In the first part of this series of analyzing target regression candidates, we looked at five RBs that could lose targets in 2017. Next, we turn to the WRs.
In review, there are at least five factors that we must consider in projecting target totals:
1. Emergence/Health of Teammate(s)
2. Unsustainable Target Rate
3. Quarterback Situation
4. Offensive Coordinator Mindset
5. The Cliff
Friendly Reminder: We must remember that fantasy football drafting comes down to value. In other words, Michael Thomas is certainly an astounding player who was a rookie revelation last year as a fantasy star. Exclamations aside, remember last year you could get him in the tenth round while this year you are looking at a possible late 1st to early 2nd round selection. Drafting players is about finding value and that comes finding those on the ascension rather than expected regression.
Last Year’s Regression Candidates
Here’s a look at the five WRs I selected last year as prime candidates for target regression.
|Player||2015 Targets||Projected 2016 Targets||2016 Targets|
I was four-out-of-five in terms of predicting regression as Garcon remained an integral part of the Redskins offense while Crabtree technically was 1 target fewer.
Here are five names to consider for 2016…
Prime Wide Receiver Candidates for Regression
Mike Evans (2016 Targets: 171)
I’m coming out swinging with Evans. This is not meant to dog last year’s WR1 but simply an opportunity to present to you some sober-minded thinking. Evans lead the league with those 171 targets and now finds himself as not the only show in town with the signing of DeSean Jackson and the drafting of TE OJ Howard. Over the last 10 years, no WR who lead the league in targets one year improved upon that total the following year. Despite target regression being likely, Jameis Winston and Evans could actually improve upon some of their efficiency numbers and yards-after-the-catch. Evans still is a first round selection but won’t be the target hog he was the year before. We could see anywhere from 20-30 targets lost.
Projected 2017 Targets: 148
Terrelle Pryor (2016 Targets: 140)
Fellow writer Ben Cummins detailed in his Fantasy Reaction piece earlier this offseason that Pryor’s signing with the Redskins highlights two likely outcomes. His touchdown potential could increase while his overall target share should shrink below the other-worldly 25% market share he saw with the Browns last season. With Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, and Josh Doctson vying for the affections of Kirk Cousins, it seems likely Pryor won’t reach 140 targets again. This is a simple case where a receiver’s quality of targets might actually outweigh his quantity especially when we consider the assortment of Browns QBs slinging him the rock last year.
Projected 2017 Targets: 119
Julian Edelman (2016 Targets: 160)
Edelman is coming off an up-and-down season… rather a mostly down with a huge swing upwards at the end of the year. His 160 targets were a career high and 3rd most in the league. Over the last 4 years, Edelman is averaging more than 9.4 targets per game. All of these superlatives have the unfortunate likelihood of regression as Edelman finds himself among a crowded receiving corps. The Patriots added Brandin Cooks to pair on the outside along with the return of the focal point of the offense, Robert Paxton Gronkowski. In other words, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Edelman grows in his target share in this diverse offense. There will be weeks where he is a PPR maven and others where Tom Brady simply finds other pieces such as Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan.
Projected 2017 Targets: 144
Allen Robinson (2016 Targets: 150)
Count me among the many disappointed ARob owners in 2016 as detailed in his Fantasy Report Card. He drastically plummeted in every statistical category except… wait for it… targets. Robinson saw essentially the same amount of volume from Blake Bortles, albeit poorly thrown balls that failed to utilize his down-the-field success he saw in his breakout 2015 campaign. Although there’s immense talent still in his pedigree, there’s going to be greater competition for targets after the emergence of Marqise Lee and the return of Allen Hurns. It also seems like the offense might resemble a more conservative approach after drafting RB Leonard Fournette and paying up high-priced defensive acquisitions this offseason. He’s trending more towards WR3-land and less like the top 5 upside playmaker we once forecasted.
Projected 2017 Targets: 129
Michael Crabtree (2016 Targets: 145)
Crabtree has been money for fantasy owners the last two seasons submitting 2 top 12 seasons in a row at a fairly affordable draft price. He’s led the Raiders in targets and TDs as Derek Carr‘s main red zone option despite being portrayed as an over-the-hill pass catcher. However, much like last year’s article, there’s reason to believe it’s time for the real ascension of Amari Cooper in 2017. I feel like we’ve reached the peak of Crabtree’s career arc as his upside could be capped as a dependable possession receiver with diminishing TD returns. He’s still a draftable commodity but likely won’t see his target numbers increase by any means.
Projected 2017 Targets: 131