The more I analyze Andrew Luck and Donnie Avery working together for the Indianapolis Colts, the more and more I find myself increasing Avery's value. Week 2 of this combination was no exception. Luck targeted Avery 10 times in a game that the Colts were surprisingly in control of for a great portion of the game (even if they blew a 14-point lead with 5:07 to play). Avery's performance in this game will ensure that his ownership rate of less than 4 percent will grow significantly. With his next game at home versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, I expect that number to fly up into the mid-70s to 80s.
If you don't know a lot about Avery, know this: He's a speed receiver who clocked the 40-yard dash in less than 4.3 seconds at the 2008 NFL draft combine. Based on his developing chemistry with Luck, he is now a must-start when playing on the fast track that exists indoors at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Most Targets, Week 2
Receiving yardage is the most variable form of yardage, which makes sense because so much of it is dependent on where the quarterback elects to throw the ball. Because of this, variations in the number of times a player is targeted by his quarterback can greatly change a player's value. So while your receiver may have scored just 10 fantasy points this weekend, you need to know if it's reasonable to expect that he can repeat that type of performance on a routine basis. If he had one target that he turned into a 40-yard touchdown, you need to realize that he was one quarterback decision away from posting a goose egg. Conversely, if your wideout had 12 targets and finished with 108 yards receiving, his prospects for consistent fantasy production are significantly greater.
Here is a list of all the players who received seven or more targets in Week 2, their average number of targets per game, and how many of those targets were on plays that began in the red zone. Below the list, you'll find some of the top storylines from the opening week of play.
Note: Targets are not an official NFL statistic. Based on the methodology that stat services use, the number of targets listed may be different than target values listed elsewhere. ESPN Stats and Information's philosophy is to count a target when the analyst thinks the pass was actually intended for the player. Therefore if a quarterback is obviously throwing a ball away, the analyst will not record a target for that pass. This gives a truer representation of what a target is, a pass thrown to a particular player with the intent for that player to catch the ball, and therefore should be more helpful to the fantasy community.
Danny Amendola's ownership percentage grew to 56.8 percent, up from 9 percent after Week 1. That number is going to be very close to 100 percent before this week begins. As mentioned last week, Amendola should be added. He is the clear No. 1 option for the St. Louis Rams and is more than worthy of a roster spot.
Dennis Pitta and Martellus Bennett are further proof that the tight end position is extremely deep this year. While both will be sought-after commodities this week on the waiver wire, my recommendation is to place a higher premium on Bennett based on the greater level of usage he has seen in the red zone.
Hidden in the large number of Week 2 targets that New England Patriots WR Wes Welker received is the fact that Julian Edelman played instead of Welker in New England's two-receiver sets. The most likely reason for this is that Edelman is a superior blocker and the Patriots have shown a strong commitment to establishing the run so far this season. The loss of Aaron Hernandez means that the Patriots will be forced into more three-receiver sets. That being said, when recent signee Kellen Winslow learns enough of the playbook, a return to more two-receiver formations is possible, which could be very bad news for Welker owners.
Jason Witten's 10 targets in Week 2 after essentially being a decoy in Week 1 are a very encouraging sign for those who invested an early pick in Witten. Look for Witten to reclaim a spot in the second tier of fantasy tight ends in very short order.
Remember last week when Kevin Ogletree was all the rage? Sometimes it's funny how values change after just one week. With just one target in Week 2, Ogletree obviously isn't worthy of being started weekly. With that in mind, those of you in deeper leagues should definitely be looking to stash Ogletree on your bench as his upside is top-20 receiver if either Miles Austin or Dez Bryant is lost to injury for any significant period of time.
Big plays and up close
The following players had three or more rushes that gained 10 or more yards each in Week 2: Frank Gore (5), Reggie Bush (4), Robert Griffin III (4), Pierre Thomas (4), Jackie Battle (3), Andre Brown (3), Steven Jackson (3), Maurice Jones-Drew (3), Willis McGahee (3), Stevan Ridley (3) and C.J. Spiller (3).
Meanwhile, there were 12 players with at least two carries inside their opponent's 5-yard line: Jackie Battle (5), Willis McGahee (4), Cam Newton (3), DeAngelo Williams (3), Michael Turner (3), Steven Jackson (3), Andre Brown (2), Arian Foster (2), Ben Tate (2), Mark Ingram (2), Marshawn Lynch (2) and Michael Vick (2). Of this group, only Jackson failed to break the goal line on at least one of these carries.
It appears that David Wilson literally fumbled away his first opportunity to be a star in the NFL. After his Week 1 fumble, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin elected to give carries to Andre Brown following Ahmad Bradshaw's Week 2 injury. Brown seized on the opportunity by averaging 5.5 yards per carry and scoring on one of his two carries inside the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 5-yard line.
While it looked like Curtis Brinkley was the handcuff to Ryan Mathews, Jackie Battle's performance on Sunday clearly made the situation a little less clear. Battle was obviously the more productive back against the Tennessee Titans, as he amassed 69 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns among his five carries inside the 5.
I've had a couple of requests to quantify how valuable C.J. Spiller is for as long as Fred Jackson is out. After much deliberation, I'd place his value higher than that of a healthy Matt Forte. Spiller's elusiveness is similar to what we saw out of Chris Johnson a couple of years ago, and Spiller has legitimate potential to break a long play every time he touches the ball.
Until next week, thanks for reading.