For most NFL teams, predicting the target leader is pretty straightforward. Many teams have an established leader who remains at the top of their target totem pole for several years. These are high profile, often All-Pro talents, who garner 25% plus Market Share for their whole career. (think Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, etc.)
Then there are teams like the Miami Dolphins who have several factors that make multiple players possible target leaders. Correctly predicting the Target Leader in a murky situation can result in excellent fantasy value. Here I dig through the data to predict this ideal fantasy value in the first in my series, “Market Share Report.”
How will the Market Share divide for the Miami Dolphins?
The Dolphins were abysmal on both sides of the ball last season, finishing bottom four in points for, on both offense and defense. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending injury and was replaced with a very below average Jay Cutler, who finished 25th in True Passer Rating and 29th in Total QBR. For a little more context, the Dolphins target leader for the past two seasons, Jarvis Landry, found a new team. With this massive market share in targets up for grabs, this article’s goal is to predict who will lead the Dolphins in targets, while becoming a screaming fantasy value.
The goal is to read into the data and numbers, not the hype. So I will go through each Dolphin’s Wide Receiver’s career production to pin down the strongest candidate.
Some have hyped Amendola to slide into the high volume Landry role. This is a bad take. Looking at Amendola’s career production and market share numbers,(via ffstatistics.com)it is hard to imagine Amendola having an outlier year to suddenly lead the team in targets. As the chart below illustrates, he has not been used as a primary option since his St.Louis days, five years ago. Amendola has the lowest probability of the 4 Miami receivers (talked about in this article)to lead the team in targets.
Albert Wilson is much more interesting than Amendola, as far as potential to accrue a high market share in targets. He has an absurd college profile, with a 59% College Dominator(98th percentile)and quality athleticism. Albert Wilson’s YAC abilities, 310 YAC out of 554 total receiving yards (16th in the league), along with his prototypical slot size (5’9″, 202 lbs.)seem like an obvious replacement for Jarvis Landry.
On the negative side, though, Wilson has not yet broken out. His best year so far was last season, but he only had 554 yards on 42 receptions and 3 touchdowns. His target share was a very unremarkable 11.42%. In Peter Howard’s article on wide receiver breakout, found on our site, his data suggests that a 5th-year undrafted receiver has broken out, meaning had 800+ yards, 11.1% of the time since 2000. With an 89% chance of Albert Wilson not even breaking out, Albert Wilson leading the Dolphins in targets is a fantasy.
Devante Parker looks the most promising of the three receivers I’ve mentioned. He is 6’3″, had 46% college dominator, and ran in the 4.4’s. His NFL career though has been a disappointment. His rookie year he missed eight games, but he still averaged slightly over 6 targets per game. Last year, he recorded a target share of 15.95 while missing three games, and was on pace to have over 110 targets.
Doing this alongside target hog Jarvis Landry is impressive. The concern though, Parker’s YPR dropped down to 11.8, highlighting an inability be a consistent downfield playmaker. With a target separation of just 1.05, 98th in the league, it becomes clear that he is not a reliable option.
More evidence shows Parker’s shortcomings, such as his 59%, below average catch rate, and his horrid TD rate, one TD catch in 57 receptions. Also finishing outside the top-50 in air yards last season. Shaping up to have a very mediocre, inefficient career, the Dolphins have seemingly given up hope for Parker.
Reports from camp are that Albert Wilson is lining up outside in place of Parker and that Parker has struggled to do anything against tight coverage. A lot of this is likely just noise, but the odds are that he remains a bad option to pass too, and although I expect him to command a similar target share to last year, he won’t take the step forward to target leader.
Kenny Stills’s efficiency is his largest advantage on the other Dolphins’ receivers. He was created to be a deep threat, with his 4.3 wheels and consistently high YPR, averaging over 16 YPR for his career. Over the last three years, his aDOT has remained well over 14. The list of guys with over 90 targets and an aDOT over 13 is littered with stars such as Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, A.J. Green and more. On this list, Stills was 4th, behind premier downfield threats Desean Jackson, Brandin Cooks, and Marvin Jones, respectively. Last year he played the slot 36% of the time, so he has short yardage capabilities as well.
Production wise, Stills finished top 24 in receiving yards, which seem to be one of the stickier year to year stats. His production only put him at WR 28, but later on, we’ll see why there’s reason to expect much more.
As far as market share goes, Stills has shown well enough to warrant a larger share. His last two seasons he had a 16.98% and 17.44% share, respectively. He has consistently been about even with Parker’s share, but now that Landry is gone both have a huge opportunity. Still’s efficiency though, gives him a serious advantage over Parker to absorb more targets. Expecting a 7% or 8% bump in target share is not unreasonable, and Adam Gase’s coaching history supports Stills.
The chart below shows the target leader each year of Adam Gase’s coaching career, as both an offensive coordinator and a head coach. Although Jarvis Landry led Gase’s offense in Target Share both years in his Miami stint, there is a reason to believe this was a product of Landry being the only viable receiver to funnel targets through, rather than Gase showing a propensity to target the slot position.
Alshon Jeffery and Demaryius Thomas, both prototypical NFL “X” receivers, were the target leaders for Gase his first three years coaching. These two are almost opposites of Landry, predicting their games on size, athleticism, and explosive plays. It is not as simple as finding the player on the Dolphins who looks most like Thomas and Jefferey, but it shows that Gase tends to feed the most targets to the best receiver, simply.
*Alshon Jefferey projected full 16 games
The average year of his offense’s target leader was 154 targets, a 26% Market Share, and a finish of PPR WR5.
Mike Wallace, occupying basically the same role as Stills, did top 20% while in Miami. Offseason acquisitions of Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson provide target competition, albeit minimal. Camp noise is often just that, noise, but it seems to be confirming what we thought nonetheless. Danny Amendola was signed to play the slot, Parker is a bust, and the Dolphins have no idea what they are doing.
So the question, who will lead the Dolphins in targets? Gase has been apt to simply target the best receiver the most. The best receiver seems to be Kenny Stills, based on efficiency and production. His steadily rising target share illustrates a player ready to capture a larger role.
Stills ceiling is truly staggering as the likely Dolphins target leader. Last season, he accrued 105 targets and a 17.9% Market Share. He caught 58 balls for 847 yards while seeing 696 air yards, top-15 in the league. But, as we know, target hog Jarvis Landry left for browner fields, leaving behind 161 targets. Although their Free Agent acquisitions are there to play, both seem like low volume plays. Kenny Stills just seeing 25% of those vacated targets skyrocket his production, but it gets even better.
Last season, Kenny Stills experienced extremely debilitating circumstances for fantasy production. Quarterbacked by Jay Cutler, who owned the 29th ranked deep ball completion percentage, at 27%, Stills catchable target rate was only 64%, 98th in the league. Also stunting his production, Cutler funneled 30% of red zone targets to Jarvis Landry, while only looking Stills’s way 13.2% of the time, 58th in the league.
Positive regression is almost too obvious for him. Tannehill comes back, which will be an improvement on Cutler and Landry left behind tons of red zone opportunity for Stills to seize. He can easily double his red zone usage and will see higher quality targets in all quadrants of the field, fueling a huge breakout.
The Dolphins target leader is not as difficult to predict as imagined. Head Coach Adam Gase typically leans on the best receiver and that receiver, by many metrics and accounts is Kenny Stills. With a rising market share through his career and a most recent season of 100+ targets, a Target Share in the low to mid 20% range seems imminent.
They spelled Kenny Stills wrong. https://t.co/07DDN7MKDn
— Ryan Weisse (@TheFantasyFive) August 3, 2018
A high market share, along with excellent deep pass efficiency and playmaking give Kenny Stills an unforeseen (possibly huge) upside in fantasy football this upcoming year. Buy the Miami target leader before his price skyrockets in all formats.
Projection: 132 targets, 71 receptions, 1033.7 yards, 5.7 TD, 208.9 PPR points