There’s a saying in fantasy football that goes something like this, “Talent doesn’t score fantasy points. Opportunity does.” Basically, NFL players need to see a consistent opportunity if they are going to gain yards or score fantasy points for your fantasy team. One of the best ways to predict future opportunity is by looking at past opportunity. With that in mind, the Weekly Target Breakdown will be looking at the top 20 target leaders from the previous week and examining what it means for the next week and the rest of the season.
Week 1 of the NFL season is one of the most exciting times of the year. It’s also one of the most confusing and tough to predict times of the football season. Rookies and new free agents are seeing game action with new teams and new head coaches implement their first game plans of the season, but no matter how crazy Week 1 gets (Rams 49 points? Uhhh…what?), it’s our first baseline for the new NFL season. Now, without further ado, let’s dive into the Week 1 target and break down what it (might) foreshadow for the next 16 weeks.
|Position||Position Rank||Tgts||Recs||Ctch %||Yards||TDs|
|DeAndre Hopkins||WR||WR 9||16||7||43.80%||55||1|
|Randall Cobb||WR||WR 11||13||9||69.20%||85||0|
|Larry Fitzgerald||WR||WR 21||13||6||46.20%||74||0|
|Amari Cooper||WR||WR 12||13||5||38.50%||62||1|
|Golden Tate||WR||WR 6||12||10||83.30%||107||0|
|Tarik Cohen||RB||RB 2||12||8||66.70%||47||1|
|Antonio Brown||WR||WR 1||11||11||100.00%||182||0|
|Terrelle Pryor||WR||WR 27||11||6||54.50%||66||0|
|Adam Thielen||WR||WR 4||10||9||90.00%||157||0|
|Shane Vereen||RB||RB 15||10||9||90.00%||51||0|
|Corey Davis||WR||WR 24||10||6||60.00%||69||0|
|Pierre Garcon||WR||WR 19||10||6||60.00%||81||0|
|Keenan Allen||WR||WR 17||10||5||50.00%||35||1|
|AJ Green||WR||WR 28||10||5||50.00%||74||0|
|Jermaine Kearse||WR||WR 24||9||7||77.80%||59||0|
|Delaine Walker||TE||TE 7||9||7||77.80%||76||0|
|Jason Witten||TE||TE 3||9||7||77.80%||59||1|
|David Johnson||RB||RB 18||9||6||66.70%||68||0|
|Mohamed Sanu||WR||WR 35||9||6||66.70%||47||0|
|Rishard Matthews||WR||WR 29||9||5||55.60%||71||0|
DeAndre Hopkins – Just looking at his targets (16), Hopkins had a great Week 1, but he was a letdown with only 7 catches and 55 yards. Hopkins cannot continue to catch 43% of his passes, a problem that does not entirely lie on his shoulders. Once again, Hopkins (and the Texans) were absolutely derailed by horrendous QB play from Tom Savage (2 Fumbles Lost) and DeShaun Watson (1 INT, 1 Fumble Lost). The two combined to have a terrible 19/36 (53% Cmp), 110 yards (4.6 YPA), and 10 sacks. The offensive line couldn’t deal with a strong Jacksonville pass rush without Duane Brown, and even with him, I doubt they’ll be much better.
It’s going to be a long a year for Nuk and the Texans and there are about 8 bad matchups for Hopkins rest-of-season likely to feast on the Houston o-line (JAX, NE, KC, CLE, SEA, LAR, ARZ, BAL, PIT). Nuk’s lone TD saved his fantasy week and if you can trade him based off that, I’d pull the trigger ASAP.
Randall Cobb – This was the first time in about a year that Cobb showed shades of his 2014 self. Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom did their best to take away Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams and Randall Cobb took advantage. Cobb spent most of 2016 injured and it showed in an ugly way. It was good to see the Cobb and Aaron Rodgers connection back and I expect Cobb to continue to battle Davante Adams for the WR 2 targets. Against Seattle, Cobb saw 63 snaps and Adams had 67, indicative of the Packers using both similarly, now and through the season. Cobb should average ~ 5 for 65 the rest of the season, but Adams will score 3-4 more TDs as these two see-saws in targets and fantasy points.
Larry Fitzgerald – Larry Fitzgerald makes a somewhat surprising appearance near the top of the target leaderboard in Week 1. He’s not a ‘game-breaking’ WR anymore, but 6 catches for 74 yards is what you can expect from him. A better WR in PPR than standard who’s likely to be a ‘compiler’ that is easily predictable.
Amari Cooper – Guys, it might be time for the Amari Cooper breakout season. Cooper, seemingly, finally got 4 red zone targets, an encouraging sign as TDs have been the thing holding Cooper back from greatness. The end result, however, wasn’t as encouraging. Cooper had 3 straight drops on the goal line. Maybe the Raiders have a reason for not targeting Amari? But hey, what do we know? Anyway, it was also nice to see that both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper can have good games at the same time. Cooper’s yards are going to be great and if he can improve those RZ struggles, watch out.
Golden Tate – Golden Tate did was Golden Tate does. Ten catches for 107 yards, averaging 10.7 YPC and 0 TDs. Heading into a matchup against Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals there were questions about how Peterson would play the Lions’ WRs. It was clear early on that Peterson was shadowing Marvin Jones. Golden Tate got left in a slot matchup all day and ate the underneath of the Cardinals’ defense up. That’s going to happen a lot with Tate and I expect to frequently see him on this top 20 list.
Tarik Cohen – This performance from Tarik Cohen might have been the most surprising thing that happened in Week 1. Cohen is a 5’ 6”, 179 lbs jitterbug athlete who put up 113 total yards, with 5 carries for 66 yards on the ground. Adding in Cohen’s 8 receptions for 47 yards and a TD and we might have a longtime NFL performer and he’s in the perfect situation to do it. For his fantasy performance, I don’t want Cohen to get 20+ touches/game. I want him to get 10-15 touches and be a Tevin Coleman/Danny Woodhead explosive weapon. That runs entirely counter to the “Talent doesn’t score fantasy points. Opportunity does,” theory, but Cohen is reliant on speed and big plays. His 2017 production should remain around 75 yards/game and in future seasons his viability will revolve around his TD scoring, which will be extremely volatile.
Antonio Brown – Eleven targets, eleven catches, and 182 yards. Just Antonio Brown doing Antonio Brown things and beasting against the Browns. There’s not much to say here, but Brown is going to be a mainstay on this list.
Terrelle Pryor – Terrelle Pryor was the least efficient WR in the NFL in Week 1. Despite being 8th in targets with 11, Pryor was the WR 27, a negative 16 change. The whole Washington offense looked off with only 17 points in a loss to the Eagles. Kirk Cousins and Pryor were supposed to be a combination of strengths, but NFL twitter may have overrated the losses of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Jackson is the NFL’s best deep WR and Pierre Garcon catches everything, a large part of Pryor’s struggles. In his first season playing WR, 2016, Pryor caught 55% of his targets; a number attributed to relative inexperience. Except that number has almost exactly carried over to 2017. With only 6 catches on 11 targets, Pryor had a Week 1 Catch % of 54.5%.
Pryor is working with another new QB this season after dealing with the Browns’ QB roulette in 2016 and it looks like that connection isn’t that strong. Pryor was a high-end WR 2 in drafts, but now he’s closer to a WR 3 than WR 1 type player. Once Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson return fully healthy, Cousins is going to spread the ball out a lot and Terrelle Pryor could be the one player left out.
Adam Thielen – Adam Thielen’s NFL success story is awesome. From undrafted to a locked in WR 3 in fantasy football. He’s not going to have 157 receiving yards every week, but with a dialed in Sam Bradford Thielen is going be very good. Thielen caught 75% of his targets last season to go with 90% in Week 1 and Bradford is the most accurate QB in NFL history. With a great catch %, the most accurate QB in NFL history, and great route-running; Thielen and his teammate, Stefon Diggs, are 2017’s breakout stars.
Shane Vereen – We knew that Shane Vereen would be the Giants’ pass catching RB, but we didn’t expect 10 targets. The Giants’ offense was drastically changed in Week 1 after Odell Beckham Jr was ruled inactive. They relied upon Vereen and a bunch of quick passes (that didn’t really work) as the Cowboys defense shredded the Giants O-line. Rest of season, Vereen has PPR value and will catch about 4 passes per game, which makes him a match-up based flex option.
Corey Davis – Corey Davis’ NFL debut was very promising and so much fun to watch. Six catches for 69 yards doesn’t blow you away, but 10 targets and leading his team there is positive. Davis’ best play of the week was a contested sideline catch that he used his body to win and high point. He will average around these numbers for the rest-of-season and in 2018 the breakout should be in full force with a declining Delaine Walker and Eric Decker an upcoming free agent. Send out offers for Davis in redraft and see if you can catch someone sleeping after Week 1.
Pierre Garcon – This is what was expected from Garcon. Good yardage numbers, good receptions, and few scoring opportunities on a bad 49ers team with Brian Hoyer at QB. As the 9ers sole receiving weapon, Garcon will continue his mid-WR 2 production for the entire season.
Keenan Allen – It was fun to have Keenan Allen back on the field for the first time in a year. With that said, it definitely looked like Allen’s first playing action in a year. Allen was inefficient, catching 5 of 10 targets for 35 yards, 7 yards a pop. Allen’s fantasy day was saved by a 5 yard TD, but this man is going to go off over the next 15 games. In Week 2, Allen faces a Miami defense that hasn’t played a game this season and doesn’t have a good secondary.
AJ Green – Much like Antonio Brown, 10 targets is status quo for AJ Green. Green is one of the 4 most talented WRs in the NFL, but it’s possible that even he can’t overcome the monster that Andy Dalton has become (4 INTs Sunday against Baltimore). The offensive line in Cincinnati was horrendous and it rubbed off on Dalton. That situation doesn’t look like it’ll change anytime soon, but Green can overcome it, to an extent. Regardless, Green’s season-long outlook is down around the WR 10, not the WR 3-4 he was in drafts.
Jermaine Kearse – The same reasons Pierre Garcon will finish as a WR2 is why Jermaine Kearse, he who was traded by the Seahawks, will finish as a WR 3. Matt Forte is washed, Bilal Powell might not be good, Austin Sefarian Jenkins has been suspended, and Robby Anderson is an okay deep threat, which means that…Jermaine Kearse might be New York’s only legitimate receiving option. It’s going to be up-and-down, it’s going to be ugly, but the season long production is going to be compiled and be there at the end of the season.
Delaine Walker – This is who Delaine has been the last 2 years or so. He’s a reliable, but unexciting option at TE, which is what you can win a fantasy championship with. The TE position is the worst in fantasy football, but if you can find a placeholder at TE you’re set.
Jason Witten – Whatever you just read about Walker, it can be copy and pasted here for Witten. Witten is ”old reliable” and good for about a 5 for 50 line with the occasional red zone TE. You can definitely do worse at the TE, but Witten will hold you steady at roughly TE 10.
David Johnson – Pour one out for David Johnson. The (nearly) consensus #1 overall pick went down with a wrist injury that is now expected to keep him out for 2-3 months. Johnson was well on his way to repeating his 2016 receiving prowess with 6 receptions for 68 yards. It sucks for DJ to go out now, but don’t get too excited about his prospects for a late season return. Arizona is BAD without DJ and they could be an ugly 3-8 or 3-7 late in the season at which point Arizona doesn’t have a reason to bring DJ back. I’d be comfortable dropping DJ this week for a guy like Adam Thielen or Tarik Cohen, one of the big names on the waivers this year.
Mohamed Sanu – Mohamed Sanu’s Week 1 production won’t continue. The yardage will be around his yearly average, but he’s not going to lead the Atlanta Falcons in receptions the rest of season. As long as he’s tethered to Matt Ryan, Sanu is a matchup based flex, but likely the 3rd receiving option after Julio and Austin Hooper.
Rishard Matthews – Rishard is the third Titan to make this list. Corey Davis is going to outscore him this season, but Matthews looks like the number 2. He’s more dynamic than both Delaine Walker and Eric Decker, but also a dependable option. The Titans’ WR corps will be a crap shoot after Davis this year, but Matthews has a good shot at narrowly leading Decker and Walker in targets.