Target Practice: Week 1: Mike Wallace, Rueben Randle, Dwayne Bowe & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It’s only Week 1, but it’s never too early to look at the receiving breakdown around the league.  Who received significant targets?  Who was ignored?  Let’s take a look at all of the important situations to try and reach some conclusions:

Miami Dolphins:

  • Brian Hartline – 15 targets (9 catches, 114 yards, 1 TD)
  • Brandon Gibson – 10 targets (7 receptions, 77 yards)
  • Mike Wallace – 5 targets (1 reception, 15 yards) – fourth on team in targets

The big surprise here is that Wallace was not the go to receiver for the Dolphins in his debut game. Maybe Joe Haden covering him played a role… Of course, Wallace’s complaints about the game-plan afterwards doesn’t lend much credence to this argument. Still, Don’t overreact to the situation unless it lingers for a couple of weeks.  You have to think that the Dolphins will come out in Week 2 and try to get Wallace the ball early and often

Cleveland Browns:

  • Jordan Cameron – 13 targets (9 receptions, 108 yards, 1 TD)
  • Davone Bess – 10 targets (5 receptions, 47 yards)
  • Greg Little – 10 targets (4 receptions, 26 yards)

The Browns threw the ball a lot, something that we can’t really expect to continue. It was interesting that Brandon Weeden spread the ball evenly between these three receivers, though the only true success he had was with Cameron. Look for the tight end to continue to be a major focus in the passing game and for Bess’ role to diminish (especially once Josh Gordon returns from suspension).

New England Patriots:

  • Zach Sudfeld – 1 target for 0 receptions
  • Kenbrell Thompkins – 14 targets, but for just 4 receptions, 42 yards
  • Julian Edelman – 9 targets (7 receptions, 79 yards, 2 TD)

For all the hype that Sudfeld and Thompkins received heading into Week 1, both were complete busts. Obviously Sudfeld was the bigger disappointment (though afterwards it was revealed that he was suffering from a hamstring injury), since Thompkins was at least targeted a lot. However, if you can’t turn those targets into receptions they are quickly going to go elsewhere (aka Julian Edelman). Don’t cut bait on either, yet, but they both need to step things up.

Cincinnati Bengals:

  • Jermaine Greshem – 5 targets (5 receptions, 25 yards)
  • Tyler Eifert – 5 targets (5 receptions, 47 yards)

It was definitely interesting to see the targets split evenly between the two tight ends in Cincinnati. If it continues it likely is going to keep both as more of a TE2 option, because we all know A.J. Green is going to be the star and there aren’t going to be enough targets to go around.

Minnesota Vikings:

  • Jerome Simpson – 8 targets (7 receptions, 140 yards) – led team
  • Greg Jennings – 7 targets (3 receptions, 44 yards)
  • Kyle Rudolph – 4 targets (2 receptions, 27 yards)

Jerome Simpson was the most targeted receiver for the Vikings?!?!?! Not only that, he was highly productive in the chances he was given. We all know Jennings is no spring chicken and he also appears to be well ahead of rookie Coradarrelle Patterson, who managed just one reception. In other words, grabbing Simpson would certainly be the prudent move.

Detroit Lions:

  • Calvin Johnson – 9 targets (4 receptions, 37 yards)

It was clearly a disappointing season debut for Johnson, but it happens. Things can only go up from here.

Indianapolis Colts:

  • T.Y. Hilton – 5 targets (3 receptions, 20 yards)
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey – 4 targets (3 receptions, 33 yards)

You can argue that Hilton is the more talented receiver, but for right now he is sharing targets behind Reggie Wayne. Until he can break away from Heyward-Bey it is going to be tough to trust him on a weekly basis.

Oakland Raiders:

  • Rod Streater – 8 targets (5 recpetions, 70 yards)
  • Denarius Moore – 7 targets (4 receptions, 43 yards, 1 TD)

Does anyone really care? The Raiders offense is a mess and no one is trustworthy on a weekly basis. That said, Terrelle Pyor did show promise in managing the offense so those in deeper formats would be well served to keep a close eye on the situation. In fact, depending on how deep your league is, you may want to stash both just in case.

Atlanta Falcons:

  • Roddy White – 2 targets (2 receptions, 19 yards)
  • Harry Douglas – 6 targets (4 receptions, 93 yards) – led team in yards

Don’t read anything into Douglas being targeted more than White in Week 1. Remember, White is working his way back from an ankle injury and it could take some time before he’s fully healthy. In shallower formats owners will want to go with another option until he proves ready to contribute on a weekly basis.

New Orleans Saints:

  • Kenny Stills – 5 targets (2 receptions, 86 yards) – long of 67 yards

Obviously Drew Brees spread the football around, with no one receiving more than seven targets.  Stills did what was expected of him, turn in a big play but otherwise be rather quiet. It was nice to see him still play a role in the offense, but he’s going to be a hit or miss type player. Unless he connects on the big one, his value is going to be nil. Plus, given the depth, is it even a guarantee that he’s targeted often?

New York Jets:

  • Stephen Hill – 9 targets (6 receptions, 39 yards)
  • Kellen Winslow Jr. – 8 targets (7 receptions, 79 yards, 1 TD)
  • Santanio Holmes – 3 targets (1 rception, 13 yards)

It is obvious Holmes isn’t quite up-to-speed yet and you have to wonder if the Lisfranc injury is going to plague him all year. He’s worth stashing, but he’s hardly a lock to produce. As for Winslow, it is clear that he could be a solid safety valve in New York. The upside is limited and health is going to be a risk, but if you are desperate he’s worth a shot at this point.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

  • Emmanuel Sanders – 13 targets (7 receptions, 57 yards)

It was interesting to see how much Sanders was targeted, but the receiving corps is the least if the worries in Pittsburgh right now. With the running back spot and offensive line seemingly in shambles, there’s going to be little chance to produce.

Tennessee Titans:

  • Nate Washington – 7 targets (4 receptions, 46 yards)
  • Kendall Wright – 4 targets (2 receptions, 11 yards)
  • Kenny Britt – 2 targets (1 reception, 15 yards)

This is one of the problems with the Titans, as you never truly know who the go to receiver will be on a weekly basis. Britt is arguably the most talented and has the highest upside, but until he settles in as the go to option he’s too risky to trust.

Seattle Seahawks:

  • Doug Baldwin – 8 targets (7 receptions, 91 yards)
  • Golden Tate – 7 targets (4 receptions, 51 yards)
  • Sidney Rice – 3 targets (2 receptions, 35 yards)

Interesting to see Doug Baldwin emerge as the most targeted Seahawks receiver, isn’t it? Tate is probably the guy to own, as he should emerge as the top option, but Sidney Rice’s disappointing debut is eye opening. He has to be considered more of a WR5 type option.

Carolina Panthers:

  • Greg Olsen – 10 targets (5 receptions, 56 yards)
  • Steve Smith – 8 targets (6 receptions, 51 yards, 1 TD)

Is it really a surprise that these two saw the bulk of the targets (there were 23 total targets)? That’s a trend that will continue all season long.

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Dwayne Bowe – 6 targets (4 receptions, 30 yards)

Sure he tied for the team lead in targets, but it was a rather underwhelming performance. As we’ve said over and over again, couple the presence of Alex Smith and Andy Reid together and Bowe could be in for a very disappointing season. It’s just one game, but it easily could become a trend.

St. Louis Rams:

  • Jared Cook – 10 targets (7 receptions, 141 yards, 2 TD) – led team
  • Tavon Austin – 7 targets (6 receptions, 41 yards) – second on team

Austin played a bigger role, as expected, but it was Cook who quickly stole the show. As for Cook, it goes to show what happens when you actually utilize a top talent, isn’t it? It is just one game, but this shows why fantasy owners were so frustrated with his lack of production in Tennessee.

Arizona Cardinals:

  • Andre Roberts – 9 targets (8 receptions, 97 yards)
  • Malcolm Floyd – 6 targets (4 receptions, 82 yards)

The Cardinals seem ready to use all three of their receivers, but in Week 1 it was Roberts who was the #2 receiver with Floyd close behind. Don’t be surprised if who is the most targeted receiver, after Fitzgerald (14 targets), fluctuates on a weekly basis (though right now Roberts appears primed for more playing time). That makes it tough to trust either, doesn’t it? Consider both Roberts and Floyd WR4/5 types unless someone emerges.

San Francisco 49ers:

  • Anquan Boldin – 17 targets (13 receptions, 208 yards, 1 TD)

One heck of a debut, huh? Obviously he won’t match those types of numbers but it is obvious who the go to receiver is going to be.

Green Bay Packers:

  • Randall Cobb – 12 targets (7 receptions, 108 yards, 1 TD)
  • Jordy Nelson – 10 targets (7 receptions, 130 yards, 1 TD)
  • JerMichael Finley – 8 targets (5 receptions, 56 yards, 1 TD)

The targets were split pretty evenly among these three, which is extremely noteworthy. If Finley is going to be routinely targeted like this he is going to be a TE1 on a weekly basis.

New York Giants:

  • Brandon Myers – 9 targets (7 receptions, 66 yards, 1 TD)
  • Victor Cruz – 8 targets (5 receptions, 118 yards, 3 TD
  • Hakeem Nicks – 8 targets (5 receptions, 114 yards)
  • Del’Ray Scott – 8 targets (5 receptions, 51 yards)
  • Rueben Randle – 6 targets (5 receptions, 101 yards)

With the run gaming hurting the Giants spread the ball around on offense, getting all of the receivers, as well as Brandon Myers, into the mix. With David Wilson in the doghouse, this could easily continue for the time being. Obviously the biggest benefactor from all of the throws is Randle, who could suddenly become a viable option on a weekly basis. Don’t count on it yet, but I wouldn’t be adverse to playing him against the Broncos this week.

Washington Redskins:

  • Pierre Garcon – 11 targets (7 receptions, 64 yards)
  • Santana Moss – 9 targets (5 receptions, 54 yards)
  • Leonard Hankerson – 7 targets (5 receptions, 80 yards, 2 TD)
  • Fred Davis – 4 targets (2 receptions, 22 yards)

I wouldn’t read too much into Hankerson getting more targets than Davis in Week 1.  The Redskins fell behind big early and needed to try to push the ball downfield as much as possible in an effort to catch up.  Davis should play a bigger role in the offense in closer games, but he was still a disappointment.

Houston Texans:

  • Andre Johnson – 16 targets (12 receptions, 146 yards, 0 TD)
  • Owen Daniels – 7 targets (5 receptions, 67 yards, 2 TD)
  • Deandre Hopkins – 6 targets (5 receptions, 66 yards)

It’s pretty obvious where the offense is going to come from in Houston, with only six players getting targets (two of which were Arian Foster and Ben Tate).  While Hopkins is tough to trust, he clearly has the upside of a viable option this season.

What are your thoughts of the situations around the league?

Make sure to check out all of our Week 2 rankings:

Target Practice: NFC Edition (Week 2): James Jones Rebounds, Tavon Austin Focus of Offense & More
10 Key Target Trends From Week 13: T.Y. Hilton, Greg Jennings, Vernon Davis & More


  1. Eric H says:

    With news that Amendola isn’t likely to play on Thursday, who do you think benefits?

  2. Paul J says:

    Watch Larry Fitzgerald’s status for this week. He was out of practice today with a hammy tweak.

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