Finding opportunities through Vacated Targets (2020)

One of the best predictors of future fantasy success is analyzing a team's vacated targets. Using this stat, we can find potential breakout performers for the upcoming 2020 season.

Dallas Cowboys – 190 targets (#2), 33.1% (#3) , and 1,713 air yards (#2)

Where did the targets go?

Remember a month ago when Jerry Jones selected CeeDee Lamb and the dynasty community let out a groan due to the landing spot? In the words of the American icon Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Even with the addition of Lamb into the fold, there is more than enough to go around. Dallas enters 2020 with the second-most vacated targets (190) thanks to the loss of Randall Cobb and Jason Witten. 

Who can benefit from the vacated targets in 2020?

Dallas features two players who I believe are locks to outperform their current ADP when looking at all the targets that will be redistributed in 2020. 

Wide receiver Michael Gallup (57.3) and tight end Black Jarwin (187.3) offer a high upside with limited risk. Gallup has weekly WR2 talent and will see over 120 targets in this high powered offense. Jarwin is one of my favorite tight ends to snag later on in drafts for both dynasty and redraft if you choose to pass on the top-tier guys like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews. I will not be shocked if Jarwin ends up with 80 targets by season’s end and is a borderline TE1 for fantasy football. 

I know you are yelling at me for not mentioning Lamb in this conversation, and I hear you. I think he was the most talented receiver in this class and will be a valuable asset to your own in fantasy. However, be careful not to reach too high for him in redraft leagues as drafts fire up. The longer the NFL pushes back training camps, the harder some incoming rookies and even players changing teams will have at adjusting and getting up to speed. Working in Lamb’s favor is the sheer amount of talent on this offense. Being flanked by Cooper and Gallup is a nightmare for defenses as no team has enough elite cornerbacks to cover them all. 

Not to mention Ezekiel Elliott also deserves ample respect in the passing game as he comes into 2020 averaging 61 targets a year. Elliott was the only running back last year to finish inside the top 24 every week in 2020.

Getting a share of what will be a high flying offense in Dallas is one of the best choices someone can make in fantasy football this year.

Vacated Target Quick Hitters

  • The staggering trade of DeAndre Hopkins opened up a staggering vacated target share of 32%, heading into 2020. The issue will be which wide receiver will be on the field any given week as both newly-acquired Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller have a lengthy injury history. I believe Cooks is the more talented wide receiver, but we have seen Fuller produce week winning totals at times. I would feel more comfortable rostering them in best ball rather than a season-long format. Also, keep an eye on Kahale Warring. Even though Darren Fells finished with seven touchdowns (third in the NFL), the starting position seems open for competition. Warring missed 2019 due to an injury and could make some noise once camp starts up and likely is sitting on waivers right now in your league.
  • One of the intriguing teams coming into 2020 is the Carolina Panthers. Matt “Ja” Rhule (yes, that will be a thing so get used to it) and the hottest college coordinator Matt “Not Tom” Brady (it’s still the offseason, I’ll get better) team up to reshape the offense. Carolina enters with 155 vacated targets mainly due to Greg Olsen in Seattle. Ian Thomas will be the primary beneficiary as he slides into the tight end role and brings a new athletic profile to the position. After Thomas, it’s up in the air. We know D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey will be top players at their position. How Brady chooses to use the perpetual breakout candidate Curtis Samuel and former New York Jet Robby Anderson is yet to be seen. While at LSU, Brady showed his ability to use players all over the field to take advantage of matchups. While people are down on the offense a bit after the “downgrade” from Cam Newton to Teddy Bridgewater, I still believe there is much to be excited about for 2020.
  • The New York Jets enter 2020 with the third-highest vacated target total at 183 as well as the number one in missing air yards at 2,031. While they did add one of the darlings of the rookie class in Baylor WR Denzel Mins, Adam Gase is still around to suck the fun out of everything. Could Sam Darnold take the next step and be rid of Casper and bring value to Jamison Crowder and Mims? Yes, he absolutely can, but I have a hard time being excited about rostering any player in this offense while Gase remains a part of it. 
  • Up to this point, I had been relatively positive; after Gase, my mood has changed, and here is another situation that worries me for 2020. The Buffalo Bills and new member of Bill’s Mafia, Stefon Diggs. Diggs enters an offense with the lowest vacated target total coming into 2020 at a measly 35 targets or 7.2% of the offense. He goes from one of the more accurate passers in Kirk Cousins to one of the most inaccurate in Josh Allen. Regardless of what you think about Zack Moss, it is clear the Bills want to continue making a concerted effort to wear teams down and win by rushing the ball. The addition of Moss doubles down on this thought. I have a hard time forecasting Diggs seeing similar production in his new offense.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @PFN365 and @PFNDynasty to stay up to date with all things around the NFL and the 2020 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our Fantasy Football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.

Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.


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