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 talent in the context of opportunity is even more powerful.

Analyzing Available Targets For 2023

Estimated Reading Time: 7 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 2023, and what that means for fantasy football purposes (additions and departures as of 5/23):

TeamAvailable TargetsAvailable Target PercentageAvailable Air YardsAvailable Air Yard Percentage
Houston Texans35763.9%286069.7%
Green Bay Packers25847.7%257558.8%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers23832.8%164633.5%
Detroit Lions22740.3%129732.2%
New England Patriots21441.3%175342.6%
Carolina Panthers21249.6%198762.8%

Houston Texans

Key Additions: WR Robert Woods, WR Tank Dell, WR John Metchie (2022 illness), TE Dalton Schultz, RB Devin Singletary, QB C.J. Stroud

Key Departures: WR Brandin Cooks, WR Chris Moore, TE Jordan Akins, RB Rex Burkhead

Finally exiting the Davis Mills-led mediocrity (to put it kindly), the Texans have a new hope for the future in C.J. Stroud. They also completely overhauled their passing game weapons, with their top three (and four of their top five) 2022 targets either on a different team or still a free agent.

More and more, however, this appears to be Nico Collins’ WR1 job to lose. John Metchie had to take his rookie year off due to a cancer diagnosis, Tank Dell is a 3rd-round, 23-year-old rookie, and Robert Woods is a 31-year-old receiver coming off of a 527-yard season where he played all 17 games:

There are a few signals that show us Collins really improved down the stretch, especially in terms of opportunity. Remember, earning targets is a skill:

Collins isn’t a truly elite prospect by any means, but he is certainly the best bet to give you Texan wideout production. The vacant targets in this offense look promising, but there are simply too many new mouths to feed here for anyone but Collins and potentially Schultz. Considering this offense is being led by a rookie quarterback and has two established runners (Dameon Pierce and Singletary), Collins looks like the only exciting piece here.

Green Bay Packers

Key Additions: WR Jayden Reed, TE Tucker Kraft, TE Luke Musgrave

Key Departures: WR Allen Lazard, WR Randall Cobb, TE Robert Tonyan, QB Aaron Rodgers

Jordan Love, step right up. Out with the old (Rodgers, Lazard, Cobb, and Tonyan) and in with the youth movement. It’s looking likely that all of their top two tight ends and top three wide receivers are either rookies or sophomores. Certainly, A.J. Dillon and especially Aaron Jones are going to step in and take some of the vacant opportunities here. But it’s the Christian Watson show until proven otherwise.

Despite Rodgers producing (by his standards) at historically low levels in 2022, Watson was a revelation when he became a full-time player in Week 10:Christian Watson's splits from Week 10 on when he played full snaps, he will hugely benefit from the Packers' available targets and air yards

Indeed, Watson was fantasy football’s overall WR4 from Week 10 on last year, and he displayed superstar efficiency and rookie-year production along the way. Here are the only players drafted in the top two rounds since 2005 to achieve 600 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 9 yards/target as rookies:

PlayerRookie YearYdsY/TgtTDN+1 Year PPR Finish
A.J. Green201110579.27WR3
Julio Jones201195910.18WR11
Odell Beckham Jr.201413051012WR5
Michael Thomas201611379.49WR6
JuJu Smith-Schuster201791711.67WR8
A.J. Brown2019105112.58WR14
D.K. Metcalf201990097WR6
Justin Jefferson2020140011.27WR4
Ja'Marr Chase2021145511.413WR11 (WR3 by PPG)
Christian Watson20226119.37N/A (WR19 ADP)

That list speaks for itself. Putting Watson into context for Rodgers’ career pass-catchers also reveals how historically good he was in 2022 (using RotoViz’s Adjusted Yards/Attempt app), comparable or better than any besides the one-of-a-kind Jordy Nelson (who once finished as the overall WR2 on 96 targets). Remember, this is Watson’s rookie season with a declining Aaron Rodgers:

Aaron Rodgers adjusted yards per attempt over his career

The Packers have the 2nd-most vacated total targets, vacated air yards, and vacated targets inside the 10-yard line. Christian Watson is going to feast, even if Love isn’t very good: 2022 Rodgers passed for a mere 217.4 yards per game last year, and his 6.8 yards/attempt was the same as Daniel Jones and Mac Jones.

Romeo Doubs is a solid depth option who will see a few more targets, but he may be overtaken by a rookie sooner rather than later.

Since 2006, the Packers have drafted six receivers in the 2nd round: Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Christian Watson…and Jayden Reed. Here are Reed’s best comparable prospects via RotoViz’s Sim Scores, which taken into account combine measurements, draft capital, and college production:

100Jayden ReedMichigan State
96Devin SmithOhio State
88Sterling ShepardOklahoma
86Dante PettisWashington
79Randall CobbKentucky
70Brian RobiskieOhio State
66Christian KirkTexas A&M
64Ryan BroylesOklahoma
63Titus YoungBoise State
62Justin HunterTennessee
61Emmanuel SandersSMU

Reed is unlikely to be a rookie difference-maker on fantasy teams, but he should be good enough that he can take targets away from Doubs and enough defensive attention away from Watson. A smaller Sterling Shepard/Emmanuel Sanders-type, Reed’s skills in the short and intermediate levels of the field complement Watson well.

This Packers team may not be great, but their young offense will be certainly fun to watch. Unlike the Texans, the vacated targets and air yards here are likely to transform a Packer into a fantasy superstar.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Additions: RB Chase Edmonds

Key Departures: WR Julio Jones, WR Scotty Miller, TE Cameron Brate, RB Leonard Fournette, QB Tom Brady

Potentially even beating out the Texans for “least exciting team on the list”, the Buccaneers’ position here is mostly due to their sheer 2022 passing volume. Replacing Tom Brady with Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask is a sure-fire way to project far fewer passing attempts for a team that threw a league-leading 711 times.

To give some context on that insane amount, only four NFL teams were even within 100 attempts of that number. With passing volume regression an absolute certainty, we simply cannot safely project a notable increase for maybe anyone on the team.

Chris Godwin is certainly the best bet for consistent production on the team. He probably won’t be surpassing the 142 targets he saw last year, but he is going to play this season only at age 27 and is now a second year removed from his ACL injury. He’s a high-floor, medium-ceiling player who is a threat to surpass 100 catches again.

Mike Evans, on the other hand, will turn 30 in August and will likely have the worst deep-ball throwers of his career this season. Regardless, a sixth-round price tag for a player who was selected in the second last year remains intriguing.

Cade Otton could be a nice, sneaky low-end TE1 here but the real question is Rachaad White. The list of running backs with his rookie-year efficiency metrics isn’t great, but unless Sean Tucker explodes in camp it’s White’s job to lose. Was the play-calling and blocking that bad last year, or is White just mediocre? He’s got the largest range of outcomes on anyone on the team.

All in all, this is likely a team to avoid on draft day. Because of the sheer volume from 2022 that is guaranteed to decrease, the available targets here are a bit of an illusion.

Detriot Lions

Key Additions: TE Sam LaPorta, RB Jahmyr Gibbs, RB David Montgomery

Key Departures: WR D.J. Chark, RB Jamaal Williams, RB D’Andre Swift

We’ll start with the obvious here: health allowing, Amon-Ra St. Brown is going to be targeted like crazy in 2023. The targets vacated by Jamaal Williams and Swift are likely to be sucked up by Jahmyr Gibbs (more on him momentarily), but nothing is stopping Amon-Ra from seeing 160 targets. The offense is unlikely to be much different, and promising sophomore Jameson Williams has to serve a 6-game gambling suspension.

Amon-Ra is one of only 27 receivers since 1992 (when targets were tracked) to achieve 250 targets and 2,000 receiving yards in a player’s first 32 NFL games. Take a look at the fantasy studs St. Brown is in company with:

PlayerTeamTargetsReceiving Yards
Odell Beckham Jr.NYG3393114
Anquan BoldinARI3332547
Mike EvansTAM2952426
Terry GlennNWE2942148
A.J. GreenCIN2922569
Keyshawn JohnsonNYJ2882014
Michael ThomasNOR2872562
Allen RobinsonJAX2872244
Justin JeffersonMIN2852909
Josh GordonCLE2842646
Isaac BruceRAM,STL2822398
Larry FitzgeraldARI2802189
Marcus RobinsonCHI2762281
Dwayne BoweKAN2732017
Marques ColstonNOR2682266
Keenan AllenSDG2652144
Amari CooperOAK2622223
JuJu Smith-SchusterPIT2612505
Randy MossMIN2612726
Julio JonesATL2582530
Victor CruzNYG2582540
Calvin JohnsonDET2572177
Andre JohnsonHOU2572118
Amon-Ra St. BrownDET2562024
Joey GallowaySEA2542026
Jaylen WaddleMIA2522327
Terry McLaurinWAS2522268

The most exciting development, however, is the Lions trading up to draft Jahmyr Gibbs and trading away D’Andre Swift. David Montgomery will surely see many early-down and goal-line carries, but Gibbs is almost certainly going to be special:

We’re talking about a running back with 4.36 speed and top-12 draft capital. He may even deserve to be in a tier with Bijan Robinson:

His ADP is climbing into the late 3rd round, but even that may still be too low. Behind one of the best offensive lines and 26-year-old (when the season starts) David Montgomery in front of him, it’s wheels up for Gibbs. We may be looking at the next Jamaal Charles.

New England Patriots

Key Additions: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, TE Mike Gesicki

Key Departures: WR Jakobi Meyers, WR Nelson Agholor, TE Jonnu Smith, RB Damien Harris

Not too many exciting replacement options here, though we may yet see the release of DeVante Parker and/or Kendrick Bourne to vacate even more targets.

If you’re desperate for a 1-for-1 Jakobi Meyers replacement to get you a scoreless 4 catches for 49 yards, JuJu Smith-Schuster is your guy. If this former “golden child” couldn’t be productive on the 2022 Chiefs while competing with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, and Mecole Hardman for Patrick Mahomes’ wide receiver targets, it’s not going to happen on the Mac Jones-led Patriots.

Mike Gesicki is likely to render Hunter Henry even more unusable than he already was, though there is a non-zero chance Gesicki becomes a low-end TE1.

We’ve gone over how good this could be for Rhamondre Stevenson. His healthy floor is top-5 in 2023 running back receptions, and only Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong, and Kevin Harris are currently competing with him for work. Bill O’Brien – who featured Jahmyr Gibbs in the passing game last year at Alabama – is a huge upgrade over Matt Patricia.

The most interesting wide receiver here is sophomore Tyquan Thornton, who makes for a nice late-round pick:

Carolina Panthers

Key Additions: WR Adam Thielen, WR D.J. Chark, WR Jonathan Mingo, RB Miles Sanders, QB Bryce Young

Key Departures: WR D.J. Moore, RB D’Onta Foreman, QB Sam Darnold

The Panthers have a very similar situation to the Texans above. A lot of vacated targets, but a lot of unproven youngsters and over-the-hill veterans to compete for them from a rookie quarterback.

Adam Thielen is a name only at this point. He ran the 2nd most routes in the NFL and was the WR2 on a team that was top-five in passing attempts and passing yards. The result? A WR31 finish on the 42nd most receiving yards in the NFL. He’ll play this season at age 33 and isn’t worth drafting in 2023 fantasy leagues.

D.J. Chark will be 27 when this season begins, and has shifted between injuries and poor performances since his 1,000yd season:

Jonathan Mingo doesn’t have the profile of a prototypical alpha receiver, but he may be thrust into that role anyway. The Panthers love him and took him at the beginning of the second round. His draft capital gives him some very interesting comps that make him the most exciting receiver to own on this offense (sorry, Laviska).

100Jonathan MingoOle Miss
97Mohamed MassaquoiGeorgia
92Michael Pittman Jr.USC
84Chase ClaypoolNotre Dame
65Deebo SamuelSouth Carolina
64Cody LatimerIndiana
63Brian RobiskieOhio State
62Josh PalmerTennessee
61Josh HuffOregon
58Tee HigginsClemson
57Chris ConleyGeorgia