Today, we begin with a programming note. A few of you have mentioned that you'd like to see the weekly target reports a day earlier, presumably to assist with waiver claim decision-making. I'm nothing if not responsive, and your request seems reasonable, so here you go. Targets on a Tuesday. Please enjoy responsibly.
On Wednesday afternoon, Matt Buser will still deliver his usual look at year-to-date touches, targets and red zone opportunities. All I'm giving you here is target data from the prior weekend's games, with a bit of forward-looking fantasy spin. Let's get to it...
Matt Forte tied for the target lead at his position in Week 5, which is not at all unexpected. As of this writing, Forte leads the Bears in rushing yards (440), receiving yards (345), and catches (30). He's averaging 88.0 yards per game on the ground and 69.0 via the air, which puts him on pace for 2,512 scrimmage yards. If he reaches that total, he would top Chris Johnson's single-season record (barely, by three yards). In fact, Forte's current pace would make him the third NFL player to top 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same year. Were he to actually hit 1,000-1,000, you'd have to consider the achievement to be among the most impressive in league history. The other two backs who've done the deed — Roger Craig in '85, Marshall Faulk in '99 — were tied to exceptional offenses. Forte, in contrast, is piling up stats for a team that currently ranks No. 23 in total yards per game (318.0). Through five weeks, Forte has recorded 112 touches; the rest of his teammates combined have 94.
So that's fairly ridiculous. It's tough to imagine that he'll be able to maintain the pace much longer, even if Forte is clearly the team's best option on every snap. If you drafted him this year — particularly in a point-per-reception format — please take a victory lap in the comments section. Good call, gamer.
There really weren't many surprises on the RB target leader board in Week 5, with the possible exception of LeGarrette Blount, who never catches anything (and who limped away from the loss at San Francisco. Consider Earnest Graham an option for Week 6). Javon Ringer saw six targets and caught 'em all, but that was all fourth quarter work in a lost cause.
Wait, wha—? Who? Early Doucet? EARLY DOUCET?!
Yup, Doucet led all players in targets in Week 5, finishing with eight catches for 92 yards. He also had a touchdown catch negated by penalty. It was really an odd, uncomfortable day for Arizona's offense, as the Vikings apparently knew exactly what was coming, nearly all the time. This from 1500 ESPN Twin Cities...
"Once we started running Cover-2, we killed them," said Chris Cook, who was solid in Winfield's place at left cornerback. "The receivers couldn't get off the reroutes, and that pass rush was hot."
"They had tendencies," Cook said. "When they moved [Larry Fitzgerald] inside, we were still going to put our hands on them regardless. We had somebody to jam him every time. We knew what they was doing. A lot of their stuff, we were calling it out before they did it."
Ouch. That's not really encouraging news, if you're a Fitzgerald or a Kolb owner. Coach Whisenhunt might want to use the bye week to brainstorm. The Cards face the Steelers and Ravens after their off-week, so things won't get much easier. Let's hope the offense is somewhat less predictable in Week 7. It's clear that Doucet was Plan B on Sunday, when Fitzgerald was occupied.
At this point, it's tough to argue that Victor Cruz shouldn't rank ahead of Mario Manningham. Cruz has been the better fantasy play in back-to-back weeks. Still, you'll note that Mario saw nine targets on Sunday, so it's not as if he's been kicked to the curb. Manningham remains a reasonable buy, assuming his price has plummeted. ... Damian Williams has found the end zone in consecutive weeks, and he was targeted 11 times in Week 5. He's getting plenty of playing time for the Titans, with Kenny Britt done for the year. Williams is clearly ahead of Lavelle Hawkins in Tennessee's wide receiver hierarchy. ... Darrius Heyward-Bey has now given us a pair of useful fantasy lines, and his 34-yard TD on Sunday was one of the day's most impressive yards-after-catch events. The trick with DHB is that Oakland remains a running team, and the receiving corps suddenly seems crowded. Heyward-Bey is a reasonable play during the byes, but it's tough to view him as anything more just yet.
Good grief, Jacoby Jones. Eleven targets, one lousy catch? Really? We knew you weren't Andre Johnson, but we didn't think you were Chris [expletive] Chambers. ... Note the workloads for Seattle receivers Ben Obomanu (10 targets) and Doug Baldwin (9), two players who took full advantage of Mike Williams' concussion-related absence. Both receivers broke the plane in the Seahawks' road win — an absurd defensive breakdown led to Baldwin's score, but they all count. Going forward, give a value edge to Baldwin; that guy has 13 catches for 220 yards over his last two games. And Funston loves him like a kitten. ... In case you're wondering who Naaman Roosevelt is, here's the scoop: He's an un-drafted Buffalo receiver, and he's in line for an uptick in workload with Donald Jones now sidelined by an ankle injury. If you're a deep league manager who'd been relying on Jones' modest production, then I suppose Roosevelt is on the radar.
I'll assume you're not too surprised to see a pair of Houston tight ends near the top of the board. Matt Schaub threw 51 passes on Sunday, 11 of which were wasted on Jacoby Jones (see above). That team needs to lean on Arian Foster and its TEs while Andre Johnson is shelved, because the depth chart wideouts are nothin' special. ... You couldn't have asked for much more from Aaron Hernandez, who returned much earlier than expected from his MCL injury. His final line may not have been spectacular, (5-56-0), but he drew penalties on the defense and was generally a tough assignment. Nice to have him back in the game.
On behalf of Greg Olsen owners everywhere, I wish to file a formal protest over Jeremy Shockey's workload. Olsen has all the touchdowns so far, but Shockey has become a nuisance, hauling in three catches per game. ... It's possible that Jake Ballard's ceiling looks a lot like his Week 5 output (3-72-1), but that guy is a load, a tough man to tackle. At 6-6 and 275 pounds, he's an unwelcome presence in the middle of the field, even if you're gang-tackling. Highlight here. That's just not fair. ... Jared Cook didn't help you much on Sunday, but the nine targets are encouraging. That total ranked second on the team in Week 5.
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