Targets, touches and touchdowns: Week 7

Targets, touches and touchdowns: Week 7

Statistical Analysis

Targets, touches and touchdowns: Week 7

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Week 6 didn’t feature the bonanza of 35-fantasy-point-plus scorers that the previous week did (seven in all) with only the Vikings’ Stefon Diggs eclipsing that standard, but we still did see some surprising – if not unexpected – productive performers and notable numbers.

It’s now our sworn duty to determine if we’re buying or selling and/or flagging or forgetting some of these performances. We’re breaking down each and labeling them “finds” or “fades” as they project over the rest of the fantasy season – with little leeway for middle ground or fence-straddling.

Here goes, and we start right at the top with the aforementioned …

Diggs 43.5 PPR points (7 receptions-167 yards-3 touchdowns; 2 rushes-18 yards)

We don’t need to remind Diggs’ fantasy owners of the wideout’s struggles entering Week 6, but we must. In his first five games, Diggs reeled in 16-of-23 targets for 253 yards and one TD for a total of 47.3 points which had him ranked 40th among fantasy wide receivers.

That’s only 3.8 more points than he had on Sunday when he was targeted a team-most 11 times and turned three of those Kirk Cousins passes into 62-, 51- and 11-yard scoring receptions in a 38-20 scorching of the visiting Eagles.

It was the third-highest single-game receiving yardage total of Diggs’ career and his first three-TD catch contest in 64 regular-season and postseason games.

The verdict: Fade. Well, to a degree. We didn’t expect Diggs to remain a WR4 averaging 9.46 PPR points per outing, but it was more or less a perfect storm with Sunday’s matchup as Philly came in allowing a league-low 63.0 rushing yards per game while surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Cousins took full advantage, throwing for a season-high 333 yards and matching his TD total (four) from his first five contests combined. We’ve now seen Diggs’ best game of the season Sunday, and sadly, it went to waste on more than a few of his fantasy owners’ benches. Look for him to finish the season as a low-end WR2/high-end flex on a ground-dominated team he, of course, has to share with another talented wideout in Adam Thielen.

Sam Darnold 25.0 (23-of-32 passing, 338 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception; 1-1 rushing)

The second-year quarterback’s return from a month-long mono absence was a surprising success as he finished as fantasy’s 11th-best QB Sunday while guiding the Jets to their first win – a 24-22 upset of the visiting Cowboys.

Entering the contest, the Jets were averaging all of 9.8 points (31st in the league) and an abysmal 113.5 passing yards per contest over their first four games. But replace third-string and subsequently waived QB Luke Falk for Darnold – who had 16 of his 23 completions go-to wide receivers for 290 yards – and suddenly the Jets looked more than competent. It’s even more impressive considering the Cowboys came into Week 6 allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

The verdict: Find – in terms of a QB2 and not a week-to-week starter in a 10-team or most 12-team leagues. Sunday’s outing marked Darnold’s seventh 20-point-plus fantasy game in 15 career starts, and he has an underrated cast of targets to throw to in WRs Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Demaryius Thomas, RB Le’Veon Bell and TE Chris Herndon (when finally healthy). Next up for Darnold are the powerful Patriots – far and away fantasy’s toughest defense vs. opposing QBs – in Week 7, but the schedule eases up considerably after that with only minus matchup (Week 17 at Buffalo) the rest of the season, according to The Huddle’s Fantasy Strength of Schedule tool.

Carlos Hyde 20.0 (26-116-1 rushing; 1-14 receiving)

The Texans’ bellcow back, who ranks 10th in the league as of Sunday night with 99 total rushing attempts for 72.8 percent of the team’s RB total, was standing eighth among Week 6’s fantasy backs after hitting season highs in carries and yards against the team (Kansas City) that traded him to Houston late in the preseason for backup offensive lineman Martinas Rankin.

Hyde had a matchup against the Chiefs’ pillow-soft defense – sans Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones on Sunday – which entered Week 6 allowing the second-most rushing yards per outing (155.8), but it didn’t start out well as he coughed up a fumble on the Texans’ first offensive play of the contest. But it was all (running) downhill from there as he helped lead AFC South-leading Houston to an impressive road upset – the Texans’ fourth win their last five games.

The verdict: Fade. Hyde’s volume is certainly attractive – especially coming as the lead back on one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses – but even after a season-best game Sunday, Hyde only ranks 26th (standard) and 27th (PPR) among fantasy backs in average points per game. And, looking ahead, the matchups won’t nearly be as welcoming as only the Seahawks face a tougher fantasy RB schedule the rest of the way. Hyde has already outperformed his ADP and preseason expectations after leapfrogging Duke Johnson as the team’s No. 1 back, and he should wind up the campaign as a low-end RB2.

Terry McLaurin 26.0 (4-100-2)

Now putting up big numbers – even Week 6’s second-biggest fantasy WR outing so far – against the winless and woebegone Dolphins is nothing to get overly excited about except for the fact that the speed-burning Washington rookie from Ohio State has been putting up fanciful figures against nearly every defense he’s faced.

McLaurin has caught a TD pass and has posted at least 17.2 PPR points in four of his five games this season and ranks sixth overall among fantasy wideouts in 2019 with an average of 18.76 points per outing. Only the Bucs’ Chris Godwin, with six, has more TD grabs than McLaurin, who has accounted for nearly half of Washington’s 11 offensive TDs and is tied for the team lead with 38 targets despite missing Week 4 due to a hamstring strain.

The verdict: Find. McLaurin is averaging a healthy 9.5 targets per game on a 1-5 team that’s going to be forced to throw more often than not despite interim head coach Bill Callahan’s stated desire to rely on the run. The rookie also ranks 10th in the league in air yards – again despite missing a game – has an average depth of target of 16.3 yards (fifth among players with at least 25 targets) and has an airyards.com Weighted Opportunity Rating of .68, which trails only that of Saints stud Michael Thomas (.77). He’s an every week WR starter despite the dysfunction in D.C.

Hunter Henry 30.0 (8-100-2 receiving)

In his first action since Week 1 following a knee-injury absence, Henry was uber-efficient Sunday night, reeling in eight of his nine targets to pace the Chargers in receptions and yards and account for both of their touchdowns in an otherwise embarrassing 24-17 home loss to the Steelers.

It’s the best game of Henry’s career as he set single-contest marks in all three receiving stat categories while also going down as the best single-game PPR performance by a tight end this season.

One final Henry testament; When he wasn’t targeting his top tight end Sunday night, the really-starting to-show-his-age Phillip Rivers was 18-of-35 for 220 yards and two interceptions.

The verdict:  (A definite) Find. Well, at least as long as Henry can stay healthy. Of the Chargers’ last 24 regular-season games, dating back to the final two weeks of the 2017 season, Henry has played in all of two contests (Weeks 1 and 6 this year) after missing the entire 2018 regular season with an ACL tear.

Still, reliable fantasy tight ends are hard to come by. So if you just lost Will Dissly or have been streaming and struggling after drafting O.J. Howard (see Extra Point below) or the slumping Delaine Walker, rush to your waiver wire and swoop up Henry if he’s been cast aside in your league.

Carolina defense/special teams 21.0 (7 sacks, 5 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries)

With a rather large assist from the charitable Jameis Winston, the Panthers’ D/special teams was dominant Sunday morning in London, recording seven sacks, five interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries in a 37-26 win over the Bucs.

In hindsight, it’s hard to comprehend how the final score was that close given that Carolina only had one turnover itself.

The verdict: Find (well, sort of). Not every fantasy defense/special teams can be the Patriots, but the Panthers are most definitely looking like one of the next best options, leading the league with 27 sacks, and ranking second in both interceptions (nine) and fumble recoveries (six) so far.

But here’s the one caution: The Panthers’ remaining schedule. First off, the annual two games against Winston and the Bucs are in the books, and immediately up next is Carolina’s bye in Week 7. After that, the only truly juicy matchups against truly poor offenses come in Week 9 (vs. the Titans) and Week 14 (vs. Washington) so Carolina isn’t simply a set-and-forget fantasy D.

Extra points

  • Despite the 49ers’ 5-0 success, QB Jimmy Garoppolo only ranks 22nd among the position with 18.6 fantasy points per game (Huddle Performance scoring). That’s behind the likes of Andy Dalton (20.7), the embattled Cousins (19.1) and even Case Keenum (18.8). With the Niners owning a comfortable league lead in rushing-play percentage (56.0), Jimmy G. only is averaging 29.2 attempts, 20.4 completions and 232.8 passing yards per contest with seven total aerial TDs and nearly as many interceptions (five) and four total fumbles. And even though he scored on a 1-yard sneak Sunday, it was only the second rushing TD of his career, which has featured a grand total of 64 ground yards on 69 attempts in 31 games. For the record, though, Garoppolo and the Niners face the easiest slate of fantasy QB defenses the rest of the way, with a Week 12 home against the Packers noted as the lone negative matchup on The Huddle’s Fantasy SOS tool.
  • The 2019 fantasy doldrums continued Sunday for the Bengals’ Joe Mixon, who rushed for all of 10 yards on eight carries and caught two of three targets for 29 yards in a 23-17 road loss to the Ravens. Mixon ranks 40th (standard) and 39th (PPR) among running backs with 6.8 and 9.2 fantasy points per game, respectively, and has only reached double-digit fantasy points (standard scoring) in two of six games so far with one total TD for the 0-6 Bungles. Topping his list of issues is workload, as Mixon only is averaging 14.7 touches and 3.2 targets per game – well down from his 20.0 and 3.9 marks of a season ago. Mixon has played 53.8 percent of Cincy’s offensive snaps while backup Giovani Bernard has played 45.0 percent and is averaging 6.2 touches and 3.3 targets per outing.
  • Workload also continues to be a fantasy hindrance for the Texans’ Duke Johnson, who leads all-league running backs with 7.2 yards per touch but is averaging only eight touches per game. That’s just shade above his 7.7 average over his last three years in Cleveland when “Free Duke” cries echoed across the fantasy landscape. Johnson scored his first TD of the season Sunday, scoring on an 11-yard reception, but simply isn’t seeing enough opportunities despite playing 47.7 percent of Houston’s offensive snaps to be used as anything more than a bye-week flex option in most standard-sized leagues.
  • Now that Darnold is back at the helm, it’s once again time to seriously reconsider the Jets’ fantasy pass-catching options, and topping that list – particularly in PPR leagues – is Jamison Crowder. In Darnold’s two games this season, Crowder has led the team in targets and receptions each time out, totaling a combined 26 and 20, respectively, for 197 yards and no TDs. Overall, Crowder leads N.Y. with 40 targets on the season and his 26.8-percent team target share ranks ninth in the league, according to airyards.com.
  • It’s past time to give up the fantasy ghost on the Bucs’ Howard after another sub-par effort (two catches for 35 scoreless yards on four targets Sunday in London). Howard is tied for 24th among league tight ends with 18 targets and ranks 30th at the position with 30.6 total points – just a shade more than Henry totaled on Sunday night alone for the Chargers. With 55 targets apiece on the season, wideouts Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are commanding a whopping 51.6 percent of the team’s targets and fellow tight end Cameron Brate (12-119-2 on 14 targets) also is involved in new coach Bruce Arians’ A touchdown here or there would greatly bolster Howard’s bottom line, but he was due some TD regression after 18.3 percent (11 of 60) of his receptions over his first two pro seasons resulted in scores.

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