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Targets and Touches

Week 2 NFC Targets and Touches

by Graham Barfield
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

As will become routine every week, the AFC Target and Touch Report will come out one day before the NFC. You can also head here to access my goals for this weekly column, if you missed it.


I'll caution readers for at least for the first few weeks of the season that we're dealing with incredibly small samples inside of an already small-sample sized sport. For example, Greg Olsen was tied for fourth in targets on the Panthers in Week 1. There is no reason to overreact to that data point. Without Kelvin Benjamin, we know that Olsen is going to be the focal point of the Panthers' attack this season.


With that short disclaimer aside, let's get to it.


Arizona Cardinals


Targets: Larry Fitzgerald 8, John Brown 7, Darren Fells 5, Andre Ellington 3, J.J. Nelson 3, David Johnson 2, Michael Floyd, Jaron Brown, and Chris Johnson (1)


RB Touches: Andre Ellington (12 attempts, 1 catch) 13, Chris Johnson (10 att.), David Johnson (1 catch)


Red zone Targets: John Brown, Darren Fells, Andre Ellington (1)


Red zone Carries: Andre Ellington 2


CBs Thrown At: Jerraud Powers 12 (7-111), Tyrann Mathieu 5 (3-31-1), Patrick Peterson 5 (1-30)


Analysis: With Andre Ellington (knee – PCL) likely out Week 2, David Johnson and Chris Johnson will split touches. David Johnson certainly has more long-term upside, but I’m very interested to see how Bruce Arians uses both Johnson and CJ?K against Chicago. John Brown started hot in the first half against the Saints with 4-46-1 on 5 targets, but only saw 2 targets after halftime. Per Rotoworld’s Rich Hribar, in the last 16 games Carson Palmer has started Larry Fitzgerald has 87 receptions for 1,080 yards and eight touchdowns on 123 targets.


Atlanta Falcons


Targets: Julio Jones 11, Roddy White 8, Devonta Freeman and Leonard Hankerson (4), Jacob Tamme 3, Tevin Coleman 2


RB Touches: Tevin Coleman (20 att.) and Devonta Freeman (10 att., 3 catches) 13


Red zone Targets: Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Devonta Freeman (1)


Red zone Carries: Devonta Freeman 3 and Tevin Coleman 1


CBs Thrown At: Phillip Adams 5 (3-30), Desmond Trufant 4 (2-40), Robert Alford 3 (2-31)


Analysis: Tevin Coleman saw more snaps (45:28) and more touches (20:13) than Devonta Freeman in Week 1. I wouldn’t put it past Coleman to make Freeman a rotational, change-of-pace RB by Week 9. But, Devonta Freeman had four red zone touches to Coleman’s 1 against the Eagles, which is something I will have a close eye on over the coming weeks.


Carolina Panthers


Targets: Ted Ginn 7, Jerricho Cotchery 6, Jonathan Stewart 4, Corey Brown and Greg Olsen (3), Devin Funchess 2


RB Touches: Jonathan Stewart (18 att., 4 catches) 22


Red zone Targets: Jerricho Cotchery 2, Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn (1)


Red zone Carries: Jonathan Stewart 4 and Cam Newton 2


CBs Thrown At: Bene Benwikere 12 (8-47), Josh Norman 9 (3-15-1), Charles Tillman 3 (1-27)


Analysis: When Ted Ginn and Jerricho Cotchery lead your team in targets in a game, you know you have a problem at wide receiver. Joking aside, the Panthers need rookie Devin Funchess to acclimate to the offense fairly quickly. Greg Olsen will see more than three targets per-game this year, so I’m willing to cast off his Week 1 performance as just as an aberration.


Chicago Bears


Targets: Alshon Jeffery 11, Matt Forte 8, Martellus Bennett 7, Eddie Royal 5


RB Touches: Matt Forte (24 att., 5 catches) 29


Red zone Targets: Matt Forte 4, Alshon Jeffery 3, Eddie Royal 2


Red zone Carries: Matt Forte 4


CBs Thrown At: Alan Ball 5 (4-51-2), Kyle Fuller 4 (2-46), Sherrick McManis 3 (3-19-1)


Analysis: The Bears’ targets and touches breakdown for the opening game is as straightforward as an offense can be. Jeffery/Forte/Bennett accounted for 72.2% of Chicago's Week 1 targets. I’m not betting on Matt Forte seeing nearly 30 touches/game every week, but I do love seeing eight Week 1 targets including four inside of the 20-yard line for the 29-year-old Forte.


Dallas Cowboys


Targets: Jason Witten and Lance Dunbar (9), Terrance Williams 8, Dez Bryant 7, Cole Beasley 6, Joseph Randle 3, Gavin Escobar 2, Darren McFadden 1


RB Touches: Joseph Randle (16 att., 3 catches) 19, Lance Dunbar (9 catches), Darren McFadden (6 att., 1 catch) 7


Red zone Targets: Dez Bryant and Jason Witten (3), Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, and Terrance Williams (2), Gavin Escobar 1


Red zone Carries: Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden (1)


CBs Thrown At: Tyler Patmon 7 (3-32), Brandon Carr 6 (3-13), Morris Claiborne 5 (3-33)


Analysis: Obviously Dez Bryant’s foot injury is a massive blow for Dallas’ offense to absorb for the next 6-8 weeks and possibly longer. Dallas loves to slow down the offensive pace in games and really grind the clock; the Cowboys had the slowest offensive pace in 2014 and were the third slowest team in terms of seconds/play Week 1.


They are going to be hard-pressed to grind clock without Dez Bryant’s drive-sustaining ability. I’m interested to see how the Cowboys’ scheme in Week 2 against Philadelphia but I’m expecting Romo to throw more often which helps elevate the per-game target floor of Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, Lance Dunbar and possibly Terrance Williams.


Detroit Lions


Targets: Golden Tate 8, Eric Ebron 5, Ameer Abdullah and Calvin Johnson (4), Theo Riddick and Joique Bell (2)


RB Touches: Ameer Abdullah (7 att., 4 catches) 11, Joique Bell (6 att., 2 catches) 8, Theo Riddick (2 catches)


Red zone Targets: Eric Ebron 1


Red zone Carries: None


CBs Thrown At: Rashean Mathis 11 (9-85), Darius Slay 4 (3-50), Josh Wilson 3 (3-37)


Analysis: Detroit only ran 47 offensive plays in Week 1 and they had a bit of an odd offensive game-script. They were up 21-10 at the half and only scored 7 more points the rest of the game, so I’m alright with writing off Detroit’s opening game as “just one of those weird weeks” for the Lions passing offense. Though, it's something I will have my eye on this week when Detriot plays Minnesota on the road.


One thing I’m not willing to write off is Ameer Abdullah. He out-snapped Joique Bell (21:18) and out-touched him (11:8) in his first professional game. Bell will still have a role, but I’m already clamoring for the day when Abdullah sees 60-plus% of the touches as opposed to 52.4%.


Green Bay Packers


Targets: Davante Adams 8, Randall Cobb 5, James Jones 4, Richard Rodgers and Eddie Lacy (3)


RB Touches: Eddie Lacy (19 att., 2 catches) 21 and James Starks (2 att.)


Red zone Targets: James Jones and Davante Adams (2), Eddie Lacy and Randall Cobb (1)


Red zone Carries: Eddie Lacy 4


CBs Thrown At: Sam Shields 9 (7-105), Damarious Randall 6 (1-24), Casey Hayward 3 (1-5)


Analysis: Green Bay picked up right where they left off in 2014: as a hyper-efficient offense. They ran just 53 offensive plays and threw up four TDs. We've just become numb to Aaron Rodgers' stellar play. We expect it from him every week. James Jones won’t score 2 TDs on four targets every week, but I don’t think it’s absurd to think that he’s a big part of the Packers’ solution to make up for Jordy Nelson’s lost red zone production.


Minnesota Vikings


Targets: Mike Wallace and Kyle Rudolph (7), Jarius Wright 4, Charles Johnson and Adrian Peterson (3), Jerick McKinnon 2


RB Touches: Adrian Peterson (10 att., 3 catches) 13 and Jerick McKinnon (3 att., 2 catches)


Red zone Targets:  Jarius Wright 1


Red zone Carries: None


CBs Thrown At: Xavier Rhodes 6 (4-38) and Terrance Newman 4 (3-20)


Analysis: Minnesota was the only team to score fewer than 7 points in Week 1 and only the Vikings and the Jaguars scored single-digit points in their season opener. Teddy Bridgewater was sacked five times in San Francisco and the offense as a whole averaged just 4.6 yards per play. Minnesota’s offense is seemingly primed for a leap-forward soon, but I’ll be monitoring the Vikes’ closely in the coming weeks.


New Orleans Saints


Targets: Mark Ingram 9, Brandin Cooks 8, Brandon Coleman and Marques Colston (7), Khiry Robinson 6, Ben Watson 5


RB Touches: Mark Ingram (9 att., 8 catches) 17 and Khiry Robinson (8 att., 5 catches) 13


Red zone Targets: Mark Ingram 2, Brandon Coleman, Khiry Robinson, and Brandin Cooks (1)


Red zone Carries: Mark Ingram 2


CBs Thrown At: Damian Swann 8 (6-90), Brandon Browner 6 (3-65), Delvin Breaux 4 (3-26)


Analysis: Saints’ RBs were targeted 15 times in Week 1, accounting for 31.3% of team targets. That’s great news for C.J. Spiller’s role when he’s infused into the offense (hopefully) this week.


New York Giants


Targets: Odell Beckham 8, Preston Parker 6, Shane Vereen and Rueben Randle (5), Daniel Fells and Larry Donnell (4), Rashad Jennings 1


RB Touches: Rashad Jennings (13 att.), Shane Vereen (3 att., 4 catches) 7, Andre Williams (6 att.)


Red zone Targets: Odell Beckham 2, Larry Donnell and Preston Parker (1)


Red zone Carries: Rashad Jennings 4 and Andre Williams 2


CBs Thrown At: Prince Amukamara 10 (7-52), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 6 (5-75), Trumaine McBride 5 (3-35)


Analysis: There’s not much to analyze here on the Giants’ offense after Week 1, outside of their horrendous clock management in the fourth quarter in their SNF matchup with the Cowboys. There is one thing we can say for certainty: there’s no reason to trust Rueben Randle. He continually doesn’t produce in seemingly good matchups.


Philadelphia Eagles


Targets: Jordan Matthews 13, Darren Sproles 9, Zach Ertz 8, DeMarco Murray 5, Riley Cooper and Ryan Mathews (4), Miles Austin and Josh Huff (3), Nelson Agholor 2, Brent Celek 1


RB Touches: DeMarco Murray (8 att., 4 catches) 12, Darren Sproles (5 att., 7 catches) 12, Ryan Mathews (3 att., 3 catches) 12


Red zone Targets: Jordan Matthews and DeMarco Murray (2), Zach Ertz 1


Red zone Carries: DeMarco Murray 3 and Ryan Mathews 1


CBs Thrown At: Byron Maxwell 10 (9-154-1) and Nolan Carroll 4 (3-48)


Analysis: Jordan Matthews was the focal point of the Eagles attack in Week 1, seeing 13 targets out of the slot. Matthews ran 46 of his 47 routes from the slot on MNF, which is a role I see no reason for the Eagles’ to mess with. If Sam Bradford continues to funnel the passing offense through Matthews, he may be a dark horse to finish inside of the top-5 leaders in targets this season. Nelson Agholor only saw two targets but was on the field for 59 of Philly’s 74 offensive snaps.


Philadelphia was extremely pass-heavy (76.5%) due to game-script in Week 1 and we all know about their offensive pace. Chip Kelly doesn’t take time to rotate players in and out when his offense is in hyper-speed, so I wouldn’t put too much weight into the Eagles’ backfield split after just one game. It's definitely something I will be watching very closely in Week 2.


San Francisco 49ers


Targets: Vernon Davis 6, Anquan Boldin 5, Garrett Celek 4, Torrey Smith 3, Carlos Hyde 2, Reggie Bush 1


RB Touches: Carlos Hyde (26 att., 2 catches) and Reggie Bush (2 att.)


Red zone Targets: Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin, Carlos Hyde, Torrey Smith, and Reggie Bush (1)


Red zone Carries: Carlos Hyde 5


CBs Thrown At: Tramaine Brock 6 (5-39) and Kenneth Acker 4 (3-24)


Analysis: I’d bet Carlos Hyde will wind up being one of my biggest “misses” of the offseason. He shredded a bad Vikings’ run defense for 26-168-2 (6.5 YPC) and an absurd 61.5% of Hyde’s rushes went for five or more yards. Vernon Davis saw 23.1% of the Niners’ targets in Week 1 after seeing only 12.5% of team targets in 2014.


Seattle Seahawks


Targets: Jermaine Kearse 10, Doug Baldwin 9, Jimmy Graham 8, Marshawn Lynch 7, Tyler Lockett 4, Fred Jackson and Chris Matthews 1


RB Touches: Marshawn Lynch (18 att., 5 catches) 23 and Fred Jackson (3 att., 1 catch) 4


Red zone Targets: Jimmy Graham 4, Jermaine Kearse 3, Marshawn Lynch 2


Red zone Carries: Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson (1)


CBs Thrown At: Richard Sherman 4 (2-29) and Cary Williams 3 (3-36)


Analysis: I’ll leave you with this after Seattle’s Week 1: Jimmy Graham seeing eight total targets and four red zone targets bodes extremely well for not only his weekly floor, but Russell Wilson’s.


St. Louis Rams


Targets: Benny Cunningham 7, Jared Cook 6, Tavon Austin, 5, Stedman Bailey 4, Kenny Britt 3, Lance Kendricks 2


RB Touches: Benny Cunningham (16 att., 4 catches) 20, Tavon Austin (4 att.), Isaiah Pead (2 att.)


Red zone Targets: Tavon Austin 1


Red zone Carries: Benny Cunningham 2 and Tavon Austin 1


CBs Thrown At: Marcus Roberson 8 (5-38), Janoris Jenkins 7 (5-38), Lamarcus Joyner 4 (4-49)


Analysis: With Todd Gurley (knee), Tre Mason (hamstring), and Brian Quick (shoulder) out of the lineup in Week 1, there isn’t much actionable data to parse through here. Tre Mason returned to practice in full for Week 2 on Wednesday.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Targets: Vincent Jackson 11, Austin Seferian-Jenkins 7, Charles Sims 5, Louis Murphy 3, Doug Martin 1


RB Touches: Doug Martin (11 att., 1 catch) 12, and Charles Sims (5 att., 2 catches) 7


Red zone Targets: Vincent Jackson 4, Austin Seferian-Jenkins 1


Red zone Carries: Doug Martin 1


CBs Thrown At: Alterraun Verner 3 (2-29) and Johnthan Banks 2 (2-24-1)


Analysis: Doug Martin had a favorable game-script to start the game – he saw eight carries in the first quarter – but only had four more totes in the final three quarters. With Mike Evans (hamstring) looking ready to return in Week 2, I’m betting Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Vincent Jackson’s workload diminishes after a garbage-time-filled Week 1. I'm very interested to see how the Bucs' target split shakes out over the next couple of weeks.


Washington Redskins 


Targets: Jordan Reed 11, Pierre Garcon 8, Andre Roberts 4, DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder 1


RB Touches: Alfred Morris (25 att.) and Matt Jones (6 att.)


Red zone Targets: Jordan Reed 2


Red zone Carries: Alfred Morris 2


CBs Thrown At: David Amerson 5 (3-28-1), Justin Rogers 4 (3-18), DeAngelo Hall 4 (2-24), Chris Culliver 3 (2-3)


Analysis: DeSean Jackson is dealing with a multi-week hamstring strain, leaving Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed as Kirk Cousins’ main targets for the next 3-4 weeks. Jordan Reed will flirt with mid-TE1 numbers for as long he stays healthy. Those touting Matt Jones’ sleeper status this offseason were shutdown quickly after Week 1 – Alfred Morris went for 25-121-0 (4.8 YPC) against a stout Miami front-seven.