Target and Snap Analysis Week 1

By Jen Ryan
Jen Ryan I have written many times about the importance of targets in fantasy football. I have preached that targets create opportunity and opportunity combined with efficiency creates points. Targets are the beginning and end of all fantasy football lineup decisions for me. When we talk about chasing upside it is those targets that I begin my chase with. Earlier this summer, I used our Snap Counts tool and analyzed what the 2015 season was able to tell us about player usage and efficiency. By studying the year prior we are able to make educated predictions of what could be to come for the upcoming season. While we wait for 2016 data to be recorded, we should take a look at our Target & Snap Count tool and analyze what we may be able to expect in Week 1. Our tools will be updated each week and I will pick apart the numbers every Wednesday to see what sort of conclusions we may be able to draw. Here’s a preview of of the 2016 season based off data from the 2015 season.

Antonio Brown trailed only Julio Jones in targets last year with 193. Martavis Bryant smoked his way out of football this year and leaves behind 92 targets, which no Steeler seemed to really seize during the preseason. Brown could break the target record this season. He is expected to get the Josh Norman treatment this week against the Washington Redskins and there is no player in a better position to bring Norman back down to Earth than Brown. Keenan Allen averaged over 11 targets per game in the eight games he appeared in last season and was on pace for 178 targets. This would have made him the fourth-most target receiver in football. Despite the intimidating Chiefs’ defense the Chargers will face on the road this week I am still expecting Philip Rivers to throw double-digit targets in the direction of Allen.

Doug Baldwin’s second-half surge was incredible, to say the least. From Week 10 on he scored 12 of his 14 total touchdowns on 63 targets, averaging 7.9 targets per game. Over the course of the entire season, Baldwin was the only relevant receiver who scored on over 10% of his targets, hitting pay dirt 11.5% of the time the ball was thrown at him.

Golden Tate was the only receiver in football who caught more than 70% of his targets, securing 90 of his 128 targets for completions. He was on the field for 89% of his teams’ snaps and accounted for 13% of the teams’ targets when on the field. Although Calvin Johnson retired, Marvin Jones was acquired by the Detroit Lions and could threaten Tate’s target share. His saving grace? All six of his touchdowns last season came in the red zone, specifically from inside the ten.

Michael Floyd played on 59% of the Arizona Cardinals 1,101 total snaps as opposed to Larry Fitzgerald’s 89% and John Brown’s 75%. Despite his limited usage, his 88 targets were just ten less than Brown recorded and his 13% target share was better than Brown’s 11%. Floyd is in a contract year and Brown has been battling lingering concussion symptoms all summer.

Delanie Walker’s 133 targets and 19% team target share were more than any tight end in football saw in 2015. The Tennessee Titans wide receiver corps is among one of the worst in the league and can count their rookie draft pick Tajae Sharpe as the best receiver on their team. Walker has all the upside in the world to finish as the top fantasy option in Tennessee again this year. His Week 1 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings proves to be a difficult one but the Titans will follow up Week 1 with six of their seven matchups being either neutral or positive.

The only three tight ends to line up for over 90% of their teams’ snaps were Travis Kelce (92%), Greg Olsen (96%), and Jason Witten (99%). Witten was the only tight end of the three to convert over 60% of his targets, hauling in 74% of them. In 26 career games against the New York Giants, Witten averages 13.49 fantasy points. He faces them at home Week 1.

Duke Johnson was the sixth-most targeted receiver last season as a rookie with 74 passes thrown at him. He converted 82% of them, which really hammers my point of opportunity and efficiency. Speaking of opportunity, Hue Jackson, who’s coaching style sustained two fantasy relevant running backs last season, is the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Johnson could be the 2016 Danny Woodhead as the only running back to crack the 100 target mark. The Cleveland Browns will travel to Philadelphia this week to face the Eagles, who may just be the team in the biggest disarray in football.

I look forward to bringing you target and snap analysis each week this season. Targets are the bread and butter of this game and when players eat, so do we. As the season progresses and more data is accumulated, we will be able to pay closer attention to individual players’ fantasy points per target as well as their touchdown per target percentages. Always consult our Targets and Snap Counts tools throughout the season to aid you in making the most informed decisions for your lineups each week. Take the time to discover your own stats as I did and interpret what those may mean for your players before you submit your final lineups. Good luck this week!