Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jeremy's Spoken: Right on Target

I’m very liberal when it comes to fantasy sports. As you would expect from any liberal, I try to be an advocate for those in the minority. Today I’m going to discuss a minority in the world of fantasy football statistics: Targets.

A target is simply a pass that is intended for a specific player. Obviously, the more often a player is targeted, the more chances he has for a catch and the greater the opportunity for a big gain or a score. Although it was introduced a few years ago, it is only now beginning to be reported to the general football fan. Note, however, that because targets are recorded by different sources, the data can vary depending on the data source used. CBS Sportsline now reports targets in its standard stats database and is available for anyone whose league is managed by their League Manager service. As such, we’ll use their data for our discussion today. On to the data:

Correlation with Fantasy Points, Standard Scoring

Targets

Receptions

Yards

Average

TD

0.83

0.88

0.96

0.22

0.89


The table above shows the correlation between each of the statistics and total fantasy points. (The points are based on a standard scoring system with 6 points for a TD, 1 for 10 yards receiving, and -3 for a fumble. No points are added for receptions). While yards, touchdowns, and receptions are all more highly correlated with fantasy success, the number of targets is not far behind. At the very least, we can use targets to help us distinguish between otherwise similar players.

After 3 weeks of the season, we will use it to play the waiver wire, hoping to find lesser-known players that have become an important parts of their team’s offense.

Top 15 Tight Ends by Targets

Player

Targets

Receptions

Yards

Avg

TD

FL

FPTS

Gates, Antonio TE SD

33

27

297

11

2

0

51

Shockey, Jeremy TE NYG

28

15

180

12

0

0

23

Winslow, Kellen TE CLE

26

16

271

16.9

1

0

41

Witten, Jason TE DAL

21

14

233

16.6

2

0

42

Clark, Dallas TE IND

21

13

175

13.5

2

0

35

Gonzalez, Tony TE KC

21

16

167

10.4

0

0

20

Heap, Todd TE BAL

20

15

165

11

1

0

27

Johnson, Eric TE NO

20

16

98

6.1

0

0

12

King, Jeff TE CAR

18

13

130

10

1

0

22

Lee, Donald TE GB

16

12

106

8.8

1

0

18

Crumpler, Alge TE ATL

15

13

156

12

1

0

26

Franks, Bubba TE GB

15

7

42

6

2

0

16

Daniels, Owen TE HOU

15

13

128

9.8

0

1

12

Davis, Vernon TE SF

15

8

83

10.4

0

0

10

Lewis, Marcedes TE JAC

14

9

118

13.1

0

0

14

Of course some of the usual suspects are on here—Antonio Gates leads all tight ends in targets, as you would expect. Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow, Jason Witten, and Dallas Clark round out the top 5, none of whom are surprises.

But there are a few intriguing names on here. Add me to the Jeff King bandwagon. King is being targeted 6 times per game. To put that in perspective, it is the same number of targets as Hines Ward, Vincent Jackson, and Calvin Johnson and more than Joey Galloway, Santonio Holmes, and Reggie Brown. King is a borderline starter and a definite one during bye weeks. With Steve Smith stretching defenses and drawing double coverage, King is a prime target over the middle of the field.

Brett Favre has shown a propensity to throw to its tight ends early in the season. Both Donald Lee and Bubba Franks make the top 15 list. If one of them were to get hurt, it wouldn’t be a far reach to see the other pick up some targets and become a starting caliber fantasy tight end, especially given the success of Green Bay’s passing attack.

Finally, Mercedes Lewis has the talent to be a top tier tight end. Monitor his progress—one or two more targets per game could move him up to starter status and primed for a breakout at the end of 2007 or in 2008.

Noticeably absent from this list (number of targets in parentheses) are Chris Cooley (13), Heath Miller (12), and Ben Watson (10). Obviously, keep them in your lineup unless you have a better option. But temper your expectations for their performance until they become a larger part of their team’s passing offense.

Next week we’ll take a look at targets data for wide receivers. Stay tuned.

_______________________________________________________

Jeremy Mittler, M.B.A., is a Strategy and Statistical Expert at SportsJudge.com. His column, Jeremy's Spoken, appears on Thursdays at SportsJudge Blog.






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1 comments:

The Professor said...

I think this is a really great post. I hope the readers understand the importance of Jeremy's research on targets. I look forward to reading the next piece on wide receivers.