Fantasy Football Target Report for Week 1
Few things in life live up to the hype, but Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season was an exception. As usual, there were plenty of surprises, both good and bad, scattered throughout the 16 games to open the season.
As we turn the page and prep for Week 2, you’re going to be bombarded with so many facts and figures it can make your head spin. But this won’t be one of those articles. Sure, there will be some other stats sprinkled in, but I’ll be focusing primarily on one stat here: Targets.
Targets simultaneously give us a picture of how talented players are and how much teams scheme to involve them. They may not lead directly to fantasy points every week, but they do correlate in the long run. Keeping that in mind, below you will find the most notable target performances of Week 1, along with some context and what it might mean moving forward.
Davante Adams: 17 targets, 14 rec
Adams is just one of a handful of receivers in the conversation to lead the entire NFL in targets heading into 2020, so it’s no surprise he took home the target crown in Week 1. He lined up all over the field Sunday against the Vikings and attracted nearly 39% of the 44 pass attempts tossed by Aaron Rodgers. Adams logged 169 targets in 2018 and may have topped that last season if he hadn’t missed four games to injury. There’s no reason to think he can’t top 170 targets and take over as the WR1 in all of fantasy football in 2020.
DeAndre Hopkins: 16 targets, 14 rec
Much has been made about how difficult it can be for receivers to adapt when changing teams from season to season, and those worries were amplified for Hopkins given the truncated offseason and absence of preseason games. Obviously those worries were overblown for a wideout the caliber of Hopkins. We could be witnessing the birth of the next great QB-WR connection in the desert.
Jamison Crowder: 13 targets. 7 rec
Crowder was a familiar name in this article series last season and he picked up right where he left off. He’s easily the most recognizable and reliable target available for Sam Darnold in what could be his make-or-break season in New York. He may have caught just over half of the passes thrown his way, but one was enough for fantasy managers when he took a pass from the line of scrimmage all the way to the house 69 yards away.
Julio Jones: 12 targets, 9 rec
Calvin Ridley: 12 targets, 9 rec
Russell Gage: 12 targets, 9 rec
No, I didn’t go overboard with copy and paste hotkeys here. The trio of Atlanta wideouts all saw the same amount of receiving volume. No other team even had two players reach double-digit targets. The distribution isn’t likely to be so even all season, but it seems there will be plenty of passes to go around in the pass-happy Falcons offense.
Amari Cooper: 14 targets, 10 rec
There were some rumblings that Michael Gallup could overtake Cooper as the top target in Dallas this season. That wasn’t the case in Week 1, as the newly paid Cooper saw more than twice as many targets as Gallup. The Cowboys may have the strongest wide receiver trio in the NFL but Cooper still looks to be the alpha.
Odell Beckham Jr: 10 targets, 3 rec
They may not have been the highest quality targets, but at least Baker Mayfield tried to feed OBJ on Sunday. In fact, there were four additional targets to Beckham that were negated by penalties. It was a tough matchup against Baltimore, so there should be better fantasy days ahead if the target volume stays constant.
Quintez Cephus: 10 targets, 3 rec
Expectations were low headed into the season for Detroit’s fifth-round draft pick, but the rookie from Wisconsin was Matthew Stafford’s top target in Week 1. Of course, that’s primarily due to the absence of Kenny Golladay, but Cephus still out-targeted more established wideouts Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola. He’s likely to take a step back once Golladay and his smooth routes return but don’t forget about Cephus, especially in dynasty leagues.
Dallas Goedert: 9 targets, 8 rec
Not only did Goedert lead the Eagles in targets for Week 1, but he also led all tight ends in the league. He played second fiddle to Zach Ertz in his first two seasons, but he appears to be closing the gap. The Eagles may be the only team in the NFL that currently trot out two fantasy-relevant tight ends every week.
Josh Jacobs: 6 targets, 4 rec
Given all of their offseason moves, it was tough to believe claims from the Las Vegas brass this offseason that they wanted to involve Jacobs more in the passing game. They let actions do their talking in Week 1 when Jacobs was targeted a career-high six times. That was more than his pass-catching backfield mates Devontae Booker (3) and Jalen Richard (1) combined. The three touchdowns on the ground were nice, but the increased targets could really unlock Jacobs’s fantasy potential.
Michael Thomas: 5 targets, 3 rec
It was a dud to open up the season for last year’s target king. Thomas never saw fewer than seven targets in a single game last season and had seen at least six targets in 22 straight games. He may have suffered an ankle injury in the game, but it appeared to happen late in the fourth quarter and shouldn’t be considered the reason for the low target volume.
Austin Ekeler: 1 target, 1 rec
It was odd seeing Ekeler targeted just once in Week 1, especially considering he saw multiple targets in all 16 games last season. His passing game usage is Ekeler’s main appeal in fantasy football, so the single target is somewhat concerning. It may just be an aberration, but the quarterback change for Philip Rivers to Tyrod Taylor may also be a factor.
Other notable target counts in Week 1:
Will Fuller – 10
Diontae Johnson – 10
John Brown – 10
Stefon Diggs – 9
Darius Slayton – 9
Saquon Barkley – 9
D.J. Moore – 9
Allen Robinson – 9
Sammy Watkins – 9
Parris Campbell – 9
T.Y. Hilton – 9
Mike Williams – 9
Hunter Henry – 8
Logan Thomas – 8
Nyheim Hines – 8
Alvin Kamara – 8
Devin Singletary – 7
Jonathan Taylor – 6
O.J. Howard – 6
Rob Gronkowski – 3
D.J. Chark – 3
Antonio Gibson – 2
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – 2
Mecole Hardman – 1