Target Share Report: AFC Edition | Projected Target Leaders for All 16 AFC Teams

Target Share

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Welcome back to the Target Share Report. As promised, here is the full list of potential target leaders for each AFC team. Some of these were fairly straight forward, such as Baltimore or Miami. But the AFC has teams with major questions at receiver, such as Buffalo and New England. Without further ado, let’s dive right in, starting with the reigning champions of the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens.

Baltimore Ravens

2023 Target Share Leader: Zay Flowers | 108 targets, 24.37-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Mark Andrews | 61 targets, 22.18-percent

Zay Flowers is the unquestioned Alpha WR in the Baltimore offense, and his ability to get open will keep him at the top of the target tree. Among receivers with an average of 30 snaps per game or more, Flowers finished No. 3 in Route Win Rate. The unreliability of the receivers behind Flowers only strengthens his connection with Lamar Jackson.

Mark Andrews was on pace for over 100 targets in 2023 until a nasty leg injury cut his season short. Andrews has had three lower body injuries over the past two seasons, making his durability a serious concern. If Andrews can avoid injury, he will finish as the No. 2 target earner on the offense. Rashod Bateman is replacing Odell Beckham, and can hopefully reach the expectations so many of us in the fantasy community had for him. Flowers is the clear No. 1 receiver in Baltimore. Behind him, it will come down to who can avoid the injury bug.

Buffalo Bills

2023 Target Share Leader: Stefon Diggs | 160 targets, 29.46-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Dalton Kincaid | 91 targets, 17.7-percent

There’s plenty to unpack here, but let’s start with the low-hanging fruit. Dalton Kincaid will be the Target Share leader for this team. Kincaid launched up the target tree when Joe Brady took over the offense last year and finished second on the team in targets. Stefon Diggs is in Houston, and his 160 targets are ready to be claimed.

The last time Joe Brady coached a full season was in 2020 with the Panthers. Robbie Chosen Anderson (136 targets) was the target leader, followed by D.J. Moore (118 targets) and Curtis Samuel (97 targets). Samuel’s familiarity with Brady makes him a strong bet to lead the wide receivers in targets, but this has the potential to shake out like Green Bay, where the receivers all have a similar target share. Keon Coleman, Khalil Shakir, and Mack Hollins will be in a close race to finish as the No. 3 target earners in this offense. All of them should trail Kincaid in 2024.

Cincinnati Bengals

2023 Target Share Leader: Ja’Marr Chase | 145 targets, 26.31-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Tee Higgins | 76 Targets, 17.88-percent

Ja’Marr Chase is an elite receiver with the potential for even greater success in 2024. Slot receiver Tyler Boyd is gone, and his 98 targets are available. The Bengals only added rookie Jermaine Burton, who was primarily an outside receiver at Alabama. Chase’s slot rate has increased every year of his career, and now, without Boyd, more time in the slot would mean even more targets for Chase. A WR1 overall season for Chase can be had, especially if his slot rate continues to rise.

Tee Higgins is back, and he’s locked in as the No. 2 receiver. Can he fend off the talented rookie Burton? If Chase finds himself in the slot more often, then Burton will see the field more frequently.

I envision a finish where Chase is the clear target hog, and it’s a close finish between Higgins and Burton. Since Higgins is likely on his way out in 2025, the Bengals may want to get Burton involved in more passing situations and ensure he can be the Robin to Chase’s Batman.

Cleveland Browns

2023 Target Share Leader: Amari Cooper | 128 targets, 23.57-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: David Njoku | 123 targets, 21.50-percent

Amari Cooper is possibly the most discounted Alpha Receiver in drafts, but the guy continues to produce. Last year, he finished third in Air Yards Share, and the targets should continue to flow in his direction. David Njoku had his most productive season by far setting career highs in yards, receptions, and targets.

In five games that Deshaun Watson started, Njoku averaged 5.2 targets. In 11 games with different backup quarterbacks, he averaged 8.1 targets per game. With a healthy Watson at quarterback, it wouldn’t shock me if Jerry Jeudy became the No. 2 target in the offense. The Browns were one of two teams to have three players reach 100 targets or more, so there’s still plenty of opportunity for the No. 2 and No. 3 in this passing game. But we all know Amari is the top dog.

Denver Broncos

2023 Target Share Leader: Courtland Sutton | 90 targets, 20.27-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Jerry Jeudy | 87 targets, 19.63-percent

Did you know Courtland Sutton has finished as the target leader for the Denver Broncos in four of the past five seasons? He may not have the talent level of an elite Alpha Receiver, but he’s performed well enough to earn the trust of the coaching staff and fellow teammates. That said, there’s an emerging new competitor for targets rising up the depth chart.

Marvin Mims enters his second year, and Sean Payton has stated multiple times he regrets not playing him more in his rookie year. Jerry Jeudy finished No. 2 in targets in 2023, but now he’s in Cleveland, leaving plenty of opportunity for Mims. I expect the target share to be close between Mims and Sutton but keep an eye out for free agent pick up Josh Reynolds. He was a productive receiver in Detroit, and he should get some run as the No. 3 on this team while they coach up Troy Franklin.

Houston Texans

2023 Target Share Leader: Nico Collins | 109 targets, 22.70-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Tank Dell | 75 targets, 20.38-percent

This Houston offense is loaded with talent, and the team made a massive splash in the offseason with the acquisition of Stefon Diggs. I’ll get to him later, but now I want to briefly mention the target leader for 2024, Nico Collins. Collins finished with the 2nd highest Yards Per Route Run in the league, a strong indicator of fantasy success. Stroud also called Collins “a generational talent….our age’s Andre Johnson.”

His other target competition is Tank Dell, who is recovering from a broken leg suffered late in the season. Not to mention he was also shot in the offseason, but thankfully he turned out to be safe. Dell actually out-targeted Collins in games where they both played 30 snaps or more. Because Diggs plays more like Dell, I am envisioning a scenario where Dell has a slight dip in targets between injury recovery and sharing slot receiver duties with Diggs. Both of them will stay busy behind the target hog Nico Collins.

Indianapolis Colts

2023 Target Share Leader: Michael Pittman Jr. | 156 targets, 30.52-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Josh Downs | 98 targets, 17.94-percent

Michael Pittman went into full Alpha mode last year, joining the elite group of receivers with a target share of 30-percent or higher. He’s a special talent, but this year the target distribution will look different. In 2023, only two players had more than 65 targets. The addition of A.D. Mitchell will lower Pittman’s Target Share, but not nearly enough for it to allow a negative outlook on his future in 2024. He should easily clear 120 targets on his way to being No. 1 in 2024.

The Colts drafted Mitchell in the second round of the draft. He will easily replace Alec Pierce while Josh Downs occupies the slot role. Downs ran the third-most routes out of the slot last year and earned the fourth-most targets on slot routes. You can expect Mitchell and Downs to finish close in targets, but Downs will run more QB-friendly routes that should be easy throws for second-year QB Anthony Richardson. Pittman will be the target leader on an offense poised to reach new heights in 2024.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2023 Target Share Leader: Evan Engram | 143 Targets, 23.75-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Christian Kirk | 85 targets, 20.83-percent

Evan Engram finished 2024 with the second-most tight end receptions in NFL history. Not only that, he was the leading tight end target leader in 2023. Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones have moved on to new teams, leaving 200 available targets for the offense. With new receivers acclimating to the offense, you can bet Trevor Lawrence will lean on his All Pro tight end in 2024.

Christian Kirk is the only wide receiver who has any rapport with Lawrence going into the season. Kirk’s groin injury cut his season short, but he was on pace for 120 targets in 2023. New receivers Brian Thomas Jr. and Gabe Davis are deep ball specialists. If the team plans to use their talents efficiently, then there should be plenty of room underneath for Kirk and Engram. When Kirk was healthy, Engram averaged 10.4 fantasy points per game. Even with a fully healthy receiving core, Engram has the talent and the trust of his quarterback to lead the offense in targets again.

Kansas City Chiefs

2023 Target Share Leader: Travis Kelce | 121 Targets, 22.74-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Rashee Rice: 102 targets, 17.9-percent

Taylor Swift wishes she had the connection to Travis Kelce that Patrick Mahomes does. Since Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback in 2018, there has only been one season (2021) where Kelce was not the target leader. Even with the team watching his workload, he’s locked in for at least 120 targets. Behind Kelce is where it can get murky.

At the time of this writing, Rashee Rice is not suspended. If there’s no suspension for 2024, he’s a strong bet to repeat as the 2nd leading target-getter. Rice finished No. 3 in yards after the catch, so the additions of speedsters Marquise Brown and Xavier Worthy cement his status even further as the underneath option who can create yards after the catch. If Rice is suspended, I’d lean toward Brown as the No. 2 receiver in the offense. But the easiest bet to make is that Kelce will complete another season as the top target for Mahomes.

Los Angeles Chargers

2023 Target Share Leader: Keenan Allen | 150 Targets, 32-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Josh Palmer | 61 Targets, 17.18-percent

The Chargers Target Share is incredibly challenging to project for 2024. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Gerald Everett, and Austin Ekeler are gone, leaving a whopping 320 targets available. Ladd McConkey was drafted in the 2nd round this offseason, and he’s my favorite to lead the team in targets. He’s set up to occupy the slot and replace Allen.

I can’t imagine a rookie receiver who occupies the slot in a Greg Roman offense gathering 140 targets. But 100 – 120 is a much more realistic goal, and enough to lead the team in targets.

After that, it’s anyone’s guess between Josh Palmer, Quentin Johnston, and DJ Chark. Because of his history with Justin Herbert, I would take Palmer. He is an average receiver that can succeed against weaker secondaries, but he’s always benefited from being surrounded by superstar receivers. Chark may have some big weeks since he is a deep ball specialist paired with the strong-armed Herbert. But McConkey and Palmer will be the primary pass-catchers in 2024.

Las Vegas Raiders

2023 Target Share Leader: Davante Adams | 175 Targets, 33.1-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Jakobi Meyers | 106 Targets, 20.9- percent

Davante Adams finished with the second-highest Target Share of any player, trailing only Tyreek Hill. When Antonio Pierce took over for Josh McDaniels, Adams saw an increase in air yards per game. Gardner Minshew isn’t great, but he’s better than Aidan O’Connell. Plus, Minshew is fresh off a season where he was able to feed Michael Pittman Jr. 156 targets.

Here’s where the targets can change in 2024. Jakobi Meyers had 106 targets, and after him there was a major dropoff for targets. Josh Jacobs had 56, and nobody else had more than 45. While Meyers will make a strong push to remain the No. 2 option, newly acquired Brock Bowers will finish at worst third in target share. Bowers had a 16-percent Target Share or higher in every season at Georgia, going back to his freshman year. While Bowers makes a push to become No. 2 against Jakobi Meyers, both of them know this passing game flows through Adams.

Miami Dolphins

2023 Target Share Leader: Tyreek Hill | 171 targets, 33.72-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Jaylen Waddle | 104 targets, 23.4-percent

Tyreek Hill put together a master class in wide receiver production last year. He finished inside the top three in deep targets, Target Rate, Yards Per Route Run, and many other metrics. Perhaps the greatest thing that happened to Tyreek last year wasn’t something in his control, but Tua Tagovailoa remaining healthy was a big boost to his production. No. 2 receiver Jaylen Waddle appears locked in for at least 90 targets, but there will be more target competition to deal with this season.

The Dolphins added receivers Odell Beckham and Malik Washington, giving them the flexibility to line up in more three-wide sets than last year. No other receiver outside of Hill and Waddle had more than 40 targets in 2023. That appears set to change. Tight end Jonnu Smith will earn targets in this offense. The Dolphins led the league in 21-personnel (two tight end and one running back formation), and the third leading target getter last season was Durham Smythe. Last year, Hill and Waddle out-targeted the entire offense. This year should be different, but you can bet that Waddle will be 2nd in team targets. As for Hill, he’s in a class of his own for 2024.

New England Patriots

2023 Target Share Leader: Kendrick Bourne | 55 targets, 20.22-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: DeMario Douglas | 78 targets, 16.95-percent

The leading target share getter was Kendrick Bourne, but he played in only eight games before an ACL tear ended his season. Bourne was on pace for 110-plus targets, which would likely be enough to lead the team in targets in 2024. Assuming he has no setbacks with knee swelling, he’s a strong bet to finish as the second-most targeted receiver on the team.

The aforementioned ACL tear opened the way for DeMario Douglas, who averaged seven targets a game after Bourne was sidelined. It will be a tight finish between these two, and while I do like the rookies Ja’Lynn Polk and Javon Baker, this coaching staff will lean to the proven veterans early on while the rookies learn the ropes. I believe Hunter Henry also has the potential to lead this team in targets. We saw David Njoku finally have his breakout season with Alex Van Pelt controlling the offense, and now Van Pelt is in New England calling the shots. With no other proven target hogs, Henry (who had 62 targets last season) could find himself at the top of the pecking order in New England.

New York Jets

2023 Target Share Leader: Garrett Wilson | 168 Targets, 30-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Breece Hall | 95 targets, 16.9-percent

Garrett Wilson, the league leader in total routes run, will again remain the target Alpha for the Jets in 2024. After two full seasons of Zach Wilson, we have seen an average of 157 targets and over 1,600 air yards. Wilson will be a top-ten wide receiver in fantasy if Rodgers can play a full season. He will finish with the team’s top Target Share, no matter who is playing quarterback.

From 2000 to 2022, Aaron Jones finished second in targets for three consecutive seasons while playing in Green Bay with Rodgers. Last season, Breece Hall was the leading target-getter among all running backs in the league. Rodgers has shown a tendency to find the tight end in the red zone based on seasons with Robert Tonyan and late-career Jimmy Graham. Conklin was third in Target Share last season. If he had a better passer with that same Target Share, he could easily finish as a top-10 tight end. Last year was hard to watch, but if things go according to plan, Wilson could push for WR1 overall in 2024.

Pittsburgh Steelers

2023 Target Share Leader: George Pickens | 106 targets, 21.9-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Jaylen warren | 74 Targets, 15.2-percent

George Pickens returns after becoming the team’s target hog in 2024. With the loss of Diontae Johnson and his 87 targets, it is safe to assume Pickens will once again lead the team in targets. Over the last three seasons in Atlanta under Arthur Smith, the top targeted wide receiver averaged 107 targets each season. With an inexperienced receiver room behind him, Pickens is a lock for 110-plus targets.

Jaylen Warren was the second-leading target getter last season, but that will change in 2024. Cordarrelle Patterson joins the crowded backfield, and he is a proven pass-catching back with experience in Smith’s offense. With a team that lacks depth at pass catcher, I’m projecting a big uptick in targets for tight end Pat Freiermuth.

Atlanta finished with the 3rd-most targets to the tight end position in 2023, which bodes well for Freiermuth. I could see Smith relying on backup tight end Darnell Washington, utilizing his immense size. While there’s always the offhand chance we get some Arthur Smith shenanigans, you can bet on Pickens to be the Steelers’ leading wideout in 2024.

Tennessee Titans

2023 Target Share Leader: DeAndre Hopkins | 136 targets, 28.63-percent

2023 Target Share Runner Up: Chigoziem Okonkwo | 77 targets, 16.2-percent

The Titans averaged 495 pass attempts over the past three seasons with Mike Vrabel as head coach. Meanwhile, the Bengals averaged 593 pass attempts with Brian Callahan as their offensive coordinator. The last time the Titans had two players with 100-plus targets was in 206 with Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker. DeAndre Hopkins and Calvin Ridley will be the next duo to replicate that feat if they can play a full schedule, with Callahan now in control in Tennessee. Hopkins beat Ridley on many metrics last season, including Yards Per Route Run, Fantasy Points Per Route Run, and Air Yards Share.

All that said, Ridley got the massive contract, and head coach Callahan said Ridley would be playing a Ja’Marr Chase-like role. Both he and Hopkins will eclipse 100 targets, provided they can stay healthy. The Bengals never relied heavily on the tight end, but they did lean on Tyler Boyd, who had 98 targets last year. Boyd or Tyjae Spears will be close competitors for the third most utilized target on the team. Boyd is my favorite to become the third most targeted receiver, but every pass catcher will trail Ridley and Hopkins.

Read Jonathan’s NFC Target Share Report here: Target Share Report: NFC Edition