Another week of the NFL season is in the books and what an interesting week it was. We saw the first of the London games and saw some surprising offensive performances, San Francisco producing 12 red zone passing attempts and Oakland not mustering any offense against Washington. But just as in previous weeks, here are the top performers inside the 20.
Jordy Nelson - The lack of a pass defense in Cincinnati allowed for 13 red zone passes from Aaron Rodgers, five of which saw their way to Nelson. The five targets were the most of the week, with three of them inside the five. He caught all five targets and scored two touchdowns. Jordy led the league with 29 targets last year so it’s not a shock to see him put up numbers like these.
Larry Fitzgerald - Fitz had a big week overall with 13 grabs and a touchdown, but three of those catches came inside the 20 on four targets. The four targets against Dallas, doubled his season total and now puts him atop the league in total red zone targets. The score came from inside the 20 on a spectacular catch. In 2016, Fitzgerald finished with 20 targets, good for eighth in the league, so more weeks should happen like Week 3.
Sammy Watkins - Watkins had his first big week as a member of the Rams this week and saw three targets come his way from Jared Goff’s nine overall attempts. Of those three targets, he caught two of them, both going for scores in the Thursday night explosion against San Francisco. As the chemistry grows between he and Goff, he should see a lot of targets coming his way.
Marcedes Lewis - Lewis is an oft forgotten part of the Jacksonville passing attack, but in Week 3 he showed up big time. He saw his first targets of the year, three, and caught two of them for two scores. The three thrown his way was a third of the red zone attempts both Jags’ QBs had. Lewis even outpaced his teammate Allen Hurns, who himself had two targets with two catches and a score on Sunday in London. Lewis is very hit-and-miss which makes it tough to play him week in and week out.
Albert Wilson - Wilson saw his first action inside the 20 since the first week of the season as Alex Smith threw two balls his way against the Chargers. He caught both passes, one of which went for a touchdown giving him a 100% red zone catch rate on the season and the three overall targets he’s gotten tie him with Travis Kelce for most on the team and 27.3% of total targets.
Odell Beckham - OBJ has had a slow start the season but showed his true colors on Sunday against Philly. The three targets Eli Manning threw his way were the first of the season for Beckham and he didn’t waste them. Three catches and two TDs made fantasy owners feel a lot better about their top wideout now that he’s over his ankle injury. A matchup with the Bucs, who give up 329.5 P YDS/G, comes on Sunday for Beckham and company.
Ones to Watch
Sterling Shepard - The second Giants receiver to make the list this week is Shepard. His four targets against Philly tripled his previous season total and outpaced his teammate mentioned above. The issue for Shepard is that he only caught one of the passes and didn’t score. Shepard is currently tied for third in the league with six total targets but he’s only caught two of them for a 33.3% catch rate. If that holds, Manning will start looking elsewhere to move the ball inside the 20.
Michael Thomas - Thomas scored for the first time this season on Sunday on one of his two catches in the red zone. His two targets doubled his previous season total and showed that along with Coby Fleener, he is Drew Brees’ preferred target inside the 20. Thomas is coming off a stellar rookie campaign and should keep improving each week, including this upcoming one against the fifth-worst pass defense in the league in Miami.
Charles Clay - Clay had another TD this past week on two targets, with two catches, and bringing his target total to five, most on the Bills. Leading the Bills in red zone targets isn’t new for Clay, as he had 13 last season, the most by five. With him being a favorite of Tyrod Taylor this early however, it shows that he should have an even better season in 2017 and draws a beatable Falcons defense in Week 4.
Todd Gurley - I said last week that there would be a running back on the list from time-to-time, and this week is no different. Gurley had two targets this week against San Fran to bring his total to three on the season. The two targets this week were both caught, keeping his 100% catch rate intact, and one went for a score. Even with 2016 being a bad year for the Rams offense, he still finished second on the team with nine red zone looks and is now tied with Cooper Kupp for the most this year. He should continue to be a check down target of Jared Goff’s the rest of the season.