by Ray Kuhn
Here are 10 players from Week 6 who I felt it was important to analyze based on their targets:
- Dez Bryant (15 targets, 13 catches, 95 yards, 2 touchdowns). Aside from his dropped 2 point conversion, Bryant is clearly the number one target in Dallas. Tony Romo looked to him often, and for the most part he did deliver. Not only is Bryant a downfield threat, but he is also a threat down the middle and in the red zone. As long as he keeps on rewarding Romo’s faith in him, he should perform like a WR1. Dare I say that Bryant has finally grown up and realized his potential?
- Jordy Nelson (12 targets, 9 catches, 121 yards, 3 touchdowns). Nelson came up huge in a game the Packers had to win. Aaron Rodgers made Nelson the focal point of his game plan and Nelson rewarded owners that did not lose their faith in him. What was most encouraging was that Rodgers put Nelson in the position to score. Although his stats have not met expectations so far this season, the main worry was not necessarily the lack of targets but more the lack of big plays and touchdowns. So for this week, it’s not the number of targets Nelson received that I liked, but what he did with them.
- Kenny Britt (11 targets, 4 catches, 62 yards, 1 touchdown). Britt scoring a touchdown played a large part in his fantasy value, but I am more concerned about his 11 targets. This shows that Britt is in fact healthy and a major part of the Titans offense. As he gets more comfortable in that offense and shakes off the rust, those targets will start to turn into the receptions. For the owners that were waiting on Britt to return to form, it looks like that is happening. First comes the targets, then comes the production. If the Titans were still worried about him, he would not have led them in targets like he did this week. Get him into your lineups.
- Kyle Rudolph (11 targets, 6 catches, 56 yards, 1 touchdown). Don’t look now, but Rudolph is this year’s big tight end sleeper. So far he is clearly living up to the preseason hype. From the start of the season he showed the ability to catch scoring passes in the end zone, but the Vikings keep on expanding his role. John Carlson is clearly not a threat to Rudolph and Christian Ponder is starting to look to him more as an intermediate receiving threat on the whole field, not just the red zone. Rudolph is becoming a low end TE1 depending on your bye weeks and your league’s depth.
- Randall Cobb (10 targets, 7 catches, 102 yards). It seems like the biggest beneficiary of the Packers mediocre running game and the disappointing season of Jermichael Finley is Cobb. More and more the Packers have been using Cobb on screen passes and quick slants over the middle. He is showing the ability not only to catch the ball, but to make things happen when the ball is in his hand. As long as the Packers make a clear effort to get him the ball in space, he is a valuable player. Based on these target levels, it seems like there should not be much variation in week to week performance for Cobb.
- Brandon Gibson (9 targets, 7 catches, 91 yards). At least this week, it looks like Gibson will be the recipient of Danny Amendola’s targets. Gibson is not a bad option for those in PPR leagues looking to fill a bye week or to fill Amendola’s roster spot. I would not look for Gibson to wow anybody as the Rams offense is not incredibly explosive and the effects of him being a number one receiver could mean increased attention from the defense, but at the very least based on these targets Gibson is a player to watch.
- Aaron Hernandez (9 targets, 6 catches, 30 yards, 1 touchdown). I guess this is the Patriots definition of Hernandez returning to a reduced role. He received one more target than Rob Gronkowski and also scored a touchdown. As the yards total indicates, Hernandez was not really being targeted down field, but Tom Brady did feel enough confidence in him to target him 9 times. This says to me that he is healthy and I would reinsert him into your lineups without hesitation.
- Adrian Peterson (8 targets, 7 catches, 50 yards). Normally this is not something I would highlight because I don’t believe Peterson’s value truly lies with his pass catching ability, but this proves to me that the Vikings have no concerns about his health. The fact that he caught 7 passes clearly has value to PPR players, but it is not something I would plan on going forward. I would plan on his 17 carries increasing along with his rushing production in general.
- Miles Austin (5 targets, 2 catches, 31 yards). It has been a quick fall for Austin. His health recently has not been great, but he has been well enough to play. It seems like when there are passes to be cut; Austin is the one that sees the effect of that. Jason Witten will still get his targets and Dez Bryant has emerged as the number one receiver. This does not mean that Austin no longer holds value, but you will have to adjust your expectations of him, especially when the Cowboys are facing tough defenses.
- Hakeem Nicks (5 targets, 3 catches, 44 yards). Nicks has been battling injuries all season, but from this point I only expect his value to increase. He was able to shake the rust off last week and he made a few catches, but this week he should resume his normal workload. Like Britt and Hernandez, I think Nicks is primed for a big week so you should not be concerned about him only getting 5 targets last week. Especially since the Giants took an early lead and they were able to sit on the ball a bit.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 7 rankings: