by Ray Kuhn
Here are 10 players from Week 5 who I felt it was important to analyze based on their targets:
- Tony Gonzalez (14 targets, 13 catches, 123 yards, 1 touchdown). As Gonzalez ages and new young, athletic tight ends emerge, he gets forgotten about. This week’s performance is the perfect example of why Gonzalez should remain in the spotlight. Julio Jones also had 15 targets, so you can’t attribute Gonzalez’s good day to Jones’ health. Gonzalez was clearly an important part of the game plan for the Falcons, and not only was he targeted but he delivered. There is no reason to doubt Gonzalez, and as Matt Ryan continues to improve Gonzalez is still at TE1. Don’t underestimate him.
- Andrew Hawkins (13 targets, 5 catches, 47 yards). Hawkins came on strong this season but his 5 catches last week were the closest he came to matching his 8 catch season debut. It does work in his favor that he finds the end zone, but his recent performance has caused owners to doubt his viability. As the bye weeks are in full swing and replacements are needed, I would still consider Hawkins to be a viable option. Instead of looking at his mediocre performance this past week, I would prefer to focus on the fact that he was targeted 13 times and is an integral part of Andy Dalton’s offense. When looking for borderline WR3/WR4, targets are my biggest concern so it is a positive sign that Hawkins is being targeted.
- Jacob Tamme (11 targets, 6 catches, 50 yards). So far this season Joel Dressen has been the more valuable Denver tight end, but that has been attributed both to Dressen’s ability to find the end zone and Tamme’s health. Now it appears that he is at 100%, so I would look for the trend of him being targeted more than Dressen (11 to 4) to continue. Peyton Manning clearly has developed chemistry with Tamme from their days with the Colts and as Manning is still trying to fully gain his footing, I would not be surprised to see him look Tamme’s way more often as he has proved he is a capable TE.
- Devery Henderson (10 targets, 8 catches, 123 yards, 1 touchdown). Again part of this is attributed to health, with Henderson finally being healthy, Jimmy Graham being limited and Lance Moore being injured, but there is some value to be taken from this performance. Drew Brees finally had a full game where he looked like the Brees of the past, and he utilized Henderson’s downfield skills. The knock on him in the past has been his inconsistency, but the good sign from this week is that he came through when he was targeted. This is a situation to watch, because if he continues to get targeted he could become a valuable WR3 option.
- Percy Harvin (10 targets, 8 catches, 110 yards, 1 touchdown). It seems that Harvin will not lose targets with the return of Jerome Simpson and the continued emergence of Kyle Rudolph. Harvin has been the main beneficiary of Christian Ponder’s growth and the return to health of Adrian Peterson. He is one of the best receivers in the league on the short screen pass and he is also showing some explosiveness downfield. As long as Harvin continues to stay healthy, there is some clear value here. Even last season when the Vikings were struggling he got the targets, but now he has a lot more room to run because of the other weapons around him.
- Coby Fleener (9 targets, 5 catches, 41 yards). Although his stat line does not look great, I think there is some value to be taken from Fleener’s performance on Sunday. Former college teammate Andrew Luck targeted him 9 times and Fleener caught 5 of those passes. The fact that Luck is becoming more comfortable will only mean good things for Fleener, who looked like part of the offense. Other than the obvious in Reggie Wayne, Luck is still searching for steady and consistent 2nd, 3rd and 4th options. Due to his physical talent and their previous comfort level, there is no reason to suggest that these targets will not remain the same going forward. I would also expect Fleener to find the end zone in the near future.
- Ryan Matthews (8 targets, 6 catches, 59 yards). Is this enough to alleviate the fears that owners had when Jackie Battle was named the starter before last week’s game? Matthews is fully healthy and in control as the number one weapon in the Chargers offense. As long as Rivers continues to target him 8 times in a game, Matthews’ value will continue to rise. He made good things happen in the passing game and was able to break off a nice chunk of yardage (and the 6 catches only serve to boost his PPR value). At this point, Matthews is one of the few elite running backs in the league that also provides a clear PPR value.
- Trent Richardson (7 targets, 5 catches, 47 yards). Not only is Richardson emerging as an every down powerhouse running back for the Browns, but they are also looking his way in the passing game. Part of this is attributed to him being a nice safety valve for Brandon Weeden as the Browns are not exactly flush with receiving options, but this does help Richardson’s value. For him to be targeted 7 times, some of that has to come from game planning and practice. The more times Richardson has the ball in his hands, the better it is for fantasy owners and this trend would lead to an increase his value slightly.
- Jordy Nelson (5 targets, 2 catches, 29 yards). It seems that defenses, especially with Greg Jennings out, have been paying a lot more attention to Nelson this season. That has reduced the amount of targets Nelson has received from Aaron Rodgers and, while I’m sure that it has worried owners, I would not let it affect my feelings on Nelson. He is still a very good receiver who is a big part of Green Bay’s offense.
- Brian Hartline (5 targets, 4 catches, 59 yards). Weeks like this are going to happen now as defenses start to pay more attention to Hartline. The takeaway here is that he still made the most of his targets. Even prior to this week, Hartline was nothing more than a WR3, but after this week that should not change.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 6 rankings: