Finding Value Among Ambiguous Pass-Catching Corps (Fantasy Football)

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Targets are a valuable commodity when it comes to fantasy football. Valuable enough that they were the topic of one of our best summer article series, Target Practice, where our writing staff did our best to decipher some of the more intriguing pass-catching corps in the NFL heading into the 2020 season. As Andy discussed with his “more than meets the eye” tip from the 10 Tips and Tricks to Win Your Fantasy League episode, you don’t need every player on your fantasy roster to be their own team’s number one option. Given the passing volume in today’s NFL, a team’s second or even third option can return value in fantasy leagues.

Some teams, like the Texans, Giants, and Raiders, are difficult to predict because we honestly don’t know who will actually lead the team in targets. For others, like the Saints, Cardinals, and Falcons, the pecking orders seems relatively easy to predict. But there’s another, often overlooked category, and that’s what this article is all about.

The teams featured below have a clearly defined target leader but a murky mess of pass-catching options behind them. While the target hogs listed are all coming off draft boards within the first five rounds, their pass-catching counterparts are being drafted in the final rounds, if at all. You’ll notice the current average draft positions noted in parentheses. If it’s not listed next to a player, that means they aren’t being drafted. These players make the perfect late-round dart throws or, perhaps even better, players to monitor and scoop off the waiver wire if they get involved in their respective offenses in the first few weeks of the season.

Another place to look for increased passing game work on these teams is in the backfields. Not all of the running backs listed are late-round picks, but they could all be going undervalued if they become the second pass-catching option on their team. They get a “running back bump” because you may want to bump up their value a bit based on the potential of increased passing volume. Consider it a way to break a tie if you’re debating any of these running backs with another in the same range or tier.

Note: For more details about each player below, follow their link to view their athletic profiles, player notes, and where Andy, Mike, and Jason each have them ranked.

Green Bay Packers

Target Hog: Davante Adams (1.10)

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Adams is a top candidate to lead the entire NFL in targets. He saw 169 in 2018 and was on the exact same pace in 2019. Aaron Jones was actually the second-most targeted Packer last season and Green Bay doesn’t have any significant new receiving options for Aaron Rodgers in 2020.

Secondary Receiving Options:

WR Allen Lazard (12.03)
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
WR Equanimeous St. Brown
TE Jace Sternberger

Running Back Bump: Aaron Jones (2.07)

Washington Football Team

Target Hog: Terry McLaurin (5.05)

McLaurin saw 93 targets in just 14 games as a rookie in 2019. Washington already lost Kelvin Harmon to a season-ending injury early in training camp, so their options are thin behind McLaurin. Though listed as a running back, rookie Antonio Gibson spent most of his college career as a wideout and may be the most intriguing player mentioned here.

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Secondary Receiving Options:

WR Steven Sims Jr.
WR Antonio Gandy-Golden
WR Trey Quinn
TE Logan Thomas
TE Jeremy Sprinkle

Running Back Bump: Antonio Gibson (7.11)

Minnesota Vikings

Target Hog: Adam Thielen (3.06)

The Vikings traded Stefon Diggs to Buffalo early in the offseason, so Thielen should easily see the majority of targets in Minnesota this season. They spent an early-round pick on Justin Jefferson in the NFL draft but it’s tougher to trust rookies in 2020 than ever before. We may see a changing of the guard at tight end in Minnesota with Irv Smith poised to breakout. At the end of the season, however, it wouldn’t be a total shock if Dalvin Cook was the second-most targeted Viking.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Secondary Receiving Options:

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WR Justin Jefferson (11.03)
WR Bisi Johnson
WR Tajae Sharpe
TE Irv Smith Jr
TE Kyle Rudolph

Running Back Bump: Dalvin Cook (1.06)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Target Hog: D.J. Chark (5.02)

Chark exploded on the scene in 2019. After seeing just 32 targets as a rookie, 118 went his way in 15 games last season. Behind him are a handful of receivers that have flashed inconsistent upside in past seasons, a rookie wideout with a well-rounded skill set, and a veteran tight end looking for a renascence with the Jaguars. It’s also worth noting that pass-catching specialist Chris Thompson rejoins his former coach, Jay Gruden, in Jacksonville.

Secondary Receiving Options:

WR Dede Westbrook (15.08)
WR Chris Conley (16.03)
WR Laviska Shenault
WR Keelan Cole
TE Tyler Eifert 

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Running Back Bump: Chris Thompson (14.03)

San Francisco 49ers

Target Hog: George Kittle (2.12)

Kittle is the only non-wide receiver to be mentioned here as a target hog. He easily led the 49ers in targets over the past two seasons and San Francisco has already been dealt several injuries to their receiving corps this summer. It’s gotten so thin at wideout that Dante Pettis is even back on the reader, though just barely.

Secondary Receiving Options:

WR Deebo Samuel* (8.06)
WR Brandon Aiyuk* (11.11)
WR Trent Taylor (17.02)
WR Kendrick Bourne (18.04)
WR Dante Pettis

*Currently Injured

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Running Back Bump: Tevin Coleman (8.08), Jerick McKinnon (14.01)

This is an extensive list to keep track of but some of the players mentioned will be fantasy relevant this season. One way to stay in tune with target distribution is to look for my weekly Target Report article that will highlight notable target performances each and every week of the NFL season. Surely several of the names above will be highlighted early in the season and could turn into key pieces of a team that vies for a #FootClanTitle.

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Should I be worried about Kenyen Drake? Also Devante Parker?

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