Fantasy Football Target Analysis: Week 14
The fantasy playoffs are underway and in most leagues Week 14 was the opening round. If you’re concerned about last week’s NFL passing targets, that means that you probably won your opening postseason matchup, so congratulations are in order.
If you’re still alive heading into Week 15, you’ve obviously been putting in the work. Analyzing the opportunities and trends of the previous week’s targets has likely played a key role in your weekly prep work. With a must-win Week 15 on deck, putting in that work is as important as ever.
Here are all the NFL passing targets from Week 14 and what we can expect for the final two weeks of the 2018 fantasy football season.
Josh Rosen’s 240 passing yards was his highest total since Week 8 but Rosen has consistently shown erratic accuracy and been under six yards per attempt in four out of the club’s past five games. Rosen’s rookie struggles have made the entire receiving corps almost entirely irrelevant in fantasy, even reducing Larry Fitzgerald to little more than a touchdown-dependant WR4.
David Johnson‘s 10 targets and eight receptions stood out but a 1.5 yards per catch mark is an outrageously low figure for an NFL player with that many receptions. Johnson’s longest reception went for 10 yards, meaning his other seven grabs totaled just two.
Trent Sherfield may just emerge as the team’s number two wideout in the wake of Christian Kirk‘s season-ending foot injury. Sherfield’s five catches tied Larry Fitzgerald to lead the receiving corps and the undrafted rookie’s 77 yards led the team and marked a new career high.
Julio Jones rebounded from an injury-marred Week 13 dud to catch 8-of-11 passes and produce multiple TD grabs for the first time in 2018. After being held out of the end zone in each of Atlanta’s first seven contests, Jones has scored five times in the past six weeks. A Week 15 matchup with Patrick Peterson will make it difficult for Jones to keep that scoring hot streak alive.
Calvin Ridley had his poorest effort of the season since being shutout in Week 1. Ridley only caught one of his four targets and was held to 10 yards by the Packers. Ridley has been held under 40 yards in four of the Falcons’ last five games and has only scored one touchdown since Week 10. Seven of Ridley’s eight touchdowns have come under a roof, but that won’t make him anything more than a risky flex play against Arizona’s seasoned secondary in Week 15.
Austin Hooper continues to struggle against team’s that defend the position well and picked on teams like Tampa, Cleveland, and Carolina, who all rank in the bottom-10 against opposing tight ends. Arizona has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position, so Hooper won’t be a recommended playoff starter.
Despite the short-yardage TD grab against Kansas City, John Brown is little more than a boom-or-bust, TD-dependant option in Week 15, even with an appealing home matchup with Tampa Bay pending. In his last four games, Brown has only caught four out of 14 targets and averaged 17.8 yards per game. Unless Joe Flacco is named the Week 15 starter, Brown is well off the fantasy radar.
Willie Snead got back on track, leading the team in targets (7) and receptions (5). Snead has recorded at least three grabs in 11-of-13 games but still has an extremely limited ceiling. Snead hasn’t gotten into the end zone since the season opener and is unlikely to do so as long as Lamar Jackson is under center.
Robert Foster is a name to keep in mind on the waiver wire. Foster just led the receiving corps in snaps, catches, and yards against the Jets. Foster has topped 90 receiving yards in three out of four games and has built a solid rapport with Josh Allen.
With 14 targets in Buffalo’s past three game, Isaiah McKenzie is also playing his way into fantasy consideration, even if his upside is extremely limited due to Buffalo’s 31st-ranked passing attack.
Zay Jones has been extremely consistent if nothing else. In every single Bills game, Jones has followed up a strong yardage day with a poor showing the following week. A lot of that may just be a coincidence, but his opponent’s game planning after a strong day at the office obviously plays a part as well. If that trend, now 13 games long, continues into Week 15, Jones should bounce back at home against the Lions.
Cam Newton is working through a shoulder injury that prevented downfield throws. Newton’s 6.3 yards per attempt in Cleveland were his lowest figure since Week 1 and led to a career-high 11 targets for tight end Ian Thomas, who was held to 8.6 yards per catch.
Number one receiver Devin Funchess has also been ailing and felt the negative impact of Newton’s limitations. Funchess only caught six passes for 152 total yards and one touchdown during Carolina’s four-game road trip.
While Funchess has been reeling, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel continue to thrive. Moore has caught four-plus balls and exceeded 60 total yards in four straight, while Samuel has topped 80 yards in back-to-back games and scored four touchdowns in his past six.
Mitchell Trubisky returned from a three-week absence to post his worst game of the season. Despite the struggles, Chicago’s elite defense delivered a win while the Bears’ passing game was neutralized. The Bears host Green Bay in Week 15.
After leading the Bears in back-to-back weeks and racking up 22 targets, Tarik Cohen was held to four targets and 20 yards. Cohen did, however, run for a season-high 69 yards in a game where Chicago ran 35 times for 198 yards.
Trey Burton hasn’t eclipsed 40 yards since his breakout 9/126/1 game back in Week 9. Over the past five weeks, Burton has been the 25th-ranked fantasy tight end in PPR leagues behind notable players like Vernon Davis, Dan Arnold, and Anthony Firkser.
Tyler Boyd tied for the team lead with six targets but was mostly held in check by underrated Los Angeles slot cornerback Desmond King. While the Bengals have an excellent Week 15 matchup at home against an Oakland defense that has allowed the most touchdown passes in the NFL, Boyd lacks WR1 upside with Jeff Driskel under center.
Along with matching Boyd for the team-lead with six targets, Joe Mixon also attempted a season-high 26 rushes. All told, Mixon got 31 touches in LA and produced 138 yards, which tied Week 8 for his second-highest yardage total of the season.
Jarvis Landry entered Week 14 without a rushing attempt on the season before rushing twice, including a 51-yard sprint and a three-yard touchdown. Landry also hauled in a 51-yard touchdown reception on one of the best throws of the NFL season from Baker Mayfield. After a quiet month, Landry is heating up at just the right time.
Duke Johnson got a brief reprieve when Freddie Kitchens first took over as the new play caller but it’s become clear that Johnson will have little role behind workhorse Nick Chubb, who led Cleveland in targets and carries. Johnson rushed two times for (-6) yards and was held without a catch for the first time all season.
Breshad Perriman actually led Cleveland in receiving with 81 yards. Perriman only got two targets but hauled in a 66-yard bomb, which topped his totals from any of his previous six games.
Amari Cooper had a season-best 10 receptions and 217 yards while torching the Eagles for three touchdowns. Cooper’s 13 targets were tied for the second-most in the league for Week 13. Cooper’s presence has been a huge boost for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, who have vaulted themselves into first place in the NFC East.
Cooper’s 13 targets tied teammate Ezekiel Elliott for second in the league. Those 13 looks were the most Elliott has commanded in any game. Elliott also ran 28 times for 113 yards, giving him a whopping 40 touches for 192 total yards.
Courtland Sutton‘s first game as Denver’s top wideout didn’t go too well against a San Francisco secondary that’s routinely gotten worked over by opposing wideouts. Sutton only caught two out of his six targets for 14 yards. This is the second time in three weeks that Sutton was held to a mere 14 yards but a Week 15 date against Cleveland’s bottom-10 secondary offers up a golden opportunity for a rebound.
Tim Patrick started as the outside receiver opposite of Sutton and led the club in all receiving categories. Patrick entered last week with four receptions and 73 yards in his career before absorbing 10 targets and producing 85 yards through the air. Patrick will be on the WR3/4 radar for Denver’s Week 15 home tilt against the Browns.
Since the Lions traded Golden Tate, Matthew Stafford is averaging just 226 passing yards per game with six touchdown passes and six interceptions. Stafford’s subpar 2018 bottomed out with just 101 yards in Arizona and Week 15 won’t get any easier in Buffalo against a Bills’ defense that surrenders the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
With Stafford scuffling, no Detroit pass-catcher topped 30 yards or four receptions and a date with a tough Bills’ secondary and potentially dreadful winter conditions in Buffalo doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence for Week 15.
Green Bay Packers
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Davante Adams has led Green Bay in targets in every game since Week 4. As Green Bay’s receiving corps has been decimated by injuries, Adams has eclipsed double-digit targets in three out of the past four Packers’ games. Adams’ 138 targets trail only Julio Jones and Antonio Brown.
Randall Cobb had his best showing since Week 1, catching 5-of-6 targets for 43 yards and his second score of the season. While Cobb is trending in the right direction since returning from a hamstring injury that cost him three games, a date with Chicago’s elite defense doesn’t bode well for Cobb’s Week 15 fantasy prospects.
Houston’s nine-game winning streak came to an end and the majority of the blame lies with a stagnant offense. Deshaun Watson threw for 267 yards, which was his most since Week 5. Watson has been held to one touchdown pass in three out of Houston’s past four games and has back-to-back road games on deck against the Jets and Eagles.
Indianapolis held DeAndre Hopkins to a season-low 36 yards on four receptions. Hopkins somewhat salvaged his poor fantasy outing with a TD grab but this was the seventh time in eight games that the All-Pro has been held under 100 yards receiving.
The tight end position was one of the bright spots from Houston’s home loss. Ryan Griffin, Jordan Thomas, and Jordan Akins combined to catch all 11 of their targets for 151 yards, which was 57% of Houston’s passing production.
T.Y. Hilton continues to torment the Houston secondary, especially at NRG Stadium. In 14 career games against the Texans, Hilton has caught 76-of-122 targets for 1,445 yards and nine touchdowns. None of the other 31 NFL franchises has surrendered more than four touchdowns to Hilton.
In two games versus Houston’s standout defense, Andrew Luck threw for 863 yards and six touchdowns. That’s over 25% of the total passing yardage the Texans have allowed this season.
Cody Kessler threw for a season-high 240 yards but the majority of Jacksonville’s offensive output came in the second half of a blowout loss, the club’s eighth loss in its last nine games.
Jacksonville’s top-three receivers caught 15-of-27 targets for 190 out of Kessler’s 240 yards while averaging just 7.03 yards per target. Only five teams have logged fewer than Jacksonville’s 15 touchdown passes in 2018.
Kansas City Chiefs
Unsurprisingly, in the battle of offense versus defense, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs came out on top. Mahomes lit up Baltimore for 377 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Chiefs outlasted the Ravens 27-24. Mahomes is now on pace to throw for 5,293 yards and 53 touchdowns.
Tyreek Hill led the NFL with 14 targets and became the first wideout to surpass 90 receiving yards in a game this season against Baltimore’s elite secondary. Unfortunately, Hill also hurt his heel in the game and could have a difficult time getting fully healthy on a short week. Kansas City hosts the Chargers in a crucial Thursday night game in Week 15.
Sammy Watkins won’t play again in the regular season. This will lead to even more targets for Hill and Travis Kelce. Demarcus Robinson also caught a season-high five passes for 42 yards and could also factor in as a potential waiver add in deeper leagues.
Los Angeles Chargers
Keenan Allen got into the end zone for the fifth consecutive game but was otherwise held in check by a Bengals’ secondary that has been hemorrhaging points to wideouts all season. Allen was the only Chargers player to catch more than three passes or top 40 yards in a lackluster overall showing.
Talk about lousy timing. Philip Rivers had his worst outing of the season to kick off the fantasy playoffs, just when his production was needed the most. The Bengals, who have surrendered the most fantasy points this season to opposing quarterbacks, somehow held Rivers to 220 passing yards and became the first team all season to hold him to just one touchdown. Rivers is in a good spot to get back on track in Week 15 against Kansas City.
LA’s backfield is in bad shape heading into a short week. Melvin Gordon has been out of the past two games with a knee injury, while Austin Ekeler suffered a shoulder ailment in Week 14 and could have trouble being cleared in just four days. If both backs are out, Justin Jackson would have fringe RB1/2 value against the Chiefs.
Los Angeles Rams
Just a bad day at the office overall for Los Angeles-based starting quarterbacks. Jared Goff was abysmal in Chicago, completing just 45% of his passes for a season-low 180 yards and four interceptions. Fortunately, the Rams return home in Week 15 where Goff has played much better and gets the added bonus of taking on an Eagles secondary that has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to the position.
Robert Woods led the Rams in targets for the second straight week but was held to a season-low 8.7 yards per attempt as Goff was scuffling all night. Woods fared better than Brandin Cooks, who caught just three balls for 22 yards. Cooks wound up with the worst numbers of any Rams’ player that got more than one target.
Hopefully, the Rams simply got their dud game out of the way in Week 14. Undoubtedly, it cost a ton of people their fantasy playoff matchups but Todd Gurley and Company should get back on track next week against the Eagles, who are below average defending every fantasy position except tight ends, which are close to a non-factor in Sean McVay’s offense.
Kenny Stills went ham against New England, hauling in 8-of-9 targets for 135 yards and getting into the end zone for the second consecutive week. With Stephon Gilmore locked on, and shutting down, DeVante Parker, Stills took advantage of lesser coverage to post the best stats of his season.
Parker was only able to account for a single catch in Gilmore’s coverage. In fact, Stills had eight grabs while the rest of Miami’s receiving corps combined to catch only three passes on six targets.
Kenyan Drake‘s 55-yard, game-winning “reception” wasn’t even a target. The play, now dubbed the Miami Miracle, originally was a downfield target to Kenny Stills. As the clock wound down, Stills lateralled the ball to DeVante Parker who then lateraled to Drake who ran the rest of the way for the win.
After a solid opening month of the season, Kirk Cousins has been a rather mediocre fantasy option. After averaging 347 passing yards per contest and posting a 10-2 TD-to-INT ratio in September, Cousins has averaged just 257 passing yards with 14 TDs and seven picks in Minnesota’s past nine contests.
All of Adam Thielen‘s fantasy production came in the second half as Seattle’s rebuilt secondary shut down the Minnesota offense until a garbage-time, fourth-quarter touchdown reception from Dalvin Cook.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady was back on his ‘A’ game in Miami. Brady threw for a season-high 358 yards and accounted for three touchdowns without throwing an interception for the first time in 2018. 22 of Brady’s 27 completions (81.4%) went to New England’s big three of Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski caught all eight of his targets for 107 yards and scored his third touchdown of the 2018 season. He’s still not moving as fluidly as we’d like to see but Gronk remains a weekly must-start and has a choice Week 15 matchup against a Steelers’ defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends.
Backfield snap, touch, and yardage totals for the Patriots: Sony Michel 34-20-57, James White 33-6-28, Rex Burkhead 17-5-5. Fullback James Devlin also played 36 snaps and vultured a two-yard touchdown.
New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas was the only New Orleans wideout who was extensively targeted. Thomas absorbed 13 looks from Drew Brees while the rest of the Saints’ wideouts combined to see catch only three out of four passes.
Tre’Quan Smith only played 64% of the Saints’ snaps, which was his lowest snap-rate since moving into the starting lineup back in Week 5. Smith dropped his only target on Sunday and has now gone catch-less in three out of the past four games. Ted Ginn (knee) is eligible to return from IR and to the lineup anytime.
Alvin Kamara hasn’t topped 100 scrimmage yards or scored in three straight games. While Carolina’s defense has struggled overall, the Panthers have been solid against the run, permitting the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Kamara is a locked in, every-week star, but he’ll have a hard time ending his cool streak in Carolina.
New York Giants
Odell Beckham (quad) missed Week 14, which inexplicably led to a 40-point offensive outburst for the Giants. Eli Manning only threw for 170 yards but Washington got gouged on the ground, giving up 227 yards. Saquon Barkley ran for a career-best 170 yards, his fourth consecutive game with 100-plus yards on the ground.
With Beckham sidelined, Sterling Shepard led the way with six targets but only managed two catches and 17 yards. Both Shepard’s, Sterling and Russell, got into the end zone against Washington, as did Bennie Fowler.
Corey Coleman played a season-high 42 snaps and actually led the Giants’ wideouts with 43 receiving yards. Tight end Evan Engram returned from a two-game absence to lead the team with 77 yards on five receptions.
New York Jets
Despite facing tough coverage from Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White, Robby Anderson came through with his best outing since Week 5. Anderson led the Jets in targets (7), catches (4), and yards (76), and caught Sam Darnold‘s only touchdown on the afternoon. Anderson will be back on the WR3 radar this Saturday as the Jets host Houston.
Elijah McGuire wound up playing 74% of New York’s snaps and got 20 touches. If Isaiah Crowell misses Week 15, McGuire would be on the RB2 radar against the Texans and should be a top waiver wire add heading into the fantasy semi-finals.
After a rough November, Derek Carr is heating up in time for the fantasy postseason. In the last two weeks, Carr has completed 75% of his throws, averaged 304 passing yards and thrown five scores against the Chiefs and Steelers. This week, Carr gets a matchup with a Cincinnati defense that has surrendered the most fantasy points this season to the quarterback position.
Jalen Richard and Doug Martin split playing time evenly, as both backs were in on 33 snaps. Martin, though, proved to be the better fantasy option, rushing 16 times for 32 yards and a touchdown. Richard also got eight totes but only caught one pass.
Alshon Jeffery ended a streak of six straight weeks without a touchdown and fewer than 50 receiving yards. Jeffery’s nine targets were the most he’s seen since Week 7, but he’ll have a tough task in Week 15 against a Rams’ secondary that has only allowed 174 total yard and no touchdowns to wide receivers over their last two games.
Golden Tate‘s usage was trending up each week for the Eagles until Sunday when Tate played just 20 snaps (38%) and caught 1-of-3 targets for only seven yards.
Philadelphia’s Week 15 matchup in Los Angeles against the Rams opened with an over/under of 54 points, which was the highest of the slate.
The Raiders did an admirable job limiting Antonio Brown to five catches and a season-low 35 yards. While Brown struggled, Juju Smith-Schuster produced his third 100-yard outing in the past four weeks and had his first game with two touchdowns. Both Steelers’ standouts will be elite options in Week 15 against the Patriots.
Jaylen Samuels played 80% of Pittsburgh’s snaps in place of James Conner. Samuels was limited to 2.5 yards per carry but did catch all seven of his targets for 64 yards. Stevan Ridley chipped in five carries and got a short-yardage score, but the Steelers were limited to 40 rushing yards on 19 rushes.
San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle put on a show against the Broncos, catching seven passes for 210 yards, which was only four yards light of the NFL record for receiving yards in a game by a tight end. Incredibly, all of Kittle’s production came in the first half, including an 85-yard touchdown.
While Kittle was gobbling up real estate in the first half, Dante Pettis scored his fourth touchdown in three games. Pettis led San Francisco’s receiving corps in targets (7), catches (3), and yards (49). With Pierre Garcon‘s season now officially over, Pettis is locked in as the 49ers’ top fantasy wideout.
Filling in for Matt Breida, Jeff Wilson played 86% of San Francisco’s snaps and generated 96 yards on 24 touches. If Breida is unable to play again in Week 15, Wilson will be a fringe RB1 against a Seattle defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs over the past three weeks.
Russell Wilson had his worst game of the season, completing just half of his 20 pass attempts for a season-worst 72 passing yards. Wilson did chip in 61 yards on the ground but posted an abysmal 37.9 QB rating. Wilson should bounce back in Week 15 against a below average San Francisco secondary.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Everything was in place for Chris Godwin to have a monster outing against the Saints, including the team-high 10 targets, but Godwin had no success against Eli Apple. Godwin only caught one pass for 13 yards. Things won’t get any easier in Week 15 as the Bucs travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens’ elite secondary.
Taywan Taylor became the fourth different Titans’ player to lead the team in targets in the past four games. Since missing three games with a foot injury, Taylor has been Tennesse’s most effective receiver. Since Week 13, Taylor leads the Titans in targets (12), catches (9), and receiving yards (163).
Corey Davis had his poorest outing since Week 7. Davis was held to two grabs and 21 yards and has been effectively neutralized by elite cornerbacks this season. With Tennessee traveling to New York to face Janoris Jenkins in Week 15, Davis could have another rough afternoon.
Josh Johnson will be under center for Washington but faces a tough task traveling to Jacksonville to take on a talented Jaguars’ defense. While the Jags have effectively quit on the season, they’re more than capable of shutting down an ailing offense led by a journeyman signal-caller who was not even in the league two weeks ago.
Jamison Crowder led Washington in targets and yardage but 79 of his 87 yards came on a garbage-time touchdown reception from Johnson. Crowder will be a risky WR4 in Week 15 as he’s paired off with Jacksonville slot corner D.J. Hayden.