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 wrote while typing them onto my laptop. If you click here you’ll find the NFC version of this article.
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.
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Before we get into the AFC teams I thought I’d give you a rundown of the red zone target leaders for the whole NFL. Stats can be manipulated and target stats as much as any, but if your team is getting into the red zone often and targeting you just as often, your chances for fantasy points are increased. So let’s take a look.
Red Zone Targets
Torrey Smith: 8-13-9-12-9 (51), Dallas Clark: 12-1-7-9-0 (29), Marlon Brown: 6-6-3-8-dnp (23), Ray Rice: 11-3-dnp-1-7 (22), Brandon Stokley: 10-5-1-dnp-dnp (16), Tandon Doss: dnp-0-0-9-5 (14), Deonte Thompson: dnp-dnp-dnp-5-7 (12), Ed Dickson: 5-1-0-3-2 (11), Vonta Leach: 4-2-2-2-1 (11), Bernard Pierce: 1-1-2-1-0 (5), Jacoby Jones: 4-dnp-dnp-dnp-dnp (4), Kyle Juszczyk: 0-0-0-0-1 (1), Billy Bajema: 0-1-0-0-0 (1)
This is a game that was won by the old adage that running the ball keeps Joe Flacco from throwing the ball. Flacco’s arm bails him out of bad decisions often and with Torrey Smith shining this season he can continue finding him, but it's looking like once again the defense and running game will have to keep them in games.
Ray Rice scored two touchdowns, but it came on 27 attempts for 74 yards. He was going nowhere fast and Bernard Pierce ran 11 times for 46 yards. That’s a whole bunch of running while Flacco was 19-of-32 for 269 yards and an interception. I'm hoping Rice is still getting over his hip injury and will improve with time, because he wasn't breaking tackles or making people miss.
With Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones out for this game I thought we would see more of Dallas Clark who had nine targets the week before with Brown in the game, but instead he saw 17 pass routes and no targets to Ed Dickson’s 16 routes and two targets, which Dickson actually caught for 51 yards. Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson saw the biggest jump in playing time and targets; with Doss making more use of his five targets than Thompson of his seven.
Robert Woods: 2-6-10-8-13 (39), Steve Johnson: 6-10-13-6-3 (38), Scott Chandler: 6-6-6-3-6 (27), Fred Jackson: 5-6-5-0-6 (22), T.J. Graham: 1-3-5-3-5 (17), C.J. Spiller: 6-5-1-0-0 (12), Chris Hogan: 0-0-0-0-5 (5), Lee Smith: 0-0-0-2-1 (3), Frank Summers: 0-2-0-0-0 (2), Tashard Choice: 0-1-1-0-0 (2), Marcus Easley: 0-0-0-0-1 (1)
Robert Woods is ranked tenth in targets per game over the last three weeks while Stevie Johnson deals with injuries. That’s pretty good for a team that loves to run the ball. If there wasn't a big question at quarterback I'd be jumping on the Woods train right now. But with the quarterback situation and the propensity for running the ball, I'll hold off. The Bills have more rushing attempts than any other team in the league, which is good for both CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson to remain fantasy assets while sharing time.
Both EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel had poor games in this one, but Tuel looked completely overmatched and he was, especially when he was intercepted for a pick-six that sealed the game for the Browns.
A.J. Green: 13-14-8-15-8 (58), Jermaine Gresham: 5-9-5-5-4 (28), Mohamed Sanu: 5-8-5-6-2 (26), Tyler Eifert: 5-5-2-5-7 (24), Giovani Bernard: 2-2-4-7-3 (18), Marvin Jones: 2-4-4-3-2 (15), BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 1-1-0-0-1 (3), Alex Smith: 0-1-0-0-0 (1), Dane Sanzenbacher: dnp-dnp-0-1-0 (1)
A.J Green needs an Alshon Jeffery on the other side and probably a better quarterback to really reach his upside. After his huge opener in Chicago he’s averaged 49.75 yards and .25 touchdowns per game. That will change because he’s just too good, but he’s not going to be that consistent without a little help from his friends.
This week we saw the resurgence of BenJarvus Green-Ellis when it looked like he had been buried alive by Gio Bernard last week. They split snaps fairly evenly against Green-Ellis' old team and BJGE had 19 carries to Bernard’s 13. But the truly disappointing event was Bernard fumbling near the end of the game, but thankfully the Patriot hating Gods started a downpour that lasted the exact length of the Patriots' final possession.
Jordan Cameron: 13-7-11-12-5 (48), Davone Bess: 10-8-10-6-5 (39), Greg Little: 10-12-8-2-5 (37), Josh Gordon: dnp-dnp-19-9-6 (34), Chris Ogbonnaya: 3-3-5-5-2 (18), Travis Benjamin: 8-1-0-1-1 (11), Bobby Rainey: 0-0-1-2-1 (4), Gary Barnidge: 1-0-0-1-1 (3), Tori Gurley: 2-1-dnp-dnp-dnp (3), Willis McGahee: dnp-dnp-0-0-2 (2)
New, yet old, quarterback Brandon Weeden doesn’t have the quick judgment and release of Brian Hoyer, so he might not throw quite as often, as seen in Thursday night’s game when he only threw the ball 24 times while Willis McGahee ran the ball 26 times. McGahee won’t have as much luck against better run defenses and it’s not like he had a ton of luck against the Bills with a 2.8 yard per carry pace. But even if Weeden doesn’t throw the ball as often as Hoyer, he did show nice accuracy against the Bills as he went 5 for 7 in passes aimed over 10 yards. He also watched as his receivers dropped three passes. Don’t count him out just yet.
Demaryius Thomas: 11-6-11-10-6 (44), Eric Decker: 7-13-8-7-8 (43), Wes Welker: 11-8-8-9-6 (42), Julius Thomas: 7-9-4-4-12 (36), Knowshon Moreno: 3-3-2-1-5 (14), Ronnie Hillman: 2-0-1-3-4 (10), Andre Caldwell: 1-1-0-2-0 (4), Virgil Green: 0-1-2-1-0 (4), Montee Ball: 0-2-0-0-0 (2), Jacob Tamme: 0-0-1-0-0 (1)
Demaryius Thomas leads all Broncos receivers with 34 receptions for 450 yards, but was left out of most of the fun against Dallas last week. Even with Peyton Manning putting up inhuman numbers, there is always a very good chance someone will be left out, but if you look at the overall numbers, Peyton spreads the ball around perfectly. You just keep plugging them in and reaping the benefits. And if you noticed, Demaryius Thomas was Peyton’s go-to guy when he was moving the ball down field to tie the game late.
Knowshon Moreno continues to impress and hold off his competitors at the same time. In a game that was close to the end, he saw 52 snaps to Ronnie Hillman’s 23 and Montee Ball’s six. He finished the game with 19 carries for 93 yards and a rushing touchdown while catching all five of his targets for 57 yards. Moreno is still just 26 and if he keeps this up he might just keep this job for a while.
Andre Johnson: 16-13-6-12-10 (57), Owen Daniels: 7-5-9-11-9 (41), DeAndre Hopkins: 6-13-7-3-4 (33), Arian Foster: 8-4-2-8-5 (27), Garrett Graham: 5-5-0-6-5 (21), Ben Tate: 2-4-4-1-2 (13), Keshawn Martin: 0-2-3-6-1 (12), DeVier Posey: 0-0-4-dnp-2 (6), Greg Jones: 0-0-0-1-1 (2), Lestar Jean: 0-1-dnp-dnp-dnp (1), Ryan Griffin: 0-0-0-1-0 (1)
Matt Schaub’s poor stretch of games has hurt his pass catchers some, but when you look at the overall numbers there have been plenty of fantasy points for the taking. Actually, the more inefficient Schaub is, the more often he’ll need to make up ground and try to score quickly. This is bad for Schaub, but for the most part it has been okay for the rest of the offensive players.
Next week they get the Rams, which should give all players involved a confidence boost.
Reggie Wayne: 8-8-7-11-9 (43), T.Y. Hilton: 5-12-4-9-6 (36), Darrius Heyward-Bey: 4-5-5-6-6 (26), Coby Fleener: 1-8-2-7-3 (21), Trent Richardson: 6-5-3-1-1 (16), Ahmad Bradshaw: 1-3-4-dnp-dnp (8), Stanley Havili: 0-2-1-2-dnp (5), Donald Brown: 0-0-1-2-2 (5), Griff Whalen: 0-3-0-dnp-dnp (3), Dominique Jones: 0-2-0-1-0 (3)
The Colts continue to the run the ball and rank 6th overall in rushing attempts and 22nd in pass attempts. This leaves a shaky foundation for Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener and T.Y. Hilton in fantasy. And the fact that they sit in first place in their division with a 4-1 record shows that they aren’t likely to change that run to pass ratio soon.
What would help though would be for Hilton to see more snaps than the obviously inferior Darrius Heyward-Bey. On the season he has 40 less snaps than Heyward-Bey, but 10 less targets, seven less receptions, 207 less yards and two less touchdowns. Maybe, just maybe, Hilton should be on the field more often than DHB.
Trent Richardson continues to be a disappointment, but there was a little glimmer of hope while the Colts were trying to salt the game away where he showed some life. I may be grasping at straws here.
Cecil Shorts: 11-14-15-12-10 (62), Ace Sanders: 9-7-3-8-1 (28), Clay Harbor: 1-4-1-3-5 (14), Maurice Jones-Drew: 2-1-5-1-3 (12), Stephen Burton: 0-3-9-dnp-dnp (12), Justin Blackmon: dnp-dnp-dnp-dnp-9 (9), Allen Reisner: 5-2-1-1-0 (9), Justin Forsett: 5-1-0-2-0 (8), Jordan Todman: 4-2-0-0-0 (6), Jeremy Ebert: dnp-dnp-dnp-3-2 (5), Will Ta'ufo'ou: 1-2-1-0-1 (5), Mike Brown: 3-dnp-dnp-dnp-dnp (3), D.J. Williams: 0-0-1-dnp-1 (2), Denard Robinson: 0-0-0-1-0 (1)
The Jaguars are so awful that they are good in fantasy. And by good I mean, not awful. And by Jaguars, I mean Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. With so many garbage time hours to fill with passes, Shorts and Blackmon should be able to continue being useful, especially with Blaine Gabbert hurt and Chad Henne in at quarterback.
Maurice Jones-Drew is a shell of his former self. Two seasons ago he was on just as bad a team and could take on stacked fronts and drag defenders into the end zone, but those days are over. If his 86 yards on 19 touches makes anyone within internet distance think he has some juice left, trade him!