If you are unaware of what a target is in the NFL, it is when a pass attempt is directed towards them. This can be for running backs, receivers, or tight ends. The more targets, the more fantasy points they put up. Targets are best to look at on a per game basis. Julio Jones had nearly 13 targets per game. This helps gauge a player's usage within a team.
With the NFL in a pass-happy era, we have seen the running back evolve. Dual-threat running backs have been sought after for quite some time, with the likes of Le'Veon Bell and Matt Forte. We have also seen running backs solely used for passing downs, like Danny Woodhead and Darren Sproles. With fantasy football adding point-per-reception scoring (PPR), this has created a demand for knowledge of the receiving backs. We saw Woodhead in 2015 surpass 100 targets, generating 6.3 targets per game. He was also uber-efficient, catching 81 of them. Theo Riddick, and Sproles weren't far behind, with over 90 targets themselves. In PPR scoring leagues, these guys are a bit more useful than in standard scoring leagues. You will often see running backs with higher catch rates, and this is due to the short passing attempts from the quarterback — screens and dump-offs are generally what you get. Pass-catching backs have a lot to do with the committee approach team's take now, so be sure to know who is involved. Game theory has a lot to do with the possible success of these backs. Teams that trail from behind, or are simply just pass heavy, use these playmakers a bit more often from teams who are run heavy.
There is certainly an elite tier of wide receivers, and you will notice who they are when just looking at the number of targets. Julio Jones and Antonio Brown both were one-two when it came to targets, but also one-two when it came to overall fantasy points. Doug Baldwin was the only receiver in the top ten for fantasy scoring to not see over 130 targets. This had a lot to do with his 14 touchdown season. Four out of the five target leaders scored over 200 fantasy points last season. Demaryius Thomas was the odd man out. Thomas had the fourth most targets in the league, yet the efficiency was the issue. Of course, he had an aging Peyton Manning throwing to him. The catch rate was poor. Targets are certainly important, but the efficiency is key as well. Thomas ranked 13th in fantasy scoring among wide receivers. When injuries occur, especially to a big time wide receiver, targets will shift to the once secondary options. This does not strictly mean wide receivers all just slide up a spot. Tight ends and running backs will gain bigger roles as well. We have seen that with Keenan Allen over the last two seasons.
There were nine tight ends in 2015 who had over a 100 targets to their name. Delanie Walker led the way, with 133. Walker's league leading targets are not a surprise, as tight ends are relied upon for inexperienced quarterbacks. We also saw Gary Barnidge finish second under Josh McCown. Out of those nine tight ends, eight scored over 100 fantasy points. Zach Ertz saw plenty of targets, but two touchdowns had him falling short of the others. Just like wide receivers, we want the heavy target tight ends. With the NFL being so pass heavy, tight ends are not the lackluster position anymore. We had three tight ends score over 10 touchdowns, one was Tyler Eifert. The Bengals tight end was an odd case when it came to targets. He finished as the sixth highest scoring tight end, yet was 20th in targets (74). A lot of his success came within the red zone, and was exempt from the theory of looking for high targets and fantasy production. 6-8 targets per game is generally a good indicator for a tight end heavily involved in the offense. These are your top ten tight end targets, which you should be looking at.