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The Points Per Target Danger Zone: More Wide Receivers Due for Regression

In a previous post, we discussed the “PPT Danger Zone” and established that points per target (PPT) is not a sticky stat. The relationship between a wide receiver’s PPT in year N has little correlation with his PPT in year N+1. Simply put, we can’t count on a player’s efficiency in terms of PPT carrying from season to season.

2017 Danger Zone Finishers

Player Gms Targets Rec Yds TD PPG Fantasy Points PPT Targets per TD
JuJu Smith-Schuster 14 79 58 917 7 13.7 192 2.43 11
Ted Ginn 15 70 53 787 4 10.6 160 2.28 18
Tyreek Hill 15 105 75 1183 7 15.9 239 2.28 15
Will Fuller 10 50 28 423 7 11.3 113 2.26 7
Marvin Jones 16 107 61 1101 9 14.1 225 2.10 12
Sammy Watkins 15 70 39 593 8 9.8 146 2.09 9
Stefon Diggs 14 95 64 849 8 14.2 198 2.09 12

Having already covered Juju Smith-Schuster, Tedd Ginn, and Tyreek Hill, let’s review the four remaining WRs.

Will Fuller – 2017 PPT: 2.26, ADP – 75

Will Fuller played in four games with Deshaun Watson during the 2017 season. In these games, he averaged 21 points and scored seven touchdowns. On the season, Fuller found the end zone every seven targets. Even with Watson back, this efficiency is unsustainable. However, Fuller is appropriately priced at WR34. Fuller was targeted on 17 percent of passes thrown in the games he played. While DeAndre Hopkins could control more than 30 percent of targets, the Texans lack an established tight end or clearly defined third option at WR. As a result, Fuller’s target share has strong odds of increasing in the coming season.

Fuller Split

If Houston passes with a similar frequency in 2018 (535 attempts in 2017), and Fuller can see a small bump to 19 percent of targets, he could garner six-plus targets per game. If his efficiency, in terms of PPT, regresses to near average levels of 1.8 PPT, he could still score approximately 11 points on a weekly basis. In 2017, this would have placed him directly in the ballpark of his 2018 ADP. On the flipside, if his target share remains flat, the team could increase its passing volume with Watson under center for the entire season.

Of course, the above assumes that Watson is able to play with the level of competency required to support solid efficiency for Fuller. Also implicit in this assumption is Watson jumping back into full form without delay. Given that Watson is being drafted as the third QB off the board, drafters are buying into this notion. While a top-15 finish at the WR position represents a small percentage of Fuller’s range of outcomes, the upside he possesses with Watson back is enough for him to merit consideration if available near his ADP.

Marvin Jones – 2017 PPT: 2.10, ADP – 52

Like Sammy Watkins and Stefon Diggs, Marvin Jones just barely ended up in the PPT Danger Zone in 2017. This was the second time since 2013 that he finished with PPT above 2.07. In 2013, he boasted an impressive score of 2.35 PPT. This is noteworthy when you consider that Jones missed the 2014 season. In addition to being extremely efficient in two of his last four seasons, he managed this feat while playing with different quarterbacks — Andy Dalton in 2012 and Matthew Stafford in 2017.

While we can’t review how Jones fared in the subsequent season after his first appearance in the Danger Zone, he did regress upon returning to action in 2015. He produced 1.70 PPT and just 4 touchdowns that season. In 2017, he finished as the WR12 based on total points, and the WR14 on a point per game basis last season. So regression has been baked into his ADP.

Jones

He’s been able to overcome a lack of overall targets with his efficiency. In his two seasons with Detroit, Jones controlled an average of 18 percent of targets. Eric Ebron, who absorbed at least 85 targets per season while playing alongside Jones, will be in Indianapolis in 2018. The Lions signed Luke Willson to a one-year contract to replace Ebron. While he will likely see the highest target volume of his career, he’s recorded just 89 receptions since entering the league in 2013. As a result, 85 targets seems like a lofty goal.1 This presents an opportunity for Jones to grab more targets. However, sophomore WR Kenny Golladay saw just eight percent of passing attempts last season and is expected to become a larger part of the offense.2 As a result, Jones should be able to see a bump in targets but it would be a stretch to anticipate an extra 25 plus targets. Also troubling for Jones is the negative impact that Golladay had on his output last season.

Jones split

While it’s hard to not imagine Jones regressing in 2018, it does seem that drafters have accounted for this in their valuations. He’s being selected as the WR24, despite finishing as WR14 on a PPG basis last season. Nonetheless, when drafting Jones, be aware that there’s a good chance 2017 will go down as the best fantasy season of his career.

Sammy Watkins – 2017 PPT: 2.09, ADP – 58

Like Jones, Watkins finished in the Danger Zone in two out of his last four seasons. Similarly, he managed to do so while playing with two quarterbacks — Tyrod Taylor in 2014, and Jared Goff in 2017. Drafters are selecting Watkins two spots after Jones at WR26. They must be expecting a substantial increase in volume as Watkins’ best finish of his career came in his WR25 rookie season.Watkins Summary

Garnering just four and a half targets per game in 2017, Watkins finished as the WR38 for total points and WR51 on a per game basis. The odds of Watkins increasing his efficiency in his first season with Kansas City are against him. This means that his workload will need to increase substantially. Unfortunately for Watkins, The Chiefs have passed at levels below the league average in every season since 2013. KC PA ATT

Throughout this timeframe, the team’s WR1 averaged a target share of 20 percent. This means that the highest total enjoyed by a Chiefs’ WR1 was 110 targets. Needless to say, a projection of 100 targets for Watkins, who figures to be the WR2, in 2018 is in no way conservative. At this volume, 6.25 targets per game, Watkins would need approximately 1.92 PPT in order to justify his ADP. 3. At 85 targets, which may be a more realistic estimate, Watkins would need to score 2.26 points per target.

The prudent drafter will anticipate regression, and recognize that Watkins would need at least 75 targets to have a remote shot at returning value at his ADP. I’ll be publishing my projections in the coming weeks, and will provide some analysis on where I think he’ll end up.

Stefon Diggs – 2017 PPT: 2.09, ADP – 33

Injuries have prevented Diggs from finishing better than WR23 on a season-long basis. However, Diggs finished as the WR14 in 2016, and as the WR13 last season, based on points per game. Though Kirk Cousins is expected to be an upgrade over Case Keenum, regression in Diggs’ efficiency should be anticipated.4 Diggs is being selected as the WR15. While this doesn’t factor in regression, it’s fair to assume that drafters are expecting an increase in volume.

Unfortunately for Diggs, this increase isn’t guaranteed. For starters, it’s hard to say with any certainty if Diggs or Adam Thielen will be favorited by Cousins. Diggs hasn’t played in any games without Thielen over the last two years, but Thielen has seen a dramatic increase in targets (and decrease in efficiency) when Diggs has missed time, suggesting that the two do cannibalize each others’ targets to a degree.

 

thielen-diggs

If Thielen maintains his target share or even sees an increase with Cousins, it will likely come, at least partly, at Diggs’ expense.

The Vikings won 13 games last season and are expecting to win a minimum of 1o in 2018. With a stout defense and Dalvin Cook returning to the lineup, Minnesota may be able to rely more heavily on its ground game. Naturally, this would decrease Diggs’ odds of seeing an overall increase in volume. Since Mike Zimmer took over the team’s head coaching duties in 2014, the Vikings have passed at below average levels. Of course, Pat Shurmur will be in New York this season, which leaves room for new Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo to reorient the offense.5

MIN Passing

Diggs scored seven touchdowns during the fantasy season in 2017, so it will be a challenge for him to offset an overall drop in efficiency with extra trips to the end zone. While there are cases that can be made for Diggs possessing upside, fewer assumptions are needed to envision him failing to beat his 2018 ADP.

  1. This assertion recognizes that Willson has played behind the likes of Jimmy Graham. However, Willson will need to acclimate to a new team and has yet to prove that he can carry a TE1 workload.  (back)
  2. Golladay played in only 11 games, which depresses his target share.  (back)
  3. This works out to 12 points per game, which was good for WR26 in 2017  (back)
  4. Let’s not forget that Keenum was solid in 2017. He was more accurate than Cousins with a completion percentage of 67 percent to Cousins 65 percent, and Cousins’ QBR of 100 just edged out Keenums’ 99.  (back)
  5. While I outline a scenario in which the team could pass less in the above, I just talked with Matthew Freedman who used the same factors to argue for the team passing more.  (back)

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