Fantasy Football: Checking in on the Elite Wide Receivers

Just going over some numbers right now and I thought I would share.  

Wide receivers are critical in fantasy, and have closed the gap in importance between themselves and running backs, especially in this current version of NFL offense that sees a lot less number one backs and a lot more passing.

There are a handful of elite wide receivers and I just want to take a moment to check in on a few of them:

Calvin Johnson

Targets: 93

Target high: 19 in Week 10

Target low: 6 in Week 5

Numbers: 54 catches, 885 yards, 11 TDs

Interestingly, Megatron had 19 targets last week, but his worst fantasy production of the season.  That "worst" was 7 catches for 81 yards, but he did lose a fumble.  Calvin is still the best in the game and he averages 10.3 targets per game.  He has two touchdowns in his last four games after catching nine in his first four.  The Lions schedule lines up nicely down the stretch for Calvin, even in their tough matchups against Green Bay and New Orleans should be shootouts.

Greg Jennings

Targets: 71

Target High: 10, three times

Target Low: 5, twice

Numbers: 51 catches, 755 yards, 7 touchdowns

Jennings has twice failed to reach 10 fantasy points in non-PPR formats, but he's been consistent, and saved himself with a touchdown on 3 catches for 32 yards on Monday night this past week.  Jennings isn't in the class of Megatron, but nobody is, and the Packers have more options than just Jennings.  The Packers have games against the Raiders and Chiefs during the fantasy playoffs, but a tough game against Chicago in week 16.

Wes Welker

Targets: 101

Target High: 20

Target Low: 8

Numbers: 72 catches, 1,006 yards, 6 touchdowns

Welker has slowed down in recent weeks, as has the explosiveness of the Patriots passing offense.  Not to say that it's still not very explosive, but he's losing touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.  Welker exploded in the first five games with some phenomenal numbers but he has failed to score in his last three games and totaled "only" 21 catches and 221 yards.  

Welker has been targeted 44 times in the last five games compared to 57 times in the first four games.  The Patriots draw some VERY soft matchups for the rest of the year: KC, Philly, Indy, Washington, Denver, and Miami.  Welker could bounce back to posting some big numbers in the fantasy playoffs.

Steve Smith

Targets: 81

Target High: 13 in week two

Target Low: 7, three times

Numbers: 51 catches for 951 yards, 4 touchdowns

Smith was the comeback story of the year to kick the season off with three of his first four games going for 156 or more yards and he was targeted 40 times.  However he hasn't been targeted more than nine times in the last five games and he has three times posted less than 10 fantasy points this season, including 5 catches for 33 yards last week.  

If Cam Newton goes through rookie struggles to end the year, Smith will suffer too.  The Steve Smith we see today may not be the Smith we saw to start the year, but that was unlike any Steve Smith we've ever seen.  The Panthers play five of their final seven games on the road and a difficult game against the Texans in week two of the fantasy playoffs.  

Larry Fitzgerald

Targets: 83

Target Low: 5 in week eight

Target High: 13 in week ten

Numbers: 45 catches, 792 yards, 5 touchdowns

A lot of people concerned about the production of Fitz this year, but now that John Skelton is the quarterback, things could be looking up.  Larry had a season-high 13 targets with Skelton last week, topping his season high the previous week with Skelton at 12.  He has totaled 11 catches for 189 yards and three scores of the last two games.  Larry hit a low between weeks 5 and 7 when he produced only 11 catches without a TD, but I think he's going to be just fine.

The Cardinals face a couple of tough defenses in the fantasy playoffs: the Bengals and the Browns (Joe Haden is really good) so Fitz will be tested, but he's the second-most talented WR in the NFL perhaps.

 

This is a quick update.  I am not ignoring other top-end wide receivers, this is just where I am ending the update today.  If you have any questions, you can hit me up on twitter @casetines

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