This one’s for those who can’t bear to fade running backs in the first couple rounds of seasonal leagues and find themselves chasing wideout volume later in the draft, when league mates who committed to some variation of Zero RB are collecting running backs who may or may not stumble into volume.
I suppose this is also for fantasy footballers who don’t approach drafts with an ideological bent — people who go with the flow of a draft, whatever it may be. As someone who sees only black and white, this grey worldview upsets me, but it’s probably optimal if one doesn’t want to lose one’s mind.
I’ve previously highlighted wide receivers available in the second half of drafts who could (should) see volume of opportunity — the only thing that really matters in fantasy football. Probably you won’t find hyper efficient wideouts on the below list. You will find guys whose potential volume hasn’t been fully incorporated into their average draft positions.
Let’s take a look at wide receivers with ADPs (according to Fantasy Football Calculator) in the seventh round or later who will see the most targets, per my projections.
|Jarvis Landry||7.05 (WR31)||
|Michael Gallup||7.08 (WR32)||
|Julian Edelman||7.10 (WR33)||
|Tyler Boyd||8.04 (WR35)||
|Marvin Jones||9.05 (WR39)||
|Jamison Crowder||10.07 (WR45)||
|Preston Williams||12.03 (WR53)||
|Sterling Shepherd||12.05 (WR54)||
|John Brown||12.10 (WR55)||
It’s in the U.S. Constitution that Jarvis Landry must receive 120 targets every single NFL season. It’s true — look it up. It doesn’t matter if this is a function of his ability or simply the way offensive coordinators use him. Last season saw Landry draw 138 (No. 9 among qualified wide receivers) targets — his lowest total since his 2014 rookie season. He led the Browns in targets, gobbling up a 26.6-percent (No. 6) Target Share. Not bad for a mid-round 2019 draft pick, 14.1 (No. 30) yards per reception be damned.
Landry, who racked up more fantasy points last season than all but 11 wideouts, is once again being overlooked in redraft. He’s something close to a must-draft for those who hammer running back early and often.
The Jets’ offense is missing half of its Air Yards and 37-percent of its targets from 2019. I’d say Jamison Crowder’s above projection is on the conservative side, possibly overestimating the kind of target share Breshad Perriman will command in New York. Crowder saw a 24.7-percent (No. 14) Target Share in 2019, drawing a team-high 122 (No. 16) targets in Adam Gase’s disaster of an offense.
Like Jarvis Landry, slot guy Crowder’s 10.7 (No. 84) yards per reception won’t wow anyone. Though on a team with so many vacated targets — and one that will very likely be forced in plenty of pass-heavy Game Script — his 2020 target total could. It was in Gase’s system, after all, that slot receiver Landry was among the league leaders in targets for years.
Sterling Shepard was (very) quietly on pace for 133 targets last year. No, I don’t love using extrapolation in making a case for a player. If you reject extrapolation, just know that Shepard has consistently commanded a solid Target Share whenever he’s healthy and on the field.
Check out Sterling Shepard’s 2020 Projection on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:
Shepard saw at least nine targets in six on his ten 2019 games, and in eight games with Daniel Jones under center for Big Blue, he saw an average of 8.4 targets. If he can stay healthy for 16 games, Shepard could be a 12th round draft pick who pulls in around 120 targets. In other words, my above projection is definitely on the conservative side.
Matthew Stafford’s highest career average yards per attempt (10.2) is on passes to Kenny Golladay. His second highest AY/A (9.74) is when he throws to Marvin Jones. It seems Jones’ white-hot start to the 2019 season has been forgotten this summer; he averaged 7.5 targets in the first six games, before Stafford went down to injury and Jones missed three games with his own injuries.
Barring a Golladay injury, Jones isn’t going to lead the team in targets. Even so, 108.5 targets in the middle of the ninth round for a receiver who has been efficient with his quarterback isn’t the worst. Jones is another wideout who could see touchdown regression in 2020: his 2019 rate (9.8-percent) was nearly three-percent lower than his career rate.
The Bengals are going to throw a lot this season, as they did last season. That’s partly because they’ll once again suck and partly because Zac Taylor’s offense can be on the pass-happy side. With Joe Burrow in the saddle (as the zoomers say), I think both A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd are being under-drafted in seasonal leagues.
Sure, Boyd won’t see 148 garbage targets like he did in 2019, assuming Green can remain upright for most or all of the 2020 season. Still, he should easily eclipse 100 targets and could prove the above projection overly-conservative if the Bengals let it rip this year and end up among the pass-heaviest teams in the league. I actually have Boyd projected for three more targets than Green, who’s going two full rounds earlier.
John Brown, who all the cool kids were drafting last summer, has been completely dismissed after the Bills signed Stefon Diggs. Obviously there’s almost no chance Brown out-targets Diggs in 2020 — that doesn’t mean he’ll be useless for fantasy purposes. Brown led Buffalo with 115 (No. 22) targets last year, and while it’s hard to get excited about a No. 2 pass catching option in an extremely high-T, run heavy offense, remember that 54 wideouts are going off the board before Brown in seasonal leagues.
Brown could see a bit of touchdown bounceback too: he scored on 8.2-percent of his receptions last season, a bit lower than his career average of 9.9-percent (his career high touchdown rate is 10.8-percent). I have Diggs projected for a meager 11 more targets than Brown this season. The top-two Buffalo receivers are separated by nine rounds in 12-team leagues. Makes you think.