To be honest, I’ve never really paid much attention to targets. Don’t ask me why, I just didn’t. I knew about them, but I never really tried to put them in context -- probably because I was too lazy. When you do think about them though, the more targets a player gets, the more his chance is to succeed. To the better his chance to succeed, the more points he’ll likely put up for your fantasy squad. It’s not that hard of a concept to wrap your mind around. If I can do it...
With the help of Football Guys excellent Game Log Dominator (to which I have officially become addicted) I compiled a list of the top WR targets from 2002-2007 and separated them by year. After studying the list and getting a decent handle on the fluxations from year to year, I tried to find a mark off point. One hour and two slices of pizza later, I found one. At least, I think I found one.
That cut off point was 110 targets per year. Not knowing quite where I was going but too intrigued to stop, I calculated the minimum and maximum average receptions, yards and TD’s from 2002-2007 combined. I dropped the highest and lowest each year to get a more realistic sampling. I’m not entirely sure if that was mathematically correct, but it made sense at the time. So I did it.
Out of all the players who had at least 110 targets from 2002-2007, the minimum average was:
62 receptions, 790 receiving yards and 3 TD’s
A fair amount of 1 and 2 TD performances bogged the minimum down a bit, but it’s still an impressive line none-the-less. On the positive end, the maximum average was:
104 receptions, 1,444 receiving yards and 13 TD’s
I think I speak for everyone when I say I’d take that! The summation I eventually came to was that if you could predict the WR’s who had a good shot at getting at least 110 targets then you had a great shot at having that player have a pretty respectable season, at worst.
But I didn’t stop there. On average over the 6 years, 27 WR’s managed to be targeted at least 110 times. In the interests of seeing the amount of players who broke into that list on average each year, I continued upon my statistical, math-complimented quest. Without even a calculator, mind you! If only my third grade teacher could see me now..
Two hours and two cigarettes later, I came up with the average of 10 players over the past six years who broke into or back onto that top 27/at least 110 targets list each year. To get to the point of the purpose for the post, here are the 10 players who I don’t think will manage to acquire 110 targets that they saw in 2007:
Derrick Mason (BAL) - With Steve McNair gone and rookie Ray Rice wowing the crowds, the Ravens very well may run a lot more than they will pass this year. Especially with either Troy Smith or Kyle Boller at QB.
Lee Evans (BUF) - Marshawn Lynch proved last year he could be a workhorse back and rookie WR James Hardy gives Trent Edwards another actual option besides Evans to throw to.
Reggie Brown (PHI) - King of RB targets, Brian Westbrook, will still see a massive amount of targets for a RB. DeSean Jackson will in turn steal some more targets away from Brown.
Marques Colston (NO) - Pass catching TE Jeremy Shockey should see his fair share of targets in 2008. The emergence of rookie WR Robert Meachem should as well.
Bobby Engram (SEA) - You can’t get targets if your not on the field.
Chris Chambers (SD) - This may be a long shot, but if Gates can return soon then he’ll resume his hoarding of the targets. LaDainian Tomlinson and Vincent Jackson won’t help Chambers totals either.
Shaun McDonald (DET) - No Mike Martz system? No targets.
Bernard Berrian (CHI) - I don’t think I need to go on a limb and say that the Vikings may run a lot this year. The more they run, the less targets Berrian will get.
Donald Driver (GB) - Aaron Rodgers has plenty of weapons to spread the targets around. Driver will get some, but not 110.
Hines Ward (PIT) - Santonio Holmes? Willie Parker? Rashard Mendenhall? Heath Miller? All will get targets that Hines Ward will not.
Who will the ten be that fill the vacancies you say? Ask and you shall receive! The 2007 target totals are in parentheses:
Anquan Boldin (99) (ARI) - Should get at least 110 targets no matter who ends up being the starting QB.
Calvin Johnson (95) (DET) - He’s going to get more and more targets as the years go by.
Santonio Holmes (85) (PIT) - With Hines Ward on the decline, Holmes will benefit from increased targets.
Ted Ginn Jr. (71) (MIA) - Ginn’s likely targets got a huge boost with the arrival of Chad Pennington.
Muhsin Muhammad (81) (CAR) - Muhammed should see a lot of targets in Steve Smith’s two-game absence and even some when he returns. He’ll get more if Jake Delhomme can stay healthy.
Andre Johnson (86) (HOU) - The only reason Johnson didn’t total 110 last year was because he was injured for 7 games.
Jerry Porter (103) (JAX) - Porter should be a favorite target of Jaguars QB David Garrard.
Roy Williams (104) (DET) - With Mike Martz now gone, the Lions will have to throw to their top two WR’s a whole lot just like the normal teams.
Patrick Crayton (81) (DAL) - Someone has to get Terry Glenn’s targets and with Crayton now the WR2, he very likely will.
Laveranues Coles (89) - Maybe that Brett Favre character will have an effect on Coles' targets?