Fantasy Football Target Analysis
The Gridiron Experts Wide Receiver Targets Analysis series 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), weighted opportunity rating (WOPR) and other metrics.
Adam Thielen led all wide receivers in targets with 19. Jarvis Landry accounted for 40 percent of the Browns target share. Mike Evans led all wide receivers in Air Yards with 234. John Brown (189), Will Fuller (185), and Antonio Callaway (185) were the only other receivers with 150 or more Air Yards. Quincy Enunwa (2.85) led all receivers with five or more targets in Receiver Air Conversion Ratio. RACR is an efficiency metric that rolls up catch rate and yards after the catch into one number. It can be thought of as the number of receiving yards a player creates for every air yard thrown at him. Landry (0.81) and Devin Funchess (0.81) tied for the highest Weighted Opportunity Rating. WOPR is a weighted combination of the share of team targets a player receives and the share of team air yards. Other notable wide receivers with high WOPRs in Week 2 include Robert Woods (0.77), Will Fuller (0.71), and Calvin Ridley (0.68). You can find these statistics at AirYards.com.
When it comes to analyzing the WR positions targets and Air Yards per game are the most predictable statistics on a season to season basis. Fantasy points are a byproduct of a receiver’s targets. This week I will highlight one player per tier that is projected to see significant target volume that could result in a big Week 4 performance.
- Adam Thielen continues to lead the Vikings in Air Yards, targets, and fantasy points in PPR formats. He will continue to see significant targets in the Vikings offense and provides you with weekly WR1 upside.
- The fortunes of Jarvis Landry improves significantly with Baker Mayfield under center. He currently leads the Browns in targets, receptions, receiving yards, air yards, and fantasy points in PPR formats. This trend is likely to continue considering the contract that the Browns front office signed him to earlier this year. The Raiders offense has allowed the fourth highest number of fantasy points to wide receivers. Landry has a high floor in PPR formats with top-eight upside.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster is in a great position heading into the Steelers Week 4 matchup against the Ravens on Sunday night. The Steelers are currently on a 13 game win streak in prime time games. They have won all of those games by an averaged combined score of nearly 12 points. Smith-Schuster should continue to see a high number of targets. Antonio Brown humiliated the Ravens last December with 11 receptions for 213 receiving yards. If the team goes all out to stop Brown then Smith-Schuster could finish this week within the top-10.
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- The only wide receiver with more targets than Michael Thomas (42) entering Week 4 was Adam Thielen (43). He is currently the WR1 in PPR formats and has a salivating matchup against the Giants this week. The projected point total between these two teams is 50.5. The Saints and Giants have hit the over in four of their last five matchups with an average combined score of 71. The Saints offense will continue to have to score a high number of points considering their defense is allowing 421 yards per game to opposing offenses. The Giants have the offensive weapons to keep up with the Saints. This is a dream matchup for those deploying Thomas into lineups this week.
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- John Brown is only averaging 7.6 targets per game but is averaging 152.3 Air Yards per game heading into Week 4. He has a plus matchup against the Steelers defense which provides him a decent floor and WR1 upside.
- Sammy Watkins has the second most targets (15) on the Chiefs over the last two weeks. This game has a projected point total of 56. The total has gone over in four of the Chiefs last five games. This also applies for the team’s last five games on the road. The Broncos, on the other hand, have seen the total go over in five of their last six games against the Chiefs. I believe Watkins will continue to see opportunities this week against an unintimidating Broncos secondary. He does have a low floor considering the plethora of offensive weapons at the Chiefs disposal, but the upside is immense considering this offense is producing nearly 400 yards per game.
- Jones is averaging 11.3 targets per game this season. He actually leads the Falcons in red zone targets with four, but hasn’t seen a red zone target since Week 1. Jones currently leads all receivers in Air Yards with 548. He was very productive in Week 4 considering he faced Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Jones remains an elite WR1, but will have another difficult matchup against Bengals corner William Jackson.
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- Kelvin Benjamin continues to lead the Bills in targets (16) and Air Yards (279). His play needs to improve, but it is difficult to fade this type of volume especially in deeper formats.
- Lack of consistency at the quarterback position for the Titans continues to suppress Corey Davis’ upside entering Week 4. He leads the team in targets (25) and Air Yards (206). The release of Rishard Matthews locks Davis into the No. 1 receiver role for the Titans. I still believe more productive fantasy days are ahead for the young receiver.
- It is surprising to see Larry Fitzgerald only have two targets in an NFL considering his overall statistical body of work. He has averaged 9.3 targets per game throughout his career. The Cardinals change at quarterback from Sam Bradford to Josh Rosen could breathe new life in the offense. Fitzgerald can continue to be viewed as a WR3 in PPR formats until further notice with a low floor and minimal upside.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
This column will be published every week to help you make decisions for the upcoming matchup. Next week we will finally incorporate a receiver’s target volume not only for the current week, but also for the season. I am very active on Twitter (@EricNMoody) and happy to answer any questions our readers have. I also encourage you to put specific questions in the comments for each week’s article. What was most useful to you after reading this column?
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Thanks for Reading
Eric Moody is a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association) and writes exclusively about fantasy football. He has a lifelong passion for the game and played on the collegiate level as an offensive lineman. Eric also participated in Dan Hatman’s Scouting Academy in order to learn the process of player evaluation at an NFL level by using game film. When he provides fantasy football advice he prefers to “play the piano with both hands” using game film, analytics, and statistics to help you understand his perspective. Eric enjoys Netflix, listening to music, playing bass guitar, drinking coffee, and spending time with his family. He lives in Dallas, Texas