Target Analysis: AFC (2019 Fantasy Football)

by Shane Manila | @DFF_Shane | Featured Writer
Jun 29, 2019

Every offseason brings change. Changes in coaching staffs, or changes in team personnel. How these changes will affect fantasy production is sometimes hard to discern. One way to determine future impact is by reviewing the targets from the previous season (or seasons) to give us an idea of how things should play out in the future.

All target totals are from Pro Football Reference, and all splits data was created using FFStatistics.

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Baltimore Ravens

Notable Departures

Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Javorius Allen

2018 Total Targets 539
Vacated Targets 296
Available Target % 54.9%

Who remains

Willie Snead, Chris Moore, Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Hayden Hurst, Kenneth Dixon, Gus Edwards, and De’Lance Turner

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Mark IngramMarquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Justice Hill, and Jaylen Smith

Fantasy Take

Baltimore presents an interesting dichotomy. While they ranked 17th with 34.4 pass attempts per game last year that number is skewed by the games Joe Flacco started for the Ravens. In the seven games that Lamar Jackson started, he only attempted 23 passes a game with a bit over 13 completions per game. With such a run-heavy offense (second-most attempts in 2018) you may be surprised to find out that the Ravens have an abundance of targets available. There are 296 targets, roughly 54.9% of possible targets, to distribute from last season to the remaining and new additions to the Ravens’ roster.

Counting on the Ravens continuing their run first, second, and third ways of last year is a mistake, based on the players they’ve added this offseason. They added speedster Marquise Brown, the first wide receiver selected in the 2019 NFL Draft at 25th overall, and also added the 6’4″, 228-pound Miles Boykin in the third round after he lit up the combine helping him shoot up the draft board. In the fourth round running back Justice Hill, who totaled 44 receptions in his final 23 games at Oklahoma State, was selected to pair with free agent addition Mark Ingram, who’s averaged 2.15 receptions per game in his eight-year career.

Of returning players, only Willie Snead exceeded a 10% target share last season, with an 18% share, and he was Jackson’s favorite target with 24% of the targets with Jackson starting. Mark Andrews collected 9% of targets with Flacco and 11% with Jackson starting. The Ravens will likely allow Jackson to attempt more passes as they finished in the top 11 in pass attempts per game from 2015-2017, finishing first in 2015 and 2016. The 2018 season was an outlier in the target share per position as well. From 2015-2018 wide receivers never exceeded a 54% target share, but saw 59% of targets last season, while the running back target share plummeted to 17% last season after averaging a 25% target share the prior three season. The 24% tight end positional share last season was slightly above the previous three-year average of 23%.

Concerns over how many targets Marquise Brown will see due to his similarity to the departed John Brown may be overblown. Brown saw his overall target share increase with Jackson from 17% to 18% even though his raw targets decreased as the number of pass attempts dropped. Marquise is a more complete receiver than John and has the first-round draft pedigree. There’s no reason to think he can’t usurp Willie Snead and capture a 24% target share as the lead wide receiver in Baltimore. Miles Boykin is a wild card with minimal college production but absurd physical ability. Marking him down for the second wide receiver target share of 17% seems reasonable based on talent and draft capital.

Tight end Mark Andrews’ 11% target share with Lamar Jackson is a decent starting point considering he was a rookie. With Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst still on the roster, Andrews could be capped at around a 15% share. Andrews is an explosive player as his 16.2 yards per reception indicates and could still be a low-end TE1 even with that modest bump in targets. The addition of capable pass-catching Mark Ingram and the well above average pass-catching Justice Hill points to running backs approaching the 25% positional target share that was the norm before 2018. Look for Hill to capture about 12% with Ingram around 9% and the remaining targets divvied up between Kenneth Dixon and the remaining RBs on the roster.

Expect the remaining 19% of the targets to be shared between Willie Snead, Chris Moore, Jaylen Smith and those types of players with Snead taking the lion’s share of that total.

Buffalo Bills

Notable Departures

Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay, Andre Holmes, and Chris Ivory

2018 Total Targets 480
Vacated Targets 177
Available Target % 37%

 

Who remains

Robert Foster, Zay Jones, LeSean McCoy, and Jason Croom

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

John Brown, T.J. Yeldon, Cole Beasley, Frank Gore, Tyler Kroft, Dawson Knox, and Devin Singletary

Fantasy Take

Robert Foster was a man reborn starting in Week 10. During the first four weeks of the season, he was targeted on 6.9% of pass attempts. Inactive until Week 10, he then captured an 18.9% target share in the final seven weeks of the season. Zay Jones was on pace for a DeAndre Hopkins-esque 27.9% target share the first nine games of the season but saw that plummet to 16.8% once Josh Allen discovered Foster. While no tight end, in particular, was hyper-targeted, the position itself was targeted on 18.5% of pass attempts. The running backs were led by LeSean McCoy’s 9.6% target share, and the position saw 17.6% of team targets. No one else still on the roster saw more than 6.5% of targets and aren’t worthy of discussion.

Robert Foster took over as the lead wide receiver in the second half of the 2018 season. Does that outweigh Zay Jones dominating the targets the first half of the season? The additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley only serve to confuse the wide receiver situation further. Jones ran a little over of 45% of his routes out of the slot last year, which is where Beasley ran almost 90% of his routes. Foster’s production was fueled by what would have been a league-leading 20 yards per reception if he had enough targets to qualify. John Brown did rank ninth with his 16.6 yards per reception. While Foster/Brown and Jones/Beasley aren’t carbon copies of each other, there’s enough redundancy in their games to make it hard to invest in any of them heavily. Wide receivers saw just over 60% of targets last year, and that should approach 65% for the next few seasons. Foster should lead the position in targets with around a 19% target share.

For dynasty purposes, you can completely ignore Frank Gore and Marcus Murphy. LeSean McCoy is in the final year of his contract, and it would make sense for the Bills to utilize the rookie Singletary heavily to see if he can be their running back of the future. After a respectable 2.2 receptions per game in his freshman season, Singletary’s passing game usage declined to the point where he averaged just 0.5 receptions per game in his final college season. They invested third-round capital into Singletary, so don’t be shocked if they involve him in the passing attack some. The addition of T.J. Yeldon will limit the number of targets McCoy will see. Yeldon has averaged 4.5 targets in 51 career games and peaked last season with 5.6 targets per game, nearly 15% of the Jaguars targets. McCoy pulled in 9.6% of the Bills’ targets last year, averaging 3.3 targets per game. Between Yeldon, McCoy, Singletary, and Gore, 20%-23% positional target share seems possible, with Yeldon taking a large majority of them.

Tyler Kroft already had foot surgery and is not a guarantee to play in 2019. This will allow third-rounder Dawson Knox to make an impact in his rookie season, a rarity at the tight end position. He was able to pull in 39 receptions in his final two seasons at Ole Miss, which is impressive considering he shared the field with A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf. He averaged 15.5 yards on those 39 receptions. With only 2018 UDFA Jason Croom to compete with for targets, Knox could see a 15% target share in his rookie season.

Cincinnati Bengals

Notable Departures

None

2018 Total Targets 529
Vacated Targets  0
Available Target %  0

 

Who remains

A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Joe Mixon, and Giovani Bernard

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Drew Sample and Trayveon Williams

Fantasy Take

While the Bengals had minimal movement on the player side of things they had an upheaval in the coaching staff. Gone is Marvin Lewis and Bill Lazor and in is Zac Taylor. Taylor was the offensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2016, the only time he’s been a full-time play caller. The Bearcats ranked 20th in college football with 37.8 pass attempts per game. College football and pro football are two different games, so it’s unclear how much stock we can put in one year at the CFB level. Taylor has also been an assistant or the QB coach for the Miami Dolphins and coached the wide receivers with the Rams in 2017 and their quarterbacks in 2018. The Bengals offense is one of the most stable in the league, with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green entering their ninth seasons, Tyler Boyd entering his fourth year with Joe Mixon and John Ross going into their third seasons.

Regardless of the coaching change, all of these players have a role carved out after years of playing together. Unless otherwise noted below all target shares will be based on the nine games Green played in 2018. In those nine games Green played last year he garnered a 24% target share and was on pace for 1,233 yards on 81 receptions before going down for the season. Tyler Boyd broke out in his third season and saw 22.5% of the targets in the nine games Green played last year and experienced a decrease in target share to 21% in the seven games without Green. John Ross scored seven touchdowns on 21 total targets in 2018, and his target share did increase from 3.1% to 5.6%, which is still pretty awful.

Joe Mixon continued his evolution into a three-down back with 13% of the targets. Gio Bernard refused to go away and averaged four targets per game, but his catch rate, yards per reception, and yards per target all lagged behind Mixon’s. The only position of intrigue is at tight end. C.J. Uzomah had a mini-breakout in the 12 games he played without Tyler Eifert, controlling 15% of the targets, but just 5% in the four games Eifert played. Eifert was on pace for a TE1 season with 12% of the target share. The addition of Drew Sample, who had just 46 receptions in four college seasons, shouldn’t matter in 2018, or likely beyond.

A.J. Green is a buy for contending teams in dynasty leagues. Though he’s entering his age-31 season and has missed 15 games in the last three seasons, he still commanded nearly a quarter of targets in 2018. Boyd is a buy as well for me. If owners in your leagues are buying into the false narrative that he only produced due to the absence of Green, you may be able to buy him at a discount. Boyd scored 4.62 fewer fantasy points, saw his target share decrease, and averaged nearly two fewer targets per game without Green. There’s no reason for the Bengals to change what works, and that’s Green approaching a 25% target share and Boyd hovering around 22%. Feel free to roster John Ross, but expecting fantasy relevance from a player with sub 10% of the target share is not a recipe for success. If Tyler Eifert stays healthy, he’ll be a TE1, but Eifert has only played more than eight games twice in his six-year career. If Eifert can’t stay healthy, Uzomah is someone you can at least stream as needed. Joe Mixon saw his target share increase from 10% to 13% from his rookie season to last season. Even a modest boost to 15% will put Mixon in the running for overall RB1 seasons over the next two or three seasons.

Cleveland Browns

Notable Departures

Breshad Perriman

2018 Total Targets 557
Vacated Targets 25
Available Target % 4.5%

 

Who remains

Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, David Njoku, Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson, and Rashard Higgins

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt (returns from suspension Week 10)

Fantasy Take

Unless Duke Johnson is granted his wish and traded to another team, the six most targeted Browns from 2018 are all back in 2019. Including Damion Ratley seven of the eight targeted players return and account for 86% of last years targets. Positionally, wide receivers garnered a 62% target share, tight end 20%, and running backs the remaining 18%.

Jarvis Landry had a 26.8% target share on the season, but that was built up with Hue Jackson/Todd Haley in charge. In the first eight games last year Landry saw a massive 32.2% target share and a more reasonable 21.3% target share in the final eight games with Freddie Kitchens calling plays. Antonio Calloway commanded a 14.2% target share in his rookie year, 12.9% pre-Kitchens and 15.5% post Kitchens. David Njoku saw his targets drop from 16.9% to a 14.1% share. While this may seem minimal, over a full season that would have meant a total of 30 fewer targets for Njoku. Duke Johson saw his target share increase from 9.6% to 12.3% with Kitchens’s calling plays while Nick Chubb’s target share jumped from 2.2% to a significant 10.2% share.

Odell Beckham Jr., when healthy, is as good as any wide receiver in all of football. He’s commanded no less than 28% of targets going back to his rookie season in 2014. If Beckham Jr. is on your roster, he is the alpha receiver, and everyone else is a secondary piece. Mark him down for 25%-28% of the targets in 2019 and the near future. Landry already saw a significant drop in targets once Kitchens took over last year and now he has OBJ to contend with, but that could also work to help Landry. Defenses are going to game plan to stop OBJ, assigning their best cornerbacks to him. This should allow Landry to at least match the 21% share of targets he was with Kitchens calling plays last year. Projecting Callaway for 15% of the targets also seems reasonable for 2019 with room for growth starting in 2020. Landry’s contract has moderate dead cap hits if they choose to move on from him after 2019, 2020, or 2021 seasons. Callaway is a player to buy low with the hopes that the Browns do decide to move on from Landry once they need to free up some cap space to re-up Baker Mayfield after the 2020 season when he would be eligible to sign an extension.

With the addition of OBJ and Kareem Hunt (Week 10), the maturation of Callaway, Landry likely to still be targeted significantly, and assuming even static target levels for Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson, Njoku seems capped at a 15% target share. Even if the Browns decide to move on from Duke Johnson (as he’s requested repeatedly) at some point, Kareem Hunt is signed through the 2020 season. Njoku was still able to produce as the TE10 during the final eight weeks last season, which makes him fantasy viable even if it’s not what many of us envisioned when he entered the league.

Projecting Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson based off last year’s targets with Kitchens calling plays is a safe bet, at least until Kareem Hunt returns and further spreads the targets out. In 17 games with the Chiefs, Hunt commanded a 10.9% target share and showed himself to be an excellent weapon out of the backfield. If the Browns decide not to move Duke Johnson and hold onto him through the 2020 season things could get messy. Next season, once Hunt returns, the target share should look something like Chubb 10%, Johnson 8% and Hunt with 5% of all available targets.

Denver Broncos

Notable Departures

Demaryius Thomas and Matt LaCosse

2018 Total Targets 563
Vacated Targets 191
Available Target % 34%

 

Who remains

Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, Emmanuel Sanders, Devontae Booker, Phillip LindsayJeff Heuerman, and Tim Patrick

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Joe Flacco, Drew Lock, and Noah Fant

Fantasy Take

We won’t know Emmanuel Sanders’ status for 2019 until we get closer to the season. I am assuming he will begin the season on the shelf, and his targets are included in the “Vacated Targets” total. Sanders is entering his age-32 season, coming off a torn Achilles, and is an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season, so it’s likely this is his last year with the Broncos. The Broncos also have a new offensive coordinator (and head coach) who has no playcalling experience above the FCS level of college football. They also have a new starting quarterback in Joe Flacco with Drew Lock waiting to steal that starting job. Other than that, though, not much has changed in Denver.

One area to take note of is that the new OC Rich Scangarello was the quarterback coach with San Francisco when their tight ends saw 29% of their targets. Joe Flacco’s last full three seasons starting with Baltimore saw the tight ends average 22.7% of all targets. Tight ends accounted for 108 total targets last season for the Broncos for 19.2% of the passing targets. In three games Courtland Sutton played last season without Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas his target share barely moved; 15.9% with, and 15.8% without. It should be noted his actual targets and receptions did increase by 1.3 targets and 1.69 receptions per game. DaeSean Hamilton saw his target share spike to 23% during those three games, after 10.8%, and outscored Sutton 12.5 points per game to Sutton’s 10.4 points per game. Devontae Booker with 9.1%, Phillip Lindsay with 8.3%, and Royce Freeman with 3.6% of team targets were all involved in the passing game.

With a new coaching staff and a new quarterback who might be replaced by a newer quarterback there’s a lot to parse when it comes to the Broncos. I’m loathed to assume that just because a coach (Scangarello) learned at the feet of another coach (Kyle Shanahan) that their coaching tendencies and strategies will mirror one another. But between the 49ers hyper-targeting of George Kittle while Scangarello was a part of the coaching staff and Joe Flacco’s tendency to involve the tight end position, I expect Noah Fant to make an impact in his rookie season. Jeff Heuerman isn’t a bad tight end, and he should still be involved in the passing attack to the tune of 5%-10% of the available targets. Fant is on another level physically and has first-round NFL Draft pedigree, and I’d be disappointed with anything less than 15% of targets his rookie season, and he should approach or exceed 20% a majority of his career.

One thing I think every fantasy player can agree on is the hope that Devontae Booker fades away and his targets can be distributed between Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Put him down for his typically 9% target share in 2019 until otherwise noted, though. Freeman is a player that I’d buy low on. Freeman was a competent pass catcher in college and one of the most prolific running backs in college football history with third-round draft capital in his ledger. Courtland Sutton could struggle for however long he’s tied to Joe Flacco. Flacco has ranked in the bottom third of deep ball attempts and completion percentage in 2017, and his 6.51 Yards Per Attempt in 2018 ranked 31st. Sutton is a deep ball threat as evidenced by 16.8 Yards Per Reception last year. Sutton should see about 18% of the Broncos targets next year. DaeSean Hamilton is a slot receiver who averaged just 8.1 Yards Per Catch who should excel with Flacco. I expect Hamilton to see close to the 23% target share he finished the season with. Once Drew Lock, with his strong arm and an overabundance of confidence, takes over as the starting QB Sutton should see his targets increase.

Houston Texans

Notable Departures

Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Griffin, and Alfred Blue

2018 Total Targets 494
Vacated Targets 115
Available Target % 23%

 

Who remains

DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Keke Coutee, Lamar Miller, Jordan Thomas, Jordan Akins

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Kahale Warring

Fantasy Take

DeAndre Hopkins continued to dominate the Texans’ target share in 2018 with a 33% share. In 2017 his share was 33.7%, in 2016 a relatively modest 26.2%, and in 2015 it was 31.3%. Go ahead and pencil in Hopkins in for a 30% share of the targets until about 2022 or so. Will Fuller captured an 18.2% share of targets in his rookie season, 16.8% in his sophomore season, and 21% in his seven games last year. In four games he played with Keke Coutee his target share plummetted to 16.1%, compared to the 29.3% he captured when Coutee didn’t play. Coutee captured a 21.9% target share for the season and was able to increase his target share to 23.1% in two games he played without Will Fuller on the field compared to the 21.3% he captured in four games with Fuller also on the field. Fuller and Coutee both had issues staying on the field last year with Fuller missing nine games (and 17 so far in his first three seasons) and Coutee missing 10 games last season (his rookie year). The Texans coaching staff showed that they want to involve Coutee heavily in the offense, and he’s likely to command at least 21% of available targets. Fuller is a more explosive player and can do more with less and should see an 18% share.

Lamar Miller has averaged 8.4% targets in three seasons with the Texans, capturing 8.7% each of the last two seasons. That’s a pattern, so mark him down for 8.5% or so of the Texans targets in what’s likely his final season in Houston. Look for D’Onta Forman to slide right into the Alfred Blue role, which means about 5% of the target share. Drafting Kahale Warring in the third round a season after drafting Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas makes me believe the Texans weren’t overly impressed with either Thomas, and Warring could have the receiving tight end role to himself in short order. That could provide TE15 type of numbers since the Texans have targeted the position 19.5% the past two seasons.

Indianapolis Colts

Notable Departures

Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman

2018 Total Targets 634
Vacated Targets 91
Available Target % 14.4%

 

Who remains

T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron, Nyheim Hines, Chester Rogers, Jack Doyle, and Zach Pascal Marlon Mack

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell, and Spencer Ware

Fantasy Take

The Colts are a headache for fantasy purposes. One constant is T.Y. Hilton. In 92 career games T.Y. Hilton has captured 22.4% of all targets with Andrew Luck as his starting quarterback. Nothing will change in 2019, regardless of the many additions on the offensive side of the ball. Eric Ebron was a breakout player in 2018 built on an unsustainable 14 touchdowns (including one rushing TD). In six games that Ebron played with Jack Doyle, his target share was 10.2% per compared to the 21% he captured in 10 games when Doyle didn’t play. Doyle averaged a 19% target share over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and 15.3% when he struggled to stay on the field due to a hip injury. Between Doyle, Ebron and Mo Alie-Cox the TE positional share should approach an almost 30% share it saw last season with Doyle (if healthy) and Ebron seeing most of those targets.

Nyheim Hines monopolized 65% of the running back targets in 2018 with 81 targets, and the position on a whole took in 20% of 2018 targets. Hines was originally a wide receiver in college and has the receiving back role locked down. Marlon Mack is a decent receiver and could absorb some of the 17 targets that Jordan Wilkins saw last year, but not enough to peg him for more than 7% of the targets. Spencer Ware showed well as a pass catcher in Kansas City, but it’s hard to give him much of the pie when he’s the third or fourth running back on the depth chart. Parris Campbell is an explosive playmaker, but he’s still a rookie, and a 10% target share is all I can envision for him. His role will expand, and if all things go to plan sometime around 2021 he could be ready to take the mantle as the WR1 for the Colts. Devin Funchess could carve out 15% of the available targets for himself which would leave just enough targets to keep Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal minimally involved every week.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Notable Departures

Blake Bortles, T.J. Yeldon, and Donte Moncrief

2018 Total Targets 524
Vacated Targets 186
Available Target % 35.5%

 

Who remains

Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark, and Leonard Fournette

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Nick Foles, Marqise Lee (missed 2018 with torn ACL), Alfred Blue, Josh Oliver, and Ryquell Armstead

Fantasy Take

Two of the three most targeted players from 2018, Donte Moncrief and T.J. Yeldon, who combined for 167 targets, 32% of all targets, left via free agency. Their 2017 target and target share leader, Marqise Lee, who missed the entire 2018 season after tearing his ACL in the preseason, returns. Lee accounted for nearly 24% of the targets in 2017, while the 2018 target leader Dede Westbrook captured almost 20% of the targets last season. Splitting the difference, I’m marking both down for between 20%-24% of the target shares.

Jacksonville likely wouldn’t have thrown as much as they did if Leonard Fournette played more than eight games last year. Specifically, it’s hard to envision the running back position capturing 25% of available targets again as they did last year if Fournette can stay healthy. There are no running backs on the roster who can match the receiving ability of T.J. Yeldon, which means it’s unlikely any single running back will command 15% of team targets as Yeldon did in 2018. Assuming Fournette stays healthy and we drop the positional share down to 15%, look for Fournette to garner about 10% of the team’s total targets. Alfred Blue will slot in whenever Fournette needs a breather and should match his career 4% target share. Rookie Ryquell Armstead averaged 0.63 receptions per game in 46 career college games and will see minimal usage in the passing attack.

Nick Foles targeted Zach Ertz on 25% of targets in the 10 games he started for the Eagles in 2017 and 2018, but the Jaguars lack a Zach Ertz. They did draft tight end Josh Oliver in the third round who is primarily a receiving tight end who lined up out wide and in the slot during his time at San Jose State. The tight end position should see a 20% target share with Oliver having a good chance to garner most of those targets. The remaining targets should be spread out between  D.J. Chark and Keelan Cole.

Kansas City Chiefs

Notable Departures

Kareem Hunt, Chris Conley, Spencer Ware, Demetrius Harris, and Tyreek Hill (pending)

2018 Total Targets 564
Vacated Targets 140
Available Target % 25%

 

*An additional 137 targets (24% of the team targets) until some resolution to the Tyreek Hill situation

Who remains

Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Damien Harris

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Mecole Hardman, Darwin Thompson, and Carlos Hyde

Fantasy Take

Travis Kelce saw a WR1-like 27% (150) of the Chiefs’ targets last season. If Tyreek Hill (and his 137 targets) is forced to miss any time Kelce could push for 175 targets in 2019. To be safe let’s mark him down for 27% for the next couple of seasons. Even before the Kareem Hunt release, the Chiefs targeted their running backs less frequently in 2018 than they did in 2017. In 2017 running backs were targeted 22% of the time, but that dipped to 17.2% last season, which is more in line with the 2015 and 2016 seasons 17% totals. Three out of four seasons with 17% target share for the running backs position means we should expect that same total in 2019. Assuming Damien Willaims can hold onto the starter role, 11% of the teams total targets will belong to him with the remaining 6% distributed amongst Carlos Hyde and rookies Darwin Thompson and James Williams.

Wide receiver is where things could get interesting, depending on what happens with Tyreek Hill. If Hill is forced to miss time and Sammy Watkins can stay on the field, he should easily exceed the 5.5 targets per game he averaged in 2018. Mecole Hardman has a chance to be an immediate starter in his rookie season which would mean around 15% of the total targets. Or if Tyreek Hill isn’t punished in any way Hardman could ride the bench all season and see less than 10% of targets. Tyreek Hill is a free agent, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the Chiefs move on from him. In that scenario, Hardman could see upwards of 20% of available targets starting in 2020. Until the Tyreek Hill situation has a resolution, the wide receiver targets are in a state of flux. But if you have to bet on one wide receiver bet on Sammy Watkins.

L.A. Chargers

Notable Departures

Antonio Gates and Tyrell Williams

2018 Total Targets 506
Vacated Targets 21.7%
Available Target % 110

 

Who remains

Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, and Justin Jackson

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Hunter Henry returns from a torn ACL that forced him to miss the 2018 regular season

Fantasy Take

Tight ends were only targeted on 14.4% of pass attempts in 2018, which was primarily due to the absence of Hunter Henry. In 2017 tight ends garnered a 21% target share and in 2016 it was 26%. In 2016 and 2017, 96% of the tight end targets were split between Gates and Henry. Henry should be in for close to 100 targets and a hair over 20% of all targets in 2019 and for however long Philip Rivers is still the quarterback of the Chargers. Keenan Allen captured a 26.9% target share in 2018 and 27.9% of the targets in 2017. There’s no reason for that to change going forward, so mark him down for 26% of targets as long as he’s healthy. Mike Williams has been hyped up most of the offseason based on the departure of Tyrell Williams and the 65 targets he owned in 2018. So even though his unsustainable touchdown rate will decrease (11 touchdowns on 50 total touches) due to natural regression, his target share of 13% from 2018 should significantly increase. It’s not unreasonable to assume he absorbs half of the Tyrell targets, since both Williams’s thrive on deep passes, and sees almost 100 targets in 2019, which would be a tad over 19% of all targets.

Running backs captured 27% of targets in 2018, 23% in 2017, and 18% in 2016. Melvin Gordon averaged 5.5 targets per game in 2018, 5.1 in 2017, and 4.3 in 2016. It appears the Chargers have made a concentrated effort to increase his usage in the passing attack every season. I’ll mark him down for 5.5 to 6.0 targets in 2019 and over a full season that’s a 19% target share. That leaves 16% of the targets available that will be dispersed among Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson (both of whom would see increases if Gordon misses time), and the Travis Benjamin type of players.

Miami Dolphins

Notable Departures

Ryan Tannehill, Danny Amendola, and Frank Gore

2018 Total Targets 435
Vacated Targets 95
Available Target % 22%

 

Who remains

Albert Wilson, Kenyan Drake, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Kalen Ballage, and Jakeem Grant

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick

Fantasy Take

New head coach, new offensive coordinator and a new starting quarterback (who is unknown as of today). Nothing that has come before today matters to what will happen in Miami going forward. Chad O’Shea was the wide receiver coach in New England from 2009 – 2018. During that time the starting slot receivers averaged 148 targets, 105 receptions, 1,138 yards and 5.6 touchdowns per season. In Albert Wilson’s seven games played last season he averaged five targets per game (an 80-target 16-game pace), on an offense that had the third-fewest pass attempts in the league. Even a modest regression to the mean would mean that the Dolphins put up an additional 100 pass attempts in 2019, with Wilson, playing out of the slot, taking a majority of them. I’m going out on a limb and projecting 115 targets for Wilson in 2019.

Another area the Dolphins might mimic New England’s offense is running back targets. James White was targeted 22.1% last season, 12.3% in 2017, and 15.8% in 2016 compared to Kenyan Drake’s 16.7% share in 2018, 8.2% in 2017 and 2.1% in 2016. If Drake can approach a 20% target share in 2019 he will be an RB1 and almost force Miami to re-sign him at the end of the year. Kalen Ballage is penciled in as the backup, change of pace back on the roster and seems destined for a 10% target share.

Mike Gesicki had an awful rookie season and saw just 7.4% of the target share in 2018. Asking for the 72 targets that Gronkowski saw last year with New England seems plausible.

If Ryan Fitzpatrick is under center for most of the season Kenny Stills should have a good season. In eight starts last year Fitzpatrick targeted DeSean Jackson 6.1 times per game. Stills saw nearly two full fewer targets per game, with 4.2 targets. Though Stills isn’t exactly DeSean Jackson, he’s the closest comparable player on the Dolphins’ roster. DeVante Parker hasn’t shown much on the football field to deserve a large target share, but with limited weapons, he should still command about 15% of targets, a slight increase over last season’s 14.8% share.

New England Patriots

Notable Departures

Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, Josh Gordon, and Cordarrelle Patterson

2018 Total Targets 556
Vacated Targets 232
Available Target % 41.72%

 

Who remains

Julian Edelman, James White, Rex Burkhead, and Phillip Dorsett

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

N’Keal Harry, Damien Harris, Matt LaCosse, Ben Watson, Dontrelle Inman, and Demaryius Thomas

Fantasy Take

If Josh Gordon is reinstated at some point the vacated target share will drop because his 68 targets are included in the “Vacated Targets” ledger.

As noted in the Dolphins’ target breakdown, James White has been an integral part of the Patriots’ passing attack for the last three seasons and peaked last season with a 22.1% target share. Though that rate seems unsustainable at first glance the sheer volume of available targets from last season almost dictates he sees at least 22% again in 2019, if not more. Sony Michel saw just 2.7% targets in his rookie season, which is a bit surprising since he averaged 1.4 receptions per game in college and 1.9 receptions per game during his sophomore and junior seasons. Bumping up his target share to 5% seems plausible.

Julian Edelman was targeted in 19% of all Patriots targets. That’s especially impressive considering that he only played in 12 games. In those 12 games, he was targeted on 26% of pass attempts. In three games last season without Gronkowski, Edelman captured 27.7% of the targets vs. 25.5% when Gronkowski played. Edelman has seen an absurd 32% of all Patriots targets in 20 career games without Gronkowski, going back to 2013, Edelman’s first season as a focal point of the Patriots’ offense. I’m going to be bold and mark Edelman down for 30% of the Patriots’ targets next season. Oddly enough James White has seen a minuscule decrease (17.28% vs. 17%) in targets when Gronkowski doesn’t play.

Banking on production out of a rookie wide receiver is never a good idea. Though the Patriots have the available targets to support a first-year breakout from N’Keal Harry, look for him to top out around 12% of targets. Phillip Dorsett has yet to do anything in the NFL to warrant a healthy target share but returning to our theme, the Patriots have an abundance of targets available so we will assume he matches his career high with 59 targets and 11% of the targets in 2019. The tight end position saw a 15% target share last season, with Gronkowski being responsible for nearly 99% of those targets. No Gronkowski means that Ben Watson (after his suspension), Matt LaCosse and whoever else makes the roster at tight end will account for a total of 10% of the total team targets. That leaves 15% of the remaining targets to be spread out among Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris.

New York Jets

Notable Departures

Jermaine Kearse, Isaiah Crowell, Terrelle Pryor

2018 Total Targets 503
Vacated Targets 178
Available Target % 35.4%

 

Who remains

Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, and Chris Herndon

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder

Fantasy Take

The two seasons Peyton Manning was Gase’s quarterback are statistical outliers, and Manning called the plays at the line, so the stats from those seasons will be excluded.

Robby Anderson saw 94 targets, securing a healthy 21% share of targets in games that he played in last season. Anderson and Darnold’s chemistry grew as 2018 progressed with Anderson seeing a 27.16% target share in the final six games of the year compared to the first eight games of his season when he saw just 16.06% of targets. Gase has targeted his WR1 113 times per season, so I’ll give Anderson 25% of the targets in 2019. The WR2 averages 79 targets, and the WR3 68 targets a season under Gase.

The signing of Jamison Crowder is not good news for Quincy Enunwa. Enunwa started 2018 like a man on fire averaging 13 points per game during the first four weeks running most of his routes from the slot. He was injured early in Week 5 and attempted to play through injury that week and the following. He returned in Week 9, but by then Jermaine Kearse had supplanted him as the slot receiver and he averaged just 6.5 points per week through the end of his season after Week 14. Kearse, the primary slot receiver for most of the year, garnered 76 targets. Crowder is a slot receiver through and through, running 70% of his routes from the slot last year and 56% in 2017 per PlayerProfiler. Gase’s slot receiver last season, Danny Amendola, secured 18.7% of the Dolphins targets. Putting two and two together, I’m going to give 19% of Jets’ targets to Crowder. Enunwa should see in the neighborhood of 15% of the targets.

Traditionally Gase has not hyper-targeted the running backs in his offense. Starting running backs for Gase have averaged 53.5 targets per season, with Kenyan Drake’s 73, 16.7% of Dolphins targets, the highest under his command. Jets’ running backs accounted for 20% of the team’s total of 102 targets in 2018. Le’Veon Bell averages 102 targets over a 16 game season. Unless Adam Gase is terrible at calling offensive plays Bell should account for at least 100 targets and 20% of the Jets total targets in 2019 and every season he is on the roster.

Chris Herndon is a trendy breakout candidate on #DynastyTwitter, but Gase has only targeted his tight ends 55 times per season, so I’m not buying it. I give Herndon a 10% target share. The remaining targets will be spread out among the various bad receivers, non-descript tight ends and backup running backs on the roster.

Oakland Raiders

Notable Departures

Amari Cooper, Seth Roberts, Jared Cook, Jordy Nelson, Marshawn Lynch, and Martavis Bryant

2018 Total Targets 530
Vacated Targets 294
Available Target % 55.5%

 

Who remains

Jalen Richard

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Josh Jacobs, Foster Moreau, and Hunter Renfrow

Fantasy Take

I’ll venture a guess that a tight end will not lead the Raiders in targets and target share as Jared Cook did in 2018 with 101 targets on an 18.6% share. The other two tight ends that remain from last year’s roster accounted for 3.4% of targets. The Raiders’ depth at tight end is perhaps the saddest thing I have ever seen in my life. Darren Waller has 18 receptions in 22 career games, Derek Carrier has 43 receptions in 66 games, and Luke Willson has 102 receptions in 86 games. The three of them might account for 4% of the target share in 2019. Rookie Foster Moreau is incredibly athletic but accounted for 5.5% of LSU’s receptions last season. I’ll give him a 3% target share raising the tight end positional share to 10%.

Raiders running backs secured a 24% share of the targets last season with Jalen Richard leading the way with 81 targets and 15% of the team’s targets. While the addition of Josh Jacobs, who was drafted 24th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, would seem to endanger Richard’s role as the receiving back, the pure volume of the available targets should allow his target share to hold steady. Jacobs is an excellent all-around running back and very good pass catcher. Jon Gruden has a history of working his starting running backs and Jacobs should see 200+ rushing attempts and 10% of the targets next season, as long as he is physically able to withstand that load. Give the running backs a 27% of targets next season with Doug Martin getting a piece of the pie as well.

Antonio Brown has commanded a 28.3% target share since the 2011 season (his second pro season) and has hit or exceeded 154 targets for six straight seasons. In those six seasons, he’s seen a 30% target share, cresting with a 33.6% target share in 2015. The reason I highlighted the 2015 season is Brown might be able to match that level again in 2019. The Raiders have excellent receiving backs and a nice WR2 in Tyrell Williams, but this team is tailor made for Brown to dominate the targets. As much as I want to give Tyrell Williams a big target share, the data, unfortunately, doesn’t support it. In the last six seasons of Gruden’s head coaching career, his WR2 only sees 52% of the targets that his WR1 does. Rounding up a full percentage I’ll give Williams 17% of the Raiders’ targets next year. Marcell Ateman, Hunter Renfrow, Ryan Grant and the like will battle it out for the remaining targets, with none of those players finding any fantasy relevance.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Notable Departures

Antonio Brown and Jesse James

2018 Total Targets 676
Vacated Targets 220
Available Target % 33%

 

Who remains

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald, James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, and James Washington

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Donte Moncrief, Diontae Johnson, Benny Snell, and Zach Gentry

Fantasy Take

Expect the Steelers to throw the ball less in 2019. Though they threw the ball on 67% of offensive plays last season, the three seasons prior they averaged a less prolific 60% pass ratio.

JuJu Smith-Schuster had a breakout 2018 season that will pale in comparison to 2019. His 166 targets represented a 24% share of the Steelers targets in 2018, and there is no reason to believe his target share will drop. It’s more likely Smith-Schuster’s overall target share increases even if his total targets stay about the same as 2018.

The departure of Jesse James leaves Vance McDonald as the only legitimate receiving weapon at the tight end position. While the Steelers did draft Zach Gentry in the fifth round, and he did have 32 receptions his senior season at Michigan, it’s doubtful he makes much of an impact in his rookie season. McDonald had an 11% target share last year with 72 targets, and I expect him to near 100 targets, absorbing most of James’ 39 vacated targets in 2019 and finish with a 20% target share.

There’s been a lot of chatter about Jaylen Samuels taking a bite out of James Conner’s workload, but until I see it I won’t believe it. The Steelers ran Le’Veon Bell out on 90%+ of the offensive snaps during his final two seasons, and Conner’s had an 80% snap share in 2018. Conner had a 13% target share in 2018, and I’m going to pencil him for the same figure in 2019. Jaylen Samuels is a versatile player who can play the running back, tight end, H-back role and I can see him securing a 10% target share, a modest increase from the 8% share he owned in 2018.

Donte Moncrief has gotten some hype lately as a breakout candidate since he’ll now be tied to a prolific offense with a great quarterback. If that seems like a familiar story, it’s because it is. In 29 games as Andrew Luck’s No. 2 wide receiver, Moncrief pulled in a 14% target share. Even last season with a perfect situation to be the Jaguars number one receiver he could only muster a 16% target share. Moncrief gets an 11% share in 2019. James Washington had a pretty terrible rookie season with 7% of his team’s targets. He’s still the same player that was drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, who had 18.4 Breakout age in college and a 61st percentile College Dominator rating (per PlayerProfiler). He’s talented and will have the opportunity to show why the Steelers drafted him so highly in 2018. I expect a giant leap forward and expect at least a 15% share for Washington in 2019.

Tennessee Titans

Notable Departures

Luke Stocker

2018 Total Targets 425
Vacated Targets 21
Available Target % 5%

 

Who remains

Corey Davis, Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, Delanie Walker, Jonnu Smith, and Taywan Taylor

Notable additions via free agency and the NFL Draft

Ryan Tannehill, Adam Humphries, and A.J. Brown

Fantasy Take

The Titans have talked all offseason about their plan to run the ball as much as possible in 2019. They also added slot receiver Adam Humphries to the roster in free agency even though Corey Davis produces much better when he plays out of the slot. Then they drafted A.J. Brown, who’s best running routes out of the slot. They also expect to welcome back tight ends Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith back from injury. The middle of the field might get crowded with Titans running those three slot receiver/two TE sets. I kid (I think).

Corey Davis captured 26% of team targets in 2018 on 112 targets, but that’s partly because the rest of the Titans wide receivers are barely NFL-level players and every tight end on the roster suffered a season-ending injury at some point. The addition of Humphries who had 105 targets last season, the return of Walker who had four straight 100-target seasons before missing 15 games last season, means Davis will not see a quarter of the team’s targets. This offense looks like it will have a cluster of players bunched up with 15%-20% of the targets. Davis should still be the alpha and secure 20% of the targets, Humphries might match him with 20%. Walker will see 15%, and Jonnu Smith will see 10%.

Dion Lewis had a 15% target share on the season that held steady even during Derrick Henry’s four-week rampage to end the season. I’ll go ahead and mark Lewis down for another 15% in 2019. Henry saw his target share spike to 4.7% during that four-week run, so go ahead and give him a 5% share in 2019. That leaves A.J. Brown, Tajae Sharpe, Taywan Taylor battling it out for most of the remaining 15%.

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Shane Manila is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive and follow him @DFF_Shane.

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