Let’s take a look at some of the target trends from the first week of the season.
Who was targeted most? Which teams targeted their tight end most? Who threw the ball to their wide receiver least?
This article contains all the information you need.
Top Targets of Week 2
1t) Miles Austin – Dallas Cowboys – 15
1t) Jeremy Maclin – Philadelphia Eagles – 15
1t) Vincent Jackson – San Diego Chargers – 15
4t) Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – 14
4t) Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – 14
4t) Steve Johnson – Buffalo Bills – 14
4t) A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals – 14
8t) David Nelson – Buffalo Bills – 13
8t) Steve Smith – Carolina Panthers – 13
8t) Kenny Britt – Tennessee Titans – 13
The Buffalo Bills were clearly forced to air the ball out, with 38 of 45 targets going to wide receivers (a week after 19 of 26 went to the WR).
While I wouldn’t expect 45 targets most weeks, it’s clear that David Nelson has become an important part of their passing game. While Steve Johnson is going to be the top receiver (when healthy), Nelson should have value in deeper formats moving forward.
It was an uninspiring NFL debut in Week 1 for A.J. Green, with one reception for 41 yards and a TD (on four targets).
Obviously, he was a much more integral part of the offense in Week 2 (producing 10 receptions for 124 yards and a TD), but so far he appears a bit sporadic. There’s no doubt that he has a ton of potential, but Jerome Simpson (targeted nine times in each of the first two weeks) may be a more stable option, though one with not as much upside.
Top 10 Targets of Year To Date
1t) Miles Austin – Dallas Cowboys – 24
1t) Steve Smith – Carolina Panthers – 24
1t) Brandon Marshall – Miami Dolphins – 24
4t) Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – 23
4t) Kenny Britt – Tennessee Titans – 23
4t) Wes Welker – New England Patriots – 23
7) Mike Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars -21
8t) Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – 20
8t) Steve Johnson – Buffalo Bills – 20
8t) Andre Johnson – Houston Texans – 20
8t) Mike Wallace – Pittsburgh Steelers – 20
It is interesting to see Jason Witten as the only TE in the Top 10. The closest to him is Aaron Hernandez (18), Tony Gonzalez (16) and Kellen Winslow (16).
Witten has really made the most of his opportunities, with 13 receptions for 212 yards. However, he has yet to score a TD, and you have to be concerned that might be reverting to 2009 (1,030 yards but just two TDs).
The preseason hype of Mike Thomas appears justified, as he was even targeted against a tough Jets secondary. While the results may not have been there (three receptions for 29 yards), the fact that he is getting the opportunity speaks volumes.
Receivers With 10-Plus Targets In Back-to-Back Weeks
- Steve Smith – Carolina Panthers
- Brandon Marshall – Miami Dolphins
- Wes Welker – New England Patriots
- Kenny Britt – Tennessee Titans
- Mike Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars
Biggest Increase In Targets From Week 1 to Week 2
1t) Jeremy Maclin – Philadelphia Eagles – +12
1t) Vincent Jackson – San Diego Chargers – +12
3) A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals – +10
4t) Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – +8
4t) Steve Johnson – Buffalo Bills – +8
4t) Derek Hagan – Oakland Raiders – +8
Do not read too much into Hagan’s inclusion in this list, as the Raiders were missing several of their top receiving options. I wouldn’t expect him to get quite so many looks in most weeks.
Matt Forte has clearly become an important part of the Bears offense. While his 14 targets may be a bit extreme, look for him to continue to be looked at early and often from week to week, as the Bears rarely use their tight ends. That potential to generate a significant amount of offense in the passing game makes him that much more of an intriguing option.
Biggest Decrease In Targets From Week 1 to Week 2
Players who did not play in Week 2 are not included
1) Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers – (12)
2t) Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – (9)
2t) Desean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles – (9)
2t) Roddy White – Atlanta Falcons – (9)
There are some surprising names on this list, though I wouldn’t read too much into most of them. It is going to happen, and you can’t be targeted 14 times every week.
Reggie Bush, however, is a major concern. We went from looking to get him 20 touches per game to almost becoming a complete afterthought. Expectations need to be dialed back just a little bit at this point.
Obviously, Antonio Gates’ reduction is a major shocker, but don’t read anything into it. He should continue to be an integral part of the offense from week-to-week.
Teams Who Targeted Their TE the Most In Week 2
1) Dallas Cowboys – 16
2) New England Patriots – 14
3) New York Jets – 11
4t) New Orleans Saints – 10
4t) Cleveland Browns – 10
The Jets really made an effort to get Dustin Keller into the mix offensively, as they did in Week 1. He has already been targeted 14 times, and it’s clear that Mark Sanchez is comfortable throwing the ball to him (as well as the other Jets’ tight ends).
That’s the type of offense I would expect them to be running, not the one that targeted their receivers 25 times in Week 1. Keller should be a solid low-end TE1 in most formats.
It’s not really surprising to see the Patriots incorporate both of their tight ends, is it? Obviously, Aaron Hernandez’s injury is going to change the script a little bit for the next few weeks, but it’s clear that both Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski can be considered TE1 in all formats when healthy.
Teams Who Targeted Their TE the Least In Week 2
1t) Chicago Bears – 2
1t) New York Giants – 2
1t) San Diego Chargers – 2
2t) 6 teams tied with 3
It was surprising not to see the Bears in the bottom five in the league in Week 1 (they targeted tight ends seven times). It’s just not a major part of their offense.
Life without Kevin Boss is probably going to bring many low finishes in this department for the Giants. Jake Ballard may have looked good in Week 1, but don’t expect much from him moving forward.
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