Wide Receiver Targets takes you behind the scenes with the most advanced target information, including receiving fantasy points over expectation (reFPOE), air yards, receiver air conversion ratio (RACR), and weighted opportunity rating (WOPR).
How did your fantasy team fare during championship week? You are either exhilarated or despondent. You may be thinking back to your fantasy draft and the players you selected. Is your mind drifting to the decisions you made in regards to the waiver wire? Are you questioning the start or sit decisions you made? The only thing you can control is what you do moving forward. The offseason provides an opportunity to identify and address the real challenges you faced this season in order to correct them. The path to greatness starts now and not the summer of 2018.
WEEK 16 WR TARGETS
Larry Fitzgerald is another excellent example of how elite WRs can occasionally transcend quarterback play. The only WRs with more air yards than his 169 were Michael Clark (182) and Josh Doctson (191). Fitzgerald has averaged 9.9 targets, 6.7 receptions, and 73.4 receiving yards per game this season. He also has a positive seasonal receiving fantasy points over expectation (reFPOE) which suggests he is outperforming his target volume.
A.J. Green has only accumulated 26 targets over the last three games. He has had difficult matchups against the Bears, Vikings, and Ravens secondaries. Green had 418 air yards over that time frame but generated 30.5 fantasy points, not the kind of production Green owners anticipated during the fantasy playoffs.
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen each had 24 targets over the last three weeks with nearly identical receiving yardage. Diggs’ TD and additional receptions helped his overall production. He was the WR11 from Week 14 to 16 and rewarded players who stuck with him during the ups and downs.
JuJu Smith-Schuster had an opportunity to shine in the Steelers first game without Antonio Brown. His 49 receptions were the most by a Steelers rookie since Santonio Holmes back in 2006. Smith-Schuster averaged 5.8 targets, 4.1 receptions, and 64.5 receiving yards in 12 games. Smith-Schuster averaged 4.1 points per game more than expected. Only Tyreek Hill was better (4.8).
Dez Bryant was a major disappointment, especially when you take into account the draft capital it took to land him. He continues to have a lack of chemistry with Cowboys franchise QB Dak Prescott. Bryant has averaged 7.8 targets, 4.1 receptions, and 57.5 receiving yards over the last 28 games. He tied Marqise Lee for the most drops (10) according to Inside Edge. Bryant generated 1,200 or more receiving yards from 2012 to 2014. He signed a signed a five-year, $70 million contract, including a $20 million signing bonus, $45 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $14 million. Bryant has yet to hit 1,000 receiving yards since signing this contract.
The Cowboys front office wisely structured his contract in a manner which would give them an out after three seasons. It is not out of the realm of possibilities that Bryant may be asked to take a pay cut. His productivity has faded and the chart above depicts that perfectly.
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
The top-12 fantasy WRs from 2013 to 2016 have averaged 152.6 targets per season and 9.5 targets per game. I mentioned this in the introduction to the Target Watch series back in August, along with our staff projections for the season. Targets per game, receptions per game, and yards per game are some of the most predictable statistics for WRs. You will have clarity on your WR research once you eliminate the noise of catch rate, yards per reception, yards per target, games played, and other highly cited but volatile statistics. Who were the top-20 most targeted WRs from Week 1 to Week 8?
THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON
DeAndre Hopkins crushed with 24.8 reFPOE. Jarvis Landry, Amari Cooper, Pierre Garcon, and Bryant were high profile examples of WRs on the opposite end of the spectrum. Antonio Brown led all WRs in air yards during this time frame with 1,290 and also produced 289 yards after the catch. Mike Evans left some opportunities on the table considering he had the fifth-highest number of air yards (875) during this time frame.
Fitzgerald was criminally underrated all season, and Michael Thomas was an excellent WR to buy low on. It was disappointing to not see Demaryius Thomas put together a more productive season given the number of targets he was given. What did the second half of the season look like?
THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON
Hopkins continued his consistency, and Jones came alive the second half of the season. Evans fantasy production descended into the abyss. Keenan Allen, Doug Baldwin, Devin Funchess, Brown, Hill, and Thielen all had a very favorable numbers in reFPOE during the second half.
Hopkins (1,335) and Jones (1,243) were the only WRs with 1,000 or more air yards during this time frame. These two WRs also led the way in Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR).1
Fitzgerald, Hopkins, Brown, Allen, Jones, Michael Thomas, and Landry lead the way in efficiency. Funchess and Hill were ridiculously productive on a limited number of targets. Both WRs had an aDOT of a little over 12 yards the second half of the season.
This concludes the Target Watch series for the 2017 season. I will echo a popular Winston Churchill’s quote:
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
As I mentioned in the introduction to this article the path to greatness starts now. The more knowledge you accumulate now the better off you will be entering draft season next summer. I am very active on Twitter (@EricNMoody) and I encourage you to reach out. The team at RotoViz is here to provide you content all year long. We publish over 1,500 ground-breaking articles per year and have over 20 proprietary apps that you can leverage. Until next time!
- A weighted combination of the share of team targets a player receives and the share of team air yards. (back)