Fantasy Football Target Analysis: Week 5
The passing numbers being put up in today’s NFL seem to keep getting more and more insane. Quarterbacks are now hitting the 400-yard passing mark so frequently that it hardly even makes headlines and it seems like every week the number of pass catchers who attract double-digit targets grows longer.
Numbers that recently looked like they came from a video game have become the norm in today’s pass-happy NFL and analyzing all of those passes, and their intended targets is a great way to recognize potential value and sleepers for fantasy football. Here are the NFL pass target results from all 15 games from the Week 5 NFL slate and their potential fantasy football impact moving forward.
Christian Kirk leads Arizona in targets (26), receptions (19), receiving yards (234), and is tied for the team lead now with his 75-yard touchdown grab on Arizona’s first play from scrimmage versus the 49ers. While Larry Fitzgerald still isn’t 100%, Kirk is establishing himself as a legitimate NFL receiver and is widely available on waiver wires. Kirk has a bright dynasty future and could blossom into a WR3/flex option if Josh Rosen can make strides.
No team had allowed more touchdowns to opposing tight ends than San Francisco, but Ricky Seals-Jones was unable to corral any of his five targets, which somehow tied Chad Williams for the team lead on Sunday. Seal-Jones won’t be a recommended play in Week 6 in Minnesota and offers little weekly upside in a stagnant offense.
Speaking of Chad Williams, he’s now caught only four of 19 targets this season, an abysmal 21% catch rate. Williams has totaled 53 receiving yards in five games–22 of which came from one catch. Despite the decent target share, there’s no reason to own Williams in redraft leagues, as he’s been the least productive wideout in the game.
Matt Ryan’s home/road splits through five games:
The Falcons host an atrocious Tampa secondary in Week 6.
Pittsburgh’s struggling pass defense was able to contain Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley quite well, which led to a solid outing for Mohamed Sanu and a huge performance from Austin Hooper, who caught nine out of 11 targets. While Week 6 offers an appealing matchup, Hooper is a somewhat limited TE2
Michael Crabtree had three more drops and now leads the league with eight through five games. Crabtree is still getting plenty of looks, including five red-zone targets, which ties John Brown and Alex Collins for the team lead. Crabtree has led the Ravens in targets for the past three games but Week 5 marked the first time all season that Crabtree has produced more receiving yards than John Brown.
The Ravens have been using multiple tight ends all season and now have added first-rounder Hayden Hurst to the mix. Hurst missed the first four games with a foot injury and should eventually emerge but as long as the club is committed to trotting out an unpredictable grouping, it’s best to avoid Baltimore’s tight ends altogether. If one tight end were to command 75% of the playing time, he’d have top-5 weekly upside.
Joe Flacco wasn’t effective in Cleveland. While the 298 passing yards is fine, it took Flacco 56 throws to hit that mark, which produced a lowly 5.3 yards-per-attempt figure. This was Flacco’s worst performance so far of the 2018 season and the first time the Ravens scored less than 20 points. Baltimore faces another solid defense on the road in Week 6, as the Ravens travel to Tennessee.
|Ray-Ray McCloud III||BUF||1||1||7||0||0|
The Bills have nearly twice as many rusher yards (144) as passing yards (79) in an ugly win against a nearly as impotent Tennessee offense. Josh Allen completed 10-of-19 throws but posted a lower yards-per-attempt number (4.3) than he did yards-per-carry (4.8). Allen’s expected struggles make all members of Buffalo’s receiving corps all but useless in fantasy lineups.
As a testament to how poorly Buffalo’s passing game has played, de facto No. 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin exited Week 5 as the WR86 in PPR formats. Benjamin has caught just seven of 21 targets this season, with 92 receiving yards in five games, three of which he’s led the team in targets.
LeSean McCoy entered Week 5 with 21 carries from 85 yards, then doubled his season-long rushing total on 24 carries. McCoy is struggling to find running room while facing eight and nine-man fronts and finds himself outside of the top-40 fantasy rushers with five games in the books.
The Panthers came off of their bye week a little flat and needed a last-second 63-yard Graham Gano field goal to defeat a bad New York Giants squad. Cam Newton threw for 237 yards and chipped in another 29 on the ground but tossed a pair of interceptions and had a fumble. Meanwhile, Carolina’s defense surrendered 433 yards of offense to the Giants, including 383 through the air.
Curtis Samuel made his 2018 debut and showcases what he can do, catching two of his four targets, flashing solid run-after-catch and tackle-breaking ability on his way to a nifty TD grab, and committing a drop. Best case scenario, Samuel will be fifth in line for targets for a team that will finish with average or below average passing numbers.
Greg Olsen (foot) might return this week, which will help out Carolina’s offense but likely be a detriment to Devin Funchess, whose target and catch numbers have jumped since Olsen exited Week 1. Even with an increased presence, Funchess finds himself outside of the top-50 scoring wideouts through Week 5.
A.J. Green set a new season-high in targets (10) and receiving yards (112) against Miami’s Xavien Howard. This is the second time that Green has produced a big game against Howard. In their previous battle, Green caught 10-of-12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown.
Joe Mixon returned after a two-game absence to produce 115 total yards and a touchdown on 25 touches. Mixon showed no ill effect from the knee injury that kept him out of the previous two games and, in fact, was the only Cincinnati running back to take receive a rushing attempt.
After commanding 29 targets in Cincinnati’s past three games, Tyler Boyd dipped down to five looks against Miami. Andy Dalton struggled to get the Bengals’ offense humming and most of the club’s scoring came via the defense, who scored two touchdowns. Cincinnati should rebound in Week 6 versus a struggling Pittsburgh secondary.
|Duke Johnson Jr.||CLE||1||1||7||0||0|
Jarvis Landry once again led the receiving corps in looks and grabs but the Browns were unable to score more than one touchdown against a fearsome Baltimore defense. Landry has led the Browns in targets in four of the first five games and is on pace to see 157 passes this season, which is only four fewer than he produced for the Dolphins in 2017.
Despite Hue Jackson proclaiming that he needed to get Duke Johnson more involved in Cleveland’s offense, Johnson only received six touches against the Ravens. Through five games, Johnson has only received 27 touches and produced 166 yards. We know Johnson can be a fantasy asset, especially as a receiver, but it’s getting close to the point where fantasy owners who haven’t already lost confidence can cut bait.
Football fans who stayed up to watch the Cowboys and Texans battle for Texas bragging rights were blessed with an ugly game that featured two poorly-coached offenses struggled to mount any credible attack. Dak Prescott passed for only 208 yards and a pair of interceptions while accumulating a lowly 66.4 QB rating.
Ezekiel Elliott was one of the few positives to come out of Dallas’ loss. While Elliott was stifled on the ground, he did catch all seven of his targets to somewhat offset what was a subpar game by Elliott’s high standards.
No Dallas wideout caught more than two balls or exceeded 44 receiving yards. Tight End Geoff Swaim seems to have emerged from the team’s committee but has a very limited ceiling running routes for a passing attack that ranks as one of the least productive in football.
Don’t be fooled by the overall solid numbers out of Denver’s passing game from Week 5. The Broncos were lit up by the Jets, who rushed for 323 yards. The vast majority of Case Keenum‘s production came during garbage time when Denver was trailing by three touchdowns.
Of course, garbage time points are welcomed by fantasy owners, who were pleased with another strong showing from Emmanuel Sanders. Once again, Sanders led the Broncos in targets (13) and catches (9). Through five games, Sanders is a top-20 fantasy wideout that’s looked completely revitalized with Case Keenum under center.
Demaryius Thomas had his best game of the 2018 campaign, including his first 100-yard outing of the young season thanks to a relaxed fourth-quarter effort from the Jets’ secondary. Don’t count on a repeat this week against a Los Angeles Rams that ranks in the top-10 against fantasy wide receivers.
|Marvin Jones Jr.||DET||4||1||8||1||0|
Detroit’s terrific trio of wide receivers accounted for 77% of Matthew Stafford‘s pass attempts against Green Bay. Blocking tight end Levine Toilolo was the only other non-running back on the roster to receive even one Stafford target in the game.
This was the first week of the season where Kenny Golladay out-targeted Golden Tate but the two have strikingly similar season totals. Tate has accounted for five more targets and six more yards than Golladay, while both wideouts have three touchdowns.
Kerryon Johnson again looked excellent as a runner, averaging a brisk 5.7 yards-per-carry but lost out on both short-yardage opportunities to LeGarrette Blount, who plodded his way to 1.8 yards-per-tote but vultured two touchdowns. Both backs led the club with a dozen carries but that can be attributed to Detroit trying to run out the clock and protect a second-half lead.
Green Bay Packers
|Equanimeous St. Brown||GB||4||3||89||0||0|
Green Bay entered Detroit with an injury-riddled receiving corps, yet Aaron Rodgers still threw for a season-high 442 yards and three touchdowns. Davante Adams once again led the way, catching nine-of-12 targets for 140 yards and a score. Adams ranks seventh in the NFL with 51 targets and tied for sixth with four receiving touchdowns.
With Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (concussion) out, fifth-rounder Marquez Valdes-Scantling played 95% of Green Bay’s offensive snaps and produced seven grabs and his first NFL touchdown. Cobb is already looking very iffy for this week’s Monday Night Football showdown with San Francisco, which would put Vales-Scantling in line for another huge snap share in Week 6.
Aaron Jones once again exceeded five yards-per-carry but Mike McCarthy continues to employ a frustrating committee backfield with no end in sight. McCarthy implied that Jones’s struggles in pass protection are the main culprit that is limiting his snaps. Until that element of his game improves, avoiding Green Bay’s backfield seems like the best bet.
A rare dud from Will Fuller, who had scored a touchdown in every game of his career in which he suited up with Deshaun Watson under center. Fuller, who was questionable with a hamstring ailment, was barely a part of Houston’s offensive gameplan despite playing on 77% of the team’s snaps.
Keke Coutee has caught 17 out of 21 targets in his two NFL games. Coutee’s presence in the slot is going to open up even more opportunities for DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. If Houston had a credible offensive line that could open up even small running lanes, the Texans could have one of the most potent offenses in the league.
Deshaun Watson is third in the NFL with 35 red zone passing attempts but Watson has completed just 13 of his 35 passes, a completion percentage of 31.7%. Even though he’s still a top-five fantasy signal-caller, Watson needs to get better in the most important area of the field.
The Colts started off Week 5 by setting the template for garbage time production. Andrew Luck wound up with 365 yards and three scores, which all went to tight ends. With T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) out of the lineup, Indy’s wideouts made little real impact on the game before the fourth quarter.
Eric Ebron leads all NFL tight ends with five touchdowns. Ebron is also third among all NFL players with 12 red zone targets, trailing only Alvin Kamara and Juju Smith-Schuster. As long as Jack Doyle remains out, Ebron is a locked-in elite fantasy tight end.
That’s not a typo–Donte Moncrief really commanded 14 targets in an NFL game. The Jaguars trailed big in this game, so most of those looks can be attributed to Blake Bortles specifically targeting Moncrief downfield in a futile effort to trim Kansas City’s big lead. Moncrief wasn’t particularly effective with his 14 targets, catching just six for 76 yards. He’ll remain third in line for targets behind Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (abdominal) has been placed on IR. Former reserve and now presumptive starter Niles Paul hauled in seven-of-nine targets but won’t see that kind of volume on a week-to-week basis. Like ASJ, Paul would be a touchdown-dependent streaming TE2 play.
Leonard Fournette (hamstring) has already been ruled out for Week 6, which makes T.J. Yeldon a potential RB1 against Dallas. Against Kansas City, Yeldon turned 18 touches into 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes had his first poor outing of the season, failing to throw a touchdown for the first time all season and tossing his first two interceptions. Mahomes did salvage his day somewhat with an 11-yard touchdown run but otherwise was stifled by Jacksonville’s top-ranked defense.
Even the Jaguars couldn’t slow down Travis Kelce, who caught five balls and topped 100 receiving yards for the third time this season. Kelce has exceeded the century mark or scored a touchdown in four straight games and gets to face a New England defense that just allowed the Colts’ tight ends to put up a 12/149/3 line on Thursday.
Sammy Watkins has out-targeted Tyreek Hill in three out of the past four games. After Hill’s explosive opener, this was a predictable outcome. As defenses are focusing more on not getting beat deep by Hill, underneath routes are opening for Watkins and Travis Kelce, who have been rolling since Week 2.
Los Angeles Chargers
Volume has been there for Keenan Allen, but he’s not making much of an impact in the red zone. Last season, Allen led all NFL wide receivers with 26 red zone targets. He’s only gotten five such looks in the first five games of 2018. He’ll remain a PPR monster, but Allen is reverting back to his 2014-2016 form.
Melvin Gordon, on the other hand, has already gotten nine red zone targets, which he’s turned into six grabs and three touchdowns. In addition, Gordon has also received 11 red zone carries and cashed in three more touchdowns. Gordon’s red zone success has been key for the Chargers and for Allen’s reduced scoring.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams’ offense kept humming, even after losing wideouts Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp to concussions. Josh Reynolds, who caught a pair of balls for 39 yards, would be next man up if either of LA’s two injured starters are unable to suit up against Denver.
Since posting a 4/81/2 line in a loss to the Rams back in Week 3, Mike Williams has caught only four out of seven targets for 60 yards in the Chargers’ past two games.
DeVante Parker (quad) missed another game and is reportedly on the trade block. There’s almost no chance another team is going to trade for Parker with his salary and lack of production to this point of his career. Limited to only one game worth of action, Parker will have a hard time moving past Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant to earn targets behind Kenny Stills.
Adam Gase gave Frank Gore twice as many carries as Kenyan Drake earned, but Drake more than made up for it by catching seven out of nine targets for 69 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins haven’t displayed a consistent ability to run the ball so far, so expect both backs to continue to be involved.
Adam Thielen is now tied with Antonio Brown for the NFL lead in targets (65) while ranking first in receptions (47) and second in yards (589). Thielen and Stefon Diggs combined to catch 17 of their 21 targets and racked up 207 receiving yards against the Eagles.
Laquon Treadwell only played 48% of Minnesota’s snaps, which was his lowest snap rate of the season. Aldrick Robinson, who caught a pair of touchdowns in Week 4, played a season-high 15 out of 32 snaps, which was 24%.
New England Patriots
The biggest takeaway from New England’s dismantling of an overmatched Colts team was the return of Julian Edelman, who looked right at home. Edelman led New England’s receiving corps in targets (8) and catches (7) and will help open things up for Rob Gronkowski and Josh Gordon, who scored his first touchdown with the Patriots.
Cordarrelle Patterson appears to be the biggest loser from Edelman’s return. Patterson dropped from 41 snaps in Week 4 all the way down to eight versus Indianapolis. Phillip Dorsett also played 15 fewer snaps, while Gordon and Chris Hogan saw no change in their snap rates.
James White is on pace to catch over 100 passes. That rate will likely slow down with Edelman back commanding his share of outlet targets but White is a locked-in RB1/2 in PPR formats.
New Orleans Saints
After a sizzling start, Michael Thomas has cooled off. Thomas commanded double-digit targets in each of the Saints’ first three contests but has caught only four out of five combined targets in the past two games. Thomas enters the bye week with a ridiculous 93.8% catch rate.
Third-round rookie Tre’Quan Smith replaced Ted Ginn (knee) as the outside wideout and had a huge performance, catching two touchdown bombs, including a 62-yarder from Drew Brees that broke the NFL’s all-time passing yardage mark for Brees. Smith will likely take a back seat when Ginn returns but his dynasty stock, which at one point was one of the best values of the summer, is on the rise.
Sign me up for all the Tre'Quan Smith at his current ADP of 44.
— Jody Smith (@JodySmithNFL) April 30, 2018
New York Giants
|Odell Beckham Jr.||NYG||13||8||131||1||1|
The squeaky wheel once again got the grease as Odell Beckham finally had his breakout game, catching eight balls for 131 yards and a score. Beckham also tossed a 56-yard score to Saquon Barkley and more-or-less had his way with a Carolina secondary that has struggled against wideouts so far in 2018.
Barkley was stifled on the ground but made a huge impact as a pass-catcher, hauling in all four of his targets for 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Barkley has only topped 50 rushing yards twice so far this season but has managed to surpass 100 total yards in every contest. The No. 2 overall pick is on pace to exceed 1,862 total yards, catch 99 passes and score 16 touchdowns.
Rhett Ellison did little damage playing for the injured Evan Engram. Diagnosed with a sprained MCL that will cost him two-to-four weeks, Engram has missed two games and could be inching closer to playing. He’ll likely sit out this week with the Giants on the road for a Thursday game but could return as early as Week 7, which is a Monday night affair in Atlanta.
New York Jets
The Jets pretty much had a practice session against Denver’s solid defense. In addition to Darnold’s three touchdown strikes, New York ran for 383 yards and missed out on having two 100-yard rushers by one yard.
Isaiah Crowell rushed for 212 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. While playing just 25 snaps.
Hopefully, you’ve been reading this series weekly and knew about Amari Cooper‘s consistent record of being inconsistent in even versus odd weeks. Cooper continued that trend after being completely neutralized by Casey Hayward in Week 5. The Raiders are traveling to London this week to face Seattle, so expect a solid rebound from football’s Bret Saberhagen.
Seth Roberts out-snapped Martavis Bryant for the first time since Bryant debuted in Week 2. This likely had to do with the blowout nature of the game. Neither player made much of a real impact on the game until it was well out of hand. Bryant led the club with 91 yards and at least offers some week-to-week upside.
Jared Cook caught four out of six passes but only produced 20 yards. Seattle has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends so far in 2018, so Cook could have another rough outing in London.
Jay Ajayi apparently played on a torn ACL but has now been placed on IR. Never one to embrace a feature back, Doug Pederson will now likely be more reliant on the passing game and a makeshift backfield of Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles, and Josh Adams.
Alshon Jeffery struggled to get going in his second game of the season. Jeffery faced off with Xavier Rhodes, who has struggled so far in coverage. Rhodes has earned a 55.4 grade so far this season from Pro Football Focus, which ranks 89th among NFL cornerbacks.
Tight ends combined to catch 12 out of 13 Carson Wentz targets. The bulk of that production came from Zach Ertz, who reeled in 10-of-11 for 110 yards and a touchdown. Next up for the Eagles is a short rest week traveling to New York to face a Giants defense that ranks third in the league defending tight ends.
Antonio Brown got past his recent struggles and recorded a 101-yard outing with a pair of touchdown strikes from Ben Roethlisberger. Brown’s 13 targets were the third highest from the Week 5 slate and he’s now tied with Adam Thielen atop the NFL target leaders board with 65 looks through five games.
Juju Smith-Schuster got the scoring started but had a fairly quiet game after his first-quarter TD grab. Despite the promising start, Smith-Schuster had a season-low in targets, receptions, and yardage. After opening the 2018 campaign with three consecutive 100-yard outings, Smith-Shuster has totaled 94 in Pittsburgh’s past two games.
Neither Pittsburgh tight end made much of an impact against Atlanta’s struggling secondary. Vance McDonald is still the player to target in fantasy lineups but Week 5 is a stark reminder of the volatility of how the Steelers use the position. It’s hard to trust either player on the road in Week 6, even in an appealing matchup with a Cincinnati defense that has struggled to defend tight ends all season.
San Francisco 49ers
|Victor Bolden Jr.||SF||4||1||10||0||0|
|Richie James Jr.||SF||1||1||7||0||0|
Week 5 was a forgettable performance for Pierre Garçon, who led the Niners with 10 targets but committed three drops, including a goal-line snag that would have pulled San Francisco to within striking distance. With Marquise Goodwin (hamstring) out, Garçon acted as the team’s top wideout but he’s consistently been better in a complementary role. With no touchdown upside and receiving targets from C.J. Beathard instead of Jimmy Garoppolo, Garçon is barely fantasy relevant.
Matt Breida (ankle) could miss some time, which will make Alfred Morris close to a fulltime player at running back. Morris produced 91 yards on a season-high 21 touches. An interesting name for PPR leaguers to keep in mind is fullback Kyle Jusczyk, who caught six-of-seven targets for 75 yards.
Don’t read too much into Trent Taylor‘s touchdown or healthy target share. Nearly all of that production came in garbage time, during the fourth quarter of a game that Arizona had already iced. Taylor hadn’t eclipsed 28 yards all season before Week 5 and isn’t a good bet to repeat last week’s production again, even without Marquise Goodwin in the lineup. Taylor is a low-upside, low-volume outlet receiver who plays for a team that will likely have bottom-5 passing numbers for the rest of the season.
No reason to hold onto Brandon Marshall anymore. Since Week 2, when Marshall’s snap count peaked at 53, he’s dipped to 43,24, and a mere seven snaps against the Rams. Marshall appears to have been usurped by 2017 seventh-rounder David Moore, who tied for the team lead in targets and catches and also hauled in a pair of touchdowns.
Despite being on the field for 88% of Seattle’s snaps, Doug Baldwin only commanded one target against the Rams’ tough secondary. Baldwin is healthy but was victimized by a poor game script and tight coverage from LA slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Rashaad Penny did not play a single offensive snaps but the Seahawks still ran for 190 yards. Chris Carson led the way with 19 carries for 116, while Mike Davis chipped in a dozen totes for 68 yards and another touchdown. Those who own and have held onto Penny in redraft leagues can likely move on from the disappointing rookie.
No Titans’ pass-catcher reached 50 receiving yards in a day that was a complete disaster for Tennessee’s offense. After rolling up 344 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week, Tennessee managed to produce just 121 passing yards and no scores in Buffalo.
Corey Davis once again led the Titans in targets, which he’s done in four out of Tennessee’ first five games. Predictably, Davis struggles when facing elite cornerbacks. The Jaguars held the sophomore wideout to his lowest output of the season back in Week 3, while Tre’Davious White limited Davis to 49 yards in Week 5. It might not get much better for Davis this week as the Titans host a Ravens squad that just got Jimmy Smith back from a four-game suspension.
In an effort to pull one positive out of Tennessee’s awful Week 5 showing, Derrick Henry finally topped 3.2 yards-per-carry in a game for the first time. Henry totaled 56 yards on 11 totes but failed to catch his only target in the passing game. Henry won’t even be a recommended flex play next week against a stout Baltimore defense.
Overall a pretty dreadful performance out of Washington’s offense, which was doubly disappointing considering the team was coming off of a bye and had a full two weeks to prepare for a New Orleans defense that had played terribly through the first month of the season. Alex Smith completed less than 60% of his passes, had no touchdown passes, took three sacks, and had two turnovers.
Maurice Harris started in place of Josh Doctson (foot) but made didn’t enjoy much more success than Doctson has had all season. Harris reeled in three-of-seven targets for 47 yards. Harris tied with Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson to lead the team in targets in New Orleans.
As bad as the New Orleans secondary has been, the Saints have done a solid job defending tight ends. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis combined to catch only three passes for 36 yards. No opposing tight end has caught more than three passes against the Saints, who also have yet to allow a touchdown this season to the position. Things should get much easier for Reed in Week 6 as the Redskins face off with a Carolina defense that ranks 23rd against tight ends.