1) Christian Watson
Prior to Week 10, Watson had an average depth of target of just 6.6 yards. On Sunday, the Packers ripped the training wheels off and shoved the promising rookie down the steepest of hills, and the result was a speeding Watson who was the clear difference maker in Green Bay’s victory.
With his breakout performance, Watson became the first Packers rookie receiver with two or more touchdowns in a game since the late 1980s.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 13, 2022
He looked absolutely unlocked against the Cowboys, and his performance is hopefully a sign of things to come as its the kind of outside production the Packers offense has been sorely missing.
A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones gashed the Cowboys constantly inside for back-breaking runs, and the outside passing game was undoubtedly opened up a little as a result of their effectiveness
If the Packers’ inside running game and outside passing game can maintain this symbiotic relationship, we will see an unrecognizable Packers team finish out the back half of the season.
Watson’s eight targets on Sunday were twice as much as any other Packer, and it appears he’s finally earned Rodgers’ trust in clutch moments. Despite two early drops, Rogers kept looking Watson’s way even in the most pivotal of moments in the key victory against the Cowboys.
Considering Watson is still currently averaging less than two catches per game, only an 11% target share, and far less than a 50% snap share, the risk that this game was an outlier never to be repeated in a Green Bay offense that’s been horrendous the entire is significant.
After all, Watson did have over twice as many yards and targets as he’d had in any single game while scoring over three times as many fantasy points as he had in any game.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 14, 2022
Although, the upside that this was Christian Watson’s coming out party as the top receiver and deep threat for the Packers offense is too tantalizing to pass up, especially since he had a whopping 40% target share against the Cowboys in Week 10.
Watson finally displayed the athleticism and explosiveness he was drafted for, and the dividends were lucrative for the entire offense.
If Watson maintains anything close to a 40% target share, he’ll be unstoppable and a rock-solid lineup lock; however, the risk that he and the Packers return to the offensive ineptitude they’ve known the entire year is too high for me to confidently slot him into any lineups just yet.
If you are thin at receiver and need to start Watson, he’s not the worst lottery ticket considering the Titans have given up the fourth-most points to fantasy wide receivers heading into Week 11.
2) Darius Slayton
Darius Slayton makes the list again since he’s still the Giants’ top receiver based on yards, targets, and catches and is still available in over 95% of ESPN leagues. Moreover, he’s outperformed the highly-touted Robinson who is the only other Giants pass-catcher stealing significant touches in the passing game.
Slayton is a playmaker and clearly the top outside threat for the Giants overall. His ability to stretch the field and dance around defenders after the catch is an element the Giants have been missing severely, so I expect him to continue to get his looks as the New York staff knows he’s a crucial part of the Giants offensive success.
Slayton also has underrated and consistent hands, and he couples his after-the-catch skills with an ability to jump up and snatch 50/50 balls heaved to him when given the chance.
Check out this incredible touchdown from last week that would have been a simple four-yard gain if Slayton was a lesser talent:
TO THE HOUSE! ?
?: CBS pic.twitter.com/Eo7VfdVM37
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 13, 2022
In four of the past five weeks, Slayton has scored double-digit fantasy points, had at least 50 or more receiving yards, had a target share of 19% or higher, and had at least three receptions each week.
Over his impressive five-week run, Slayton’s per game averages are:
- 20% target share
- 5.2 targets
- 63 receiving yards
- 12 fantasy points
- 50% or higher snap share
Slayton has maintained a significant 23% target share (per RotoBaller) throughout 2022, so he actually poses the least risk on paper of anyone on this list.
Furthermore, Slayton’s snap share has been over 50% for five weeks in a row, and against the Seahawks the prior week he had played a season-high 74% of snaps while posting his highest target share (24%) since Week 5 when he notched 26%.
Over the past two weeks, he’s maintained at least a 19% target share.
Slayton is also tied for fourth (per ESPN) among all qualified receivers (at least four catches) in yards per catch with a staggering 17.2.
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 14, 2022
Finally, Slayton is tied for 11th in catches for 20+ yards and faces an atrocious Lions defense next week.
In case you weren’t aware, the Lions have allowed the most yards and points per game of any team in the NFL.
There is of course the possibility that Saquon Barkley runs all over this hapless defense and limits passing opportunities for all New York receivers as the Giants are an unquestionably conservative team, but he’s had more recent consistency than Christian Watson and alike.
3) Juwan Johnson
In addition to scoring four touchdowns over his past four games, Juwan Johnson has passed the 30-yard mark in four of his past five games and is still available in over 90% of ESPN leagues.
No longer a joke of a dart throw, Johnson has used his excellent hands, hulking size, and route-running savvy to carve out a useful role in the Saints offense. Today, it is Juwan Johnson, not Chris Olave nor Alvin Kamara who leads New Orleans in touchdown catches.
Based on reports, a quarterback change could be on the horizon in New Orleans, but the Saints’ leading touchdown catcher should remain a top red zone threat and security blanket for whoever takes snaps this weekend due to his soft hands and imposing stature.
Over the past five weeks, Johnson is averaging:
- 4.8 targets per game
- 14% target share
- 35 yards per game
- 11.9 fantasy points per game
Juwan Johnson’s numbers are not eye-popping by any means, but for all you Ertz and Goedert owners out there and other TE-needy teams, he’s better than the sorted lot of degenerates comprising the rest of the available tight ends in most leagues considering his PRK is just two slots away from cracking the top-10 TEs of 2022.
Johnson has maintained a 20% target share on the season (per RotoBaller) to go along with an average of 4.3 targets per game, and the lowest snap percentage he’s ever had in a game this season is 48%.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) November 13, 2022
The past five weeks in a row, Johnson has played over 66% of snaps.
That is about as much consistency and volume as you could ask for in terms of available TEs.
Johnson led all Saints pass catchers against the Steelers in receptions and yards, and he also scored the team’s lone touchdown. He’s been looked to early and often in the red zone this year and those targets have paid dividends on the scoreboard.
In three of his last four weeks, Johnson has: scored at least one TD, had 12 or more fantasy points, had over 30 receiving yards, played on at least 70% of snaps, and seen at least four targets.
Among 2022 tight ends, Johnson ranks:
- Tied for 3rd in TDs
- 16th in receptions
- 17th in yards
- 14th in targets
- 11th in total fantasy points / PRK (more than Kyle Pitts, George Kittle, Dawson Knox, Dalton Shults, and Hayden Hurst)
I completely understand the critics who dismiss Johnson as a purely TD-dependent dice roll, but his recent consistency and production is about as good as it gets considering the other top options available are likely Dawson Knox, Hayden Hurst, or other similar tight ends with fewer fantasy points.