Oct 17, 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 tight end target numbers as well. Without further ado here is our Week 7 Target Talk: Tight End Edition.
This spreadsheet lists the top 45 tight ends by total number of targets to date. It shows the percentage of their team’s targets and completions they had as well. Through Week 6 we have a pretty good idea of which players are going to excel and disappoint. Here are the cliff notes:
WEEK 6 WINNERS
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
2011 Season Stats: 39 Targets, 26 Receptions, 249 Yards
2012 Season Pace: 109 Targets, 67 Receptions, 600 Yards
On the surface Kyle Rudolph appears to be essentially a career red zone option and little else. He doesn’t have many yards to date (37.5 per game) and has huge touchdown numbers. The target numbers tell a different story. Rudolph has been targeted heavily all year culminating in 11 targets this week. He’s also averaging over four catches a game. It’s only a matter of time until he starts racking up the yardage to go with his ridiculous red zone efficiency.
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
2011 Season Stats: 88 Targets, 64 Receptions, 778 Yards
2012 Season Pace: 112 Targets, 51 Receptions, 597 Yards
Antonio Gates’ owners can officially breathe a sigh of relief. He finally got back into his normal form this week. He caught six of the 10 balls thrown his way for 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Sounds like vintage Antonio Gates to me. If Phillip Rivers hadn’t completely fallen apart in the second half, Gates would have ended up with even better stats. Don’t fear starting Gates any longer. He’s your man from this weeks’ bye until year end.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots
2011 Season Stats: 113 Targets, 79 Receptions, 910 Yards
2012 Season Pace: 74 Targets, 52 Receptions, 386 Yards
Aaron Hernandez looked solid in his return this week, catching six of the nine balls thrown his way. He wasn’t as explosive as normal and averaged only five yards per catch but that was to be expected coming back from injury. The important thing to note here is that he was targeted just as heavily as Rob Gronkowski and was even utilized in the red zone. Hernandez should be a solid bet to perform well the rest of the year. He should be treated as an elite option again right away.
Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
2011 Season Stats: 74 Targets, 51 Receptions, 631 Yards
2012 Season Pace: 109 Targets, 80 Receptions, 758 Yards
Heath Miller was scoreless for the second straight game but it’s nothing to worry about. He is getting targets like never before. He came down with six of nine targets for 67 yards this week. Miller is now averaging five receptions for 47 yards a game. He’s on pace to have the best year of his career. Ben Roethlisberger seems to be treating Miller as his new favorite toy despite Miller having played with him for years. No complaints though, Miller has been one of the few really positive surprises this year. Treat him as an elite, every week option in all formats.
Brandon Myers, TE, Oakland Raiders
2011 Season Stats: 27 Targets, 16 Receptions, 151 Yards
2012 Season Pace: 77 Targets, 67 Receptions, 928 Yards
Brandon Myers has quietly been emerging as a fantasy tight end option in Oakland. This week he caught five of seven targets for 62 yards but it is his consistency that is impressive. He’s had at least four receptions and 55 yards every week but Week 4. He’s not going to set your lineup on fire but you could do a lot worse than Myers as a bye week fill-in especially in PPR leagues.
WEEK 6 LOSERS
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens
2011 Season Stats: 56 Targets, 40 Receptions, 405 Yards
2012 Season Pace: 112 Targets, 67 Receptions, 648 Yards
Yet again Dennis Pitta makes the Target Talk Loser List. It’s quite clear now that his performance the first three weeks was a fluke. After having 31 targets and 18 receptions the first three weeks, he has had just 11 targets and seven receptions in the three games since. He’s just not getting it done. The really depressing thing is that this week’s game was a shootout and he still managed only five targets. If Pitta didn’t get big target numbers this week, it’s unlikely we will see them in any other games. Joe Flacco has clearly moved on to other targets, no reason why you shouldn’t follow suit.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Denver Broncos
2011 Season Stats: 31 Targets, 19 Receptions, 177 Yards
2012 Season Pace: 101 Targets, 61 Receptions, 539 Yards
Jacob Tamme has actually had a pretty solid season for a tight end competing for playing time. He had 27 targets total in Week’s 3, 4 and 5. Of course his yardage and touchdown numbers have been bad despite the high number of targets. After this week’s complete stinker of a game where Tamme had only two targets, he is now averaging only 34 yards per game and has but one touchdown. With Joel Dreessen emerging as an equally useful target, it might be time to shop Tamme while you can still get something for him.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers
2011 Season Stats: 92 Targets, 55 Receptions, 767 Yards
2012 Season Pace: 93 Targets, 64 Receptions, 560 Yards
The good news about Jermichael Finley is that he’s on pace to slightly exceed his numbers from last year. The bad news is you probably didn’t draft him in the hopes he would put up last year’s numbers. Finley’s last two weeks have been particularly worrisome. He’s caught just five of nine targets for a minuscule 23 yards. It’s pretty sad when an elite tight end’s 50 yard games are bringing his average up. Finley is currently very hit or miss (mostly because of injuries) and it’s hard to tell what we can expect from him. That said, owners may want to start looking elsewhere for a better weekly option as long as Finley’s slump continues.
Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
2011 Season Stats: 26 Targets, 17 Receptions, 144 Yards
2012 Season Pace: 85 Targets, 53 Receptions, 602 Yards
Martellus Bennett started the season hot by racking up 15 catches on 23 targets for 185 yards in his first three games. Since then he has only five catches on nine targets for 41 yards. It’s been pretty much night and day because of a knee injury that has been bothering the already weak-kneed Bennett. Not only is he losing play time because of the injury but he also doesn’t look good when on the field. You’ll need to find a better option if you want any production at the tight end position before Bennett is fully healed.