by Ray Kuhn
Here are 10 players from Week 7 who I felt it was important to analyze based on their targets:
- Mike Wallace (15 targets, 8 catches, 52 yards). This was an uncharacteristically bad game for Wallace. The normally sure handed receiver had a few drops, but that did not stop him from being targeted 15 times. I am sure that some owners are looking at his performance with disgust, but the fact that he was targeted so many times is a positive takeaway. His role on the Steelers is secure, he will continue to be targeted and I don’t think that the drops will continue. If it were not for his drops his stat total would be a lot more in line with his expectations, so he is a bounce back target for next week.
- Fred Jackson (11 targets, 8 catches, 49 yards, 1 touchdown). What were those concerns about CJ Spiller eating into Jackson’s workload? The passing game is supposed to be Spiller’s forte but Jackson had 5 more targets. While this is clearly a positive for Jackson owners, his true value remains as a runner and Spiller’s as a receiver. Consider this week more of a bonus than a trend. Now that does not mean Jackson won’t have any targets, but Spiller is the better pass catching running back. Jackson will continue to get more of the work (he also had 71 yards rushing) but the nature of the game led to more passes in general for the Bills and Jackson was a beneficiary of their lack of other threats. While this does not mean Jackson is suddenly a PPR threat, there is a little new found value and the Spiller concerns should be eased slightly.
- Jeremy Kerley (11 targets, 7 catches, 120 yards). Granted the Patriots’ pass defense is not good, but this was still a good performance for Kerley. On a Jets team with not many offensive threats, Kerley seems to have grabbed Santonio Holmes’s role as the go to receiver for Mark Sanchez. Now as the Jets face tougher defenses and the clamps are placed on Sanchez Kerley will not gain over 100 yards each week, but he is the only wide receiver Sanchez consistently targets and he is therefore the Jets receiver to own. There is some chemistry here, and when Sanchez is not checking down to the running back or looking for Dustin Keller over the middle Kerley will be the guy. He has shown ability to catch the ball and to make things happen in space after the catch.
- Cecil Shorts (10 targets, 4 catches, 79 yards, 1 touchdown). The Jaguars offense is a mess. Maurice Jones-Drew is out a few games and it really doesn’t matter whether Blane Gabbert or Chad Henne is under center. They are often coming from behind and since Justin Blackmon has not lived up the expectations, they do need to throw the ball to someone. The lack of catches compared to targets can be attributed to the quarterback situation and the defensive game plans more than to the ability of Shorts. Now he is not a top receiver, but it’s clear that he will be targeted and as the Jaguars are coming from behind there is some production to be had. Granted it will be a lot of garbage time production, but it counts just the same.
- Josh Gordon (10 targets, 2 catches, 59 yards, 1 touchdown). Gordon’s stat line has been pretty consistent the last few weeks. Two or three catches, a decent amount of yards and a trip into the end zone for the rookie. It is a positive sign that now his targets are increasing. Brandon Weeden is looking for him more often and Gordon is becoming pretty close to a number one receiver for the Browns. If he keeps on getting targeted this much, look for his reception total to start increasing and then he could become a dangerous player.
- Leonard Hankerson (8 targets, 6 catches, 70 yards). While Santana Moss is the go to threat for Robert Griffin III when he needs a big play or a touchdown, Hankerson is starting to become the receiver he looks to the most with Pierre Garcon remaining sidelined. Hankerson might not be a fancy receiver, but he is a big target who will make catches. There is not much flair here, but there is some substance. I think these are targets that can be counted on weekly and this looks like a pretty good projection of what his average week will be. Also the injury to Fred Davis should open up a few targets for Hankerson.
- Dustin Keller (7 targets, 7 catches, 93 yards, 1 touchdown). It was clear that Mark Sanchez missed Keller. For those looking to replace an ineffective tight end or dealing with an injury or a bye week, Keller is your man. In the few passing attempts that Sanchez is allowed to have, he will direct a good amount of them towards Keller who usually hangs on to the ball. On a team lacking a red zone threat, Keller is often the first, and sometimes only, guy looked at by Sanchez.
- Steve Smith (6 targets, 4 catches, 26 yards). Aside from Cam Newton owners, Smith is the person most impacted by the Panthers struggles. It seems that no matter what, Newton and Smith are not clicking and Smith has not been in the position to use his speed or make any kind of big plays. At this point there is not much good you can say about Smith’s year, and as this week showed he is not being targeted much (and none of his receptions were downfield either). Until the Panthers get their act together and Smith reemerges as a downfield threat, he does not have much value to fantasy owners.
- AJ Green (6 targets, 1 catch, 8 yards, 1 touchdown). This was the first week where Green was really a non factor. The Steelers made it their mission to shut him down, and it worked. As the game progressed, Andy Dalton stopped targeting Green because it was just a fruitless effort. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals and Green respond to this shutdown. I do not think it will become an every week occurrence though.
- Domenik Hixon (4 targets, 3 catches, 32 yards). Now with Hakeem Nicks and Martellus Bennett back at full strength, Hixon goes back to being the 4th or 5th option in the passing game for Eli Manning. This is not to say he loses all value, but he becomes more a matchup based play based on the defense the Giants are facing. There will be some weeks where he finds the end zone, or connects with Manning for a deep pass, but this target level seems about accurate going forward for Hixon.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings: