Fantasy football is, at its core, an exercise in risk analysis. Points are our currency and every article we digest, every podcast we engorge ourselves in, every box score we study is aimed at shining a light on safe, bankable volume we can rely on on a weekly basis. That’s the purpose served by Targets and Touches, a thorough and exhaustively researched window into which players are making their respective teams tick. This will be a weekly fixture here at Rotoworld, informed by data from Airyards.com, Pro Football Focus and Pro-Football-Reference. Now let’s get to the good stuff.
Before we open Pandora’s box, please note that stat lines are arranged with the most recent game first while “X” signifies a player’s absence. To make the info more accessible, I also cut out much of the clutter, removing players averaging fewer than one target or carry, anyone slated to miss significant time (you won’t find Derrius Guice listed anywhere) and other fluff (fullback and receiver carries, for instance) that doesn’t factor into our decision-making. Now let’s get to the good stuff.
Targets: Larry Fitzgerald (11, 13), Christian Kirk (8, 12), Damiere Byrd (7, 7), Michael Crabtree (3, X), Charles Clay (2, 1), Chase Edmonds (2, 1), KeeSean Johnson (2, 10), David Johnson (1, 7), Maxx Williams (1, 1)
Air Yards: Larry Fitzgerald (117, 156), Christian Kirk (64, 139), KeeSean Johnson (45, 113), Damiere Byrd (34, 72), Michael Crabtree (20, X), Maxx Williams (18, 4), Charles Clay (2, 5), Chase Edmonds (-4, 9), David Johnson (-5, 45)
Receiving Yards: Christian Kirk (114, 32), Larry Fitzgerald (104, 113), Damiere Byrd (45, 42), KeeSean Johnson (31, 46), Maxx Williams (21, 15), Chase Edmonds (15, 0), Michael Crabtree (13, X), Charles Clay (6, 5), David Johnson (0, 55)
Observations: Kingsbury’s crew may be a work in progress, but franchise quarterback Kyler Murray hasn’t given the Cards much to complain about. Through two installments he leads the league in completed air yards (434) and also ranks fourth in total passing yards with 657. Even in a tough road setting, Murray hung 345 yards on Baltimore in Week 2 while completing passes to nine different receivers. The Ravens weren’t playing with a full deck—stud corner Jimmy Smith (sprained MCL) was a spectator—but it was still a convincing performance by the former Heisman winner. Ironically, the receiver Murray has looked to most in his fledgling career is 36-year-old Larry Fitzgerald, who has topped 100 yards in each of the rookie’s two starts while commanding a 26-percent target share. Murray and Christian Kirk didn’t have all the kinks worked out in Week 1 (four completions on 12 attempts) but they were much more in sync against the Ravens, connecting six times for 114 yards on eight targets.
Targets: Julio Jones (10, 11), Calvin Ridley (10, 6), Mohamed Sanu (7, 6), Austin Hooper (6, 9), Devonta Freeman (4, 4), Ito Smith (3, 1), Russell Gage (1, 2), Justin Hardy (1, 5), Luke Stocker (1, 1)
Air Yards: Calvin Ridley (158, 79), Julio Jones (131, 107), Mohamed Sanu (34, 37), Justin Hardy (32, 28), Austin Hooper (27, 45), Russell Gage (7, 34), Devonta Freeman (6, 11), Ito Smith (4, 1), Luke Stocker (0, 3)
Receiving Yards: Julio Jones (106, 31), Calvin Ridley (105, 64), Devonta Freeman (42, 12), Austin Hooper (34, 77), Mohamed Sanu (16, 57), Ito Smith (13, 9), Luke Stocker (4, 0), Russell Gage (0, 13), Justin Hardy (0, 41)
RZ Carries: Ito Smith (0, 1)
Observations: Julio Jones made defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz pay for dialing up an all-out blitz late in Sunday’s win over the Eagles, parting the red sea with a 54-yard touchdown gallop on 4th-and-3. It was starting to look like Julio might never find the end zone again during his 12-game touchdown drought (a slump that spanned parts of two seasons) a year ago, but he’s gone to great lengths to erase that narrative, scoring in six straight contests dating back to last season. It’s been slim pickings for Devonta Freeman, whose 2.2 yards per carry ranks fifth-worst among qualified rushers this season. Establishing the run has not been a high priority for the Falcons, who have registered just 34 carries (fifth-fewest) under new OC Dirk Koetter.
Editor's Note: Drafting is only half the battle. Dominate all season long with our Season Pass! Use our NEW Start/Sit Tool, Trade Analyzer, Consensus Rankings, Projections and more on your way to a championship! Click here for more!
RZ Carries: Christian McCaffrey (2, 4)
Observations: Christian McCaffrey laid a rare egg on Thursday night, following up his breathtaking debut with a dud against the Bucs (53 yards on 18 touches). His failed fourth-down attempt with 1:28 to go served as the final nail in Carolina’s Week 2 coffin. Curtis Samuel got the squeaky wheel treatment on Thursday, seeing 13 targets from Cam Newton, nine more than he was afforded in an opening-week loss to the Rams. Newton’s foot woes might explain his paltry rushing totals this year (five carries for -2 yards). A balky back almost kept Greg Olsen from suiting up in Week 2, but he tore it up anyway, compiling his most yards (110) since Week 15 of 2017. Only two tight ends—Evan Engram and Zach Ertz—have drawn more targets than Olsen through two weeks.
Targets: Allen Robinson (7, 13), Tarik Cohen (5, 10), Ben Braunecker (3, 0), Trey Burton (3, X), David Montgomery (3, 1), Adam Shaheen (3, 2), Taylor Gabriel (2, 5), Anthony Miller (1, 1), Mike Davis (0, 7), Cordarrelle Patterson (0, 3), Javon Wims (0, 2)
Air Yards: Allen Robinson (67, 153), David Montgomery (35, 20), Tarik Cohen (34, 42), Ben Braunecker (22, 0), Taylor Gabriel (19, 51), Adam Shaheen (7, 11), Mike Davis (0, 3), Cordarrelle Patterson (0, 30), Javon Wims (0, 27), Anthony Miller (-4, 29)
Receiving Yards: Allen Robinson (41, 102), Ben Braunecker (24, 0), Adam Shaheen (24, 6), Taylor Gabriel (11, 24), Tarik Cohen (7, 49), David Montgomery (6, 27), Trey Burton (5, X), Anthony Miller (2, 0), Mike Davis (0, 17), Cordarrelle Patterson (0, 3)
RZ Carries: David Montgomery (5, 0)
Observations: After logging a modest seven touches in the opener, David Montgomery saw a much bigger piece of the backfield pie in Week 2, pacing Chicago with 18 carries in a thrilling win over Denver. Now that his training wheels are off, expect Montgomery to distance himself from backfield counterparts Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis. Kyle Fuller got the better of Emmanuel Sanders on a goal-line interception Sunday, but Sanders staged an epic rebuttal in the fourth quarter, beating him for a Santonio-esque touchdown in the back corner of the end zone. It may be time to file a missing persons report or at least put up flyers around the neighborhood in search of Anthony Miller, who has tallied one catch for two yards in the early going. The Bears and Panthers are the only teams that have yet to throw a touchdown pass while Chicago’s anemic 4.8 yards per attempt is easily the league’s lowest.
Observations: After seeing an abbreviated workload in the opener, Ezekiel Elliott took on a more substantial role in Week 2, pummeling the Redskins for 111 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. With Michael Gallup (meniscus surgery) looking at a 2-4 week absence, now is Devin Smith’s time to shine. Smith’s touchdown Sunday was his first since Week 12 of 2015. That was 1,389 days and two ACL surgeries ago for the former Buckeye. Dak Prescott may need to invest in a bigger trophy case because he’s in for all kinds of hardware if he keeps this up. He’s meshed beautifully with new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, tacking on 674 passing yards (third behind Patrick Mahomes and Andy Dalton) with an additional 81 yards on the ground (second-most among quarterbacks). Dak was universally mocked for seeking $40 million annually from Dallas this summer, but maybe that’s not as crazy as it sounds.
Receiving Yards: Kenny Golladay (117, 42), Kerryon Johnson (47, 13), Marvin Jones (43, 56), Jesse James (18, 15), T.J. Hockenson (7, 131), Ty Johnson (6, 0), Danny Amendola (0, 104), J.D. McKissic (0, 24)
RZ Carries: Kerryon Johnson (0, 1)
Observations: Kenny Golladay did Detroit’s heavy lifting in Week 2, standing tall in his matchup with Casey Hayward (his credentials include 21 lifetime interceptions and a pair of All-Pro nods) in the Lions’ triumph over the road-weary Chargers. While Golladay flourished, T.J. Hockenson hit the skids, following up his electric debut (6-131-1 against the Cardinals) with a Week 2 no-show (1-7-0 on three targets). Danny Amendola was similarly unproductive (zero catches), proving his bullish Week 1 was more fluke than fact. Detroit was quick to pull the plug on its C.J. Anderson experiment, sending the veteran packing after two forgettable weeks. Anderson’s departure will free up carries for primary backup Ty Johnson and waiver claim Paul Perkins. After ranking near the bottom of the league in pass production last year (the collateral damage of Marvin Jones’ midseason knee injury and Golden Tate’s surprise trade to Philadelphia), the Lions have turned over a new leaf, averaging a healthy 303 passing yards per game (sixth-most) through two contests.
Green Bay Packers
Observations: Aaron Rodgers spent Week 2 butting heads with rookie head coach Matt LaFleur, but their enmity didn’t stop the Packers from downing division-rival Minnesota in Sunday’s grudge match at Lambeau. Davante Adams couldn’t solve the Bears secondary in Green Bay’s opener, but returned to form with a vintage Week 2, undressing star corner Xavier Rhodes with 106 receiving yards on seven catches. After going David Copperfield in Week 1, Geronimo Allison returned from his opening-week disappearance to corral a 12-yard touchdown against the Vikes. Aaron Jones showed some muscle Sunday, laying 150 yards (116 rushing, 34 receiving) on ‘Sota while continuing to run circles around third-year underachiever Jamaal Williams (career 3.6 yards per carry).
Los Angeles Rams
Observations: The Rams made mincemeat of the Drew Brees-less Saints in Week 2, rolling New Orleans on the strength of a predictably strong showing by Cooper Kupp (5-120-0), who nearly went all the way on this 66-yard, grown-man masterpiece. Brandin Cooks saw blood in the water Sunday, embracing his inner shark with a vicious performance (3-74-1 on four targets) against the team that drafted him five years ago. The Rams’ backfield Rubik’s cube took another puzzling turn in Week 2 as Todd Gurley out-touched committee-mate Malcolm Brown by a thorough 19-7 advantage. Gurley was also a fixture inside the 20, burrowing his way to 11 yards on four red-zone totes. Touted as a must-have handcuff in drafts this summer, third-round Memphis alum Darrell Henderson spent Week 2 glued to the bench (zero snaps).
Observations: After abandoning any semblance of a passing attack in the opener, the Vikings were slightly more air-inclined against the Packers in Week 2, stretching the field for 230 yards on inefficient 14-of-32 passing (43.8 completion percentage). Does Stefon Diggs (3-86-1 receiving line through two games) know the season started? If not, it might be time to relay that information to him. Master chef Dalvin Cook has been true to his name this year, serving up a league-best 265 rushing yards for fantasy owners’ mass consumption. His three rushing touchdowns are more than he contributed all of last year. Should we be concerned that the Vikings have completed fewer passes (22) than the horror-show Dolphins (33) through two weeks? Yes, I’d say so.
New Orleans Saints
Observations: Look alive gang, it’s Teddy Time in the Big Easy! Teddy Bridgewater has big shoes to fill replacing injured starter Drew Brees (thumb) under center, though his supporting cast in NOLA is much stronger than the one he had in Minnesota, where he averaged a pedestrian 214.3 yards per game over 28 starts. A statistical drop-off can probably be expected with Bridgewater manning the controls, but Michael Thomas owners shouldn’t be discouraged. He was the intended target on 11 of Bridgewater’s 30 passes against the Rams in Week 2 (36.7% target share). Bridgewater’s 7.41 career aDOT may not mesh with deep artist Ted Ginn, who logged 38 target-less snaps in the loss to L.A. Former Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore has been a weekly burn victim in the Saints’ secondary, permitting 189 yards (second-most to Giants first-rounder Deandre Baker) through the air this season.
New York Giants
Targets: Bennie Fowler (10, 5), Evan Engram (8, 14), Saquon Barkley (7, 6), Cody Core (5, 0), Cody Latimer (5, 8), T.J. Jones (4, X), Russell Shepard (3, 0), Rhett Ellison (1, 2), Wayne Gallman (1, 3), Sterling Shepard (X, 7)
Air Yards: Bennie Fowler (157, 28), Cody Latimer (64, 164), Evan Engram (60, 72), Cody Core (32, 0), T.J. Jones (30, 0), Russell Shepard (14, 0), Rhett Ellison (5, 31), Wayne Gallman (3, 0), Saquon Barkley (-6, 1), Sterling Shepard (X, 21)
Receiving Yards: Bennie Fowler (51, 40), Evan Engram (48, 116), T.J. Jones (38, 0), Cody Latimer (30, 74), Saquon Barkley (28, 19), Cody Core (28, 0), Russell Shepard (19, 0), Rhett Ellison (8, 8), Wayne Gallman (0, 24), Sterling Shepard (X, 42)
Observations: Our national nightmare has ended. After burning our retinas with his uninspired play the last few years (edit: last decade), Eli Manning will no longer grace our television screens on Sundays, unless the Fox cameras pan to him doing one of these on the sidelines. Daniel Jones is by no means a finished product, but he should be a substantial upgrade on the woefully un-athletic Manning, who ran like he was dragging cinderblocks by the end of his starting tenure. In fairness to Eli, the veteran was set up for failure in Week 2, throwing to an undermanned pass-catching corps that looked more like a preseason acid trip than an NFL-caliber unit. Even amid practice-squad fodder like Cody Core and T.J. Jones, Evan Engram failed to make his presence felt against Buffalo, earning just 48 yards on six catches. Alien lifeform Saquon Barkley is still wreaking havoc on the NFL, mystifying defenses to the tune of 7.8 yards per carry (second to L.A.’s Justin Jackson) in the follow-up to last year’s Rookie of the Year campaign.
Targets: Zach Ertz (16, 7), Nelson Agholor (11, 5), Mack Hollins (8, 0), Miles Sanders (5, 2), JJ Arcega-Whiteside (4, 0), Darren Sproles (3, 3), Jordan Howard (1, 3), Alshon Jeffery (1, 6), DeSean Jackson (0, 10), Dallas Goedert (0, 3)
Air Yards: Zach Ertz (151, 41), Nelson Agholor (131, 76), Mack Hollins (93, 0), JJ Arcega-Whiteside (90, 0), Alshon Jeffery (22, 56), Miles Sanders (5, -5), Darren Sproles (4, -3), Jordan Howard (2, -1), DeSean Jackson (0, 142), Dallas Goedert (0, 37)
Receiving Yards: Nelson Agholor (107, 11), Zach Ertz (72, 54), Mack Hollins (50, 0), Miles Sanders (22, 2), Jordan Howard (8, 11), Darren Sproles (5, 16), JJ Arcega-Whiteside (4, 0), DeSean Jackson (0, 154), Alshon Jeffery (0, 49), Dallas Goedert (0, 16)
Observations: Carson Wentz zeroed in on Zach Ertz in Week 2, peppering the tight end with a game-high 16 targets against the Falcons. He did so out of necessity, using Ertz to prop up the offense without Alshon Jeffery (calf), Dallas Goedert (calf) or DeSean Jackson (groin). Nelson Agholor probably didn’t sleep too well after dropping what should have been a walk-in touchdown late in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta. The gaffe spoiled an otherwise productive evening for Agholor, who paced the Eagles with 107 yards on eight catches. Despite taking drastic measures to improve their backfield this offseason (they traded for Pro Bowler Jordan Howard while spending a second-round draft pick on Penn State standout Miles Sanders), the Eagles’ ground game has yet to take off, averaging a stagnant 3.3 yards per carry (fifth-lowest).
San Francisco 49ers
Targets: Deebo Samuel (7, 3), Richie James (4, 2), Raheem Mostert (4, 1), Marquise Goodwin (3, 3), George Kittle (3, 10), Kendrick Bourne (2, 3), Matt Breida (1, 1), Dante Pettis (0, 1), Tevin Coleman (X, 3)
Air Yards: Marquise Goodwin (61, 30), George Kittle (52, 52), Richie James (51, 30), Deebo Samuel (17, 10), Kendrick Bourne (8, 39), Matt Breida (0, 3), Dante Pettis (0, 6), Raheem Mostert (-5, 0), Tevin Coleman (X, 4)
Receiving Yards: Deebo Samuel (87, 17), Marquise Goodwin (77, 7), Raheem Mostert (68, 0), George Kittle (54, 54), Matt Breida (11, 0), Richie James (7, 39), Kendrick Bourne (4, 9), Dante Pettis (0, 7), Tevin Coleman (X, 33)
Observations: Kyle Shanahan trolled the fantasy community by burying Matt Breida, a chalk DFS play if there ever was one, in a frustrating timeshare with Raheem Mostert (team-high 16 touches) and recent practice-squad call-up Jeff Wilson (two touchdowns on five red-zone carries). In Scarface, Tony Montana delivered the iconic quote, “You’re not good. You just know how to hide.” Perhaps he was referring to Dante Pettis, who was a ghost against the Bengals in Week 2 (35 target-less snaps). After a largely unproductive opener (3-17-0 at Tampa Bay), Deebo Samuel delivered the goods in Week 2, tormenting the Bengals for 94 yards (87 receiving, seven rushing) and a touchdown on seven touches. For the YAC crowd, Samuel’s 97 yards after catch is second-most among rookies trailing only Baltimore’s Marquise Brown (117).
RZ Carries: Chris Carson (0, 4)
Observations: Will Dissly dropped the mic Sunday, bullying the Steelers for 50 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a Week 2 nail-biter. Sunday’s end-zone extravaganza was nothing new for the 2018 fourth-rounder, who has already amassed four touchdowns in just six career games. Even with his floor hovering dangerously close to zero, Dissly is very much in the weekly streaming picture at a sparse tight end position. Seattle’s backfield looked like an open-and-shut case with Chris Carson in the driver’s seat, but Rashaad Penny reopened it in Week 2, muddying the waters with 62 yards on 10 carries including a 37-yard touchdown dash. After seeing scant usage in Week 1 (just two targets), Tyler Lockett played a much more active role in Sunday’s proceedings, absorbing a career-high 12 targets in the win over Pittsburgh.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Receiving Yards: Chris Godwin (121, 53), Mike Evans (61, 28), Cameron Brate (10, 8), Dare Ogunbowale (9, 33), Peyton Barber (7, 12), O.J. Howard (0, 32), Ronald Jones (0, 18), Breshad Perriman (0, 10)
Observations: Through two weeks, Tampa Bay’s underachieving offense has been the human embodiment of the shrug emoji, sending frustrated fantasy owners scrambling for answers. O.J. Howard has been abysmal, slumping to PFF’s worst grade among qualified tight ends while earning well-deserved shade from head coach Bruce Arians. The 2017 first-rounder wasn’t even targeted Thursday in the Bucs’ win at Carolina. Tampa’s offense hasn’t been the well-oiled machine many of us expected it to be, but at least Chris Godwin has held up his end of the bargain, impressing with a sturdy 11-174-2 receiving line in the early going. Despite giving off mixed signals in an opening-week loss to San Francisco, Arians was adamant Peyton Barber would maintain his role atop the Bucs’ backfield hierarchy. The veteran coach put his money where his mouth is, doubling down on Barber by affording him 23 carries in Week 2 compared to just four for Ronald Jones.
Targets: Terry McLaurin (10, 7), Chris Thompson (8, 10), Trey Quinn (7, 6), Vernon Davis (4, 7), Paul Richardson (3, 7), Adrian Peterson (2, X), Wendell Smallwood (2, 0), Jeremy Sprinkle (1, 1), Kelvin Harmon (0, 2)
Air Yards: Terry McLaurin (134, 143), Trey Quinn (37, 34), Vernon Davis (22, 33), Paul Richardson (11, 75), Jeremy Sprinkle (6, 1), Wendell Smallwood (4, 0), Chris Thompson (4, 18), Adrian Peterson (1, X), Kelvin Harmon (0, 26)
Receiving Yards: Terry McLaurin (95, 125), Chris Thompson (48, 68), Trey Quinn (36, 33), Vernon Davis (29, 59), Paul Richardson (16, 36), Jeremy Sprinkle (11, 8), Wendell Smallwood (9, 0), Adrian Peterson (7, X), Kelvin Harmon (0, 31)
Observations: Case Keenum’s infatuation with Terry McLaurin in Week 1 was no passing fling. The new Redskins power couple spanned 62 yards on five catches Sunday, continuing McLaurin’s improbable ascent to weekly WR2 status. The Ohio State product ranks second among rookies in targets (12), catches (10) and yards (187), trailing Baltimore’s Marquise Brown in each category. Back in the fold after a one-week hiatus, veteran goal-line hound Adrian Peterson one-upped Hall of Famer Jim Brown, passing him for fifth on the NFL’s all-time touchdown list by virtue of his one-yard score Sunday against Dallas. These days, outspoken cornerback Josh Norman is all bark and no bite. He’s been a pushover in coverage this year, yielding 170 yards (tied for third-most) and two touchdowns on nine catches.