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Dynasty Fantasy Football Target Share: Which Rookies Hit?

We take a deep dive into to usefulness of target data in predicting long term fantasy success.

Chris Olave

I appreciate you sticking with this series all season. I hope you found some stuff interesting, and hopefully entertaining. Most of all I hope you won championships or at least had a good time trying.

I look forward to writing it again next year and I hope to see you in the offseason as we delve into rookie analysis and expectations for the 2023 season. However, before we let the curtain drop, let’s round it out by ranking the 2022 rookie wide receiver class.

One final reminder that I collected all weekly NFL data in a public spreadsheet you can find here. Now Let’s get into it.

TLDR: Last Week

Last week I wrote about how routes can often give us important information about what a rookie is likely to do in his sophomore season. My interpretation of some of the route data is distinctly different from some of the analyses I’ve read and heard about before so it’s worth restating.

See more in this thread:

Year two players elevate in volume. Most good players average great targets per route run (TPRR) in their first season, but players can also have high TPRR numbers because they spend less time on the field.

This is why wide receivers like Tyree Hill stand out in the rookie season.

We also see similar signs in players like Chase Claypool, Laviska Shenault, and Dez Bryant, all highly specialized downfield receivers. There are positive examples here and I want to make it clear some great players still do have lower route percentages and lower snap shares. However, it’s important to know that on average this disproportion is a more common feature of disappointments than hits.

I think that’s an important baseline of understanding to interpret the season.

On the flip side players who had higher route percentage (or snap share) but below average TPRR have better outcomes more often. Darnell Mooney, Michael Pittman, DeAndre Hopkins, and Davante Adams are all examples of this. Others like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyler Boyd, and Courtland Sutton may not have been the same type of “stud” but have still had overall positive outcomes.

That being said let’s take a look at this year’s rookie class.

Sophomore Model

My sophomore model has been running for a few years now before I had route data. As such it works on a yards-per-snap basis (per game) and there are still improvements to be made. However, in general, it correlates to second-year stats at a higher rate than anything else I’ve been able to test including route data. Plus, I’m familiar with the model and looking for things it gets wrong more often.

Three players in the 2022 class stand out above the rest. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson have top 10 rookie scores (since 2010) in my model. The only miss in the top 10 was Kelvin Benjamin, and he was noticeable because of his high touchdown regression that year.

Meanwhile, Drake London has had a top 30 score since 2010. While that incorporates a few more misses and lower-level hits than the top 10, the context of Atlanta’s season and what I’ve learned about route data suggests his overall rock-solid usage profile means he has just as much upside and belongs in the top three.

Below this group, we see a clear tier of players: Christian Watson, Jahan Dotson, George Pickens, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Treylon Burks.

Dotson and Pickens both have below-average TPRR, however, Pickens’s snap share and route participation is positive, in my opinion. Both Watson and Dotson also had high touchdown dependence and are due to touchdown regression in 2023.

Watson, Dotson, and Burks all missed significant time this year and Robinson had only just started to produce on his opportunity in the game he was injured.

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I break decisions towards volume and still rely on my college profiles. That being said, I think Treylon Burks’s target share and draft capital make him stand out in this group.

Christian Watson has as much upside as anyone. However, I’m also impressed with George Pickens’s overall opportunity on the field (snap share and route participation.

Jahan Dotson’s lower TPRR does start to look concerning paired with his high touchdown dependence. But both he and Pickens had over 30 routes per game, and players drafted inside the first three rounds who hit that mark all broke out in year two (Courtland Sutton, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Brandin Cooks.)

While I think they’ll be fantasy relevant moving forward I don’t think Dotson is the best fantasy receiver on his team, and I’m concerned about his touchdown dependence. This places him below everyone else. He’s not someone I’m very likely to trade for at his current value.

Wan’dale Robinson didn’t play enough games for me to have a very firm opinion of his future potential. But I do think his rookie season was positive. He’s also drafted significantly behind the other players right now per DLF ADP.

Honorable Mentions

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Rashid Shaheed, Romeo Doubs, and Alec Pierce all had interesting rookie seasons.

Shaheed specifically looks more like a role player with such a low snap share and route participation. But he also stands out as someone who might be that part-time role player more often in the future.

Doubs had a target share coincides as high as Christian Watson this year. Doubs was injured until week 15 – which is when Watson saw his increase in opportunity and fantasy success.

While Watson has the clear edge in performance and draft capital, I think it’s worth remembering that Doubs had his moments this year, and overall was a significant part of this offense. Like Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling before him, perhaps? Still, for his current value, it’s interesting.

Overall, the 2022 class brought us a lot to be good players.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to ask me on Twitter or below this article.

You can also join our live stream, the Dynasty Grind, every Wednesday at 9:30 pm (on Twitch, Youtube) with Dynasty outhouse (@Dynatsyouythouse), Zac Reid (@tacitassasin13), and myself if you have any questions or just want to talk about dynasty every week.

Thanks for checking this series, and I’ll see you again soon.


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Peter Howard
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Dynasty Fantasy Football Target Share: Which Rookies Hit?
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ken conlogue
2 months ago

Great job. But no mention of system, coaching, draft picks, and competition within the position. and o yeah, QB play. Good luck selling this crap on pure data. Doesn’t work like that in the NFL. Sorry to be the Grinch, but Reality IS Fantasy. It’s good stuff to reference, but by no means reliable unless other factors are considered.

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