Welcome back to the Week 8 installment of the high-value touch report. I examine the rushing and receiving data in the red zone, goal-to-go, and third/fourth down situations. After injuries headlined the past couple of weeks, an explosion of fantasy scoring, especially with several high-end players, garnered attention this week.
With more and more data each week, there are more trends and outliers. Sometimes, we find certain players over or underperforming for various reasons with potential buys and sells based on the high-value touches. It’s the challenging question of whether we move an overperforming player in hopes of cashing in on another player based on the underlying metrics. Let’s dive into the Week 8 high-value touch report while highlighting season-long leaders in each category.
Week 8 Red Zone Rushing
In Week 8, Panthers RB D’Onta Foreman made his mark after another massive week with 118 rushing yards in two straight games. Through the early slate of games, Foreman joined Tony Pollard, Alvin Kamara and A.J. Brown as the players who scored three times. Foreman led all players with nine red zone rushing attempts through Sunday night, with 41 yards rushing and three scores. We’ll probably find his name in the high-value touches category of goal-to-goal situations too.
Before Week 8, the Falcons allowed the sixth-fewest yards rushing and a league-worst 306.8 yards passing per game. Foreman has been a tough runner, evidenced by his 3.28 yards after contact per attempt (No. 18) on the season. Until Chuba Hubbard returns, keep relying on Foreman based on him having the 11th-highest rushing share at 65.1% in Weeks 7 and 8.
Jaguars RB Travis Etienne finished second in Week 8 with six red zone rushing attempts, followed by Titans RB Derrick Henry (5) and 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey (4). Thankfully, they all scored a rushing touchdown. Though, we have little worries about those backs. Henry put up a historic day with 219 rushing yards on 32 attempts and two scores against the Texans. In Week 8, Henry averaged 5.94 yards after contact per attempt (No. 3) with 3.85 on the season (No. 8).
According to TruMedia, since 2016, when Henry joined the league, he amassed six games with 200 rushing yards. Jay Ajayi (3) and Dalvin Cook (2) remain the only two backs with more than one game. Furthermore, we’ve only witnessed this occurrence 10 total times versus Henry’s six.
High-Value Touches: Season-Long Red Zone Rushing
Thank goodness, Lions RB D’Andre Swift returned in Week 8, but we only continue to see Jamaal Williams be a problem. Williams had three red zone rushing attempts in Week 8 with two touchdowns. He’s tied for fifth with 19 season-long red zone carries and seven rushing scores. In Week 8, Swift had zero red zone attempts and only has two throughout 2022.
I’m banking on the high-value touches shifting in Swift’s favor, so Swift’s receiving role is like Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler. Attempt to acquire Swift in a trade if possible. During the past two seasons, Swift averages 8.3 receiving expected points per game (No. 4) tied with Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette. Buy the dip.
Chicago Bears RB Khalil Herbert might be the most intriguing among the players inside the top 12 in red zone carries. In Week 8, Chicago ran 71 plays with 43 rush attempts (60.6%). Herbert had 37.2% of the team’s rushing attempts and slightly edged David Montgomery at 34.9%. Meanwhile, Herbert bested Montgomery in yards before contact (2.5 to 0.93) and YAC (3.7 to 2.6). Herbert went from high-end backup to a weekly contributor with the potential to steal away Montgomery’s job.
Etienne and Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker also have 18 carries in the red zone as their stock continues to rise with a heavier workload and high-value touches. After that, Eagles RB Miles Sanders is tied with Falcons RB Tyler Allgeier with 17 red-zone rushing attempts. Sanders remained efficient with one 11-yard red zone carry for a touchdown on Sunday, which added to his five scores on the season. Allgeier hasn’t been as efficient. He has just one score, which is similar to new Jets RB James Robinson. Although Allgeier’s value is likely higher than Robinson’s right now, both backs could land in the end zone if they continue receiving a decent chunk of volume.
Week 8 Red Zone Receiving
Steelers WR Diontae Johnson led Week 8 through Sunday night with four red zone targets. He hauled in two receptions for 10 receiving yards on those four targets. The Buccaneers filled the Week 8 high-value opportunities with WR Mike Evans, Julio Jones and TE Cade Otton tied with three. Jones played a minimal role but scored a receiving touchdown on Thursday night.
Chris Godwin garnered two red zone targets in Week 8 and continued creeping up the season-long leaderboard. Godwin and Evans remain the focus on the Buccaneers’ passing game, with Fournette and RB Rachaad White being the other relevant options.
Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers tied for second with three red zone opportunities in Week 8 and had one receiving touchdown. Before Week 8, Meyers averaged a 23% target share (No. 25), 14.8 points per reception per game (No. 18) and 3.5 fantasy points over expected per game (No. 5). After one of the most inefficient seasons in 2021, with -1.2 FPOE/G (No. 227), regression shifted in Meyers’ favor.
Meyers had an 0.97 receiver air yards conversion rate (RACR) that ranked 33rd heading into Week 8. Last season, Meyers ranked 65th with a 0.71 RACR. We shouldn’t expect a spike in high-value opportunities in the red zone for Meyers since all three for the season came in Week 8. However, Meyers remains a buy-high receiver, especially if the efficiency maintains.
High-Value Opportunities: Season-Long Red Zone Receiving
Amongst the season-long red zone-receiving opportunity leaders, Zach Ertz (Cardinals), Allen Robinson (Rams), Josh Reynolds (Lions) and Christian Kirk (Jaguars) highlight the ones to watch. The rest of the red zone target leaders include elite options at their respective positions. The Cardinals tied for the most plays per 60 minutes (70), and Ertz will be viable in an offense with a ton of volume. Reynolds isn’t as relevant outside of deep leagues.
Robinson’s stock has gradually risen after an ice-cold start. Rams QB Matthew Stafford targeted Robinson (12) and Cooper Kupp (10) times in the red zone, so it’s a positive trend for Robinson. Before Week 8, Robinson only had one WR2 performance and two double-digit PPR performances. Meanwhile, in his other four games, Robinson averaged 3.4 PPR/G, yikes.
Stafford’s efficiency has dipped from 8.2 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) in 2021 to 5.9 in 2022. We’ll often find some of the top fantasy quarterbacks ranking highly in AY/A. The one reason to hold hope for Robinson involves the high-value opportunities, and he’s the Rams’ second-best receiving option. Monitor Kupp’s ankle issue from Week 8, though it sounds minor. If Kupp is out, it’s a blow to the Rams’ offense.
High-Value Touches: Goal-To-Go Rushing
Jamaal freaking Williams leads the NFL with 15 high-value touches in goal-to-go situations. His six rushing touchdowns in these situations also led the league with a touchdown on every 2.5 rushing attempts. It seems unlikely for Williams to keep up this touchdown rate, but the Lions kept giving him high-value touches even with Swift returning in Week 8. For Swift’s sake as a buy candidate, we hope Williams doesn’t continue eating up touchdown opportunities.
Bengals RB Joe Mixon has 14 high-value touches with only one rushing touchdown before Monday. Heading into Week 8, the Browns allowed the ninth-most rushing yards per game and ranked last in defensive rush EPA/G, according to TruMedia.
The Bengals played from behind the entire game, and Mixon rushed eight times for 27 rushing yards. Unsurprisingly, Mixon had zero high-value touches in goal-to-go situations. Mixon led the Bengals with nine targets and seven receptions, though he only had a measly 32 yards receiving. The entire Bengals offense seemed out of whack without WR Ja’Marr Chase (hip).
High-Value Opportunities: Goal-To-Go Receiving
Robinson earned two high-value opportunities in goal-to-go situations in Week 8. That vaulted him into a two-way tie for first with Chiefs TE Travis Kelce. Throughout the season, Robinson only caught three receptions for 12 receiving yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, Kelce has been uber-efficient with eight receptions on nine targets for six touchdowns.
Although Robinson qualifies as a disappointment through eight games, he made a few contested catches during the past few weeks. Add in the high-value touches via goal-to-go receptions, and he should be valued as a touchdown-dependent WR3 with little upside.
Jets WR Garrett Wilson had some early season excitement with seven goal-to-go targets through two weeks, but he hasn’t received any high-value opportunities in these situations since Week 2. He still ranks fourth on the season tied with Ertz, and we want Joe Flacco back at quarterback.
Wilson came alive in Week 8 with 115 receiving yards (sixth-most) and 9.5 yards after the catch per reception (No. 10). For context, Wilson totaled 160 receiving yards from Weeks 3-7, just brutal. Don’t sell high on Wilson, but buy the talent as potentially their top pass-catching option.
Third & Fourth Down Receiving Opportunities
Speaking of the Jets, TE Tyler Conklin received six targets on third and fourth down in Week 8 to lead the league. Jets QB Zach Wilson leaned on Conklin, who caught four of the six targets for 42 yards receiving and two scores. Overall, Conklin had one of his most productive games with a team-leading 10 targets, six receptions, and 79 yards receiving with two scores.
Conklin went from must-start tight end with the eighth-most fantasy points in PPR leagues from Weeks 1-4 to TE40 in Weeks 5-7. Last week, I noted a scenario where the offense becomes more pass-heavy with Breece Hall injured.
From Weeks 4-7 with Zach Wilson at quarterback and Hall healthy, the Jets ranked 26th in pass rate and seventh in rush rate. It could be signal or noise, but the Jets played from behind in the second half against the Patriots and attempted a pass on 70.7% of their plays. Keep an eye on the Jets’ offense, especially Conklin and Garrett Wilson’s usage without Hall.
Initially, Browns WR Amari Cooper having the most targets on third and fourth down might surprise us. However, the Browns have a concentrated target tree with Cooper garnering a 26.6% target share (No. 16) and a 36% air yards share (No. 10) before Monday night.
Browns QB Jacoby Brissett looks toward Cooper’s way for these high-value opportunities. Attempt to acquire Cooper, who has struggled with efficiency this season with -0.6 FPOE/G (No. 128). We mentioned Meyers earlier, but he feels like a cheaper version of Cooper with less of a proven track record. Meyers had five targets on third and fourth down in Week 8, with the Patriots quarterbacks leaning on Meyers and their running backs.
I’ll reiterate buy-low options in Steelers WR Johnson and Texans WR Brandin Cooks, which I noted in last week’s high-value touch report. However, there’s probably a point where Johnson and Cooks could continue underperforming given their respective passing offense.
Based on play volume, we might prefer Johnson since the Steelers average 70 plays per 60 minutes from Weeks 4-7 (No. 3) versus the Texans at 60 (No. 28). We used Weeks 4-7 because that’s when the Steelers turned to rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. It’s more a matter of adjusting expectations with Johnson as a WR2 and Cooks as a WR3 with less upside than expected.
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