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Wide Receiver Usage Report : Week 9

I have returned once again in order to review the most targeted wide receivers from Week 9 of the NFL season. I hope to be able to offer you the tale behind the tape for the players who had the most opportunities to make plays last week, and see how well they’ve been using these changes recently.

I’m looking at WRs who saw at least ten targets in their teams’ Week 9 game, giving some context to the story behind their numbers, whilst using some of our RotoViz apps to highlight some emerging trends. With that, let’s push on.

Week 9 Double Digit Target Leader

PlayerTargetsReceptionsTarget Share %PPR PointsWeekly Rank
Michael Thomas151242%39.1WR1
DeAndre Hopkins121052%26.5WR3
Maurice Harris121027%22.4WR7
Antonio Brown11523%15.2WR15
Julian Edelman10629%17.4WR12
Julio Jones10727%25.1WR4
Josh Gordon10529%24WR5
Keenan Allen10638%21.2WR8
Mike Evans10124%2.6WR84
Corey Davis10634%12WR26

After a quiet few weeks, Michael Thomas returned to the fantasy superstar table on Sunday against the Rams. He finished as the WR1 for the second time in 2018, finishing with a franchise record 211 receiving yards. It marked Thomas’ second game with at least 180 yards of the season. Thomas hadn’t seen double-digit targets in a game since Week 3, and his touchdown on Sunday was only his second since Week 2. But he has caught an astonishing 88.6 percent of his targets and remains a player that you dare not ignore moving forward.

Some may have jokingly thought that DeAndre Hopkins would hoover up all of the targets for the Texans in the aftermath of the Will Fuller injury (some like me, for instance). As it happened, Hopkins was restricted to “only” 12 targets. It was his sixth game with double-digit targets of the season, but his first in his last four games. Hopkins has finished outside of the top 24 WRs only twice in the  2018 season, but none of those instances have occurred since Week 3. While Demaryius Thomas may see some looks after his trade from the Broncos (Thomas went 3/3/61 on Sunday), Hopkins will remain the undisputed alpha in this passing game, and as a result, a player that you must never even consider sitting. He is matchup proof.

Maurice Harris entered Week 9 of the season with 11 receptions from 17 targets for 102 yards for the year. He then posted what were easily career highs in targets, receptions, and yards against the Falcons. Harris’ 12 targets are the most by a Washington receiver all season. He has seen his snap share rise steadily over the last few games. But the Washington passing attack is so inconsistent, it is hard to put too much trust in Harris becoming a weekly fantasy option. Although with Paul Richardson landing on IR, Harris could be in line for a more consistent workload.

Sunday was not a huge day by his standards, with Antonio Brown converting his 11 targets into five catches, 42 yards, and a touchdown. His score was his ninth of the season and marked his sixth consecutive game with a trip to the end zone. The yardage was the lowest recorded by Brown this season, while his WR14 finish marked the fourth week of nine in which he has finished as a WR2 or lower. He is still commanding a large number of targets, of course, and his red-zone usage (and touchdowns) mean that he remains one of the first names on any team sheet. But he needs a huge finish if he’s going to be considered a league winner at the WR position.

The absence of Rob Gronkowski continues to be a boost to the fantasy production of Julian Edelman, who had his second straight game with double-digit targets. Edelman has 15 receptions for 175 yards in this span and has finished as the WR12 in both game weeks. Edelman has historically upped his game whenever Gronkowski has been absent, as the image below can attest to.

edelman

Julio Jones has scored a touchdown in the National Football League. Huzzah! Truth be told, the lack of scores were merely an annoyance, and Jones had been a consistent fantasy performer in the last few weeks based on volume alone. He’s seen double-digit targets and posted at least seven receptions in four of the last five games, finishing outside of the top 15 only once in that span. Now that he’s got the touchdown out of the way, maybe the Falcons would like to start using him in the red zone again. He hasn’t been targeted inside the 20-yard line since Week 1. His red-zone usage is up there with some really notable WRs this season:

julio rz

 

Week 9 saw Josh Gordon finish as a weekly WR1 for the first time as a member of the Patriots. His performance was buoyed by his first double-digit target outing of the season and only his second score for the team (third overall). Gordon saw two red zone targets against the Packers, the most he has received in a single game all year. Gordon is seeing plenty of playing time, playing at least 82.2 percent of the Patriots snaps in the last four games. But it’s difficult to see him becoming the main weapon in this Patriots offense even if Rob Gronkowski continues to miss time. The production of Edelman and James White are capping a lot of others in this offense.

brady aya

Keenan Allen made his long-awaited return to the ranks of the WR1 in Week 9, thanks in no small part to just his second double-digit target game since then. After a season-high eight receptions in Week 5, Allen dropped back to four against the Browns the next week. But he’s had five and six in his last two, both times playing in more than 95 percent of the offensive snaps. Allen saw one red-zone target against the Seahawks, his first in the last four games. Allen has been quiet so far in 2018, but he has actually been more productive through nine weeks this season than he was in 2017. We all know how well he finished last year, don’t we?

keenan

 

Mike Evans played on 98.4 percent of the Buccaneers snaps on Sunday, running 39 routes. Both of these marks were his second highest of the season. He saw ten targets, the third game in a row in which he saw double-digit looks. He caught one pass. Evans joins an exclusive club of WRs to reel in one or fewer passes in games in which they commanded ten or more targets since the dawn of the 21st Century.

Player Date Tm   Opp Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Ctch% Y/Tgt
Demaryius Thomas 29/11/2015 DEN NWE 13 1 36 36 0 7.70% 2.77
Brandon Marshall 17/12/2016 NYJ MIA 11 1 16 16 0 9.10% 1.45
Damian Williams 20/11/2011 TEN @ ATL 11 1 16 16 0 9.10% 1.45
Jacoby Jones 09/10/2011 HOU OAK 11 1 9 9 0 9.10% 0.82
Travis Taylor 28/11/2004 BAL @ NWE 11 1 4 4 0 9.10% 0.36
Larry Fitzgerald 09/12/2012 ARI @ SEA 11 1 2 2 0 9.10% 0.18
Greg Jennings 21/12/2006 GNB MIN 11 1 2 2 0 9.10% 0.18
Greg Jennings 19/11/2006 GNB NWE 10 1 26 26 0 10.00% 2.6
Mike Evans 04/11/2018 TAM @ CAR 10 1 16 16 0 10.00% 1.6
Albert Connell 05/11/2000 WAS @ ARI 10 1 11 11 0 10.00% 1.1
Bryan Gilmore 04/12/2005 MIA BUF 10 1 6 6 0 10.00% 0.6
Chris Chambers 17/12/2006 MIA @ BUF 10 0 0 0 0.00% 0

Evans had been beginning to return to his early season form, with WR17 and WR3 finishes in his last two games. As evinced by his target share, he is still going to command a lot of targets, with hopefully some in the red zone. Ryan Fitzpatrick declined to target Evans in the scoring area on Sunday. I’m prepared to write this one off as a very bad day at the office for Evans.

Corey Davis continues to command a large chunk of the targets in the Titans passing game, with his ten looks on Monday Night being his third double-digit target game of 2018. He also continues to do very little of consequence with these targets. Davis has exceeded 62 yards in a game just once all season and has a single touchdown in 2018. Outside of his WR4 performance in Week 4, Davis has a single week in which he put in a top-36 showing. The opportunities are there, but at a certain point you have to wonder whether Davis really is the fifth-overall talent the Titans thought they were getting.

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