September 21, 2011
Important programming note: Beginning today, Matt Buser is publishing year-to-date info on targets, touches, and red zone opportunities. Try to think of Matt's piece as an useful companion to Target Practice; I give you a weekly snapshot, Matt gives you the full season, plus all the inside-the-20 data. Two great tastes that taste great together. It's more information than you can process, and you don't even need to upgrade your subscription.
Now let's review to the Week 2 target leaders, beginning with the RBs...
The Patriots defense focused on eliminating Antonio Gates(notes) in Week 2 (and succeeded), which left a pile of receiving stats for Mike Tolbert(notes), Ryan Mathews(notes) and Vincent Jackson(notes) (see below). We've seen Tolbert's name near the top of the target leaderboard for two straight weeks, so there's no doubting his role. Mathews has added 10 catches for 135 yards, and he gained 126 total yards against New England. Both backs are solid starts this Sunday, as whatever is left of Kansas City's roster rolls into town. ... Cam Newton(notes) had nearly as many carries in the Green Bay loss (11) as DeAngelo Williams(notes) and Jonathan Stewart(notes) combined (11); it's tough to make a case for either back as a fantasy starter right now, especially when Cam is running the ball inside-the-5. Stewart's fantasy day was saved by the receiving workload in Week 2. J-Stew had a slight, almost meaningless edge over DeAngelo in targets in the opener (3 to 2), but he was the preferred weapon against the Packers.
Darren Sproles(notes) has now delivered serious target totals in back-to-back weeks. If you weren't buying him as an every-week PPR option after the opener, then you've probably missed your opportunity. I'll remind you of Sean Payton's recent comments about the Saints' backfield split, buried deep in Tuesday's 11-on-11:
"If you separate Darren's role a little bit, if you start with some nickel packages and a little bit of this 'lighting' term we use where we're wanting him specifically on the field much like with Reggie. I don't want to say that's easy, but that becomes the easy part of the equation.
"So if we can establish that we have a package that involves Sproles both in the nickel and in the base, then I think the bigger trick is coming up with a ways between Pierre and Mark."
Payton rarely says anything to assist the fantasy community, but the quote above was an exception. Darren's role is "much like with Reggie"; you'll recall that Reggie Bush(notes) caught 88 passes as a rookie, then 73 in just 12 games the following season. Sproles is the "easy part of the equation" for New Orleans, which means of course that Pierre Thomas(notes) and Mark Ingram(notes) are the tough parts. This will serve as my last dose of Sproles hype. PPR owners, you know what to do.
Of all the widely available receivers who broke out in Week 2, David Nelson(notes) might just be the most interesting. Stevie Johnson(notes) is tender-groined, Roscoe Parrish(notes) (ankle) just hit IR, and Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) won't stop throwing. At 6-foot-5, Nelson is an inviting red zone target (though apparently not as inviting as Scott Chandler(notes)), and he'll have slot duties going forward. Looks like a must-add PPR asset. ... As an early investor in Austin Collie(notes), I appreciate the effort to get him involved in Week 2. I really do. And if those 10 targets would have arrived via Peyton Manning(notes), Collie would have had an excellent day. Alas, Manning isn't close to returning, Collie is tied to Kerry Collins(notes), and the Steelers defense is coming to town. Not much reason for hope in Week 3 (or any other Manning-less week).
Danario Alexander(notes) was a relatively buzzy name following the Rams' loss to New York on Monday night, but Mike Sims-Walker(notes) drew the most attention from Sam Bradford(notes). If you only allow yourself one Rams receiver (sound policy), then MSW is the guy. Danny Amendola(notes) (elbow) is not expected to return to practice this week. ... It's no surprise to see Kenny Britt(notes) near the top of the target list, but you'll notice another Tennessee receiver just two spots down. Nate Washington(notes) was targeted 11 times on Sunday, as Matt Hasselbeck(notes) torched a Ravens defense that was preoccupied with Chris Johnson. Both Washington and Hasselbeck could be sneaky-good plays in Week 3, as they face a Denver defense that could again be without Champ Bailey(notes) (hamstring). ... Devin Hester(notes), that target-to-catch ratio is ridiculous.
Jason Witten(notes) was a busy guy on Sunday, and he's looking at another significant workload in Week 3, with Miles Austin(notes) (hamstring) sidelined and Dez Bryant(notes) (quad) at something less than full strength. ... Aaron Hernandez(notes) and Rob Gronkowski(notes) combined for 14 targets against San Diego, but now Hernandez (MCL) is out of the picture for multiple weeks. There's no benching Gronkowski.
Jermichael Finley(notes) has been a small disappointment so far, but I'm assuming no one's worried. He just missed a TD reception against the Panthers. No need to fret. ... Fred Davis(notes) had a decisive edge in snaps over Chris Cooley(notes) in Week 2 (56 to 37), and he continues to look like Washington's most dangerous receiver. Tough to not start that guy against Dallas on Monday night.
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