29 Writers Vote for the 2017 Target Leaders – Avoid
We asked the RotoViz staff to rank their top-five picks to lead the NFL in targets for 2017. Since leading the league in targets requires elite talent and favorable circumstances, the results aren’t particularly shocking, nor should they be. But we did have plenty of dissent at the top and a few dark horses definitely crept in.
In this edition, we’ll examine the high-profile guys our writers think you should avoid this season.
Which WRs Are Receiving Too Much Hype?
When we asked our writers to name the WRs who are receiving too much target hype, the resulting list include a passel of big names and even a few trendy sleepers. Quincy Enunwa, Pierre Garcon, Amari Cooper, Alshon Jeffery, and Emmanuel Sanders all made the list, while individual writers were even skeptical of Julio Jones and Antonio Brown. Each of those players received a single vote, but seven WRs found themselves in the sights of multiple rankers.
No One Has More True Disbelievers Than Jarvis Landry
Already derided for his low yards per reception numbers, Landry’s dip in late season targets provides the detractors with a double-barreled argument.
- “He barely finished inside the top 20 in targets per game last season. With an expected jump in production for DeVante Parker, I’m fading Landry in most formats.” – David Holmes
- “Used as the safety option for Ryan Tannehill with his high-percentage routes, Landry has the ninth-most targets since his rookie year in 2014. However, I expect the Dolphins to heavily rely on Jay Ajayi for these plays in 2017, which will lower Landry’s target and reception ceiling.” – Michael Dubner
Odell Beckham Welcomes the Newcomers
Beckham was the easy No. 2 finisher in our target poll, but he still received multiple votes as the player to fade. This helps to illustrate why Sterling Shepard’s value has cratered after an encouraging rookie season. The targets have to come from somewhere.
- “Beckham may see less than expected. The Giants added Brandon Marshall and spent an early pick on Evan Engram. Both are talents that should eat into his total. If Marshall does indeed have another top-24 season left in the tank, volume will have to go in his direction.” – Scott Smith
Jordy Nelson Returns to Earth
In his first six NFL seasons, Nelson broke 100 targets only once, a 127-target season in 2013. Instead of regressing, Nelson exploded, sandwiching two 150-target seasons around an ACL injury in 2015. Those heady days may be over.
- “A healthy secondary and running back group will let Rodgers go back to his efficient but low-volume ways with one of the deepest receiving groups he’s had in years.” – Devin McIntyre
Maybe Everybody Will Get Hurt Again?
None of our 29 rankers placed Golden Tate inside the top five, but several writers took issue with our staff projection of 134 targets, a total that would make him the best value in Round 4. This is only two targets below his three-year, 16-game average and wildly optimistic when you consider how much he’s benefited from teammate injuries to reach those numbers.
- “Over the last two seasons, Tate has seen 2.5 fewer targets per game with Theo Riddick on the field and three less when Eric Ebron plays. There is some overlap there, but clearly Tate’s usage spikes greatly when his teammates are unable to play. Someone may get hurt this year, but it becomes much more difficult to bank on Tate’s volume when we know he needs an injury to reach his expectation.” – Anthony Amico
Allen Robinson Finds Himself in the Darkest Timeline
What happens when you combine an ascending defense with a top RB prospect, a flailing QB, and increased target competition? Robinson received three votes with Justin Simon and Shawn Roche both referring to Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, and the running game.
Ben Gretch Buoys a Raft of Anti-Thomas Voters
The pro-Michael Thomas/anti-Brandin Cooks argument has always been difficult. Either Cooks is a star who will force his way into the target leadership in New England, or he’s a complementary player whose departing targets should be easily swallowed by Ted Ginn and an improved RB group led by Alvin Kamara.
- “Fantasy owners may be drafting Thomas on assumptions of a large target volume, but the Saints have never heavily targeted their No. 1 receiver. Last year Thomas benefited from Cooks being the focal point of opposing defenses and a disappointing season from Coby Fleener. Also, the Saints traded up in the draft to select Kamara who is expected to have a decent-sized role as their pass-catching RB.” – Mark Schoennagel
- “He’ll still get his, but I expect Willie Snead, Ginn, and Brandon Coleman to capture most of the targets Cooks left behind.” – Brian Malone
Look Out Below – 2016’s Target Leader in for a Rude Awakening
Seven different WRs received a first-place vote as the likely 2017 target leader, but the 2016 leader wasn’t among them. Mike Evans’ 171 targets wouldn’t have led in any other season this decade, and last year’s winning number is also well below the three-year, 16-game pace for Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. So there are reasons to be skeptical even before offseason changes are considered. Of course, Tampa Bay did overhaul their offense, a rehab job that landed Evans atop the Avoid list.
- “While I wouldn’t necessarily fade him, I expect Evans to see a large drop in targets. The Buccaneers added DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin, and Jeremy McNichols, all of whom are capable pass catchers that will take targets.” – Kyle Pollock
- “Hardly a fade alert, but Mike Evans–2016’s most targeted receiver–is outside my top five (I have him at 6th in targets).” – Blair Andrews