In the past decade, there have been 81 instances of a wide receiver catching 90 passes. Predictably, 78 of them had over 1,000 yards and 70 of them had over 1,100 yards. The 81 receivers averaged a bigger-than-expected 158.5 targets per year, with 14 of them (17%) managing to do so with under 140 targets.
OK, so what? Big shockeroo. Receivers who get a lot of targets tend to get a lot of catches and a lot of yards! Before you know it, I'll be explaining why it's important for the people you draft to be athletic.
With the season less than a month away, why not handicap which receivers have a shot at catching 90 passes. And let's not waste time with why Michael Thomas or Julio Jones will do it. No obvious names allowed! Let's find some legit candidates who can be had for decent value in drafts.
Before we dig in, check out Heath Cummings' Opportunity Index for wide receivers. These are the number of targets vacated by each team following their offseason moves. The Jets have the most targets available after losing Robby Anderson (96 targets) and Demaryius Thomas (58). The Lions, by comparison, have their entire wide receiving corps returning and thus have zero targets for newcomers.
It might be easier to uncover some 90-catch candidates with this info.
Who's ninety fine?
(Players are listed in order of my PPR rankings)
Everyone pretty much assumes Moore will get 90 catches -- he had 135 targets and 87 receptions in effectively 14 games in 2019. The offense is changing in Carolina, and it's to Moore's benefit. Expect the pass game to be predicated on quick-hitting routes where receivers make plays after the catch. That's Moore's wheelhouse, plus he can pick up big touchdown scores, too. If the passing volume and efficiency goes up with Teddy Bridgewater under center, Moore could hit 100 receptions. His value is much better in PPR (Round 3) than non-PPR (late Round 4).
The Falcons are already one of the league's pass-happiest teams. Not only do they have 68 wide receiver targets vacated, but a league-high 111 targets to tight ends went out the door when Austin Hooper left. Ridley could end up gobbling up more than he's been used to. He was on pace in 2019 for 114 targets and would only need 1.55 more targets per game to find a 140-target pace. The looks are available, though it would mean a worse-than-expected season for mid-round hopeful Hayden Hurst and late-round PPR candidate Russell Gage. Hype will carry Ridley into Round 3 in most leagues, but he should be worth it.
One bad, injury-laden year doesn't make Thielen a permanent bust. In fact, the way he finished up in the postseason and the way the Vikings' offseason shook out should make you invigorated to draft him. Thielen is clearly Kirk Cousins' No. 1 target and did have back-to-back 90-plus receptions in 2017 and 2018. The Vikings have 106 targets vacated, mostly the byproduct of Diggs leaving, which should help Thielen find 140 or more. There is the expectation that Thielen will line up outside more with rookie Justin Jefferson handling the slot, but Thielen has been almost as efficient lining up there (171 targets, 109-1620-8) as he has been in the slot (172 targets, 125-1447-11). The best bounce-back candidate among wideouts this year, Thielen is worth a Round 3 choice in PPR after 28th overall.
Diggs hit 149 targets and 102 catches in 2018 (in 15 games), and was six catches shy of 90 in 2016 (in 13 games). No one would be THAT surprised if Diggs hauled in 90 passes this season because he's done it before. Convincing anyone that the Bills would put him in such a position is the tougher chore. However, consider that the Bills wanted a No. 1 receiver so badly that they paid a hefty premium (four draft picks including a first-round choice). Not every target Diggs will get will be a bomb from Josh Allen -- expect plenty of short-area, high-percentage throws that Diggs can create yards with. Buffalo didn't exactly spread the ball around to all of its receivers last year as John Brown and Cole Beasley finagled over 100 targets each; the next closest was Isaiah McKenzie with 39. Any dip in rushing efficiency or defensive prowess for the Bills would definitely help the receivers. Warming up to Diggs in late Round 5/early Round 6 in PPR shouldn't be tough to do.
OK, fine, Boyd's kind of obvious. He had 90 receptions last year, after all. But that was without A.J. Green. Now that Green's back, shouldn't that mean Boyd is a long shot to hit the mark again? According to the last time he played with Green, it's not. In nine games with Green in 2018, Boyd averaged 8.2 targets and 6.1 receptions per game. That would have meant 98 receptions! It sounds like the Bengals offensive scheme isn't changing much, but the quarterback will, and rookie Joe Burrow definitely had eyes for his slot receiver in college. Boyd's a "settle-for" No. 2 receiver, preferably in Round 6 in PPR.
It shouldn't take too much more for Landry to find 90 receptions again after notching 81 or more in his first two years with the Browns (138-plus targets each year, too). His hip injury and the new direction of the offense in Cleveland could be big inhibitors, but if Landry plays 16 games, and if this is a typical West Coast offense in the Gary Kubiak mold, then Landry should see plenty of passes designed to go his way. He's a terrific grab as a No. 3 receiver after Round 6 in full PPR.
So Tom Brady leaves and now we expect Edelman to turn into a stone-handed sloth? Say what you will about how the Patriots offense will change with Cam Newton under center, but the constant should be the sure-handed Edelman. The track record is pristine: 90-plus grabs in four of the past six seasons with 100 receptions in 2019. Not only should Newton learn to lean on Edelman as his middle-of-the-field target, but in the event Newton gets hurt, Jarrett Stidham should too because he had a tendency to lean on his slot receiver at Auburn. Consider this a reminder that Edelman is still a useful part of PPR lineups, well worth settling for in Round 7.
Long shots for 90 catches
(Players are listed in order of my PPR rankings)
Chark is already a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver based on the winning combination of his speed, size and aggressive quarterback. But the competition he has for targets in Jacksonville isn't particularly scary and the Jaguars should drive the passing game through him. That's a big plus since the Jags figure to throw quite a bit -- not only might they trail most weeks but their run game is far from certain following an offseason where they tried to move on from Leonard Fournette. Already expected to take a jump in terms of red-zone work (only 10 targets last year), Chark could further establish himself and bring back profitable Fantasy value from a Round 5 choice.
You already know Crowder as a target-hogging slot receiver. But he's never hit even 80 grabs, much less 90 (the 78 he had in 2019 was a career-high). Adam Gase's offenses have flowed through slot receivers pretty substantially, and that's not expected to change. Here's the cherry on top: The Jets had a league-high 157 wide receiver targets vacated mainly following the departures of Robby Anderson and Demaryius Thomas, which is enough to get Crowder close to 140 looks with plenty to spare for another teammate.
This is not about Allen Robinson slowing down, because he shouldn't. This is about a talented receiver who's finally healthy entering his third season who's given us a glimpse of his upside. There was a five-game stretch in 2019 where Miller's torrid pace would have projected out to 166 targets and 104 receptions (and those games were with Robinson). They represent four of his five career games with eight-plus targets and are proof of Miller's upside. Chicago's run game isn't great and the Bears take on a slew of high-scoring offenses. It could mean lots of passing, and if it's Nick Foles' arm doing the work, Miller could thrive as Foles has long leaned on slot receivers. With an ADP south of Round 10, he's an easy low-risk, high-reward receiver to grab.
It's hard to be a huge fan of a guy who had 50 yards and no touchdowns in eight of his final 11 games. But facts are facts: the Packers don't have a deep receiving corps, potentially making Lazard the second-best pass-catcher in the offense. If that's the case, then the runway is there for him to gobble up a chunk of the 132 total targets vacated. Plus it's not necessarily wrong to assume that the targets Marquez Valdes-Scantling (56) and Jamaal Williams (45) had will be there for them again. We've seen the Packers passing game flow through only two guys before -- if Lazard has no competition for reps, he could back into an incredibly large target share. He absolutely needs this to click because he's amassed seven-plus targets just twice in 19 games. You could include him in your late-round plans.
Perriman's the biggest long shot of them all -- fitting since he was a long shot to ever revive his career. But there he was over the final five games of last season in Tampa Bay, playing like an absolute beast with 20.8 PPR Fantasy points per game. There's no one else in New York to take the lead outside receiver role away from him, giving him a very outside shot at a huge target share. A reminder: The Jets have a league-high 157 wide receiver targets vacated! It'll come down to how good Perriman can keep playing, how accurate Sam Darnold can be and how well the new Jets O-line can protect the quarterback. If those elements work out, then Perriman should see plenty of work as the Jets figure to chase the scoreboard a lot in 2020. He's usually available for the taking with one of your final three picks -- why not spend a pick with minimal risk?
Risks to hit 90 catches
(Players are listed in order of my PPR rankings except for teams of receivers)
Yep, Golladay is the top wideout in the Lions offense. Nope, it's unlikely he'll see enough targets to get 90 catches. He actually has eight or more targets in 19 of 42 career games, but he's had a sub-60% catch rate in 13 of those 19. Theoretically, he would need more than 140 targets to have a shot at 90 receptions, and that seems pretty unlikely. He's definitely worth getting as a No. 1 receiver, but there's more risk than necessary if it's as one of the first six guys off the board.
Dak Prescott's a lucky man. Not only is he guaranteed a huge salary this year (and probably for several years after), but he's got an unreal receiving corps. Good for him, bad for the Fantasy managers of his receivers. Despite 181 total targets up for grabs in Big D, Cooper and Gallup will have to split them up with the team's running backs (namely Ezekiel Elliott), rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb and presumed starting tight end Blake Jarwin. Prescott has averaged 106.5 targets to his tight ends over his career, a trend that should continue and thus limit the crazy upside any Cowboys receiver has for a 90-catch campaign. One other fun fact: Dallas' last wideout with 80 receptions (not 90) was Dez Bryant in 2014.
Beckham had a career-low 8.3 targets per game last year and figures to be mired in the Browns' conservative offense this year, one that added tight end Austin Hooper. Beckham hasn't had 80 grabs since 2016 thanks in major part to injuries, but this year it might be because there's not a lot of passing volume to go around. He can still be very good, but expecting a top-12 season seems a little much.
Green was on a 137-target pace in 2018 when he was sidelined. That's the last we've seen of him, though early camp reports are positive. Green's only had 90-plus receptions in 2012 and 2013, making him unlikely to find that form again seven seasons later. Draft him as a good No. 2 wideout.
Injuries each of the past two years might make Fantasy managers nervous to take Hilton, but that coupled with only one season with over 90 receptions (2016, with Andrew Luck) is what makes him harder to reach for. Only in 2018 did Hilton come close to pacing for 90 receptions, but injuries waylaid him for two games. He's also never been a massive touchdown scorer, and who knows how effective 38-year-old Philip Rivers will be over the balance of the season. Indianapolis appears primed to be a more versatile, more run-focused offense anyway. Hilton's someone you should be squeamish to draft before Round 6.
If Parker won over Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins coaching staff following his 88-catch pace over the final eight games of 2019, he'll have a prayer of finding a high reception total. We don't know if that's exactly the case, and it's become increasingly clear that Preston Williams will be back on the field for Week 1 following his November ACL tear. Playing with Williams last season, Parker's 16-game pace for the first eight weeks was 56 catches. That's it. It's too risky to draft Parker as a good No. 2 wideout, he's better as a Round 7 flex you can count on for 65 or 70 receptions.
With DeAndre Hopkins moving to Arizona, the Texans have 167 total targets available. If you're expecting one of these wideouts to be the next Hopkins, good luck. Fuller has 11 career games with eight-plus targets (three in 2019) and 17 with five or fewer targets (four in 2019). And despite four straight 1,000-yard seasons, Cooks has one year with over 125 targets (129 in 2015). The only way for one of these guys to have a huge target share is for the other to miss extensive time -- and it feels more likely both will miss games rather than one stay on the field for 16. I wouldn't touch either receiver until Round 7 at the earliest.
So which Fantasy football busts should you completely avoid? And which running back going off the board early should you fade? Visit SportsLine now to get cheat sheets from the model that called Baker Mayfield's disappointing season, and find out.