One of the best ways to determine the efficiency of a wide receiver is by looking at their yards per target average. You can find the yards per target average by dividing total receiving yards by the number of times the player was targeted. Using this data, we can see where targets are possibly being wasted, and who quarterbacks should be targeting more frequently.

Below is each wide receiver and tight end who was targeted at least 80 times last season.

RkPlayerGTgtRecYdsTDY/Tgt+/-
1Julio Jones14129831409610.923.04
2Adam Thielen169269967510.512.63
3DeSean Jackson15100561005410.052.17
4Brandin Cooks16117781173810.032.15
5Jimmy Graham16956592369.721.84
6A.J. Green101006696449.641.76
7Travis Kelce1611785112549.621.74
8Michael Thomas1512192113799.41.52
9T.Y. Hilton1615591144869.341.46
10Cameron Meredith14976688849.151.27
11Pierre Garcon1611479104139.131.25
12Kenny Britt1511168100259.031.15
13Marvin Jones151035593049.031.15
14Doug Baldwin1612594112879.021.14
15Kenny Stills16814272698.961.08
16Tyrell Williams1611969105978.91.02
17Mike Wallace1611672101748.770.89
18Rishard Matthews161086594598.750.87
19Amari Cooper1613283115358.730.85
20Alshon Jeffery12945282128.730.85
21Jarvis Landry1613194113648.670.79
22Willie Snead151047289548.610.73
23Jamison Crowder16996784778.560.68
24DeVante Parker15875674448.550.67
25Cole Beasley16987583358.50.62
26Eric Ebron13856171118.360.48
27Dontrelle Inman16975881048.350.47
28Antonio Brown151541061284128.340.46
29Greg Olsen1612980107338.320.44
30Dez Bryant13965079688.290.41
31Jordy Nelson16152971257148.270.39
32Davante Adams1612175997128.240.36
33Quincy Enunwa161055885748.160.28
34Cameron Brate15815766088.150.27
35Marqise Lee161056385138.10.22
36Odell Beckham161691011367108.090.21
37Stefon Diggs131128490338.060.18
38Brandon LaFell161076486268.060.18
39Mohamed Sanu15815965348.060.18
40Golden Tate1613591107747.980.10
41Kelvin Benjamin161186394177.970.09
42Ted Ginn16955475247.920.04
43Steve Smith141017079957.910.03
44Delanie Walker151026580077.84-0.04
45Coby Fleener16815063137.79-0.09
46Jordan Reed12896668667.71-0.17
47Zach Ertz141067881647.7-0.18
48Mike Evans16173961321127.64-0.24
49Emmanuel Sanders1613779103257.53-0.35
50Demaryius Thomas1614490108357.52-0.36
51Adam Humphries15835562227.49-0.39
52Gary Barnidge16825561227.46-0.42
53Tyler Boyd16815460317.44-0.44
54Randall Cobb13846061047.26-0.62
55Terrelle Pryor1614077100747.19-0.69
56Tyreek Hill16836159367.14-0.74
57Jason Witten16956967337.08-0.80
58Julian Edelman1615998110636.96-0.92
59Michael Crabtree1614589100386.92-0.96
60Will Fuller14924763526.9-0.98
61Jordan Matthews141177380436.87-1.01
62Larry Fitzgerald16150107102366.82-1.06
63Sterling Shepard161056568386.5-1.38
64Kyle Rudolph161328384076.36-1.52
65Charles Clay15875755246.34-1.54
66DeAndre Hopkins161517895446.32-1.56
67Tajae Sharpe16834152226.29-1.59
68C.J. Fiedorowicz15895455946.28-1.60
69Brandon Marshall151285978836.16-1.72
70Anquan Boldin16956758486.15-1.73
71Dennis Pitta161218672926.02-1.86
72Antonio Gates14935354875.89-1.99
73Allen Robinson161517388365.85-2.03
74Jeremy Kerley161156466735.8-2.08
75Lance Kendricks16875049925.74-2.14
76Jermaine Kearse16894151015.73-2.15
77Tavon Austin151065850934.8-3.08

The “+/-“ column on the far right refers to how many yards each player is above or below the average yards per target among all qualifying players. The average for all qualifying pass catchers is 7.88 yards per target.

The most efficient wide receiver in the NFL last season was Julio Jones. Helped out by an uber-efficient offensive that featured great quarterback and running back play, Jones averaged 10.92 yards per target with 1,409 receiving yards on just 129 targets. For comparison, Demaryius Thomas had 326 fewer receiving yards than Jones while being targeted 15 more times.

Adam Thielen was a pleasant surprise last season. Despite coming into the season with just 31 career targets, Thielen actually outperformed teammate Stefon Diggs – registering 64 more receiving yards on 20 fewer targets. The two should continue to prevent each other from drawing consistent defensive attention.

Big play threat DeSean Jackson is frequently on this list, but the small number of targets he receives is a consistent concern. With a change of scenery, he should less competition for targets on the Bucs.

Also changing teams is Brandin Cooks, who will be joining the Patriots this season. A talented playmaker in his prime, Cooks is a valuable addition to any offense. While many are clashing about his fantasy value this year, few can disagree that he’ll be a major factor on an offense that has a good chance of leading the NFL in points scored this season.

Jimmy Graham made an unbelievable recovery from a typically devastating patellar tendon injury to register 9.72 yards per target. Seemingly looking to return to their old brand of football, the Seahawks have signed Eddie Lacy. With Seahawks potentially not throwing the ball as frequently, the concern for Graham is volume.

Not much has changed for perennial stud AJ Green. Heading into 2017, he’s as good of bet as any to lead the NFL in yards per target.

Travis Kelce has always generated yards when being targeted – averaging 9.32 yards per target for his career. With Jeremy Maclin’s release, Kelce could receive the targets necessary to finish as the league’s top tight end.

Michael Thomas had an incredible rookie year by every measure. After trading Cooks, the Saints will now count on Thomas to be their top option through the air.

Leading the NFL in receiving yards, TY Hilton was heavily targeted by Andrew Luck. Not much has changed for Hilton heading into 2017.

Despite mediocre quarterback play, Cameron Meredith played impressively well. Even with Mike Glennon as his QB, he’s probably undervalued.

Pierre Garcon performed well in 2016, finishing 1.25 yards above average. In 2017, he enters a situation where he could be a target hog on a 49ers team that will be playing from behind frequently. His volume will likely rise while his efficiency drops.

Kenny Britt also performed very well last season despite playing with Jared Goff. If the Browns can get even average quarterback play from Cody Kessler and/or DeShone Kizer, maybe he can have the breakout year that we’ve all been waiting for.

Tavon Austin comes in at the bottom of the list, it’s the second straight year that he’s finished as one of the league’s least efficient receivers. With his continuously low average depth of target, I wouldn’t expect this change anytime soon.

Jermaine Kearse was underwhelming last season; if his underwhelming play continues sleeper Paul Richardson may see an uptick in snaps.

Allen Robinson badly underachieved with 5.85 yards per target in 2016 but some of that may have to do with erratic quarterback play. Many are expecting a bounce-back campaign and 2016’s 9.27 yards per target helps produce optimism. Prior to last year, Robinson was the golden boy.

Antonio Gates’ 5.89 yards per target left a lot to be desired and lends credence to the fact that Hunter Henry should receive more playing time. The issue for Henry is the number of mouths to feed on the Chargers’ offense.

Brandon Marshall disappointed with 6.16 yards per target last season. On the Giants with Odell Beckham Jr., he will be on a team that scores more frequently and has better quarterback play. I expect his volume to decline while his efficiency rises.

While DeAndre Hopkins was only a little above average in 2015, he is another player that was affected by erratic quarterback play last season. While his quarterback play may not improve much this year, his value benefits from volume.

If anything else from the table jumps out at you, let us know on Twitter!