Advice

Wide Receiver Targets: Analyzing the Top 30

Did you know that 10 wide receivers had double digit targets in Week 1?

Fantasy football owners are looking for statistical certainty week in and week out. Many will use this information to make lineup decisions, determine which players to prioritize when making waiver wire decisions, or to identify potential trade targets. I will share a secret with you. Targets per game, receptions per game, and yards per game are some of the most predictable statistics for WRs.

The introduction to this in-season series laid down the foundation and provided readers a line of sight our projected WR target leaders in 2017. Last week we examined WRs you could target by examining our Sim Scores. This week we will analyze the target numbers for Sunday’s slate of games.

THE ELITE 26

Jacob Rickrode has written about the same WRs finishing in the top 24:

Nearly 63 percent of the 192 WR1 seasons since 2000 are on this grid. Twenty-six is a relatively small number of WRs when you consider around 150 WRs will register at least one catch every single year. Short and simple, these 26 have dominated the position.

Rickrode Elite 26

What was a key ingredient of the success that these WRs had? Not all of them played with elite quarterbacks, but there is a strong correlation of top WR1 seasons and a high number of targets per game.

Targets Week 1

Rickrode also highlighted other WRs that could join this list with one more top-12 finish.

rickrode almost elite

I have also included the number of targets per game for these WRs.

targets 2 Week 1It is easy to get intoxicated by certain WRs after monster performances or disenchanted with others after they fail to meet your expectations. Have you ever made a lineup decision you have regretted? You can reduce this bias by focusing on the targets per game of a WR and snaps played.

THE TOP-30 MOST TARGETED WRS IN WEEK 1

RankPlayerPosWeekTeamOppTargetsTarget ShareRecReYdsSnapsSnap %
1DeAndre HopkinsWR1HOUJAX160.4475579100
2Amari CooperWR1OAKTEN130.415626192
3Randall CobbWR1GBSEA130.319856377
4Larry FitzgeraldWR1ARIDET130.276747499
5Golden TateWR1DETARI120.29101076389
6Antonio BrownWR1PITCLE110.31111825185
7Terrelle PryorWR1WASPHI110.286665384
8Pierre GarconWR1SFCAR100.296815088
9AJ GreenWR1CINBAL100.325745590
10Corey DavisWR1TENOAK100.246694266

DeAndre Hopkins, Amari Cooper, and Randall Cobbs target volume pleasantly surprised fantasy owners. Hopkins can be viewed as a WR2 on volume alone but is gifted enough to transcend poor quarterback play. Cooper is an elite WR1 in the Oakland Raiders high octane offense. Cobb is healthy and opened the season strong against the Seattle Seahawks stout pass defense. He will be competing for targets week in and week out against Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Martellus Bennett.

Antonio Brown continued his streak of 100-yard receiving games against the Cleveland Browns. Larry Fitzgerald continues to soak up targets but must overcome quarterback Carson Palmer’s declining play. Golden Tate thrived in a tough matchup and continues to be criminally underrated. Pierre Garcon will be a target magnet this season and is a league-winning WR you want to own. A.J. Green remains an elite WR1 even if Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton self-destructs. Terrelle Pryor and Corey Davis had solid target shares in their respective debuts.

RankPlayerPosWeekTeamOppTargetsTarget ShareRecReYdsSnapsSnap %
11Rishard MatthewsWR1TENOAK90.225715281
12Jermaine KearseWR1NYJBUF90.237595595
13Mohamed SanuWR1ATLCHI90.36474881
14Dez BryantWR1DALNYG90.232436791
15John BrownWR1ARIDET90.194326384
16Tyreek HillWR1KCNE80.2371335073
17Nelson AgholorWR1PHIWAS80.216864262
18Jordy NelsonWR1GBSEA80.197797693
19Sterling ShepardWR1NYGDAL80.2174456100
20Robby AndersonWR1NYJBUF80.214225798
21Eric DeckerWR1TENOAK80.23106094
  • Davis was the most efficient Titans WR and led the team in targets and catches. Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker had a similar number of targets. This has the makings of a situation that will fluctuate from week to week.
  • Jermaine Kearse found himself in the role of the Jets No. 1 WR. He played nearly all of the offensive snaps and ran a high percentage of his routes lined up in the slot. Robby Anderson saw a high number of targets but was ineffective.
  • Mohamed Sanu benefited from the Chicago Bears defense focusing on Julio Jones. He is only usable in deeper formats.
  • Dez Bryant had a high number of targets and the challenge of a difficult matchup against New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He will go head to head against the Denver Broncos elite secondary in Week 2. Bryant is an excellent buy-low candidate right now.
  • The high target number and number of snaps are great for John Brown, but quarterback Carson Palmer’s declining play is not.
  • Jordy Nelson continues to be productive, but entering his age-32 season I put together a compelling case this past summer on how Davante Adams could surpass him in 2017.
  • Tyreek Hill delivered the goods in his first game as the Chiefs No. 1 WR. Head coach Andy Reid is deploying him as a versatile chess piece on the football field, making him a weekly WR2 with WR1 upside. We saw a taste of that as the Chiefs dismantled the New England Patriots.
  • Nelson Agholor was very productive and tied for the team lead in targets despite playing limited snaps. He could develop into a weekly WR3.
  • Sterling Shepard’s targets were a result of Odell Beckham missing the game due to injuries. The Giants offense was very predictable last season due to Ben McAdoo rarely deviating from a three-WR set. The Giants additions of Rhett Ellison this offseason in free agency and drafting Evan Engram with the 23rd overall pick suggest the team will run more two-TE sets this season.
RankPlayerPosWeekTeamOppTargetsTarget ShareRecReYdsSnapsSnap %
22Kenny GolladayWR1DETARI70.174694462
23Danny AmendolaWR1NEKC70.1961003240
24Brandin CooksWR1NEKC70.193886783
25Michael CrabtreeWR1OAKTEN70.226834873
26Terrance WilliamsWR1DALNYG70.186683851
27Paul RichardsonWR1SEAGB70.264594184
28Alshon JefferyWR1PHIWAS70.183386088
29Davante AdamsWR1GBSEA70.173476782
30TY HiltonWR1INDLAR70.333574488
  • Kenny Golladay’s performance could earn him some additional targets.
  • Danny Amendola was having a very nice game before suffering a concussion. It remains to be seen if he can be cleared through the NFL’s concussion protocol, but I am intrigued to see how the Patriots will continue to use him in the absence of Julian Edelman. Brandin Cooks did not have the explosive performance fantasy owners expected. He has a great opportunity to course correct in Week 2 against his old team.
  • Michael Crabtree was not targeted in the red zone while Cooper had four. It is something to observe moving forward. Crabtree remains on the WR2 radar.
  • Terrance Williams should sustain an increased target load as Bryant continues to battle elite cornerbacks over the next few weeks.
  • Paul Richardson is the Seahawks No. 2 WR at this point in time. It remains to be seen what impact Tyler Lockett will have. Richardson is someone to target in deeper formats.
  • Alshon Jeffery went to battle against Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. He was targeted often enough but was not effective. Jeffery can be viewed as a WR2 this week as the Eagles take on the Chiefs.
  • T.Y. Hilton led all Colts WRs in targets, but you and I both now that in order for him to be truly successful Andrew Luck must be under center. There is always opportunity in chaos and this presents a buy-low opportunity for those fantasy owners’ whose rosters can support the volatility.

CONCLUSION

Here are some WRs whose target value I would elevate, consider stable, or demote heading into Week 2.

Elevate

  • DeAndre Hopkins
  • Tyreek Hill
  • Kenny Golladay
  • Randall Cobb
  • Corey Coleman
  • Kendall Wright
  • Golden Tate
  • Amari Cooper
  • Danny Amendola
  • Allen Hurns
  • Marqise Lee

Stable

  • Julio Jones
  • Dez Bryant
  • Davante Adams
  • Alshon Jeffery
  • Pierre Garcon

Demote

  • Kenny Britt
  • Brandon Marshall
  • T.Y. Hilton
  • Jamison Crowder
  • Eric Decker
  • Torrey Smith
  • Donte Moncrief
  • Tavon Austin

WHAT COMES NEXT?

This column will be published every Tuesday in-season to help you make decisions for the upcoming week. The foundation of my analysis will be built on targets but could also include other supporting metrics. Next week we will continue to highlight the Week 2 target numbers, but also begin to build analyze the aggregate targets per game, receptions per games, and receiving yards per game.

I am very active on Twitter (@EricNMoody). I also encourage you to put specific questions in the comments to each week’s article. Those comments automatically go to our Message Boards. I will respond to as many questions as I can, and other writers (not to mention our community of well-informed readers) will jump in as well. I also encourage you to make use of our Apps. Our in season apps will help you identify teams with great upcoming schedules, as well as insight into player-specific match ups. What was most useful to you after reading this column?

 

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Author Details
Eric Moody is a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association) and writer at RotoViz since 2015. He also occasionally contributes articles at Gridiron Experts, TwoQBs, and FantasyPros. Eric has a lifelong passion for the game and played at the collegiate level as an offensive lineman. He also participated in Dan Hatman’s Scouting Academy in order to learn the process of player evaluation at an NFL level by using game film. When Eric provides fantasy football advice he prefers to “play the piano with both hands” using game film, analytics, and statistics to help you understand his perspective. He enjoys Netflix, listening to music, playing bass guitar, drinking coffee, and spending time with his family. Eric lives in Dallas, Texas and is always happy to answer questions via Twitter @EricNMoody.

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