Draft Strategy

Analyzing Fantasy Targets Week 8

Fantasy Football targets Week 8

As if fantasy football could not get any wackier, target distribution in Week 7 was one of the more interesting weeks to date. Two Houston receivers were among the top five most target receivers as well as two Buffalo receivers, neither of which were Sammy Watkins or Percy Harvin.

Fantasy Football Targets: Week 8

Fantasy Football targets Week 8As if fantasy football could not get any wackier, target distribution in Week 7 was one of the more interesting weeks to date. Two Houston receivers were among the top five most target receivers as well as two Buffalo receivers, neither of which were Sammy Watkins or Percy Harvin. I emphasize the importance of targets each week and the notion that targets create opportunity while opportunity combined with efficiency creates points. When I throw that all together, I come up with fantasy points per target (FPPT) as well as touchdown per target percentage (TDPT). Let’s take a look at the target leaders from Week 7 and what is in the forecast for Week 8.

5. Mike Evans and Chris Hogan

Mike EvansThis is the first time both of these receivers were target leaders this season and they each saw 11 looks last week. The most surprising thing about Evans is the fact that he has not been featured in here before. He appears to finally be healthy and on the flip side of that, Vincent Jackson appears to be unhealthy. On the season, Evans has 44 targets to Jackson’s 40. With Jackson likely to miss multiple weeks I expect to see Evans on here going forward. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is expected to return this week after not seeing the field since Week 2. He is certain to pick up some of Jackson’s missing targets but Evans figures to be the biggest beneficiary of Jackson’s expected absence. The Buccaneers travel to Atlanta this weekend where they will face a tough but beatable veteran defense. Look for Jameis Winston to force feed the ball to Evans, who is a matchup nightmare due to his size and skill.

Chris Hogan makes a surprising appearance here this week. The Buffalo Bills have been without Tyrod Taylor for a few weeks now and no one expected much out of them last week in a game that also was without Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin. They lost a heart breaker to the Jaguars across the pond but E.J. Manuel was throwing the ball all over the place which is always good news for receivers. Although he saw 11 targets, Hogan was only able to haul in six of them for 56 yards. He was good for one FPPT but without scoring a touchdown he turned in a pedestrian day. Hogan very well may have underperformed in his biggest opportunity to shine. The Buffalo Bills are on a bye this week and if Sammy Watkins gets healthy over these next few days, Hogan could be relegated back to irrelevancy.

4. Eric Decker and DeAndre Hopkins

Eric DeckerDecker and Hopkins each saw 12 targets last week. That is the highest number of targets Decker has seen this season and the lowest Hopkins has seen since Week 2. Decker converted half of his targets for 94 yards but failed to reach the end zone for the first time this season in games he has appeared in. His 15 total fantasy points made him a flex-worthy starter and the highest scoring receiver on his team. Decker has just 38 targets this season but he has been incredibly efficient in catching 63% of his targets, earning two FPPT and has an 11% TDPT. He is doing a lot with a little, especially in the end zone. This week Decker will be up against an Oakland Raiders’ defense that is averaging 18 points to receivers yet has only given up two receiving touchdowns. He could make that three receiving touchdowns after this week as he has solidified himself as one of Fitzpatrick’s go-to red zone targets.

Hopkins may have only seen 12 targets in Week 7 but those 12 targets brought him up over the 100 target mark. No other receiver has over 100 targets this season. He scores a touchdown on 5% of his targets and generates 1.61 FPPT.  Going forward, the Houston Texans will be without Arian Foster which likely translates to even more targets for Hopkins. He is starting to see some competition with teammate Nate Washington, but Hopkins will remain as Brian Hoyer’s favorite target. The Texans get the Titans at home this week, who are giving receivers a generous average of 21 fantasy points per week. It is fair to assume that Hopkins will be the most target receiver in Week 8 against this secondary that was just dominated by Julio Jones.

3. Keenan Allen, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks

Keenan Allen SleeperOut of these three receivers who each saw 13 targets last week it was Robert Woods who came away as the top scorer of the group. He seized an opportunity last week and the bye week will be telling for the Bills team in general in regards to their health.

Keenan Allen saw a healthy dose last week but should be seeing an even healthier does of targets this week against the Baltimore Ravens who rank dead last against the pass. Ladarius Green picked up a lot of Antonio Gates’ missing targets last week and outscored Allen, but the Ravens are surprisingly stout against tight ends. They have given up just one touchdown to the position this season and tight ends are averaging four points per game. Allen could and should have a monster week especially when you consider the level Philip Rivers is playing at. He is the only quarterback with over 300 attempts and over 200 completions. Allen is already the third most target receiver in the league and could move ahead of Julio Jones after this juicy matchup in Week 8.

Brandin Cooks is one of the biggest early round fantasy busts. Much was expected of him but he has produced way below those expectations. His six receptions last week computed to a 46.15% completion rate. His lone touchdown on the year is affecting his overall value. He is 18th overall in targets, completes 60% of those and scores 1.41 FPPT. Until he starts seeing pay dirt he will continue to be a matchup play rather than an every week starter.

2. Nate Washington and T.Y. Hilton

TY HiltonWhat a surprise to see Nate Washington higher on this list than DeAndre Hopkins. Brian Hoyer targeted him 16 times last week. He converted nine of those for 127 yards and two scores. He, essentially, put up Hopkins-level numbers, scoring a ridiculous 33 fantasy points. Washington is scoring 1.5 FPPT this season and hits the end zone on 5% of his targets. He is a complete WR2 and will Cecil Shorts III missing this week’s game against the Tennessee Titans, Washington will have another chance to start alongside Hopkins. He has the upside to outperform him again this week.

T.Y. Hilton is another receiver who did a lot with a little last week. Despite catching just a quarter of his targets, those four receptions translated to 150 yards, two touchdowns and 31 fantasy points. A 25% completion rate is abysmal but when you rack up those yards and score twice it becomes negated. He is the 5th overall targeted receiver this season with 75 but he is completing less than half of his targets. Much of that can be blamed on the erratic play of Andrew Luck but as the Colts get better Hilton’s numbers will as well. This is not to say Hilton hasn’t been rewarding fantasy owners but last week was his first game with over 20 fantasy points. Better days are hopefully ahead, but not this week. Hilton faces the Carolina Panthers, specifically Josh Norman. He is the top corner in the NFL at the moment and Hilton has a shot at his worst fantasy day to date.

Julio Jones

Julio Jones

Matt Ryan threw the ball to Julio Jones 17 times last week, the most he has since Week 3. Jones has been a dominant receiver all season scored again last week on nine receptions for 92 yards. He trails only Hopkins in targets on the year with 90 but they both have five touchdowns. They are tied as the top receiver in the league with 164 fantasy points. Overall, Jones is scoring 1.82 FPPT and has a 5.56% TDPT. It will be a race between the two all season to see who will finish as the top wide out of 2015. This week the Falcons will get the Buccaneers at home who are fifth overall in points allowed to receivers. Jones is set up for another monster day and he should put on a show for the home crowd.

Once this week’s games end we will officially be half way through the fantasy football season. We are starting to see familiar names in target leaders each week but also a few new faces each week.

Receivers and quarterbacks have settled into their groove but opportunities have been presenting themselves to some receivers outside of the top tier. Going forward it will be interesting to see which receivers continue to dominate and which receivers will step up in the second half of the season. Targets tell much more than the simple stat they are. They speak volumes to quarterback-receiver relationships, opportunity, and of course efficiency. Check back next week when I will take a look at Week 8’s target leaders and look ahead to what that can mean for Week 9.

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