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How much value to place on targets is one of the biggest problems fantasy owners face when it comes to evaluating wide receivers. The logical assumption is that you can’t catch a ball that isn’t thrown your direction; meaning more targets equal more opportunities to produce. But, go ask Demaryius Thomas owners how that worked out for him last season. Despite seeing 140 targets (10th most in the league) Thomas finished 23rd at the receiver position in fantasy points (16th in PPR scoring).  Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs and Juju Smith-Schuster finished as the #17 and #18 fantasy receivers, but Diggs ranked 32nd with 95 targets and JSS ranked 52nd with just 79 balls thrown his way.

Conversely, no receiver has seen more targets over the last five seasons than Steelers’ Antonio Brown, and no receiver has put up more fantasy points over those five seasons than AB. In fact, 22 of the Top-25 target receivers from 2017 also finished in the Top-25 in terms of fantasy points.  So, clearly, there’s a relationship between targets and production. In the same breath, we just saw that the relationship isn’t always linear so drafting on targets alone won’t necessarily lead to success. So, what does?

In search of an answer, let’s focus on Diggs and Smith-Schuster as Thomas had Trevor Siemian, and Brock Osweiler handling the majority of the quarterbacking - Siemian finished 33rd of the 44 QBs who attempted at least 100 passes with a 59% completion rate while Osweiler finished 39th at 55.8% (targets don’t mean much when they’re wildly inaccurate) - and AB is arguably the best receiver in the game. He doesn’t count. The reason Diggs/JSS were able to provide so much fantasy success, despite limited targets, can be explained when we take a look at the fantasy points they put up per target - Diggs finished 8th and Smith-Schuster? 2nd. Fantasy points per target is a valuable tool, and one of the missing pieces in solving the target conundrum, as it accounts for TDs - which targets alone fail to consider - as well as, what the player actually does with these opportunities (catch rate, yards after catch, etc.) and in looking at the data from last season, I’ve identified three guys which may just have you looking clairvoyant en route to a fantasy championship.

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Per-Target Point Leaders to Watch at WR

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins is a Madden-created player, and as a receiver, lining up on the opposite side of the field from a guy who commands double coverage on every snap has to be pretty high up on the wish list. (Besides, obviously, being that guy commanding the attention.) Fuller gets that wish granted. Every Sunday. He’s also pretty damn good in his own right (even though his hands seem to be made of bricks at times).

120 wide receivers saw at least 25 targets in 2017, Fuller’s 1.7 fantasy points per target paced them all. And, in his seven games with Deshaun Watson under center, Fuller averaged 50.3 yards per game and found the end zone seven times. Lining up opposite Hopkins is a huge plus, a healthy Watson is even huger. Watson appears unbothered by the torn ACL which ended his incredible rookie season prematurely, and while replicating last season is a tough ask, it’s hard to envision this Texans’ offense being anything short of prolific. It also doesn’t hurt that Fuller has been a standout in camp.

Assuming health, all signs point towards a breakout third-year for Mr. Fuller yet he’s currently the 29th WR of the board (ADP – 71). No, he won’t match his average of a TD per four receptions/seven targets again this season, but all things considered, it’d be wise to not let him pass you up on draft day… Or do, and regret the hell out of it as you watch him finish the season as a Top-20 fantasy receiver.

Paul Richardson, Washington Redskins

Richardson is a burner. He’s not Tyreek Hill fast, but that’s like saying an Audi R8 isn’t a Ferrari… He’s still stupid fast.

Now calling Washington home, Richardson will be on the receiving end of Alex Smith’s passes. Hence the Hill comparison. Obviously, Washington is not Kansas City, so we can’t simply pencil Richardson in for the 1,183 yards and seven receiving TDs Hill put up with Smith a season ago. But, we can look at his 1.33 fantasy points per target from last season (16th – min. 25 targets) and assume that playing in an offense devoid of target hog, Doug Baldwin, will provide a few more opportunities for the former Buff.

Josh Doctson, and Jamison Crowder will both be in the mix, potentially capping Richardson’s value as Baldwin did. However, with Ryan Grant and Terrelle Pryor no longer in Landover, 102 targets from a season ago have now come available so if he sees, say 80 targets at a rate of 1.33 fantasy points per, we’re now looking at Ted Ginn. Or, Paul Richardson - the 36th highest scoring fantasy WR in 2017 - who quietly finished .3 points behind Ginn. Richardson is currently the 66th receiver taken in fantasy drafts (behind the likes of Chris Godwin and Anthony Miller) so given his 17th round ADP, there’s a good chance he goes undrafted… Where’s the risk?

Ryan Grant, Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck is back, and Grant now plays for the Colts. We’re off to a great start here. True, Grant was largely underwhelming over his four seasons for the ‘Skins, but he did show flashes of brilliance and is coming off the best season of his career – 573 yards, four TDs. He really makes the list due to the 1.25 fantasy points per target he put up a season ago, though (25th – min. 25 targets). Yes, he had just two double-digit scoring weeks in 2017, and yes, he went over 75 yards just twice despite finishing fourth on the team in targets. Thing is, his 65 targets ranked 66th at the receiver position so it’s not like he saw a gang of work.

Using last season’s data to project this Colts offense is unreasonable considering Luck wasn’t in action, but Donte Moncrief and Kamar Aiken – who ranked 2nd and 3rd at the WR position for Indy in targets in ’17 – now play for the Jags and Eagles, respectively. Moncrief had a 9.7% target share while Aiken saw 9%. Combined, the two accounted for 91 targets and a healthy Luck also means the Colts aren’t likely to finish with the 3rd fewest pass attempts again this season – that number was 487 and Luck has averaged 530 pass attempts per season over his five-year career (including the seven-game 2015 season). Subtract Moncrief/Aiken, and add Luck, and it seems safe to assume Grant will see around 75 targets this season. Now if he’s able to match those 1.25 fantasy points per target, we’re looking at 93.8 fantasy points on the year; which would have made him the #41 scoring WR a season ago. Monumental? No. But, like Richardson, he could be an amazing value given his ADP. At 270, Grant is currently the 83rd receiver off the board (again, undrafted in a large majority of leagues), but he could easily wind up flirting with the Top-35.

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