Targets Tell the Story, Davante Adams and the Myth of Jordy’s Absence, The Zen of Cider

Knowledge Drop July 10, 2018 – Antonio Brown Edition* (#46)

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*Happy 30th Birthday to Antonio Brown, who was the leader in targets for the Steelers last season, but shared the ball more in the second half.  Read on for details. 





The biggest factor in the value of a home is, of course, “location, location, location.” In Fantasy football, the biggest factors for the value of a receiver is “targets, targets, targets.” 

By far, the number of times a player is targeted is the biggest factor in his (reception related) Fantasy success. (For running backs its touches, but we’ll cover that later). The player who gets targets scores points. So when you’re researching for your draft, be cognizant of the number of times a quarterback targeted a receiver last season because that is a giant predictor of success this season, if the two players are still on the same roster.

Looking only at targets is also a great way to anticipate how many targets are generally available overall, and guesstimating how much attention, say, Davante Adams will get with the absence of Jordy Nelson this year (spoiler alert: A ton).

 Let’s look at the top targeted receiver on each team in 2017.  The top 10 receivers in average targets per game are in bold. We’ll do some analysis below:

Team – Receiver Average Targets Per Game*
ARI – Larry Fitzgerald 10.1
ATL – Julio Jones 9.3
BAL – Mike Wallace 6.1
BUF – Charles Clay 5.7
CAR – Christian McCaffrey 7.1
CHI – Kendall Wright 5.7
CIN – AJ Green 8.9
CLE – Josh Gordon 7.2
DAL – Dez Bryant 8.3
DEN – Demaryius Thomas 8.8
DET – Golden Tate 7.5
GB – Davante Adams 8.4
HOU – DeAndre Hopkins 11.6
IND – Jack Doyle 7.2
JAC – Marqise Lee 6.9
KC – Travis Kelce 8.1
LAC – Keenan Allen 9.9
LAR – Robert Woods 6.5
MIA – Jarvis Landry 10.1
MIN – Adam Thielen 8.9
NE – Rob Gronkowski 7.5
NO – Michael Thomas 9.3
NYG – Odell Beckham 8.2
NYJ – Robby Anderson 7.1
OAK – Michael Crabtree 7.2
PHI – Zach Ertz 7.9
PIT – Antonio Brown 11.6
SEA – Doug Baldwin 7.3
SF – Pierre Garcon 8.4
TB – Mike Evans 9.1
TEN – Delanie Walker 6.9
WAS – Jamison Crowder 6.9

*Per Games Played, not over all 16 games

Of the top 10 targeted receivers, 7 of the 10 finished in the top 10 at WR and all of them finished in the top 20. (Thielen was 12, Landry was 14, and Mike Evans was somehow number 20).

It was interesting, but not shocking, to see five tight ends as the top average target on their teams. Four of the five were the top targeted TEs (Gronk was #6 and the Evan Ingram of the Giants was the second-most targeted TE in the league).  Kelce, Ertz, and Gronk were all in the top 5 scoring group for TEs – Walker was seven and Doyle was ninth.

McCaffrey is a mid-second round pick to me in any format.  Touches are touches – and while he has obviously greater appeal in PPR formats, the formula is the player that gets the touches gets the points.  Bump him up a couple of spots.

Context is key – that’s why we drop knowledge here at Big Mac.  So when we mentioned Davante Adams/Jordy Nelson above, that was both a tease and a decoy. Adams is a top WR in Fantasy regardless and should be highly drafted.  But the notion that he gets a bump from Nelson’s absence is a bit of a myth.  Jordy was only the third-highest targeted receiver on the Packers (Adams 8.4, Randall Cobb 6.1, Nelson 5.9). And, remember, the Packers added Jimmy Graham at TE – he was the seventh most targeted TE and number four on that position’s scoring list.

And Graham was targeted….wait for it….. 5.9 times per game.  The exact same as Jordy Nelson.

Other notes:

  • The Bears really held Mitch Trubisky back, nor did he have vast talent to throw to, with Kendall Wright being his leading target with 5.7 targets per game. Zach Miller and Tarik Cohen both logged 4.4 targets in their games. That’s a lot of targets for Allen Robinson this year and the second year leap young QBs have shown in recent seasons means Robinson might have a big year.
  • Jarvis Landry joins Josh Gordon as likely favorite targets for Baker Mayfield – I’d expect both of their targets to at least decrease, assuming Gordon stays on the field.
  • Speaking of Jarvis Landry, he leaves a void in Miami to be filled by DeVante Parker (and Kenny Stills). Parker is being drafted, on average, at number 101. Stills is number 138, and is a value there, if you’re not tired of the Kenny Stills Tease Show yet.
  • Another point on Miami – don’t fall asleep on Kenyan Drake. Though he averaged 3 targets per game, his Weeks 9-17 average climbed to 4.6, a 50 percent jump. I love him as a running back, but he’ll get fed through the air too, I think.
  • Don’t think Robby Anderson is going to slide back on the Jets and increase his team leading 7.1 average. Even if Josh McCown is the starter, he’ll now have Terrelle Pryor and the returning Quincy Enunwa to target as well. Besides, Robby Anderson has to learn how to stay out of trouble – something he has hardly mastered yet.
  • I love Zach Ertz, and he deserves every target he can get. But what does it say for Alshon Jeffery that he’s not the most targeted receiver?  I’m consistently down on Jeffrey, despite his talents. I’d rather own Nelson Agholor.

Back to Kenyan Drake. We are not just interested in targets – we are as intrigued by “second half targets” – Weeks 9 through 17.  Not only can we often spot “emerging chemistry” in second half numbers but we tend to overlook late season numbers. Either we’ve missed the playoffs, exited the playoffs early, or focused only on the players we own or are playing.  And Week 17 counts.

The top targeted receivers are mostly the same when we look specifically at Weeks 9-17 (remember their overall numbers include those weeks), but we noticed some mildly intriguing things.  And those are the things that make us dig deeper and ask more questions:

  • Dez Bryant targets were down 9 percent in the second half. Bryant had six drops in last season, tied for third (Marqise Lee led with 9), but his 52.3 percent catch percentage ranked 121st among receivers. He’s not as good as he’ll tell you he is;
  • The Arizona tight end numbers are interesting. Jermaine Gresham’s targets fell from 3.30 to 2.88; but Ricky Seals-Jones saw his targets grow from 2.3 to 3.9 in the second half.  Those aren’t monster numbers, but don’t believe a depth chart that has Gresham ahead of Seals-Jones.  And Gresham is nursing an achilles injury and may not be ready for training camp.  Just a little note to tuck away;
  • In the absence of OBJ, the leading receiver on the Giants in the second half was Sterling Shepard with 9.17 targets per game, up from 5.78 in the first half. This doesn’t account for the handful of games he missed due to injury.
  • Amari Cooper’s targets plummeted from 8.50 to 4.67 in the second half. That screams injury to me – he did miss two games and was targeted only once in two other games during the second half.  Cooper owners remember that well, as he cost many a Fantasy player a playoff spot.
  • Le’Veon Bell and JuJu Smith-Schuster saw their targets increase: Bell from 5.63 to 8.71 and Smith-Schuster from 4.50 to 7.17. These increases didn’t take away from Antonio Brown or any other receiver – but the Steelers simply threw more in the second half of the season. The change was immediate after their week 10 bye last year.

If you’ll notice, we never discussed any players specific point totals or touchdowns. We were simply looking at the number of targets and their overall scoring ranks. Targets are best used in-season generally, but if you look closely at the numbers from a season ago, you’ll see some interesting numbers, and you might just spot a sleeper for 2018.

Hint: His name is Ricky Seals-Jones.


The Big Mac Family loves its animals. With five cats, one 95 pound dog and a ferret. Last night, we lost our first family pet, Cider the cat. She was consistently stuffy, had seen all but three teeth fall out, and lost a piece of her tail to frostbite as a kitten.  She owned no normal cat instincts and made fast friends with both family dogs during her lifetime. She feared nothing (see instincts, cat) and was very zen.  She taught us we have nothing to fear if we’re brave.  And here at Big Mac, we stress that life is much bigger than fantasy sports and the games we love. All of that helps get through life, so we wanted to share the cutest picture of Cider we could find. Learn from her: Fear nothing and embrace life. Cider’s eight years taught us so much, and we were lucky to have known her. 



Name the four places on their bodies where cats have whiskers

Email your guess to


Sunday’s riddle: A man went into a party and drank some of the punch. He then left early. Everyone at the party who drunk the punch subsequently died of poisoning. Why did the man not die? (And he didn’t poison the punch)

Nobody correctly guessed this one.  The ice was poisoned. When the man drank the punch, the ice had not yet melted.



My cat was having trouble watching her Blu-Ray.

















Turns out it was on paws.

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