You guys. It’s finally that time. NFL football is upon us once again. Each week, I’ll be tracking the 20 wide receivers with the most targets on the week. Since we don’t get to see any real NFL action until tomorrow night, this article will outline which receivers are primed to see a major uptick in targets. All of these guys are worth a late-round flier, solely based on their growing target shares.
JOHN BROWN, Baltimore Ravens
John Brown picked a good time to leave Arizona for Baltimore. The Ravens are one of a few teams who has lost most of their target shares from the last year. Mike Wallace (92 targets), Ben Watson (77), and Jeremy Maclin (72) have all departed, leaving behind a whopping 241 targets. Granted, Michael Crabtree will be there to scoop some of those up. Since entering the league in 2009, Crabtree has never amassed more than 150 targets, though, so that still leaves at least 91 free targets up for grabs. Expect John Brown to come down with them. The only other real threat to Brown’s volume is Willie Snead. Snead has always been one of those boom or bust type players, except he’s yet to really “boom” after three years in the league. Brown missed multiple games last year, and still managed to produce .76 yards per route run, while Snead was only able to produce .70 yards per route run.
Not only that, but Snead was only able to produce 11 receptions for 117 yards in all of 2017. Expect Brown to out target Snead, possibly by quite a bit.
TYLER LOCKETT, Seattle Seahawks
It’s Lockett SZN. That’s right, the wide receiver is primed for a huge year after earning a three-year contract extension worth up to $37.8 million with $20 million guaranteed. Lockett is the first to say that he wasn’t at full health during 2017 after coming back from a leg fracture in 2016. This year, he’s at full health and is Seattle’s clear number two behind veteran Doug Baldwin. With Baldwin confessing that he’ll be dealing with a knee issue all year, the opportunity is there for Lockett to eat up targets. Since 2015, Lockett has averaged around 70 targets each year. With Jimmy Graham (95 targets) and Paul Richardson (78) out of the picture, Lockett has a chance to scoop up some of the 173 targets available. Brandon Marshall isn’t too much of a threat to cut into target shares at 34 years old, but former Arizona Cardinal Jaron Brown may steal a few of them away. Nonetheless, Lockett offers huge upside at a pretty cheap price, often sticking around in fantasy drafts until the 12th round. Get him on your roster, especially if your league awards points for kickoff and punt returns.
GERONIMO ALLISON, Green Bay Packers
Geronimo Allison will be stepping into a new role this season as the Packer’s number three wide receiver behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. Allison stepped up big time at the end of 2017, making 12 out of 18 catches for 86 yards over the Pack’s last few games. Although Jimmy Graham figures to steal some targets, Allison still looks to take up the role previously filled by Jordy Nelson (88 targets), who is now with the Oakland Raiders. Allison comes into his third year in the NFL with 67 total targets over his career, but don’t be surprised if he matches that in just the 2018 season, especially if the Packers make it into the postseason. Don’t forget that Randall Cobb has only been able to stay healthy for all sixteen games twice since he entered the league in 2011, plus he was in a walking boot to start off the summer OTAs.
Expect everyone in the Bay’s pass-catching to improve from last year due to having Aaron Rodgers back from his broken collarbone as well. With one of the best QBs in the game throwing, expect Allison to have many more opportunities this year.
KEELAN COLE & DEDE WESTBROOK, Jacksonville Jaguars
This might seem like a cop-out, as I’m not deciding between these two WRs just yet. Both were rookies in Jacksonville last year and both have an equal opportunity to grab their fair share of targets this year. Cole was targeted 78 times last year over 20 games (3.9 average targets per game), while Westbrook scooped up 63 targets over only ten games (6.3 average targets per game). Westbrook seems to have the priority there, which could mean a better rapport with Blake Bortles. The Jacksonville offense looks incredibly different this year, after the departures of Allen Hurns (56 targets), Marcedes Lewis (42), and the loss of Marqise Lee due to a gruesome ACL injury (91). These absences leave 189 targets to be had. Donte Moncrief hasn’t been able to do much since joining being drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2014. Moncrief averaged 63 targets a year in their offense and was never able to eclipse 750 yards in a season. These two receivers both stand to profit in the Jacksonville offense, so give me all the Cole & Westbrook shares.
Thanks for reading. Have any questions or comments? Hit me on Twitter @katiebabs23. Check back next week for the first real edition of Target Hogs!