In a never-ending quest to drown myself in data and spreadsheets, I recently began looking at the target market share of each team to search for trends. My main goal was to determine how often offenses support multiple top-24 pass catchers (wide receiver or tight end) for fantasy, and the variables that are the best indicators of which offenses may be able to do so in any given season.
Note, ‘available targets’ references the number of passes thrown towards a receiver (i.e. not accounting for ‘throwaways’). As such, available targets does not equal total pass attempts for that team. Additionally, while running backs may have been atop a team’s target market share, I did not include them in the data of top-24 pass catchers, as they also have another major factor which breeds fantasy success (rushing). For the tight ends that were atop their team's target market share, I compared their PPR points to the wide receiver position to determine if they were to be included as a 'top-24 pass catcher.'
Looking at the past five years of data, NFL teams have averaged 547 available targets. Much to my surprise, there have been 25 (!) instances in that timeframe where an offense was able to support two top-24 pass catchers. Most recently, the Rams (Woods, Kupp), Cowboys (Cooper, Gallup), and Bucs (Godwin, Evans) achieved this feat just last season. So what does that mean for 2020?
First, this information somewhat debunks the cliche narrative that a player cannot be productive for fantasy because there are ‘too many mouths to feed.’ The fact that over the past five seasons, an average of five teams produced multiple top-24 pass catchers in a given season shows that it is possible for fantasy owners to expect big production from certain offenses. However, how do we determine which offenses those might be? Some things to consider:
A few teams that I feel can meet the above criteria and produce two top-24 pass catchers include in this upcoming season include:
Marvin Jones production with, and without Matthew Stafford in 2019
4. Pittsburgh Steelers - perhaps considered my 'sneaky' prediction for 2020, I could not possibly pass up the opportunity to talk about Diontae Johnson yet again. Ben Roethlisberger does have some injury concerns, but there is no denying that when he plays, the Steelers like to throw. They have averaged 625 passing attempts from 2016-2018 where Ben played in 45 of a possible 48 games, finished 10th, 6th, and 1st in the league in pass attempts in those years, respectively. Juju is unlikely to command much more than 25% of the targets, and Diontae Johnson has the potential to emerge as a strong second option in that offense. With a 19% target share as a rookie, replicating that type of opportunity with higher-quality targets from a better quarterback could be enough to propel both Juju and Johnson into top-24 conversation.
What teams do you believe will be able to produce two top-24 pass catchers in 2020? Let me know who I missed, by finding me on Twitter @_TaylorCornell.