[sc name=”Author Chris Moore”]
Fantasy football is about two things: opportunity and talent. As you may know, targets are the lifeblood of fantasy value for receivers and many running backs in PPR leagues.
In this week’s edition of Target Acquired, we’re going to take a look at some of the noteworthy players with the biggest and/or most unexpectedly high target totals from Week 7.
There were quite a few players with noteworthy and unexpected performances, organized by position below. Here are target risers and potential breakout candidates for Week 8 of the 2017 NFL season.
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Rising Target Grabbers
Amari Cooper (WR, OAK) – 19 targets
I’m not going to tell you anything you didn’t know about what happened on Thursday night. Amari Cooper had failed to eclipse 10 yards receiving in four straight weeks only to absolutely annihilate the leaky Kansas City pass defense for 11 catches, 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Week 7. The Raiders were clearly making a concerted effort to get Cooper going, and he didn’t disappoint in a key division win. Though he had faced a particularly difficult stretch of matchups and had been without Derek Carr for much of it, it was clear enough to the layperson that Amari Cooper‘s problems were primarily psychological as he dropped many easy balls and committed unforced mental errors on a week-to-week basis before this slump-busting performance. With a confidence booster like this, I’m buying a near-full and near-immediate recovery of fantasy value.
Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR) – 10 targets
Kupp had slumped right along with the rest of the Rams offense in catching just five passes for just 89 total yards combined in Weeks 5 and 6, including dropping a potential game-winning TD against Seattle that would have made him the hero of the afternoon. Week 7’s win over Arizona saw Kupp draw double-digit targets for the first time this season, catching four of them for 51 yards and scoring his third TD in the team’s first seven games. With the Rams scoring a league high 30.3 points per game, there should be plenty more opportunities for Cooper Kupp to fill up the stat sheet going forward.
Kenny Stills (WR, MIA) – 9 targets
For as inconsistent as Kenny Stills was in 2016, posting nine games with two or fewer catches, he still finished as the WR28 overall in standard formats, buoyed by his penchant for the big play. By contrast, DeVante Parker exceeded Stills’s reception total catching 56 balls to Stills’s 42, but only managed a WR50 overall end of season stat line. DeVante Parker got all the hype coming into 2017, but he’s currently on the shelf with an ankle injury and is currently questionable to face the Ravens on Thursday night. It’s not exactly a plum matchup for either player, but Stills is coming off of a game in which he caught a pair of TDs from Thursday’s starter at QB, Matt Moore, in a game in which he caught 6 of 9 targets for 85 yards. Stills had another score called back because of penalty so he’s clearly getting ample targets from Moore in scoring territory. It’s not a great matchup for Week 8, but Stills has now caught 10 TDs in his last 15 games and has become a must add player in all formats.
Chris Moore (WR, BAL) – 8 targets
I admit that I’m writing up Chris Moore in part because we share a name, but there is reason to take interest even apart from that happy coincidence. With Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin both banged up and uncertain to face the Dolphins on Thursday night, Moore might have another opportunity to be essentially the number 1 option at WR for Joe Flacco. Moore scored his first career receiving TD in Week 7, and although he caught just two balls for 36 yards to go with the score, he has compiled 15 targets over his last two weeks. I don’t know if you can truly call it a post-hype breakout, but Moore did draw rave reviews in rookie camps in 2016 after being selected in the fourth round. If there’s going to be a youth movement at WR in Baltimore, Chris Moore has as good a chance as anybody in that WR corps of playing his way into flex consideration. For now though, he’s just a name to know.
Javorius Allen (RB, BAL) – 11 targets
In what was once again a very inefficient day for Allen, he nonetheless proved his PPR mettle by registering a season high in targets (11) and catches (8). Although he only managed a paltry 29 yards receiving to go with 20 yards rushing, the only concern from Allen is that he eventually loses opportunities in the passing game, which isn’t likely to happen until the return of Danny Woodhead, a player around whose recovery the silence has been deafening. For as long as he’s catching balls, and he’s racked up 31 in his last six games, I’m going to continue to fire him up confidently in PPR formats.
Evan Engram (TE, NYG) – 12 targets
Arguably the lone bright spot in what has been a devastatingly disappointing season for the New York Giants is the fact that a star is born in Evan Engram. Engram is thriving at a position where rookies almost never succeed, and he’s doing so during a particularly down year for tight ends. Engram’s six catches for 60 yards and a TD performance in Week 7 could have been an even bigger game if he hadn’t stepped out of bounds negating another very long TD catch. If you’ve managed to snag Engram in your league, you’ve got a set and forget, year-long solution, apart from the fact that he has a bye on tap for Week 8.
Jordan Reed (TE, WAS) – 10 targets
It took the patience of a saint to hold out for as long as Reed owners did this season without seeing any results to speak of, but those who trusted him on Monday night football were handsomely rewarded with eight catches for 64 yards and two TDs. The only thing that saved Reed from being universally benched is probably the fact that the TE position has been such a wasteland to this point. Reed finally reminded us in 2017 that he’s one of the most physically gifted players at the position and he has a QB that is capable of feeding him in the red zone. Perhaps this is a sign that he’s mostly over the toe and rib injuries that slowed him down through the season’s first six weeks.
Potential Week 8 Breakouts
TJ Jones (WR, DET)
Going deeper with my first sleeper choice for Week 8, TJ Jones is the one-for-one Golden Tate replacement in the slot for the Detroit Lions. It’s a tough matchup, but Jones recorded 9 targets when Tate went out in Week 5 and is poised to be the inside receiver for Matthew Stafford in what is admittedly a tough matchup against the Steelers secondary. Jones should be a dirt cheap option in DFS that could pay serious dividends if he continues to see this level of usage.
Bennie Fowler (WR, DEN)
Fowler was a popular sleeper pick in Week 7 and delivered a ho-hum performance at San Diego with five catches for 45 yards, but now is not the time to let his mediocre line in last week’s game deter you from a better opportunity in Week 8. Kansas City’s defense has surrendered nine TDs to the WR position in its last three games, including 210 yards and 2 TDs to Amari Cooper, 155 yards and a TD to Antonio Brown, 52 yards and 3 TDs to DeAndre Hopkins, and 57 yards and 2 TDs to Will Fuller. If you have a WR with a matchup against Kansas City, you play him until further notice. With Emmanuel Sanders still looking iffy at best, Fowler should once again see an expanded role.
Jalen Richard (RB, OAK)
With Marshawn Lynch suspended for one week, this is an opportunity to see how the tandem of Richard and DeAndre Washington would fare with an expanded workload. While Buffalo’s defense is stout against the RB position, they have surrendered 4.8 catches and 42 receiving yards per game to opposing backfields, so I give Richard the slight edge over Washington, although the latter is a sleeper in his own right. With six teams on a bye, both backs should crack the top 30 at the position this week, and Richard has RB2 upside.
JD McKissic (RB, SEA)
I’m going to follow up last week’s bonus stash with a second straight contrarian bet on the Seattle backfield. CJ Prosise‘s return lasted all of two snaps before he experienced a setback with his injured ankle before recording a touch. I’m still of the belief that Thomas Rawls‘s wrecking-ball running style, though fun to watch, makes him a poor bet to hold up for anything close to a full season. Meanwhile Eddie Lacy‘s lumbering running style is ideally suited for a stout offensive line that can get him to the second level before contact at least on occasion, and this is something that Seattle simply does not have. I still believe that the best chance for a legitimate breakout in this backfield comes from one of the younger more versatile backs, and with CJ Prosise seemingly unable to stay on the field, that opportunity transfers to McKissic. It’s a deep league play, but he already has a secure passing downs role for as long as Prosise remains out and he has been the most efficient Seahawk running back since Chris Carson‘s injury.