Fantasy Points Per Target: WRs

Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Wallace pulls in a pass and runs away from Carolina Panthers Nic Harris for 43 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 23, 2010. UPI/Archie Carpenter

A few days ago, I calculated the fantasy points per touch for the running back position, and today I’m looking at fantasy points per target for wide receivers. It’s important to note that not all targets are the same. A wideout will register a target if a QB throws the ball in his direction, so it really doesn’t matter if the ball goes off the receiver’s hands or if it sails 10 feet over his head. Generally speaking, the better the QB, the better the quality of targets his receivers will see, so all else being equal, fantasy owners should usually take the WR with the better QB. (But we knew that already, right?)

A few takeaways:

– These numbers don’t include a point per reception, so they’ll skew more towards the big play, TD-heavy wideouts. I also limited the scope of the table to those receivers who saw at least 80 targets. Of the players who were targeted 30-79 times, a few names stand out: Kenny Britt (1.80 FP per target), Austin Collie (1.57), Ben Obomanu (1.50), Malcom Floyd (1.40) and Dez Bryant (1.26) would have likely finished in the Top 20 in FP/T had they stayed healthy. Jerome Simpson (1.90) was only targeted 24 times, but obviously did a lot (20-277-3) with those looks.

– Mike Wallace is explosive. If he gets his targets into the 120+ range, he’d have a great shot at becoming fantasy’s top WR. Wallace saw 4.8 targets through the first four games (with Ben Roethlisberger suspended) and 6.6 targets over the final 12 games, with Big Ben under center, so his final 2010 numbers may be a little depressed.

– Is Jeremy Maclin a better fantasy receiver than DeSean Jackson? Jackson is certainly a greater threat for the big play, but Maclin caught four more TDs than Jackson this season and finished with 23 more receptions, making him the more valuable PPR guy.

– When Donald Driver retires, James Jones should become a Top 20 fantasy receiver. All of his numbers are solid and he has the agility and speed to get open. Other than Driver, Jones’s concentration is the only thing standing in the way of fantasy stardom.

– Speaking of stars, Mike Williams (TB) is going to be one…if he isn’t already. It’s funny to think back to those first few Waiver Wire Watch posts I wrote when he was still available in a lot of leagues. Anyone who drafted/picked up Williams this season had to be happy with the rookie’s production. Throw in the stability of Josh Freeman at QB and Williams has a bright future indeed. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a staple in the Top 10 for years to come.

– Reggie Wayne’s name is conspicuous in its absence. He was a fantasy star this season largely because he saw so many targets (175). As a comparison, Roddy White (177 targets) was about 14% more productive with his targets. Larry Fitzgerald’s name is also missing, but his lack of production (0.87 FP/target) could be attributed to the problems that Arizona had at QB. Brandon Marshall (0.82) and Steve Smith 1.0 (0.67) were in the same boat.

– Deion Branch averaged 6.7 targets after his trade to the Pats, compared to 4.5 targets during his first four games with the Seahawks. He produced 4.4-64-0.5 in 11 games with New England, which equates to a 70-1,024-7.2 over the course of a 16-game season. (Those are WR20-type numbers, by the way.) He was also hampered by injuries down the stretch, so if the 31-year old can get healthy, he could have a nice 2011.

– Stevie Johnson appears to be for real. The third-year wideout got a ton of targets (142), but produced at a pretty healthy rate (1.18 FP per target). Even if he saw a drop in looks, he should still be good for a Top 20 finish in 2011.

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