If you only look at the end of game box scores and the basic receptions-yards-TDs stat lines, then you’re doing it wrong. Opportunity is key in fantasy football because the more opportunity a player has to succeed, the more likely it is that they will help your fantasy team in the process. When you see someone like Bennie Fowler with 2 TDs in a game, your first thought should be, “OK but how many targets did he actually have in that game”. Which is to say, was he actually a major part of the offensive game plan and passing attack, or was he simply poorly covered by the defense 4 times (his total number of targets)?
Welcome to the target report, where each week I will highlight several key players that jumped out to me in terms of their target share, as well as some situations that are regarded as somewhat murky from a fantasy perspective.
Find out where Andy, Mike, and Jason have these players ranked in their premium FLEX rankings.
DeAndre Hopkins: 16 Targets
We’ll kick things off with the most heavily targeted receiver in football during Week 1, Nuk Hopkins. It is worth noting that only 4 of these were downfield targets. The remaining 12 came on short and intermediate routes. This usage as more of a possession type of receiver could be very helpful to fantasy players in PPR leagues by providing a nice and safe weekly floor that simply didn’t exist a season ago.
Tarik Cohen: 12 Targets
His 12 targets on the day were as many as Chicago’s top 3 WRs combined! I think it’s safe to say that Chicago has found their new favorite offensive weapon and he looked spectacular, just as he did when he started the 3rd preseason game against the Cardinal’s first team defense. The huge target share is exciting, as is the opportunity and his usage as a slot receiver. My only worry is that defenses will certainly start trying to scheme against Cohen as they get more film on him. Hopefully, the Bear’s OC will continue to mix things up and find different ways to get the ball into his hands.
Randall Cobb: 13 Targets
He led the Packers with his 13 targets, the next closest being Jordy Nelson with 8. This was classic Aaron Rodgers taking what the defense gave him. When healthy, all 3 of the top Green Bay receivers Nelson, Adams, and Cobb, are in contention for fantasy relevance on any given week. If you drafted Cobb, congratulations because you got him at a great value. He should be a great flex option going forward.
Shane Vereen: 10 Targets
The Giants offense continues to look downright dysfunctional behind a terrible offensive line that limits the team’s ability to run the ball. This makes Shane Vereen feel like the only startable fantasy RB provided that you are in a PPR league. I don’t see this changing anytime soon, especially if Odell Beckham Jr continues to miss time.
Charles Clay: 9 Targets
This may be a low volume passing offense but you have got to love 9 targets for any TE. It’s also interesting to note that the second most targeted receiver was, in fact, their RB LeSean McCoy and that all WRs combined for only 8 targets against what HAS to be one of the worst defenses in football, the New York Jets.
Titans Pass Catchers
Corey Davis: 10 targets
Rishard Matthews: 9 Targets
Delanie Walker: 9 Targets
Eric Decker: 8 Targets
DeMarco Murray: 2 Targets
Mariota averaged about 31 pass attempts per game in his rookie season. We then saw that number drop to just over 28 pass attempts per game in 2016. The fact that he came out in Week 1 and threw more than 40 times is very interesting, as is the way that he spread the ball around pretty evenly among his receivers. I’m afraid we still don’t have much clarity on who the #1 WR in this offense is at the moment.
Rams WR Corps
Cooper Kupp: 6 Targets
Sammy Watkins: 5 Targets
Robert Woods: 5 Targets
Kupp looked solid in his rookie debut as a slot receiver on an unspectacular offense. However, with the Rams throttling the Colts, the passing offense was basically shifted down to neutral in the final quarter. His TD this week helped vault him into the spotlight, but I don’t think that it’s something that you can count on with any sort of consistency. Hopefully, we see his targets continue to rise but for me, it’s a “wait and see” scenario for now.