Week 1 Target Watch: AFC

Chet Gresham
Nick Mensio identifies a dozen possible Week 7 sleepers, checking in on Brian Hartline, Josh Freeman, Zach Ertz, and nine others

Week 7 Sleepers

Nick Mensio identifies a dozen possible Week 7 sleepers, checking in on Brian Hartline, Josh Freeman, Zach Ertz, and nine others

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $25,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 2. It's $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.

Welcome to the AFC version of Target Watch. You will find all of the AFC teams below, with all of their passing targets, plus some snap count data and words I came up with in my brain. If you click here you’ll find the NFC version of this article and if you click here you will be transported into a magical world called my Twitter.

Baltimore Ravens

Dallas Clark: (12), Ray Rice: (11), Brandon Stokley: (10), Torrey Smith: (8), Marlon Brown: (6), Ed Dickson: (5), Vonta Leach: (4), Jacoby Jones: (4), Bernard Pierce: (1)

Joe Flacco threw the ball an amazing 62 times and to some old, old guys. They were trying desperately to find something that worked in the passing game and really never did. The fact that Dallas Clark saw 12 targets and Brandon Stokley 10, probably isn’t the best sign for your team’s success.

Ray Rice was heavily used in the passing game, which is good since he wasn’t used much in the running game. They won’t go up against a seven touchdown throwing Peyton Manning again, so we should see the run game step up and these crazy target numbers settle down.

Ray Rice was in on 53 snaps and ran the ball 12 times while Bernard Pierce was in on 35 snaps and ran it 9 times. This was such an abnormal game with an abnormal number of plays that it’s difficult to know if this usage is a precursor to things to come or not.

Buffalo Bills

Steve Johnson: (6), Scott Chandler: (6), C.J. Spiller: (6), Fred Jackson: (5), Robert Woods: (2), T.J. Graham: (1), Marquise Goodwin: (1)

With E.J. Manuel at the helm, the Bills didn’t try to overreach in the passing game and it shows in the target stats. He only threw seven passes over 10 yards so tight ends and running backs like Chandler, Spiller and Jackson were going to get work.

Fred Jackson outperformed C.J. Spiller on the field and had 26 snaps to Spiller’s 38. I suspect Spiller taking a hard hit had a little to do with this, but that’s conjecture at this point. It’s very much something to keep an eye on, especially because Manuel’s running ability can help the running back and Fred Jackson is one of those.

Cincinnati Bengals

A.J. Green: (13), Mohamed Sanu: (5), Jermaine Gresham: (5), Tyler Eifert: (5), Giovani Bernard: (2), Marvin Jones: (2), BenJarvus Green-Ellis: (1)

It doesn’t look like any other wide receiver is going to start taking many targets away from Green soon and for good reason, but as far as fantasy goes, we’ll have to look at the tight ends for possible production in the passing game from a non-Green.

Tyler Eifert was in on 41 snaps and ran 22 routes and Jermaine Gresham had 59 snaps and ran 28 routes. Both caught each of their five targets and pretty much canceled each other out, but Eifert ran six routes out of the slot, where he had three of his five targets. If he can get more time in the slot, I could see him breaking out some time soon.

The running back situation is of course an interesting one. The incumbent BenJarvus Green-Ellis took the lead with 37 snaps to Giovani Bernard’s 22. He also ran the ball 14 times for 25 yards for 1.8 yards per carry, one reception for four yards and a goal line touchdown, while Bernard had four carries for 22 yards for 5.5 yards per carry with two targets in which he caught one for eight yards. The sample size is of course way too small, but it’s a small step in the right direction for Bernard to see more looks.

Cleveland Browns

Jordan Cameron: (13), Greg Little: (10), Davone Bess: (10), Travis Benjamin: (8), Trent Richardson: (6), Chris Ogbonnaya: (3), Tori Gurley: (2), Gary Barnidge: (1)

Brandon Weeden threw the ball 53 times. That may have been a few too many when you have Trent Richardson as your running back. Just a thought. But it gave plenty of targets for us to look at and Jordan Cameron was the winner both in targets and production. He’s Weeden’s go-to guy right now and there’s a good chance that will continue even when Gordon returns.

After Cameron it’s a little deceptive due to the numerous targets and the absence of Josh Gordon. We also see a very even distribution between Little, Bess and Benjamin. You’ll need to be in very deep leagues to want to decipher that mess.

Richardson’s six targets is a good sign and should be a staple of Norv Turner’s offense. Hopefully he’ll get more rushing attempts next week though.

Denver Broncos

Demaryius Thomas: (11), Wes Welker: (11), Julius Thomas: (7), Eric Decker: (7), Knowshon Moreno: (3), Ronnie Hillman: (2), Andre Caldwell: (1)

When Peyton Manning throws for seven touchdowns you know there were some juicy targets out there. The good news is that no single receiver was over targeted and he gave everyone a chance to put up fantasy numbers, which they did, well, except Eric Decker who couldn’t hold onto anything.

The breakout star of course was tight end Julius Thomas. He was on the field for 74 snaps compared to Jacob Tamme’s seven and Tamme didn’t run one route compared to Thomas’ 27. Of course getting four receivers enough targets to be fantasy relevant each week will be impossible, but Manning is one of the few quarterbacks who can do the impossible.

The three headed running back monster started with Knowshon Moreno and he had the bulk of the snaps with 40 compared to Montee Ball with 18 and Ronnie Hillman with 15. They didn’t really have the running backs do much pass blocking with Moreno handling three pass blocking assignments, Hillman two and Ball one. This situation remains murky. Moreno seems to be the most trusted with Ball the guy they want to give work to when they can.

Houston Texans

Andre Johnson: (16), Arian Foster: (8), Owen Daniels: (7), DeAndre Hopkins: (6), Garrett Graham: (5), Ben Tate: (2)

The Chargers got up to an early lead and left the Texans in passing mode, which accounts for the 16 targets to Andre Johnson.  The three touchdown passes from Schaub are more than he had in 14 of his 16 games last season.  The addition of DeAndre Hopkins may change that somewhat, but with Arian Foster and Ben Tate and a strong defense, I just don’t see them getting too pass happy.

Speaking of DeAndre Hopkins, he was a full go as the #2 receiver. He ran 41 routes compared to Johnson’s 44. He also was in the slot for over half of those routes. It’s good to see they are lining him up all over the field. We’ll just have to see how much they use him when they aren’t behind before I get too bullish on him for fantasy. 

Indianapolis Colts

Reggie Wayne: (8), T.Y. Hilton: (5), Darrius Heyward-Bey: (4), Vick Ballard: (2), Dwayne Allen: (2), Ahmad Bradshaw: (1), Coby Fleener: (1)

The Colts started off fast in the passing game in their opener against the Raiders, but then let up. Andrew Luck completed 18 of 23 passes, but for just 178 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a 78.8% completion percentage, which was the best (or worst if you’re the Raiders) in Week 1.  It seems odd that he wasn’t allowed to throw more.

I’ve been worried about T.Y. Hilton not being in on two-receiver sets and I still don’t like that Heyward-Bey is ahead of him, but Hilton did see one more target than DHB and a similar number of routes run with 21 for Hilton and 23 for Heyward-Bey. The Colts said after the game they wanted to get Hilton more involved, so we shouldn’t worry too much about him just yet, but what we should worry about is their best player only throwing the ball 23 times.

For now it looks like Vick Ballard is the lead back in Indianapolis. He was in on 41 snaps compared to Ahmad Bradshaw’s 15, while also pass blocking very well. His numbers were better than Bradshaw’s too, with 4.8 yards per carry compared to 3.7.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Cecil Shorts: (11), Ace Sanders: (9), Justin Forsett: (5), Allen Reisner: (5), Jordan Todman: (4), Mike Brown: (3), Maurice Jones-Drew: (2), Clay Harbor: (1), Will Ta'ufo'ou: (1)

The Jaguars averaged 2.5 yards per play, 2.6 yards per pass and were sacked six times. Well, instead of Jaguars you could probably just say Blaine Gabbert, because he was the engine that moved this team slower than a turtle repairing a lawn mower.

Thankfully for everyone involved we’ll see Chad Henne in Week two and these target and usage numbers might equate into fantasy production, because if you don’t count yards after the catch, Blaine Gabbert threw for just 23 in Week one while Henne, on just six attempts and three completions, threw for 21.

With Justin Blackmon suspended Ace Sanders saw his snaps and targets, but didn’t have any luck, much like the rest of the team. Maurice Jones-Drew was on the field 46 times, Justin Forsett 13, Jordan Todman 11 and Denard Robinson seven.

Kansas City Chiefs

Dwayne Bowe: (6), Jamaal Charles: (6), Dexter McCluster: (5), Anthony Fasano: (5), Donnie Avery: (5), Anthony Sherman: (4), Cyrus Gray: (1), Knile Davis: (1), Junior Hemingway: (1)

While the Jaguars were taking their own sweet time at losing, the Chiefs got up to a quick lead and then pretty much stopped doing anything. Alex Smith threw two short touchdowns and Jamaal Charles ran in a touchdown and did much of the heavy lifting before he left the game after hurting his thigh and not really being needed anymore.

The Chiefs defense keyed in on Maurice Jones-Drew and didn’t have to worry about the passing game as long as they were getting within spitting distance of Gabbert on the rush.

For now Donnie Avery is the #2 receiver with Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster is the slot receiver. But as you can see, Charles had more or the same number of targets as any of them. This offense will go through JC Superstar.

Miami Dolphins

Brian Hartline: (15), Brandon Gibson: (10), Charles Clay: (6), Mike Wallace: (5), Daniel Thomas: (1), Lamar Miller: (1)

The Dolphins hit a roadblock in the running game, but were able to throw their way out of it to victory. With Mike Wallace being Joe Hadened, Ryan Tannehill targeted Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson the most and amazingly they did the best.

Hartline also caught a touchdown pass which is a little akin to Halley’s Comet hitting this laptop I’m writing on. In his last three seasons he has caught one touchdown per season, so unfortunately he is barred from catching another one over the next 15 games.

Charles Clay was the main tight end in this game and should be going forward since he’s probably the best available player for the position. He’s a bit of a hybrid H-back tight end so on some sites he may be a decent bye-week fill for a running back in PPR leagues if he can keep getting targets.

The running back situation didn’t have much light shed on it due to the Browns completely destroying all chances at a running game. Daniel Thomas did get a goal line touchdown, so that’s a positive for him, but we know that Miller is the more dynamic back and hopefully that will manifest itself into some fantasy points destiny.

As far as the snaps go, Miller had 37 to Thomas’ 33. Unfortunately according to Pro Football Focus, Miller had a poor showing in pass protection, which won’t win you playing time.

New England Patriots

Kenbrell Thompkins: (14), Danny Amendola: (14), Shane Vereen: (10), Julian Edelman: (9), Michael Hoomanawanui: (2), Josh Boyce: (2), Zach Sudfeld: (1)

The New England Patriots have been poked and prodded for their fantasy goodness for a long while now and we still don’t really know that much.

Kenbrell Thompkins tied with Danny Amendola for targets, but played an awful game. He caught four of those targets for 42 yards while Julian Edelman and Amendola made much better use out of their targets, catching 17 of 23 for 183 yards and two touchdowns combined. Those two are the only receivers Brady can trust at the moment and it looks like Amendola is out for their next game. Thompkins will get another shot because there’s just nobody else. He better make it count. 

Josh Boyce was the only other receiver to see time and he was on the field for 15 snaps compared to Thompkins whopping 91! If Aaron Dobson is back for the Jets game it will be interesting to see how things shake out, but it’ll be impossible to replace Thompkins at this point.

Shane Vereen led the way in the running game after Stevan Ridley was benched for fumbling, but as we all know, he hurt his wrist and is out until at least Week 11. That leaves Ridley, LeGarrette Blount, and two guys who didn’t even play in Week one, Brandon Bolden and Leon Washington. So it doesn’t take an astrophysicist to tell you that Ridley is the guy.

New York Jets

Stephen Hill: (9), Kellen Winslow Jr: (8), Bilal Powell: (5), Jeremy Kerley: (4), Clyde Gates: (4), Santonio Holmes: (3), Tommy Bohanon: (2), Chris Ivory: (2), Konrad Reuland: (1)

Stephen Hill was on the field the most out of all the non-offensive linemen and quarterback. He finished with 72 snaps compared to Kellen Winslow’s 49, Santonio Holmes’ 45, Jeremy Kerley’s 41 and Clyde Gates’ 30. Holmes was most likely being eased back in so we should see him move up to every snap status at some point, but it’s good to see Hill in there as much as he is and to get nine targets. Of course he caught six of those targets for just 39 yards, but still.

The Soldier Kellen Winslow Jr. was resurrected from the retirees to get the second most targets and lead the team in fantasy points. He just turned 30 and seems to be healthy and Geno Smith probably likes him a whole bunch right now, so you could probably do worse.  

The running back situation could be a bit better. Chris Ivory was supposed to run away with the starting job, but instead he’s run away from the starting job and let Bilal Powell have it, kinda. Powell was in on 49 snaps to Ivory’s 24 and ran 26 receiving routes. Neither did much of anything to distinguish themselves, but Tampa Bay does have a tough run defense. Ivory should be the better pure runner, but I don’t think this is going to be a good situation for fantasy players any time soon.

Oakland Raiders

Rod Streater: (8), Denarius Moore: (7), Darren McFadden: (5), Mychal Rivera: (3), Marcel Reece: (2), Jacoby Ford: (2), Brice Butler: (1), Jeron Mastrud: (1)

The Raiders are 0-1, but they did what almost everybody thought they couldn’t do, made a game of it in Indianapolis. Terrelle Pryor was the main reason they were able to move the ball and will continue to be the catalyst for this team.

It will be difficult to pinpoint an every week fantasy receiver in this bunch, but Rod Streater and Denarius Moore are the only possibilities at this point. Pryor isn’t going to win any accuracy competitions so relying on any Oakland receiver will need to be in the deepest of leagues.

Darren McFadden and Terrelle Pryor were your two main rushing stars in this one. Rashad Jennings saw just seven snaps while Marcel Reece had 24. McFadden should benefit from Pryor’s running ability because it’s what happens with running quarterbacks.  

Pittsburgh Steelers

Emmanuel Sanders: (12), Jerricho Cotchery: (7), Antonio Brown: (7), Isaac Redman: (3), LaRod Stephens-Howling: (3), David Johnson: (1)

The Steelers looked awful. Oh, I have to write more? Well, they lost three players for the rest of the season. Wait, you want some good news? Hmm, let me dig through this pile of stats. Nope, not there. Let’s see. Nah, that won’t work. Ok! Here! Nobody died.

So, enough with the jocularity and what not. The Steelers lack of running game showed its ugly head early and every time they tried to run, so they had to pass it to move the ball. Emmanuel Sanders led the way in targets and receptions, but Antonio Brown was the most efficient receiver, catching five of six targets for 71 yards. Sanders could have some PPR value before Le’Veon Bell returns, but Brown is probably the lone player on the Steelers with any fantasy value at this point.

San Diego Chargers

Eddie Royal: (6), Malcom Floyd: (5), Vincent Brown: (4), Antonio Gates: (4), Danny Woodhead: (3), Ryan Mathews: (2), Ronnie Brown: (2), John Phillips: (1)

This marks the return of Eddie Royal. How long will it last? Not that long, but on Monday night he caught two touchdowns and was the most targeted Chargers player. Of course he only had three receptions for 24 yards, but touchdowns!

Royal was the slot receiver while Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown manned the outside and they didn’t deviate from that too much. The running backs were split up in their time with Ronnie Brown leading all backs with 25 snaps, then Ryan Mathews with 20 and Danny Woodhead with 10 (you might want to drop Danny Woodhead). Mathews touched the ball 15 times to Ronnie Brown’s seven and Woodhead had two. It looks like Brown is the main passing down back at the moment and that Ryan Mathews needs to get better at staying on the field.

Tennessee Titans

Nate Washington: (7), Delanie Walker: (4), Kendall Wright: (4), Damian Williams: (2), Kenny Britt: (2), Craig Stevens: (1)

The Titans offense didn’t have too many bright spots in this one either. Chris Johnson ran the ball 25 times for 70 yards and as usual lost goal line carries to whatever warm body was on the sideline. This time it was Jackie Battle since Shonn Greene hurt his knee in the second quarter. Nate Washington showed that maybe he’s actually the best receiver in this group at the age of 53, I mean 30.  Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright did little to distinguish themselves and neither did Jake Locker. Maybe the Steelers defense is just that good and we’ll see the Titans open things up next week at, oh, they have to go to Houston next.

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