The 2019 Season Target Report (Fantasy Football)

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The 2019 fantasy football season, like most fantasy football seasons, was a wild ride. It was my first year writing for The Fantasy Footballers and I fell in love with writing The Weekly Target Report. Diving into target data every week definitely gave me a new perspective when evaluating pass-catchers each week. I hope I was able to bring you useful information and help out your fantasy rosters at some point throughout the season. Before setting my sights to the 2020 season, l wanted to take the time to write a stat-filled full season target report. Enjoy! 

Top 5 Most Targeted Players
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The top five most targeted players all happen to be wide receivers. The first running back to crack the list was Christian McCaffrey at number eight with 142 targets, while Travis Kelce checked in at number 11 as the most-targeted tight end with 136.

But when it came to targets in 2019, Michael Thomas stole the show. 

Thomas easily led the NFL in both total targets and targets per game. At a 32% target share, he was the only player to be targeted on over 30% of his team’s pass attempts. DeAndre Hopkins was the next highest at 28%

What made Thomas so special in fantasy football this season was the fact that he caught over 80% of the targets thrown his way. He didn’t top his NFL record of 85% last season, but he made up for it by seeing 38 more targets than last year. No player has ever been close to that kind of catch percentage combined with that target volume. Austin Collie could be considered the closest with 81.7% passes he caught on 71 targets in 2010, but at 114 fewer targets, it really isn’t even in the same ballpark.

The quirkiest stat when looking at Thomas’ season is the fact that he accounted for over 40% of the Saints targeted air yards, despite his meager 8.1 yard average depth of target (aDOT). Courtland Sutton and Stefon Diggs were the only other players to see at least 40% of their teams’ air yard and they had aDOTs of 11.8 yards and 14.9 yards respectively. At 28.5 percent, Tyler Boyd had the next highest team air yards share of any other player with an aDOT in the single digits at 9.2 yards.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Thomas may not have been going deep often, but he made the most of nearly every league-leading target thrown his way.

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It’s also worth noting that Davante Adams finished with the second most targets per game at 10.6 (still a full target per game behind Thomas). He was just one target behind Julio Jones in 2018 with 169 targets but finished 17th this season with 127 after missing four games with a pesky toe injury. Don’t sleep on Adams in 2020. 

Top 5 Most Targeted RBs 
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McCaffrey handily set the NFL record for most targets (142) and most receptions (116) by a running back. As impressive as the record is, it didn’t come as much of a shock after he saw a league-high 124 targets in 2018.

On the other hand, heading into 2019, Leonard Fournette would’ve been one of the last names brought up when discussing highly-targeted running backs. Fournette hit triple-digit targets after never seeing more than 48 in his first two seasons. It wasn’t just a matter of being healthy and available either; he averaged 6.7 targets over 15 games after only averaging 3.5 over the first 21 of his career. 

Top 5 Most Targeted TEs
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Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz topped the tight end target list for the second straight year, though they both finished well behind their record-setting totals from 2018.

Darren Waller and Mark Andrews both broke out this season. The two more than tripled the 79 career targets they had combined for heading into the season.

Austin Hooper was just outside of the top five with 97 targets, primarily due to missing games with a knee injury. He had an impressive 7.5 targets per game. 

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Most Red Zone Targets
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I was shocked to see Tyler Lockett top this list. He’s often viewed as a big-play receiver, but seven of his eight touchdowns this season came on red-zone targets. In fact, 20.9% of his 110 targets on the season came in the red zone. That’s a higher percentage than any other receiver in the league, though tight end Tyler Higbee did edge him out with 21.3% of his 89 targets coming in the red zone. 

Kenny Golladay was targeted more than any other player inside the ten yard line with 13 ten-zone targets. Of his league-leading 11 receiving touchdowns, seven of them came on ten-zone targets. Travis Kelce had 12 targets inside the ten but was only able to haul in three of them for two touchdowns.

Top 10 Single Week Performances

20 targets: Julio Jones, Week 15
19 targets: Tyreek Hill, Week 10
18 targets: Tyler Lockett, Week 9
18 targets: Robert Woods, Week 13
17 targets: Keenan Allen, Week 3
17 targets: Jamison Crowder, Week 1
17 targets: Mike Evans, Week 6
17 targets: George Kittle, Week 15
17 targets: Cooper Kupp, Week 5
17 targets: Michael Thomas, Week 16

The top ten single-game target performances of 2019 were put up by ten different players. Mike Evans was the only player in the league to see at least 16 targets in two separate games. George Kittle’s 17 targets in Week 15 were the most in a single game for a tight end, while Austin Ekeler had the top running back target output of the season with 16 in Week 5. It’s also worth mentioning that Christian McCaffrey was targeted 15 times on two separate occasions in Weeks 11 and 16.

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