Week 8 Target Report: Watkins leading an impressive rookie class
The Target Report is primarily concerned with how many times and where on the field receivers are thrown the ball. However, a receiver can’t get a target without running a route, and it’s not going to be a great target if he doesn’t get himself open. Yards per route run, therefore, is a great stat when examining who gets open most often and does damage to the defense when given the chance.
Sammy Watkins entered his rookie season with high expectations, but struggled out of the gate, catching 17 passes for 197 yards in his first four games. Of course, that coincided with EJ Manuel’s run as Buffalo’s starting quarterback. Manuel was a woefully inefficient quarterback, getting just 6.4 yards per attempt. Unsurprisingly, Watkins’ production suffered. He had 1.31 yards per route run while Manuel was under center, which tied him with Kendall Wright and Jarius Wright for 64th in the league. Luckily for Watkins and his fantasy owners, the team made the switch to Orton, and the Buffalo passing game improved dramatically.
In four games with Orton as the starter, Watkins has 21 receptions for 393 yards and three touchdowns. He’s averaging 2.41 yards per route run with Orton. If that were his rate for the entire season, he’d rank 13th in the NFL, sandwiched in between Dez Bryant and Julio Jones. That’s pretty good company.
We may very well look back on this class of receivers as one of the best to ever enter the league. Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks and Mike Evans have been familiar to fantasy owners all season long, while Allen Robinson, Davante Adams, Martavis Bryant, John Brown and Donte Moncrief have come on in recent weeks. Jordan Matthews and Taylor Gabriel have each had their moments, and Cody Latimer, who was active for his first game last week, projects as a big-time weapon in the future. In fact, the 2014 class of receivers leads all draft classes with 38 receiving touchdowns this season. If and when we look back at this group as the best to enter the league together, we will almost certainly have Watkins at the top of the list.
And with that, let’s get to the Week 8 Target Report. As always, target numbers include plays negated by penalty.
Larry Fitzgerald – 56 targets, 9 red-zone targets, 91 percent of snaps played this season, 93 percent of snaps played last week
John Brown – 49, 5, 56, 63
Andre Ellington – 47, 4, 69, 76
Michael Floyd – 44, 3, 87, 79
John Carlson – 28, 3, 87, 80
Stepfan Taylor – 9, 3, 14, 7
Carson Palmer sure has brought the deep ball back to the Arizona offense. He hit on fewer than 50 percent of his 42 pass attempts, but he hooked up with Fitzgerald on an 80-yard touchdown and Brown on a 75-yarder last week. The passing attack was neutered without Palmer and his touch on downfield passes, but now that his shoulder is fully healthy, this offense once again has teeth. Floyd’s shutout last week was a huge letdown in what should have been a great matchup, but Palmer’s touch on deep passes helps him more than anyone. The Cardinals do have a few tough matchups in the next month, visiting the Cowboys and Seahawks in November, while also playing host to the Lions.
Julio Jones – 86 targets, 4 red-zone targets, 89 percent of snaps played this season, 77 percent of snaps played last week
Roddy White – 59, 5, 94, 85
Devin Hester – 29, 1, 41, 18
Levine Toilolo – 27, 2, 88, 77
Devonta Freeman – 24, 4, 18, 12
Harry Douglas – 22, 1, 66, 47
Jacquizz Rodgers – 18, 2, 29, 25
Steven Jackson – 16, 1, 40, 50
Antone Smith – 14, 1, 14, 13
The Falcons ran nine plays in the red zone in their incomprehensible loss to the Lions last week. Exactly one of those resulted in a pass to Jones. He didn’t catch it, but he did draw pass interference in the end zone. The fact that he has just four red-zone targets is embarrassing and a further indictment of the Atlanta coaching staff. This is a team that is 26th in the league in rushing offense, and yet it has given Steven Jackson three times the red-zone opportunities than it has its best player. The Falcons deserve to be 2-6.
Steve Smith – 75 targets, 11 red-zone targets, 74 percent of snaps played this season, 85 percent of snaps played last week
Torrey Smith – 45, 5, 76, 66
Justin Forsett – 35 3, 60, 69
Owen Daniels – 34, 8, 70, N/A
Lorenzo Taliaferro – 6, 0, 18, 26
Forsett owners, do not be discouraged. Your guy still had 17 carries and five targets last week to Taliaferro’s seven and three. It was doubtlessly frustrating to see Taliaferro get in the end zone twice, but that’s going to happen every now and again. There’s nothing more to see here.
Even after catching just three of his nine targets for 35 yards last week, Steve Smith is averaging 10.43 yards per target and 2.73 yards per route run. His production has predictably slowed from the torrid pace he was on through the first month of the season, but he remains a high-end WR2 for the rest of the year.
Sammy Watkins – 69 targets, 7 red-zone targets, 97 percent of snaps played this season, 96 percent of snaps played last week
Robert Woods – 53, 3, 85, 33
Fred Jackson – 41, 4, 53, N/A
Scott Chandler – 35, 6, 68, 55
Anthony Dixon – 3, 0, 21, 75
Bryce Brown – 3, 1, 25, 25
The only stat not included in the paean above to Watkins is his yards per target with Orton at the helm. He’s averaging a ridiculous 11.23 yards per target in his last four games. Anything better than 8.5 is good. Watkins is in the elite range in this short stretch with Orton starting. Conversely, the Clemson product averaged just 6.16 yards per target with EJ Manuel under center. His owner may not be selling, but don’t assume Watkins is going to slow down over the second half of the season. Orton has been a revelation for the rookie.
Kelvin Benjamin – 73 targets, 9 red-zone targets, 84 percent of snaps played this season, 72 percent of snaps played last week
Greg Olsen – 65, 10, 94, 100
Jerricho Cotchery – 43, 1, 80, 83
Jason Avant – 36, 4, 57, 53
Jonathan Stewart – 15, 1, 63, 92
DeAngelo Williams – 2, 0, 34, N/A
At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, it was obvious that Benjamin was going to be a tough cover in the red zone. That he has been so good on deep balls in his rookie year has been a bit of a surprise, and portends bigger things to come. He’s tied for fourth in the league with 18 targets that have traveled at least 20 yards in the air. Benjamin has hauled in seven of those for 218 yards and three touchdowns. He's just the sixth receiver with double-digit deep and red-zone targets this season, joining Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson, Steve Smith and Terrance Williams. That’s pretty good company. Williams will return from a knee injury this week, meaning he and Jonathan Stewart will share the backfield for the first time since Week 1.
Matt Forte – 73 targets, 10 red-zone targets, 91 percent of snaps played this season, 81 percent of snaps played last week
Alshon Jeffery – 69, 8, 87, 99
Brandon Marshall – 68, 16, 91, 90
Martellus Bennett – 67, 17, 88, 78
Santonio Holmes – 12, 1, 43, 54
In real life, this team is a total mess. The Bears have lost four of their last five games, and the offense has been wildly inconsistent. From a fantasy standpoint, however, everything is just fine and dandy. Forte is among the most valuable fantasy commodities in the league. Jay Cutler has the eighth-most points per game among quarterbacks in standard-scoring leagues. Bennett checks in fourth among tight ends, trailing only Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas. Surprisingly, it’s the receivers who are struggling, at least compared with preseason expectations. Jeffery ranks 15th at the position in points per game, while Marshall is a lowly 22nd. I wouldn’t lose much faith in either receiver, though. The line has done a good job protecting Cutler, and this offense still has all the pieces to be among the best in the league. Their Week 9 bye comes at a perfect time. I’d expect a sharper unit to take the field in 10 days.
Mohamed Sanu – 65 targets, 6 red-zone targets, 93 percent of snaps played this season, 93 percent of snaps played last week
Jermaine Gresham – 37, 6, 94, 100
Giovani Bernard – 34, 2, 69, 53
A.J. Green – 28, 4, 64, N/A
Brandon Tate – 21, 2, 65, 72
Jeremy Hill – 15, 0, 31, 46
The Bengals are absolutely desperate to get Green back from a toe injury, something that finally looks like a realistic possibility this week. The offense has struggled as a whole in his stead, though Mohamed Sanu has enjoyed plenty of individual success. He caught five passes for 125 yards last week, and now has 18 receptions for 299 yards and a touchdown in the three games Green has missed. The run game, however, has suffered without the threat Green presents on the outside. When he returns, expect an uptick in production from Bernard, whose hip injury does not appear serious.
Andrew Hawkins – 62 targets, 5 red-zone targets, 71 percent of snaps played this season, 75 percent of snaps played last week
Miles Austin – 41, 6, 64, 70
Taylor Gabriel – 35, 6, 57, 68
Jordan Cameron – 33, 4, 73, 30
Terrance West – 7, 3, 38, 39
Ben Tate – 5, 0, 54, 55
Isaiah Crowell – 5, 0, 27, 5
On Sunday Cameron suffered his third concussion in three years, and that, understandably, has the Browns worried. It’s still early, but it would be a surprise if he suited up this week. Hawkins dominated the targets in his absence a week ago, and ended up catching seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Cameron had five targets, while Gabriel was second among Cleveland receivers with three. Hawkins would continue to be a target monster if Cameron misses time. With upcoming games against the Buccaneers and Texans, who have allowed the most and sixth-most fantasy points per game to receivers, respectively, Hawkins could be a WR2 over the next few weeks.
Dez Bryant – 75 targets, 7 red-zone targets, 85 percent of snaps played this season, 92 percent of snaps played last week
Jason Witten – 42, 2, 100, 100
Terrance Williams – 40, 10, 79, 88
DeMarco Murray – 31, 2, 76, 66
Cole Beasley – 23, 2, 44, 43
Gavin Escobar – 9, 4, 21, 9
Needless to say, all the targets in the world won’t help the Cowboys’ pass-catchers if those passes are coming from Brandon Weeden rather than Tony Romo. This offense desperately needs Romo’s back to be in good shape. In the meantime, hopefully they realize how profitable it is for them to get Bryant the ball in the red zone. He has caught four of his seven red-zone targets this season.
Demaryius Thomas – 81 targets, 16 red-zone targets, 90 percent of snaps played this season, 91 percent of snaps played last week
Emmanuel Sanders – 65, 10, 93, 88
Julius Thomas – 42, 12, 91, 87
Wes Welker – 23, 1, 71, 78
Ronnie Hillman – 17, 3, 55, 76
Montee Ball – 10, 2, 68, N/A
Juwan Thompson – 2, 0, 12, 18
The problems with “Julius Thomas as elite tight end” were plain to see against the Chargers last week. Thomas caught two of his five targets for 23 yards, and did not get into the end zone. While he’s one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets in the red zone, he simply does not get a ton of looks when the Broncos are outside their opponent’s 20-yard line. He has more than five targets in just three games this year, and has had 30 yards or fewer four times. If he doesn’t get in the end zone, he doesn’t have a good fantasy game. Thomas is now averaging just 1.64 yards per route run, which ranks 17th among tight ends. The sell-high window remains open, and Thomas owners should see what they can get before it slams shut.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Demaryius Thomas leads all receivers with 388 yards after catch. He also leads all receivers with at least 20 receptions with 8.3 yards after catch per reception.
Golden Tate – 85 targets, 6 red-zone targets, 83 percent of snaps played this season, 89 percent of snaps played last week
Calvin Johnson – 37, 5, 70, N/A
Reggie Bush – 35, 6, 43, N/A
Joique Bell – 28, 4, 57, 61
Corey Fuller – 25, 2, 53, 89
Eric Ebron – 21, 4, 45, N/A
Jeremy Ross – 20, 0, 70, 84
Theo Riddick – 18, 4, 15, 41
The Lions head into their bye week at 6-2 after pulling out two unlikely come-from-behind wins over the Saints and Falcons. Tate has been a life-saver for this team, especially with Johnson missing so much time. In the last five games, he has 39 catches on 60 targets for 599 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson was nearly able to play last week, and should be a full go when the Lions return in Week 10. Tate still projects as a WR2 for the rest of the season, but his stats simply have to come down with a healthy Johnson on the field. Now’s the time to see what sort of price he commands on the open market. Riddick is a hot commodity on the waiver wire this week, but Bush, too, should be able to come back from his ankle injury in Week 10. The Lions have not yet shown any willingness to play Riddick over Bush when both are healthy.
Green Bay Packers
Jordy Nelson – 84 targets, 18 red-zone targets, 93 percent of snaps played this season, 93 percent of snaps played last week
Randall Cobb – 56, 13, 89, 93
Davante Adams – 36, 7, 67, 96
Eddie Lacy – 25, 4, 63, 75
Andrew Quarless – 23 5, 60, 46
James Starks – 14, 0, 28, 21
Richard Rodgers – 11, 2, 41, 50
The biggest development from the Packers’ loss to the Saints last week wasn’t that the team fell apart in the second half or that Nelson got shut down for the first time all season. The Packers are not infallible, and the best players in the league are going to struggle from time to time. No, it was that Lacy led the team with eight catches, racking up 123 yards through the air. It wasn’t purely the result of checkdowns with the Saints protecting a big lead late, either. Four of Lacy’s eight receptions came when the game was still competitive. If this has lasting power, Lacy would jump right back into the RB1 class. I wish I could say that Rodgers’ increasing snap percentage over the last two games was interesting, but I’m not believing a Green Bay tight end will be relevant to fantasy owners until I see it. He did catch four passes for 58 yards, though. With Dwayne Allen, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates and Jordan Reed all on byes in Week 10, Rodgers could be a sneaky plug-and-play in two weeks.
Andre Johnson – 82 targets, 13 red-zone targets, 91 percent of snaps played this season, 93 percent of snaps played last week
DeAndre Hopkins – 57, 5, 94, 90
Arian Foster – 33, 5, 76, 65
Garrett Graham – 19, 1, 77, 98
Alfred Blue – 6, 1, 25, 30
Foster owners always have to be concerned about a potential injury, but don’t be too worried about Blue’s 15 touches last week. Eleven of those touches came with the Texans up by at least three scores. He did a lot of the work on Houston’s final touchdown drive, but head coach Bill O’Brien reinserted Foster to punch the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard-line. If you don’t own Blue as the handcuff to Foster, you probably feel exposed, but there’s no real danger in Foster ceding meaningful touches to the rookie out of LSU. Foster is now second among all running backs in fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues, inching in front of Matt Forte after hitting paydirt three times last week.
T.Y. Hilton – 80 targets, 7 red-zone targets, 75 percent of snaps played this season, 98 percent of snaps played last week
Reggie Wayne – 61, 7, 83, N/A
Hakeem Nicks – 42, 9, 54, 91
Ahmad Bradshaw – 39, 11, 50, 73
Dwayne Allen – 35, 7, 70, 61
Coby Fleener – 35, 9, 63, 67
Trent Richardson – 26, 4, 48, N/A
Donte Moncrief – 24, 2, 22, 61
Let’s first take a moment to appreciate how great Hilton has been this year. Despite being seventh in the league in targets and third in routes run, Hilton’s rates are through the roof. He’s averaging 11.72 yards per target and 2.75 yards per route run this season. Moncrief made a big splash last week, and he could remain fantasy relevant, at least in the short term. Nicks is last in the league with 0.67 yards per route run. Despite getting nine red-zone targets, he has just two touchdowns. He’s done. With their bye looming in Week 10, the Colts could choose to sit Wayne again this week, thus giving him nearly a full month to rest his elbow injury. If that is the case, Moncrief, the rookie out of Ole Miss, could be a sneaky play this week.
Allen Robinson – 61 targets, 6 red-zone targets, 75 percent of snaps played this season, 89 percent of snaps played last week
Cecil Shorts – 49, 5, 81, 85
Allen Hurns – 44, 2, 77, 55
Clay Harbor – 28, 2, 88, 82
Marqise Lee – 21, 1, 45, 32
Denard Robinson – 14, 0, 38, 55
Toby Gerhart – 9, 1, 42, 23
Storm Johnson – 1, 0, 18, N/A
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s hard to get excited about anyone in this passing attack. The big play just isn’t in the arsenal. Allen Robinson, the team’s leading receiver, is averaging 7.55 yards per target and 1.76 yards per route run. If you’re betting on anyone in this offense, you’re essentially hoping for 10-plus targets and a catch rate of at least 75 percent, or the rare splash play. Those outcomes are always going to have long odds. Denard Robinson, however, has turned himself into a fantasy-relevant player with consecutive 100-yard games. Johnson was a healthy scratch last week, while Gerhart got just four carries. There’s only one running back in Jacksonville worth knowing, and it’s the former Michigan quarterback.
Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce – 39 targets, 7 red-zone targets, 53 percent of snaps played this season, 58 percent of snaps played last week
Dwayne Bowe – 38, 2, 82, 79
Donnie Avery – 22, 4, 72, N/A
Jamaal Charles – 20, 6, 59, 65
Knile Davis – 16, 4, 42, 33
Junior Hemingway – 14, 0, 37, 27
A.J. Jenkins – 10, 1, 36, 59
Here’s to hoping that Andy Reid is a habitual reader of the Target Report. If he is, maybe he’ll start using Kelce a bit more after seeing the following stats. Kelce is second among tight ends with 2.69 yards per route run. He trails only, Rob Gronkowski, who is pretty good. Kelce’s first among tight ends with 248 yards after catch, despite ranking 11th at the position in receptions. His 8.9 yards after catch per reception is tops in the league among all players with at least 20 receptions. Yes, more than Demaryius Thomas. And yet, Reid still insists on having him on the sidelines for two-fifths of the team’s plays. Andy, if you’re reading this, please change your ways. Kelce is a weapon that needs to be deployed far more often.
Mike Wallace – 61 targets, 11 red-zone targets, 73 percent of snaps played this season, 76 percent of snaps played last week
Brian Hartline – 38, 7, 88, 76
Charles Clay – 36, 7, 76, 80
Jarvis Landry – 34, 4, 52, 53
Lamar Miller – 27, 5, 60, 73
Over the last few weeks, we’ve explained why Landry’s snap percentage is increasing while Hartline’s is decreasing. Here’s one more for you: Hartline has just 0.90 yards per route run, which is third-worst in the league. Landry, meanwhile, is up at 1.82 yards per route run, rubbing elbows with Alshon Jeffery, Mike Evans and Larry Fitzgerald. Still, the only receiver worth trusting on this team is Wallace. Clay has been a non-factor this year, scoring fewer than four fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues in six of Miami’s seven games.
Cordarrelle Patterson – 49 targets, 2 red-zone targets, 78 percent of snaps played this season, 76 percent of snaps played last week
Greg Jennings – 48, 8, 86, 81
Jarius Wright – 38, 4, 57, 64
Matt Asiata – 30, 4, 48, 39
Jerick McKinnon – 29, 1, 43, 61
Chase Ford – 23, 2, 62, 71
Might there be a glimmer of hope for Patterson’s fantasy relevance this year? He had his best game of the season last week, catching six of 12 targets for 86 yards. Don’t come at me with the fact that he ran for a 67-yard touchdown Week 1. I want to see production that I can bank on, and that’s what Patterson showed the fantasy community last week. There was always the chance that things would get better for him with Teddy Bridgewater starting, and we saw the first signs of that notion last week. Patterson caught his only deep target, getting free for 28 yards down the right sideline. He didn’t drop any passes, and ran clean routes all through the route tree. There was always immense raw talent with Patterson. Last week may have been the start of him making good on that potential.
New England Patriots
Julian Edelman – 76 targets, 9 red-zone targets, 85 percent of snaps played this season, 60 percent of snaps played last week
Rob Gronkowski – 69, 10, 63, 53
Brandon LaFell – 51, 6, 73, 82
Shane Vereen – 42, 6, 51, 44
Danny Amendola – 20, 4, 41, 51
Tim Wright – 18, 4, 22, 29
Brandon Bolden – 4, 0, 7, 0
Jonas Gray – 0, 0, 30, 38
The Patriots offense has been clicking for four straight games. In those four games, LaFell has played more snaps than Edelman three times. While a fully healthy Gronkowski has been the main key to the offense’s rebirth, LaFell’s role cannot be overlooked. In his last five games, he has 26 catches for 415 yards and four touchdowns. The Patriots still don’t have a ton of speed on the outside, but what they do have is a future Hall of Fame quarterback who is still playing at a high level and a line that has coalesced into a strong unit in front of him. Brady has 1,286 yards and 14 touchdowns against zero interceptions in his last four games. He may not keep up that pace, but he is safely back among the regular starters at the quarterback position. LaFell and Gronk both stand to benefit. Meanwhile, Edelman retains value simply by virtue of being in this offense, but he should be considered a WR3 at this point.
New Orleans Saints
Jimmy Graham – 57 targets, 10 red-zone targets, 64 percent of snaps played this season, 62 percent of snaps played last week
Brandin Cooks – 53, 6, 76, 68
Marques Colston – 47, 5, 75, 78
Pierre Thomas – 30, 3, 39, N/A
Travaris Cadet – 28, 5, 17, 21
Kenny Stills – 25, 2, 55, 46
Mark Ingram – 10, 0, 41, 79
Khiry Robinson – 6, 0, 28, N/A
Graham didn’t look 100 percent last week after being hobbled by a shoulder injury, but he caught five of his six targets for 59 yards and a touchdown. The short week shouldn’t be a problem for him. Cooks out-targeted Colston, and had six receptions for 94 yards and a score. Cooks has also played a greater percentage of the team’s snaps this season. There’s no longer any mystery as to the identity of the Saints’ No. 1 receiver. With Mark Ingram steadying the offense last week, there is perhaps some growth for the entire unit on the horizon.
New York Giants
Rueben Randle – 60 targets, 12 red-zone targets, 90 percent of snaps played this season, 89 percent of snaps played last week
Larry Donnell – 42, 13, 78, 90
Preston Parker – 20, 1, 38, 81
Odell Beckham – 19, 6, 79, 100
Rashad Jennings – 14, 2, 59, N/A
Andre Williams – 11, 1, 40, 59
The Giants return from their Week 8 bye to take on a Colts defense that just got shredded by Ben Roethlisberger. With all the big-name receivers on bye this week, Randle and Beckham are solid plays for Week 9. It also sounds like Jennings won’t be ready to return from a knee injury, making Williams a low-end RB2. The Colts have struggled against good pass-catching backs, but that’s unfortunately not one of Williams’ strengths.
New York Jets
Eric Decker – 52 targets, 7 red-zone targets, 72 percent of snaps played this season, 89 percent of snaps played last week
Jeremy Kerley – 49, 6, 72, 74
Jace Amaro – 41, 5, 42, 64
Jeff Cumberland – 28, 7, 83, 68
Chris Ivory – 20, 4, 43, 46
Chris Johnson – 19, 3, 34, 19
Percy Harvin – 9, 0, 52, 52
Harvin played more than half the snaps in his Jets debut and was second on the team with nine targets. He also got four carries, running for 28 yards. Forget the actual results for a second and appreciate the fact that his 13 combined targets and carries were more than he got in any game with the Seahawks this year. The Jets already appear committed to basing at least part of their gameplan around Harvin’s unique skillset. While the quarterback play may be spotty, Harvin should continue to grow more and more comfortable in the Jets offense. He’s not the most polished route runner, so he needs set, designed plays for him to post useful fantasy numbers. The Jets, unlike the Seahawks, appear willing to do that.
James Jones – 57 targets, 6 red-zone targets, 72 percent of snaps played this season, 73 percent of snaps played last week
Andre Holmes – 44, 3, 59, 61
Mychal Rivera – 32, 0, 72, 78
Darren McFadden – 31, 1, 71, 66
Denarius Moore – 23, 1, 52, 30
Kenbrell Thompkins – 10, 0, 41, 56
Rivera isn’t anywhere near the fantasy radar, but he helps illustrate just how inept this offense is. He may not be in the class of Jimmy Graham or even Garrett Graham, but Rivera has been the starting tight end for the Raiders all season. He has yet to receive a red-zone target this season. Holmes came through for his fantasy owners again last week, caching five passes for 69 yards and a score. There’s plenty of WR3 juice here, but you need to find the right matchups. The Raiders visit the Seahawks this week. That is just about the exact opposite of the right matchup.
Jeremy Maclin – 78 targets, 8 red-zone targets, 88 percent of snaps played this season, 75 percent of snaps played last week
Jordan Matthews – 50, 7, 61, 70
Riley Cooper – 49, 6, 86, 78
Zach Ertz – 42, 5, 55, 51
LeSean McCoy – 27, 3, 72, 85
Darren Sproles – 25, 3, 32, N/A
Everything is about to get a whole lot better for this offense. Guard Evan Mathis and center Jason Kelce are expected back in the next couple of weeks, and that should really open things up, especially on the ground. If McCoy is still attainable in your league, now is the time to go and get him. There’s nothing wrong with making a low-ball offer for him at this point. Maclin put up another monster game last week, catching 12 of his 16 targets for 187 yards and two touchdowns. No quarterback throws a greater percentage of his passes at least 20 yards in the air than Nick Foles. Maclin and his fantasy owners are reaping the benefits.
Antonio Brown – 93 targets, 14 red-zone targets, 94 percent of snaps played this season, 99 percent of snaps played last week
Le’Veon Bell – 49, 6, 78, 78
Markus Wheaton – 48, 7, 75, 41
Heath Miller – 47, 8, 96, 100
Martavis Bryant – 12, 2, 36, 39
LeGarrette Blount – 8, 3, 19, 22
Brown leads the league in targets, receptions and touchdowns, and is second in yards, trailing only T.Y. Hilton. He has failed to reach double-digit fantasy points just once this year. He’s on the short list for first-half fantasy MVP, and things may only get better in the second half. Bryant’s emergence really opens up the field for the Pittsburgh offense. The one thing the team lacked was a true deep threat, and Bryant brings that to the table. He has been active in just the last two games, but already has two receptions of at least 35 yards. His presence makes the offense more dangerous as a whole, and that’s a great thing for Brown, Bell, Miller and Ben Roethlisberger. The only person whose stock takes a hit is Wheaton, as he will likely see fewer targets going forward.
San Diego Chargers
Keenan Allen – 65 targets, 9 red-zone targets, 96 percent of snaps played this season, 98 percent of snaps played last week
Antonio Gates – 52, 14, 67, 74
Malcom Floyd – 43, 6, 81, 87
Eddie Royal – 42, 3, 62, 79
Branden Oliver – 25, 6, 54, 81
Donald Brown – 18, 4, 46, N/A
Ladarius Green – 17, 4, 37, 32
Ryan Mathews – 4, 0, 32, N/A
As we stressed all last week, it was only a matter of time before Allen broke through and found the end zone. He did just that against the Broncos, catching nine passes for 73 yards and the score. He once again led the team in targets, getting 13 passes thrown his way. His owners likely stepped back from the ledge after last week, closing the inviting buy-low window. It will be very interesting to see what the Chargers do with their backfield when Mathews returns. Oliver has played great, and has to have at least a supporting role in the offense. Mathews could very well get back on the field this week, but Oliver remains the back to own in San Diego. Brown is a complete afterthought.
San Francisco 49ers
Anquan Boldin – 55 targets, 7 red-zone targets, 88 percent of snaps played this season, 84 percent of snaps played last week
Michael Crabtree – 53, 9, 73, 82
Steve Johnson – 32, 6, 30, 34
Vernon Davis – 26, 1, 77, 68
Brandon Lloyd – 22, 1, 45, 58
Carlos Hyde – 10, 4, 33, 31
Frank Gore – 8, 0, 58, 38
The 49ers had a bye last week, so they get the light treatment in this week’s Target Report. Three weeks ago, they blitzed their upcoming opponent, the Rams, with Colin Kaepernick throwing for 343 yards and three touchdowns. With six teams on bye this week, Boldin and Crabtree will likely be strong plays.
Doug Baldwin – 45 targets, 5 red-zone targets, 89 percent of snaps played this season, 95 percent of snaps played last week
Jermaine Kearse – 28, 4, 87, 92
Marshawn Lynch – 23, 5, 68, 66
Luke Willson – 14, 2, 56, 72
Cooper Helfert – 13, 3, 33, 23
Paul Richardson – 9, 1, 32, 69
Two weeks ago, Russell Wilson threw for 313 yards, 8.7 yards per attempt and two touchdowns in the Seahawks’ loss to the Rams. Last week, he had 199 yards, 6.2 yards per attempt, one touchdown and one interception in a win over the Panthers. Expect that sort of roller coaster ride from this passing game for the rest of the year. There just isn’t a top-flight receiver that can carry the offense from week to week, nor is Wilson a statistical juggernaut at quarterback. That means that Baldwin will be a WR3 at best, while Kearse and Richardson, as well as the tight ends, can be safely ignored in nearly all leagues and formats.
St. Louis Rams
Jared Cook – 50 targets, 5 red-zone targets, 75 percent of snaps played this season, 73 percent of snaps played last week
Brian Quick – 40, 3, 75, 21
Kenny Britt – 29, 1, 65, 79
Lance Kendricks – 22, 4, 61, 54
Zac Stacy – 20, 2, 38, 29
Benny Cunningham – 19, 4, 43, 35
Tavon Austin – 17, 0, 37, 63
Stedman Bailey – 8, 1, 18, 42
Tre Mason – 2, 1, 30, 35
Those big numbers you see in the final column for Britt, Austin and Bailey are a direct result of the season-ending shoulder injury Quick suffered last week. First and foremost, none of these receivers are a priority add in the wake of Quick’s injury. The increase in targets will be nice, but these are still all substandard fantasy receivers with the ceiling of a WR4/5. In fact, the one I’m most excited about is Bailey. We’ve seen Britt and Austin come up short with plenty of chances in the past. Bailey is the only one of the three who hasn’t had a real shot to prove himself in the league. I know what I’m getting out of Britt or Austin, and it isn’t much. I don’t know what I’m getting out of Bailey, but I’m pretty certain it can’t be worse than what the other two have shown over the years.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vincent Jackson – 65 targets, 7 red-zone targets, 96 percent of snaps played this season, 95 percent of snaps played last week
Mike Evans – 45, 4, 77, 87
Louis Murphy – 31, 6, 71, 48
Bobby Rainey – 29, 2, 52, 60
Doug Martin – 14, 0, 58, 38
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – 19, 1, 82, 93
Jackson was a major disappointment last week, catching just one of his five targets for 13 yards. It’s pretty clear to see that Mike Glennon is holding this passing game back, but there’s simply no better option in Tampa Bay. Jackson has a paltry 1.37 yards per route run, which ranks 56th among receivers. Jackson has never been a huge reception guy; he's made his name with big plays down the field. He should never rank so low in an efficiency stat. Evans ranks 33rd in yards per route run, making the Buccaneers one of 10 teams to not have a receiver in the top 32 in the statistic. The other major takeaway from last week was the breakdown between Martin and Rainey. The former got hurt again, giving way to Rainey, who didn’t do a whole lot with the opportunity. All signs point to rookie Charles Sims getting a real chance to take over the job when he comes back from IR, which is expected to happen in Week 10. If he’s available in your league, go get him now. The Buccaneers selected him in the third round out of West Virginia, where he put up nearly 1,500 total yards and 14 touchdowns last year.
Delanie Walker – 58 targets, 9 red-zone targets, 81 percent of snaps played this season, 95 percent of snaps played last week
Kendall Wright – 55, 6, 81, 87
Justin Hunter – 49, 5, 85, 90
Nate Washington – 33, 4, 81, 61
Dexter McCluster – 20, 5, 28, 30
Bishop Sankey – 10, 0, 38, 54
Shonn Greene – 2, 1, 23, 3
Hunter is still playing a ton of snaps, and that’s a good thing. The Titans made the switch to Zach Mettenberger, and that, too, is a good thing. Hunter got a season-high 10 targets last week, one more good thing. Unfortunately, Hunter has just 20 receptions and a league-high seven drops this season. His drop rate of 25.9 percent is also tops in the league. Four of his seven drops have come on passes that traveled 20 yards in the air. Those are the very passes that give Hunter his tantalizing potential, but until he starts catching more than he drops, the potential will remain unrealized.
DeSean Jackson – 58 targets, 6 red-zone targets, 74 percent of snaps played this season, 91 percent of snaps played last week
Pierre Garcon – 57, 2, 86, 90
Andrew Roberts – 46, 6, 70, 75
Niles Paul – 37, 5, 58, 57
Roy Helu – 28, 1, 43, 45
Jordan Reed – 25, 2, 43, 39
Alfred Morris – 8, 0, 54, 52
Considering that Robert Griffin III got hurt in Washington’s second game this season, Jackson has had an incredible season. He also missed nearly an entire game, and still has 32 catches for 664 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson is averaging 12.53 yards per target and 2.62 yards per route run, good for seventh in the league. He has clearly surpassed Garcon, who disappointed once again last week, on the depth chart. Garcon is way down at 8.05 yards per target and 1.57 yards per route run. Despite Paul being on the field for more snaps last week, Reed had seven targets while the former had three. Both may continue to play, but Reed is the Washington tight end you want to own.