Week 4 is often considered a critical week in both the NFL and Fantasy landscape. Teams that drop to 0-4 are highly unlikely to bounce back into playoff contention, whereas teams that are 3-1 or even 4-0 are looking great in their quest for a championship. Like the Vikings last year, however, we know that nothing is guaranteed regardless of how hot you start out. Simply making one last roster switch from a guy like Cole Beasley to a Devin Funchess could win you a championship down the road this season. Those who strive to constantly improve their teams through trades and the waiver wire, even this late into the season, will be the ones on top come playoff time. With all that said, let’s analyze this week’s target numbers so we can improve our teams in the heart of the fantasy season.
|Player||2017 Average Target Share/Game|
Rishard Matthews – With the offseason additions or Corey Davis and Eric Decker along with Delanie Walker and Demarco Murray already established pass catchers, Matthews was often considered the odd man out in this Titans offense. His rapport with Marcus Mariota has shined through in the first four weeks of the season, and it’s not going away any time soon. Matthews has been an incredibly consistent target hog, not posting a game below 18% share and having back to back weeks of 30%+ share in targets. He’s not a flashy name, but he’s someone who you could trade for and help you make a push to the playoffs. With the upcoming bye weeks, depth will be crucial to success. Matthews is one of the best depth players out there at the moment, and I’d be very comfortable with him in my starting lineups.
Keenan Allen – Allen holds a special place in my heart as a Chargers fan, but objectively speaking he’s been one of the best receivers in the NFL this year. He’s had remarkably consistent target numbers (11, 11, 9, 10), and has improved his efficiency and fantasy output in nearly every game. He’s truly come back from two back to back disappointing injury-riddled seasons and is one of the best options in fantasy at the position. I recently was asked advice if I would trade TY Hilton for Keenan Allen in redraft, and the answer for me depends on my team. If I’m 1-3 or 0-4, I would want Hilton’s big game upside like we saw in week three. But, if I need consistent output week-in week-out from my wide receivers on a 3-1 team, Allen is the easy choice for me.
Players to Continue Monitoring:
Zay Jones – I wrote about Jones as a notable player in my week two targets report based on a strong showing with target share. Zay has certainly been struggling most of the season as a rookie, but the opportunities have been there. He is a prime candidate for me as an end of the bench stash I would want as the season goes on. With Jordan Matthews hurt for an extended period of time, Jones will have the opportunity to be the unquestioned alpha WR in the Bills offense. While Charles Clay seems to be the primary option for Tyrod Taylor, this passing offense will be able to support two options if Jones steps his game up.
Entire Bears WR Corp – While no one has stuck out amongst the Bears wide receivers this season, much of that can be attributed to the horrible play of Mike Glennon to date. With Mitch Trubisky under center this weekend, it’s as if a whole new season is starting for the Bears. I personally have no clue who will emerge, if anyone, out of this group. If I had to bet, I think Kendall Wright will have the most consistent target share of the group and provide the safest fantasy floor on a weekly basis. Deonte Thompson had the biggest share of targets this past week, but it’s unclear if Trubisky will target him just as much. While others have already given up on this WR group, the smarter fantasy player will keep monitoring this situation this week.
Jaron Brown (Week 4: 23.53%; Season Avg: 22.19%) – The Cardinals offense has been wildly unpredictable this season. One week, Larry Fitzgerald is the man to own. Another, JJ Nelson goes off and people value him like crazy. Now, it’s Jaron Brown who’s getting the targets. I was never on the JJ Nelson bandwagon, but I’m certainly on the Jaron Brown one. The “other” J Brown you see on the stat sheet, Jaron has been very consistent for a role player this season. Already, he’s posted two weeks of 23% or more target share, with this past week being his largest gross targets game to date. The story of Carson Palmer’s demise this season have been largely overblown. He’s not great, but he’s certainly capable of supporting two or three fantasy relevant options. Brown’s targets in his games this year indicate that he’s going to continue to be a main part of this offense. If it fully clicks, he could be a waiver wire steal come season’s end.
Amari Cooper (Week 4: 22.86%; Season Avg: 24.37%) – Cooper has no doubt been a disappointment this year based on the opportunity he has in an otherwise explosive Raider offense. In comparison, Stefon Diggs has nearly the exact same average target share per game (24.36%) as Cooper, but has posted nearly 65 more fantasy points this season! Needless to say, Cooper has not been efficient with his targets. I think there’s hope for Cooper though as the season goes on. He will continue to get these looks from Derek Carr (when he comes back healthy) and from EJ Manuel (in the meantime), and positive regression is bound to occur. I would refrain from starting Cooper until he proves capable, but with that being said, he’s a great buy low candidate for teams looking for anything to spark their season.
Chris Hogan (Week 4: 20.00%; Season Avg: 16.66%) – Hogan has been a great late round pick for fantasy owners this year, coming in as the WR10 overall in PPR. I don’t need to write about how Hogan has been producing – it’s rather obvious. However, one key part of Hogan’s year that I believe is extra noteworthy is that his target share percentage has increased in every game this season. Going from 13.89%, 15.38%, 17.14%, 20.00% in consecutive weeks, Hogan not only is producing incredibly efficiently but is also gaining a steadier role in the offense. As Brady never seems to age, picking apart defenses on a weekly basis, Hogan looks to be a guy he’s trusting more and more. While WR10 is certainly a tall task for anyone to finish as at year’s end, I think Hogan has a real shot to do it. Start him confidently in your lineups.
Analyzing targets via market share is essential to understanding the complete picture, but when it comes down to it, gross target numbers are key to fantasy success as well. Player X having 5 targets, but a higher market share, is less likely to outperform Player Y who had 8 targets but a lower overall market share. In the long run, market share will indicate performance during the ups and downs of the fantasy season. Gross targets, however, indicate the chances for success in any given week. More targets are always better than fewer targets for possible fantasy production, as opportunity is a key indicator for success. With that in mind, here are the top 36 WRs* with the most targets-to-date in 2017.
*Note – There are actually 40 receivers listed; there was a drop off after 24 targets, so I’ve included all players who have at least 24 targets on the season.
*All data courtesy of Pro Football Reference*