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3 Players Expected to See More Targets (2024 Fantasy Football)

As the renowned Greek philosopher Heraclitus once wisely observed, “In the realm of fantasy football, there is nothing permanent except change.” Ahem. He may have left out the fantasy football part, but the point remains. Rather than perceiving change as a hurdle, we should embrace the opportunities it presents.

Change, in the context of fantasy football, can present plenty of opportunities, especially in how an offense runs. Plenty of variables can change from year to year. A new head coach or offensive coordinator often brings an entirely different scheme highlighting different positions. Improving offensive lines that allow time for plays to develop can benefit receivers who run lengthy routes. Rookies or free agents joining teams enhance the overall dynamic and patch holes that previously existed. The list goes on.

One of the critical factors in making accurate projections in fantasy football is identifying which players stand to benefit from offseason changes. This is particularly crucial when it comes to anticipating target share. By understanding the potential impact of changes, we can make more informed decisions in our fantasy football strategies. Here are several players who are likely to see their volume of targets rise due to the changes made this offseason.

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Fantasy Football Expected Target Share Risers

Drake London (WR – ATL)

Drake London’s inclusion here is a total layup, but I can’t stress enough how much he benefitted from the changes Atlanta made. Not only did the team finally fire head coach Arthur Smith after another disappointing season riddled with inept play calling, but they dramatically improved their quarterback situation by signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year deal in early March. The removal of Smith relieves London of the albatross around his neck, as his refusal to integrate the Falcons’ explosive playmakers in favor of a conservative offense greatly capped any upside.

A quick look at Atlanta’s 2023 receiving stats reveals a concerning trend — London “led” the team with just 69 receptions and 905 yards on 110 targets. He was the only player on the Falcons with more than 54 receptions. This not only indicates the low volume of pass attempts (Atlanta finished with the eighth-fewest attempts in the NFL last year) but also the overall quality of passes thrown, which was subpar. The quarterback duo of Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke struggled, averaging just 183 passing yards per game, a sub-60% completion rate, and fewer than 7.0 yards per attempt. These offensive struggles significantly impacted London’s performance, but the changes in the team’s dynamics offer a glimmer of hope for his future performance.

London’s gross misusage was baffling to fantasy managers, given the amount of upside he possesses as a downfield threat and jump-ball specialist. The frustration was palpable — how could something so obvious to the masses be so difficult for Smith to understand?

London is projected to finish with a stat line of 84 receptions for 1,124 yards and six touchdowns on FantasyPros, a sharp rise over last year’s totals. Buy the hype here — with enough targets, London can finish as a low-end WR1.

George Pickens (WR – PIT)

I’m pretty sure the noise you just heard was George Pickens saying, “Hold my beer,” when I was discussing players that stand to benefit from a change under center. No longer tied to the noodle arm of Kenny Pickett, Pickens will find himself in unfamiliar territory — the ability to run a deep route without stopping to wait for the ball. Pickett’s reluctance to throw anything other than short passes (as evidenced by his 6.3 yards per attempt) ignored Pickens’ greatest attribute as one of the league’s preeminent deep threats.

The primary beneficiary of Pittsburgh’s decision to sign Russell Wilson and Justin Fields during the offseason, Pickens is the undisputed alpha option on a team vying to contend in the stacked AFC North division.

Following the departure of Diontae Johnson to Carolina, Pickens has little competition for targets in the passing game other than Pat Freiermuth and rookie Roman Wilson. When Pittsburgh calls a passing play this year, the odds are that he will be the primary read for whoever is starting at quarterback.

A popular breakout candidate for 2024, Pickens has already proven he can take his game to the next level after he finished with a 63/1,140/5 split in 2023. Even more encouraging, he wasn’t reliant upon Johnson drawing away secondary coverage to thrive, far from it. When Johnson missed time during the first five weeks of 2023, Pickens averaged nearly 13 points and 80 yards per game as their WR1. From the Steelers’ Week 6 bye onward, he took a backseat to Johnson, failing to eclipse eight targets in 10 of the next 12 games, which is utterly criminal.

Dalton Kincaid (TE – BUF)

You didn’t think this article only pertained to wide receivers, did you? Buffalo is an easy destination to look towards when it comes to target share risers following their exodus of talent in the offseason. The departure of both Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis leaves a gaping hole for the Bills to fill, and I’m more inclined to endorse Dalton Kincaid than rookie Keon Coleman as the primary beneficiary. This isn’t an attempt to diminish Coleman’s talent, far from it — I prefer backing the established player who has already proven that they can succeed in the league.

After being eased into action opposite Dawson Knox before Buffalo’s Week 6 bye, Kincaid exploded once they retook the field, ranking seventh in target share, ninth in receiving yards per game and 11th in route per dropback rate (tip of the cap to my colleague Derek Brown for that last statistic). When Kincaid ran a route, Allen looked his way. And that was with Diggs and Davis on the field.

When considering the breakdown of targets for Buffalo in 2024, ask yourself the following — do you really think the Bills will ask Coleman to completely change his playstyle during his rookie year? Or play to his strengths and utilize his large frame downfield in contested catch situations? I’d say the latter.

It is perfectly acceptable to project Coleman for a strong rookie campaign given his elite measurables (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and upward trajectory since breaking out at Florida State. Just don’t be surprised when Josh Allen continues to pepper the sure-handed Kincaid with targets up and down the field. I’m very confident he will blow past his 73/673/2 rookie totals with ease.

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