It was yet another head-scratching week in the NFL – wait the Giants and Jets are actually good, and maybe even the Seahawks? – headlined by some highlight-reel performances from big-time receiving options. Let’s take a look at this week’s target leaders…
Who needs Jonathan Taylor?
The Matt Ryan-led Colts’ offense has been sputtering throughout the season, but everything seemed fine without Jonathan Taylor in Week 6, as Ryan threw for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns – without an interception – on Indy’s way to 34 points against a supposedly good Jacksonville D. Leading the way was the expected target, Michael Pittman Jr., who punished the Jaguars’ jumbled secondary to the tune of 16 targets for 13 receptions and 134 yards. Slippery slot man Parris Campbell was also busy converting 11 targets into 57 yards and a score. Maybe Frank Reich needs to continue to keep things wide open without being one-dimensional in the running game.
The weekly “Usual Suspects”
Every week we get some obvious guys, so we’ll speed through when it comes to Tyreek Hill (15 targets), Stefon Diggs (13), Amari Cooper (12), Chris Godwin (12) and Mark Andrews (11). The only takeaway is that these vets continue to be focal points of their respective offenses. More of the same from Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, CeeDee Lamb, Travis Kelce, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle who all had 10 targets this week. If anything, this section simply justifies the big-name players you selected prior to the start of the season.
To the “Moon” and back
Sure, it was the Thursday game – one of the worst football games ever televised – but I’d be remiss to ignore dynamic Darnell Mooney, who was a popular late-round fantasy play heading into the year. Mooney, after failing to top six targets in any of his first five games, emerged from the darkness to turn 12 targets into seven receptions for 68 yards. Now, this stat line isn’t much to write home about, but we have to reconsider when we look over at the other side and see just five targets for Curtis Samuel and four for Terry McLaurin (big bust this year). Mooney was actually quite busy and pretty productive. The problem when you analyze the Commanders vs. the Bears – do the targets really mean anything if Carson Wentz and Justin Fields are missing the mark by a country mile?
Aiyuk ignites the Niners
All right, all right… there he is. Like Mooney, Brandon Aiyuk was supposed to be another young receiver on the rise, but the production simply wasn’t there in the first five weeks of the season. This week in a surprising loss to the feisty Falcons? Totally different story. Aiyuk was absolutely electrifying, turning 11 targets into eight receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns. A couple of his catches looked like dead plays – well-covered with no blocking in sight – but Aiyuk transformed them into explosive, game-changing plays. Unfortunately, they weren’t game-changing enough, as the Niners fell by the final score of 28-14. Maybe I should put the Falcons in the conversation with the Giants, Jets and Seahawks?
“More” to come from Moore?
Rondale Moore’s targets continue to increase, as he’s gone from five to eight to 10 in his first three games of the season. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown picked up a foot injury, so Moore will subsequently be a popular pickup in leagues that soured on him. He’s slippery and shifty, so don’t let him slip through your fingers if the opportunity arises.
I’ll see ya right back here next week.
John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NFL for 18 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things football throughout another action-packed season.