2014 Fantasy Football: Week 5 AFC Target Report
Week 6 is already upon us with the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) beating the Houston Texans (3-3) by the score of 33-28 in the Thursday Night Football game which proved to be the most exciting one to date. Much like the aforementioned teams, fantasy owners are arriving to the point of the season where you start to figure out how your squad stacks up compared to the other teams. Win/loss records can be a little fluky right about now so the best way to evaluate is by seeing how many points your team has scored. Points scored is a much better indicator of how well your team is truly performing, but as we all know the NFL is a week-to-week league with plenty of parity, just like fantasy football.
Targets are similar to points scored in the sense they can provide a clearer picture of a players usage on offense than box score stats like receptions and yards may on a given week. For example, receptions and yards could be altered by an ineffective quarterback, receptions called back on penalties, drops, etc. Thus, this targets article will begin to be an every week staple here at The Fantasy Fix to help give you a potential edge over the competition.
I’ll go ahead and give you a brief overview of how the articles will be formatted. There will be AFC/NFC versions which will be released on separate days. Each team from each conference will be expounded upon, but not necessarily every player with targets will be covered. For the sake of brevity, I will aim to only include players that possess fantasy relevance. Below, the first number in parentheses will be the total numbers of targets while the second number is the percentage of targets which were caught. Finally, you’ll see the number of targets each player had every week.
Without further ado, lets get to the AFC Targets.
After his first multiple touchdown performance since 2011, Smith Sr. predictably cooled off to the tune of five receptions for 34 yards. Still, averaging a healthy 9.8 targets through five games, Smiff is still a rock solid WR2. The other Smith among the Ravens wide receiver corps was targeted eight times, tying for the team-high, but he only managed to turn it into three catches for 38 yards. Head coach John Harbaugh said the team will aim to get him going this week, but until he has a good game he’s no more than a WR4 with upside. Daniels has taken advantage of the unfortunate injury to Dennis Pitta and is a viable TE for those in need of a bye week fill-in. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak loves dialing up plays to tight ends in his offense and Daniels should continue to see between 5-8 targets weekly. Forsett seems to have emerged as the lead dog in the Ravens running back committee and has earned weekly RB2/Flex status for the time being.
Sammy Watkins (44/54.5%) 4-11-8-9-12 — Robert Woods (33/42.4%) 6-3-8-12-4 — Fred Jackson (33/78.8%) 3-4-10-7-9 — Scott Chandler (19/68.4%) 1-2-5-5-6 — Mike Williams (18/44.4%) 3-3-4-6-2 — C.J. Spiller (14/92.9%) 3-1-3-3-4
The insertion of Kyle Orton as the Bills starting quarterback showed some promising early returns in regards to his connection with Sammy Watkins, as he peppered him with 12 targets. Although Orton is a game-manager at best, he should have more success targeting Watkins compared to the demoted E.J. Manuel. With that being said, Watkins is going to be shadowed by Darrelle Revis and will have a challenging time duplicating his performance from a week ago. The biggest development of the last three weeks for the Bills has been the emergence of Fred Jackson in the passing game. Averaging seven catches and close to nine targets a game over the three game stretch, Jackson is an RB2 for the foreseeable future.
The Bills seem to have soured on C.J. Spiller as a feature back and you can’t exactly blame them as he’s averaging a measly 3.5 YPC. They aren’t utilizing him in the best way suited for his skill-set and Jackson is the preferred option in the receiving game as well as goal-line packages. This leaves Spiller as nothing more than a boom-or-bust RB3 on a weekly basis. Don’t be surprised to see Jackson have his carries increased to the 13-16 range.
Mohamed Sanu (26/65.4%) 5-4-8-BYE-9 — A.J. Green (25/68%) 9-0-9-BYE-7 — Giovani Bernard (22/63.6%) 10-6-3-BYE-3 — Jermaine Gresham (13/61.5%) 5-3-1-BYE-4 — Brandon Tate (10/60%) 6-3-1-BYE-0 — Jeremy Hill (6/83.3%) 0-2-0-BYE-4
With Green set to miss the next few weeks and Marvin Jones still not yet in the fold, this leaves Sanu as the primary option in the passing game until either of them return from their injuries. Sanu caught five passes for 70 yards and a touchdown last week and with more targets likely on the way, he can be considered a WR3 with the upside for more. The loss of Green is obviously a huge blow to the fantasy prospects of Andy Dalton, but it’s also good news for Bernard and Hill. Expect Bernard to garner between 5-10 targets and this seems like a good spot for him to do well in PPR leagues.
Andrew Hawkins (41/58.5%) 10-12-10-BYE-9 — Miles Austin (23/69.6%) 3-10-7-BYE-3 — Taylor Gabriel (18/58.8%) 6-4-2-BYE-6 — Jordan Cameron (15/40%) 5-DNP-3-BYE-7 — Travis Benjamin (12/66.7%) 3-4-1-BYE-4 — Ben Tate (2/50%) 0-DNP-DNP-BYE-2
“Baby Hawk” continues to receive an abundance of targets and is a great asset in PPR leagues. On the other hand, it would be nice if he could haul in more of his targets and he’s never a likely bet for a touchdown. Cameron has been a pain in the you know what for owners this year but he’s practicing in full and should return to be top receiving option among the Browns pass catchers. Owners can still view him as a TE1. Benjamin caught two touchdowns but don’t expect it to continue with the low amount of targets. Back from his early season knee injury, the Browns fed Tate to the tune of 22 carries and he rewarded them with 123 yards. He’s a better RB2 play in standard formats due to his lack of catches, something the Browns haven’t prioritized this year among their running backs.
Deymarius Thomas (43/48.8%) 11-7-9-BYE-16 — Emmanuel Sanders (42/76.2%) 9-9-15-BYE-9 — Julius Thomas (24/83.3%) 8-5-4-BYE-7 — Wes Welker (18/72.2%) DNP-DNP-9-BYE-9 — Montee Ball (11/81.8%) 2-3-3-BYE-3 — Ronnie Hillman (4/25%) DNP-DNP-3-BYE-1
As Peyton Manning has been known to do, he continuously targeted Deymarius in an aerial attack that saw him put forth his best game as a pro. He caught eight passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, not to mention he had a 77-yard touchdown called back due to a penalty. The early season struggles are officially in the rearview mirror and look for him to continue to go off in the coming weeks. Sanders has been a phenomenal find for the Broncos this year and he is currently on pace for 128 catches. He seems to have surpassed Welker on the totem pole and with seemingly 8+ targets guaranteed for him weekly, he’s PPR gold. Treat him as a WR1 in PPR formats. “Orange Julius” doesn’t exactly see an eye-opening amount of targets, but it doesn’t matter too much when 35 percent of your catches have gone for touchdowns. He’s on pace for a mind-blowing 28 touchdowns. Behind Graham and Gronk, there isn’t a better fantasy tight end.
Welker is still a fine WR3 in PPR formats but his upside is limited compared to last year with the addition of Sanders and improvement of Julius in red-zone situations. With that being said, this is a good week for a vintage Welker showing as he gets to face the Jets burnable secondary. Ball is out 2-3 weeks with a groin injury and Hillman will step in as the primary back in his absence. He’s a worthwhile FLEX play but he has a tough matchup against the Jets front four.
While Johnson continues to outpace Hopkins in terms of targets every week, it hasn’t exactly translated to better fantasy production as that nod would go to Hopkins due to his three touchdowns. Johnson is still a fine WR2 in PPR leagues, but he needs to start finding pay dirt to meet owners expectations from draft day. While it would seem like Hopkins is the safer play, he’s still a weekly roll of the rice because he’s not in the top 50 in terms of targets. Banking on him scoring touchdowns is a risky proposition. Foster roasted the Cowboys leaky run defense to the tune of 157 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. His hamstring came out of the game no worse for the wear but owners need to keep a watchful eye to see how his hammy fares tonight with limited rest.
T.Y. Hilton (50/62%) 11-11-6-10-12 — Reggie Wayne (45/66.7%) 13-7-5-8-12 — Hakeem Nicks (24/62.5%) 5-3-4-6-6 — Coby Fleener (21/52.4%) 8-1-7-3-2 — Ahmad Bradshaw (21/85.7%) 6-5-3-2-5 — Dwayne Allen (20/75%) 5-1-6-3-5 — Trent Richardson (19/78.9%) 4-1-4-5-5
Hilton continues to be a reliable WR2/WR3 option in PPR formats due to his usage in the passing game, although he has yet to score. Wayne continues to be the steady presence he’s always been and his game is obviously better suited for PPR leagues. Allen recorded his fourth score of the year but him and Fleener seem to alternate between good and bad games and with his low target total, is nothing more than a TE2. Bradshaw continues to be an effective option as a pass catcher and while he certainly won’t continue to score so many touchdowns through the air, his usage ensures him RB2 value.
Allen Robinson (37/59.5%) 3-6-10-7-11 — Allen Hurns (35/45.7%) 9-6-3-6-11 — Cecil Shorts (14/50%) DNP-DNP-10-4-DNP — Marqise Lee (14/57.1%) 10-4-DNP-DNP-DNP — Clay Harbor (12/91.7%) DNP-DNP-DNP-8-4 — Toby Gerhart (8/100%) 2-2-2-1-1
While Robinson has seen his fair share of targets the last couple weeks, it’s hardly translated to reliable value. The Jaguars offensive situation is still a mess and starting any of their players will be a weekly crapshoot. Hurns has cooled off since his monster game in the first week and is best left on benches unless desperate. Shorts managed to get in a full practice today and looks to be on track for Week 6. Gerhart suffered a sprained foot and Storm Johnson received a good portion of the snaps afterwards. It appears now that the Jags are giving Johnson a chance to run away with the starting running back job. One could do worse for a bye week fill-in.
Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce (27/74.1%) 5-6-4-9-3 — Donnie Avery (24/58.3%) 13-6-3-2-DNP — Dwayne Bowe (23/60.9%) DNP-6-5-6-6 — Anthony Fasano (20/60%) 6-4-2-1-7 — Knile Davis (14/57.1%) 1-9-1-2-1 — Jamaal Charles (12/75%) 4-1-DNP-3-4
It’s quite surprising that even as a part-time player through the first five games, Kelce has still seen the most targets of any Chiefs player. That’s quite an indictment on the rest of the Chiefs wideouts. Kelce did find pay dirt but his target total was disappointing one week after a breakout performance. Andy Reid needs to get his best pass-catcher on the field more if he wants to win games. Bowe continued his streak of irrelevance with another putrid effort (3-42) and if you’re starting him, may god have mercy on your soul. Charles rushed 15 times for 80 yards in a tough matchup against the 49ers while also adding a four-yard catch. With the Chiefs on bye this week, fire him up as a RB1 against the Chargers in Week 7.
Wallace is well on his way to establishing a new career-high in receptions and owners should view him as a WR2 with WR1 upside on any given week. While Hartline set a season-high for both catches and yards his last time out, he’s settled in as a WR4/WR5 in PPR leagues and nothing more. It’s still unclear if Knowshown Moreno returns this week, but if he does expect him to reclaim his lead-back duties over Miller. Miller performed admirably in his absence and could get another week as the feature running back, but owners need to prepare themselves that Miller will go back to being a bench player for their squads in the not so distant future.
New England Patriots
Julian Edelman (44/70.5%) 8-7-13-8-8 — Rob Gronkowski (37/51.4%) 11-6-6-3-11 — Brandon LaFell (28/39.3%) 6-0-8-10-4 — Shane Vereen (24/73.9%) 8-2-6-5-3 — Timothy Wright (10/90%) 3-1-1-0-5 — Stevan Ridley (4/75%) 2-0-1-1-0
Boy what a difference a week can make, especially for Tom Brady. He put forth a masterful effort against the stout Bengals defense and it showed in the box score for his fellow players on offense. Gronkowski scored a touchdown, recorded his first 100 yard game, and also played 69-87 snaps, a season-high. Not listed on the injury report anymore, his knee is clearly not bothering him and he’s a top-two tight end. Edelman had his second straight down week in a row but he has a much easier matchup against the Bills this week. Expect him to get back to putting up his regular 14-18 points in PPR leagues. Vereen rushed nine times for 90 yards and added three catches for 18 yards so it’s a little perplexing as to why he didn’t receive more carries. Not as involved in the passing game as last year, Vereen can only be considered a RB3/FLEX option. Although he only played 19 snaps, Wright went 5-85-1 and earned the praise of Bill Belichick. Monitor this situation closely as increased usage could mean him moving from TE2 to TE1 status.
New York Jets
Jeremy Kerley (33/57.6%) 5-8-11-3-6 — Eric Decker (24/60.9%) 6-7-1-10-DNP — Jeff Cumberland (20/50%) 5-2-6-1-6 — Greg Salas (18/38.9%) 2-2-3-4-7 — Jace Amaro (17/82.4%) 4-1-4-5-3 — Chris Johnson (13/64.3%) 5-3-2-2-1 — Chris Ivory (12/58.3%) 0-1-4-6-1
Neither Geno Smith or Michael Vick could figure out the Jets problems on offense as they became the first team to be shutout in the 2014 season. With Eric Decker (hamstring) on the sidelines, the Jets simply have below average talent when it comes to their wide receivers. When your top options are Jeremy Kerley, Greg Salas, and Jace Amaro, there’s not much you can do. CJ0K continued his inept season by rushing seven times for 24 yards while the clearly superior Ivory rushed nine times for 44. Unfortunately, neither of the two are very involved as pass catchers and will cut into each other’s value from week-to-week. Hopefully Rex Ryan puts his best players on the field and starts to give Ivory a bigger workload. In an offense bereft of talent, it would be wise to put one of their talented players on the field as much as possible.
James Jones (28/75%) 3-14-5-6-BYE — Andre Holmes (21/52.4%) 0-7-2-12-BYE — Denarius Moore (20/40%) 8-5-7-DNP-BYE — Mychal Rivera (20/63.2%) 5-7-4-4-BYE — Marcel Reece (13/53.8%) 3-1-7-2-BYE — Darren McFadden (13/84.6%) 1-3-4-5-BYE
The Raiders fired Dennis Allen and named Tony Sparano as the interim head coach and he’s promised to run the ball more, which is obviously good news for oft-injured Raiders running back Darren McFadden. Even so, he’s averaging a pathetic 3.4 YPC and is still a FLEX play at best. Derek Carr should be back for the Raiders which is a small slice of good news for the Raiders primary wideouts. This offense can’t support two wide receivers to have good fantasy performances and owners should consider Jones and Holmes nothing more than WR4/WR5 types with upside.
While Brown had a less than stellar effort in a game he was expected to dominate, he managed to keep his streak of 21 consecutive games with 5+ catches/50+ yards and is the surest play there is among wide receivers in PPR formats. With Joe Haden looking likely to miss Week 6, expect a big showing from AB. Bell was also expected to have a huge game but those plans didn’t exactly come to fruition. Averaging 5.3 YPC, 92 YPG, and 4.8 receptions a game, Bell is a matchup-proof RB1. The Steelers ran nine red-zone plays last week and they were all passes which is a little fluky, so expect Le’Veon to start scoring in bunches, they are coming.
San Diego Chargers
Keenan Allen (35/69.4%) 9-6-2-11-7 — Eddie Royal (32/62.5%) 6-10-6-7-3 — Antonio Gates (29/72.4%) 10-7-1-5-6 — Malcolm Floyd (18/66.7%) — Ladarius Green (9/77.8%) 2-0-6-DNP-1 — Branden Oliver (8/100%) DNP-DNP-0-4-4 — Ryan Mathews (4/100%) 2-2-DNP-DNP-DNP
While Philip Rivers is garnering some MVP talk and rightfully so with his magnificent play so far this season, the biggest storyline coming out of last week’s game was Donald Brown suffering a concussion and Branden Oliver having a huge game in his place against a stifling Jets run defense. Standing 5’8 and wearing the same No. 43 jersey as predecessor Darren Sproles, the physical similarities between the two diminutive backs are quite eerie. Oliver rushed 19 times for 114 yards while also adding four receptions for 68 yards while absolutely dusting some defenders in the process. Set to face the Raiders porous run defense this week, owners should fire us Oliver as a RB2 with RB1 upside in a cakewalk matchup. Not to mention that Ryan Mathews has yet to begin running and looks to be at least two weeks away from returning.
Allen has only managed to have one good fantasy game this year even though he’s still seeing a good amount of targets. His groin may be giving him more problems than he’s letting on, and if he can’t get it going against the Raiders this week then it’s time to start worrying. He still has a zilch in the TD column. After consecutive multiple touchdown games, Royal regressed to the mean (3-40) in predictable fashion. Owners shouldn’t be counting on Royal to provide consistent WR3 value, he’s more of a boom-or-bust option. The Jets claimed they were going to double team Gates but he still managed to get free and catch two touchdowns. ‘Ol reliable continues to be a solid TE1 given his presence around the end zone as he’s already notched five scores this year.
Kendall Wright (38/65.8%) 7-5-10-8-8 — Delanie Walker (36/72.2%) 4-14-7-7-4 — Justin Hunter (31/38.7%) 8-6-7-5-5 — Nate Washington (26/38.5%) 6-6-3-4-7 — Dexter McCluster (8/62.5%) 2-1-2-1-2 — Bishop Sankey (4/75%) 0-0-1-2-1
Wright caught two touchdowns in a game for the first time in his young career and continues to lead the Titans wideouts in targets on a weekly basis. Consider him a WR2/WR3 in PPR formats but don’t expect the touchdown binge to continue, he scored two total touchdowns last season. Much has been made of the upside Hunter possesses and he put it on full display as he went 3-99-1 for his best game of the year. The good news is that Hunter is starting and seeing more snaps than incumbent Nate Washington and is the superior talent, so the fantasy goodness should follow. It’s worth mentioning that Hunter has yet to exceed three catches in a game.
Walker posted a middling 4-47 line but when your quarterback situation is Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst inconsistency is to be expected. He’s had a great start to the year and is still a top-10 tight end. Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt announced that Sankey was set to receive an increase in carries, but he failed to follow through on that promise during the game as Shonn Greene inexplicably received more carries than the talented rookie and it appears he’s still in a timeshare. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Titans managed to blow a 28-3 lead when all they had to do was hand the ball off to Sankey, yet the coach stubbornly refused to do so and ended up losing. Embarrassing. Until the results come, you can’t start Sankey at the moment.
Thanks for reading and be sure to comment below with any remarks, questions, or corrections concerning the article. You can follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy.