Fantasy Football Target Trends for Week 3
Welcome to the target trends article for Week 3! With two weeks of data now in the books, we can officially start looking at season-long trends, though it’s with an admittedly small sample size. Let’s start by glancing at the season-long target leaders at each position through two games.
A year ago at this time, Cooper Kupp led the league with 29 targets. When the Rams selected Puka Nacua in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, nobody could have predicted that he’d be six targets ahead of that pace, leading the league with 35 targets after two weeks. That’s the most ever by a rookie in his first two games. Only two other players, Andre Rison (1994) and Roddy White (2010), have been targeted 35 times over the first two weeks of an NFL season since the league started tracking the stat in 1992.
At tight end, it was unclear if Zach Ertz would even be healthy enough to start the season. Now, he leads the position with 18 targets through the first two games of his 12th NFL campaign. T.J. Hockenson trails him by just one target, while four other tight ends are tied for third with 13 each.
We find another young Ram, Kyren Williams, leading all running backs with 12 targets after Week 2. Two Rams leading their position in targets is made possible by the 93 passes attempted so far by Matthew Stafford, second only to Mac Jones(!) with 96. Four running backs trail Williams by just one target, including rookies Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs.
I’ll continue to lead off this article with season-long target leaders, and now let’s check out this week’s target trends heading into Week 3
Puka Nacua: 20 targets, 15 rec
Nacua’s 41% target share from Week 1 was bound to regress. So, of course, it did, all the way down to…38% in Week 2. The 20 targets to Nacua were the second most ever seen by a rookie, just behind the 21 that Odell Beckham Jr. saw in 2014. Cooper Kupp will be out for at least two more games, but Nacua has shown enough to make us believe he won’t disappear when Kupp returns.
Christian Kirk: 14 targets, 11 rec
There were questions surrounding Kirk when he saw fewer targets than teammates Calvin Ridley, Zay Jones, Travis Etienne, and Evan Engram in Week 1. The script was flipped in Week 2, and he had six more targets than any other Jaguar. There will likely be plenty of targets to go around for Jacksonville this season, but they may be difficult to project from week to week.
Justin Jefferson: 13 targets, 11 rec
Another target trends article, another mention of Justin Jefferson. How dominant has he been since entering the league? I published my 200th fantasy football article with The Fantasy Footballers last week, and Jefferson has been my cover boy more than any other player, with six appearances (now seven). His 25 targets through the first two weeks are the second most in the NFL, but still ten behind Puka Nacua.
CeeDee Lamb: 13 targets, 11 rec
Lamb was only targeted four times in Week 1, primarily because Dallas didn’t need to throw the ball as they throttled the Giants from the beginning of the game. They probably didn’t need to pass against the Zach Wilson-led Jets in Week 2 either, so it’s encouraging that he was so heavily targeted. He’s in store for some massive target outings when the Cowboys offense is actually pushed.
Michael Pittman Jr.: 12 targets, 8 rec
Pittman has seen double-digit targets in both games to open up the season. The only players with more targets than Pitty City so far are Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, and Puka Nacua. It’s worth noting that nine of his targets against Houston came from Gardner Minshew after Anthony Richardson left with a concussion. His target share appears safe regardless of the quarterback taking snaps for Indy.
Tee Higgins: 12 targets, 8 rec
Higgins got shut out in Week 1 despite seeing eight targets. He faired much better on the 12 targets he saw in Week 2, finishing as the WR3 on the week. While his Week 1 goose egg may be the outlier, the targets going to Higgins and all the Bengals pass-catchers will be less valuable in Week 3 if Joe Burrow’s calf reaggregation forces him to sit out.
C.J. Stroud’s shoulder looked okay as he led the league with 384 passing yards for Week 2. His targets were distributed relatively evenly between the three Houston WRs, but it was Tank Dell who surprised the most. The diminutive rookie saw just four targets on 48% of the team snaps in Week 1, but those numbers jumped to 10 targets on 79% of snaps in Week 2 with Noah Brown on IR.
Kyren Williams: 10 targets, 6 rec
Williams dominated the backfield when Cam Akers was surprisingly made inactive against the 49ers in Week 2. Not only did Williams see 100% of the running back carries, but he also saw an impressive 19% target share. He combined with Puka Nacua to see 57%(!) of the Rams targets in Week 2.
Deebo Samuel: 9 targets, 6 rec
Last week, Aiyuk was the star of San Fransisco’s passing game, but he only saw one more target than Samuel. This week, Deebo took over. The box score says he had nine targets, but two of his five carries, including his touchdown, were swing passes that were thrown backward. He leads the 49ers with a 31% target share, not including the backward passes that count as run plays.
Jahmyr Gibbs: 9 targets, 7 rec
Gibbs truthers may be frustrated with his lack of involvement through two weeks, but his targets are encouraging. The nine he saw in Week 2 led the Lions and translated to a 26% target share. He could have some big fantasy games coming sooner than later, considering both his backfield mate David Montgomery and Detroit’s target hog Amon-Ra St. Brown could both be dealing with nagging injuries in Week 3.
Travis Kelce: 9 targets, 4 rec
Kelce made his season debut and immediately led the Chiefs with a 23% target share. He did so while limited to playing on just 64% of snaps, significantly lower than his career average of 85%. No surprises here, slot Kelce into your lineup if you have him and move along.
DeAndre Hopkins: 5 targets, 4 rec
Hopkins, the subject of last week’s cover for this article, wasn’t targeted until the 2:38 mark of the second quarter against the Chargers in Week 2. Then he saw four targets in the second half and overtime, but they didn’t amount to much. He’s sporting an elite 32% target share through two weeks, but that’s only translated to the WR48 in fantasy points.
Christian McCaffrey: 3 targets, 3 rec
Imagine being disappointed by a running back who plays 100% of the team snaps. That’s the case, however, when you’re used to McCaffrey averaging 7.2 targets per game and a 22% target share over his career. At this rate, he’s on pace for a career-low 15% target share, though I don’t think CMC managers should be too concerned.