Sep 15, 2012
A big part of predicting the fantasy football output of a player week to week can be found in the stats that player has already accumulated. One of the most important statistics for predicting success of wide receivers and tight ends is the number of times they are thrown the ball. This number, called targets, is one of the most useful in fantasy football especially in PPR leagues.
Last year, after Hines Ward officially lost his starting job in Week 5, a lot of people were pondering on which Pittsburgh wide receiver would take over his role. It seemed like a toss-up but for people watching target numbers it was quite clear. Antonio Brown had already accumulated a large number of targets and quite predictably slipped right into the starting role. Owners that grabbed Emmanuel Sanders (the popular choice) were left disappointed. Those owners ignored the target numbers. There will be an Brown this year and we’re here to give you the inside scoop on target numbers so you don’t have to crunch them yourself.
Just because targets are useful predictors for wide receivers and tight ends does not mean they are meaningless to running backs. On the contrary, target numbers can also be useful in gauging the value of running backs especially in PPR leagues. We’ll be breaking down wide receiver target numbers as well. Without further ado here is our Week 2 Target Talk: Wide Receiver Edition.
This spreadsheet (and the one below) lists every wide receiver that had at least four targets in week one. It shows the percentage of their team’s targets and completions they had as well. A disclaimer: it’s only week two so you shouldn’t read too much into anything just yet. That said there may be situations to watch. Here are the cliff notes:
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Wayne’s performance this week was not a complete surprise but nobody expected him to ever amass this many targets in a single game. If the number of targets Wayne received was a reflection of the Colts’ lack of other options, the terrible catch percentage is a reflection of having a rookie quarterback. With Collie returning to action and a much better matchup for the Colts this week expect Wayne to have fewer targets but to catch a larger percentage of them. Wayne is a great sell high in PPR leagues.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Maclin had a surprising number of targets this week. Let’s remember that Vick threw a ridiculous 56 times this week. Maclin won’t see these kinds of target numbers again this season. Even long ball Jackson managed 11 targets. The two managed eight and seven targets per game respectively in past years. Much like Wayne, expect fewer but better quality targets. Maclin is another great sell high.
Kevin Ogletree, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Ogletree was the surprise of the week, coming out of nowhere to catch eight of 11 targets including two touchdowns. With Witten and Austin both limited, someone needed to step up for the Cowboys. Ogletree, who created a ridiculous mismatch against the already debilitated Giants’ defense, broke out. He was so good that neither Bryant nor Austin got many looks, notching just 9 targets between them. With Witten and Austin likely to play at full strength this week, it is expected Ogletree’s targets will go down. Still he made enough of an impact as a mismatch to garner plenty of work in future games.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Cobb’s numbers here should have an asterisk next to them. He looked great last week but not as a wide receiver. He played the vast majority of his snaps lined up as a running back. His high target numbers and catch percentage reflect this. He was mostly used because the Packers’ passing game never got on track. Expect Cobb’s targets to fall way off as the Packers face squishier defenses.
Andrew Hawkins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Everyone knew someone had to emerge opposite the double teams faced by A.J. Green. Hawkins appears to be the guy. He looked excellent as a safety valve for Dalton. He caught eight of nine balls thrown to him. If he has indeed earned Dalton’s trust with his reliable hands, he could one of the best PPR pickups of the week. It’s wise to wait another week but at first glance, Hawkins looks like the Bengals’ equivalent of an elite possession receiver. He didn’t get any red zone targets so he doesn’t look to be of particular value in standard leagues at present. Keep an eye on him.
Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona Cardinals
It appears as if Michael Floyd will have to wait his turn in Arizona. Roberts got nine targets to Floyd’s one. Roberts wasn’t especially reliable catching his targets but he played well enough to make a play for the job across from Fitzgerald. That said, with the terrible quarterbacks throwing to him, he’s only worth owning in the deepest leagues.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
White got a respectable eight targets on Sunday and even scored a touchdown but it looks like his days of having a target monopoly are behind him. With Julio Jones’ success it appeared White was lucky he even got eight targets. There is no way he hits his normal 170+ targets this year. That said don’t count him out just yet. It looks like having another threat is going to help his catch percentage immensely. 90+ receptions is still looking like a reachable goal. Though he may not be a surefire WR1 anymore, he still has a ton of value in the Falcons’ new pass first offense.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Though Brown didn’t look quite as explosive as during the preseason while Wallace was holding out, it’s clear that he is the number one target in the offense. With eight targets to Wallace’s six, he looks like a reliable option the rest of the year especially as long as the Steelers’ run game remains weak. That weakness led to WR3 Emmanuel Sanders to notch eight targets. Don’t expect that again but realize Pittsburgh has decided to pass this year. Invest accordingly.
Demaryius Thomas, WR Denver Broncos
Thomas looks to have come out ahead in his battle with Decker this week. Both had the same number of targets and catches but Thomas caught a long touchdown pass to put him over the edge. It still looks like Decker will be the more reliable target from week to week but Thomas is unquestionably the big play threat for the team. Expect both of these guys to put up good numbers as long as Manning is healthy.
Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans
Wright looks like the clear-cut favorite as possession receiver in the Titans offense this year. He was targeted only six times but looked more in sync with Locker than anyone else on the field. Kenny Britt will come back from injury this week but since he will have a limited snap count that shouldn’t matter. With Nate Washington possibly out with an injury it could be Wright’s chance to shine. It’s reasonable to expect Wright to be a popular waiver add next week especially in PPR leagues. It might be prudent to grab him now if you have the bench space.
Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots
Welker didn’t get much play time this week but don’t worry about him. The coach’s said it was part of the game plan to use him sparingly this week. He will be involved as normal from here on out. He notched five targets in about half of the normal snaps he plays. Buy low now if someone is dumb enough to sell in a PPR league. Be cautious of his role in standard leagues.
Brandon Lafell, WR, Carolina Panthers
A lot of experts were projecting Lafell as a deep sleeper this season. It appears as if he’ll have company in bed. Louis Murphy matched Lafell’s numbers this week and looked just as impressive doing it. Don’t read too much into that though. As Newton gets his arm back into gear, Lafell will remain the better of the two. That said, it doesn’t look like there will be as much value at that position as many predicted.
Randy Moss, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Randy Moss looked impressive in his first regular season game as a 49er. He had only four targets but made the most of them with 47 yards and a touchdown. Mario Manningham also caught all four of his targets. Make no mistake about it though, Michael Crabtree is the best fantasy option in the offense. Catching seven of his nine targets, Crabtree looks primed for a breakout year. If someone can slow down the 49ers ground game, Crabtree could put up some big numbers. Moss and Manningham look to be WR4s at best.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Boldin looked pretty good this week catching four of the five balls thrown to him for 63 yards and a touchdown. Many expected Torrey smith to cut into Boldin’s looks this year but it doesn’t appear that will be the case. Smith got only three targets this week. Instead, Flacco looks to have devalued both. He spread the ball around freely. It doesn’t appear he even has a favorite receiver on the team. Both of the tight ends had more targets than Boldin and Smith combined. The Ravens also ran the ball well. This offense might just be too multi-faceted and dynamic to support a valuable receiver week to week. Keep an eye on things. If a favorite does emerge, he should be very ownable.
Robert Meachem, WR, San Diego Chargers
Meachem had only two targets this week and looks better because of the bomb he caught. Make no mistake about it, Meachem was not involved in the offense. Other than the huge amount of balls thrown to running backs this week, Rivers clearly preferred Malcolm Floyd. Floyd caught four of his six targets for 66 yards and a touchdown. Those who drafted Meachem look likely to be disappointed. Sell while you can.