Target Regression Candidates: Wide Receivers (2018 Fantasy Football)
The make or break part of most drafts is after the first four rounds (or after you’ve spent half your auction dollars on three players). While it’s great to imagine picking up that deep sleeper, your key decisions often come in this part of the draft and often involve wide receivers. Targets are a key metric in making your draft day decisions and we’ll look at four receivers who may see a reduction this year.
Larry Fitzgerald (WR – ARI)
Fitz is 34 years old and will be dealing with a new coach and quarterback this year. Bruce Arians did not mask his admiration for Fitzgerald and tended to lean on his veterans, especially in his final year as the Cardinals’ head coach. If Larry was in his eighth year, I would expect to see a new coaching staff lean just as heavily on their only proven wide receiver, but a new regime will most likely want to see what they have in youngsters Christian Kirk, Ricky Seals-Jones, and Chad Williams. I’m not predicting a large drop-off, but don’t expect Fitzgerald to be third in the league this year in targets per game (10.1/game).
Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE)
Landry was tied with Fitzgerald for the most targets per game last year and is also working with a new coaching staff and quarterback this season. Again, I’m not predicting a large reduction this year, but I generally factor in a slight decrease when there’s a learning curve involved. I also think Cleveland will run the ball extensively this year. They have three talented backs, a strong interior offensive line and two giant question marks at offensive tackle. Factor in that Tyrod Taylor has averaged only 28 passing attempts per game the last four years, and I predict a volume decrease that will limit Landry somewhat. You also have possible target monsters in Josh Gordon and David Njoku (not to mention Duke Johnson) that Landry didn’t have to contend with in Miami.
Rishard Matthews (WR – TEN)
Matthews has been a solid free agent addition for the Titans, providing veteran leadership at the position and a consistent target for their young franchise quarterback, Marcus Mariota. Mariota looked Matthew’s way an average of 6.2 times per game last year. He’s been the main wide receiver in Tennessee the last couple of years, so name recognition and recency bias might propel him a bit higher than he should be in drafts. I am predicting a breakout campaign for young stud Corey Davis (5.9 targets per game last year) and expect him to steal at least two targets per game. The new coaching staff will most likely want to see what they have in youngsters Taywan Taylor and Jonnu Smith, and Delanie Walker should remain a key cog in the offense. That’s all without mentioning the addition of receiving back Dion Lewis. At 28, Matthews is still a very solid wide receiver, but he will most likely begin the transition to a complementary role this year.
Brandin Cooks (WR – LAR)
I fully admit that Cooks could blow up in L.A., but I’m including him on this list due to the Ram’s penchant for spreading the ball around. Last year in New England, Cooks averaged 7.1 targets per game. The Ram’s top wide receivers all averaged less: Robert Woods (6.5); Cooper Kupp (5.9): Sammy Watkins (4.4). Todd Gurley (5.8) is also a key factor in the passing attack and Sean McVay may decide to start using his tight ends this year just to further torment defensive coordinators.
Sheldon Curtis is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Sheldon, check out his archive.