The data tells us everything. Despite having arguably the best personal name-brand in the league, playing for one of the best franchises in the NFL, and lighting up the scoreboard a year prior with a presumed vacated target share to inherit, JuJu Smith-Schuster sits at WR37 on the year. Yes, part of the blame rests on the fragile elbow of the injured Ben Roethlisberger. However, this is an important reminder that we as fantasy managers need to adjust early & often. Don’t trust face-value. Even if you knocked your draft out of the park, a manager reluctant to make moves is a sitting duck. They will surely get eaten alive by those savvy enough to aggressively play the wavier wire and work themselves into trade negotiations. The first quarter of the season is now over. D.J. Chark has more fantasy points than the aforementioned JuJu Smith Schuster, Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, and Michael Thomas. 5 no-brainer, first-round WR1’s. I’m not saying you need to proclaim a fire-sale in your league group chat. It’s simply time to adjust. If not, you’ll be staring at that Sacko punishment right in the face come December. Speaking of data, let’s take a look at our week 4 target analysis. This week, I’m going to separate the analysis into three tiers: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Target data is from PFF, while everything else mentioned is from AirYards.com.
Davante Adams (GB): 15 targets, 10 rec, 180 yards
- The return on investment finally held up last Thursday night against Philadelphia, as Aaron Rodgers looked to his favorite weapon 15 times. Adams hauled in 10 catches for almost 200 yards and should’ve had 50 more combined with at least 1 TD on the day. His target share cracked the top-10 at 28% and total air yards broke the top-5 at 141. This was the Davante Adams we have been waiting for all season long – I’m hoping you didn’t sell too early. One blemish on the outstanding performance: Adams left the game in the 4th quarter with a presumed turf toe injury that will sideline him (most likely) against Dallas this Sunday. Hold tight. Once healthy, Adams will again be a force to be reckoned with, week in & week out.
Chris Godwin (TB): 14 targets, 12 rec, 172 yards, 2 TDs
- My GAHDwin. What a performance. It took 4 weeks, but the jury is out on Bruce Arians’ high flying Bucs’ offense, and the verdict: booming. Jameis Winston looked every bit the #1 overall draft pick that Arians’ was tasked with mending, and it looks like he can indeed support two WR1’s in Godwin & Mike Evans. There will be some weeks where one blows up and the other posts a “pedestrian” line (Evans: 7/4/89/1), but they’re both sure-fire WR1s. Godwin is currently PFF’s highest-graded WR, has zero drops on the season, is tied for first in the league with 4 TDs, and is 5th in catch % among WRs with at least 30 targets. He’s every bit the preseason breakout candidate that the entire industry bet on this summer.
Robert Woods (LAR): 13 targets, 13 rec, 164 yards
- I’m not going to say I told you so. I hope you traded for Woods before he blew up this week. Yes, the overwhelmingly positive game-script has some play here, as Jared Goff tossed the rock 68 times. Can the Rams just do this every week? Woods didn’t play second-fiddle to Cooper Kupp or Brandin Cooks this time, as he led the Rams in receiving yards. He’s right back where we thought he would be during the draft season: top-five in targets, top-seven in receptions, and over 300 yards receiving on the year. Cooper Kupp is the WR1 in the Rams offense, but Woods has solidified himself as the second option in one of the leagues most prolific offenses. He’s a solid WR2 the rest of the way, especially with the Rams struggling to run the football.
Austin Hooper (ATL): 11 targets, 9 rec, 130 yards
- Austin Hooper is currently sitting only behind Evan Engram in TE fantasy scoring so far this year. I never thought I would type out that sentence, but here we are. If you passed on the big 3 (Kelce, Kittle, Ertz), the medium-sized 3 (Engram, Howard, Henry), and even the capable veterans, you might have landed Hooper in your draft expecting the classic, time-tested 3/42/0 weekly line. Who’s laughing now? Matt Ryan loves his 4th-year security blanket, and he now has the second-most receptions among TEs behind Darren Waller. He’s a weekly starter at the position, with top-five upside. I’m buying from the owner expecting regression, as Hooper is posting these numbers with only a 19% target share. Even with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley eating up passes, Hooper still has plenty to gobble up.
Kenny Golladay (DET): 9 targets, 5 rec, 67 yards, 2 TDs
- Babytron is here to stay. I’m not sure Kenny Golladay is a fan of that nickname, but he’s living up to his predecessor’s legacy, to some degree. Golladay was able to hit pay-dirt twice on the day, and even had another score called back. With the absence of Golden Tate, Golladay has emerged as Matt Stafford’s go-to receiver, as he is now 7th in the league in target share, 10th in targets, and 5th in aDOT among WRs with at least 30 targets. The Stafford-Kenny connection has been on fire – take a look at this dime from Sunday. The talent has always been there and now we’re seeing the opportunity follow suit.
Julio Jones (ATL): 7 targets, 4 rec, 52 yards
- After going through a 12-game TD drought starting in late 2017, Julio turned the tables and had a 7-game TD streak going into Sunday’s game against the Titans. All good things must come to an end. It seems the Falcons didn’t care to get Jones involved as much as they should have. The Falcons looked awful on Sunday, but there were still 53 Matt Ryan passing attempts to go around. I’m not going to discount the Tennessee defense, as they did a great job game-planning for Jones and co. Consider this an aberration for the #5 scoring WR in fantasy. If there is anything to worry about, its the 21% target share on the year and just 13% against the Titans, but that doesn’t scare me. Julio remains the most talented wide receiver in the game and should get right back on track against the Texans this weekend. If there are any overreacting owners out there looking to sell, now’s the time to make an offer.
Sammy Watkins (KC): 6 targets, 3 rec, 54 yards
- Oh, boy, am I worried about week 1’s WR1. Since Watkins blew the top off the Jags in the Chiefs’ first game, he sits in the lowly depths at WR55. He has 14 receptions over that span for just 167 yards and no TDs. He ranks 126th in PFF’s receiving grade during that same span. 126th. Owning shares of the KC offense has been a fruitful investment thus far, but its time to sell Watkins while Tyreek Hill is still sidelined.
Calvin Ridley (ATL): 6 targets, 3 rec, 32 yards
- Again, I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but Matty Ice needs to start prioritizing getting the ball to his playmakers. The Falcons currently rank 21st in PFF’s pass-blocking grade, meaning Matt Ryan doesn’t have all of the time he wants to let routes develop downfield. This does not bode well for Ridley and his 14.6 aDOT. Ridley remains a viable fantasy asset for his big-play potential, but we’re going to have a real problem on our hands if the Falcons continue to implode. It doesn’t help that Mohamed Sanu leads their WR corps in snaps, with Ridley being third behind him and Jones. The negative game scripts could help, but Ridley is nothing more than a flex option hoping for a big play down the field at this point.
Adam Thielen (MIN): 6 targets, 2 rec, 6 yards
- Thielen after the Vikings’ loss to the Bears: “At some point, you’re not going to be able to run the ball for 180 yards, even with the best running back in the NFL. That’s when you have to be able to throw the ball. You have to be able to hit the deep balls.” We feel you, Adam. Kirk Cousins currently ranks 36th in PFF QB grade and has only 10 deep attempts on the season. Minnesota ranks 31st in the league with a passing rate of just 47%. Mike Zimmer has been outspoken on the fact that he wants to run the ball & play good defense. None of this bodes well for Adam Thielen (or Stefon Diggs). There are better days ahead, but nowhere near the pretty penny that you paid to draft him.
Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE): 6 targets, 2 rec, 20 yards
- O’Sell Beckham? The Browns offense finally looked a bit like the end of last year. Not quite at the offseason hype level that was predicted by so many. Jarvis Landry stole the show on Sunday, hauling in 8 of 10 targets for 167 yards. Can the pair of star receivers co-exist? Odell is too talented to lose himself in this Browns offense, but the run-first approach exemplified against the Ravens could limit his ceiling a bit. He currently ranks 28th in PFF receiving grade – not the numbers you’re looking for in arguably the league’s most talented wideout behind Julio Jones. However, he remains firmly in the top-ten in targets and owns a 26% target share in Cleveland. Keep calm, Baker Mania could be coming back sooner rather than later and OBJ will be along for the ride.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT): 4 targets, 3 rec, 15 yards
- I talked enough about JuJu in the intro, but what happened here? Is Diontae Johnson the new WR1 in Pittsburgh? Over the last two weeks, Johnson has 12 targets to JuJu’s 11, and Johnson has converted his targets into 9 catches for 129 yards and 2 TDs. If you take out his 76 yard TD grab last week, JuJu has just 5 catches for 17 yards. He ranks 55th in PFF’s WR grade and was out-snapped by James Washington this week. The Steelers ran 7 wildcat snaps to Jaylen Samuels on Monday Night – it seems they have a plan to take the pressure off of Mason Rudolph with help from their RBs. It’s time to panic for JuJu owners.
O.J. Howard (TB): 3 targets, 3 rec, 33 yards
- While Bruce Arians’ offense can support two bonafide WR1’s, it can’t seem to produce a startable TE. O.J. Howard now sits at TE26 on the year. He has 12 targets, 10 catches and 131 yards thus far, with no TDs. Godwin had more than that this week. It’s not as if Howard isn’t getting playing time either. He’s been in on at least 75% of snaps in every game this season. At this point, Howard has become droppable in 12-team leagues.
Hope you enjoyed the new format! Who did I miss? Do you still think JuJu and Thielen have hope this season? Tweet at me @themurph34 and @FF_Authority!