A couple of weeks ago we discussed RB opportunity (rush att + targets) and how strongly it is correlated with fantasy production. It’s no secret that the same can be said for receivers; opportunity trumps efficiency. As such, we need to consider the volume of targets that a player will likely receive when choosing an appropriate point in the draft to select him. I love receivers. I love receivers so much that I had to say so twice.
Using data from the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons I calculated the average number of targets that receivers of season ending PPR ranks 1 – 75 saw during the included time frame. I then matched each rank to the player currently being selected at the equivalent ADP. In theory, we should be hesitant to draft receivers whose work load seems likely to be below the average number of targets for the rank that matches to his ADP. I have included the results of this process in the below table. For comparison’s sake, I have also included the number of targets that each receiver merited in 2015 (normalized for a 16 game season). Obviously, 2016 targets will not be the same but nonetheless they are a straightforward data point to include in our crude analysis.
|ADP||Player||Team||Avg Targets||Normalized 2015 Targets|
|2||Odell Beckham Jr||NYG||182||169|
After reviewing the results of the above table the first name that jumps out to me is Michael Crabtree. He saw 146 targets in 2015, but will only require approximately 100 to justify his 2016 ADP. His volume will likely decrease in the coming season as Amari Cooper received only 130 targets in 2016. It’s possible, but would be surprising for Crabtree to out target the younger and more talented Cooper next season. The duo was responsible for 68% of Oakland targets last season. However, if the team was to pass at a similar rate of 405 receiver attempts in 2016, Crabtree’s prior year market share of 36% could decrease by 11% and his ADP would still be reasonable.
I fully understand that Mike Wallace will be a new addition to the Raven’s offense and that Kamar Aiken was essentially irrelevant prior to last season. But I can’t help but like his chances of garnering more than 74 targets. Health concerns are abound for both the veteran Steve Smith and young speedster Breshad Perriman. Aiken was entirely competent in 2015 and even if Wallace, Smith and Perriman can remain healthy there’s no guarantee that Aiken will be phased out of the offense. He controlled 43% of the Raven’s 297 WR targets in 2015. It’s for sure possible that the team airs it out more next season, but even if they don’t Aiken would only need to garner around a 24% market share in order to be fairly priced at his ADP of WR52.
I’m optimistic on Dorial Green-Beckham’s potential as a prospect. I love his size and speed and am a believer that he could have a solid career as a NFL receiver. For 2016 I do have concerns about his chances of earning 100 targets. Though he commanded 28% of the Titans’ targets last season, only 241 passing attempts to receivers were recorded by the team. For the purposes of our discussion, let’s assume that number rises by 65 attempts in 2016. Kendall Wright (25%), Harry Douglas (30%), and Justin Hunter (13%) will be returning in the coming season. Beckham is likely the best receiver of the group so it would be fair to assume that he should see the most targets in 2016. The concern comes when we factor in free agent acquisition Rishard Matthews who had a nice 2015 season in Miami. He figures to realign the team’s target distribution and be the main recipient of any additional passing attempts. As such, Beckham though talented will really need to emerge and force Mike Mularkey’s hand if he wants to get 100 looks. His pace over the last eight games of the 2015 season would put him at 83 targets in a full 16 games. I like Beckham but based on this analysis will think about pumping the brakes a little as I might be too high on his range of outcomes for the coming season.