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Targeted Opportunities

Targeted Opportunities – Week 5

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Fantasy Football - Robert Tonyan

Welcome to our latest column to use analytics to provide you the NERDY edge you need to dominate your league!

One of the ways that I look for waiver wire pickups is to study target data. A receiver that is getting steady looks from his quarterback will eventually deliver some fantasy production. Factor in receptions that go for first downs (indicates trust in the receiver), “chunk plays” (pass plays that go for 20+ yards), and reception percentage (good hands), and you’re looking at a solid set of metrics. Here’s a few players that caught my eye this week…

Jerick McKinnon, RB San Francisco 49ers

You might not remember, but Jerick McKinnon was a major free agent signing for the 49ers in 2018. Unfortunately, he was injured during the preseason, and it’s taken him two years to make it back onto the field. Injuries to other runners in the 49ers’ backfield has given McKinnon the opportunity to see if he has anything left in the tank– and so far he has showed some flashes of the player he was with the Vikings. While his carries per game are sure to decrease as soon as lead back Raheem Mostert makes his way back from injury, I’m fairly confident McKinnon will be the main back on passing downs. It’s always a crapshoot trying to predict who will get a significant piece of the Niners’ backfield action (there’s also Tevin Coleman to consider once he returns), but for now McKinnon has collected 12 targets for 10 receptions in the last two games.

Darius Slayton, WR New York Giants

Let’s face it, the Giants are a horrible offensive team. They weren’t all that good with RB Saquon Barkley on the field, and they’re even worse with him gone for the season. WR Sterling Shepard is out, TE Evan Engram is underperforming… it’s not a good scene at the Meadowlands. But there’s always a silver lining, even in New Jersey. Sophomore WR Darius Slayton is averaging just over 7 targets a game, for a total of 15 receptions– a pedestrian 51.7% catch rate. Slayton does have 236 yards on his 15 grabs (15.7 ypc) to go with two TDs, which you might interpret as a receiver with some big play ability (five chunk plays). I do think that Slayton will improve his catch rate as the season drags on, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for anything other than a streaming flex player.

Robert Tonyan, TE Green Bay Packers

Tonyan will be a hot pick following his three-TD game on Monday Night Football. And he should be! Tonyan has been getting more and more of QB Aaron Rodgers’ trust; his targets have progressed steadily 0–>3–>5–>6. Additionally, his catch rate is a strong 93% (13-14) with a gaudy 13.3 yards per game, and his TD% is a sparkling 35.7%. There’s a risk about target share once WR Davante Adams returns from injury, but if he’s available in your league, go ahead and grab Tonyan. He’s certainly a worthwhile pick up as a TE2, with really strong upside to a TE1 very soon.

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Nerd John is a 25+year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. John’s Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on nine occasions.

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