maybe he’s still the guy to get it to.


Bryant caught six of nine targets for 81 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a beast in the end zone and though he may get called for pass interference a few times this year, he’s the guy you want to throw it to when the game is on the line.


Tony Romo has only thrown one interception all season and seems to be trying to shed his interception prone label by not taking many risks. Right now he is third in completion percentage at 72.4%, but is 19th in yards per attempt with 6.6. Last season he averaged 7.6 yards per attempt and led the league in interceptions.


DeMarco Murray had a down game fantasy wise, but did still have five receptions on five targets and 90 total yards on 19 touches. Those receptions are keeping him relevant each week in PPR leagues and helping him some in non-PPR as well.



Detroit Lions


Calvin Johnson: 9-8-13-10 (40), Joique Bell: 6-8-5-4 (23), Nate Burleson: 6-8-9-dnp (23), Brandon Pettigrew: 4-6-2-7 (19), Reggie Bush: 8-3-dnp-6 (17), Kris Durham: 2-2-3-4 (11), Joseph Fauria: 3-0-3-0 (6), Tony Scheffler: 1-0-2-2 (5), Theo Riddick: 0-1-2-1 (4), Ryan Broyles: dnp-dnp-3-1 (4), Patrick Edwards: 3-0-dnp-dnp (3)


The Lions defense came to play and intercepted Jay Cutler three times while also causing a Cutler fumble that sealed the game when it was returned for a touchdown, but Matthew Stafford was a bit off in this matchup. On his 11 passes that he attempted for over 10 yards he completed just four. The ball seemed to be sailing on him often, but this was a week for Reggie Bush who performed masterfully.


Bush didn’t put up a 200-yard game with multiple touchdowns, but he was cutting, spinning and hurdling like he was 16 and playing a backyard game. He finished the day with 139 yards rushing on 18 carries (7.7 ypc) with a touchdown and caught four of six targets for 34 yards. According to Pro Football Focus he broke or made eight Bears defenders miss tackling him and gained over four yards on average after contact. It was the best elusive rating rushing game they’ve graded all season.


My love for Ryan Broyles is still there, but it will have to be tempered a whole bunch with him seeing one target all game and getting no receptions. He was the slot receiver and ran 22 routes compared to Calvin Johnson and Kris Durham’s 36 and 35, but that is pretty normal for a slot receiver who comes in on three receiver sets, so the one target is baffling, especially after seeing three targets on just a handful of snaps last week, It must be due to the more run oriented game plan, but 35 pass attempts by Stafford isn’t chump change.



Green Bay Packers


(With the Packers on bye last week let’s rewind to Week 3)


Randall Cobb: 12-10-11-BYE (33), Jordy Nelson: 10-4-9-BYE (23), James Jones: 2-12-8-BYE (22), Jermichael Finley: 8-7-1-BYE (16), Andrew Quarless: 0-3-5-BYE (8), James Starks: 1-5-0-BYE (6), Ryan Taylor: 0-0-3-BYE (3), Johnathan Franklin: dnp-0-3-BYE (3), Jeremy Ross: 0-0-2-BYE (2), Eddie Lacy: 2-0-dnp-BYE (2), John Kuhn: 1-0-dnp-BYE (1)


This was one of Aaron Rodger’s worst games in a long while. It was actually the first regular season game since November of 2009 that he threw more interceptions than touchdowns.  The Packers also lost two starters to injury in this one, Jermichael Finley and James Starks. There’s no doubt the Packers need this bye that’s coming up to get Finley, Eddie LacyJames Starks and Clay Matthews healthy.


Johnathan Franklin played very well backing up Starks, but had a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. This game was as crazy as games get, but all in all I wouldn’t put too much stock into the poor showing. The talent is all there.




Minnesota Vikings


Jerome Simpson: 8-5-8-11 (32), Greg Jennings: 7-6-6-4 (23), Kyle Rudolph: 4-6-8-2 (20), Adrian Peterson: 4-2-6-1 (13), Cordarrelle Patterson: 1-2-4-2 (9), Jarius Wright: 2-2-4-1 (9), John Carlson: 1-2-2-2 (7), Toby Gerhart: 0-2-2-1 (5), Zach Line: 1-1-1-dnp (3), Joe Webb: 0-0-1-1 (2)


With Matt Cassel in the fold the numbers and scoreboard looked better, but there wasn’t a ton of difference in the way he played in comparison to Christian Ponder, with most of his passes being of the short/check down variety. Thankfully Greg Jennings was able to take one of those shorter routes to the house on a 70-yard catch and run while also catching a 16-yard post route for a touchdown. But Jennings ended up with just four targets, while Jerome Simpson easily led the team with 11, catching seven of them for 124 yards.


This is Simpson’s second 100+ yard day, but he’s yet to find the end zone. The good news is that he does look like he has improved and has a positive grade at Pro Football Focus of +5.5, which puts him as the 11th best graded receiver in the league.


Adrian Peterson did some stuff in this game to remind you of his insane 2012 season. On the season he has broken/made defenders miss 23 tackles on rushing carries. The next best is LeSean McCoy with 17. His 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns is just another day at the office.

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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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