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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Workload Projections: AFC
Preseason Matchup Analysis
Posted: 7/23/19


Over the last two weeks, I went through the process of breaking down offensive coordinator tendencies in the AFC and NFC, highlighting backfield and target shares. That work set the stage for this week, as I attempt to use that information to lay the foundation for how much players might be utilized this year. The problem with a lot of fantasy football projections is the math doesn't add up to a realistic team total in the end. Unless you are keeping a close eye on the overall play total for every team in a computer program (like I do with Microsoft Excel), it's easy to have one team finishing with 800 offensive plays and another going over 1,200 when all the individual numbers are calculated. (As a point of reference, most teams run somewhere between 950 and 1,050 offensive plays per season. A few will exceed that range, while several tend to finish with just over 900.)

Being able to predict opportunity - perhaps the most important variable in fantasy football - is more than half of the battle when it comes to being able to construct accurate rankings. Thus, the goal over the next two weeks: provide analysis on some of the issues that played a factor in the way I divided the workload for each team. While I tried to accurately project how many passes each quarterback might throw, I ask that you pay more attention to the actual number of pass attempts and less to the individual quarterback breakdown. Also, just about every team finishes a season with several more pass attempts than targets, so if you are wondering why the targets and attempts aren't the same, that is why.

The bolded numbers near the top of the middle three columns are the totals for each column. The bolded numbers in the last two columns reflect each team's projected run-pass ratio. Players with a next to their name have some degree of injury concern. Players with a next to their name have a higher than normal chance of losing their job at some point during the season.


 Baltimore Ravens Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
449 614 437 57.8% 42.2%
QB Lamar Jackson 438 130 21.2% 0.0%
QB Robert Griffin III 5 3 0.5% 0.0%
QB Trace McSorley 6 12 2.0% 0.0%
RB Mark Ingram 246 31 40.1% 7.1%
RB Justice Hill 108 37 17.6% 8.5%
RB Kenneth Dixon 22 19 3.6% 4.3%
RB Gus Edwards 88 6 14.3% 1.4%
WR Marquise Brown 4 64 0.7% 14.6%
WR Willie Snead 70 0.0% 16.0%
WR Chris Moore 1 31 0.2% 7.1%
WR Miles Boykin 42 0.0% 9.6%
WR Seth Roberts 24 0.0% 5.5%
TE Hayden Hurst 33 0.0% 7.6%
TE Mark Andrews 57 0.0% 13.0%
TE Nick Boyle 23 0.0% 5.3%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,063
2018 Total: 1,103

From Week 11 to Week 17, Baltimore attempted over 45 runs per game. Over the course of a full season, that average would lead to 720 rushing attempts - a mark that would break the NFL record by nearly 40 carries. That's not going to happen in 2019, but this isn't going to be an offense that has much interest in throwing 30 times per game either. The last modern-day offense to exceed 600 rushing attempts in a season was the 2009 Jets, and it wouldn't be overly surprising if this edition of the Ravens also found a way to top that mark. Jackson will obviously remain a threat, but the team also knows having him average 17 carries (like he did over the aforementioned last seven weeks of the season) isn't going to be in its best interests come playoff time. My projection brings the running game's attempts per game down to 38.3, meaning it is entirely possible for Ingram to see the same workload as a feature back while two or three others get enough carries to be relevant in fantasy.

In case you're wondering, 449 passing attempts averages out to just over 28 per game - an increase of nearly five passing attempts per game over the seven-game sample mentioned above. Baltimore made it clear with its emphasis on speed in the draft that it wants to stress the defense in every way possible. (It might help to think about this offense as an extreme version of last year's Seahawks, as in run, run, run, deep shot.) John Brown actually led the Ravens in targets during Jackson's run as the starter but only caught eight of the 30 balls thrown in his direction. If that seven-game sample was any indication, it's going to be extremely difficult for any pass-catcher - including Andrews - to see enough opportunity to make some noise in fantasy consistently. Marquise Brown has a shot if Baltimore uses him enough in the screen game, but it's a tall order to ask a 170-pound receiver to stay healthy for very long doing that - especially considering he didn't participate at all during spring practices. This figures to be very much a hit-or-miss group for fantasy purposes.


 Buffalo Bills Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
490 483 477 49.6% 50.4%
QB Josh Allen 462 86 17.8% 0.0%
QB Matt Barkley 28 4 0.8% 0.0%
RB LeSean McCoy 168 47 34.8% 9.9%
RB Frank Gore 126 18 26.1% 3.8%
RB Devin Singletary 89 23 18.4% 4.8%
RB Patrick DiMarco 1 0.2% 0.0%
WR John Brown 3 81 0.6% 17.0%
WR Robert Foster 2 68 0.4% 14.3%
WR Cole Beasley 3 86 0.6% 18.0%
WR Zay Jones 1 62 0.2% 13.0%
WR Andre Roberts 14 0.0% 2.9%
TE Dawson Knox 46 0.0% 9.6%
TE Tyler Kroft 24 0.0% 5.0%
TE Lee Smith 8 0.0% 1.7%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 973
2018 Total: 967

Despite the Bills' passing-game upgrades this offseason, this very much figures to remain a team that will try to win by running the ball and playing solid defense. Not only does the personnel dictate it, but OC Brian Daboll's history suggests that will be the case (four out of his five NFL offenses have finished inside the top six in rushing attempts and top 11 in rushing yards). Allen's ability to run only makes it more likely. McCoy reportedly begged Gore to join him in Buffalo, and the Bills doubled down by drafting Singletary, pretty much guaranteeing this will be a committee backfield regardless of whether McCoy can hold physically for 16 games anymore or not. Allen was exceedingly fortunate to produce to the degree he did as a runner, becoming only the 13th quarterback in league history to rush for at least 600 yards in a season - and only the third to do so on fewer than 100 attempts. Is his rushing production sustainable? Is he the newest version of Cam Newton? The jury remains out.

During the Bills' 4-3 finish, Jones attracted 28.3 percent of the team's 191 targets. This year, there is a realistic chance he won't start. Brown and Beasley were added to cater to Allen's strengths, namely his ability to buy time and make unscripted plays. Beasley is getting paid over $7 million per year to play the slot, which is/was Jones' best position. Brown is making $9 million primarily to stretch the field; he was likely not paid that amount of money to compete for his job or be used as a situational deep threat. That leaves Jones facing Foster for the other starting job in a three-wide set. Something else working against Jones is his awful catch rate, which was 36.5 percent in 2017 and 50 percent last year. Knox gives Buffalo youth and athleticism that it hasn't had in a while at tight end. However, it's going to be hard for a player who has plenty of room to improve as a blocker to see the field enough to thrive from a fantasy perspective in this offense.


 Cincinnati Bengals Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
566 431 554 43.2% 56.8%
QB Andy Dalton 564 32 7.4% 0.0%
QB Ryan Finley 2 6 1.4% 0.0%
RB Joe Mixon 248 53 57.5% 9.6%
RB Giovani Bernard 110 61 25.5% 11.0%
RB Trayveon Williams 26 14 6.0% 2.5%
WR A.J. Green 134 0.0% 24.2%
WR Tyler Boyd 2 108 0.5% 19.5%
WR John Ross 5 56 1.2% 10.1%
WR Stanley Morgan Jr. 16 0.0% 2.9%
WR Cody Core 7 0.0% 1.3%
WR Alex Erickson 2 16 0.5% 2.9%
TE Tyler Eifert 33 0.0% 6.0%
TE C.J. Uzomah 43 0.0% 7.8%
TE Drew Sample 13 0.0% 2.3%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 997
2018 Total: 887

Although new HC Zac Taylor has yet to speak it into existence, the general assumption - and I believe the correct one - is that he will follow the Rams' model of utilizing Mixon in the Todd Gurley role and have Bernard serve as the change-of-pace Los Angeles HC Sean McVay so desperately wanted. The Bengals' hope of completely emulating the efficiency of the Rams' success in the running game probably evaporated when they lost rookie LT Jonah Williams to a season-ending injury and LG Clint Boling to retirement. Those voids are unlikely to drastically alter the week-to-week game plan, but they will have an effect on Mixon and Bernard's production. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable Mixon will be able to match or exceed his 16.9 carries/game from a season ago, while Bernard should be allowed to serve in the same kind of all-purpose role that allowed him to top 1,000 total yards in each of his first three seasons. He may not reach that mark, but the odds are good he'll get fairly close if he doesn't.

An increase of 110 offensive plays from one year to the next is admittedly a pretty sizable increase, but tempo figures to be more of a priority under Taylor. The defense should be improved as well, meaning fewer long drives for opponents. Green has averaged at least nine targets in each of the last three seasons, so I'm selling him a bit short above if he plays all 16 games and hitting it about right if he misses one. Boyd averaged 7.7 targets in his 14 contests, although three games with spiked usage make his bottom line look better than it was from an opportunity standpoint. Ross is unquestionably a wild-card. On the high end, he would do well to embrace the Brandin Cooks' role in the Rams' offense. We've already seen the low end, and it usually comes with about a handful or more of missed games. In theory, the addition of Sample frees up Eifert to focus solely on the passing game, which should reduce his likelihood of injury. Then again, owners are all too familiar with the drill when it comes to Eifert. If he can play more than eight or more games this year, my projection for him will look ridiculously small.


 Cleveland Browns Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
570 435 559 43.3% 56.7%
QB Baker Mayfield 567 47 10.8% 0.0%
QB Garrett Gilbert 4 0.9% 0.0%
RB Nick Chubb 258 46 59.3% 8.2%
RB Duke Johnson 34 35 7.8% 6.3%
RB Kareem Hunt 73 27 16.8% 4.8%
RB Dontrell Hilliard 12 2.8% 0.0%
WR Odell Beckham Jr. 1 1 145 0.2% 25.9%
WR Jarvis Landry 2 3 97 0.7% 17.4%
WR Antonio Callaway 3 53 0.7% 9.5%
WR Rashard Higgins 25 0.0% 4.5%
WR Ishmael Hyman 9 0.0% 1.6%
TE David Njoku 92 0.0% 16.5%
TE Demetrius Harris 26 0.0% 4.7%
TE Seth Devalve 4 0.0% 0.7%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1005
2018 Total: 985

It's hard to say at this point to decide whether or not Chubb has done enough in the eyes of the team's coaches and brass to be seen as the feature back, especially with someone with Hunt's talent looming. Does Chubb need the first half of 2019 to remind everyone why he should remain in that role? Ultimately, I think Hunt will hit the ground running in Week 10 as a plus-version "breather" back. In other words, he's not going to see 15 touches when Chubb is healthy, but he's also not going to be that back who gets three or four touches either. Cleveland should have enough rushing attempts to keep both backs busy, although it seems unlikely the Browns will risk Chubb for a potential playoff run by pounding him and leave a fresh Hunt hoping the starter gets hurt.

In eight games with HC Freddie Kitchens as the offensive coordinator last season, the Browns attempted passes on more than 58 percent of their offensive plays. However, does the upgraded talent on the roster - especially on defense - mean Cleveland will play with the lead and thus run the ball much more often? It's a reasonable assumption to make and one that owners need to consider. There is little doubt Beckham will be a target hog and probably command somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 percent of the target share regardless of whether or not Kitchens and new OC Todd Monken go pass-heavy. For those owners who believe the Browns will play in positive game script for the majority the season, it means my projected pass attempts are too high, which could make it difficult to trust Landry as an every-week WR3 and/or Njoku as a low-end TE1. The reason I decided to project as many pass attempts as I did is based on the belief Cleveland will be able to maintain drives consistently enough to rack up at least 70 snaps in several games.


 Denver Broncos Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
511 426 499 45.5% 54.5%
QB Joe Flacco 488 26 6.1% 0.0%
QB Drew Lock 23 7 1.6% 0.0%
RB Phillip Lindsay 185 51 43.4% 10.2%
RB Royce Freeman 169 33 39.7% 6.6%
RB Devontae Booker 33 24 7.7% 4.8%
RB Andy Janovich 4 13 0.9% 2.6%
WR Emmanuel Sanders 2 74 0.5% 14.8%
WR Courtland Sutton 103 0.0% 20.6%
WR DaeSean Hamilton 66 0.0% 13.2%
WR Tim Patrick 29 0.0% 5.8%
WR Juwann Winfree 8 0.0% 1.6%
TE Noah Fant 66 0.0% 13.2%
TE Jeff Heuerman 25 0.0% 5.0%
TE Troy Fumagalli 7 0.0% 1.4%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 937
2018 Total: 981

For as long as we are talking about last season, I will continue to shake my head in disbelief as it relates to how often Freeman ran against eight or more in the box (36.15 percent of the time, the second-highest mark among qualified runners in the league per Next Gen Stats.) Based on my projections above, it's obvious I don't think new OC Rich Scangarello will fail where I believe former OC Bill Musgrave did. Scangarello comes from the Kyle Shanahan school of offense, and so owners and fans should expect plenty of outside zone runs. That's a pertinent detail because Lindsay was the third-most north-south runner in the league last season per Next Gen Stats, which essentially means he was Frank Gore-like in terms of doing a lot of damage in between the guards. Running outside zone requires a different set of tools, so it will be interesting to see if Lindsay has that in his toolbox as well. For the most part, I think Freeman already proved he has that ability in college. Either way, this doesn't have to be an either/or situation; the real reasons to get excited about both backs (besides the scheme change and absence of Musgrave) is the overall talent upgrades on the line and the addition of former Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak, who oversaw one of the more consistently good offensive lines in the NFL throughout his time in Pittsburgh.

There might come a day in the near future where Sutton becomes the clear alpha in this passing game; I think he takes the lead in that regard this year, but his true emergence probably won't happen until 2020. Part of my pessimism is based on the likelihood the Broncos' defense will likely be significantly better under HC Vic Fangio; they probably will not need the same kind of volume in the passing game as many others will around the league, so there may only be one consistently good fantasy receiver to use in Denver. Sanders is a complete wild-card despite his impressive recovery, but the odds are against him in terms of beating a recovery timeline by three or four months for an injury (Achilles) that usually takes a year to heal. Hamilton's viability in fantasy hinges almost solely on Sanders' recovery (or the lack thereof), while Patrick appears to be the odd man out at this point. Fant seems like the best candidate from this draft class to beat the learning curve that usually swallows up rookie tight ends, if only because Flacco has a long history of leaning heavily on players at that position.


 Houston Texans Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
527 469 514 47.1% 52.9%
QB Deshaun Watson 527 82 17.5% 0.0%
RB Lamar Miller 189 40 40.3% 7.8%
RB D'Onta Foreman 158 15 33.7% 2.9%
RB Josh Ferguson 22 24 4.7% 4.7%
RB Karan Higdon 9 2 1.9% 0.4%
RB Cullen Gillaspia 1 6 0.2% 1.2%
WR DeAndre Hopkins 162 0.0% 31.5%
WR Will Fuller 2 70 0.4% 13.6%
WR Keke Coutee 4 86 0.9% 16.7%
WR Vyncint Smith 17 0.0% 3.3%
WR Johnnie Dixon 2 13 0.4% 2.5%
TE Jordan Thomas 38 0.0% 7.4%
TE Kahale Warring 27 0.0% 5.3%
TE Jordan Akins 14 0.0% 2.7%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 996
2018 Total: 978

Based on the sad yet true reality that Alfred Blue "earned" 150 carries in 2018, there's plenty of reason to believe the Texans will use this season as a way to decide if Foreman is ready to become the man after Miller's contract runs out this season. Running with power and the ability to play through contact - two things not usually associated with Miller - may be more important than ever behind an offensive line that could be starting two rookies (Tytus Howard and Max Scharping) and two other players who missed all (or most of) last season due to injury (Matt Kalil and Seantrel Henderson). Miller may be seeing the writing on the wall, as he reportedly dropped eight pounds this spring and made route-running one of his primary offseason focuses. He should remain the lead back, but Foreman should probably be considered the favorite for goal-line and four-minute work. One thing is for certain: HC Bill O'Brien cannot expose Watson to any more hits than he already gets by having him execute designed quarterback runs. Asking Watson to handle 21 percent of the carries like he had last year is too much on top of the 62 sacks he absorbed.

Perhaps as soon as 2020, Hopkins' target share figures to drop under 30 percent. However, until Houston makes throwing to its running backs a priority, Fuller and/or Coutee can stay healthy or its tight ends grow up faster than expected, Hopkins isn't going to experience much of a decline. Fuller is trending in the wrong direction in terms of his ability to stay on the field, so his 70 projected targets is probably a tad optimistic. The same could probably be said for Coutee, who played in only six games as a rookie due to recurrent hamstring injuries. Coutee believes his work this offseason - along with changes to his diet, stretching routine and getting regular massages - will help curb those issues. If Fuller goes down yet again and Coutee's offseason work pays off, he could very well relegate Fuller into a situational deep threat role by the start of next season. Thomas showed off his touchdown upside on occasion as a rookie and Warring has immense physical upside, but it's probably too much to ask either player to push for even 10 percent of the targets.


 Indianapolis Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
619 412 607 40.0% 60.0%
QB Andrew Luck 593 37 9.0% 0.0%
QB Jacoby Brissett 26 0.0% 0.0%
RB Marlon Mack 190 35 46.1% 5.8%
RB Jordan Wilkins 38 8 9.2% 1.3%
RB Nyheim Hines 70 61 17.0% 10.0%
RB Spencer Ware 65 17 15.8% 2.8%
WR T.Y. Hilton 1 136 0.2% 22.4%
WR Devin Funchess 68 0.0% 11.2%
WR Parris Campbell 9 66 2.2% 10.9%
WR Deon Cain 37 0.0% 6.1%
WR Chester Rogers 18 0.0% 3.0%
TE Jack Doyle 51 0.0% 8.4%
TE Eric Ebron 2 82 0.5% 13.5%
TE Mo Alie-Cox 28 0.0% 4.6%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,031
2018 Total: 1052

HC Frank Reich has stated on several occasions one of his goals for this year's team is to be a top-five rushing offense. It could happen with the offensive line the Colts have built, but the only way it will be possible in 2019 is if Mack stays healthy for an entire season, which has been a slippery slope for him during his brief NFL career. Last year alone, he suffered two hamstring strains and a concussion. In 2017, he suffered a labrum tear in his shoulder. My workload projection for him is conservative as a result, as I think Reich would like nothing more than hand him the ball 16 or 17 times per game and see him handle in upwards of 60-70 percent of the carries.

There's no telling how many targets Hilton lost out on last season because he was so banged up during the second half of the season and practiced so little; his 120 targets from 2018 should be his floor in 2019. The most reasonable expectation for Funchess is that he will steal red zone looks from Ebron. Aside from that and the occasional 50/50 ball, I find it very difficult how else he is going to contribute in a consistently meaningful way in this offense. His presence only figures to rob targets from Campbell, who is going to be very difficult to keep off the field should the run-after-catch skill carry over from the college game. He profiles as Indianapolis' long-term answer in the slot, but I think there's a solid chance he passes Funchess on the depth chart at some point. Another player who could bypass Funchess is Cain, although it may not come early enough to matter to owners this season. As much as we can predict regression coming for Ebron, owners forget he was carving out a role as an every-week starter in fantasy despite playing limited snaps with Doyle around. If Doyle has trouble adding back the weight he lost following kidney surgery and/or struggles to stay healthy like last season, Alie-Cox - already considered the best blocker at the position on the team - could fill in seamlessly and let Ebron continue to do what he does best. And yes, Alie-Cox would be a more-than-serviceable fill-in for Doyle in fantasy.


 Jacksonville Jaguars Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
519 460 505 47.0% 53.0%
QB Nick Foles 505 23 5.0% 0.0%
QB Gardner Minshew 14 5 1.1% 0.0%
RB Leonard Fournette 241 54 52.4% 10.7%
RB Ryquell Armstead 119 8 25.9% 1.6%
RB Alfred Blue 41 19 8.9% 3.8%
RB Benny Cunningham 23 33 5.0% 6.5%
WR Dede Westbrook 5 91 1.1% 18.0%
WR Marqise Lee 62 0.0% 12.3%
WR Keelan Cole 64 0.0% 12.7%
WR Chris Conley 1 53 0.2% 10.5%
WR D.J. Chark 2 41 0.4% 8.1%
TE Geoff Swaim 26 0.0% 5.1%
TE Josh Oliver 42 0.0% 8.3%
TE James O'Shaughnessy 12 0.0% 2.4%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 979
2018 Total: 952

New OC John DeFilippo doesn't have much of a track record when it comes to committing to the running game, but it's a good bet that changes in 2019 given the personnel. The Jaguars made an interesting decision to go with Armstead and bypass a back like T.J. Yeldon in the draft to give the Jaguars a dynamic threat as a receiver out of the backfield. As a result, DeFilippo's pronouncement that Fournette will have a major role in the offense and Fournette's belief he will be a big part of the passing game would seem to ring true. As just about every fantasy owner knows by now, the question is his durability. If he manages to defy his own history and play all 16 games, he figures to be locked into 300-plus touches and more than 70 percent of the carry share. Even better for his prospects: the offensive line the Jaguars hoped to have ready for him to dominate last year is healthy in 2019.

The organization structure of Jacksonville's passing game beyond Westbrook will likely be decided during training camp and the preseason. Conley was reportedly a standout during spring practices, but it's hard to believe he'll find his way into fantasy relevance with Foles when he had multiple chances to do so in Kansas City. The odds Lee is ready for Week 1 and/or isn't slowed by last year's knee injury seem long. With Chark still developing, it makes the most sense for Cole to step up and start. However, he spent last season in the doghouse after committing two critical fumbles. It's entirely possible after Westbrook that Lee, Conley and Cole all finish with target shares of 10-12 percent. The most intriguing tight end of the bunch without question is Oliver, who reportedly has shown a "good rapport" with Foles and was a standout throughout the spring. While it will remain a good idea for fantasy owners to approach rookie tight ends cautiously, let's not forget Oliver was used mostly out of the slot at San Jose State and drafted for his athleticism and ability to create separation. He's probably not going to be consistent enough to be worth considering in most redraft leagues, but he's easily the best candidate of the three tight ends listed above to be that guy.

Kansas City

 Kansas City Chiefs Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
574 406 562 41.4% 58.6%
QB Patrick Mahomes 574 54 13.3% 0.0%
QB Chad Henne 2 0.5% 0.0%
RB Damien Williams 187 62 46.1% 11.0%
RB Carlos Hyde 71 20 17.5% 3.6%
RB Darwin Thompson 66 28 16.3% 5.0%
RB Anthony Sherman 1 6 0.2% 1.1%
WR Tyreek Hill 18 114 4.4% 20.3%
WR Sammy Watkins 4 77 1.0% 13.7%
WR Mecole Hardman 3 49 0.7% 8.7%
WR Demarcus Robinson 29 0.0% 5.2%
WR Byron Pringle 13 0.0% 2.3%
TE Travis Kelce 135 0.0% 24.0%
TE Blake Bell 21 0.0% 3.7%
TE Neal Sterling 8 0.0% 1.4%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 980
2018 Total: 970

One of fantasy football's most pressing questions this summer is whether Williams' limited track record is worth the risk in the first two rounds of fantasy drafts. If we ignore the fact he has never really carried a heavy workload at Oklahoma or in any of his first five seasons in the pros, then he probably is. But let's be clear: owners are investing in the history of an Andy Reid back more than the talent here. Touchdown regression is almost certainly coming, but let's also not ignore just how dynamic Williams was down the stretch. Is he built to last? That's the million-dollar question. My relatively low projection of him indicates I think he will miss some time and doesn't reflect any belief I think he will lose his job based on performance. If the latter were to happen, however, I think Thompson is a prime candidate to step in and become the next in a long line of productive fantasy backs under Reid. At this point, I think Hyde's role is the most questionable. Will he be Williams' breather back? The primary goal-line back? Is he even Williams' fantasy handcuff?

Most owners would probably agree that Hill - at least based on the knowledge we have of the situation - was extremely lucky to avoid any kind of suspension. Whether he can stave off a suspension for the entire season is another story. My projection for him is one that is going to include the likelihood the NFL will make him sit at some point; I don't get the sense his off-field saga is over. If he doesn't miss any time, then a repeat of last year's 24 percent share is entirely possible. It's very likely the public will begin to back off Watkins now that Hill appears to be in the clear. One would think at some point the football gods will allow him to make it through another full season. While I account for another injury-related absence above, he's a candidate for nearly 20 percent of the target share if he stays healthy. With Hill back, Hardman or Robinson will most likely fill the Chris Conley role in this offense, which will be extremely hit-or-miss for fantasy purposes. Kelce is showing no signs of slowing down and projects to have another massive target share again in 2019.

Los Angeles Chargers

 Los Angeles Chargers Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
516 411 508 44.3% 55.7%
QB Philip Rivers 516 16 3.9% 0.0%
QB Tyrod Taylor 4 1.0% 0.0%
RB Melvin Gordon 212 62 51.6% 12.2%
RB Austin Ekeler 111 44 27.0% 8.7%
RB Justin Jackson 55 23 13.4% 4.5%
RB Detrez Newsome 4 2 1.0% 0.4%
WR Keenan Allen 4 128 1.0% 25.2%
WR Mike Williams 86 0.0% 16.9%
WR Travis Benjamin 5 43 1.2% 8.5%
WR Artavis Scott 24 0.0% 4.7%
TE Hunter Henry 79 0.0% 15.6%
TE Virgil Green 17 0.0% 3.3%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 927
2018 Total: 911

Gordon's threat of a holdout makes all the running back projections above a bit dicey. Then again, the 26-year-old has missed at least two games in three of his four NFL seasons, so dialing back his workload projections isn't a bad idea anyway. In Gordon's first nine contests last year, he averaged 15.9 carries. Considering how talented the defense is and how dynamic the passing game should be in 2019, it is well within the realm of possibility the two-time Pro Bowler nears his 17.8-carry average of 2017. Then again, the Chargers discovered Ekeler and Jackson were capable of stepping up if/when necessary late last year. If Gordon reports and manages to put together a full season, then Jackson will likely struggle to have much fantasy value. Barring a multi-week injury to Gordon, I don't see Jackson getting enough playing time to be stashed in fantasy - even though he proved he was more than capable as a rookie. Ekeler has taken over the Danny Woodhead role in this offense and will have standalone value regardless of whether Gordon plays or not. Based on my projections above, I'm counting on Gordon missing roughly three games for one reason or another. Expect Ekeler to be called upon to be the lead back in his (probable) absence.

The Chargers removed Tyrell Williams from the mix much to the delight of fantasy owners, theoretically leaving behind 12.8 percent of the team's target share from a season ago and 65 more targets for Allen and Mike Williams. Whether that comes to fruition or not is another story, as Henry reenters the mix after missing the entire regular season in 2018. Allen has seen at least 26.9 percent of the target share in each of the last two seasons, so it's hard to imagine his ceiling can get much higher. The obvious beneficiary would seem to be Mike Williams, who scored an impressive 10 TDs on only 66 targets in 2019. Even if he only adds 20 more targets this season - as I have projected above - it's not unrealistic he could push for 60-plus catches and 12 or more touchdowns since his size and athleticism make him perhaps the best red zone threat on the team. Los Angeles tight ends combined for a target share of 14.4 percent in 2018, making my projection for Henry look a tad optimistic. With that said, I'd like to think he is more of a threat in the passing game at this point of his career - even after coming off an ACL surgery - than Antonio Gates, Green and Sean Culkin.


 Miami Dolphins Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
534 412 518 43.6% 56.4%
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 247 26 6.3% 0.0%
QB Josh Rosen 286 11 2.7% 0.0%
RB Kenyan Drake 172 85 41.7% 16.4%
RB Kalen Ballage 133 24 32.3% 4.6%
RB Mark Walton 35 17 8.5% 3.3%
RB Myles Gaskin 24 8 5.8% 1.5%
RB Kenneth Farrow 2 0.5% 0.0%
WR DeVante Parker 0 87 0.0% 16.8%
WR Kenny Stills 3 78 0.7% 15.1%
WR Albert Wilson 1 5 73 1.2% 14.1%
WR Jakeem Grant 1 42 0.2% 8.1%
WR Preston Williams 18 0.0% 3.5%
TE Mike Gesicki 62 0.0% 12.0%
TE Dwayne Allen 18 0.0% 3.5%
TE Nick O'Leary 6 0.0% 1.2%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 946
2018 Total: 826

The addition of a first-time play-caller in OC Chad O'Shea throws the element of the unknown into an offense not expected to do much this season. O'Shea's background with the Patriots would suggest he is open to a committee backfield approach - if not in favor of it. Ballage has proven to be a hit-or-miss entity for the bulk of his college and pro career and doesn't have the resume of Frank Gore, so he will actually have to show some level of consistency as a runner if he hopes to come anywhere close to splitting carries with Drake. Considering who else is at his position on the roster, Drake should far and away lead the running backs in rushing attempts and targets. However, even at my projection of 172 carries - which would be his previous career high by almost 40 - it suggests he will average 11 rushing attempts over a 16-game season. One of the reasons why that number is lower than what most fantasy owners want is because I believe O'Shea will want to use Drake in the short passing game in the same way James White is utilized in New England. Ultimately, I'd be stunned if Miami doesn't try to find a way to get him at least 225 touches when he is clearly the most dynamic threat on the team.

It's anyone's guess how things will unfold at receiver and tight end. Parker is dominating the offseason yet again, but owners have been fooled before. Still, with a quarterback like Fitzpatrick willing to take risks deep, it would seem like this could finally be his year. Wilson strikes me as the most Patriot-like player who could fill the Julian Edelman slot role, but there's no guarantee he'll be ready for Week 1 yet as he continues to work his way from last year's hip injury. Stills has been the most consistent Dolphins receiver in recent memory. It's entirely possible O'Shea opts for equal distribution between the three, which is what I laid out above. Gesicki is the wild-card, however. O'Shea would be a fool not to use him as a mismatch weapon all over the field. (Former HC Adam Gase asked him to block on 44 percent of his snaps in 2018.) I think my projection for Gesicki is realistic if O'Shea is as smart as I think he is, although I understand how/why owners would be skeptical of him doubling his targets after getting burned by him last year.

New England

 New England Patrtiots Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
568 493 560 46.5% 53.5%
QB Tom Brady 564 22 4.5% 0.0%
QB Brian Hoyer 3 6 1.2% 0.0%
RB Sony Michel 197 14 40.0% 2.5%
RB Damien Harris 140 21 28.4% 3.8%
RB James White 66 89 13.4% 15.9%
RB Rex Burkhead 45 18 9.1% 3.2%
RB James Develin 5 10 1.0% 1.8%
WR Julian Edelman 1 8 130 1.6% 23.2%
WR N'Keal Harry 63 0.0% 11.3%
WR Phillip Dorsett 3 36 0.6% 6.4%
WR Dontrelle Inman 34 0.0% 6.1%
WR Braxton Berrios 1 22 0.2% 3.9%
WR Josh Gordon 48 0.0% 8.6%
TE Matt LaCosse 24 0.0% 4.3%
TE Ben Watson 51 0.0% 9.1%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,061
2018 Total: 1,052

The lead back in New England has only exceeded 44 percent of the carry share once in the last six seasons, so owners clinging tightly to Michel's rookie campaign being a jumping-off point for the majority of the rushing attempts in this backfield in 2019 are probably fooling themselves. Fortunately, the Patriots have a solid recent history when it comes to amassing a large number of carries as a team. Thus, it's not unthinkable at least two early-down backs warrant attention from fantasy owners - even though we often can't predict who will see the largest piece of the pie from week to week. Considering Harris is a back who does a lot of things well, he absolutely should be viewed as a threat to Michel's workload (but not necessarily his job as the lead early-down back). As for White, the 2018 season was a bit of a perfect storm for him in that he was seemingly always the player the Patriots turned to when adversity struck (Edelman's suspension, Rob Gronkowski's injury woes, Gordon's departure from the team, etc.). With even slightly better injury luck in 2019, it's safe to assume White will return to something resembling his pre-2018 production.

The Patriots have attempted no more than 584 passes in any of the last three seasons, including 556 last year. In other words, owners hoping for consistent volume from this offense will probably be disappointed a bit. Edelman should be a near-lock for at least eight targets per game, as he has been for several years when healthy. Harry's size makes him a good candidate to help New England control the middle of the field vertically as it got used to doing with Gronk. One reason why I believe Harry was drafted was to give the Patriots some semblance of the red zone presence Gronkowski provided. I think that will end up being the rookie's biggest contribution to the team in 2019. I'm probably being a bit pessimistic about his rookie-year involvement, but if Gordon returns at some point as I expect he will, the targets will start drying up pretty quickly with Edelman, White and Gordon commanding somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 percent of the looks. LaCosse and Watson will probably be more involved than most expect, but not to the degree the tight ends were with Gronk around.

New York Jets

 New York Jets Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
548 413 536 43.0% 57.0%
QB Sam Darnold 542 42 10.2% 0.0%
QB Davis Webb 6 2 0.5% 0.0%
RB Le'Veon Bell 252 83 61.0% 15.5%
RB Ty Montgomery 71 29 17.2% 5.4%
RB Elijah McGuire 24 14 5.8% 2.6%
RB Bilal Powell 14 8 3.4% 1.5%
WR Robby Anderson 3 121 0.7% 22.6%
WR Quincy Enunwa 1 60 0.2% 11.2%
WR Jamison Crowder 3 86 0.7% 16.0%
WR Deontay Burnett 22 0.0% 4.1%
WR Greg Dortch 1 18 0.2% 3.4%
TE Chris Herndon 62 0.0% 11.6%
TE Daniel Brown 14 0.0% 2.6%
TE Trevon Wesco 19 0.0% 3.5%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 961
2018 Total: 934

After frustrating owners for the better part of the last two seasons with his usage (or lack thereof) of Kenyan Drake, HC Adam Gase name doesn't elicit many smiles in the fantasy community. Owners probably won't be satisfied with him this year if they are expecting Bell's workload to be the same as it was in Pittsburgh. Make no mistake about it, however, Gase will utilize him heavily in the passing game, even if he doesn't quite get 20 carries per game. Just don't expect the 70-plus percent carry shares he posted on a regular basis as a Steeler. The offensive line is also a much bigger question mark now than it ever was in Pittsburgh for him. One reason Montgomery was attractive to Gase & Co. is that he offers some of the same characteristics as Bell, even if he's not quite at the same level skill-wise or from a durability perspective.

It's worth wondering if Gase will decide to play at a faster tempo this season as a result after playing at the slowest pace in the league last year with Miami. Regardless of how quickly the Jets play, Anderson is primed to take a giant step up from the 18.7 percent target share in 2018 and probably something closer to the 23 percent he enjoyed in 2017. Shortly after New York signed Crowder, Gase made a special mention that he provides a rare ability to stretch the field from the slot. He'll stay busy, even if he is used more as an extension of the running game from time to time. Enunwa's best position is probably in the slot, so if there is a pass-catcher from this offense that gets upset with a lack of involvement this season, it will probably be him. Herndon's season-opening four-game suspension isn't good for anyone, but it should reduce his draft cost and make him more of a value on draft day. Called a "unicorn" by Gase in late February, Herndon is a strong bet to perform like a TE1 over the final 12 games. Unless Anderson or Crowder suffer an injury prior to Week 5, Herndon's return might relegate Enunwa to more of a specialty role.


 Oakland Raiders Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
550 410 537 42.7% 57.3%
QB Derek Carr 550 21 5.1% 0.0%
QB Nathan Peterman 3 0.7% 0.0%
RB Josh Jacobs 228 57 55.6% 10.6%
RB Doug Martin 83 14 20.2% 2.6%
RB Jalen Richard 42 42 10.2% 7.8%
RB DeAndre Washington 24 5.9% 0.0%
WR Antonio Brown 2 162 0.5% 30.2%
WR Tyrell Williams 4 66 1.0% 12.3%
WR Hunter Renfrow 48 0.0% 8.9%
WR Ryan Grant 32 0.0% 6.0%
WR Keelan Doss 23 0.0% 4.3%
TE Darren Waller 3 73 0.7% 13.6%
TE Luke Willson 8 0.0% 1.5%
TE Foster Moreau 12 0.0% 2.2%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 960
2018 Total: 943

Perhaps no offense underwent more of a facelift this spring than the Raiders, who added one of the best receivers in the game and the top running back prospect in the same offseason. Jacobs was not drafted in the first round to share the load with Richard and an aging Martin, so it would be something of an upset if he doesn't log at least 250 touches. Given Jacobs' ability as a receiver, it might be a struggle for Richard to get to 30 or 35 receptions after he tied for the team lead with 68 catches on 81 targets in 2018. If Jacobs gets dinged or the Raiders find themselves in garbage time, Richard should be flex-worthy in PPR leagues. Martin will also need an injury to the rookie in order to be worth playing or stashing at any point.

It's fair to wonder how long it will take before Brown's mouth gets him in trouble again, but there's not much reason to suspect he'll have any reason to complain about opportunities in this offense. Williams gives the Raiders a capable deep threat opposite him that will threaten defenses, but not one with so much clout that he threatens Brown's target share. With Brown and Williams occupying the attention of opposing secondaries and Jacobs putting some bite into Oakland's play-action passing game, Waller has a grand opportunity to become the next big thing at tight end. There's no question fantasy owners are taking a big risk with a receiver-turned-tight end who has 18 career receptions over 22 NFL games, but it's hard not to be impressed by a 6-6, 255-pounder who runs like someone 30-40 pounds lighter. I'm keeping my expectations in check by projecting him for around 70 targets. However, it is entirely possible he finishes the season second on the team in targets and catches - by a wide margin.


 Pittsburgh Steelers Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
632 406 620 39.1% 60.9%
QB Ben Roethlisberger 616 29 7.1% 0.0%
QB Josh Dobbs 16 0.0% 0.0%
RB James Conner 251 66 61.8% 10.6%
RB Jaylen Samuels 79 48 19.5% 7.7%
RB Benny Snell 38 5 9.4% 0.8%
RB Trey Edmunds 6 1.5% 0.0%
RB Roosevelt Nix 1 4 0.2% 0.6%
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster 1 171 0.2% 27.6%
WR Donte Moncrief 91 0.0% 14.7%
WR James Washington 1 67 0.2% 10.8%
WR Ryan Switzer 38 0.0% 6.1%
WR Diontae Johnson 22 0.0% 3.5%
TE Vance McDonald 79 0.0% 12.7%
TE Xavier Grimble 21 0.0% 3.4%
TE Zach Gentry 8 0.0% 1.3%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,038
2018 Total: 1,034

For someone who proved themselves to the degree that Conner did last season, there has been a lot of discussion about him losing touches this offseason. The Athletic's Mark Kaboly may have laid some of those fears to rest a few days ago with this tweet, however. Frankly, the only reasons the Steelers have to change their approach from last year are: 1) they are afraid Conner cannot hold up to a heavy workload or 2) the coaching staff was so overwhelmed by Samuels as a receiver that it feels he needs to see the field at the expense of taking the better dual-threat back out. With that said, it would be wise for Pittsburgh to make sure it doesn't overwork Conner when it has a capable reserve like Samuels on the roster. Either way, the Steelers haven't given their running back group 400 or more carries since 2010 (last year they had 301), so they can usually get away with one workhorse back anyway. My projection for Connor above equals out to about 15.8 carries per game - just under a carry less per game than last season. The primary reason why I don't think it will drop any lower than that is Pittsburgh will have to replace the 168 targets it fed Antonio Brown. A quarter to a third of those plays could easily become run plays, which is where I believe Samuels and Snell will get the majority of their touches.

The Steelers didn't quite air it out to the degree of the 2012 Lions (727 pass attempts), but Roethlisberger's 675 pass attempts beat his own team record by 67! Suffice it to say the departure of Brown will almost certainly lead to a correction in that area, although it is unlikely Smith-Schuster will take the hit with his target share. As mentioned earlier, the running backs should see a fair share of the looks once reserved for Brown. Most of the others should be distributed among Moncrief, Washington and McDonald. Many are suggesting McDonald is primed to make another huge leap statistically after setting career highs across the board last year. Those same folks need to remember McDonald has never played a full season and had missed at least five games in three of his previous four years prior to 2018. He has a chance to beat my target projection by a sizeable margin if he stays on the field, but history is not on his side. Moncrief somehow attracted 89 targets with Jacksonville last season. If we are to believe Roethlisberger, it appears the former Colt and Jaguar will be the leader entering camp to be Smith-Schuster's sidekick. While some may take Washington's 10.8 percent target share and 67 looks as a knock against him, both marks are nearly double of his rookie totals.


 Tennessee Titans Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
494 484 482 49.5% 50.5%
QB Marcus Mariota 426 52 10.7% 0.0%
QB Ryan Tannehill 68 16 3.3% 0.0%
RB Derrick Henry 287 32 59.3% 6.6%
RB Dion Lewis 107 51 22.1% 10.6%
RB Alex Barnes 12 4 2.5% 0.8%
WR Corey Davis 4 92 0.8% 19.1%
WR A.J. Brown 2 69 0.4% 14.3%
WR Adam Humphries 3 65 0.6% 13.5%
WR Taywan Taylor 1 32 0.2% 6.6%
WR Tajae Sharpe 26 0.0% 5.4%
TE Delanie Walker 82 0.0% 17.0%
TE Jonnu Smith 22 0.0% 4.6%
TE Anthony Firkser 7 0.0% 1.5%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 978
2018 Total: 893

So why did it take an explosive 247-pound, former 2,000-yard college rusher nearly three years to break out as a pro? The coaching staff says part of it was giving him enough carries to build a rhythm. GM Jon Robinson says Henry became "a more decisive runner" and "ran angry." The case can be made that a lot of pro backs could have done something similar to what the former Heisman Trophy winner did last December with the workload he had. The difference heading into this year is Tennessee believes in him and he seemingly believes in the system, even though it will be run by first-time play-caller Arthur Smith. And that's really all we can ask for as fantasy owners, that is, to know we have a back who has a relatively clear path to 300-plus touches. The Titans must believe in his durability, as Lewis won't be asked to handle the kind of workload expected from Henry if the latter gets hurt. Lewis will likely settle into a role where he averages about 10 touches per game with normal game script whose volume will spike in negative game script and potentially plummet in positive game script, barring an injury to Henry.

Davis had 112 targets but only 65 catches and four touchdowns last year in what should have been a near-perfect storm for him. How much of that was Mariota's fault? He will have no shortage of competition for looks this season in what figures to be one of the lower-volume passing games in the league. Davis should remain the favorite to lead the team in targets, but the only way he's seeing more than a 26-plus percent share of targets again is if Tennessee is hit hard by injury. Walker is going to be hard to trust as a 35-year-old tight end coming off a lost season, but he's still Mariota's most trusted option until proven otherwise. He may not get 100 looks again like he did form 2014-17, but the odds are relatively strong he'll give Davis a run for the team lead. The arrival of Brown further dampens the outlook of Davis, as he is a menace after the catch and has future No. 1 receiver ability. Adding Humphries at an average of $9 million per season seems like an exorbitant sum for a slot receiver in an offense that probably won't throw the ball 500 times. It seems highly unlikely he'll be able to prove he's worth the price tag unless Smith manufactures touches for him.


Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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