2020 Fantasy Football Target Report Preview
As fantasy draft season wraps up, it’s time to transition to in-season mode. Over the coming weeks and months, it will be easy to get overwhelmed by a plethora of statistics. Your Twitter timeline will be flooded with more facts and figures than any individual can keep track of. Every data point gives a clearer picture of the fantasy football landscape, but not all stats are created equal. It’s vital to understand what to focus on and what to let fade into the background. In my opinion, one stat sticks out above the rest.
While I love many of the advanced stats available to the modern fantasy football player, there’s something to be said for the uncomplicated nature of understanding targets. Simply put, a target is when the quarterback throws the ball to a teammate on purpose. Targets don’t show up in traditional box scores and I’ve never heard of a league that awards any fantasy points per target (If anybody runs a league that does, you have my interest). However, tracking targets will help you identify players with untapped potential or that are nothing more than dead weight on your roster.
The quickest way for a player to rack up fantasy points is by catching passes, especially in any form of PPR scoring. To catch a pass, the player has to be targeted.
OK, I understand how obvious that sounds, but it isn’t as simple as 1+1=2. A player needs multiple things to happen just to receive the target. First, they need to be on the field and lined up as an eligible receiver. Then they need to be a part of the schemed play, which could have up to five different players as pass-catching options. Each player that runs a route will be somewhere on the hierarchy of target options on the play. Next comes the skill. As if you didn’t know, NFL players are extremely athletic and good at their jobs. Getting enough separation to warrant a target is an elite talent. Even when a player does break open it needs to be at the right time as the quarterback looks his way. Then that quarterback needs to have enough trust in the player and his positioning to throw him the ball.
All that for the chance to secure a reception.
A target isn’t guaranteed to lead to a catch, but it is a required step in the process. The combination of scheme and skill that it takes to receive a target, along with their direct connection to ever-valuable receptions, is what makes them so useful to track. That’s exactly what I do each week with the Weekly Target Report.
The Target Report
Each week of the NFL season I’ll be scouring box scores and stat lines to find the most meaningful target performances of the week. I’ll give context to the ten or so target performances that stand out the most. It won’t be a cookie-cutter “top-10 most targeted” players of the week list. While the highest-targeted player each week will likely be highlighted, sometimes there’s more to learn from low target showings or surprising changes in a team or player’s target trends.
For an example of what you’ll find, and a blast to the past, check out the Week 1 Target Report from 2019. Two players featured in the article were Jamison Crowder and Geronimo Allison. Crowder led the way with 17 targets in Week 1 while Allison went untargeted. These players went near the same place in 2019 fantasy drafts, but it was crystal clear from their Week 1 target showings who had more fantasy value going forward.
The goal of the article each week is to drown out all of the other statistical noise for a few moments and focus on targets. The hope is that the information and context provided will help you when making waiver wire decisions, trade offers, start/sit calls, and ultimately make you a better fantasy football player on your way to a #FootClanTitle!