Target Time: Week 1
By Jeff Brubach
Week 1 is in the books, and we now have actual statistical data to analyze, rather than the hypothetical fairy tale stats that our fantasy players accumulated in our offseason daydreams. In our first installment of Target Time, we will take a look at the Top Five most targeted players from Week 1, and then quickly highlight some other notable performances from the start of the 2013 season. NFL quarterbacks were chucking the ball at crazy rates in Week 1, with 28 players receiving 10 or more targets, giving us plenty to digest as we begin to wrap our heads around which players will be receiving the most attention in their team’s passing attack.
Week 1 Top Five
1. Anquan Boldin (17): Old man Anquan really brought the heat in Week 1, as he torched Green Bay for 13 receptions on his 17 targets for 208 yards and a touchdown. While Boldin leading the NFL in targets is a bit of a surprise, the success of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick is not a shock and he seems to have found his favorite receiver. With Michael Crabtree out for the season, Boldin will remain atop the target food chain for the 49ers and should provide great PPR value. A much tougher matchup with the Seattle secondary awaits in Week 2, however.
2. Andre Johnson (16): Ok, let’s just get this out of the way: Andre Johnson is a beast. Now that we have established Johnson’s wide receiving dominance, it is worth mentioning that the game flow of Houston's Monday night comeback win did benefit Johnson in the receiving department. While big Andre will never be lower than a bold, italic’d, and underlined number one atop Matt Schaub’s target list, he won’t be afforded quite this many opportunities weekly. Any way you slice it, this was a great, and most importantly healthy, start to the 2013 season.
3. Brian Hartline (15): We have seen this act before. Remember Brian Hartline’s 19 target, 12 reception game in Week 4 of last season? While some credit is certainly due to Hartline, he likely won’t grace this list too many more times in 2013. Further improvement from quarterback Ryan Tannehill will help his chances, but Hartline will remain a borderline WR3 in PPR leagues for now, as fellow Dolphin Mike Wallace will likely eat into his target totals moving forward.
4(t). Larry Fitzgerald (14): Hallelujah! He’s back! Larry Fitzgerald was back to his old ways in Week 1, receiving a boatload of targets. The main difference between Fitzgerald’s impressive Week 1 and his forgettable 2012 season was that the targets he received were actually catchable. While Carson Palmer’s Arizona debut wasn’t anything to write home about, he certainly showed a knack for keying on Fitzgerald in the passing game. Can you blame him? Our man Larry is back and will be a fixture at the top of our weekly target list this season.
4(t). Danny Amendola (14): Two Patriots are featured this week in Target Time, however, their presence is very misleading. Danny Amendola had a fine Week 1 and showed the type of skills that New England counted on when they added the wide receiver to fill the void left by long time Patriot Wes Welker, but he didn’t escape the game fully healthy. Despite Amendola’s 10 catches on 14 targets for 104 yards, his nagging groin issue will keep him out of New England’s Week 2 battle with the Jets and there have been no estimates in regard to a potential return date. Fantasy owners are left to hope for a speedy recovery and wonder about Amendola’s place in the New England pecking order once he returns. With the impending return of “The Gronk” and Tom Brady’s developing relationship with Julian Edelman, Amendola likely won’t be in store for 14 targets per game upon his return.
4(t). Kenbrell Thompkins (14): The most perplexing 14 target performance of the week was turned in by New England rookie Kenbrell Thompkins. While the offseason buzz surrounding the youngster had his fantasy value sky high heading into Week 1, his performance was less than appetizing despite a healthy plate full of targets from Mr. Thomas Q. Brady. There are two ways to look at Thompkins' Week 1 performance, and it depends on how you view the half-full pint glass sitting on the bar. Either Thompkins is a raw rookie who Tom Brady trusted enough to target a whopping fourteen times in his first NFL game, or you can side with a local paper that viewed Thompkins' performance as pretty terrible. I’d stick with the former, but keep in mind there will be bumps along the way.
Other Notable Target Totals
Jordan Cameron (13) got off to a nice start, leading the Browns in targets from the inaccurate Brandon Weeden (26 of 53 passing). He should be a mid-level TE1 going forward if Weeden keeps feeding him. It was not Antonio Brown, but Emmanuel Sanders (12) who led Pittsburgh players in targets on Sunday. The Steelers offense can only go up from this point, and Sanders will have decent PPR value. In Dennis Pitta’s absence, it was Dallas Clark (12) who led the Ravens in targets in Week 1, which may have been more of a testament to the lack of viable options for Joe Flacco, and the ineptitude of fellow tight end Ed Dickson. Clark still isn’t playable in most leagues despite the nice start, as that performance can be attributed to crazy game flow with the Ravens chasing Peyton Manning. Jake Locker turned in his usual underwhelming effort in the passing game (11 for 20 passing) and it killed Kenny Britt (2), who caught half of his two targets for 15 yards. Unless the light bulb goes on for Locker, Tennessee receivers are a dicey proposition. Mike Wallace (5) was frustrated after his Week 1 performance, and his fantasy owners were right there with him. Wallace is a good bet to bounce back in Week 2, so see if he can be poached from a nervous owner.