Chet Gresham

Targets and Touches

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Week 6 Target Watch: NFC

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Welcome to the NFC targets and touches for Week 6 of the NFL season. The AFC portion will be up tomorrow night, so stay up until about 2am to get it hot off the press.  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 " Larry Fitzgerald: 14-5-6-9-6 (40), which just means that Fitzgerald had 14 targets in Week 1, 5 targets in Week 2, 6 in Week 3, 9 in Week 4 and 6 in Week 5 with 40 total.  It’s as easy as following me on Twitter.


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 6. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.



Arizona Cardinals


Larry Fitzgerald: 14-5-6-9-6 (40), Michael Floyd: 6-7-6-10-7 (36), Andre Roberts: 9-8-4-2-1 (24), Andre Ellington: 3-2-6-6-4 (21), Jim Dray: 2-7-0-1-2 (12), Rashard Mendenhall: 1-2-1-4-2 (10), Jaron Brown: 2-2-2-2-0 (8), Rob Housler: dnp-dnp-3-2-2 (7), Alfonso Smith: 1-1-1-1-3 (7), Kory Sperry: 1-0-0-0-0 (1), Stepfan Taylor: 0-0-1-0-0 (1)


This was yet another awful game for Carson Palmer who threw three interceptions against the Panthers. He’s now at five touchdowns and nine interceptions for the season.  This is not where we were hoping this offense would be so far this season under Bruce Arians.  Through the first five games Larry Fitzgerald has 24 receptions on 40 targets (60%) for 288 yards (12 yards per reception) and three touchdowns. Through five games last year Fitzgerald had 30 receptions on 55 targets (54.5%) for 337 yards (11.2 yards per reception) and two touchdowns. These numbers were with Kevin Kolb though. After he was injured things got even worse. In the next 11 games Fitzgerald caught 41-of-101 targets (40.5%) for 461 yards and two touchdowns.  So Palmer hasn’t been as good as Kolb was to start the season statistically, but if Palmer can stay healthy, Fitzgerald gets 77 receptions, 922 yards and 9.6 touchdowns. Not great, but better than his 798 yards and four touchdowns from last year. But let’s hope that Palmer can improve to get that into 80 catch, 1,000 yards and 10-touchdown territory.


Michael Floyd actually led the team in targets, receptions and yards against Carolina, but that’s not saying too much on a bad day for Palmer. Floyd and Fitzgerald are very close in targets this season with Floyd leading in yardage, but he has yet to find the end zone. That will change at some point, but we’ll need to see some progress by Palmer and the offensive line before we can predict a big jump there. Floyd and Fitzgerald have the same number of red zone targets with four, but that low number for both is a product of a poor offense. If we look at a team like Denver, they have four pass catchers with five or more red zone targets. So it’s not who Palmer chooses to throw to, but how often he gets a chance to throw it to someone near the end zone.


Rob Housler had a pretty awful game on Sunday. On his two targets he dropped one of them and didn’t turn around in time for the other, while Jim Dray caught both of his targets and scored a touchdown on one. Dray ran a total of five pass routes while Housler ran 23.


Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington had the same number of snaps with 30 each while Mendenhall had 19 touches to Ellington’s 11. Of course Ellington had 83 total yards to Mendenhall’s 50.  But Ellington’s smaller build has Bruce Arians wanting to keep him at around 30-32 snaps a game. His 30 from last week was his high for the season and may be near his cap, but it’s evident on the field that Ellington is the more explosive player. As long as he’s not used as a between the tackles runner it seems like he could be a Darren Sproles type of player if Arizona can get their offense together.



Atlanta Falcons


Julio Jones: 9-14-12-13-11 (59), Tony Gonzalez: 6-8-5-14-14 (47), Harry Douglas: 6-5-6-6-4 (27), Roddy White: 2-3-4-9-4 (22), Jason Snelling: 3-4-5-3-5 (20), Jacquizz Rodgers: 1-4-3-6-4 (18), Steven Jackson: 8-2-dnp-dnp-dnp (10), Levine Toilolo: 0-1-1-2-2 (6), Bradie Ewing: 1-1-dnp-dnp-dnp (2), Drew Davis: 0-0-1-0-0 (1), Kevin Cone: 0-0-0-0-1 (1)


Of course the biggest news to come out for the Falcons is the foot injury to Julio Jones.  It looks like he will miss the season unless Magneto can take care of those screws in his foot. So the 1-4 Falcons now are without the player Matt Ryan had targeted 59 times, or in other words, 27% of his passes. With Roddy White Black Knighting it all over the field, he may never be 100% again and Tony Gonzalez gets his work by his “savvy veteran play,” i.e. he’s old and slow, but can catch anything within arm's reach.  But he can be stopped if teams don’t have to double up Jones. You can see what happened to the Lions last week without Calvin Johnson, Jones is that caliber of player.  So don’t expect any one player to just explode with Jones gone. Harry Douglas of course will get more snaps and targets, but even with Roddy White playing on a stump, Douglas was unable to do much with Jones getting extra attention and White getting very few targets. He’s worth a grab for a bye week filler, but he’ll be inconsistent in an inconsistent offense.


With the bye week coming up hopefully Roddy White can get some mandatory rest for his ankle and hamstring and pridefulness.  In his first five games of the season, which he played in every single one with a high ankle sprain, he caught 22 passes for 129 yards and no touchdowns. That’s 2.8 receptions and 25.8 yards per game. And for some reason the Falcons are 1-4 during this stretch. I know there is more to their record than one player, but him sitting out the first four weeks to get healthy makes too much sense. Add to that his hamstring injury that probably wasn’t helped by him compensating for his ankle and you have a bad cluster of events.


Drew Davis will most likely become the slot receiver in three receiver sets with White and Douglas on the outside. Douglas won’t command the attention from Ryan that Jones or White does, so Davis could see enough looks to be worthwhile in deep leagues.


The running back situation after the bye should return to Steven Jackson who has taken the allotted amount of time to recover from his hamstring injury. Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling did very well splitting time and actually had fantasy value doing so. Of the two I think Rodgers might have the most value with Jackson returning. He could be used in the slot or more in passing downs to give the offense some more options.



Carolina Panthers


Steve Smith: 8-11-7-BYE-10 (36), Greg Olsen: 10-8-8-BYE-6 (32), Brandon LaFell: 0-6-5-BYE-9 (20), Ted Ginn: 1-8-4-BYE-5 (18), DeAngelo Williams: 3-0-2-BYE-3 (8), Mike Tolbert: 1-3-0-BYE-1 (5), Armanti Edwards: 0-2-0-BYE-2 (4), Kenjon Barner: dnp-dnp-dnp-BYE-2 (2), Domenik Hixon: dnp-0-1-BYE-0 (1)


Cam Newton spread the ball around well, getting four receivers four or more receptions as he threw for 308 yards. And that’s the end of the good news. He also threw zero touchdowns and three interceptions on a 54% completion rate. Steve Smith did drop a touchdown pass, which would have been a huge help on a dismal day.


Smith has caught just 51% of his targets for 203 yards and one touchdown while Greg Olsen has more receptions, a better catch rate and more yards.  And Ted Ginn, on fewer receptions, also has a better catch rate, more yards and more touchdowns. The days of Newton staring Smith down and firing multiple targets at him is no longer productive in fantasy.


DeAngelo Williams ran for 39 yards on 12 carries and caught two passes for 30 yards. Williams is the kind of runner that could use the space given him in the passing game well, but he only has eight targets all season and three of those came last week. Maybe it’s something they were working on, but three isn’t a big number to go from. Williams is playing well with 4.5 yards a carry and 82.5 yards per game, but he has yet to find the end zone and he’s lost the long speed to offset the fact that he doesn’t touch the ball that often near the goal line.




Chicago Bears


Brandon Marshall: 10-10-8-14-5 (47), Alshon Jeffery: 8-5-8-11-13 (45), Martellus Bennett: 6-9-5-12-5 (37), Matt Forte: 6-11-4-6-6 (33), Earl Bennett: 1-2-3-4-3 (13), Michael Bush: 1-0-1-0-0 (2), Steve Maneri: 0-1-1-0-dnp (2), Dante Rosario: dnp-0-0-0-1 (1)


The Saints tried, and succeeded for the most part, to take Brandon Marshall out of the game and that set up Alshon Jeffery for single coverage all day. The Saints didn’t realize just how good Jeffery is. He especially smoked Jabari Greer and Kenny Vaccaro catching seven of eight targets for 161 yards and a touchdown against them.


Marshall may be frustrated, but these last two games where Jeffery has totaled 15 receptions for 325 yards and two touchdowns is going to help Marshall out in the long run. There is no way teams are going to overlook Jeffery going forward and Marshall, even with just 5 targets last week, is averaging over nine targets per game. It’s the circle of life!


Matt Forte is still putting up good numbers, but his number of carries has been in a decline since Week 2 when he had 19, then in Week 3 he had 16, then 14 against Detroit and then 12 last week. His receiving numbers have stayed consistent, which keep him above 100 total yards a game, but it would be nice to see those carries bumped up around 16-18 a game.




Dallas Cowboys


Dez Bryant: 8-13-6-9-10 (46), Jason Witten: 9-8-6-10-10 (43), DeMarco Murray: 10-6-3-5-1 (25), Miles Austin: 12-4-5-dnp-dnp (21), Terrance Williams: 4-3-0-8-4 (19), Dwayne Harris: 3-1-1-2-2 (9), Cole Beasley: dnp-dnp-1-3-4 (8), Gavin Escobar: 2-1-2-0-3 (8), James Hanna: 0-5-0-0-1 (6), Phillip Tanner: 1-0-0-0-0 (1), Lance Dunbar: dnp-1-0-0-0 (1)


Tony Romo broke the record for most passing yards in a single game for a Cowboys quarterback, so there was some targeting going on in this one, but not too many. His 36 attempts is the lowest number for a 500-yard passer since the merger. He was very efficient. And that efficiency shows the best in Terrance Williams’ four receptions on four targets for 151 yards and a touchdown. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten also topped 100 yards and Dez had his normal goal line work with two touchdowns inside the five-yard line. On the season he has five targets from inside the five-yard line and has caught each one for a touchdown.  The best goal line backs this season are Fred Jackson and Ray Rice who each have three carries for three touchdowns. There’s no reason for the Cowboys to ever be inside the five and not give Bryant a chance.


DeMarco Murray had just 13 touches for 48 yards. That’s all due to Denver’s stout run defense and Romo being in what I like to call, the zone.



Detroit Lions


Calvin Johnson: 9-8-13-10-dnp (40), Joique Bell: 6-8-5-4-4 (27), Brandon Pettigrew: 4-6-2-7-5 (24), Kevin Ogletree: 2-3-6-9-3 (23), Reggie Bush: 8-3-dnp-6-6 (23), Nate Burleson: 6-8-9-dnp-dnp (23), Kris Durham: 2-2-3-4-8 (19), Tony Scheffler: 1-0-2-2-7 (12), Patrick Edwards: 3-0-dnp-dnp-5 (8), Ryan Broyles: dnp-dnp-3-1-2 (6), Joseph Fauria: 3-0-3-0-0 (6), Theo Riddick: 0-1-2-1-0 (4)


So Calvin Johnson didn’t play in this one. I’m not sure if you heard. You should probably try to get him out of your lineup! It’s kind of weird that the backup running back for the Lions is second in targets for the team, but he is the only running back they will allow to pass block. Reggie Bush has only done it six times all season and zero times in this game. So Bell’s percent of total snaps should stay around 46% to Bush’s 63%. Bush had 17 touches to Bell’s 9 in this one and Bush dropped two passes. Bush is a better runner in space, but Bell might be the better all-around football player.


With Calvin Johnson out of the game the pass route numbers were – Kris Durham 47, Brandon Pettigrew 44, Patrick Edwards 41, Tony Scheffler 26, Reggie Bush 25, Joique Bell 19, Ryan Broyles 15, Kevin Ogletree 5, and Joseph Fauria 5.  Durham led with eight targets and caught just three, including a garbage time touchdown. After that, somehow Tony Scheffler saw seven targets, which means that someone really doesn’t like Ryan Broyles or his knee is just hanging there from sinew.  On the season Broyles has had only six targets and he’s caught five for 61 yards. I want to see more Broyles, but I just have to believe his knee is holding him back and until that changes he’s not rosterable in fantasy, even though he is the best non-Megatron receiver on the roster.



Green Bay Packers


Randall Cobb: 12-10-11-BYE-8 (41), Jordy Nelson: 10-4-9-BYE-7 (30), James Jones: 2-12-8-BYE-6 (28), Jermichael Finley: 8-7-1-BYE-6 (22), Andrew Quarless: 0-3-5-BYE-0 (8), James Starks: 1-5-0-BYE-dnp (6), Ryan Taylor: 0-0-3-BYE-1 (4), Johnathan Franklin: dnp-0-3-BYE-0 (3), Eddie Lacy: 2-0-dnp-BYE-1 (3), Jeremy Ross: 0-0-2-BYE-dnp (2), John Kuhn: 1-0-dnp-BYE-0 (1)


Rodgers was his old self in this one. He threw seven passes over 20 yards in the air and completed five for 200 yards and a touchdown and one of those incompletions was a ball James Jones caught that would have gone for a touchdown if he hadn’t barely stepped out of bounds. And if Jones would have stayed in, it would have been another huge game for him, but even without that catch he pulled in four of six targets for 127 yards and a touchdown. If you lop off his zero from week one, Jones has ranked as the 4th best fantasy wide receiver in the league. Yes, it’s an extremely small sample size, but he’s been consistent for three straight games, which isn’t bad considering all of the good receivers on the team.


Eddie Lacy added a dimension to the Packers that they haven’t really had much of lately and that is a strong inside runner.  He finished the day with 23 carries for 99 yards (and bonus leaguers scream in vain). Those kind of rushing attempts don’t happen that often for the Packers, but with Lacy they will use him to slow the game down and speed up the clock when they get leads. And according to Pro Football Focus, he avoided or broke four tackles and picked up 51 of his 99 yards after contact.  That’s not too shabby.



Minnesota Vikings


(With the Vikings on bye last week let’s rewind to Week 4)



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

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