2014 Fantasy Football: Week 7 AFC Target Report
If you happen to be unfamiliar with the formatting, I will examine the usage of five players by their targets and attempt to describe what it means in relation to said player’s fantasy value. Targets and the percentage of targets caught will be in parentheses to the right. Additionally, the targets will be displayed on a week-to-week basis to the right of the parentheses. Without further ado, the Week 7 AFC Target Report is now live.
Demaryius Thomas – (64 targets/60.9% targets caught) 11-7-9-BYE-16-12-9
After struggling with a case of butterfingers during Denver’s first three games, Thomas has been the best wideout in fantasy football by a mile over the last three games. During that time, he scored an incredible 108.1 points in PPR formats and his 8-171-2 showing against the San Francisco 49ers last week was the icing on top for owners. Over the first six games, Thomas is averaging 10.7 targets a game and his 64 targets are the eighth highest total in the NFL. He is a YAC monster and his average yards per game (110.3) would be a career-high, while his yards per reception (17.0) would be just behind his career-high of 17.2 back in 2011.
Furthermore, Thomas has already posted three 100-yard performances while also hauling in six touchdowns. The 26-year-old out of Georgia Tech is on pace for a mind-blowing 104-1,765-16 line, and I wouldn’t put anything past this guy. There may be some down weeks due to Peyton Manning having an abundance of options in guys like Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Wes Welker, but there is no reason to worry. Trailing only Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson in points, Thomas is locked in as a top-3 WR the rest of the way. He faces the San Diego Chargers in Week 8.
Sammy Watkins – (61/57.4%) 4-11-8-9-12-3-14
It’s safe to say that by averaging 9.7 targets over his last three games, Watkins is enjoying the insertion of Kyle Orton as the Bills quarterback. The 14 targets were especially encouraging after lockdown corner Darrelle Revis shut him down the week prior. Watkins had his best game as a pro in Week 7 as he posted a 9-122-2 line and caught the game-winning touchdown for the Bills with one second left in regulation. He is currently the 11th ranked player in PPR formats and he’s been well worth what he cost on draft day.
His 61 targets rank as the 12th highest total in the NFL and this kind of volume ensures him of weekly WR2 status. Watkins value is still better suited for PPR formats, but lets not discount the fact that the 21-year-old rookie is on pace for an 80-990-9 line. Fire him up this week knowing the odds of him having another big game are good against the porous New York Jets secondary.
Mike Wallace – (52/57.7%) 11-8-12-4-BYE-9-8
Wallace accumulated a 5-46-1 line on eight targets against the Chicago Bears in Week 7, and his five touchdown receptions in six games so far match his total from 2013. He’s well on his way to eclipsing the career-high 10 touchdowns he scored back with the Steelers in 2010. Averaging 8.7 targets and five catches a game, Wallace is precariously close to WR1 value as he comes in as the 15th ranked wideout in PPR leagues but is still better suited as a high-end WR2.
I’m hesitant to declare Wallace an every-week WR1 because of his yards per game (59.8) and YPC (12.0) averages are rather pedestrian. Ryan Tannehill has proved to be completely incapable of hitting Wallace on deep balls, which is essentially depriving Wallace of using his skill set to the fullest. It will be hard for Wallace to keep up the touchdown pace if he doesn’t start getting some deep ones as his 6-foot 200-pound frame isn’t too imposing in red zone situations. Even with those items factored into the equation, the 28-year-old from Ole Miss is still on pace for a 80-957-13 line. Wallace should have little trouble generating a great fantasy performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8.
Rob Gronkowski – (56/55.4%) 11-6-6-3-11-9-10
If it isn’t apparent already, Gronkowski looks to be back to his usual game-changing self on the football field. His usage the last three weeks backs up that claim. Gronk led the New England Patriots in targets in Week 7 and also played a season-high 93 percent of the snaps. Although he only managed a 5-68 line, his outlook the rest of the season is very bright. Week 5 seems to have been the turning point for Gronkowski and since that time, he’s averaging six catches, 10 targets, and 87.3 yards per game. With Jimmy Graham dealing with a shoulder injury and Julius Thomas unlikely to continue his mind-boggling touchdown pace, Gronkowski could very well be the number one tight end from here on out.
It was well known that coming into the season it was going to take Gronk a few games to get back to speed and it appears the plan is working out perfectly. Even with his diminished role in the first four games, he is still on pace for a 71-935-9 receiving line. With his usage back to normal and his injury issues notwithstanding, it’s likely that he finishes with numbers which exceed all the on pace totals. Expect him to get back to his spike-happy ways against the Bears this week.
Keenan Allen – (51/65.4%) 9-6-2-11-7-6-10
Here are the facts. Allen’s 51 targets rank as the 25th-highest total in the NFL, his 34 catches lead the San Diego Chargers and are good enough to be nine clear of the next closest pass-catcher on the team. On the other hand, he has only one 100-yard game, zero touchdowns, and has seen has Y/G (69.7 > 50.6), YPC (14.7 > 10.4), and YAC (6.0 > 2.9) fall off substantially from his sensational rookie season in 2013. It’s mystifying that he has yet to catch a touchdown, and there’s not exactly one issue you can pinpoint it on in particular.
Heading into the season forecasting an extreme sophomore slump for Allen would have been hard to compute, but that’s exactly what is happening at the moment. One factor that is negatively impacting Allen and his fantasy output is that Philip Rivers has a lot of weapons in his disposal in the likes of Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates, Eddie Royal, and Branden Oliver. Spreading out the wealth so to speak is a detriment to Allen’s ability to be a consistent producer. Allen owners have a right to panic, but I still believe the best course of action is to hang onto him as the law of averages say that touchdowns will be coming after finding pay dirt eight times last season. It’s important to remember he is still the team leader in targets and guys like Royal, Gates, and Floyd will likely fade as the season progresses. Fire up Allen as a WR3 this week as he squares off against the Broncos.
Thanks for reading and be sure to comment below with any questions, remarks, or corrections concerning the article. You can follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy.