Week 4: Snaps and Targets
(Editor's note: This new article comes from one of our new writers, Dan Feldman. Expect an expanded look at all the snaps and targets in the coming weeks. Hit up Dan with any questions on Twitter @danfeld11. Cool? Cool)
After checking out all of the NFL's snaps and targets from Week 3, we look closer at a few notable players heading into Week 4...
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Three weeks into the season, Shorts leads the NFL in targets with 40. However, among the top 10 in targets, only Shorts has caught fewer than half the passes sent his way.
Unfortunately, that dishonor results from Shorts' disconnect with Blaine Gabbert, who will replace Chad Henne in the lineup this week. The difference in Shorts' production-per-target with Jacksonville's two quarterbacks is jarring.
- With Gabbert: 10 targets, 2 catches, 16 yards
- With Henne: 30 targets, 17 catches, 260 yards
Shorts will get plenty of looks with either quarterback, but his connection has definitely been stronger with the quarterback who will be holding a clipboard this week.
Ryan Matthews, RB, San Diego Chargers
Mathews has been given a carry or targeted with a pass on 73 percent of his snaps, easily the top mark among starting running backs. In that sense, he's a relatively low injury risk. Of course, NFL injuries are extremely unpredictable, but it can be especially frustrating to fantasy owners when a player is injured on a play that won't even gain him fantasy points. Generally, Mathews is either on the field helping his fantasy owners or on the sideline and safe from injury.
His production – 55 rushing yards and one catch per game with one total touchdown – has been relatively meager so far. But stash him on your bench, and he could become more valuable later in the season if others become injured and he stays healthy.
Frank Gore (49ers), Knowshon Moreno (Broncos), David Wilson (Giants), Alfred Morris (Redskins), Darren McFadden (Raiders)
Unlike Mathews, these five all receive a carry or target on fewer than 40 percent of their snaps. In other words, they spend a lot of time on the field and exposed to injury, but quite often, that time isn't going toward getting points for your fantasy team.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns
Gordon's 19 targets against the Vikings last week were the most a receiver has gotten in a single game this season. That turned into a monster day: 10 catches, 146 yards and a touchdown. This isn't a big enough sample to say for certain, but that level attention seemed to go beyond the typical outlier. Brown very well could have shown the first signs of a monster fantasy season.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
The Steelers have increasingly looked toward Brown each week, both in terms of total targets and targets per team play. Perhaps, that's random variation rather than a trend, but it makes sense as a conscious choice by Pittsburgh. Brown ranks second in the NFL in yards per target (minimum: 25 targets), trailing only DeSean Jackson among the 33 players who qualify.
Against the Bears last week, Brown posted nine catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns. No matter how the Steelers are looking at it, that probably won't cause them to look away from him.
With a game this week against the Vikings, who allowed Josh Gordon to excel last week, Brown seems poised for a big day.