Fantasy Football Target Analysis: Week 7
Cheesy 80s thriller movies and Halloween costumes aren’t the only scary things that are on the agenda as we enter Week 8. The 2018 fantasy football season is now halfway over and we are a mere two months away from another season being finished.
If only the regular season could linger as long as the spring and summer seem to last.
We might be entering the second half of the season but at least the first seven weeks offered some fantastic, record-setting football. With all those passes being attempted each and every week, analyzing the targets is still one of the best ways we can take advantage by finding value.
Using data from our friends at Pro Football Focus, here are all the targets from Week 7 and what it means for fantasy football moving forward.
It was good to see Larry Fitzgerald finally get into the end zone but overall, it was another poor fantasy outing. While he is reportedly fully healthy now, Fitzgerald has become a non-factor. He hasn’t surpassed five catches or 40 yards since Week 1 and enters Week 8 well outside of the top-50 in wide receiver scoring. With Josh Rosen under center, that’s unlikely to get much better.
Chad Williams had his best game of the season, but that isn’t saying much. Williams has an abysmal 31% catch rate on the season, despite playing over 79% of Arizona’s offensive snaps. Perhaps things will improve with a new play-caller, but Williams could find himself on the bench sooner than later.
Jermaine Gresham out-snapped Ricky Seals-Jones for the first time but that was because Seal-Jones exited Thursday’s game with an arm injury. If Seal-Jones is forced to miss any time, Gresham offers next to zero fantasy value.
Week 7 was a somewhat tame showing out of Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ passing game, who had been soaring at home. Ryan completed 31-of-39 for 379 yards but only tossed one touchdown, which went to Marvin Hall and helped nobody. Calvin Ridley, Austin Hooper, and Mohamed Sanu all had somewhat disappointing performances against a strong Giants’ secondary.
Tevin Coleman was once again held in check until he sprinted 30 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown to give Atlanta a 20-6 lead. Coleman has taken over the lead role normally held by Devonta Freeman but is in a healthy timeshare with rookie Ito Smith.
With another nine grabs and 104 receiving yards, Julio Jones now has 2,256 receiving yards over the past two seasons, which leads the NFL. 105 players have scored more than the three touchdowns that Jones has accumulated over the same span. Jones is on pace to exceed 1,800 yards this season but has yet to record his first TD grab.
The Ravens continue to rotate four tight ends in and out of the lineup which effectively negates any fantasy value for the position. Nick Boyle has played the most snaps but has only recorded 13 receptions this season. Hayden Hurst should eventually emerge but as long as Marty Mornhinweg sticks to the rotation, all can be ignored.
John Brown exploited a Saints’ secondary that has given up a ton of deep passes to the tune of seven catches for 134 yards and his fourth touchdown grab. The yardage was a season-high for Brown, who has scored or exceeded 75 yards in five of Baltimore’s first seven contests.
Willie Snead did his part to kill the revenge-game narrative by having his worst game of the season against his former employers from New Orleans. Snead was held to season-low three catches and 23 yards and committed a pair of ugly drops.
Derek Anderson fared no better than Josh Allen or Nathan Peterman have for the overwhelmed Buffalo offense. Anderson threw 175 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions, and compiled a dreadful 39.8 QB rating. Allen is expected to miss at least one more start, so regardless of who is under center for this week’s Monday Night contest against the Patriots, there’s almost zero fantasy value for this Bills’ squad.
Kelvin Benjamin had his best game of the season with Anderson under center but enters the second half of the fantasy season with one touchdown and a mere 14 grabs–four of which came in Week 7. Benjamin might be Buffalo’s WR1 but he’s not even a WR4 for fantasy purposes.
Chris Ivory was the lone bright spot for the Bills, as Ivory came off the bench to produce 106 yards of offense on 19 touches. If LeSean McCoy (concussion) is unable to suit up for Week 8, Ivory would be looking at a heavy workload against a vulnerable New England run defense.
The Panthers had no offensive success at all until the fourth quarter, when Cam Newton threw for over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Carolina made a stunning comeback with 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points. Newton also led the team with 49 rushing yards.
Week 7 was the fourth consecutive game in which Devin Funchess led Carolina in targets. In the past, Funchess has tended to struggle when Greg Olsen is in the lineup, but that hasn’t occurred in the past two games that Olsen has been active in. In fact, Funchess enters Week 8 in the top-30 in PPR points but faces a tough task in Week 8 as the Panthers host an excellent Baltimore defense.
Christian McCaffrey’s rushing attempts have declined in four consecutive games, bottoming out at Week 7’s seven attempts. McCaffrey remains heavily-involved in the passing game but concerns about his ability to hold up to a featured role, and losing goal-line work to Cam Newton, have certainly played out. McCaffrey is the only current RB1 who has not rushed for a touchdown yet this season and that’s unlikely to change in Week 8 as the Panthers host Baltimore’s top run-stopping unit.
The Patriots have struggled to defend tight ends and Trey Burton exploited that weakness to produce his best numbers of the 2018 season. Burton has now scored a touchdown in three straight games and enters Week 8 as the No. 6 fantasy tight end.
Stephone Gilmore completely locked down Allen Robinson, who caught only 1-0f-5 targets for four yards, despite 333 passing yards from Mitchell Trubisky. A-Rob should rebound quickly as the Bears host a Jets’ secondary that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts in Week 8.
Don’t get too excited about Kevin White’s 64 yards. 54 of those yards came on a last-second Hail Mary pass that came up short of the end zone. White only played 20 snaps and is firmly behind Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller on the depth chart.
A.J. Green has a monster 14 targets, which was the second-most from Sunday’s games. Green also did most of his damage in the first half, before the score got out of hand, so there was no garbage time stat-padding. He’ll be a locked-in top-5 wideout in Week 8 as the Bengals look to bounce back against Tampa’s awful secondary.
John Ross aggravated the groin injury that kept him out of Weeks 5 and 6. Ross is likely to be sidelined for a while, with Week 10 looking to be a realistic timeframe for a potential return. Alex Erickson should take over Ross’s spot but offers little upside. Ross can be dropped in redraft leagues.
Jarvis Landry’s 15 looks topped the NFL this week and moved Landry into second overall, with 81 targets on the season. Landry’s rate has slowed down quite a bit, but he’s still on pace to catch 94 passes for 1,118 yards and score seven touchdowns.
This is the second game in a row that Damion Ratley finished second on the receiving corps in targets. It remains to be seen what role, if any, Ratley will have once Rashard Higgins (knee) returns to the lineup. Higgins has missed the past two games with a sprained MCL.
Dak Prescott has improved as a passer in the past month but Dallas still has one of the least-productive receiving corps in football–at least from a fantasy perspective. Outside of Cole Beasley, only one Cowboys wide receiver has caught more than four passes in any one game, and that came this week with Allen Hurns’s 5/74/0 effort.
That should change following the bye when Dallas works in Amari Cooper, who was acquired from the Raiders for a first-round pick. Cooper has struggled with concentration drops and inconsistency, which seems like a bad fit for a Dallas passing attack that hasn’t accomplished much. However, Cooper is still just 24 years old and has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons on his resume. He’ll get a week off to learn Scott Linehan’s offense and will be on the WR3 radar for Dalla’s next game, Monday, November 5th versus the Titans.
Ezekiel Elliott’s 34 rushing yards was the lowest output he’s had since Week 2 of the 2017 season when the Broncos held him to eight yards on nine attempts. Zeke has the Week 8 bye to get right but has consecutive contests against top-10 run defenses from Tennessee and Philadelphia beginning in Week 9.
Emmanuel Sanders topped 100 receiving yards for the third time this season and enters Week 8 as the No. 6 fantasy wideout in PPR formats. Sanders has led Denver’s receiving corps in targets in six out of seven games and should be a solid bet or another week of WR1 production in Week 9 as the Broncos travel to Kansas City to take on a Chiefs squad that has allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
TE Jeff Heuerman caught a would-be touchdown that was negated by a penalty and ended up putting up goose eggs for the first time this season. Heuerman has topped an 80% snap rate in three out of Denver’s past four games, which puts him on the streaming radar, particularly in an appealing Week 8 matchup with Kansas City.
Rookie running back Royce Freeman injured his ankle late in Denver’s blowout win over Arizona. He’ll have a few extra days to recover but if Freeman is unable to suit up against Kansas City, Phillip Lindsay would have RB1 upside versus the Chiefs’ bottom-three run defense.
Kerryon Johnson continues to get better as a runner and also show well in the passing game. Johnson is averaging 6.4 yards-per-carry for the season and is posting over seven yards-per-tote in the three games in which he’s received double-digit rushing attempts.
This was a rather easy win for the Lions, mostly because of Johnson and a rushing attack that produced 248 yards on the ground against the Dolphins. Matthew Stafford threw a season-low 22 passes and has been held under 220 passing yards in consecutive games. Week 8 could be another quiet outing for Stafford as the Lions host a Seattle defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks but been very ordinary against the run.
As Detroit was able to ground out an easy road win, Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay set season-lows in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. They should both bounce back in Week 8 but Seattle’s rebuilt secondary poses somewhat of a problem.
As expected, there weren’t many offensive fireworks in a Texans versus Jaguars AFC South grudge match. Injured quarterback Deshaun Watson was limited to a season-low 139 passing yards but still fared significantly better than Blake Bortles, who wound up getting benched. The matchup for Week 8 won’t be as tough for Watson and Houston’s passing offense but on short rest hosting a solid Miami secondary, Watson will barely be on the QB2 radar.
Keke Coutee re-injured his troublesome hamstring and is expected to miss Thursday night’s game. Starting tight end Ryan Griffin (illness) missed the Jacksonville game but should be ok for Week 8. He could see a few extra targets with Coutee sidelined.
Jalen Ramsey held DeAndre Hopkins to just three grabs, but Nuk got the better of the matchup, including a 10-yard touchdown and one-handed, 31-yard grab on a perfectly thrown ball from Watson. Will Fuller also had a solid outing, catching six out of eight targets for 68 yards against A.J. Bouye.
T.Y. Hilton had a quiet, but very effective first game back. Hilton was held to only four targets but caught each once, including a pair of red zone touchdown receptions. Despite missing a pair of games, Hilton is tied for the NFL lead with four touchdown receptions inside the 10-yard line.
Marlon Mack produced 159 yards of offense and pair of touchdowns on 21 touches. Mack is averaging 6.9 yards-per-carry in two starts since returning from a hamstring ailment.
Andrew Luck was held to only 156 passing yards but tossed another four touchdowns in an easy, workman-like victory over the punchless Buffalo Bills. Luck continues to lead the NFL in passing attempts and should be in line for another top-10 performance against a leaky Oakland secondary this week.
Blake Bortles lost a pair of fumbles early and wound up getting benched as Jacksonville dropped their third consecutive contest. Things won’t get much easier for the Jaguars this week as they fly across the pond to take on the defending Super Bowl champions in London prior to a Week 9 bye.
Donte Moncrief was the only bright spot that came from Jacksonville’s stagnant passing attack. Nearly all of Moncrief’s production came in the second half in a futile comeback effort led by Cody Kessler. Moncrief was shut out in Week 7 and remains a volatile WR4.
Leonard Fournette (hamstring) will likely be held out until after the bye. That should lead to Carlos Hyde making his debut in London. Hyde will cede passing down work to T.J. Yeldon and has a tough matchup with an Eagles run-stopping unit that ranks ninth in terms of limiting fantasy points to running backs. Hyde will be limited to RB2/3 status in Week 8.
Kansas City Chiefs
An underrated development in Tyreek Hill’s ascension to top-10 NFL wide receiver has been his much-improved red zone participation. After playing very little role in that area last year, Hill’s four red zone touchdowns so far in 2018 are tied for fourth in the league.
After catching just five passes in Kansas City’s first five games, Kareem Hunt has hauled in five in each of the past two contests, including a pair of touchdown grabs against the Bengals.
Los Angeles Chargers
LA’s bye week is coming at the worst time for wideout Tyrell Williams, who has caught seven-of-eight targets for 236 yards and three touchdowns in the past two games.
The opposite is the case for Keenan Allen, whose frustration boiled over in London. Allen hasn’t scored or exceeded 100 receiving yards since the season opener. He also continues to play very little role in the red zone after leading all NFL wideouts in red zone targets in 2017. Following their Week 8 bye, Allen could find himself outside of the top-30 in wide receiver PPR scoring.
Melvin Gordon (hamstring) was held out of Week 7 but the injury isn’t expected to be an issue moving forward. The Chargers simply wanted to give Gordon a full two weeks to rest and recover. Gordon will be back in RB1 territory when the Chargers face Seattle in Week 9.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams didn’t even need much of an offensive showing to blow out the 49ers by 29 points. Jared Goff only threw for 202 yards but tossed a pair of touchdowns. Todd Gurley didn’t even lead the team in rushing as Malcolm Brown turned 13 carries into 65 yards. Things won’t be as easy for the Rams in Week 8 versus the Packers, so we should see a boost in offensive production.
Week 7 was the fourth time in seven games that Robert Woods led the Rams in targets. Woods is on pace to catch 94 balls for 1,376 yards and seven touchdowns.
Despite the increased playing time with Cooper Kupp’s absence, Josh Reynolds made no impact against San Francisco. Reynolds received only one target, which he hauled in for 19 yards. If Kupp sits out Week 9 against Green Bay, Reynolds won’t command enough targets to be fantasy-relevant.
Danny Amendola led Miami in targets and receptions and should be considered a priority waiver wire add. Kenny Stills (groin) isn’t expected play against the Texans and Albert Wilson (hip) has already been ruled out. Amendola’s best two games have come in back-to-back weeks with Brock Osweiler under center, and he should be in a good position to lead the injury-marred receiving corps in targets once again.
Brock Osweiler has breathed some life into Miami’s passing attack, throwing for 619 yards and five touchdowns in two starts. Week 8 offers up a really interesting dynamic for Osweiler and the Dolphins, as Miami travels to Houston on a short week to take on Osweiler’s former employer. There was reportedly bad blood between the free agent bust and Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien so it will be interesting to see who gets the better of this Thursday night matchup.
The Vikings now have two of the top three wide receivers in targets as the fantasy season reaches its midpoint. Adam Thielen leads the NFL with 91 targets, while Stefon Diggs comes in third with 74. Diggs has actually out-targeted Thielen in three out of the past four Vikings’ games.
Thielen and Diggs have accounted for 55% of Kirk Cousins‘s 300 pass attempts this season. That leaves little room for a consistent role behind the outstanding duo. Kyle Rudolph is only averaging five targets-per-game and is in danger of falling out of TE1 range due to a lack of consistent looks.
The Vikings will travel to New Orleans this week, which is a poor matchup for the ground game. Even if Dalvin Cook returns, he’ll likely split time with Latavius Murray. The Saints have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs but have surrendered the most in the league to wideouts.
New England Patriots
Sony Michel apparently avoided a serious knee injury but is likely to miss at least one game. The Patriots are down to just satellite back James White and journeyman Kenjon Barner in the backfield. Expect New England to bring in some veterans for tryouts this week and it would be no surprise for a player who wasn’t employed last week to wind up rushing for two scores for New England on Monday.
It’s doubtful that James White would be called upon to take a significantly larger share of the carries. White has been tremendous as a receiver and the Patriots won’t move away from something that has been so effective. White is on pace to catch 103 balls this season.
Josh Gordon had his first 100-yard outing for the Patriots just one week after scoring his first touchdown. Gordon’s snap rate continues to grow, and he’s building more of a rapport with Tom Brady. Gordon faces a tough matchup against Buffalo in Week 8 but the Bills’ lack of ability to sustain drives or score points is going to give Brady and Gordon plenty of opportunities to continue to thrive.
New Orleans Saints
As expected, Baltimore did a solid job in pass coverage against the Saints. In fact, only two New Orleans wideouts were even targeted in the game. Slot receiver Cameron Meredith made no impact, while Tre’Quan Smith caught three passes taking over for Ted Ginn.
Alvin Kamara bounced back in the rushing department, jumping from six carries in Week 6 to a team-high 17 against the Ravens, including a goal-line score. Kamara’s role in the passing game, however, is a concern. In the two games since Mark Ingram returned to the team, Kamara set a new season-low in targets and catches. After averaging 153 total yards-per-game without Ingram, Kamara has put up just 57 yards in the past two contests.
A rare off game for Michael Thomas, who was credited with a pair of drops after entering the game with an unbelievably good 93% catch rate. Thomas salvaged his day with a red zone touchdown and remains an elite option in a Week 9 matchup with Minnesota that is shaping up to be another wild shootout.
New York Giants
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Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard both had outstanding games against Atlanta’s overwhelmed secondary. The Falcons have allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers, including an NFL-worst 12 touchdowns. Beckham needed 59:50 to nab his touchdown but still exceeded triple-digit yards for the fourth time this season.
Evan Engram returned to the field after missing three games. Engram caught just two out of four targets for 16 yards but should start to become a much bigger part of New York’s offense. Considering the sad overall state of the tight end position, Engram should be viewed as a top-10 weekly option moving forward.
We saw the good and bad from Eli Manning. On one hand, Manning completed 71% of his passes and averaged 10.5 yards-per-attempt while falling one yard shy of 400 yards. On the other, Manning’s complete lack of awareness cost the Giants close to 40 seconds at the end of the game that they desperately needed. From a fantasy perspective, Manning is still little more than a streaming QB2.
New York Jets
Jermaine Kearse was one of the biggest disappointments of the Week 7 slate. Kearse caught 9-of-9 for 94 yards in Week 6 versus the Colts and moved into the starting lineup for the injured Quincy Enunwa. A popular waiver wire add, Kearse was shut out on a mere two targets. He’ll get at least one more start this week but will be no more than a volatile WR3 against a beatable Chicago secondary.
Third running back Trenton Cannon replaced the injured Bilal Powell and ended up leading the Jets with four grabs and 69 receiving yards. If Powell is forced to miss any further time with that neck injury, Cannon offers some RB3/flex value in PPR leagues.
Sam Darnold tried to force the ball to Robby Anderson but was mostly unsuccessful due to tight coverage from Xavier Rhodes, who limited Anderson to three catches for 44 yards. Anderson will be a solid WR3/flex option against a Bears’ secondary that has ceded the seventh-most points to wide receivers so far in 2018.
Alshon Jeffery remained red hot, corralling seven out of 10 looks for 88 yards and his fourth touchdown in as many games. Jeffery has led Philadelphia’s receiving corps in targets in the past three games and is averaging a healthy 9.5 targets-per-week since he made his Week 4 debut.
Carson Wentz continued to look like his 2017 self, throwing for 310 yards and a pair of touchdowns but the Eagles failed to try to grind out the clock in the fourth quarter, which led to a furious comeback from the Panthers. Things won’t get much easier for the 3-4 defending champs as the Eagles must fly to London to take on a desperate Jaguars squad that still boasts the league’s second-best defense against opposing fantasy quarterbacks.
Zach Ertz tied Alshon Jeffery with a team-high 10 targets en route to a nine-catch, 138-yard effort. Ertz now has a sizable lead as the No. 1 fantasy tight end. He’s commanded 18 more targets and caught 19 more passes than Travis Kelce, who is second in the NFL in both categories.
San Francisco 49ers
The Rams blew the doors off of the 49ers, who had very little offensive success. San Fran’s wide receivers combined to catch only four passes for 35 yards.
George Kittle remains the lone bright spot for the 49ers struggling offense. Kittle caught five out of eight targets for 98 yards and his second touchdown grab of the season. Kittle has five-plus grabs in 5-of-7 games.
Kyle Shanahan would be wise to let Matt Breida take a week or two off to fully heal his ankle. Breida is trying to tough it out and play through the injury but he was limited five snaps. If that happens, Raheem Mostert would be a high-priority waiver wire add with a tasty Week 8 matchup against Arizona’s 32nd ranked run defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DeSean Jackson has now topped 100 receiving yards in only one of his past 14 games with Jameis Winston as his signal-caller. Jackson only played 43 snaps against the Browns, which ranked fourth among Tampa’s wideouts. Jackson only commanded four targets but did supplement his output with a 14-yard end around for a rushing score. Jackson’s usage and role are trending in the wrong direction, but he’ll still be a viable WR3 against a lousy Cincinnati secondary.
Tampa Bay’s running backs stumbled their way to a lowly 2.55 yards-per-carry figure and combined to catch only two out of four targets. It was another poor showing and Dirk Koetter indicated that Peyton Barber was injured during the game. Both of these factors could end up leading to Ronald Jones, who scored his first NFL touchdown, getting his first opportunity to start.
With Corey Davis shadowed by Casey Hayward, the door was open for Taywan Taylor to have a solid outing for the Titans. Instead, Taylor was invisible and Tajae Sharpe stepped up to have his best game of the season. Sharpe hadn’t caught more than three passes or exceeded 33 yards in any one game before exploding for seven grabs and 101 yards against the Chargers.
Tennessee’s offense has been a mess all season. Marcus Mariota hasn’t looked good at all in Matt LaFleur’s offense. He struggled with injuries early, but Mariota has been held under 150 passing yards in four of his six games and is posted a 6.9 yards-per-attempt figure that would be the lowest of his career. The Titans desperately need this Week 8 bye to see what changes that they can make to salvage any sort of credible offense.
Props to Derrick Henry for finally getting that first rushing score of the season. In this struggling offense, he’ll be lucky to get to his usual figure of five touchdowns in 2018. A third-year back that came with a ridiculously inflated third-round 2018 ADP, Henry is one pace to run for 624 yards.
Washington produced only 305 yards of offense but did enough to beat Dallas and move alone into first place in the underachieving NFC East. Alex Smith only threw for 178 yards and no Washington pass catcher manage to top 43 yards.
With Jamison Crowder (ankle) and Paul Richardson (knee) out of the lineup, Josh Doctson led Washington in targets for the first time but was still unimpressive. Doctson has been in on well over 70% of the club’s offensive snaps but has only managed to catch 11 passes this season. The former first-round pick doesn’t look like he’s going to develop into much of anything, at least not in this offense.