Key to the table below:
Fant – Player’s rank
in a PPR fantasy league where all touchdowns are worth six points.
0-4% - This column represents the
percentage of games in which a receiver/tight end received no
more than four targets.
0-4 - This column represents the
actual number of games in which a receiver/tight end received
no more than four targets.
Note #1: Wide receivers
had to play in at least eight games and average at least five
targets. The top 50 receivers are all included, with “**”
denoting the players that did not make the cut but figure to have
some impact in 2013.
You may sort the table by clicking on the column headers.
A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Observations: Of the 28 receivers
who played in at least 15 games and saw eight or more targets
in half of their games, only Denarius Moore (51 catches on 114
targets), Fitzgerald (71 receptions on 156 targets), Wright (9.8
YPC) and Avery (60 catches on 124 targets) did not finish among
the top 30 fantasy receivers. Of the four players, only Wright
caught more than 50% of his targets and his YPC is shockingly
low for a receiver who made his name as a downfield receiver in
college. Per Pro Football Focus, Moore – a gifted downfield
receiver – hauled in only four of the 22 pass attempts (with
one drop) that traveled more than 20 yards in the air one season
after catching a much more palatable 10 of 29 such passes. Fitzgerald
endured a merry-go-round of some of the worst quarterbacks in
the league while Avery’s only season with a catch rate above
50% was his rookie year of 2008.
Since a catch rate of 60% is much more acceptable and receivers
can’t be expected to produce substantial numbers on three
or fewer receptions, it is fair to assume that receivers that
consistently see five or more targets will perform better than
the low-volume or situational deep threats. Of the 29 receivers
who played in at least 15 games and saw five or more targets in
at least 80% of their games, only Fitzgerald, Roberts, Moore and
Avery finished outside the top 30. Wright falls out of this subset
but is replaced by Roberts, who didn’t suffer quite as much
from the quarterbacking as Fitzgerald did (64 catches on 114 targets).
Of course, Roberts wasn’t the main focus of the defense
every week either.
On the other end of the spectrum, it would seem rather obvious
that a high percentage of low-target games (0-4) would lead to
fantasy mediocrity. And the numbers bear it out as only Colston
ranked in the top 20 among fantasy receivers with a 0-4% of 25%
or higher. In fact, not a single receiver with three or more 0-4
target games finished in the top 10 and only 11 ended up in the
top 25. Three receivers – Bryant, Steve Smith and Decker
– each got away with two games with 0-4 targets and were
among the top 10 fantasy scorers at their position. Four more
top 10 receivers – White, Demaryius Thomas, Marshall and
Green – had one such game while Megatron, Welker and Wayne
managed at least five targets in all 16 contests.
Fantasy impact: One of the reasons
I want to conduct these studies over the next few years is to
increase the sample size and draw some solid conclusions that
help fantasy owners make informed judgments more quickly with
players. If two years of data means anything, we can safely assume
that more than one 0-4 target game over the course of the season
greatly diminishes the odds that a receiver will post elite fantasy
numbers. In 2011, only three receivers included in the study had
zero 0-4 target games and each one finished in the top 18 while
five of the top nine fantasy receivers had one such game. Cruz
(third) and Harvin (eighth) had three 0-4 target games while only
Jordy Nelson (fourth) had as many as five, although he was helped
by 15 touchdown catches. While the exceptions each year prove
that targets alone do not doom the receiver from a top 10 finish,
they greatly diminish the chances.
musings about the article or fantasy football in general? E-mail
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Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and appeared in
USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine in 2010 and
2011. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy
football internet chat every Sunday this past season. Doug regularly
appears as a fantasy football analyst on Sirius XM’s “Fantasy
Drive” and for 106.7 The Fan (WJFK – Washington, D.C).
He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.