Wide Receiver Target Analysis: Week 1 (Fantasy Football)
With so many fantasy leagues relying on PPR scoring, tracking targets is an important tool in the arsenal for successful fantasy football players. Whether you’re studying who to pick up on waivers, deciding who to start for Week 2, or want to know what happened during a quiet week of scoring, breaking down all the passes and who they were intended for can help you make better decisions for the rest of the football season.
Now that a 15-game opening slate is in the books, let’s take a look at how all the Week 1 targets played out.
Carson Palmer had an awful opening performance, completing just 27 of 48 attempts and throwing three interceptions. Still, he should bounce back in Week 2 as Arizona travels to take on a Colts defense that just allowed 46 points to the Rams.
Now that David Johnson is expected to miss several weeks, Palmer will be forced to rely less on short passes to his running backs, so we should see the wide receivers pick up the slack. John Brown tied Johnson with eight targets and should see an uptick in looks amid Johnson’s absence.
No surprise that Larry Fitzgerald led the Cards with 13 targets, but he did suffer an uncharacteristic drop. Fitzgerald’s 13 looks were the second-most in the NFL in the opener. At 34, Fitzgerald appeared healthy and fast throughout the game and should still be considered a highly-productive weekly option.
Don’t expect Mohamed Sanu to out-target Julio Jones again this week. Jones ran off a quick three-catch run in the first half but was shut down in the second half by a dogged Chicago secondary, who blanketed Jones and allowed Austin Hooper to get loose on a pair of huge plays.
Speaking of Jones, he’ll be a top-2 option this week as the Falcons open the roof of their brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium against the Green Bay Packers, who surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last season.
We saw a more-or-less even split in touches between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, with Freeman holding a narrow 14-12 lead. Coleman was surprisingly more involved as a receiver, out-targeting Freeman 6-2. Expect Freeman to continue to receive more touches, most of the goal line work, and an increased role in the passing game. If Coleman can consistently get 12-15 touches a week, he’ll remain a weekly flex option.
Danny Woodhead was off to a fast start, catching three-of-three targets on Baltimore’s first drive before suffering a “significant” hamstring injury that will cause him to miss several weeks. Buck Allen came off the bench and ended up leading the Ravens with 21 carries. Moving forward, Terrance West should remain the lead dog, but Allen is a must-add in waivers as he should be in for a substantial role as the main passing down back for a Ravens offense that has led the NFL in pass attempts over the past two NFL seasons.
Joe Flacco did a decent job spreading the ball around, as no Raven eclipsed four targets. The Ravens didn’t do a lot of throwing in the second half as they ground down the clock behind a solid run game and dominant defensive performance. Expect more involvement for the passing attack in Week 2 against Cleveland.
Mike Wallace got only one target but should remain the No. 2 option for Joe Flacco. Four tight ends only got one target apiece, which was unexpected. Breshad Perriman, who caught only one of a team-high four targets, looks like another first-round wide receiver bust.
So far, so good for Tyrod Taylor in Seam McDermott’s offense. Taylor finished Week 1 as the No. 4 fantasy quarterback and looked quite comfortable, throwing for 224 yards and a pair of scores. That said, a Week 2 game at Carolina should be a much better test for Taylor.
Charles Clay had a team-leading eight targets, but probably won’t consistently play that kind of role. The Bills are still trying to establish their new-look receiving corps and once Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones build better chemistry, Clay will return to the bottom of the TE2 tier.
LeSean McCoy led Buffalo with five receptions but evidently could lose out on goal-line carries to Mike Tolbert, who vultured a one-yard score in the fourth quarter to seal the game. McCoy generated 159 yards of offense, however, so even with a tough matchup in Carolina, he will remain a locked-in RB1.
The Panthers did indeed get rookie RB Christian McCaffrey involved early and often. McCaffrey led Carolina with six targets and also received 13 rushing attempts. If McCaffrey continues to get 16-20 touches per week, it’s only a matter of time before he starts getting comfortable and delivering RB1/2 numbers.
Kelvin Benjamin had a disappointing opener, catching only one of five targets for 25 yards, but the misfires were more on Cam Newton and the club holding onto a second half lead than Benjamin. He’ll remain a weekly WR2/3 moving forward, with plus touchdown potential.
Curtis Samuel saw limited action in this game as he worked his way back from an ankle injury. Samuel wasn’t targeted in the opener and is at best the No. 4 WR. The two passes Jonathan Stewart hauled in were the most catches he’s made in a single game since Week 2 of last season.
Speaking of Cohen, he was one of the stars of Week 1, taking the 13 touches he got in 28 snaps and generating 113 yards of offense and a touchdown en route to an RB2 finish for the week. Howard had an ugly drop on what would have been a game-winning touchdown, so it’s entirely possible that Cohen will remain heavily involved in the offense and could even take snaps away from Howard. Cohen should be one of the most sought-after free agents on waivers for Week 2.
Kevin White is out for the year after one game. White has now played five games in three pro seasons. Look for Kendall Wright and Deonte Thompson to start, with Josh Bellamy moving into the slot. The Chicago receiving corps could struggle to do much against an improved Tampa Bay defense that will open its season at home.
Andy Dalton was absolutely brutal, completing just 51.6% of his passes for only 170 yards and throwing four interceptions in a shutout loss at Baltimore. Next up is the vaunted Houston Texans defense on a short rest week, making Dalton an unlikely candidate to have a sudden bounce back Week 2.
Considering how badly Dalton played, A.J. Green still had a decent day, leading the Bengals with nine targets and 74 yards receiving. Green, who has 23 targets combined in his last two games against the Texans, should be able to get the best of Houston’s tandem of Johnathan and Kevin Joseph.
Joe Mixon generated only nine rushing yards on eight rushes but did lead the Bengals backfield with three targets. Mixon caught all three passes and did lead the committee with 11 touches. It should only be a matter of time before Mixon emerges as the RB1, but don’t count on it happening this week against Houston, who remains a solid run defense despite giving up 100 yards to Leonard Fournette in their opener.
Corey Coleman led the Browns in looks and grabs and looked to be clearly ahead of Kenny Britt as Cleveland’s top wideout. Coleman also scored on a short touchdown near the goal line against a tough Steelers defense. Up next is another solid unit, the Ravens, who shut out Cincinnati in their opener.
DeShone Kizer‘s willingness to get the ball to his wide receivers instead of relying on dump offs to his backs and tight ends was a positive. Kizer did have an awful interception but otherwise showed well in his first pro start.
Tight end Seth DeValve tied for the team lead with five targets, easily outpacing celebrated rookie David Njoku, who caught both of his looks for 20 yards. The Ravens allowed only nine yards to tight ends in their opener, so don’t count on either Browns tight end to offer much value this week.
Janoris Jenkins has Dez Bryant‘s number. Over their last three matchups dating back to last season, Bryant has received 23 targets and caught only four passes for 61 yards and no touchdowns. Week 2 could be nearly as difficult for Bryant, facing one of the best cornerback tandems in the league in Denver’s Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib.
With Bryant neutralized, Terrance Williams had a big showing, hauling in six of seven targets for a team-leading 68 yards. Williams only saw seven targets in a game once all of last season, so don’t count on him repeating those numbers too often.
The Broncos look like they are firmly committed to a 1-2 punch at tailback, with C.J. Anderson getting 20 carries and Jamaal Charles taking 10. Both backs combined for 121 yards rushing and identical 4.0 yards per tote figures.
Don’t count on Bennie Fowler as a weekly option after his two-touchdown performance on Monday Night Football. Fowler is well behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in the pecking order and won’t sustain a 2/1 catch-to-touchdown ratio for long.
Each of Denver’s three tight ends got at least one target and made one or more receptions in this game, but Denver is likely to continue to rotate all three, making this a committee to avoid.
|Marvin Jones Jr.||DET||2||2||37||1||0||100||18.5|
The 12 targets that Matthew Stafford sent Golden Tate‘s way were the fifth-most of the opening slate and Tate’s 10 receptions trail only Antonio Brown atop the league leaders standings. Next up for Tate is a tough matchup with the Giant’s elite cornerback tandem of Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Eli Apple.
Rookie WR Kenny Golladay turned heads with a couple of impressive touchdown grabs but also had a pair of drops, which were a concern coming out of Northern Illinois. Don’t expect Golladay to be the most consistent option, but he easily out-targeted T.J. Jones and Marvin Jones, so consider Golladay one of the top priorities on the waiver wire and a solid starting option when the Lions face a favorable defense.
Green Bay Packers
He’s back! Randall Cobb emerged to lead the Packers in targets, receptions, and yards receiving in their opening win over the Seahawks. Cobb finally looks healthy and will definitely take away from the targets that Davante Adams saw last season. It should be a solid Week 2 matchup for all members of the Green Bay passing attack against the Falcons.
Ty Montgomery put to rest any doubts about his role, leading all NFL running backs in the percentage of snaps played and dominating Jamaal Williams in touches, 23-2. Montgomery is a locked-in RB2 with RB1 upside in PPR leagues.
It was a solid showing for TE Martellus Bennett, who hauled in three of five targets for 43 yards. The Falcons allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends last season, so Bennett should be a solid choice as a Week 2 starting option.
DeAndre Hopkins led the entire league with a whopping 16 targets but caught only seven balls. Deshaun Watson, in particular, forced the ball to Hopkins, regardless of coverage. As Watson struggled with accuracy, Hopkins’s efficiency suffered, though he also had a drop. With Watson expected to start on a short week, expect Nuk to be heavily featured once again and remain a locked in WR1.
All three of Houston’s tight ends suffered concussions during the team’s humiliating loss to Jacksonville. With the Texans traveling on a short week, there’s almost no chance that C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin, or Stephen Anderson will be able to suit up against the Bengals. In fact, Fiedorowicz was placed on IR Tuesday. Look for the Texans to promote Evan Bayls from the practice squad.
The Colts were dreadful with Scott Tolzien under center. Tolzien was held to 128 passing yards and completed only five passes to wide receivers. It’s highly likely that recently acquired Jacoby Brissett will get the call and could be a solid sleeper option against an Arizona Cardinals secondary that allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in Week 1.
Colts’ running backs combined for a single target and -4 receiving yards in their opening blowout loss. Both Frank Gore and Marlon Mack received 10 carries, but Gore was far more effective as a runner, while Mack got into the end zone.
With Andrew Luck now expected to miss a minimum of two more weeks, all Colts skill position players should be downgraded. T.Y. Hilton might be the only Colt player worth starting consideration until the quarterback play improves significantly.
After getting out to a commanding lead, the Jaguars made little effort to pass the ball in the second half, instead relying on Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 100 yards in his first game, and a dominant defense to hammer the Texans.
Allen Robinson suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and has been placed on injured reserve. Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee should now be Jacksonville’s starting two receivers and face a solid matchup against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2.
As expected, Jaguars’ tight ends made no impact, receiving only one target and generating no yards. With the Jags firmly committed to a run-first offense, their tight ends are essentially sixth offensive lineman.
Kansas City Chiefs
Don’t expect Alex Smith to exceed 350 passing yards or four touchdown tosses again this season. That said, Smith could put up respectable numbers in Week 2 against a talented Philadelphia secondary that tends to be bend, but try not to break.
Kareem Hunt had a debut for the ages, shaking off a fumble on his first pro attempt to finish Week 1 as the top-scoring option in all of fantasy football. Hunt touched the ball 22 times and generated 246 yards of offense and three scores. Hunt looked phenomenal as a receiver, catching all five targets for 98 yards and two touchdowns. As long as he stays healthy, Hunt should be in contention to be the top fantasy scorer each week.
Tyreek Hill led the Chiefs in targets, catches, and yards and looks very capable of being a WR1 this season. Hill will be on the WR2 radar for Week 2 versus the Eagles.
Los Angeles Chargers
It was good to see Keenan Allen back on the field, leading the Chargers with a healthy 10 targets. While Allen did salvage his day with a touchdown grab, the 50% catch rate and measly 7.0 yards per grab were more indicative of the type of player Allen has been trending towards after a fantastic rookie season. Allen is a WR2 with plus receiving ability but lacks the ceiling that other elite wide receivers offer.
Hunter Henry played 23 snaps and failed to be targeted in this game. While it’s not a shock to see Henry limited by a tough Broncos defense, not getting even one look from Philip Rivers is alarming. Henry should find the going a little easier in Week 2 facing the Miami Dolphins.
Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff looked like a totally different player, putting in the best game of his career and getting his first win as an NFL quarterback. He’s still only an option in 2QB leagues, but Goff could be a solid fill-in this week against a Redskins secondary that was torn apart by Carson Wentz.
While Goff looked noticeably improved, Todd Gurley continued to struggle, generating a paltry 2.1 yards per carry against a haggard Indianapolis Colts run defense. Gurley salvaged his day a five-yard score in the second quarter, but until he can start consistently moving the chains, Gurley will remain an inconsistent source of frustration for fantasy owners.
Thumbs up for Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp in their debuts with the new Rams offense. I mentioned on the Fantasy Pros Podcast that this duo might be the best the franchise has had in a long, long time. In a contract year, Watkins should eventually become a weekly WR2, while Kupp has the potential to be a strong PPR option.
Dalvin Cook looks like he’s going to develop into a three-down workhorse – a victory for fans of studying football film over people that overreact to advanced metrics. Cook rushed 22 times for 127 yards, second only to Kareem Hunt. Cook’s 25 touches dwarfed those of Jerick McKinnon (6) and Latavius Murray (2).
Sam Bradford lit up the Saints secondary, completing 84.3% of his attempts for 346 yards and three scores. Week 2 brings a tougher task for the Vikings passing game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs were the top duo in football in Week 1, combining to catch 16 of 18 targets for 250 yards and a pair of touchdown receptions. In fantasy scoring, Diggs ended up as the WR2 and Thielen the WR4 after Monday night.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady looked every bit of 40-years-old in the opener, struggling with accuracy and failing to throw a touchdown pass in an emotional and humbling opening night home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Ironically, Kansas City went on a 28-3 run in the second half to close out the game. Brady should be a good bet to rebound nicely this week facing a Saints secondary that just got shredded by Sam Bradford on Monday Night Football.
Before you get too excited about Danny Amendola‘s 6-catch, 100-yard performance, keep in mind that the Patriots rarely do what we think they will do and that Chris Hogan, Dion Lewis, Dwayne Allen, or even Matthew Slater could easily absorb those targets any given week. Amendola is certainly worth a waiver add, but monitor his health. Amendola left Week 1 early with a concussion and has yet to be cleared to return to practice.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees just wasn’t able to get much going on the road against a strong Vikings defense, but no need to shy away from him in Week 2. Brees and the Saints return home to face a Patriots defense that allowed the most fantasy points to a quarterback in Week 1.
Adrian Peterson‘s return home was a rough one, as he accounted for only 18 rushing yards and fell way behind Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in playing time. Peterson only played nine snaps, compared to 31 for Kamara and Ingram’s 26. AP should remain the most likely candidate for short yardage work and is on the fantasy radar in games that New Orleans isn’t expected to trail.
Michael Thomas also had a quiet opener, struggling to get open against Xaiver Woods, but he should find the going much easier this week at home against the Patriots, who allowed Tyreek Hill to put up a 7-133-1 line in their opener.
New York Giants
Normally very good in Dallas, Eli Manning struggled to maintain drives and had a forgettable 220-yard, 0 TD, 1 interception opener. The Giants return home to open the season against Detroit’s mediocre secondary, so there’s optimism that Manning, backed by the expected return of Odell Beckham, will rebound in Week 2.
With Beckham inactive, Brandon Marshall had an awful opener, hauling in only one 10-yard pass, There were signs that Marshall was starting to fade last year with the Jets, so it’s entirely possible we’ve seen the last of his dominant days. Before we write him off altogether, let’s reevaluate how Marshall produces with secondary coverage when Odell Beckham returns to the lineup.
With Paul Perkins struggling to make any impact, Shane Vereen led the Giants with 10 targets and nine receptions. Vereen didn’t receive a hand-off but looks like he’ll be a major factor in New York’s passing game.
New York Jets
As expected, Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson saw the majority of snaps and targets among New York’s receiving corps. Hampered by one of the worst quarterback tandems in the league, it’s hard to have any confidence at all in a single member of the Jets’ passing attack.
Matt Forte out-snapped Bilal Powell 35-30, but Powell saw 12 touches to Forte’s nine. Moving forward, expect Powell to start taking a bigger part of the every-down offense and being one of the few Jets that can be counted on to produce on a weekly level.
New York travels cross-country to Oakland to take on the Raiders this week. Not a good spot at all for the Jets.
It was an inefficient, but productive showing for Amari Cooper, who was plagued by a league-worst four drops in Week 1. The good news is that we can finally end the narrative of Cooper having never caught a pass inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. Cooper was actually heavily featured in the red zone in the opener and if he can fix the issues with drops, an increase in touchdowns would push Cooper into the top-five wideouts in the game.
Jared Cook looked good in this game, catching all five targets and finishing third on the team with 56 yards receiving. He won’t score more than a handful of times this season, but Cook should be on the radar for weekly tight end streamers.
As expected, Marshawn Lynch dominated carries and snaps around the goal line. Even after a year off, Lynch took 18 totes and averaged over four yards per carry. Oakland’s strong passing game should put Lynch in favorable situations to rush for 8-10 touchdowns, and he could be in for a big workload this week against a hapless New York Jets squad.
Nelson Agholor took advantage of a poor matchup for Alshon Jeffery to haul in 6-of-8 targets, including a 58-yard touchdown. Overall Agholor played in the slot in three-wide sets but also spent some time outside in the base offense. Another strong opponent looms for the Eagles in Week 2, so it would be unwise to chase his surprising Week 1 output.
It looks like Darren Sproles is the clear RB2 for Philadelphia, as Sproles out-touched preseason darling Wendell Smallwood 11-5. Sproles also caught five balls for 43 yards compared to Smallwood’s one for five. As for Week 2, the Chiefs allowed three rushing scores to Mike Gillislee in their opener, so LeGarrette Blount could have a decent showing in what appears to be a below average matchup.
Zach Ertz led the team in looks, grabs, and yards but has a tough test in Week 2 against a Chiefs defense that allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to tight end in 2016 and shut down Rob Gronkowski last week.
It could be a good time to sell high on TE Jesse James. Expectations are that the Steelers plan to feature Vance McDonald as more of a downfield receiving threat at tight end once McDonald gets caught up and comfortable with Pittsburgh’s playbook.
Martavis Bryant had a rough day, committing a drop, getting barked at by Ben Roethlisberger and catching only two of six targets. Still, Bryant is an elite deep threat but will be maddingly inconsistent. The Steelers are home against a very talented Minnesota defense, so gambling on Bryant’s high ceiling means you have to be willing to take a chance on another poor outing.
Antonio Brown already sits atop the league leaders in yards and receptions. Not an ideal Week 2 opponent for Le’Veon Bell to get going, but it’s just a matter of time. Recall that Bell held out the preseason and may still be shaking off the rust.
Week 1 was a forgettable showing for the Seahawks offense as Russell Wilson barely completed half of his passes for only 158 yards. Wilson struggled behind an offensive line consisting of a turnstile and garbage can. Week 2 should bring some relief as the Seahawks return home to face a bad San Francisco unit.
Time to cut Eddie Lacy, who generated all of three rushing yards and five attempts and was outplayed by Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise. With Thomas Rawls expected back this week, Lacy has no clear path to playing time.
Paul Richardson tied Jimmy Graham for the team high in targets and appears to be clearly ahead of Tyler Lockett in the Seattle receiving corps. Richardson is still value priced in DFS and makes a nice start this week against San Francisco’s leaky secondary.
San Francisco 49ers
As expected, Pierre Garçon led the 49ers in targets and receptions. Garçon doesn’t offer up a lot of touchdown potential but can be a reliable source of catches and yards on a week-to-week basis. Next up, though, is the unenviable task of facing an angry Seattle DST on the road.
Carlos Hyde was one of the few bright spots for San Francisco in their 23-3 Week 1 loss at home. Hyde caught all six of his targets and averaged five yards-per-tote on the ground. He also easily outpaced RB2 Matt Breida and appears to have a stranglehold on touches out of the backfield – usually a good thing in a Kyle Shanahan offense.
Rookie tight end George Kittle should be on the waiver wire and looks like he could be a decent weekly contributor. Kittle was the only San Fran tight end to receive a target in this game and finished third on the club with five grabs and 27 yards receiving.
Pretty evenly-distributed day of passing for Marcus Mariota, but too many Titans’ drives ended up with punts and field goal attempts rather than touchdowns. Mariota still had a solid showing, helping his cause with a 10-yard rushing score.
Eric Decker only hauled in three of eight targets but should be a big part of Tennessee’s red zone offense. Decker got open in the end zone but had a sure touchdown knocked away at the last minute. Decker, Corey Davis, and Rishard Matthews are all worth starts in favorable matchups.
Speaking of matchups, the Titans travel to Jacksonville to face a Jags defene that just forced 10 sacks in Houston. Unlike the Texans, Tennessee boasts one of the league’s top offensive lines, so expect the Titans to have much more success moving the ball in Week 2 than Houston had Sunday.
Terrelle Pryor had a bad drop against the Eagles, but overall drew the most looks from Kirk Cousins and looks to be the clear WR1 for the Redskins. Pryor should have a solid matchup in Week 2 facing the Rams.
Samaje Perine was limited to special teams snaps in the opener, but as long as Rob Kelley is down at three yards per carry, it seems like it will only be a matter of time before the dynamic rookie gets his shot.
There were reports that Jordan Reed is nursing an injured toe, but Reed looked fine in warm-ups and played his usual role, catching five of eight targets. The way to attack a Wade Phillips defense is with tight ends, so Reed could be in for a Week 2 breakout.