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Bull Rush - Wide Receivers With Target Share Increases


What is a wide receiver without a target? A warm body on a gridiron, that's it. Each and every summer we face the same question because most NFL franchises and also some players themselves decide to go try and test new assets and places. Every time a contract runs out, the possibility of finding a new team arrives for every wide receiver part of the NFL community, and with those changes of teams come changes in usage patterns. Some dud can turn into a stud only because he goes from being a role player to become a much more important part of a slim offense that uses him as the go-to guy.

This is the most used cliché ever, and the most widely known advice and phrase to keep in mind, but opportunity trumps everything in fantasy football. With no chances to rack up points, well, points won't ever come. It doesn't matter if your favorite receiver logs 100% of the offensive snaps of his team if all he does is look at his quarterback throw the football away from him or hand it off. The more targets a player is likely to see, the more receptions, yards, and subsequently fantasy points he will accrue.

With that deep knowledge in place, it's time to assess the market of fantasy receivers to come up with some of them poised for an increase in targets due to different circumstances. Let's get to it.

 

Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

One of the biggest moves of the offseason was also one of the most expected to happen. The relationship between Diggs and the Vikings for the past few months--and years, if you push it--had not been the best one and it ended with Minnesota getting rid of its best wideout. Could Diggs have landed in a better team and situation than Buffalo? Probably. Are the Bills a bad team for him to thrive in 2020? Far from it.

Buffalo features a gunslinger at the quarterback position in third-year man Josh Allen. While Allen topped at 461 pass attempts last season (21st-most), his options were really limited with only John Brown and Cole Beasley worth throwing to. Diggs is now part of that unit and he's also the most talented receiver featured in it, so Allen will have 1) more weapons to throw a larger amount of passes to, and 2) every reason to pick Diggs as his first read and no. 1 option.

Stefon Diggs already comes from a low-volume passing offense (Kirk Cousins attempted 444 passes in 2019), was targeted 94 times while sharing half of the year with another great receiver in Adam Thielen, and everything should point to an increase in both targets and production once the season kicks off in Buffalo. And the Bills would benefit from it: Diggs averaged 2.26 FP per target last season, the sixth-highest mark among WR targeted at least 40 times.

 

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

Speaking of Diggs, it's worth covering all the bases he has left open in Minny which, undoubtedly, will go Thielen's way in 2020. What was a one-two punch until this offseason has turned into a one-man offense for the Vikings. Finding themselves in such a situation, the Vikings drafted Justin Jefferson with the 21st pick of this year's draft and will thrust him into a heavy role from day one. Even with that, Thielen (assuming a healthy season) should trump the rookie in every statistical category.

In 10 games last season, Thielen logged a paltry 48 targets that would have translated to just 77 over a full 16-game schedule. Take away Diggs' 94 targets and the fact that it will be very hard for Jefferson to beat Thielen in targets, and all of a sudden you're looking at the very least at Thielen logging 90-plus targets in 2020. The best news for Adam Thielen's truthers: if you read Diggs' blurb above you know he was one of the most efficient per-target fantasy players; Thielen was even better averaging 2.38 FP/target in 2019, third-best among wideouts with 40-plus targets.

With Jefferson's addition as the only impact-move made at the receiving positions in Minnesota, Thielen should be in for a great season. Remember, after he missed time last year he had played every game since he entered the league in 2014 while logging 142 and 153 targets in 2017 and 2018 respectively. No reason to think he won't get back to those numbers in 2020.

 

A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

How would you define Brown's rookie year for the Titans? It seemed like the freshman came out of nowhere, took the league by storm, and absolutely destroyed defenses while riding the wave Tennessee was able to generate late in the year with the ascension of Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Brown finished the year with a massive 1,051 yards, 52 receptions, and eight touchdowns... on just 84 targets. That is what I call efficiency: his average of 2.58 FP/target was the best for WR with at least 80 targets.

Brown proved to be the clear best receiver of that Titans team, but Tennesse "wasted" more than 40 targets on each Adam Humphries, Corey Davis, and Jonnu Smith and the most they could do was getting to 86.5, 115.1, and 104.7 PPR points respectively. Brown lapped them finishing the season with 217.1 fantasy points himself and averaging 13.6 PPG, making him the 21st-best wideout of 2019 and a clear-cut fantasy WR2 as a rookie.

The 2020 Titans are a re-do of the 2019 version. No changes at the quarterback nor running back positions, no additions to the wide receiver corps, and no differences when it comes to tight ends. While you could reasonably expect no variation, I see a clear bump in Brown's usage going forward. There is no WR in Tennessee that has looked better than Brown during the 2019 season and with a year of experience under his belt, it is not hard to picture Brown breaking the 100-target barrier next year with his teammates surrendering some of those targets in his favor.

 

Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers

All hail Green Bay, saviors of Lazards! Every Packer (fans and players) should be pissed off at the team mind-bending decisions during this past draft except their already-in-place wideouts, starting by Allen Lazard. If there was something Green Bay should have done this offseason, that was fixing/improving/bulking its wide receiver corps. Davante Adams (127 targets) was the only wide receiver targeted more than 56 times by the Packers last season, with RB Aaron Jones (68) and TE Jimmy Graham (60) ranking second and third. What did Green Bay do? Losing Graham and signing WR Devin Funchess, if that counts...

With no real-threat at the tight end position (Marcedes Lewis pencils as the potential starter) and none other than Adams as a true weapon as a wideout, Lazard should become Rodger's no. 2 weapon on offense. Sure, Lazar was the less targeted wide receiver last season (52) but he was also the most productive of all receivers in Green Bay's offense on a per-target basis. Lazard averaged 1.98 FP per target, a way better mark than those of MVS (1.50) and Geronimo Allison (1.37), and also superior to Funchess' 2018 mark of 1.56 (his last healthy season).

Even while on low-volume and barely used in 2019, Lazard was able to average 9.3 PPG during the last 12 weeks of the season and his 102.8 PPR points over the full season ranked third among WR targeted fewer than 55 times (only behind Mecole Hardman and Adam Thielen). Lazard has proven to be good enough to give him a bigger chunk of the offensive opportunities and it is not like Green Bay has many more options to throw the ball too, so the bump in targets must be coming his way.

 

Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

You can read Ridley's case as a Lazard's powered-up, 2.0-case-on-steroids. The same as Lazard's might find himself as the no. 2 receiver in Green Bay playing behind a clear leader (Davante Adams), Ridley is without a doubt the no. 2 wideout on Atlanta's offense behind go-to beast Julio Jones. That isn't going to change for a few years still, but the Falcons better be turning their attention to the third-year man out of Alabama. Jones is entering his 31-year-old season in 2020 and although his production is far from declining, that should start happening sooner rather than later.

Jones' 2019 season saw him targeted a monster 157 times, second only to Michael Thomas. Even playing next to such a pass-magnet, Ridley still got 93 targets himself and racked up all of 866 yards while averaging 2.12 FP per target. That mark was the sixth-highest among wide receivers targeted at least 90 times, making him one of the most efficient WRs in the league and putting him way above Jones' 1.75 average. Ridley, by the way, missed three games entirely in 2019 and his 93 targets would have translated to at least 115 had he played 16 games.

The torch will be passed from Jones to Ridley at some point down the line, and we might have started to see the transition at the end of last year. During the final part of last season, Ridley already out-performed Jones by averaging almost three more PPG and getting into 2020 he projects as a 120-target, 1,000-yard potential WR1 for the first time in his career (he finished as WR22 and WR27 in his rookie and sophomore seasons).

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Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More