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After spending months, weeks, and days subtracting the amount of time that remained until the regular season, we have now shifted focus toward adding numbers instead. This applies to the weekly variances in how many opportunities your wide receivers are being allotted, both in terms of their snap count and in how many targets they are collecting.

Each week, this article will examine these specific categories, along with any other noteworthy changes in usage that signal an increase or regression in opportunity. This will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference and NFLSavant were used to obtain all target and red zone target totals, while snap count totals were assembled with information from Football Outsiders.

With one matchup from Week 2 now complete, we've already observed Tyler Boyd becoming established as Cincinnati's WR2 after receiving more snaps (107) and targets (14) than John Ross (82 snaps/6 targets).  John Brown has been the most proficient receiver for Baltimore by capitalizing on his opportunities that were delivered by Joe Flacco (7 receptions, 136 yards, 2 touchdowns, 14 targets, 115 snaps), even though Michael Crabtree has captured the highest snap count and target total among Baltimore’s trio of primary receiving weapons (8 receptions, 94 yards, 1 touchdown, 16 targets, 126 snaps).

Beyond the lone Week 2 encounter between Baltimore and Cincinnati, this week’s article will be functioning with one week of data. It will construct the foundation with which the numbers that are generated in upcoming matchups can be evaluated, before we progress to next week's review of data from two games for all 32 teams. All of which will provide the basis for comparison of snap counts and targets for each receiver, including the most likely candidates to experience a rise or decline with those numbers in upcoming weeks. Here is a breakdown of the leaders, and the most surprising results from Week 1 in snaps, overall targets, and red zone opportunities.

 

Week 1 Target Leaders

Wide Receiver Targets Team
Target Share
Julio Jones           19        44%
Michael Thomas           17        38%
Antonio Brown           16        39%
Odell Beckham           15        41%
Jarvis Landry           15        38%
Golden Tate           15        29%
Corey Davis           13        34%
Adam Thielen           12        33%
Kenny Golladay           12        23%
Emmanuel Sanders           11        28%
T.Y. Hilton           11        21%
DeAndre Hopkins           11        34%
Keenan Allen           11        22%
Quincy Enunwa           10        48%
Randall Cobb           10        27%
Nelson Agholor           10        29%
Larry Fitzgerald           10        29%
Demaryius Thomas           10        26%

You will notice a collection of familiar names among the target leaders from Week 1, which includes nine players that finished inside the top 10 during the 2017 regular season. This certainly applies to the top five, as we have become accustomed to observing the names of Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., and Jarvis Landry when perusing the leaders of this category in recent years.

It has also become customary to locate 13 players of this week's select group of 20 with regularity. Last season's overall target leader, DeAndre Hopkins, should be joined by Keenan Allen, Larry Fitzgerald, Adam Thielen, Golden Tate, Demaryius Thomas and teammate Emmanuel Sanders in establishing themselves as mainstays in this category unless health issues intercede. Jones and Beckham also joined A.J. Green as the only three receivers to garner over 60% of their team's air yards according to NextGenStats (Jones 75.6%, Beckham 61.7%, Green 60.5%), while three additional receivers eclipsed 50% (Thielen 56 8%, Devin Funchess 51.25%, Allen Robinson 50.6%).

 

Biggest Surprises   

However, there were a cluster of receivers inside the top 20 that do not normally dwell among the league leaders. Corey Davis' name is conspicuous when advancing down the top 10, as his career-best 13 targets represent exactly 20% of the season total that he collected in 2017 (65). He only garnered double-digit targets twice last season while contending with a protracted hamstring issue, but the absence of Delanie Walker should elevate Davis into the role of Marcus Mariota’s most targeted weapon. Kenny Golladay has already garnered 25% of his 2017 target total by receiving 12 against the Jets, as the escalating value that many had forecast in his second season appears very attainable after the first installment of game action.

Despite assertions that the Packers were attempting to trade Cobb, his importance to Green Bay's passing attack appears firmly intact after he achieved a double-digit target total. He was able to secure nine of those passes, which propelled him to the seventh highest yardage total among all receivers in Week 1. Cobb's teammate Geronimo Allison finished just beyond the top 20, but his eight targets are still notable. Not only did that match his career best, but the third-year receiver appears earmarked for a consistent role as Green Bay’s WR3. Phillip Dorsett’s seven targets did not quite match his career high, but they did eviscerate the 2.8 per game average that he had manufactured during his first three seasons. Anyone who deployed a late-round pick on the former Colt, or added him off the waiver wire, should continue to be rewarded in upcoming weeks.

Owners of fellow Patriot Chris Hogan can only hope that this will also be the case for New England's theoretical WR1, who could only manufacture a paltry 11 yards with the five passes that Tom Brady launched in his direction. I was among those who had diligently targeted Hogan throughout a large number of drafts, then proceeded to watch him receive fewer targets than Dorsett, Rob Gronkowski and James White. Fortunately, there is every reason to believe that a surge in output is coming after this week's challenging matchup with Jacksonville, as his desirable snap count (91%) and role as a primary weapon should remain unchanged. Better days should also await owners of Jamison Crowder (4) and Josh Doctson (3) - although that is not necessarily the case for those of you who are currently entrusting Dallas wideouts Allen Hurns (3) and rookie Michael Gallup (1).

 

Week 1 Red Zone Target Leaders 

Wide Receiver Red Zone Targets Red Zone Receptions
Michael Thomas             3              3
Qunicy Enunwa             3              2
Corey Davis             3              2
T.Y. Hilton             3              1
Cooper Kupp             3              1
Julio Jones             3              0
Davante Adams             2              2
Phillip Dorsett             2              2
Bruce Ellington             2              2
Trent Taylor             2              2
Odell Beckham             2              1
DeAndre Hopkins             2              1
John Brown             2              1
Antonio Brown             2              1
Brandon Marshall             2              1
Robert Woods             2              0
Golden Tate             2              0
Marvin Jones             2              0
Pierre Garcon              2              0

While familiarity remained a constant when assessing the Week 1 target leaders, some of the names among last week's most targeted receivers in the red zone were unexpected.  Thomas, Hopkins, Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Antonio Brown and both Julio and Marvin Jones are the only Week 1 leaders that also finished among the top 20 in red zone opportunities last season.

Six different receivers garnered three red zone targets in Week 1, although only Thomas was successful in capturing all three throws that were launched in his direction. Quincy Enunwa and Davis were the beneficiaries of two receptions, while Hilton and Kupp managed one catch each. In total, 19 receivers received at least two red zone targets, while only seven were able to capitalize by amassing two receptions.

 

Biggest Surprises

While the inclusion of Thomas, Jones, Hilton and Kupp among the six players that were allotted three red zone targets is hardly shocking, the ascension of Davis and Enunwa in yet another category comprises the most unexpected development among the receivers that were targeted three times. Davis now has the potential to maintain a consistent presence in this weekly report, as he is easily the most critical receiving option for the struggling Mariota, and a Tennessee attack that now must persevere without the reliable Walker. Enunwa should function as the Jets’ WR1 or WR2, while performing as a consistent weapon for Sam Darnold. That will remain the case even after Jermaine Kearse returns to the lineup.

The 34-year old Marshall has been launched into a more significant role with Seattle, in the aftermath of Doug Baldwin’s Grade 2 MCL tear.It will be compelling to observe the red zone distribution between (Marvin) Jones and the ascending Golladay, who possesses a blend of attributes that should entice Matthew Stafford to locate him repeatedly. Ellington and Taylor seem like the receivers most likely to not sustain consistent red zone targeting, compared to others on this list.

 

Week 1 Snap Count Leaders  

Wide Receiver  Snap Count Snap Count Percentage
Antonio Brown            83              99%
DeAndre Hopkins            73              99%
T.Y. Hilton            80              98%
Tyler Lockett            56              98%
Larry Fitzgerald            52              98%
Devante Adams            59              98%
Brandin Cooks            61              97%
Cooper Kupp            61              97%
Robert Woods            61              97%
Jordy Nelson            72              97%
Odell Beckham            68              96%
Adam Thielen            68              96%
Allen Robinson            67              96%
A.J. Green            53              95%
Michael Thomas            61              95%
Kenny Stills            59              95%
Chad Williams            50              94%
Zay Jones            60              94%
Nelson Agholor            68              94%
Kenny Golladay            65              93%
Amari Cooper            69              93%

The vast majority of receivers that accumulated the highest snap percentages should continue to do so in upcoming weeks. Particularly Brown, Hopkins, Hilton, Fitzgerald, Adams, and Lockett - while Doug Baldwin contends with his knee issue. Fitzgerald led all receivers in snaps last season, followed by Cooks, Thielen, Hopkins and Marvin Jones - who is conspicuously absent from the Week 1 list.

The fact that all three Ram receivers garnered the exact snap counts and percentage is not a mistake, nor should it be a surprise as the weeks progress. Despite understandable concerns about the lack of production by Oakland wideouts Jordy Nelson and Amari Cooper, the quarterback position is a greater issue for the Raider offense than the number of opportunities that they are allotted to run routes. Various inadequacies within the Arizona offense conspired to limit the unit to 213 yards in Week 1. But Chad Williams performed on 94% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps, which bodes well for his potential to maintain the team’s WR2 responsibilities.

 

Biggest Surprises

There are a number of snap count leaders whose opportunities were highly anticipated (Brown, Jones, Green, Thomas, Sanders). But Agholor spearheads the collection of receivers who received more targets than some expected, and his snap count (68/94%) will remain high. Agholor will once again function as Philadelphia’s WR1 this week with Alshon Jeffery still sidelined. Teammate Mike Wallace does not present the same degree of dependability moving forward, but his count (66/92%) should encourage owners regarding his ability to torch Tampa Bay’s vulnerable secondary this week.

The fact that (Marvin) Jones was not among the Week 1 leaders was mentioned previously, and his count (62/89%) placed him behind Golladay. It would not be shocking if this became a weekly trend, and it is among the most intriguing situations to watch moving forward. Cobb’s aforementioned production was accrued as he capitalized on the 87% count that he obtained. Pierre Garcon owners should eagerly anticipate his Week 2 matchup with Detroit after he performed on 80% of San Francisco’s offensive plays - and with Marquise Goodwin rules out, someone will need to get those targets.

Amid the overall targeting and production for Davis, it is noteworthy that Tajae Sharpe reemerged to play on 58 snaps, which were just behind Davis (63), and easily exceeded the count for Rishard Matthews (36). He had led the Titans with 786 snaps in 2016, before a stress fracture in his foot sidelined him throughout 2017.  After months of conjecture concerning the potential workload distribution for Green Bay's receivers, Cobb (52/87%) and Allison (42/70%) joined Adams (59/98%) in dominating the snap totals, as Marquez Valdes-Scantling was a very distant fourth with just two snaps. The previously ambiguous usage of wideouts in Dallas has now gained a small degree of clarity, as Cole Beasley's count (43/67%) edged Cowboy teammates Hurns (38/59%), Deonte Thompson  (30/47%) and Gallup (29/45%). However, that situation is especially fluid given the general shortcomings of the entire unit.

Hogan owners should be encouraged by his snap count (68/91%), which is more sustainable than the 57/76% that was allocated to Dorsett. This does not suggest that Dorsett’s production was a fluke. Instead, it was a matchup-oriented situation in which the Texans were unable to neutralize him, and the Patriots capitalized. Meanwhile, the count for Funchess (57/85%) was already favorable, but his value will rise even further with Greg Olsen out of the Panther lineup. When deciphering the count for Indianapolis receivers beyond T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant's snap counts (65/79%) easily surpassed the totals for Chester Rogers' (47/57%).

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