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Week 3 Target Watch: NFC

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Week 3 Target Watch: NFC
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Chet Gresham takes a look at targets and touches for Week 2 in the NFC

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Welcome to the NFC targets and touches for Week 2 of the NFL season. The AFC portion will be up tomorrow, so stay tuned for that craziness. And if you are new to the column let me take you through a quick look at how I set things up. You'll see something like this "Matt Forte: 6-11 (17)" which just means that Forte had 6 targets in Week 1, 11 targets in Week 2 and 17 total.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Follow me on Twitter for more target talk and interpretive target dance.

Targets for running backs are one of the most important stats for fantasy since receptions give running backs space to work and a whole extra dimension for yards and of course in PPR it's all the rage. So here are the top running back targets so far:

Matt Forte: 6-11 (17), Jamaal Charles: 6-10 (16), DeMarco Murray: 10-6 (16), Ray Rice: 11-3 (14), Darren Sproles: 6-8 (14), Joique Bell: 6-8 (14), Arian Foster: 8-4 (12), Da'Rel Scott: 8-4 (12), Daryl Richardson: 6-6 (12), Danny Woodhead: 3-9 (12), Reggie Bush: 8-3 (11), Fred Jackson: 5-6 (11), C.J. Spiller: 6-5 (11), Trent Richardson: 6-5 (11)

Bad games for running backs with a bag of targets are much harder to come by than those running backs who get no targets (see DeAngelo Williams).

And now for the rest of the story:

Arizona Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald: 14-5- (19), Andre Roberts: 9-8- (17), Michael Floyd: 6-7- (13), Jim Dray: 2-7- (9), Andre Ellington: 3-2- (5), Jaron Brown: 2-2- (4), Rashard Mendenhall: 1-2- (3), Alfonso Smith: 1-1- (2), Kory Sperry: 1-0- (1)

With Larry Fitzgerald hobbled in Week 2 Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd and tight end Jim Dray took on most of the targets, but there wasn’t much production with the looks spread around and the run game finding room.

Rashard Mendenhall put up decent numbers including a short yardage touchdown, but Andre Ellington also got in on the action with a long touchdown reception. The touches and snaps were led by Mendenhall with 17 touches and 39 snaps to Ellington’s 6 and 21.

Atlanta Falcons

Julio Jones: 9-14- (23), Tony Gonzalez: 6-8- (14), Harry Douglas: 6-5- (11), Steven Jackson: 8-2- (10), Jason Snelling: 3-4- (7), Jacquizz Rodgers: 1-4- (5), Roddy White: 2-3- (5), Bradie Ewing: 1-1- (2), Levine Toilolo: 0-1- (1)

Roddy White was once again limited and only saw three targets, so Julio Jones did his thing and took over, especially after Steven Jackson went down with a thigh injury. Tony Gonzalez is still getting his targets, but seems like he should be doing more with White out, but he hasn’t been that efficient so far this year. He’ll get his still, but I think we have to curb our top 5 upside thoughts.

With Steven Jackson out Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling shared snaps, but Rodgers was the first running back on the field after Jackson went down. Rodgers saw 40 snaps, 11 rushing attempts and 4 targets to Snelling’s 30, 2 and 4. But Snelling out did him in rushing yards, receiving yards and touchdowns. If I’m gambling on one of them to produce while Jackson is hurt it’s Snelling.

Carolina Panthers

Steve Smith: 8-11- (19), Greg Olsen: 10-8- (18), Ted Ginn: 1-8- (9), Brandon LaFell: 0-6- (6), Mike Tolbert: 1-3- (4), DeAngelo Williams: 3-0- (3), Armanti Edwards: 0-2- (2)

The Panthers’ offense is not a smooth running machine right now, but at least there are targets to look at! Your normal target studs for the Panthers, Steve Smith and Greg Olsen, led the way once again, but an interloper named Ted Ginn saw a goodly amount with 8 total. He also found the end zone, which is always good. Brandon LaFell actually had some targets this week after getting skunked Week 1, but only averaged 3 yards for each of his 4 receptions. He ran more routes than any of the other receivers, but didn’t do much. We may see Ginn getting more snaps to go with his targets soon.

DeAngelo Williams had 22 carries, but zero targets compared to Mike Tolbert’s 3. Williams is a player that could use some help getting into space and it seems odd he isn’t getting more targets. Tolbert was in on third downs often, but Williams still ran more routes than he did. I think there’s a chance this will change, but as it is, you can’t hope for much more than flex numbers out of Williams even with so many carries. 

Chicago Bears

Brandon Marshall: 10-10- (20), Matt Forte: 6-11- (17), Martellus Bennett: 6-9- (15), Alshon Jeffery: 8-5- (13), Earl Bennett: 1-2- (3), Michael Bush: 1-0- (1), Steve Maneri: 0-1- (1)

According to Pro Football Focus, “after dropping 13 passes last year, which was third-most for wide receivers, Brandon Marshall has yet to drop a pass in 2013.”  That’s a good sign that Trestman’s offense is clicking and Cutler and Marshall on the same page. Marshall has 10 targets in each of the first two games, so it goes to reason he will have 10 for each game from here on out. Science!

Matt Forte actually led the team in targets Week 2, which is a Trestman marker and something that should make every Forte owner very happy and non-owner very sad. It does seem to cut into Alshon Jeffery’s upside. Jeffery did have 2 rushing attempts for 30 yards, which is interesting, but with just 1 reception on 5 targets we are left wanting.

Dallas Cowboys

Dez Bryant: 8-13- (21), Jason Witten: 9-8- (17), Miles Austin: 12-4- (16), DeMarco Murray: 10-6- (16), Terrance Williams: 4-3- (7), James Hanna: 0-5- (5), Dwayne Harris: 3-1- (4), Gavin Escobar: 2-1- (3), Phillip Tanner: 1-0- (1), Lance Dunbar: dnp-1- (1)

It was the Dez Bryant show in Week one, but it looks like he was the only one attending. The Chiefs gave him single coverage, which helped him to 13 targets and a bunch of fantasy points, but allowed them to shut down the Cowboys’ other weapons. Witten saw similar targets as he had in Week 1, but not similar production and Austin was the main loser in the single coverage of Bryant.

DeMarco Murray once again led the way at running back, but didn’t have much room to roam. His work in the passing game allowed him some space and kept him from a complete dud of a game. It looks as though his targets will continue, which is very good news.

Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson: 9-8- (17), Nate Burleson: 6-8- (14), Joique Bell: 6-8- (14), Reggie Bush: 8-3- (11), Brandon Pettigrew: 4-6- (10), Kris Durham: 2-2- (4), Patrick Edwards: 3-0- (3), Joseph Fauria: 3-0- (3), Theo Riddick: 0-1- (1), Tony Scheffler: 1-0- (1)

Much like Kansas City manning Dez Bryant with Brandon Flowers, the Cardinals manned Calvin Johnson with Patrick Peterson. And even though Johnson owned Peterson, it allowed them to divert help elsewhere and keep the rest of the Lions in check.  Not one receiver besides Johnson topped 45 yards or scored a touchdown and with Reggie Bush hurting he was a non-factor.

Joique Bell caught all 5 of his 8 targets, but only totaled 31 receiving yards. Decent for PPR, but not so great for standard and also dropped a couple of those, so meh.

Green Bay Packers

Randall Cobb: 12-10- (22), Jermichael Finley: 8-7- (15), James Jones: 2-12- (14), Jordy Nelson: 10-4- (14), James Starks: 1-5- (6), Andrew Quarless: 0-3- (3), Eddie Lacy: 2-0- (2), John Kuhn: 1-0- (1)

Randall Cobb is quickly becoming a consistent stud with back-to-back double-digit target games. He’s now caught 16 of 22 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. The touchdowns for Cobb were the only thing holding him back from elite status. We’ll see if he can keep it up.

James Jones went from 2 targets Week 1 to 12 in Week 2. That’s a bit of a jump. Jordy Nelson only had 4 targets, but of course two of those he caught for touchdowns. Jermichael Finley is also doing good work with his targets, which all goes to show you that many receivers can have value if Aaron Rodgers is throwing them the ball.

Minnesota Vikings

Jerome Simpson: 8-5- (13), Greg Jennings: 7-6- (13), Kyle Rudolph: 4-6- (10), Adrian Peterson: 4-2- (6), Jarius Wright: 2-2- (4), John Carlson: 1-2- (3), Cordarrelle Patterson: 1-2- (3), Toby Gerhart: 0-2- (2), Zach Line: 1-1- (2)

Greg Jennings only had 6 targets, but he was much more efficient this week against the Bears, catching 5 for 84 yards.  He still has some gas left in the tank. Kyle Rudolph also saw 6 targets, and caught 3 for 42 yards and a touchdown. He’s never topped 67 yards receiving in his career so he is completely touchdown dependent.

Jerome Simpson fell back to earth this week and Ponder will most likely learn to feed Jennings if he wants to save his starting job.

New Orleans Saints

Jimmy Graham: 7-16- (23), Darren Sproles: 6-8- (14), Marques Colston: 6-7- (13), Pierre Thomas: 4-5- (9), Lance Moore: 4-4- (8), Kenny Stills: 5-1- (6), Ben Watson: 3-0- (3), Jed Collins: 0-1- (1), Robert Meachem: dnp-1- (1), Mark Ingram: 0-1- (1)

The Tampa Bay defense has some trouble covering tight ends (see Kellen Winslow last week) so Jimmy Graham’s big game and target numbers make sense. But after him the passing game was shut down. Excluding Graham’s numbers Brees passed 30 times, completing 16 (53%) for 143 yards and no touchdowns.

The Saints are still trying to use Ingram in short yardage, but he is losing snaps to Pierre Thomas now.  This week Ingram saw 14 snaps and ran the ball 8 times while Thomas had 28 snaps, ran the ball 5 times, had 5 targets and finished with 48 total yards to Ingram’s 20.

Last season Darren Sproles averaged 3.7 carries per game and so far this year he’s averaging 7.5. He may need to be more productive with those carries to keep getting them, but at least it’s a good sign for his production. And you know how he does in the target department store (he has store credit).

New York Giants

Brandon Myers: 9-10- (19), Victor Cruz: 8-11- (19), Hakeem Nicks: 8-7- (15), Rueben Randle: 6-9- (15), Da'Rel Scott: 8-4- (12), Larry Donnell 0-3- (3), Bear Pascoe: 0-2- (2), David Wilson: 1-1- (2), Henry Hynoski: 1-0- (1), Brandon Jacobs: dnp-1- (1), Jerrel Jernigan: 0-1- (1)

Eli Manning is averaging over 45 attempts a game so there have been plenty of targets to go around, but for some reason the bulk have gone to the slow footed Brandon Myers and 5 more targets to tight ends Bear Pascoe and Larry Donnell.  Just my two cents, but playmakers they are not.

The running back situation is a mess beyond definition, but Da'Rel Scott had 39 snaps, David Wilson 24 and Brandon Jacobs 14. They split carries fairly evenly and had a pitiful 19 carries for 23 yards with Wilson the only player with over a yard per carry.  That’s not saying much, but it’s obvious they are just going to have to let Wilson do his thing or continue to forfeit the run game.

Philadelphia Eagles

DeSean Jackson: 9-15- (24), Jason Avant: 3-7- (10), Riley Cooper: 6-3- (9), LeSean McCoy: 1-6- (7), Zach Ertz: 3-2- (5), Brent Celek: 3-1- (4), James Casey: 0-1- (1), Bryce Brown: 0-1- (1)

It was good to LeSean McCoy get into the passing game more this week with six targets. That was mainly due to a much closer game than in Washington Week 1. Against Washington Vick attempted 25 passes and against the Chargers he attempted 36. Of course McCoy took those 6 targets and caught 5 of them for 114 yards because he's crazy good. The fact that the Eagles have little to no defense right now means Philadelphia will continue putting the hammer down on offense.

This game solidified the notion that LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are the only Eagles sans Vick who are fantasy players and by fantasy players I mean elite fantasy players. DeSean Jackson has 24 targets in 2 games. Vick has 61 pass attempts and almost 40% have gone to Jackson.

San Francisco 49ers

Anquan Boldin: 17-4- (21), Vernon Davis: 9-5- (14), Kyle Williams: 6-6- (12), Bruce Miller: 2-5- (7), Frank Gore: 2-3- (5), Vance McDonald: 2-2- (4), Marlon Moore: 1-1- (2)

The 49ers hit a brick wall in Seattle and that’s about all there is to it. They held Colin Kaepernick to a 46% completion rate, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Not one running back, wide receiver or tight end topped 39 yards.  I’d most likely give a mulligan to these target numbers.

Seattle Seahawks

Doug Baldwin: 8-1- (9), Golden Tate: 7-2- (9), Sidney Rice: 3-5- (8), Zach Miller: 4-4- (8), Marshawn Lynch: 3-3- (6), Derrick Coleman: 3-0- (3), Robert Turbin: 2-1- (3), Jermaine Kearse: 2-0- (2), Stephen Williams: 1-0- (1), Luke Willson: 0-1- (1)

It really wasn’t much more enlightening on the other side of the 49ers/Seahawks game. Russell Wilson only threw the ball 19 times and completed 8 of those for an even worse than Kaepernick completion rate of 42%. But he did manage a touchdown pass to Marshawn Lynch who was the only offense they could muster with 2 rushing and that 1 receiving touchdown. I think what we learned here is that Marshawn Lynch is pretty good.

St. Louis Rams

Tavon Austin: 7-12- (19), Austin Pettis: 6-11- (17), Jared Cook: 10-6- (16), Daryl Richardson: 6-6- (12), Chris Givens: 3-8- (11), Lance Kendricks: 4-3- (7), Isaiah Pead: dnp-4- (4), Brian Quick: 2-1- (3), Benny Cunningham: 0-1- (1), Mike McNeill: 0-1- (1), Cory Harkey: dnp-1- (1)

Tavon Austin was the target winner in this one with 12 that led to 2 touchdowns. His yards per reception is very Danny Amendolaesque, but Bradford seems to trust him and in PPR leagues that’s going to mean steady points.

The Rams were in comeback mode after halftime so they may have had more passes than normal, but the inefficiency of the run game is making them even more pass first than we first thought.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vincent Jackson: 13-11- (24), Mike Williams: 8-6- (14), Doug Martin: 6-1- (7), Kevin Ogletree: 2-3- (5), Nate Byham: 1-1- (2), Brian Leonard: 1-0- (1)

Josh Freeman’s inefficiency is, well, inefficient. He has completed 24 of 53 passes for an anemic 45.3% completion rate.  He’s never been super-efficient, but so far he’s just been impossibly bad. The sheer number of targets to Vincent Jackson should keep him relevant, but Freeman will need to step his game up sooner than later to help our friend Mike Williams out.

Doug Martin thankfully was able to overcome Freeman’s shortcomings to rush for 144 yards, but he was only targeted once with no receptions. It would behoove them to throw the ball to Muscle Hamster.

Washington Redskins

Pierre Garcon: 11-13- (24), Santana Moss: 9-5- (14), Josh Morgan: 5-6- (11), Leonard Hankerson: 7-3- (10), Jordan Reed: 6-3- (9), Fred Davis: 4-2- (6), Aldrick Robinson: 2-2- (4), Roy Helu: 2-1- (3), Logan Paulsen: 0-3- (3), Alfred Morris: 1-2- (3), Darrel Young: 1-0- (1)

Washington has been so bad in the first half that the second half has been a garbage time bonanza, which, as long as Washington can’t stop anyone from scoring could continue. That might not be the best news for Alfred Morris, but not too bad for Pierre Garcon and even Robert Griffin III who has been playing poorly, but is still tied for 7th in quarterback fantasy points.

Snap count data comes from our friends at Pro Football Focus.

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