2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 10

by Cale Clinton
2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 10

Welcome back to the Week 10 edition of Targets & Touches for the 2021 Fantasy Football season.

We're officially through the ten-week mark of the season. It almost feels like the home stretch of the NFL season at this point, with our fantasy football sights firmly set on playoffs at this point. We've been diligently trying to find any market inefficiency in our weekly waiver wires, trying to find an edge that will make the difference between a deep playoff run and utter humiliation.

If you're in a competitive league, most of your fantasy comrades have done the same as well. At this point, the big scorers in fantasy have already been claimed or fall into a "been-there-done-that" zone that makes you skeptical of whether they should be given a second chance. In terms of fresh names, all we're left with are the options only cut out for the real fantasy sickos out there. New England Patriots running backs? New Orleans Saints receivers? Fret not, my dear team manager, as I will be walking you through whether it's worth one of your roster slots to pick up these players we would normally handle with tongs and a hazmat suit.

As always, let's state our sources up top. All metrics on run/pass frequency, yards/game or attempt, or attempts per game come from Team Rankings. All snap counts and target shares come from Fantasy Data. Any Fantasy rankings, ownership percentages, or target numbers come from FantasyPros in a Half-PPR scoring format. All references to EPA/play can be found on Ben Baldwin's Box Score plug-in on RBSDM. Anything else in the article will be directly linked to.

2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 10

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Running Backs

Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots (53.2%)

No team has collectively represented a bigger market inefficiency in fantasy football than the New England Patriots. I suppose you could simply chalk it up to the fact that absolutely nobody knew what to make of this team coming into 2021. Patriots skill position players--especially at the running back position--have long been headaches for fantasy owners to try and navigate. But the numbers are starting to get undeniable: Patriots players are viable in fantasy this year. Hunter Henry has been TE4 in Fantasy Pros Half-PPR leagues dating back to Week 4. Kendrick Bourne has been WR11 from Week 6 onward. The newest Patriots fantasy darling is rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson.

In the absence of Damien Harris in Week 10, Stevenson balled out with a 20-carry, 100-yard, 2-touchdown performance. That propelled him to the second-best fantasy performance by a running back that week. For the first time since preseason, Patriots fans got a glimpse of the back who shined in preseason with 93-yard touchdown runs and barreling touchdown runs.

As someone who grew up a die-hard New England fan, I'd like to reiterate what I led this section off with: Patriots running backs are a nightmare to manage. In Week 7, I gave Brandon Bolden a section in Targets & Touches, and since then he's been RB40. I'll stick my hand up and admit when a bad call is a bad call, but that doesn't dismiss the fact that Stevenson's Week 10 performance takes up a massive portion of his season totals in yardage. Stevenson has just 55 rushing attempts for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year. With a longest run of 18 yards, the explosion hasn't exactly been there, either.

When Harris is in the lineup, Stevenson usually sits in the snap share threshold of 25-33%. Harris is the lead back on this team when healthy, consistently seeing north of 45% snap share in games. Buying high on Stevenson should mostly be for short-term gain, not long-term sustained success.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE

With Damien Harris back in the fold, Harris still out-snapped Stevenson on the afternoon. However, it wasn't as bad as one would think. ESPN's Bill Barnwell reported late in the game that Harris had out-snapped Stevenson to the tune of 20-17. In-game, however, Stevenson out-carried Harris 12 to 10 and out-gained Harris 69 to 56. Harris and Stevenson each saw one target and notched one reception apiece. New England backfields are notoriously tricky, and I can't advocate for Rhamondre Stevenson as an RB1. However, it does seem as though there may be a split-carry situation going forward. If that is the case, Stevenson has the more explosive ability and is more effective in goalline situations due to his size.

Wide Receivers

Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints (2.5%)

Like I said in the introduction to this piece, we're in the dog days of waiver wire season. If we're looking for some advantages to universally capitalize on, we're going to have to go to some weird places. No weirder place to go in the passing game than down to the bayou, where the New Orleans Saints are currently rocking Trevor Siemian at quarterback and have a receiving corps chocked full of players the average person on the street couldn't identify.

Enter Tre'Quan Smith. The 2018 draft pick out of UCF didn't see a single target this season until Week 7, but he's shot onto the scene with authority. Over the last three weeks, his 12.7% target share is tied for fourth on the team. With that additional target share, Smith has racked up 11 receptions on 17 targets for 141 yards and two touchdowns through four games. The Saints are volatile, but Siemian has played above expectation. With his rock-bottom ownership stake across all leagues, there may be reason to take a flier out on him.

Elijah Moore, New York Jets (47.1%)

Coming into this season, I was sky-high on Elijah Moore as a pass-catcher. I believe I equated him to rookie season Deebo Samuel with San Francisco. Considering how this season has panned out, I think I owe an apology to Mr. Samuel for those comments.

Moore hasn't lived up to my expectations, per se, but he has picked up his performance in recent weeks. In the three-week absence of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, Moore has racked up 16 receptions on 20 targets for 195 yards and three touchdown catches. What concerns me, however, is that in the absence of WR1 Corey Davis, Moore's target share has only crept up from 13.0% on the season to 13.6% over the last three games. Jets running back Michael Carter, along with veteran wideout Jamison Crowder, have both seen a greater share of targets in Davis' absence.

With Davis now back in the fold, coupled with the proven success of Carter and Crowder, I'd try to capitalize on Moore's trade value as best you can. Especially when considering that Joe Flacco is now going to be throwing the ball, this may be time to sell high.

Tight Ends

Geoff Swaim, Tennessee Titans (0.8%)

The AFC is currently wide-open, and to make matters worse, the current top-seeded team is in shambles. Derrick Henry is done for the foreseeable future, Julio Jones is sidelined with injury, and A.J. Brown has hit a bit of a slump. Enter Geoff Swaim.

Over the last three games, Swaim has finished second on the team in target share with 16.5%. That is obviously dwarfed by Brown's 30.6%, but Swaim's target share alone has been enough to net him TE7 in Half PPR leagues. Over the last three weeks, Swaim has generated 12 receptions on 14 targets for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns. There's precedent to believe this production will continue as well.

Anthony Firkser, the other Tennessee tight end, has been a non-factor this year. Tennessee's offense often functions better with a tight end as well. Jonnu Smith was able to produce enough in 2020 to net him a massive contract with the Patriots during the offseason, and offensive coordinator Todd Downing is currently running the same offense Arthur Smith ran at that time.


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