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AFC Target Analysis (2020 Fantasy Football)

Jun 6, 2020

Thanks to a change at QB, Keenan Allen could see a big drop in targets this season.

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With an offseason composed of change and player mobility, not all vacancies on offense are created equal. There is only so much volume to go around to each player, and while some may have all of the touches to themselves, others will be vying with other capable NFL talents for receiving work among their respective franchises.

When I look at any position for fantasy football drafts, especially the wide receiver and tight end positions, I look at the pass-catching opportunity. The number of targets available, the target share of a player, and the types of targets they demand (deep targets, red-zone targets, etc) play a huge factor in whether I select or pass on a player.

For example, one of the biggest steals in the draft last year was Darren Waller. Why did he help win fantasy championships? Well, after Antonio Brown’s departure, there was a huge void in targets that needed to be filled. Derek Carr needed a new safety blanket, and the long-forgotten Darren Waller was ready to step right in.

The Raiders passing game was not a gold-mine for fantasy like Kansas City and Tampa Bay. However, volume inherently necessitates production; there was too much available to not provide some fantasy relevance. This theory proved correct, as Waller accumulated 117 targets (the third-most among tight ends) and finished as the TE5 in PPR.

Given the importance of volume for fantasy purposes, I am going to perform an extensive target analysis on each conference and see if I can find some worthwhile insights to use to our advantage.

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2019 Team Tendencies

Before we project how the targets will change for the upcoming 2020 season, we must take a retrospective review of the 2019 season. Determining which teams targeted one position more often than others could give us key insights into whether or not we should place a premium on a certain position for each franchise.

2019 WR Tendencies

Team WR Targets WR% WR % Rank
New York Jets 328 66.7 2
Buffalo Bills 322 66.5 3
Cincinnati Bengals 388 66 4
Cleveland Browns 332 64.3 6
Houston Texans 332 64.2 7
Jacksonville Jaguars 356 63.2 9
New England Patriots 367 62.6 10
Pittsburgh Steelers 299 61.6 16
Miami Dolphins 366 60.8 17
Tennessee Titans 255 60.1 19
Denver Broncos 262 54.5 23
Kansas City Chiefs 293 52.4 24
Indianapolis Colts 255 52.4 25
Los Angeles Chargers 295 51.3 27
Baltimore Ravens 182 44.1 30
Las Vegas Raiders 213 43.4 31

 
In 2019, the Jets, Bills, and Bengals targeted their wide receivers nearly two-thirds of the time, which ranked in the top-four among all NFL teams. This seems to make sense, as over 79 percent of these teams’ passing plays were run out of 11 personnel; they each ranked in the top-ten regarding that personnel usage last season.

Yet, that did not contribute towards fantasy success for any of those teams, as the highest wide receiver finish among those franchises was John Brown at WR15. No other Bill, Jet, or Bengal finished within the top-24 wide receivers.

On the flip side, the Raiders and Ravens were the second and third-worst respectively in terms of targeting the wide receiver. Both teams utilized heavy tight end personnel and featured one rosterable wide receiver in 2019. The notable wideouts for each group (Marquise Brown, Tyrell Williams, and Hunter Renfrow) finished as the WR44, WR43, and WR61 respectively on the season. 

2019 RB Tendencies

Team RB Targets RB% RB % Rank
Los Angeles Chargers 182 31.7 1
New England Patriots 166 28.3 4
Las Vegas Raiders 117 23.8 8
Denver Broncos 112 23.3 9
Jacksonville Jaguars 129 22.9 10
Pittsburgh Steelers 110 22.7 11
Cleveland Browns 115 22.3 13
New York Jets 107 21.7 15
Miami Dolphins 120 19.9 16
Kansas City Chiefs 111 19.9 17
Indianapolis Colts 91 18.7 20
Buffalo Bills 80 16.5 26
Houston Texans 79 15.3 28
Cincinnati Bengals 88 15 29
Tennessee Titans 62 14.6 30
Baltimore Ravens 51 12.3 31

 
The Chargers and Patriots both ranked in the top-five in running back targets, with each team producing a rusher who saw over 90 targets. Austin Ekeler leveraged his 108 targets into an RB5 fantasy finish, while James White only saw his 95 targets translate into a RB20 fantasy standing. With a change at quarterback for both teams, we could see this favor towards the running back vary in 2020.

The bottom-two clubs ranked first and third respectively in rushing yardage in 2019, but the running backs’ playing time did not correlate to receiving volume. The Titans and Ravens targeted their running backs less than 65 times, but their leading rushers (Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram) both finished inside the top-twelve fantasy running backs. Target volume will help a running back achieve their ceiling, but a lack of targets doesn’t necessarily doom a runner’s fantasy prospects.

2019 TE Tendencies

Team TE Targets TE% TE% Rank
Baltimore Ravens 180 43.6 1
Las Vegas Raiders 161 32.8 3
Indianapolis Colts 141 29 4
Kansas City Chiefs 155 27.7 6
Tennessee Titans 107 25.2 8
Denver Broncos 107 22.2 11
Houston Texans 106 20.5 15
Miami Dolphins 116 19.3 17
Cincinnati Bengals 112 19 19
Los Angeles Chargers 98 17 23
Buffalo Bills 82 16.9 24
Pittsburgh Steelers 76 15.7 25
Jacksonville Jaguars 78 13.9 27
Cleveland Browns 69 13.4 28
New York Jets 57 11.6 30
New England Patriots 53 9 32

 
To no one’s surprise, the Ravens and Raiders both ranked in the top-three in tight end targets. Both teams ran multiple tight end sets on passing plays over 40 percent of the time. As such, Mark Andrews and Darren Waller took the league by storm and finished as the PPR TE3 and TE5 respectively. 

The Browns, Jets, and Patriots finished in the bottom-five in tight end targets, mainly due to their lack of viable tight ends. Matt LaCosse was a poor replacement for Rob Gronkowski, Chris Herndon missed the entire season, and David Njoku was out for a majority of the season before becoming a healthy scratch in December. However, these teams could easily vaunt up the ranks in 2020, as Kevin Stefanski will implement a tight-end heavy system in Cleveland and the Patriots drafted two rookie tight ends this year.

2019 Overall Targets (Volume)

Team Total Total Targets Rank
Miami Dolphins 602 5
Cincinnati Bengals 588 8
New England Patriots 586 9
Los Angeles Chargers 575 11
Jacksonville Jaguars 563 13
Kansas City Chiefs 559 14
Houston Texans 517 19
Cleveland Browns 516 20
New York Jets 492 21
Las Vegas Raiders 491 22
Indianapolis Colts 487 24
Pittsburgh Steelers 485 25
Buffalo Bills 484 26
Denver Broncos 481 27
Tennessee Titans 424 31
Baltimore Ravens 413 32

 
It’s of little surprise that the teams who were trailing for a majority of the season ended up in the top-twelve in total targets. Miami, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and Jacksonville all trailed over 55 percent of the time in 2019, including over 69 percent of the time in the fourth quarter; yet, the only top-24 wide receivers from these teams were Keenan Allen (WR8), DeVante Parker (WR13), and D.J. Chark (WR16). New England appears to be the outlier, as they only trailed 30 percent of the time (fifth-lowest in the league).

Towards the bottom of the list, the run-heavy offenses that were tight-end centric ranked quite low in passing volume. With the Ravens and Titans both adding to their running back rooms and ignoring the wide receiver position, for the most part, this trend is likely to hold.

While targets are extremely important, I want to stress that the type of targets truly matters. Pass attempts that have a low aDot or fail to lead to scoring opportunities will not be as useful for the fantasy outlook of certain players and teams. You can’t have fantasy success without volume, but volume doesn’t always lead to fantasy success.

While these 2019 tendencies give us a solid baseline, the player movement during the offseason will create a great deal of change among schemes and target breakdown. Changes in quarterbacks, coaches, and skill position players will have a major impact on how the passes are distributed next season. So let’s go team-by-team, starting with the AFC, and look at how they could fare for 2020.

Baltimore Ravens

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
29 15 7 51 32
Marquise Brown 71 46 35 182 31
Mark Andrews 98 43 180 2

 
The targets for the 2019 Baltimore Ravens were predictably reserved for the tight ends, as Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle combined for 141 opportunities. This allowed Andrews to finish as a top-five tight end and Boyle to see some fantasy relevant weeks. However, the wide receiver core and running back room were not too involved in the passing game, as Baltimore ranked near last in the league in targets for both positions.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
39 Seth Roberts 35 74 74 17.40% 21

 
With Hayden Hurst and Seth Roberts departing for greener pastures, 74 total targets are opened up in this offense. Those targets are likely to be given to the tight end position, as much of the same offensive personnel will return for 2020. Ranking 21st in the league in vacated targets, there is not much opportunity for improvement unless Lamar Jackson sees an unlikely spike in passing volume.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
74 J.K. Dobbins

 
With 74 vacated, there’s not much additional volume to go around. It’s doubtful rookies like Dobbins, Duvernay, and Proche will siphon enough targets to be fantasy relevant, but they’ll limit the upside of their teammates. More likely than not, I see Mark Andrews and the tight end group once again seeing a majority of the volume.

Given Baltimore only trailed 18.7 percent of the time, it’s easy to see why Jackson only attempted 401 passes. However, unless defensive coordinators are able to figure out how to stop Greg Roman’s rushing attack, Marquise Brown and Mark Ingram will likely see their ceilings capped from a reception standpoint. 

For the Ravens, their offseason remains mostly the status quo. Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins will need to find their success on the ground to be fantasy viable, as this offense shies away from passing to the running back. Marquise Brown may see a slight uptick in his sophomore season provided he stays healthy, but the only reliable pass catcher on this offense is Mark Andrews. 

Buffalo Bills

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
41 16 15 80 28
John Brown 115 106 39 322 17
50 14 82 24

 
Last season, we saw a Buffalo passing offense that finally produced some fantasy-relevant wide receivers. The Bills had not produced a top-eighteen fantasy wideout since Stevie Johnson in 2012, so John Brown’s ascension to WR15 in his first season was a surprise to many.

Cole Beasley also soaked up over 100 targets in his first year in Buffalo, leveraging his opportunity into a WR27 fantasy finish and multiple usable weeks. The tight end and running back room saw an average of 81 targets each, which is unsurprising given Dawson Knox was a raw prospect and Devin Singletary missed four games with a hamstring injury. Nonetheless, based on Brian Daboll’s favor towards 11 personnel and a backfield committee, the wide receivers in this offense became the main catalyst for receiving production.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
18 Frank Gore 16 1 35 35 7.20% 32

 
The Bills rank 32nd in the league with only 35 vacated targets. Zay Jones was sent packing to Las Vegas during the middle of last season, while Frank Gore was replaced with a younger Zack Moss. Still, neither of these players were involved in the passing game aside from an occasional target here and there. There’s not much room for additional opportunities in Buffalo.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
35 Zack Moss

 
Despite there not being many targets to go around, someone will have to suffer a loss of target share with Stefon Diggs’ addition. Given the price Buffalo paid to acquire Diggs, the former Viking is guaranteed for 100 targets at a minimum. 

Regarding the 35 vacated targets, I am going to project that they will all go to the running backs. Moss is an infinitely better pass catcher than Frank Gore, so I can see 25-30 looks going his way despite his reputation as a bruiser back. Devin Singletary will also be able to play a quarter more of the season than he did last year, so I’ll add the remaining 5-10 targets to his 2019 total.

For Diggs’ share in this offense, Brown and Beasley will each take a sizable hit. Brown will most likely see the biggest hit, as his role as the main deep threat and outside receiver will be supplanted by Diggs; he will probably be more efficient as he faces less fierce coverage from the team’s best cornerback, but his looks should sharply decrease. Beasley will also take a hit, although his role is more defined. Diggs has a knack for getting open and Knox will be more adept at creating space over the middle in his second season, so Beasley’s penchant as a safety blanket could take a blow.

I could easily see Josh Allen crossing the 500 attempt threshold after only throwing 461 passes last season, especially given his schedule is much tougher this time around. Nonetheless, Brown and Beasley are risky propositions come this draft season and shouldn’t be relied upon for anything other than depth. I believe Diggs should slide right into the role he had with Minnesota, with his lack of efficiency offset by an increase in volume. Knox could be a late-round tight end dart throw, but he is a wild card that should likely hit waivers in redraft.

Cincinnati Bengals

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
45 43 0 88 26
148 80 78 388 3
63 40 112 15

 
The Bengals are one of the few teams where looking at last year’s target share does not provide much insight. They finished third in the NFL in targets to the wide receiver, but they were trailing 70.1 percent of the time last season; this necessitated an increase in volume. This didn’t translate to fantasy success, as only Tyler Boyd finished as a top-60 wide receiver. Auden Tate, Alex Erickson, and Tyler Eifert saw inflated targets out of necessity. 

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Tyler Eifert 63 1 64 64 10.80% 27

 
The Bengals don’t have many targets to go around. Tyler Eifert and Andy Dalton open up 64 targets for this offense, which ranks in the bottom-six of the league.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2
64

 
While there are only 64 vacated targets up for grabs, there are a lot more mouths to feed in this offense. A.J. Green is hopeful to play a full season after missing the entirety of last season, while Tee Higgins enters the offense with second-round draft capital and the likelihood of playing opposite of Green. With such a low total of vacated targets, there will all but certainly be a regression from some of the other Cincinnati pass-catchers.

My estimation is simply that Tate and Erickson see their targets go to Green and Higgins. Boyd’s total will almost certainly go down, as he was the only reliable option last season; Green should eat into Boyd’s total and become the main option for the young rookie Joe Burrow

Speaking of Burrow, I can’t see the LSU product mimicking the 615 passing attempts produced by this offense last season. That total will likely plummet to the mid-400s, as it would be asinine to ask a rookie quarterback to throw that much in front of a decrepit offensive line. Green and Boyd should see a majority of the targets in this offense, while Higgins takes a backseat in his rookie season. Mixon, in my estimation, might see a target jump into the mid-50s, as Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a safety net for Burrow at LSU. Cincinnati’s starting tight end is C.J. Uzomah, so it’s doubtful they place a heavy reliance on his position outside of the 40 targets he received last season. 

Overall, the targets for this offense will be reserved from Green, Boyd, and Mixon in that order. If Green gets hurt, then we may see a higher fantasy ceiling for Boyd and Mixon, while Higgins receives some relevance as a FLEX-play. Nonetheless, this is not an offense in which I would rely on any pass-catchers as my starting options.

Cleveland Browns

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
49 44 15 115 11
138 133 24 332 13
27 22 69 29

 
Despite producing the second-leading rusher in the NFL, this offense was quite pass-heavy. Baker Mayfield ranked eighth among quarterbacks in passing attempts, which allowed Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to both finish as top-25 wide receivers despite the offense’s ineptitude. Still, former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens’ scheme seemed to favor the outside wide receivers and running backs. If Hunt had played a full 16 games, we may have seen a higher output for the running back core.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Demetrius Harris 27 Ricky Seals-Jones 22 15 64 64 12.40% 26

 
Like their cross-town rival, not many targets left Cleveland this offseason. Both the second-string and third-string tight ends were sent packing this offseason, while Antonio Callaway departed for the XFL. These pieces were ancillary in nature, so it’s more likely than not their targets will go to the third-string wideout (Donovan Peoples-Jones) or second-string tight end (David Njoku).

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2
64 Austin Hooper Donovan Peoples-Jones

 
The key addition to the Browns’ offense is not so much Austin Hooper himself, but the system he’ll now play in. Kevin Stefanski will take over as the head coach and play-caller in Cleveland, and he’ll primarily run two-tight end sets in a run-oriented offense. The possibility of Landry and Beckham both garnering 130+ targets is slim, as Cleveland didn’t overpay Hooper to be the third-option on this offense.

To project targets, it is best to look at how Minnesota divided its target share last season. Kirk Cousins only attempted 444 passes, with approximately 50 percent of the targets belonging to the wideouts, 25 percent to the running backs, and 25 percent to the tight ends. This is a stark contrast from Cleveland’s 64-22-13 split. Stefon Diggs only saw 94 targets in a season where Adam Thielen missed multiple games, so it appears the ceiling for both Beckham and Landry is capped at double-digit targets. With a lower passing volume in-store, I would expect greater efficiency but less overall production and volume for the Cleveland wide receivers.

Kareem Hunt can become a featured pass catcher in this offense, but it is yet to be seen how Stefanski treats having two solid runners on his offense. Despite Alexander Mattison’s 5.1 YPC average, he was never involved much when Dalvin Cook was healthy, so it remains to be seen if Hunt will be given as much of a target share as he had towards the end of 2019. Hooper is the main beneficiary, as he’ll be a focus in the passing game and likely a safety blanket for Mayfield. With so many mouths to feed and few targets to go around, it’s hard to see any pass-catcher repeating the success they had last season.

Denver Broncos

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
50 48 9 112 14
124 52 44 262 25
66 20 107 16

 
The 2019 Broncos were average in most categories when it came to targets. Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman saw a near-even split in targets, while Noah Fant was the main catalyst in the tight end room. Still, the siphoning of targets by Freeman and Heuerman prevented Lindsay and Fant from finishing in the top fifteen of their respective position groups. After Emmanuel Sanders left, Sutton became the only viable wide receiver target in Denver, accumulating 124 total looks and leveraging his opportunity into a WR18 finish. Aside from him, the Denver wide receiver core was a barren wasteland.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Emmanuel Sanders 44 Devontae Booker 9 5 58 58 12.00% 29

 
The Broncos lost few pieces from their 2019 squad. They traded away Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers during last year’s trade deadline, lost third-string running back Devontae Booker, and failed to retain fullback Andy Janovich. Their 58 vacated targets rank as the fourth-lowest total in the league.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
58

 
Unfortunately, the Broncos skill position groups just got a lot more crowded. After signing Melvin Gordon in free agency, the Broncos spent their first two draft picks on Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. All three players expect to see a meaningful share of the workload, as the Broncos are heavily invested in their offseason additions.

Gordon’s addition likely caps Lindsay’s reception ceiling at last year’s total and all but dissolves Royce Freeman’s 50 targets. Despite his penchant as a physical, downhill runner, Gordon saw 55 targets in Los Angeles last year; it’s likely he will see a similar amount in Denver especially now that he will play a full 16 games. 

Jeudy and Hamler will siphon all of the vacated targets left by the departing players and severely diminish DaeSean Hamilton’s share. Courtland Sutton’s upside is diminished slightly, as it is doubtful he will be force-fed the ball with the weapons surrounding him; however, he should see more efficiency and higher yards per target with a downtick in double coverage.

The Broncos also brought in Nick Vannett, but it’s doubtful his presence affects Noah Fant’s target share. Still, with Heuerman and Vannett in the fold, it’s hard to see Fant seeing a higher percentage of targets than he did in 2019. Given Denver employed three quarterbacks last season, I do expect the overall target volume to rise with one consistent passer under center. Therefore, Fant may be able to break the 75 target barrier despite the increased competition surrounding him.

Houston Texans

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
62 16 1 79 29
150 71 55 332 14
55 48 106 18

 
Where do I begin with the Houston Texans? Well, DeAndre Hopkins had consistently been the target hog in this offense, averaging 166 targets over the past five years. Given he’s a top-three receiver in the NFL, it makes sense he would be force-fed the ball. Fuller recorded nearly half of Hopkins’ total, but this number is skewed given he missed five games and played through injury; Stills then saw 55 targets as the third option in the passing game. 

Despite having a great scatback in Duke Johnson, the Texans rarely dumped off to the running back; their 79 running back targets ranked 29th in the league. With Carlos Hyde playing a majority of the snaps and being a poor pass-catcher, it makes sense that they would rank so low. Nonetheless, Lamar Miller never surpassed 45 targets when he started in Houston, so maybe this team just doesn’t pass to the running back. The tight ends saw a decent share, but they were unremarkable, to say the least.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
DeAndre Hopkins 150 Carlos Hyde 16 Taiwan Jones 1 167 167 32.20% 4

 
In case you missed it this offseason, the Texans traded away DeAndre Hopkins and now need to fill his 150 target void. With Carlos Hyde and Taiwan Jones also departing for saner pastures, the Texans rank fourth in the NFL in vacated targets. It’s not every day that a team trades away their best skill position player and replaces him with three mediocre, injury-prone players, so let’s see how this target split will work out.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
167

 
The Texans added David Johnson, Brandin Cooks, and Randall Cobb to their arsenal of Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Duke Johnson. Houston now has two great pass-catching backs on their roster, despite their tendency to never pass to that position. They also have three wide receivers who run under a 4.39 40-yard dash.

I want to project how the target share will shake out, but these moves are so counter-intuitive to the Texans’ offensive identity that it makes it difficult. Also, none of the Texans wideouts were able to play a full season last year; Cooks is the only starting wideout in this offense to play a full season in at least one of the past two seasons. With these players being injury-prone and a poor fit for the offensive identity, the Texans target total is an utter enigma.

Nonetheless, my expectation is that Cooks will slot in as the WR1 and see approximately 100 targets. Fuller should come relatively close to that total provided he stays on the field, and Stills and Cobb will fight for the scraps of what remains. I would also expect David Johnson to take a large majority of Duke Johnson’s targets, given that the Texans’ staff has shown not to trust the former Cleveland Brown. If David Johnson can log a majority of the running back touches, he may see some fantasy viability as a mid-RB2. Again, as with everyone in Houston, health is a caveat.

Watson passed the ball nearly 500 times last season, and I expect that mark to see a decent bump. The Texans did not do much to address their bottom-10 defense last season, and with a downgrade in wide receiver weapons, Watson will need to throw to keep up. This offense could have fantasy viability, but it will be a constant struggle to determine who will be the lead dog each week.

Indianapolis Colts

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
58 17 11 91 25
72 68 33 255 26
72 52 141 6

 
The Colts saw an overall downtick in passing volume with the insertion of Jacoby Brissett into the lineup and an injury-riddled receiver core. Nyheim Hines cemented his role as the pass-catching back in Indianapolis, corralling 58 looks and limiting the upside of lead runner Marlon Mack. With T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell sidelined, Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson took on more work and combined for 105 targets. Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron combined for 124 total targets, allowing the Colts to finish in the top-six in the NFL in tight end targets.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Eric Ebron 52 28 14 94 118 24.20% 13

 
Unassumingly, the Colts have the 13th-most vacated targets in the league. Nearly half of those targets belonged to Eric Ebron, who saw his efficiency and playing time diminish down the stretch as he couldn’t repeat his dominant 2019 performance. The other losses included Chester Rodgers and Deon Cain, who combined for 42 looks while filling in for the injured starters.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
118

 
The 118 target void now must be filled by multiple players including new additions such as Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman, and Trey Burton as well as returning players such as T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell. Luckily for fantasy owners, Philip Rivers’ arrival in Indianapolis presents an increased opportunity for passing volume.

While Jacoby Brissett and Brian Hoyer only combined for approximately 500 passes last season, Rivers attempted nearly 600 passes in Los Angeles. It is doubtful Rivers repeats such volume behind an improved offensive line and a team more likely to lead in Indianapolis, but there should be an uptick for the Colts nonetheless.

Hilton should once again be the main target in this offense, as he’d averaged over 130 targets in his prior six seasons. The interesting split will be between Pittman and Campbell, as the Colts invested Day 2 draft capital in each receiver over the past two seasons. There’s only enough volume for one to be fantasy relevant, not both; right now, I would side with Pittman.

I’d expect Hines to still maintain his pass-catching role, but Taylor and Mack will likely infringe on his touches. It is yet to be seen whether Taylor will take over a workhorse role that will provide him reception upside, but if he does, I don’t think that translates into much receiving volume in his rookie season. 

I still expect the tight ends to see a heavy dose of targets, as Frank Reich prefers two-tight end sets. Doyle should see a noticeable uptick with Ebron’s absence, while Burton and Alie-Cox fight for secondary work. Watch out for Doyle to be a sneaky TE1 this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
100 24 5 129 7
118 101 90 356 9
20 18 78 25

 
Surprising to most, the Jacksonville Jaguars finished in the top-ten in running back and wide receiver targets. Leonard Fournette had an outlier of a season, more than doubling his highest career target total and scoring zero receiving touchdowns. The targets for the top-three wide receivers were pretty evenly split, with Chark having a breakout WR16 season and accumulating 118 targets. Westbrook and Conley each saw 90+ targets, but that did not translate to meaningful fantasy success. The tight end room, on the other hand, was a wasteland.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Seth DeValve 18 17 13 48 56 9.90% 31

 
The Jaguars ranked only behind the Bills in fewest vacated targets, with a trio of backup tight ends making up a majority of the target void. Aside from them, the same cast will be brought back in 2020 with several new additions.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
56 Tyler Eifert

 
The Jaguar’s target picture is probably one of the easier landscapes to project. Tyler Eifert will likely account for 80 percent of the tight end targets, as he is by far the best tight end in Jacksonville. However, with his injury history, it is doubtful Eifert can surpass 60 targets in this offense.

Leonard Fournette’s targets should see a massive downslide now that Jay Gruden replaces John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator. Gruden has an affinity for Chris Thompson as they worked together in Washington, so I expect Thompson to significantly eat into Fournette’s target share. It would not be surprising to see Fournette return to his 50 target average this season.

Overall passing volume should see a slight downtick, as the change in coaching will allow for a more balanced offense compared to John DeFilippo’s scheme, which is known for its pass-heavy nature. Laviska Shenault will likely take away a good majority of Conley’s value and siphon a bit of Westbrook’s slot upside, as the rookie is known to be a solid contested-catch receiver.

The good news is Chark looks primed to repeat, if not improve, on his high target share and see more success with consistency at quarterback. With Fournette and Conley taking a backslide in the passing game for the incoming skill position players, Chark could very well sneak into the top-12 wide receivers when all is said and done.

Kansas City Chiefs

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
37 34 20 111 15
90 89 55 293 22
136 15 155 4

 
Although we saw major regression from 2018, the Chiefs offense was still ripe with fantasy performers and opportunity. Travis Kelce led the way with 136 targets, the second-highest total of his career. With Tyreek Hill missing four games, Sammy Watkins was able to out-target him; nonetheless, Hill still made the most of his opportunities and finished as the WR31 compared to Watkins’ WR46 standing. 

With the Chiefs’ running back situation in flux in 2018, Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy saw a pretty even target split despite each back missing multiple games. Nonetheless, Kansas City still finished in the top half of the league in running back targets.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
LeSean McCoy 34 Blake Bell 15 7 56 58 10.30% 30

 
The Chiefs rank in the bottom-three of vacated targets, with only LeSean McCoy and Blake Bell being the notable losses in the offseason. With few additions and losses, this Chiefs team is relatively predictable entering into the 2020 season.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2
58 Clyde Edwards-Helaire Ricky Seals-Jones

 
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the only notable addition to this offense, and he’ll more than likely accumulate 60-70 targets while splitting time with Damien Williams. McCoy’s 24 targets and Darrell Williams’ 20 targets should be a solid floor for Edwards-Helaire, whom I expect to garner a more featured role towards the end of the season. Ricky Seals-Jones is the new Blake Bell, and he is utterly irrelevant for fantasy unless Kelce goes down.

The main difference in targets will be Tyreek Hill playing a full season and Mecole Hardman progressing in his second year. I project Sammy Watkins to see a noticeable downtick in targets as his share is siphoned away by a healthy Hill and growing Hardman. Nonetheless, with Mahomes expected to play a full 16 games, the target volume increase overall should allow for better performances for all of the Kansas City wideouts.

With Watkins and Hardman likely seeing a very similar target share in 2020, I would opt for the younger Hardman over the oft-injured Watkins. Still, this offense is quite predictable. Hill and Kelce will once again be in the top-twelve at their position, Edwards-Helaire could have a Miles Sanders-like path to success, and Watkins/Hardman/Robinson will each have the occasional blow-up game. As long as they have Mahomes, there will be plenty of targets for all involved.

Las Vegas Raiders

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
43 41 27 111 16
Hunter Renfrow 71 Tyrell Williams 64 Zay Jones 27 162 32
Darren Waller 117 25 142 5

 
After Antonio Brown departed from the team in late August, there became a 150-target void to fill in Las Vegas. Without a competent WR1, the majority of the targets fell towards tight end Darren Waller; Waller ranked third among all tight ends in targets as the Raiders were a top-five team in passing to the tight end. As the tight end target share grew larger, the wide receiver target share diminished.

Las Vegas ranked dead last among all teams in wide receiver targets, with Hunter Renfrow barely edging out Tyrell Williams for most targets at the position. While the Raiders ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of running back targets, no runner on the roster surpassed 45 targets. Jacobs, who led the team with 242 carries, finished tied for fifth on the team in targets.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
DeAndre Washington 41 10 9 60 68 13.80% 24

 
Las Vegas lost more ancillary pieces than anything else, as their third-string running back and bench wide receivers were the main departures this offseason. That leaves 68 vacated targets up for grabs in an offense that threw the ball 513 times last season.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3 Addition 4
68

 
With numerous additions and few vacated targets, these incoming players will siphon opportunity from current players on the roster. The Raiders spent three of their first four draft selections on skill position players, with the most notable being Henry Ruggs in the first round. Ruggs and Edwards are likely to see a majority of looks given their high draft capital, spelling trouble for veterans on the roster like Tyrell Williams, Zay Jones, and Nelson Agholor. While they may not receive enough volume to be fantasy relevant in year one, they will do enough to have relevant weeks.

Jason Witten, although older and slower, hurts Darren Waller. The Raiders didn’t just bring in Witten to be a veteran presence, as the former Cowboy garnered 83 targets last season and was a consistent safety blanket for Dak Prescott. As Foster Moreau sees his fantasy outlook diminish to almost nothing, Waller will likely submit a good amount of time and targets to Witten. I can easily see Waller dropping below 90 targets with all of the competition around him.

Lynn Bowden and Devontae Booker’s addition cement Josh Jacobs’ role as purely a first and second down runner. Jacobs’ ceiling was already capped with limited reception upside, but the presence of Richard, Bowden, and Booker will keep Jacobs as a high floor player who likely won’t enter the RB1 tier without a Derrick Henry-like performance on the ground.

I personally believe Hunter Renfrow’s targets are the safest of this group, as he is the only player with the slot skill set on the roster. Nonetheless, the addition of Witten and Waller do limit his upside as the safety blanket over the middle. I can still see Renfrow finishing as a high-end WR3 and operating as the “Cole Beasley” for the safe, accurate Derek Carr.

Los Angeles Chargers

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
Austin Ekeler 108 Melvin Gordon 55 11 182 1
Keenan Allen 149 90 17 295 21
76 13 98 22

 
The Chargers were a passing machine in 2019, with Philip Rivers throwing the seventh-most passes in the league in his last hurrah in Los Angeles. That resulted in Austin Ekeler having a breakout season, finishing second among all running backs in targets, and leveraging that opportunity into an RB4 fantasy finish. Melvin Gordon saw 55 targets despite missing a quarter of the season.

Keenan Allen also benefited, as he saw 149 looks and finished as the WR8 in 2019; this was Allen’s third consecutive season with 135+ targets and 1,100+ yards. Mike Williams saw a career-high 90 targets in his third season, but his two touchdowns in 15 games hurt his ability to contribute consistently for fantasy.

Hunter Henry looked to rebound after missing the entire 2018 season, but he again missed time in 2019, as he only played 12 games. Still, he was able to finish 11th among tight ends in targets and stood as the TE9 on the season. 

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Melvin Gordon 55 16 Dontrelle Inman 13 84 104 18.10% 16

 
Melvin Gordon was the biggest departure for this offense, as his 55 targets in 12 games will be up for grabs. The Chargers ancillary wide receivers like Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman leave very little behind for Keenan Allen or Mike Williams to take.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
104 K.J. Hill

 
These targets may just vanish into the ether. With Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert replacing the pass-happy Philip Rivers, I expect the passing volume of this Chargers offense to drop quite a bit as they focus on a more run-heavy approach. These late-round rookies do not present much competition for targets among the established skill position players already on the team.

With the likelihood that Taylor starts the season, we should see the target share favor the tight end more than the wide receiver or running back. In Taylor’s three full seasons in Buffalo, his lead back LeSean McCoy averaged 61 targets per season, with a high of 77 and low of 50. Even with Melvin Gordon gone, the likelihood of Ekeler seeing over 100 targets again is slim. Still, I like his chances to see somewhere between 70-80 looks.

Keenan Allen and Mike Williams should also see a downtick, as Tyrod Taylor’s career-high in passing attempts was 436 in 2016. Taylor never had a wide receiver surpass 100 targets, so it’s more likely Allen and Williams also see somewhere between the 80-90 range. 

Hunter Henry is likely the biggest beneficiary, as Taylor has typically relied upon the tight end when healthy. Even with an overall downtick in passing volume, I expect Henry to finish in the top-12 in tight end targets and be a viable TE1 for fantasy. 

Even though Justin Herbert may start a few games, I wouldn’t expect Anthony Lynn and his coaching staff to put too much pressure on the rookie in his first season. This will be a low volume offense that may be frustrating to watch.

Miami Dolphins

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
33 30 24 120 9
DeVante Parker 128 62 60 366 7
89 14 116 13

 
Miami ranked in the top half of the league in targets for each position, but this was mostly a byproduct of them needing to throw to overcome their large deficits. However, once Ryan Fitzpatrick took over, this offense became quite fantasy viable. DeVante Parker experienced a career resurgence by setting career-highs in targets, yards, and touchdowns.

With Preston Williams sidelined for the second half of the season, Albert Wilson and Mike Gesicki saw an increased role. Gesicki’s 89 targets ranked seventh among all tight ends. The running back group was uninspiring, as the Dolphins cycled through multiple players like Kenyan Drake, Patrick Laird, Mark Walton, and Kalen Ballage; none of these backs were relevant in Miami.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Kenyan Drake 33 Mark Walton 21 8 62 67 11.00% 25

 
Miami made some wholesale changes this offseason, but the skill position groups weren’t majorly affected. Drake was shipped off to Arizona before the trade deadline last season, Walton was suspended and eventually cut by the team, and Walford was their third-string tight end who saw little playing time. The Dolphins only have 87 vacated targets to fill, which ranks 25th in the NFL.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2
67

 
Shockingly, the Dolphins failed to bring in any big names at the skill position players through either free agency or the draft. Instead, they settled for Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, who I expect to have some fantasy viability depending on the weekly matchup. Howard will be more of the downhill bruiser, as he only managed 14 targets in 10 games with Philadelphia; a full season should see Howard grab anywhere from 20-25 targets. Breida will be the pass-catcher and change of pace back, so I expect him to take the remainder of the vacated targets and see anywhere from 40-45 looks.

The wide receivers and tight ends should see some shake up due to two reasons: Preston Williams’ return and Chan Gailey’s arrival. Williams had out-targeted Parker in the time they played together, so I can see Williams eating into Parker’s share and the two receivers finishing much closer than we expect. Parker is still the No. 1 receiver, but Williams should be a close No. 2.

I expect Albert Wilson to eat more into Mike Gesicki’s total due to Gailey’s system. The former Bills and Jets coach has worked with Ryan Fitzpatrick multiple times, and they implement a system that features a lot of 10 personnel and few tight end targets. No tight end under Gailey has ever accumulated more than 45 receptions or 600 yards. Unless he gets utilized as a wide receiver, I see Gesicki’s targets taking a downtick while Wilson and Grant see an uptick.

I expect the Dolphins regime to be smart and keep Ryan Fitzpatrick in for most of the year. Therefore, the passing volume should stay relatively consistent with Fitzpatrick’s 502 attempts from last season (I don’t count Josh Rosen’s attempts because they helped no one). Either way, this Miami offense could be high-flying for a majority of the season.

New England Patriots

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
James White 95 38 20 166 2
153 54 47 367 6
Benjamin Watson 24 Matt LaCosse 19 53 32

 
The New England offense was difficult to project for a while. With Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown, Mohamed Sanu, and the endless running back committee confusing fantasy owners on a daily basis, there were only two consistent players to be relied upon: Julian Edelman and James White. Edelman ranked fourth among all wide receivers in targets while White ranked sixth among running backs.

Aside from those players, determining whether Burkhead, Sanu, or Dorsett would have a good week had become completely blind conjecture. Tom Brady dismissed the tight end group entirely, as New England ranked dead last in tight end targets. It was the Edelman and White show for the whole season. 

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Phillip Dorsett 54 Josh Gordon 36 Benjamin Watson 24 114 124 20.90% 12

 
New England surprisingly ranks 12th in vacated targets, with Dorsett, Gordon, and Watson leaving behind 114 targets by themselves. These players were mostly ancillary pieces for a while, but they leave a lot of production to be replaced.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
124 Marqise Lee

 
I am not sure this vacated target total will belong to anyone. Tom Brady ranked fourth among quarterbacks in pass attempts in 2019, throwing 613 times. Now that he’s in Tampa Bay and Jarrett Stidham takes over the reins, I highly doubt we will see anywhere near that much throwing. Putting Stidham somewhere in the mid-to-high 400s in attempts seems reasonable, so I’ll assume these vacated targets evaporate into nothing.

With Stidham’s insertion, however, I don’t particularly see a change in target share. Edelman and White will likely remain as the safety valves in the offense, while the other running backs like Burkhead, Harris, and Michel see meaningless receiving work. I would expect the volume of the WR2 to dip, however, as I believe New England will look to focus more on 12 personnel with the additions of Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. These tight ends won’t be fantasy relevant in year one, but they’ll siphon enough targets to leave Sanu and Lee in a fantasy wasteland.

While the overall volume will go down, I still expect Edelman to see 100+ targets and White to garner 80+ looks. They’ll have viable production under Stidham, who is known as a game-manager and an efficient passer. He’s not Tom Brady, but even Alex Smith was able to produce fantasy contributors.

New York Jets

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
78 17 12 107 18
122 96 58 328 16
41 11 57 30

 
With Chris Herndon sidelined for the season and Sam Darnold out with mononucleosis for several games, the target share became quite interesting in New York. Jamison Crowder became the main target in the offense, seeing 122 looks and ranking 16th among wideouts in targets; he was the true first-read. Robby Anderson disappointed many, seeing only 96 targets and failing to haul in the valuable deep balls. Le’Veon Bell saw 78 targets in his 15 games last season, as Adam Gase continues to baffle NFL fans in how he utilizes his best players. With Herndon out, the Jets did not rely much on the tight end, ranking 30th among NFL teams in tight end target share.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Robby Anderson 96 Demaryius Thomas 58 Ty Montgomery 17 171 183 37.10% 3

 
The Jets rank third in the NFL in vacated targets, which is good news for incoming and current players. Robby Anderson and Demaryius Thomas are both out of New York, leaving behind a large 150+ target void to fill; Ty Montgomery and Bilal Powell were replaced and their 29 targets are also up for grabs.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
183 La’Mical Perine

 
New York overhauled their skill position players, adding Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman, La’Mical Perine, and Frank Gore to the offense. Mims and Perriman should pick up where Anderson and Thomas left off, as I expect the rookie and veteran to split the load quite evenly as the talented Mims gets adjusted to the NFL. Mims may not impress with his target total in 2020, but he can certainly grow into a solid first option for Darnold.

Crowder is still a great underneath route runner, so another season with 100+ targets isn’t out of the question. The only thing that could hurt him is Herndon’s return, as I expect the young tight end to steal some work from the slot receiver. Herndon saw 56 targets in his rookie year, so a season with 60 targets could be in store for the athletic tight end.

I also expect Bell to see more targets as Sam Darnold gets more comfortable in the offensive system and Adam Gase (hopefully) figures out how to use his best weapon. Bell had averaged 100 targets in his last two seasons in Pittsburgh, so he’s certainly capable of entering the upper echelon of running back touches.

This Jets offense ranked quite low in passing volume, barely eclipsing 500 total attempts between Darnold, Falk, and Siemian. I believe Bell’s increase in targets will come solely from an increase in overall passing work for this offense. Still, given Adam Gase remains as the play-caller, 50 targets for Frank Gore would not surprise me at this point.

Pittsburgh Steelers

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
57 38 7 110 17
92 80 70 299 20
55 Nick Vannett 17 76 26

 
There’s always something to learn by looking at historical data, but the Steelers may be the outlier in this analysis. Pittsburgh’s injury issues and the constant revolving door at quarterback made it tough to really learn anything. Ben Roethlisberger missed 14 games, Juju Smith-Schuster missed four games, and James Conner missed six games (while being injured in many others). In my opinion, Dionte Johnson and James Washington performed well given their circumstances at quarterback, but we truly don’t know if their production was a product of necessity or actual talent. Also, we have no idea if Smith-Schuster and Conner’s breakout in 2018 was a flash in the pan or a sign of things to come. With the Steelers offense dropping from 675 pass attempts to 505 pass attempts in the span of a year, few things make sense in the Steel City.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Nick Vannett 17 15 15 47 63 12.90% 28

 
The Steelers did not lose much this offseason, with a total of 63 targets leaving this team. The biggest departure was Nick Vannett, the second-string tight end who was brought over from Seattle early last season. Aside from that, nothing notable is gone from Pittsburgh.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1 Addition 2 Addition 3
63 Eric Ebron

 
The Steelers brought in several intriguing members, including Eric Ebron, Chase Claypool, and Anthony McFarland. I do not expect Claypool or McFarland to see much work in their rookie seasons, as Pittsburgh is quite stacked at both running back and wide receiver. Claypool will likely challenge Washington for the WR3 and McFarland will challenge Samuels for the RB2, but they won’t be notable for fantasy. Ebron could see a career revival, as he’ll enter a high-powered offense and become the biggest red-zone threat on this team. It’ll be interesting to see if he will see a majority of the targets over Vance McDonald; nonetheless, I don’t expect either tight end to eclipse 65 targets.

I am of the belief that this offense will find a middle ground between their 2018 and 2019 season provided Roethlisberger is healthy, so 600 passing attempts seems like a reasonable estimate. If that is to be the case, Smith-Schuster should easily eclipse 120 targets and Johnson could end up in the high-90s or low-100s. There will be enough volume from Roethlisberger to support two wideouts in this offense, and Smith-Schuster and Johnson seem like the clear tandem to carve out a role. Washington and Claypool may have a relevant week here or there, but not enough to make them a weekly starter.

Conner’s target share is a bit unknown, as Pittsburgh started to rely on Samuels even before Conner suffered his injuries. Adding in McFarland only complicated matters, so Conner’s upside in the target department could still be limited. He will perform better than last season, but his 71 targets from 2018 may be a lofty goal.

Many in the fantasy community may still suffer from recency bias with this offense, but Pittsburgh can be a force with a healthy Big Ben. Don’t forget, Roethlisberger finished as the QB2 in 2018 by throwing for over 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. There will be plenty of volume, but there’s much unknown after an injury-plagued season. Nonetheless, the current price of Steeler players has never been lower, so it’s a worthwhile gamble for those willing to trust in Roethlisberger.

Tennessee Titans

RB1/WR1/TE1 Targets RB2/WR2/TE2 Targets RB3/WR3 Targets Team Total Total Positional Targets Rank
32 Derrick Henry 24 5 62 30
84 69 47 255 28
44 31 107 17

 
Despite the quarterback change during the middle of the season, the Tennessee offense was exactly what most expected. It is a run-oriented offense that mainly focuses on passing to the tight ends out of play action. The Titans ranked in the bottom-five in terms of targets to the wide receiver and running back groups, with the highest total belonging to the rookie A.J. Brown. While Brown had a breakout season towards the end of the year, it was more due to efficiency than volume. Ryan Tannehill only averaged approximately 28 passes per game, which ranked outside of the top-sixteen quarterbacks. The remainder of the Tennessee targets were spread out, as no other player accumulated more than 70 looks.

Departing Player 1 Vacated Targets Departing Player 2 Vacated Targets Departing Player 3 Vacated Targets Vacated Targets From Top-3 Total Vacated Targets Vacated Target % Vacated Targets Rank
Tajae Sharp 35 Dion Lewis 32 Delanie Walker 31 98 103 24.10% 17

 
Tennessee ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of vacated targets, but they didn’t lose anyone of note. Delanie Walker had a major role in the offense early on, but once he succumbed to injury, Jonnu Smith took over his workload. Still, Sharp, Walker, and Lewis leave behind nearly 100 targets to be had by other players.

Total Vacated Targets Addition 1
103

 
While many expected Tennessee to find a better compliment to A.J. Brown than Corey Davis, they elected to forgo the wide receiver position entirely. Instead, they spent a third-round pick on Derrick Henry’s insurance policy and pass-catching weapon Darrynton Evans. Evans will likely be expected to fill the Dion Lewis role, as he’ll come in for Henry on obvious passing downs and spell him on occasion. Unfortunately for Henry’s ceiling, I don’t see the former Alabama star surpassing his career-high of 24 targets.

Still, that leaves a major hole to fill in this offense. I expect Jonnu Smith and A.J. Brown to see a noticeable target bump, with the former seeing a more featured role as the team’s primary tight end and the latter eclipsing 100 targets. Smith may not receive enough volume to become a perennial TE1, but he’ll have streaming capability in what is a low-passing offense. I’ve given up on Corey Davis as a fantasy asset, so he’ll likely remain at his 70 target median. 

Adam Humphries may see a bit of a boost as he recovers from injury, but I doubt he’ll see much playing time given this team focuses on 12 personnel. This offense’s identity is set, so I would expect a good deal of Brown and Davis on the outside, while Henry lines up behind two-tight end sets.

It’s possible Ryan Tannehill sees a slight volume boost on a per-game basis as he grows with this offense, but I don’t believe they will ask him to do much. With Tennessee having a top-10 defense and workhorse running back, there will likely only be enough targets for Brown and Smith to be fantasy relevant. 

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Dan Ambrosino is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Dan, check out his archive and follow him @AmbrosinoNFL.

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