by Ray Kuhn
Here are 10 players from Week 12 who I felt it was important to analyze based on their targets:
- Stevie Johnson (15 targets, 6 catches, 106 yards). In what was the first game all season that Johnson gained over 100 yards, there were still some things to be concerned about. While he did do a lot with the catches he had, you would have liked to see him catch a few of those other nine passes thrown his way. Also the fact that he was once again held out of the end zone is troubling and the mild controversy from which he has already backtracked from regarding the play calling. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the best quarterback in the league, but the Bills will still try to throw the ball down field and a lot of the times that will be in Johnson’s direction. On a team that lacks any other true downfield threats, Johnson will continue to receive targets and if he catches more than 40% of them, he could follow this up with another big performance against the Jaguars and their 28th ranked passing defense.
- Torrey Smith (13 targets, 7 catches, 144 yards). Smith bounced back in a big way on Sunday. He was the clear go to threat for Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense. He did only catch a little more than 50% of his targets, but for a player like Smith that is a ratio you can live with (especially when he is being targeted as much as he was this week). Plus he averaged about 20 yards a catch, so you can’t argue with production like that. This was actually only the second game this season where Smith gained over 100 yards receiving, so hopefully he carries this positive momentum into the rematch with the with Steelers.
- Andre Roberts (13 targets, 9 catches, 92 yards). After some big weeks followed up with some weeks of inconsistency Roberts is back at the forefront of the Cardinals offense, at least for one week. With a rookie at quarterback, it was clear the Cardinals were trying to play conservatively and not put too much pressure on their passing offense. Roberts in the slot was the clear beneficiary of this. While I’m not sure he will duplicate his performance for the rest of the season, as long as Ryan Lindley is at quarterback Roberts will certainly receive some of Larry Fitzgerald’s targets as the offense will be geared more towards quick throws.
- Darren Sproles (9 targets, 7 catches, 65 yards). While Sproles owners would have liked to see him get into the end zone or get any work rushing the ball, this is the type of passing performance they expected of him. While he might not have been a specific part of the game plan, Drew Brees looked Sproles way which made him a valuable PPR performer. There was also some rust involved here as Sproles missed a few weeks with his hand injury so I would expect Sproles workload to even increase a little from this past week.
- Mohammed Sanu (9 targets, 5 catches, 29 yards, 2 touchdowns). Sanu would be looking more attractive had he not managed to average 6 yards a catch Two of those were short touchdown passes, which owners should obviously care about a lot more than the yardage. There is a clear opportunity for a secondary receiver to the beast that is AJ Green, and it is looking like Sanu might be that guy. Between Green and Jermaine Gresham in the red zone, someone else is usually going to be able to find an opening. Sunday it looked like Sanu was that guy and Andy Dalton had no problem looking his way. Sanu could prove to be a valuable player subsisting on Green’s scraps as his 9 targets are nothing to sneeze at.
- Adrian Peterson (7 targets, 6 catches 30 yards). This is obviously proving that both the Vikings and Peterson are confident about his health and return to form. Instead of wearing down as the season is progressing, Peterson is getting better and that is a dangerous thought for opponents. Anything you get from Peterson above and beyond his rushing is a nice bonus as this does add a little more value not only for the stats, but for the confidence in the knee as well.
- Mike Wallace (7 targets, 1 catch, 9 yards). So Wallace’s forgettable day was not totally attributable to lack of trying. Charlie Batch looked his way 7 times but the Steelers offense was just in that much disarray. Once Ben Roethlisberger returns Wallace’s value should be restored. Until then he is still a big part of the Steelers offense and he can easily break off a big play, but you have to use him with some hesitation until he proves that he is beyond bad quarterback play.
- Jermichael Finley (5 targets, 3 catches, 51 yards). Regardless of what Finley and Aaron Rodgers say in the media, there is clearly some kind of problem here. In a game where the Packers were playing from behind just about the whole time, you would have expected to see some more targets for Finley. Whether they are out of sync as a unit, as an offense in general, or Finley is not entirely healthy, there is certainly an issue going on. Finley only had 2 touchdowns all season, one game with more than 4 catches and no games with more than 66 yards receiving. At this point I would look towards a more reliable target.
- Sidney Rice (3 targets, 3 catches, 49 yards). Rice is still a good big play receiving threat. The issue is that in a lot of games, he just does not get many targets. Usually he is able to make good use of the targets he does get, so at least that is not an issue. His value is pretty much dependent upon if he scores a touchdown or not, which is not always easy to forecast. This inconsistency causes him to be lower in the rankings then he should be.
- Aaron Hernandez (3 targets, 2 catches, 36 yards). This was not the performance people were looking for in Hernandez’s return, especially with Rob Gronkowski out. Before you overreact too much, remember that the Patriots did say they were going to use Hernandez in a limited role in his initial return from injury. That and the fact that the game was quickly not in doubt meant that Hernandez really was not needed. With a week and a half until their next game, this is the game Hernandez owners should be waiting for.
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 13 rankings: