Written By: Adam Cahill – Find Adam on Twitter @theotherffguy
We can all collectively exhale; the injury Armageddon that was week two of the NFL season is over. We are only two weeks in and every one of my fantasy teams is struggling with injuries somewhere, and I’m sure your teams are too. As the injuries pile up it becomes increasingly more important to pick up ascending players on the waiver wire, acquire talent through trades, and start the right players in their weekly match ups. It has only been two weeks, but the rankings that we used to draft our teams are becoming less and less relevant each week. As fantasy players, we have to adapt to survive and stay active to thrive.
In the first installment of Targeting Targets I outlined three match ups that I felt featured interesting target share situations from week one. In this installment, and moving forward, I am going to identify players whose target volumes lead to them projecting to have the kind of weekly consistency that makes them ideal targets to pick up, trade for, or start in your weekly line ups.
– Tight Ends –
16 targets, 12 receptions, 75% catch rate, 20.3% team target share
Welcome back to the NFL, Dennis Pitta! Miraculously two of my favorite players, Dennis Pitta and Victor Cruz, have both done the unthinkable; after missing the majority of back to back seasons they have returned to television screens across America to dazzle us with touchdown catches and touchdown dances. Well actually, only Victor Cruz has been salsa dancing in the end zone. That’s mostly because no one wants to see a 6′ 4″ white tight end dance, but also because Pitta has yet to find the end zone. Which is a surprising fact given that Pitta has been the most heavily targeted Ravens pass catcher through the first two weeks. It seems as though Joe Flacco has gotten his best friend back just in time for him to break his career record in passing attempts, a feat he is currently on pace to accomplish. Pitta’s increase in usage from week one to week two is a positive sign that Flacco views him as his most reliable pass catcher. From week one to two, Pitta’s targets shot up from 4 to 12, and he was able to produce his first 100 yard game of what I think will be many.
Suggested move: If Pitta is somehow still on your waiver wire, he is an immediate pick up. If he has already been picked up, float a cheap trade offer out there and see if you can acquire him cheaply before he starts scoring touchdowns to go with all those receptions. He is an every week starter at the tight end position moving forward, baring an injury set back.
16 targets, 11 receptions, 68.8% catch rate, 22.2% team target share
Jacob Tamme’s 2015 season looked all to similar to his 2010 season in terms of production, except in 2010 he was catching passes from one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, Peyton Manning. In 2016, he’s off to an even hotter start. In fact, he’s off to an unbelievable start. If I were to have told you that two games into the season Tamme would be both the target and reception leader in the Falcons offense, you would have had a lot of questions about how long Julio Jones was going to be out for. As flabbergasting as it is though, Julio is healthy and is second on the team, to Tamme, in both targets and receptions. Tamme has been fed targets consistently in both of the Falcons first two games, receiving exactly 8 targets in each. He is even seeing a larger share of his teams targets from quarterback Matt Ryan, with 22.2%, than Dennis Pitta is receiving from Joe Flacco. So I guess if Joe and Dennis are best friends, that makes Matt and Jacob super friends. Jacob Tamme is on pace to put up the first truly consistent back to back seasons of his career, and at age 31 is posed to make a break out similar to that of Gary Barnidge from a season ago. Tamme has shown the ability to produce 50+ catch seasons three times prior in his career and, with an 88 catch pace, 50 catches easily feels like his floor.
Suggested move: Like Pitta, Tamme is an immediate pick up if still on the waiver wire. He is a match up play going forward, who should have another big week this week going up against the New Orleans Saints who ranked last in the league against tight ends a season ago.
– Running Backs –
15 targets, 11 receptions, 73.3% catch rate, 18% team target share
After giving fantasy owners every reason possible to regret drafting him in week one, Giovani Bernard had a huge week two in the Bengals passing game. Bernard had an abysmal 30 yards on seven touches in the first week of the season, but Andy Dalton decided to lock in on Giovani instead of A.J. Green in week two and Giovani didn’t disappoint. Well, he didn’t disappoint unless you, like me, benched him every where after that dreadful week one performance! Gio than decided to outperform every one of his teammates in the passing game in week two, going for 100 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions. If the first two weeks are any indication, Bernard’s usage is going to be some what game flow dependent since so far his production has been heavily reliant on targets. Receiving only 10 rushing attempts through the first two games, he is being used currently as the second option behind Jeremy Hill. However Hill hasn’t been what any one would call productive running the football averaging only 2.7 yards per attempt thus far. Giovani is in perfect position is the passing game, recieving a ton of targets and maintaining a super high catch rate that is in line with his career average. If he is given any extra work in the Bengals rushing attack he has the ability to produce huge numbers throughout the remainder of the season.
Suggested move: Gio is a great player to monitor. With a tough match up against Denver, it will be very telling if Andy Dalton uses Gio in a similar way as he did a week ago against Pittsburgh. I would look for better options, but am not opposed to starting Gio in PPR leagues. If Hill continues to struggle this week and Gio continues to get targeted heavily in the passing game, Gio becomes a great buy low trade target too.
15 targets, 12 receptions, 80% catch rate, 17.3% team target share
T.J. Yeldon did his best Tavon Austin impression in week two catching eight of nine targets for an astonishing 10 yards. Truly I thought that only Austin had the magic ability to put up 10 points in PPR leagues while only getting 38 yards. Yeldon benefits from being on the pass happiest team in the league, Blake Bortles currently leads the league in attempts through their first two losses. Similar to Giovani, Yeldon excels through target volume and a very impressive catch rate of 80% (78% catch rate in 2015). The Jaguars offense is struggling to gel early in the season and a lot of fantasy owners are fearful of Chris Ivory returning from injury, but with Yeldon seeing these targets in the passing game he is in prime position to excel if the Jaguars offense can get back on track.
Suggested Move: Yeldon is a hold. He’s too large of a focus of the offense to drop, but the production isn’t there yet to feel comfortable relying on him in your starting line up against Baltimore this week. If your roster was beat up by injury armageddon last week and your team is left with a bunch of holes at the running back position, Yeldon is a great buy low to stash and see if his production rebounds to fall in line with his share of offensive touches.
– Wide Receivers –
23 targets, 17 receptions, 73.9% catch rate, 32.4% team target share
Another NFL season has begun and Jarvis Landry is once again on pace to eclipse 100 receptions. The current league leader in receptions is doing the same things he’s done in his first two seasons in the league, as he begun his career with the most receptions in NFL history through two seasons. Coming into the season there were a lot of questions swirling about how Landry would fit into this new Adam Gase offense and if he would see his role decrease. Through the first two games, though, it seems it is business as usual as Landry continues to be the apple of Ryan Tannehill’s eye. Tannehill has targeted Landry on 32.4% of his attempts through the first two weeks, which currently is the third highest market share any player is receiving of his teams targets. One of Landry’s set backs is that he has struggled to find the end zone through the first two games of the season, similar to the first two years of his career. Outside of the red zone Landry has the highest target market share of any player in the league, but inside that 20 yard line Landry has only been targeted once all season. This isn’t too surprising as Landry has never been a touch down threat through his first two years in the league. Instead he is the type of player that becomes a security blanket for a less than stellar quarterback. Landry takes those dump off passes and makes the most of them, though, currently leading the NFL in yards after the catch to go along with his league leading receptions.
Suggested Move: Landry is a must start this week against a Browns team that is decimated by injuries and wasn’t good at all to begin with. Moving forward Landry is an ideal high floor PPR wide receiver that possesses the ability to have big games any week he is able to find the end zone.
23 targets, 13 receptions, 56.5% catch rate, 32.9% team target share
Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has had quite the start to his NFL season leading the Philadelphia Eagles to back to back wins. An impressive feat, even if those wins have come against two of the NFL’s biggest train wrecks in the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears. Through those two wins, Wentz has done what a lot of rookie quarterbacks do and locked in on his primary wide receiver. Jordan Matthews has been the benefactor of this and is currently leading the league in team target market share with nearly a third of all of the Eagles passing attempts going his way. The benefit of a rookie quarterback locking in on a receiver is that they receive a ton of targets; the downside is that those targets aren’t always the most catchable. Currently Matthews has a catch rate that is more than ten percent below his career average. As the season progresses, Wentz should become more comfortable in the offense and it’s possible that Matthews could see his catch rate increase to above 60%. Currently on pace for over 180 targets, Matthews is a prime example of talent meeting opportunity in the best way.
Suggested Move: Moving forward Matthews has to be a must start in PPR formats. With the Eagles schedule getting a bit tougher there is the opportunity for game scripts to point towards closer games and 4th quarter come backs, two situation that are ideal for an offensive target hog.
21 targets, 12 receptions, 57.1% catch rate, 27.6% team target share
One of the most exciting acquisitions of the NFL offseason was the addition of Marvin Jones to a Detroit Lions receiving core that was left with a huge hole to fill after the departure of Calvin Johnson. There was a lot of debate as to whether Jones would come in and be the go to receiver on an offense that supported Golden Tate in catching over 90 passes the past two seasons. Initially there was the belief that Tate would continue to be the main focal point of the offense and Jones would thrive in a touch down threat role. However, after the first two weeks the exact opposite has been true; Jones has been the target hog on the Lions offense receiving 21 targets and a 27.6% target share, but has failed to find the end zone in the first two weeks. Jones showed throughout his tenure in Cincinnati that he has the ability to be a red zone threat and with one double digit touchdown season in his career already touchdowns are on the horizon for Marvin. Jones is due for some positive regression in a big way, both through finding his way into the end zone and through some positive regression that could bring his catch rate closer to his career average of 63%.
Suggested Move: With Jones being scoreless in his first two games as a Lion, it’s possible that owners are overlooking his target share and might be willing to let go of him for the right offer. I am looking to trade for Jones in all formats and he’s a guy I’m trying to get into my lineups every week because it is only a matter of time before he has a huge performance. Don’t wait until after that blow up game to look to acquire him.
New York Jets
14 targets, 13 receptions, 92.9% catch rate, 20.6% team target share
Quincy Enunwa is a name most fantasy owners didn’t know three weeks ago, but I’m sure we all are very familiar with now. Enunwa became a household name this past Thursday after having a big game on the first game to ever be broadcast on Twitter. Enunwa has filled a unique role of the Jets offense being sort of a hybrid tight end and slot receiver. Technically third on the team in targets behind Decker and Marshall, you wouldn’t know it looking at the stat lines as Enunwa has caught an insane 92.9% of the passes thrown his direction. The Jets passing game is one of the most unique in the NFL in that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has basically only targeted four players through the first two games (the three wide receivers already referenced and Matt Forte). With Decker and Marshall both already struggling with injuries and Forte currently on a 400 carry pace, there is a lot of opportunity for Enunwa’s role to increase should any of the three miss time. Enunwa is in prime position to excel as the season progresses, having already won the trust of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Suggested Move: Enunwa should have been added in all formats during this past weeks waivers, but if he is somehow still available he is an immediate pick up. He is a must start moving forward in any match up that Decker or Marshall miss, and even with those two on the field he is the ideal candidate to start in your flex in PPR leagues.
San Fransisco 49ers
16 targets, 15 receptions, 31.2% catch rate, 22.5% team target share
Opening the season on Monday Night Football in week one it appeared that the San Francisco offense under Chip Kelly had basically forgotten that Torrey Smith was even on the team. Week two showed that the primary receiver in a Chip Kelly offense still has the ability to garner a large percentage of the target market share, as Smith’s target market share increased by 10% (from 17% to 27%). The biggest thing holding Torrey back in both of the first two weeks is an abysmal 31.2% catch rate. Throughout his career, Torrey has been a big play receiver who tends to run a lot of deeper routes and because of that his career catch rate isn’t astounding, but currently he is performing at a rate 20% his career average so he should be in line for some positive regression. The splits in Torrey’s usage between week one and week two show the difference in how this offense should look when they have a lead in comparison to when they are struggling to stay in a game. Lucky for Torrey, the 49ers look like a team that will be doing the latter a lot more than the former. Torrey has had an up and down career, but saw solid upside when utilized to his skillset while in Baltimore. If San Francisco hopes to win some of the tougher match ups on their schedule this year, Torrey will need to be involved. This seems like it is something the 49ers are already well aware of since Torrey is second on the team in targets, but first in red zone market share with one third of all red zone targets having gone his direction so far this season. With a catch radius that is in the 95th percentile, Torrey has the opportunity to be both a target hog and the main red zone threat in the 49ers passing game.
Suggested Move: With Seattle, Dallas, and Arizona as the next three opponents for San Francisco, it is likely that the game script will end up being more similar to week two than their shut out of Los Angeles in week one. Smith should see his targets continue to stay consistent and if his catch rate improves and his red zone market share stays the same, he could be in for some big games. Smith is a risky start, but he definitely has upside in this offense moving forward. He’s a guy I’m monitoring, and maybe starting as a sneaky flex play.
18 targets, 12 receptions, 66.7% catch rate, 20.7% team target share
Jamison Crowder currently finds himself tied for the team lead in targets with Redskins teammate Jordan Reed. Through the first two weeks of the season, their quarterback Kirk Cousins has appeared to struggle while still posting back to back 300 yard performances. Cousins has struggled most at finding the end zone, doing so only once in the two games thus far. Crowder has been consistent in working the underneath routes and being a reliable target for Cousins who has connected with Crowder six times in each of their first two outings. Crowder should look to improve on the numbers he has posted so far while currently being two yards under his career yard per reception average and having yet to find the end zone.
Suggested Move: Crowder is a player I’m hesitant to get overly excited about until we see a bit more consistency from Cousins, however, this week sets up to be a fantastic match up for Crowder against the New York Giants who have allowed underneath receivers to carve them up the first two weeks. Crowder is a guy I’m looking to get into my line ups this week, but then monitor moving forward.
If you have any questions for Adam feel free to leave a comment below or hit him up on Twitter.
Written By: Adam Cahill – Follow Adam on Twitter @theotherffguy