News & Analysis

Week 3 fantasy options most helped and hurt by the blitz

By Scott Spratt
Sep 20, 2017

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CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17: Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Trevor Siemian made me and no doubt many fantasy analysts look bad when he dismantled the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. And now, through two weeks, Siemian leads all quarterbacks with 7 total touchdowns and 49 standard fantasy points. Emmanuel Sanders overcame his difficult matchup to produce 62 yards and 2 scores, but it’s important to note that Sanders did follow his typical blitz tendencies. He saw 4 of the Broncos 11 total targets against blitzes, which was also half of his total of 8 targets. There are going to be times when receivers see a number of blitz targets against a team like Dallas that rarely blitzes, and vice versa. Still, the research I did over the offseason shows that that some players provide security blankets for their quarterbacks against blitz-heavy teams while other players see fewer targets, and the start-sit decisions made based on those tendencies should pay off more often than not in the long run. Let’s examine the players to target and avoid this week.

Players to target

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

The first two weeks have been unkind to investors in the Seahawks passing game. Russell Wilson has thrown for only 356 yards and one score, in large part due to the team’s continued problems in pass protection. Fantasy owners can take some solace in the fact that Seattle has overcome that shortcoming before. But even if they don’t, I expect better things for Baldwin starting this week.

Last season, Jermaine Kearse led the Seahawks with 40.7 percent of his targets coming on blitzes. Baldwin was second at 37.5 percent, and now that Kearse is in New York, Baldwin looks like Wilson’s preferred security blanket. He has more blitz targets this season (7) than Tyler Lockett (3) and Paul Richardson (3) combined even though all three of them have either 11 or 12 total targets. He hasn’t scored on a blitz yet, but Baldwin led the NFL with 12 touchdowns on blitzes over the last two seasons, two more than anyone else. The Seahawks’ opponent this week, the Titans, have blitzed over 40 percent of pass plays the first two weeks while Seattle’s first two opponents, the Packers and 49ers, have blitzed 30 percent of pass plays or fewer. Expect Baldwin to see some extra targets this week and likely score.

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