Targets per Route Run Leaders and 2024 Outlooks

There are many different fantasy football stats and efficiency and production metrics that build a player’s fantasy profile. These can quantify how well a player produces on the opportunities he earns, helping tell a story about role and talent. Fantasy managers can use these metrics to their benefit. One particular stat tells a well-rounded story about opportunity a player earns: Targets per Route Run, or Target Rate.

A player’s Target Rate is the number of targets he earns for every route he runs. The guys with high Target Rates are the ones who make up a large focus of their team’s offense. In this piece, I note last season’s top-10 leaders in the metric. Then, I predict who will be at the top of the list for 2024, looking at player stats from last season.

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Top-10 Last Season

  1. Tyreek Hill – 36.85-percent Target Rate, 23.5 (No. 2) Fantasy Points per Game
  2. Davante Adams – 31.08-percent Target Rate, 15.6 (No. 15) FPPG
  3. Keenan Allen – 29.94–percent Target Rate, 21.5 (No. 3) FPPG
  4. CeeDee Lamb – 29.87-percent Target Rate, 23.7 (No. 1) FPPG
  5. Amon-Ra St. Brown – 29.18-percent Target Rate, 20.7 (No. 4) FPPG
  6. Puka Nacua – 29.07-percent Target Rate, 17.6 (No. 6) FPPG
  7. A.J. Brown – 28.11-percent Target Rate, 17.0 (No. 8) FPPG
  8. Michael Pittman – 28.1-percent Target Rate, 15.6 (No. 14) FPPG
  9. DeAndre Hopkins – 27.81-percent Target Rate, 13.2 (No. 29) FPPG
  10. Jaylen Waddle – 27.51-percent Target Rate, 14.2 (No. 21) FPPG

2024 Target Rate Leader Predictions

A lot of what defines next season’s high Target Rate are variables that occur due to a high Target Rate in the previous season. Essentially, one of the biggest indicators of a player being highly used is that the player was highly used in the previous season. However, outside of those variables, there are a few that can hint towards a player becoming a larger part of their team’s offense. Using the last five seasons of data and looking at wide receivers getting at least 500 snaps in a season, there are a few that stand out.

Note: There are tight ends and running backs with high Target Rates. However, those positions often play different roles than wide receivers to where the number of targets is an important part of only some of those players’ games. Receiving specialists at RB and TE, like Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, and Alvin Kamara, rank highly in Target Rate.

3 Major Predictors

Average Distance of Target (ADOT), Route Win Rate, and Snap Share were three major variables in predicting a receiver’s next season Target Rate. Wide receivers that are not just deep targets, win routes at a high level, and are on the field often are usually the ones seeing a large number of targets per route run.

Most of the top-10 are high in Snap Share and Route Win Rate. If they aren’t high in one, they are higher in the other. Davante Adams is the highest in ADOT, but he wins routes and has a high Snap Share, not really a deep ball specialist. Keenan Allen is the outlier based on his 2022 metrics. No. 11 from last year, Justin Jefferson, replaces Nacua in the top-10 visual since Nacua was a rookie and has no 2022 data. A receiver winning around half his routes, seeing a high Snap Share, and seeing a diverse range of targets is the “winning” formula here.

After subjectively adjusting for new roles/teams/target competition, the guys below are my top-10 Target Rate predictions for next season (no particular order). The plot below shows that most receivers in the predictions are clustered in the same area as last season’s top Target Rate guys.

Tyreek Hill

Far and away the leader in Target Rate last season was Tyreek Hill. The speedster was used frequently in Miami’s offense. He ranked No. 1 in Route Win Rate and top-five in both Red Zone Targets and Yards after Catch. By winning his routes at a high level, Hill racked up major targets from Tua Tagovailoa. As a result of his No. 1 Target Rate, he produced 23.5 (No. 2) Fantasy Points per Game. Entering his age-30 season as the fastest receiver in the NFL and a huge part of the Dolphins’ fruitful offense, you can find Hill at the top of efficiency and production lists for at least another season.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

The Lions have a productive offense spear-headed by an efficient Amon-Ra St. Brown. He finished top-12 among wideouts in Snap Share and Route Win Rate last season. Peppered with shallow targets out of the slot, St. Brown continued his upward trajectory with 164 targets which he converted into 119 receptions for 1,515 yards and 10 touchdowns. Entering year four, he remains a big part of returning OC Ben Johnson’s offense. The combination of winning routes, intermediate and shallow targets, and being on the field often makes St. Brown a top target earner again in 2024.

CeeDee Lamb

Embodying nearly the entire Cowboys offense, CeeDee Lamb posted a 29.9-percent (No. 4) Target Rate, leading to the overall fantasy WR1 finish. Lamb saw the most targets in the league (181) and was top-ten in Route Win Rate.

He saw the mix of deep, intermediate, and shallow targets that an alpha receiver gets, rewarding his fantasy managers throughout the season. Lamb will rank highly in Target Rate again this season.

Michael Pittman

The Colts had Gardner Minshew at quarterback for most of the season, leading to pass-funneling games often. Michael Pittman was in the thick of it, earning a 30.5-percent (No. 4) Target Share with a 28.1-percent (No. 8) Target Rate. He was on the field often, ranking top-five in both Snap Share and Route Participation last season. This usage indicates Pittman will again be the alpha receiver for the Colts, though overall volume may be lower with Anthony Richardson at quarterback.

Rashee Rice

The defending champions drafted the first piece on their route to repeat, picking Rashee Rice in the second round of the 2023 draft. He was eased into the offense, getting higher Snap Shares later in the season. Rice was top-three in yards after a catch and target separation, getting open and seeing the field often. These traits make Rice a candidate to be on of the highest target earners per route run next season – though a potential suspension could dull his fantasy impact.

Puka Nacua

Perhaps the most home-run fantasy pick-up last season, Puka Nacua set records as a rookie. Taken in the fifth round by the Rams, he finished with 105 receptions for 1,486 yards and six touchdowns. He had a 29.1-percent (No. 6) Target Rate with an 87.9-percent (No. 16) Snap Share.

While he wasn’t a top-tier route winner, Nacua and Kupp are the only two receivers seeing a significant amount of Matthew Stafford‘s attention. Kupp could also belong on this list next season, but given Kupp’s age and wear and tear, I gave Nacua the edge.

Jaylen Waddle

Though Jaylen Waddle is the second fiddle in the Dolphins offense, he is still targeted often when on the field. Waddle and Hill are the two spearheads of the Dolphins’ offense, speeding past corners and getting open. Though his Snap Share was outside the top-60, Waddle achieved a 62.7-percent (No. 2) Route Win Rate, shaking defenders and giving Tua a reason to throw to him. Expect Hill and Waddle to again be the main focuses of the Dolphins’ passing game.

Garrett Wilson

Through the first two seasons of his career, Garrett Wilson has dealt with rough quarterback play. Despite this, he has been established as the main pass-catcher for the Jets. Though he wasn’t a high route winner, Wilson was top-10 in Snap Share and Target Share while ranking No. 1 in routes run. The volume he sees will become more fantasy viable with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. A high number of routes run combined with a high number of targets will maximize Wilson’s potential for 2024.

Justin Jefferson

Now the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL, Justin Jefferson will continue to get a high yield from the Vikings offense. He was No. 11 in Target Rate last season, playing in 10 games due to injury. With new rookie J.J. McCarthy or veteran Sam Darnold starting next season, Jefferson will still be a focal point of the Vikings offense. You don’t just give a guy $140 million over four years and not make him the main offensive cog. Expect Jefferson to earn a high number of targets per route run this season.

Chris Godwin

Last but not least, the Bucs’ Chris Godwin is heading for a top-10 Target Rate this season. Though his Target Rate was No. 29 last season, Godwin was impactful in gaining yards after the catch and finished with a 55.1-percent (No. 8) Route Win Rate.

Mike Evans will still command a high Target Rate, but Godwin is an important intermediate target for Baker Mayfield and will convert on more of those opportunities with another year to build chemistry. Godwin is a receiver who should move up the targets per route run rankings.

Rising Target Earners

These guys are either rookies or guys who have tools to have a high Target Rate, but I am not predicting them for high rates because of role and offense. They win routes and are on the field often, but the volume just may not be there yet. However, if they end up top-10 in Target Rate for 2024, it would not be a surprise.