We know that targets are the lifeblood of wide receiver scoring, so analyzing available targets is a must when forecasting players for the upcoming fantasy season. While we spend a large amount of our time evaluating talent (and rightfully so), evaluating the talent in the context of opportunity is even more powerful.
Analyzing Available Targets For 2022
Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes
What exactly do we mean by available targets? Simple: look at the skill position players who departed from a team during the offseason, and total how many targets and air yards they received last year. Luckily, our friends at 4for4 have already done this work for us – if you do not have a subscription to them, we suggest you consider purchasing one (we get no fee or affiliate commission – they are simply a quality fantasy football website, especially for the accuracy of their rankings).
Here are the teams that have over 200 available targets (we’ve included air yards for contextual purposes) heading into 2022, and what that means for fantasy football purposes:
|Team||Available Targets||Available Target Percentage||Available Air Yards||Available Air Yard Percentage|
|Kansas City Chiefs||340||53.4%||2748||62.1%|
|Green Bay Packers||248||43.5%||2807||62.8%|
|Las Vegas Raiders||234||38.8%||2823||57.1%|
|New York Giants||226||40.1%||1136||27.7%|
|New York Jets||218||37.5%||1750||41.2%|
The Tennesse Titans, now without A.J. Brown or Julio Jones, have a target distribution that is completely up for grabs. Although they spent their first-round selection on much-hyped receiver Treylon Burks, it appears he is headed to compete with replacement-level Nick Westbrook-Ikhine for the WR3 job after struggling to even stay on the field in minicamp. You shouldn’t need me to tell you that Burks remains much more talented than his competition.
Robert Woods is likely to take a significant share of a league-high 351 available targets, but he is going into his age-30 season while coming off of an ACL tear. Luckily, he isn’t a receiver who wins purely off of athleticism, and he is a decent, if unexciting, selection at his current ADP. We know he can handle a large receiving workload. Less-heralded signing TE Austin Hooper is a sneaky low-end TE1 candidate simply based on volume.
People may make a big deal about the health of Derrick Henry and his effects on the Titans’ offensive playcalling, but they simply rushed the same amount and slowed down their offense slightly when he went down last year (chart courtesy of RotoViz.com):
Overall, the Titans have almost as many receiving question marks as they do available targets. This offense will continue to run through Derrick Henry, but if Woods plays a full complement of games he should be a WR3 at worst. Hopefully, by the mid-to-late part of the season, Burks will be able to make a significant impact. In a division with the Colts, Jaguars, and Texans, shootouts may be few and far between – there simply isn’t a ton of excitement here, but this is at least reflected in the price of the Titans’ pass catchers.
Kansas City Chiefs
Unlike the Titans, the Chiefs’ available targets and air yards are made a lot more intriguing by Patrick Mahomes. Gone are Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle, and Demarcus Robinson, along with nearly 2/3rds of their air yards and 340 targets.
Though beginning to show signs of age, the decision to let go of Hill and his now-monstrous target ceiling makes Travis Kelce worthy of a top-20 selection in redraft. They also have the 2nd-most available red-zone targets (20), which increases his touchdown ceiling as well.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling will keep defenses honest and make more of a dent in their available yards than in their available targets, opening up the middle of the field for Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Still only somehow 26, Smith-Schuster’s collegiate profile and early career production point to a player we should not be giving up on, and he should be the favorite to lead their wide receivers in targets.
The wild card? 2nd round rookie Skyy Moore, a Golden Tate clone, has a very good collegiate production profile. With a league-high 235 available wide receiver targets, the odds are in favor of the Chiefs supporting a top-20 fantasy wide receiver.
From a pure target standpoint, it is tough to argue for any rookie receiver over Drake London. He produced early on in college, got excellent draft capital, and has size made even more impressive by the recent “shrinking” of top-tier wide receivers. Russell Gage is in Tampa and Calvin Ridley seems unlikely to suit up for the Falcons again, so London could make some serious noise with the 287 available targets.
The really exciting development is the opportunity for 2021 rookie phenom TE Kyle Pitts to become a target hog. He currently has an ADP in the 3rd round, which is sure to rise as we approach the season and his hype train reaches full speed. We couldn’t blame you for reaching in the late 2nd round for him, as he is an unprecedented talent whose record-setting rookie season somehow lived up to most of its hype.
However, Matt Ryan’s departure cannot be ignored. With Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder at the helm, the same passing volume can’t be taken for granted in 2022. However, the target distribution here should be narrow enough that the effects aren’t felt too severely. Unlike Ryan’s Falcons though, those two quarterbacks introduce the possibility (within the range of outcomes) of this offense being so horrendous that neither London nor Pitts reach their ceiling.
The Ravens uncharacteristically tore it up through the air last year, though this was done more by necessity after losing Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, and Lamar Jackson (for much of the season) to injury. We know that the Ravens are intent on returning to their run-heavy style after an anomalous 2021, so it is unlikely their 267 targets are completely fulfilled.
However, they have 70 available running back targets, and that is where we will likely see a reduction in volume – we know Lamar Jackson doesn’t throw to his running backs much. Marquise Brown’s departure opens up the door for 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman, as the Ravens have the 4th-most available wide receiver targets. He is certainly a leading candidate for a sophomore breakout, and his size is not as worrisome a metric as you may think. This is something to think about when looking for a wide receiver in the 6th round of redraft leagues.
Mark Andrews, meanwhile, is still going to be the main engine of this passing offense – especially in the red zone. He should be a top-2 TE off the board and has an excellent floor to go along with his demonstrated league-winning ceiling.
Marquise Brown was 10th in the NFL with 146 targets in 2021 (in 16 games). Mark Andrews was 9th with 153 in 17 games. Brown got the ball more per game (9.1 targets per game) than the All Pro tight end did (9 targets per game). https://t.co/SqRAsVZYrx
— Neal Coolong (@NealCoolong) May 5, 2022
Green Bay Packers
Who exactly is going to replace all-world Davante Adams? Along with the departure of Valdes-Scantling, there are 244 available wide receiver targets (2nd most in the league) to be had from 2021 MVP Aaron Rodgers. The short answer? No one player on Green Bay is capable of doing so, but Allen Lazard is the Packers wide receiver you’ll want to draft.
Rookie Christian Watson has great athletic tools, but there is very little else in his profile that would inspire meaningful rookie-season production. In addition, Aaron Rodgers simply doesn’t utilize rookie wide receivers, even ones that were strong prospects.
We are likely going to see increased roles both on the ground and through the air for running backs A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones, though the latter is the favorite for receiver work. We also cannot rule out a veteran signing like Will Fuller or Julio Jones as we approach training camp. There will likely be a “receiver-by-committee” approach to replacing Adams, similar to how the Packers played whenever his ankle or hamstrings began acting up.
Las Vegas Raiders
Speaking of Adams, the Las Vegas Raiders and their 234 available targets are much easier to project. We can pencil a healthy Adams into at least 140 of those, but there are avenues for even more opportunity here (Adams injury, more shootouts in a division with Russell Wilson, Justin Herbert, and Patrick Mahomes, increased efficiency). Adams is as good of a wide receiver selection as any after Kupp, Chase, and Jefferson go off the board.
Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are going to be fighting for the remainder of the targets here, as the Raiders lost most of their pass-catching depth. Renfrow is a high-floor pick with sneaky upside at his ADP and could definitely push for 90 receptions. Waller may never return to his 2020 form, but he must be considered a top-6 tight end at worst considering the perennial weakness at the position. With Adams commanding defensive attention, the middle of the field could really open up for Waller.
This is an incredibly tough projection due to Deshaun Watson’s ongoing legal drama and the ever-looming likelihood of a full-season suspension.
Gone are Odell Beckham, Austin Hooper, Rashard Higgins, and Jarvis Landry. If Watson starts 17 games this season (something that is currently seeming unlikely), Cooper could have a fine age-28 season and outperform his ADP – he will soak up most of the available targets. We know that Watson is capable of elevating wide receivers (see 2020 Will Fuller) to elite levels, but you going to have to pass on a promising sophomore to acquire him in drafts. With Watson’s current legal situation, it’s a huge gamble.
Donovan Peoples-Jones is a promising deep threat, and rookie David Bell is one of our favorite under-the-radar prospects, but Jacoby Brissett starting for them would likely mean fantasy irrelevancy for those two (barring a Cooper injury). The Browns, with a strong offensive line, great running backs, and a sound defense harken back to the 2017-2020 Colts – the last team that Brissett consistently started for. Take a look at how much their pass attempts and plays per game decreased when he was starting:
New York Giants
Though the Giants have the 8th-most available targets, most of those come from the departure of Evan Engram to Jacksonville. If anything, the Giants may have even fewer targets to go around than last year if everyone stays healthy.
Not only does Kenny Golladay and his massive contract return, but so do Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney. Saquon Barkley figures to lap up the 58 available running back targets, but they spent significant draft capital on rookie wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson Robinson, who is going to see some manufactured touches.
The biggest question mark is Daniel Jones: can he consistently support fantasy wide receivers? So far, the answer has been a resounding no. But if anyone can fix this offense, it’s former Bills offensive mastermind Brian Daboll.
Golladay is older than you think (28), but you could theoretically do worse than a team’s WR1 in the 11th round. Kadarius Toney is clearly the most talented, but it’s never a good sign when a seemingly promising sophomore wide receiver is rumored in trades at any point – let alone the fact that the Giants drafted a similar player (Robinson) in the second round the following year. Toney is also recovering from a knee operation.
Unless Daniel Jones makes a huge leap under Daboll, the only fantasy difference-maker on this team is going to be Barkley. The available targets and air yards in New York are not as valuable as they are on other teams.
Somehow seemingly worse than the Giants, the Bears were an absolute dumpster fire on offense last year. Matt Nagy “helped” Justin Fields rank among the worst NFL quarterbacks last year, and Allen Robinson looked like a player far, far past his prime.
But there is reason for optimism, and his name is Darnell Mooney. Somehow salvaging a WR23 PPR finish as a sophomore in this passing game, Mooney has rightfully earned some awesome comps thus far in his career:
Darnell Mooney's closest comp through two years in Diontae Johnson 👀
Eerily similar. pic.twitter.com/Xesj91wGGI
— Dalton Kates (@DaltonGuruFF) May 17, 2022
With an ADP of WR28, Mooney could go bonkers with a higher target ceiling – something very much in play for a team with 218 available targets. 3rd-round rookie reach “Velus Jones” and Byron Pringle may take some ancillary targets, but Mooney is going to be the main player here as evidenced by their lack of meaningful offseason receiver additions. The downside is he’ll see a ton of defensive attention.
We cannot forget that a year ago, Fields could be reasonably considered to be one of the more exciting quarterback prospects in recent history. This offense has nowhere to go but up, which is great for Mooney and emerging tight end Cole Kmet – a player who will also benefit from the well of available targets in Chicago. He is a solid late TE1 if you miss out on the top-tier options.
New York Jets
Similar to their NFC counterparts, the Jets’ available targets are probably worth less here than on other teams due to their quarterback situation. Many of these available targets come from the departures of Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole – two guys who were basically irrelevant in fantasy leagues last year.
Though they have 218 available targets, many of these will be consumed by stud rookies Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall. We also have to remember that both Elijah Moore and Corey Davis missed significant time last year, further skewing this number. Davis and Braxton Berrios return to the fold as well.
We would love to project promising sophomore Elijah Moore with a huge second-year breakout, but almost zero of his meaningful production came with Zach Wilson under center. What does it say about Wilson – who showed precious few signs of being a franchise quarterback as a rookie – when Mike White, Joe Flacco, and Josh Johnson did a far better job of getting the ball into the hands of the Jets’ best 2021 threat? At his current ADP, we couldn’t blame you for selecting Mooney or Bateman over Moore.
Like the Giants, the value of these available targets will only go as far as Wilson will take them.
Most of the Cowboys’ available targets come from the departures of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson, but Michael Gallup’s unfortunate ACL tear (questionable at best for Week 1) makes these available targets even more compelling.
Although Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb didn’t make the earth-shattering leaps that some expected last season, it would be foolhardy to not go back to the well with Lamb.
The Cowboys have “replaced” Cooper and Wilson with James Washington and rookie Jalen Tolbert, though both are far more likely to take targets from Michael Gallup (when he returns) than Lamb. A higher target ceiling and a tertiary mega-breakout are likely coming for Lamb, and he belongs squarely in the 2nd round of fantasy drafts.
It rarely pays to draft players who start the year injured, but Gallup’s 10th-round price tag isn’t prohibitive for those unafraid of risk. If he comes back healthy, it would be tough to not grade him as a high-end WR3.
Dalton Schultz returns to re-assume red-zone and chain-moving duties and is the only tight end with an ADP between the mid-5th and early 8th round. If you miss out on the top tiers of tight ends, you’ll have to forgo the last of the decent wide receivers in order to select him.
Like the Ravens, the Cowboys appear to desire a return to a more balanced offense after passing the 6th-most times in 2021. If this is the case, we can only really project Lamb for a major passing game bump. This would mean less overall passing volume in Dallas, but more work for Ezekiel Elliott and budding star Tony Pollard. Elliott’s best days are behind him, but at least has a reasonable 4th-round price tag.
Pollard, meanwhile, is going to surpass Elliott on the depth chart at some point – either by performance or injury. Pollard should get a significant number of touches despite Elliott’s current health and is even rumored to be lining up as a slot wide receiver. He’s got a fair RB28 price tag, but he’s the exact kind of high floor/huge upside pick we want as an RB2/3.