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.
JuJu Smith-Schuster led all wide receivers in targets with 17. Emmanuel Sanders (0.42) was the only receivers who account for 40 plus percent of their team’s target share and led all receivers in Air Yards with 171.
Amari Cooper (3.00) led all receivers with six or more targets in Receiver Air Conversion Ratio in Week 12. 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. Sanders (1.05) had 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. 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’d like to highlight eight wide receivers who average a high number of targets per game with favorable matchups during the fantasy playoffs.
Cooper caught all eight of his targets for 75 receiving yards against the Saints to kick off Week 13 on Thursday night. He has accumulated at least 75 receiving yards or a touchdown in four out of five games with the Cowboys while averaging eight targets per game. Cooper and the Cowboys will face the Eagles in Week 14, the Colts in Week 15, and the Buccaneers in Week 16. He is approaching WR1 status.
Hopkins is averaging nine targets per game which includes 1.5 in the red zone. He is accumulating 122 air yards per game and is converting a high percentage of those into receiving yards. Hopkins scores 15 or more PPR fantasy points in 64 percent of his game entering Week 13. He has always been an elite WR1, but could singlehandedly win your matchup during the playoffs. Hopkins and the Texans have games against the Colts, Jets, and Eagles to close out the fantasy football season.
It remains to be seen if Mitchell Trubisky will return in Week 14 as he recovers from a shoulder injury. The Bears offense is in capable hands with Chase Daniel, but obviously, Robinson would have more upside with Trubisky under center. He is only averaging seven targets a game in the nine games Robinson has been active this season. The Bears play the Rams in Week 14, the Packers in Week 15, and the 49ers in Week 16. The projected point totals for the Rams and Packers games are likely to 48 points or higher. This bodes well for Robinson. He can be considered a WR3 with WR2 upside.
New York Giants
Beckham is currently the WR8 in PPR formats, but the erratic play of Eli Manning gives the feeling that he has left some fantasy points on the table. He is averaging 11 targets per game with includes 1.7 in the red zone. The only wide receivers to see more Air Yards than Beckham (1,369) entering Week 13 is Julio Jones (1,725) and Mike Evans (1,448). The Giants face the Redskins in Week 14, Titans in Week 15, and the Colts in Week 16. He has the potential to finish as a top-four fantasy wide receiver over that time frame.
Jones is currently the WR3 in PPR formats, but play two (Week 14 at Green Bay and Week 16 at Carolina) out of three games on the road during the fantasy playoffs. The lone home game will be against the Cardinals where Jones will be matchup up against cornerback Patrick Peterson. He is averaging 11 targets and 119 receiving yards per game. Jones remains an elite WR1, but it is important to have an awareness of Matt Ryan’s home and road splits.
Jeffery has only been targeted 16 times over the last three games and has not exceeded 48 receiving yards in four consecutive games. This is a concern for a wide receiver that accumulated 60 targets and 630 air yards in eight games this season. Jeffery has seen a steady decrease in targets per game since the Eagles traded for Golden Tate, but there is a reason for optimism. The Eagles face the Cowboys in Week 14, Rams in Week 15, and the Texans in Week 16. I will be watching Jeffery’s role in the offense this weekend at home versus Washington as an indication if he’ll be a viable option for fantasy playoffs teams.
ANTONIO BROWN & JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER
Brown (121) and Schuster (110) are both in the top-10 of targets at the wide receiver positions. The Steelers lead the NFL in pass attempts per game with 43.4. Both receivers should continue to see opportunities, but their upcoming schedule with matchups against the Raiders (Week 14), Patriots (Week 15), and Saints (Week 16) could catapult those rostering them to a fantasy championship. This dynamic duo cannot be contained.
ROBERT WOODS & BRANDIN COOKS
Here is what I wrote about Woods and Cooks in an article at RotoViz earlier this week.
Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods have both been targeted 25 times in three games without Cooper Kupp. The only WR who has run more routes than these two players over the last four games is Kenny Golladay (179). Woods has run 178 while Cooks has run 176.
The Rams face the Bears in Week 14, Eagles in Week 15, and the Cardinals in Week 16. My preferred option between the two is Woods because he is running a high percentage of routes lined up in the slot.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
This column is designed to help you make decisions for the upcoming matchup. 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?
Thanks for reading