FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Targets, Touches & Throws: Week 3
Alessandro Miglio
September 17, 2013
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It was a coming out party for rookies last week. Thrown by Tavon Austin, headlined by DeAndre Hopkins and closed out by Giovani Bernard, rookies ruled the roost. How many more metaphors can we fit in here?

Of course, plenty of regular old veterans had some nice days as well. Here are some of this week’s most intriguing targets, touches and throws as they relate to your fantasy football teams.

TARGETS

Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams
12 targets—6 receptions, 47 yards, 2 touchdowns; 2 carries, 8 yards vs. Falcons

Chris Givens, WR, St. Louis Rams
8 targets—5 receptions, 105 yards vs. Falcons

We finally saw the Tavon Austin the Rams traded up to get with the No. 8-overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Austin was all over the field, even taking a handoff out of the backfield for a small gain. Bradford looked to him often—underneath, deep, on the outside, in the end zone—a great sign for his fantasy value going forward. But don’t give up on Chris Givens, who is getting a healthy amount of targets, too. As Austin and Jared Cook continue to open things up, Givens is going to find himself in single coverage often.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
8 targets—4 receptions, 56 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Cowboys

It looks like Alex Smith finally found Dwayne Bowe on the field.

The talented receiver took advantage of a nice matchup against the Cowboys. The fact he only had four catches on the day is a bit troubling, but we knew Alex Smith is the current checkdown king. Hence, Jamaal Charles doubled Bowe up with eight catches.

Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans
9 targets—4 receptions, 28 yards vs. Texans

Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans
11 targets—7 receptions, 71 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Texans

The Titans have played surprisingly well through the first two weeks of the season, nearly getting to 2-0 and the top of the AFC South, where nobody expected them to be. Alas, a late-game collapse against the mighty Texans doomed them, through no fault of their receivers.

Second-year pro Kendall Wright had a nice game, including an excellent touchdown catch. After the terrible preseason he had, Wright looks every bit like the first-round pick he was back in 2012.

Kenny Britt hasn’t had much luck thus far, but he is a ticking time bomb, perhaps in multiple ways. Britt has been dealing with pain in his surgically repaired knee, but he is still seeing plenty of targets. It’s only a matter of time before he turns those into a big game himself.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
13 targets—7 receptions, 117 yards, 1 touchdown @ Titans

The Texans are going to be just fine when Andre Johnson hangs it up. Hopefully for their case, that’s still a few years away, but DeAndre Hopkins showed them what life might be like without him after Johnson went out with a concussion.

Hopkins should absolutely be your top waiver priority if he’s available—yes, even higher than five-touchdown Eddie Royal, who has yet to be covered by a cornerback this season. Hopkins showed he could be trusted, making tough catches that wound up winning the game for Houston.

It will be interesting to see where Hopkins’ target count will land when Johnson is back healthy, which could be this week. Houston isn’t a high-octane passing machine, though Matt Schaub has put up a lot of passes during the first two weeks by virtue of being down in the game. Once the Texans go back to pounding the ball, there will be fewer targets to go around.

It’s hard to say Hopkins hasn’t earned a bigger share of those targets, though. With opposing defenses focused on Johnson and Owen Daniels in the pass game, Hopkins will see easier coverage much of the time.

TOUCHES

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
16 touches—14 carries, 69 yards, 1 touchdown; 2 receptions, 6 yards @ Colts

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins
9 touches—8 carries, 30 yards; 1 reception, 10 yards @ Colts

Week 1 was an abomination for Lamar Miller’s fantasy owners. He barely eked out one fantasy point in standard leagues while his partner, Daniel Thomas, got the goal line touchdown.

Fast-forward to their next game against Indianapolis, however, and we see the true colors in that Dolphins backfield.

Miller looked good against a Colts defense that proved much softer than the Cleveland’s. He found space and took advantage, scoring on a 10-yard bounce to the outside and ultimately icing the game in the waning minutes for Miami. Thomas, meanwhile, looked like a Stormtrooper in a ballet class when he tried to juke his way out of tackles.

The time to trade for Miller was last week after that dud, though he might still come at a decent price if his owner is skeptical. He is by far the best running back in Miami.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
9 touches—8 carries, 38 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 reception, 27 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Steelers

How long will it be before the Bengals hand the reins over to Giovani Bernard?

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is about as effective and entertaining as Dan Wachsberger. Bernard is Saul Goodman by comparison, though without the cheesy ads. Bernard did have an outlier-type game against the Steelers, however. It’s hard to score two touchdowns on just nine touches, and the Law Firm appears to have the starting gig under wraps for the moment.

But if Bernard keeps performing well, he will become increasingly difficult to ignore for the Bengals coaching staff.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
16 touches—13 carries, 83 yards, 2 touchdowns; 3 receptions, 14 yards @ Giants

Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos
14 touches—12 carries, 16 yards, 1 fumble; 2 receptions, 27 yards @ Giants

It was a banner day for Knowshon Moreno against the Giants. He took advantage of a soft linebacker corps to score twice from distance, perhaps running away with the lead back role like he ran away from those defenders.

But the situation isn’t all that clear in Denver.

Despite fumbling the ball into the end zone early, Montee Ball got plenty of chances as the game progressed. He wound up with nearly the same number of touches that Moreno had, though he was far less effective. Still, if Ball was in on those two touchdown-scoring plays, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have done the same thing.

Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets
12 touches—12 carries, 52 yards @ Patriots

Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
15 touches—13 carries, 48 yards, 1 touchdown; 2 receptions, 22 yards @ Patriots

The Jets got off to a slow start against the Patriots, but their running game showed some signs of life.

Particularly, Chris Ivory looked a bit like that guy who averaged 5.1 YPC with the Saints. It seemed an odd thing to see the Jets keep him off the field even as he looked more effective than Bilal Powell.

The latter wound up scoring a touchdown and having the nicer fantasy day, but it won’t be long before Ivory overtakes him for the starting gig. Ivory just looks like a more natural runner with better instincts. An array of injuries have prevented him from completely realizing his potential, though, and the next one might be around the corner.

THROWS

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
47 throws—36 completions, 419 yards, 3 touchdowns; 3 carries, 11 yards @ Eagles

When will the other shoe drop in San Diego?

It seems Philip Rivers has revived his career under new head coach Mike McCoy. He threw for four touchdowns against a supposedly vaunted Texans defense, then followed it up with a huge performance against the woeful Eagles.

The Chargers have been rather surprising, but this was a bottom-tier roster that was ravaged by injuries heading into the season. But the schedule lines up nicely for Rivers over the next several weeks—he goes up against Tennessee, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oakland, Jacksonville and Washington before he hits Denver and Miami. Maybe there is something to this hot start after all. He even gets the Raiders again on fantasy championship weekend, if you have the grit to roll with him.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Football Team
41 throws—26 completions, 320 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception; 4 carries, 1 yard @ Packers

It’s going to be an interesting season for Robert Griffin III, especially if that defense continues to stink up the place.

Griffin got off to another slow start, barely registering any fantasy points by halftime. He followed that up with another strong second-half performance that was mostly during garbage time.

So can we trust him? As long as that Washington defense is acting like a sieve, Griffin is going to have big value. He also figures to get better at that whole first-half thing as he gets his sea legs during the next few weeks of the 2013 NFL voyage.

Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans
48 throws—26 completions, 298 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interception vs. Titans

This marks two big fantasy weeks in a row for Schaub, who probably sent the Texans front office a nice gift basket when they took DeAndre Hopkins in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.

The red flag here is the fact Houston has given up so many points to perceived bad teams in the first two weeks. That has forced the Texans to throw the ball more than they’re used to. Whether that defense will come around soon or not remains to be seen—it was one of the better units in the league last season—but Schaub isn’t going to be putting up 40-plus passes a game.


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