Fantasy Football Target Trends for Week 17

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Welcome to the target trends article headed into Week 17! Here’s hoping that your team is still alive and competing for a #FootClanTitle! If not, this is another reminder that following target trends after your team gets eliminated can give you a leg up looking forward to next season.

Cooper Kupp is pulling away from the field with 177 targets, 28 more than current runner-up Justin Jefferson. Kupp’s current 17-game pace puts him at 201 targets on the season, which would be the sixth 200 target season in NFL history and the first since Julio Jones accomplished the feat in 2015. 

With Travis Kelce missing Week 16 on the COVID-IR, Mark Andrews now has a ten-target lead among tight ends. Mike Gesicki and Kyle Pitts are the only other tight ends with over 100 targets on the season. Zach Ertz (93), Dalton Schultz (91), and George Kittle (85) all have a chance to break triple-digit targets by the end of Week 18.

There’s been at least one running back to reach 100 targets every season since 2010, but that streak may come to an end this year. Najee Harris leads running backs with 87 targets on the season, putting him on pace for 99. There’s a good chance that Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, DeAndre Swift, and Leonard Fournette could’ve topped 100 targets if they had been healthy all season. 

But enough about the season-long leaders, let’s take a look at the most telling target performances from Week 16.

A.J. Brown – 16 targets, 11 rec

Brown went nuclear in his first game played in over a month to kick off Week 16 Thursday night. The 16 targets were a career-high and accounted for a ridiculous 53% target share on the game. If you were able to withstand a few victories and make it to the semi-finals with Brown on your IR, he could end up being a league-winner.

Antonio Brown – 15 targets, 10 rec

No Mike Evans. No Chris Godwin. No problem. Brown’s first game since mid-October resulted in his highest target count since Week 17 of last season. Godwin and Evans are likely out again in Week 17, so much like A.J., Antonio could be coming off the bench, or even waivers, to become a league-winner in 2021.

Davante Adams – 13 targets, 10 rec

It’s tough to complain about nearly 30 fantasy points, but, oh what could’ve been. Nine of his 13 targets and both of his touchdowns came in the first half, which resulted in a comfortable halftime lead for Green Bay. The Packers salted the game away in the second half and barely aired it out. Still, if Adams was on your semi-final roster, there’s a good chance you advanced to the championship round.

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Stefon Diggs – 13 targets, 7 rec
Isaiah McKenzie – 12 targets, 11 rec

The 13 targets for Diggs tied his season-high, though it was the fourth time this season he’s hit that mark. McKenzie, on the other hand, had never seen more than three targets in a game this season before Week 16. Diggs and McKenzie are set up for a juicy Week 17 matchup against Atlanta, with Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis remaining on the COVID-IR.

Zach Ertz – 13 targets, 8 rec

Ertz hadn’t seen double-digit targets in a single game through the first 14 weeks of the season, but now he’s seen at least 11 in consecutive weeks. That just so happens to coincide with DeAndre Hopkins’s absence due to injury. He should remain heavily involved in the Week 17 matchup with Dallas.

Tee Higgins – 13 targets, 12 rec
Ja’Marr Chase – 10 targets, 7 rec

Joe Burrow blew up in Week 16 with the help of his two stud wideouts. Chase and Higgins have been neck and neck all season, with Higgins averaging 8.1 targets/game and Chase averaging 7.5 targets/game. Chase has 40 more fantasy points on the season, though Higgins has nearly doubled Chase’s fantasy production over the last five weeks. Both are must-starts in the championship round against Kansas City.

Marvin Jones – 13 targets, 8 rec

Jones hit a season-high with his 13 targets in Week 16. In fact, it was his highest target total since Week 6 of the 2019 season. As encouraging as it is to see him get that kind of volume, he’s impossible to trust in a fantasy championship as he heads into New England with underwhelming rookie Trevor Lawrence in Week 17.

Michael Pittman Jr. – 12 targets, 8 rec

Pittman has become the clear alpha wideout in Indy, earning nearly a 26% target share on the season. Unfortunately, his fantasy production is completely game script dependant. Two weeks ago, he saw just five targets when Carson Wentz only attempted 12 passes. He’ll likely be the subject of many championship-round start-sit decisions as the Colts take on the Raiders as nine-point favorites in Week 17.

Jaylen Waddle – 12 targets, 10 rec

Waddle is on pace to top Anquan Boldin’s rookie reception record, and he’s doing it much more efficiently. Boldin averaged 10.3 targets/game in his rookie campaign, while Waddle is seeing 9.0 targets/game. Waddle is pacing for 155 targets by the end of the season, which would fall well short of the rookie record 167 targets set by Terry Glenn in 1996. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown – 11 targets, 9 rec

If you’re a regular reader of this article series, you’ve read plenty about St. Brown over the past month. Even catching passes from Tim Boyle didn’t slow the Sun God down. Over his last four games, he’s been targeted 46 times, accounting for a 34% team target share. St. Brown is another candidate to earn the “league-winner” moniker.

Kadarius Toney – 9 targets, 4 rec

After missing four straight weeks, Toney returned and immediately led the Giants in targets in Week 16. The rookie wideout probably isn’t in consideration on many championship rosters for Week 17, but his target volume is worth noting when looking forward to 2022.

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Justin Jackson – 9 targets, 8 rec

If you were an Austin Ekeler manager savvy enough to stash Jackson, you may not have noticed the difference in Week 16. His nine targets in Week 17 were one short of his career-high, set back in Week 15 of his rookie season in 2018. His fantasy value will be diminished if Ekeler returns as expected in Week 17, but Jackson will go down in fantasy playoff memories for his performance in the 2021 semi-finals.

Tyreek Hill – 2 targets, 2 rec

Hill has been more bust than boom over the last month, and the targets have been a big reason why. He’s now seen five or fewer targets in three of his past four games, culminating in the season-low two that he saw in Week 16. Hill has a propensity to bounce back, so he remains a must-start player if you managed to make it to your fantasy championship with Hill on your roster. 

Rob Gronkowski – 2 targets, 1 rec

With all the injuries to offensive weapons in Tampa, Gronk seemed to be set up for a huge day. As it turns out, the Buccaneers didn’t need him to handle Carolina in Week 16. Last week Gronk saw more targets than he ever had in Tampa Bay, then this week, he saw the fewest in a full game for the Buccaneers since Week 15 of 2020.

Check here for all the season-long target leaders.

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