Hello sports fans; it’s time for a new season of tantalizing target analysis. Week one was a strange week. We saw sure fire studs Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson go flaccid on us and we witnessed the disappointment of “can’t miss” 4-5 rounders such as Mike Sims-Walker, Pierre Garcon, Malcom Floyd, and Dwayne Bowe. Some unlikely stars emerged including “BMW” of Seattle’s Big Mike Williams (as Doc calls him), Dez Bryant, Legedu Naanee, Brandon Lloyd, and or course the ageless Mark Clayton. But before you pull that trigger finger to trade/drop your studs or jump to the waiver wire, let’s try to make some sense of this mayhem by taking a look at Sunday’s statistics.
Players to Watch
Mark Clayton-he was second in targets this week with 16 and he looks like he may be saving the best for his last few years in the league. Bradford is the real story here with 55 pass attempts in his NFL debut. It’s clear that Spagnuolo trusts his young quarterback and you know that the Rams are going to have to pass if they hope to stay in games this year. Though Clayton has only been on the squad for a couple of weeks, Bradford commented that Clayton is very confident in the offense and alluded to the fact that he has good chemistry with him. Clayton’s career high 10 catches to go along with his 119 yards were not a fluke. He is a hot waiver pick up this week but if he’s available I think he’s worth a shot.
Legedu Naanee-Nanee is a guy I talked about last year as having some potential and now that Jackson is gone, he is getting his shot. However, despite his 5 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown, I believe he is still the third pass option on the Chargers’ offense. Many people are quick to put Floyd down but Naanee commanded only eight targets to Floyd’s twelve. Also, when the chargers made it into the red zone, they looked Floyd’s way, giving him four red zone targets to Naanee’s two. He is a guy I wouldn’t waste a high waiver claim on right away, but if you’ve got a spot and he’s a free agent, he may be worth picking up.
Brandon Lloyd-Lloyd has been disappointing since he was drafted by my team the 49er’s (yeah I know) in 2003, but he has a legitimate chance to make a splash in Denver’s new pass heavy offense. Orton looks good (so far) and somebody needs to step up as a #1 receiver. I drafted Eddie Royal in a few leagues thinking he was the guy and he had a decent game, but it was Lloyd who made the most of his 9 targets by hauling in five catches for 117 yards. The more powerful statistic is his three red zone targets to Eddie Royal’s zero and Gaffney’s one, and the fact that he nearly caught a fourth quarter touchdown but failed to get both feet in bounds. Lloyd and Royal present the most upside in the Denver offense and he could be a guy to steal off of free agency before his favorable matchup against Seattle this weekend.
Devin Aromashodu-trying to figure out which Chicago receiver to draft was like trying to figure out who is the hottest Charlie’s Angel. They all looked pretty good at one point and they all have their fetish quenching characteristics. Aroma has the size to deliver red zone targets, Knox has the speed and sharp route running to thrive in a Martz offense, and Hester has big play ability that can turn a hitch into a homerun. Though we can’t bet the farm after one game, the champ stamp has to go to Aroma with his 12 target day. He managed to grab five of those balls for 71 yards and he also grabbed two red zone targets. Knox was very disappointing with only three catches and seven targets. He and Hester were both blanked in the red zone. Though the sweet Aroma of production will not be available in your league, he is a guy that you may be able to get for value via trade.
Mike Thomas-Thomas is another guy I liked last year but he was never consistent enough behind Torry Holt and Sims-Walker to be playable. However, with Holt gone, Thomas has an expanded role which saw him make good on six of his seven targets for 89 yards. The fact that Sims-Walker was blanked on Sunday has to be a concern for Sims-Walker owners (I’m one of them) and Garrard is the most underrated quarterback in the league in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how Sims-Walker responds to his atrocious outing, but either way, Thomas is another guy worth a free agency bid and/or a guy to watch in the coming weeks.
T.O.-Owens looked strong in his Cinci debut capturing 13 targets (4th in the league) and making good on seven for 53 yards. The reassuring part about T.O. is that he was getting a lot of looks early before Palmer was forced into desperation aerial assault mode. He looks like a solid flex option going forward.
Dez Bryant-Bryant had 12 targets (7th in the league) and it was clear that the ‘Boys wanted to get him involved early and often. His eight catches for 56 yards bodes well for those in PPR leagues and his proclivity for catching the bubble screens should continue as long as the line fails to hold blocks for more than two seconds. They did look to Williams in the end zone at the end of the game but Bryant’s early involvement in the offense has to be a welcomed harbinger for his success this year.
Guys You Shouldn’t Write Off
Desean Jackson-D-Jax had 11 targets this week despite only catching four balls for thirty yards. He was also targeted three times in the red zone. It’s clear that he is still the focal point in the passing game but disgruntled owners may be too quick to write him off. He is a guy you may be able to get at a discount price.
Malcom Floyd-It’s hard to look at Floyd’s performance or lack thereof and bring something positive away from it, but as stated earlier, Floyd was targeted a staggering 12 times (8th in the league) despite only making three catches. As a fellow Floyd owner I can also take solace in the fact that Floyd commanded four red zone targets to Naanee’s two. Like Jackson, Floyd is another guy that is worth trading for after a dismal week one outing.
Pierre Garcon-Garcon tied fellow receivers Collie and Wayne with 11 targets though he only put up marginal numbers (3 catches for 43 yards). Garcon still has a ton of talent and I believe he will remain the number two in the Colts powerful passing attack. One reassuring statistic is Garcon’s three red zone targets to Wayne’s one and Collie’s zero.
Devin Hester-Hester was last in the league with one target managing one catch for 17 yards. He was a sleeper for a lot of guys simply because he was playing third fiddle to Knox and Aroma. It looks like he will continue to play the ugly girl who won’t get asked to the prom in the upcoming Hilary Duff movie.
Dwayne Bowe-Bowe had only five targets and zero red zone targets last week as he made only one catch for 13 yards. I had high hopes for Bowe this year and drafted him in a lot of mock drafts but never pulled the trigger when it mattered. I am patting myself on the back for that now.
Mike Sims-Walker-Zero is the loneliest number as in zero catches on only two targets. Hey, it can only get better from here.
Andre and Calvin Johnson-flukes.