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Bear Down - Players Whose Target Share May Decrease


In order to rack up a lot of receptions and receiving yards, a wide receiver usually needs to get a good number of targets. For example, every 1,000-yard receiver last season had at least 100 targets. The closest anyone outside the 100 club came was Tyler Lockett, who had 965 yards on just 70 targets.

One way to keep up with who'll be targeted is to look at their market share targets, i.e. the percentage of a team's available targets that went to them. More successful players usually see a large share of their team's targets.

But sometimes, players who see a big market share one year end up seeing a reduction the next year. Below are players whose market share in 2018 was at least 15 percent but are likely to see that rate fall off in 2019.

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Golden Tate (WR, NYG)

2018 MS: 27%

Projecting Tate to see a lower percentage of targets in New York is maybe the easiest thing that can be done. In seven games with the Lions, Tate had a market share of at least 22 percent in every game, but that number dropped significantly when he was traded to the Eagles. who didn't have to rely on him as their top target.

Now, he's a Giant, and when you factor in Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley being in the mix, plus the lower volume of targets available with the Eli Manning/Daniel Jones quarterback combination...meh. I don't see Tate seeing near the volume he has in the past, even if he's the team's WR2.

Honestly, the bigger question for me at this point is whether I even want Golden Tate on my fantasy team at all. Let's say his market share is 15 percent this year, which seems like a decent estimate based on what he did in Philadelphia. Last year, the Giants threw the ball 583 times. For simplicity sake, let's just keep them at that number. 15 percent of 583 is 87 targets, which would be the fewest he's had since he was a Seahawk. Based on his career catch rate, that would put him at around 55 catches. So, 55 catches and maybe...650 yards? With an ADP that's in the 11th round in a 12-team league? I mean...maybe, but I'm feeling pretty low on the idea of taking him there.

 

Jarvis Landry (WR, CLE)

2018 MS: 26%

Landry's been a PPR machine for years, but the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. is going to severely eat into what Landry's able to do. The last time Landry didn't lead his team in targets, he was a rookie who had 112 targets to Mike Wallace's 115. Since then, he's basically spent his career as the top guy in underwhelming receiving corps, but that's suddenly changed with Beckham.

The problem for fantasy owners is that Landry's made his mark as a short-yardage, lot-of-catches guy, and with Beckham now in Cleveland, Landry won't see that volume of targets, which means he won't get a bunch of receptions. He'll still get enough to be valuable, but he won't be nearly as valuable as he's been in the past. I don't know if I want to take Landry in the sixth round if we see him only grabbing something like 20 percent of the available targets in Cleveland, because he isn't explosive enough to turn those targets into huge yardage totals.

 

Larry Fitzgerald (WR, ARI)

2018 MS: 22%

Age and the Cardinals revamping the receiver room have me lower on Larry Fitzgerald than I've ever been on him, even with Arizona's new Air Raid look factored in.

The biggest issue for Fitzgerald is that the Cardinals have so many more viable options all of a sudden. Christian Kirk had the same or higher target share that Fitzgerald had in the last three games Kirk played, and he's set to see an even more expanded role this season. Andy Isabella was drafted, and he fits the new wave of NFL slot receivers really well as undersized but fast. Isabella is a guy who can make plays near the line of scrimmage and do sweep plays as well. Hakeem Butler has some room to grow into, but he projects to be a solid downfield target for Kyler Murray. David Johnson is one of the NFL's best receiving backs as well.

All this suggests to me that Fitzgerald, in what's likely his final NFL season, gets used a lot more sparingly than he did in the past. 2018 was already the season where he had the third-fewest targets of his career, and he didn't play a full 16 games in the two seasons where he had fewer. It's clear that Fitzgerald is trending down at this point. He won't hit that 20 percent market share.

 

Eric Ebron (TE, IND)

2018 MS: 17%

I couldn't end this article without talking about a tight end, and what better tight end to discuss than Eric Ebron, who had a 17 percent market share of Indianapolis' targets last year. Ebron was second on the team in targets, with just TY Hilton finishing ahead of him.

That's going to change in 2019, as the Colts have added more weapons for Andrew Luck. They signed Devin Funchess, who can be a big red zone target who'll take away Eric Ebron's red zone opportunities. There's rookie Parris Campbell, who's been hyped all Summer and should be used at least as much -- if not more -- than Chester Rogers was last year.

And there's tight end Jack Doyle, who played in just six games after dealing with a variety of injuries, including a freak kidney injury that ended his season early.

When Doyle was healthy in 2017, he was targeted 108 times, catching 80 passes for 690 yards and four touchdowns. Yes, Ebron's presence cuts into Doyle's usage, but a healthy Doyle won't just be ignored. In the five games the two played together, here was Ebron's target share: nine percent, 13 percent, 10 percent, 10 percent, and 18 percent. Only one of those five weeks saw Ebron have a market share higher than his season average, and I'm expecting 2019 to look similar.

Ebron getting a 10 percent market share in this offense isn't going to completely sink his value, especially with how involved he can be down near the goal line, but it does mean that he's likely to be drafted higher than he should be. Ebron's being drafted off of a season where the Colts just didn't have viable weapons. This year, they should have at least two (and maybe three, depending on how fast Campbell gets up to speed) more than last season. The ball's going to be spread around more.

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