Target and Touch Report: What the Numbers are Forecasting for Week Five
The higher angels within us want to believe that running backs remain the engine to Fantasy football success even when the numbers tell us otherwise. Four weeks into the season, we are on pace to see the League set a record for overall completion percentage along with up 37 players with over 1,000 receiving yards.
Hell yes, that deserved some italic action.
Mark Ingram comes back this week, but Leonard Fournette is out. Devonta Freeman returns, but Dalvin Cook is either limited or won’t play at all. LeSean McCoy and Lamar Miller are so 2014, but Austin Ekeler can get up 10 touches and get RB2 love. Welcome to the state of running backs, 2018 edition, and we won’t even talk about Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson.
Sigh…someone must get touches and targets. Let’s get at it.
Davante Adams injured his calf during Wednesday’s practice, and with Randall Cobb (hammy) and Geronimo Allison (concussion) out for Sunday’s game against the Lions, Aaron Rodgers will be throwing to wideouts who were in grade school when Rodgers began his career. J’Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have a combined two receptions, both by Valdes-Scantling. Adams is a solid WR1 if he plays; if he doesn’t, MVS appears to have the most upside, followed by Moore and St. Brown. Each rookie should be regarded as WR3/Flex options in deeper leagues and should be left alone in most standard fromats. This could be the game the Packers give running back Aaron Jones a heaping helping of carries against a Detroit defense that is dead last in rushing yards allowed per game.
For His Next Act, Keke the Great Will…
I don’t think Keke Coutee’s family and friends had him on a Fantasy roster prior to last week. That changed after Coutee caught 10 passes for 109 yards on a whopping 15 targets in his first pro game against the Colts. He was more effective after Will Fuller left with a hamstring injury, pulling in nine passes for 92 yards. Now everybody wants a piece of Coutee, and with Deshaun Watson quietly going Pat Mahomes, Southwest Version over the past three games, Coutee will be a heck of a PPR play if Fuller can’t go against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Dallas is sixth in the league in fewest Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers, but with much of their focus on stopping DeAndre Hopkins, I’ like Coutee as a low-end WR2/high-end Flex in PPR formats. Even if Fuller plays, I still think there’s some value in Coutee.
How Can You Kerryon if They Won’t Let You?
Lions rookie running back Kerryon Johnson has rushed for 156 yards on 25 carries the past two games, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. There’s growth potential in Johnson, but it seems (at least for now) coach Matt Patricia is content with Johnson and LeGarrette of 2.7 yards per carry Blount playing “Caring is Sharing.” Even though the Packers are eighth in Fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs, Johnson is worth an RB2 play despite the fact he won’t be much of a factor in the passing game.
Yes, No, Maybe (Subtitled, “She’s Gone. I Better Learn How to Face it”)
Yes: Steelers tight end Vance McDonald has 12 receptions for 200 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. The Falcons defense treats tight ends like distinguished guests at a 5-star hotel, having allowed 10 completions for 115 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks. In a game that could produce PlayStation-caliber numbers, McDonald will have a chance to partake in the feast.
No: For the love of all the good things of National Taco Day, how the hell can you consider using Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor? Sure, he has 25 catches, but he’s averaging 6.7 yards per catch. That’s not shabby for a fullback or third tight end on the roster, but Agholor is averaging nearly 10 targets per game. It’s easy to think that the Vikings pass defense is on a down trend after a pair of rough outings, but I can’t in good faith suggest using Agholor in any format.
Maybe: Corey Davis comes off a nine-catch, 151-yard performance against the Eagles that also included a touchdown among the 15 targets he received. The Titans passing game seems lively now that Marcus Mariota is back and while Davis looks like a young wideout trending upward, he and Titans face a Bills team that is a meh-like 14th in Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers. He’s no more than a WR3/Flex to me, but if he follows up with good numbers on Sunday, it might be time to start buying that Davis just may be catching on.
Come On, Come On, Come On, Come On and Touch (and Target) Me, Baby
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: Alvin Kamara is putting MVP-caliber numbers, but Ingram’s return should help ease Kamara’s workload. Kamara is on pace for 392 touches, so expect Ingram to begin cutting into that insane number with 10-12 touches while also being looked upon lovingly near the goal line.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars: He had 13 targets against the Jets last week, pulling in nine for 130 yards. With Fournette out, Westbrook is in line for a huge afternoon against a Chiefs pass defense that has become the Golden Ticket to make every receiver feel like Charlie Bucket. Keelan Cole is a nice play as well, but Westbrook is the more explosive of the two.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers: Oakland is 24th in Fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs and Ekeler has played his way into RB2 discussion in PPR formats. This looks like a “last team with the ball wins” type of game that could see Philip Rivers go for 300-plus yards, and if you’re an Ekeler owner feeling the same way, then I don’t have to coax you to play him, do I?
Jimmy Graham, TE, Packers: Sunday could have an old school vibe when it comes to Graham, especially if the Packers WR corps looks more like a frat house than an experienced unit. Graham could see double-digit targets if the game flows to him early. Detroit is league-average when it comes to stopping TEs, but if there was a time for Graham to look like his old, dominant self, Sunday is it.
Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins: I wouldn’t be shocked if Thompson gets between 12-15 targets on Monday night. The Saints are seventh in Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, yet Thompson will be key if the Redskins are playing catch-up early on. Seeing as this contest might end after midnight Eastern, you might as well play Thompson as an RB2 and have a good reason to be bleary-eyed come Tuesday morning.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles: He owned Xavier Rhoades in the NFC Championship Game and comes off an impressive eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in his 2018 regular season debut. The Eagles passing offense went from dial-up to 5G speed once Jeffery returned to the lineup and it stands to reason he’ll see double-digit targets against a Minnesota defense that has fallen to 23rd in Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers.
Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: Bad game followed by good game followed by bad game followed by good game. Welcome to Cooper’s 2018 season. The trend toward naughty numbers in odd-numbered games ends against a Chargers defense that gives up 288.1 passing yards per game and 13.6 yards per catch. In the two games that Cooper has at least 10 targets, he’s 18 for 22 with 244 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers say throw him the damn ball, Derek Carr.
Gimme A Sleeper!
Cardinals tight end Ricky Seals-Jones faces a 49ers defense that has allowed a touchdown pass to a tight end in each of their first four games. With receiving options thin in Arizona and with rookie Josh Rosen at the helm, Seals-Jones should see a hike up from the nearly five targets per game he’s seen thus far. Look for him to be a factor (and a big one) in the red zone, especially since the Niners will be locked in on stopping David Johnson.