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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Workload Projections: NFC
Preseason Matchup Analysis
Posted: 7/30/19

ARI | ATL | CAR | CHI | DAL | DET | GB | LAR | MIN | NO | NYG | PHI | SF | SEA | TB | WAS

Recently, 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 last week and 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 when to a realistic team total in the end. Unless you are keeping a close eye on the overall play total for every team, 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 around 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, every team finishes a season with several more pass attempts than targets, so your eyes are not deceiving you on the team totals.

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.


 Arizona Cardinals Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
614 425 598 40.9% 59.1%
QB Kyler Murray 601 114 26.8% 0.0%
QB Brett Hundley 13 8 1.9% 0.0%
RB David Johnson 226 98 53.2% 16.4%
RB Chase Edmonds 66 34 15.5% 5.7%
RB T.J. Logan 2 6 0.5% 1.0%
WR Larry Fitzgerald 120 0.0% 20.1%
WR Christian Kirk 5 109 1.2% 18.2%
WR Andy Isabella 4 65 0.9% 10.9%
WR Hakeem Butler 32 0.0% 5.4%
WR KeeSean Johnson 49 0.0% 8.2%
TE Ricky Seals-Jones 42 0.0% 7.0%
TE Charles Clay 30 0.0% 5.0%
TE Caleb Wilson 13 0.0% 2.2%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,039
2018 Total: 850

A common misnomer of college spread offenses - such as the ones Chip Kelly and Kingsbury ran at Oregon and Texas Tech, respectively - is they don't run the ball very much. While owners need to keep in mind the college game allows for more plays, it is still notable that Kingsbury's last two offenses in Lubbock ran 423 times (in 2018) and 449 times (in 2017). With Murray almost certain to run 100-plus times by himself, tempo should enable Arizona to go well over 400 rushing attempts even if it throws the ball 600-plus times. The difficult task here is figuring out just how often Johnson will need to catch his breath in an offense that figures to operate as quickly as any in the NFL this season. IF Murray and Johnson both stay healthy for all 16 games, the fact the Cardinals don't have a great offensive line isn't going to matter as much as it might for other teams. Athletic quarterbacks have consistently buoyed the efficiency of their running backs because they slow down backside pursuit. Because Murray brings instant credibility as a runner and Kingsbury will stress the defense horizontally (by spreading things out) as often as possible, Johnson will see running lanes on occasion he could have only dreamed about in 2018.

One of the bigger mysteries to me is Fitzgerald's draft stock. It took an archaic offensive approach last season to stop him from amassing at least 145 targets for a fourth consecutive season. His age is what it is and he will eventually slow down, but do owners believe it will happen when he is at worst a 1B receiver on what may be the most high-volume offense in the NFL this year? He's more likely to have a 20 percent target share in an offense that should attempt at least 600 passes than not. Kirk could easily rival him, although owners should be more than pleased if he comes relatively close to my projection. His time is coming, but can he really knock Fitzgerald off his pedestal in his second season? The other pass-catcher of note should be Isabella. Favorably compared to Brandin Cooks by some draft evaluators, the rookie is going to create some splash plays even if his target share is nowhere in the neighborhood of Fitzgerald and Kirk's. Kingsbury could easily decide to drive defensive coordinators insane by regularly putting a 5-9 waterbug like Isabella and 6-5 monster like Butler in the slot together or he could invert his receivers (putting big boys Fitzgerald and Butler inside and the smaller wideouts - Kirk and Isabella - outside).


 Atlanta Falcons Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
582 415 572 41.6% 58.4%
QB Matt Ryan 572 30 7.2% 0.0%
QB Matt Schaub 8 2 0.5% 0.0%
RB Devonta Freeman 212 54 51.1% 9.4%
RB Ito Smith 111 37 26.7% 6.5%
RB Qadree Ollison 32 5 7.7% 0.9%
RB Brian Hill 15 3 3.6% 0.5%
WR Julio Jones 2 162 0.5% 28.3%
WR Calvin Ridley 6 109 1.4% 19.1%
WR Mohamed Sanu 2 5 76 1.2% 13.3%
WR Justin Hardy 24 0.0% 4.2%
WR Russell Gage 8 0.0% 1.4%
TE Austin Hooper 85 0.0% 14.9%
TE Logan Paulsen 7 0.0% 1.2%
TE Luke Stocker 2 0.0% 0.3%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 997
2018 Total: 968

While coaches being optimistic is nothing new, HC Dan Quinn appeared to be almost giddy at what he saw from Freeman during the spring. With Smith a capable reserve but hardly the explosive threat Tevin Coleman was, Atlanta may try to lean a bit heavier on Freeman - much like it did in 2015-16 when Coleman struggled to stay healthy. That's not to suggest Freeman will push 250 carries again, but this offense will score and have leads to preserve in the fourth quarter. Smith getting almost 30 percent of the carry share is an ambitious goal for a player who averaged 3.5 YPC on his 90 attempts as a rookie, but Atlanta knows it needs to be smart about Freeman's workload. Ollison is a name to keep in mind as a potential TD vulture and short-yardage option. He was drafted with a very specific purpose in mind: keep Freeman from absorbing more punishment in between the tackles than he already does.

While I do have some fear new OC Dirk Koetter will find a way to screw this offense up, I don't think he'll screw up the part about making sure Jones sees at least a quarter of the targets. After that, it gets a bit dicey. Ridley is probably ready to move into the 20 percent target-share club, but Sanu has the right combination of Ryan's trust and ability to move the chains to keep it from happening. (Freeman playing all 16 games may also play a role in suppressing the number of targets Ridley sees.) The continuing development of Ridley also doesn't bode well for Hooper's target share, although Koetter's recent history with tight ends in Tampa Bay - albeit with a quarterback noted for his dependence on tight ends - suggests there is hope. Quinn also did his part to fuel the Hooper buzz in mid-July, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he believed his tight end is "ready to go to another level." This offense may not enough volume - especially if the defense stays healthy and Freeman puts in close to a full season - to get four players 88 or more targets again. Hooper is capable of repeating last season, but there is a better chance he fails to hit last year's marks than surpasses them.


 Carolina Panthers Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
546 432 532 44.2% 55.8%
QB Cam Newton 522 113 26.2% 0.0%
QB Will Grier 24 4 0.9% 0.0%
RB Christian McCaffrey 231 114 53.5% 21.4%
RB Cameron Artis-Payne 11 3 2.5% 0.6%
RB Jordan Scarlett 42 7 9.7% 1.3%
RB Elijah Holyfield 8 1 1.9% 0.2%
RB Alex Armah 2 3 0.5% 0.6%
WR D.J. Moore 11 116 2.5% 21.8%
WR Curtis Samuel 9 98 2.1% 18.4%
WR Jarius Wright 1 46 0.2% 8.6%
WR Torrey Smith 20 0.0% 3.8%
WR Rashad Ross 25 0.0% 4.7%
TE Greg Olsen 48 0.0% 9.0%
TE Ian Thomas 47 0.0% 8.8%
TE Chris Manhertz 4 0.0% 0.8%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 978
2018 Total: 979

Last year at this time, most of the world believed McCaffrey wasn't a feature back. This year, more people than not seem to believe he is worthy of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. (Fantasy football is funny like that.) There are two important things to remember looking ahead to this season: 1) McCaffrey did not score his first rushing touchdown until Week 8 - the same week Newton ran for his last one and 2) if McCaffrey is going to continue in upwards of 120 targets, his carries are almost certainly going to be capped in the low 200s. That works out just fine for PPR owners, of course, but can we be for certain OC Norv Turner has decided to let McCaffrey handle goal-line work in order to lessen Newton's injury risk? Or has McCaffrey become too important to the offense to risk him absorbing more punishment, particularly at the goal line? Look, this is a player I said could be this generation's Brian Westbrook or Marshall Faulk when he was coming out of the draft, so I've never really had a question he can be a featured back. But what I think doesn't matter to Turner or HC Ron Rivera. Owners need to accept the possibility McCaffrey could disappoint in the touchdown department in 2019 if Turner and Rivera decide to make Newton the top option at the goal line again.

A couple of weeks ago, I noted Moore didn't play more than 33 snaps in a game until Week 8 and Samuel didn't see more than 26 snaps until Week 12. They are obviously both projected to be the main targets at receiver this season. Even in an offense with a running back accounting for at least 20 percent of the target share, there is room for two receivers like Moore and Samuel to split 40 percent fairly equally - something they may actually do if Samuel can play a full season for the first time in his career. Two of the reasons this is possible is because Carolina doesn't have a slot receiver of note - other than whenever McCaffrey lines up there - and Olsen has had trouble staying on the field. If Olsen makes one final healthy stand before heading off into the sunset in 2019, then there's a good chance Moore and Samuel will take a bit of a hit. Thomas's projection is almost entirely the result of the likelihood Olsen won't play more than half of the season.


 Chicago Bears Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
565 452 549 44.4% 55.6%
QB Mitchell Trubisky 498 53 11.7% 0.0%
QB Chase Daniel 67 8 1.8% 0.0%
RB David Montgomery 218 50 48.2% 9.1%
RB Tarik Cohen 70 77 15.5% 14.0%
RB Mike Davis 78 19 17.3% 3.5%
RB Taquan Mizzell 2 5 0.4% 0.9%
WR Allen Robinson 121 0.0% 22.0%
WR Taylor Gabriel 4 58 0.9% 10.6%
WR Anthony Miller 6 91 1.3% 16.6%
WR Cordarrelle Patterson 13 34 2.9% 6.2%
WR Javon Wims 9 0.0% 1.6%
TE Trey Burton 69 0.0% 12.6%
TE Adam Shaheen 13 0.0% 2.4%
TE Ben Braunecker 3 0.0% 0.5%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1017
2018 Total: 980

The Bears ran the ball 468 times last season; all but 99 of those attempts were by running backs. They traded up in the draft to acquire Montgomery when they already had Davis and Cohen on the roster, using what limited draft assets they had to make the move. The offseason has been filled with high praise for the rookie, such as HC Matt Nagy saying he could understand the comparisons to Kareem Hunt and how advanced he was as a route-runner. While owners cannot simply dismiss the presence of Davis or shoehorn Montgomery into Jordan Howard's workload last year (250 carries, 20 catches), the Bears have made it quite clear with all their actions so far that they want the rookie to be the centerpiece of the running game. Due to the respect I have for Davis, I'm being conservative with Montgomery's workload, but it would be a shock if he isn't in the same neighborhood as Howard was touch-wise regardless of game script. With three-down backs like Montgomery and Davis around, it's hard to see Cohen getting more than five or six carries per game. Of course, he will continue to be a dynamic weapon in the passing game and someone Nagy may try to draw up more plays for after he finished with 91 targets in 2018.

It probably doesn't get talked about nearly enough that Robinson missed three games last year and probably needed every bit of the first half of the season to feel comfortable coming off ACL surgery. He was rarely ever healthy in 2018 even when he was "healthy." While trusting Trubisky to be a consistently good quarterback week in and week out will be the biggest hurdle Robinson has to overcome this year, it actually doesn't require that big of a leap of faith to say he could reach my target projection, which would almost guarantee him about 75 catches. As long as Miller (54 targets, 10.7 percent target share) can stay healthy this year, it would not surprise me at all if he and Gabriel (93, 18.5) flip-flopped in terms of target and target share. For as good of a deep threat as Gabriel is, his numbers were very disappointing - outside of two games - for a player who had as much opportunity as he did. In September, Burton averaged 16 yards per catch and 9.8 yards per target. His YPC and YPT dropped every month after that. He actually saw more involvement over the final four weeks (23 targets) than he did at any point during the season, but it's going to be hard for anyone to produce with a 7.6 YPC and 5.3 YPT.


 Dallas Cowboys Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
504 457 474 47.6% 52.4%
QB Dak Prescott 503 64 14.0% 0.0%
RB Ezekiel Elliott 298 64 65.2% 13.5%
RB Tony Pollard 53 35 11.6% 7.4%
RB Mike Weber 38 4 8.3% 0.8%
WR Amari Cooper 1 127 0.2% 26.8%
WR Michael Gallup 81 0.0% 17.1%
WR Randall Cobb 1 3 52 0.7% 11.0%
WR Noah Brown 8 0.0% 1.7%
TE Jason Witten 68 0.0% 14.3%
TE Blake Jarwin 26 0.0% 5.5%
TE Dalton Schultz 9 0.0% 1.9%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 961
2018 Total: 932

Most owners see Elliott as a player who just needs a little bit of positive touchdown regression in order to be the clear overall RB1. I see a player working with a first-time play-caller in Kellen Moore coming off a 380-touch regular season (400-plus if the playoffs are included) who is a concern off the field and a threat to lose a chunk of the volume he saw in the passing game a season ago. Many are familiar with the first three issues, but the fourth is arguably every bit as important. Witten is back, Cobb - for however long he can stay healthy - is a more dynamic slot option than Cole Beasley was and Pollard was drafted to add a "Kamara element" to the offense. Never mind the possibility of a holdout. That's a lot of risk for a player going in the top half of the first round. In short, there is virtually no chance Zeke comes anywhere close to 95 targets again. Fortunately, there shouldn't be much concern when it comes to his carry share; in all three of his NFL seasons, Elliott has either handled at least 64.7 percent of the team's carries or was easily on pace to do so before serving a suspension.

Cowboys tight ends accounted for a 17.8 percent target share last year; Witten hasn't had a target share lower than 17.9 (2017) since at least 2014. While Witten doesn't figure to make a huge actual impact in 2019, owners aren't yet grasping grasp how much of an impact Witten at even at 15 percent will have on the number of targets for everyone else. Cooper averaged 8.4 targets upon arriving in Dallas; I have him slightly under that mark, although he will likely be one of the least affected. Gallup also probably won't notice much of a difference if he continues to see the bulk of his looks 10 or more yards downfield. He really wasn't used all that much - or nearly as much as he should have been - until about the time Cooper arrived and he still finished with 68 targets. He is in line for a healthy increase. We've already discussed how Witten's presence will hurt Elliott, but it will likely affect Cobb the most. Both players are going to be working the same parts of the field and defenses will almost certainly be more willing to give catches up to Witten. Witten's upside is a target share in the high teens if Cobb gets hurt yet again, while Cobb's upside in the most ideal of circumstances might be an average season from Beasley given all the mouths the Cowboys now have to feed.


 Detroit Lions Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
554 444 541 44.5% 55.5%
QB Matthew Stafford 542 25 5.6% 0.0%
QB Tom Savage 12 4 0.9% 0.0%
RB Kerryon Johnson 213 65 48.0% 12.0%
RB C.J. Anderson 136 17 30.6% 3.1%
RB Ty Johnson 42 22 9.5% 4.1%
RB Zach Zenner 21 10 4.7% 1.8%
WR Kenny Golladay 1 113 0.2% 20.9%
WR Marvin Jones 1 104 0.2% 19.2%
WR Danny Amendola 1 74 0.2% 13.7%
WR Jermaine Kearse 38 0.0% 7.0%
WR Chris Lacy 13 0.0% 2.4%
TE T.J. Hockenson 54 0.0% 10.0%
TE Jesse James 26 0.0% 4.8%
TE Isaac Nauta 5 0.0% 0.9%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 998
2018 Total: 978

Probably more than any other year I've been involved in this wonderful hobby, I'm considering per-game carry averages for running backs. I'm not doing it because I think it's revolutionary, but rather because I think coaches have become programmed to think that way. HC Matt Patricia hinted back in March he intends to "be conscious of how many plays (running backs are) getting." Over the six-week stretch Johnson got rolling last season before his season-ending knee injury, he averaged 13.3 carries. That's almost precisely where I have him, in part because I think OC Darrell Bevell wants to use him more in the passing game after Theo Riddick was released. It's also why a team like Detroit brings in a back like Anderson because he is someone capable of eating up carries. LeGarrette Blount had double-digit carries in three games before Johnson went down and it's hard to argue he was even producing at a replacement level. Even with a new play-caller in town, fantasy owners probably may need to wrap their mind around the possibility Johnson may not average 14 carries.

Prior to Jones going down for the season in Week 10, his target–reception–yards–TD numbers (62-35-508-5) compared very favorably to Golladay's (61-39-601-4). The problem with Jones was that if his owners didn't play him in Week 8, there was about a six-week stretch in which he wasn't worth starting. Golladay, on the other hand, consistently delivered before and certainly after the injury. Owners who only care about year-end production probably need to view this pair more equally than they do, but those of us who care about weekly consistency will probably going to favor Golladay a bit more as both age and talent favor him. Still, in what figures to be a relatively low-volume passing game, both players could see over 100 targets and push for 20 percent of the target share. Amendola figures to keep busy while he's healthy, but betting on him to play more than 12 games would be foolish given his history. As much as Hockenson is probably ready for more than 10 percent of the looks, we've already identified three receivers and a running back who also need to get fed. Perhaps he begins his career as a red zone maven. Either way, his time as a fantasy force is coming, it just may not happen this year.

Green Bay

 Green Bay Packers Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
592 405 584 40.6% 59.4%
QB Aaron Rodgers 575 39 9.6% 0.0%
QB DeShone Kizer 17 7 1.7% 0.0%
RB Aaron Jones 181 52 44.7% 8.9%
RB Jamaal Williams 132 40 32.6% 6.8%
RB Dexter Williams 41 12 10.1% 2.1%
RB Dan Vitale 2 7 0.5% 1.2%
WR Davante Adams 152 0.0% 26.0%
WR Geronimo Allison 89 0.0% 15.2%
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling 3 64 0.7% 11.0%
WR Jake Kumerow 26 0.0% 4.5%
WR Equanimeous St. Brown 30 0.0% 5.1%
TE Jimmy Graham 68 0.0% 11.6%
TE Jace Sternberger 41 0.0% 7.0%
TE Marcedes Lewis 3 0.0% 0.5%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 997
2018 Total: 973

Injuries and suspensions have been a headache for the fantasy owners of Jones over his first two seasons. When he has been healthy and not paying the price for his off-field sins, he hasn't been asked to do much in the passing game. That last bit was one of the shortcomings of the Mike McCarthy era, and it would seem as though new HC Matt LaFleur is going to try to change it. While he seems to believe - as McCarthy did - that Jones and Williams work better in tandem, he also has made it clear he wants his backs to be more involved as receivers. However, most fantasy owners would be OK with Jones trading in a few more receptions if it meant he could enjoy something approaching a regular workload as a runner. Jones has averaged 5.5 YPC in each of his first two seasons and has generally delivered the goods anytime he's been asked to handle double-digit carries. If LaFleur has watched the same tape we have over the last two seasons, it's going to be hard for him to give Jones and Williams equal shares of the workload with a straight face. Thus, this might be the first time since 2014 that Green Bay has one back register a carry share greater than 43 percent.

Rodgers has almost always been about efficiency - a quarterback who didn't need 600-plus passes to post gaudy numbers. Regardless of the final count this year, a solid quarter of those passes are likely to be headed in the direction of Adams, who has seen his target share grow in each of his five seasons as a pro - including last year's career high of 27.5 percent. It's probably best for the team it doesn't happen again, but it's almost always been about quality over quantity with him anyway. Allison believes he will be the primary slot option, which typically led to target shares in the high teens or low 20s for Randall Cobb. Considering how quickly he earned Rodgers' trust last year, he's probably getting shortchanged above. Even if we consider Valdes-Scantling's fade late last season more of a coincidence than anything else, the health of Allison is probably going to lead to a decline of his 73 targets as a rookie. We are probably seeing the last of Graham getting 89 targets and a 14.5 percent target share; he's likely going to need a big camp to be used as anything more than a red zone target in 2019 given his play last year. Sternberger may not be quite ready to threaten Graham's job this year, but he is going to be groomed to start in 2020.

Los Angeles Rams

 Los Angeles Rams Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
559 443 547 44.2% 55.8%
QB Jared Goff 530 36 8.1% 0.0%
QB Blake Bortles 29 4 0.9% 0.0%
RB Todd Gurley 226 50 51.0% 9.1%
RB Malcolm Brown 66 9 14.9% 1.6%
RB Darrell Henderson 78 60 17.6% 11.0%
RB John Kelly 8 2 1.8% 0.4%
WR Brandin Cooks 8 111 1.8% 20.3%
WR Robert Woods 11 115 2.5% 21.0%
WR Cooper Kupp 3 81 0.7% 14.8%
WR Josh Reynolds 2 35 0.5% 6.4%
WR KhaDarel Hodge 4 0.0% 0.7%
TE Gerald Everett 1 52 0.2% 9.5%
TE Tyler Higbee 28 0.0% 5.1%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,002
2018 Total: 1027

Owners need to seriously consider the possibility - however remote - that Gurley isn't as damaged as everyone thinks he is. On draft day, the Rams clearly specified they had been looking for a change-of-pace back since Lance Dunbar didn't work out in 2017. GM Les Snead went so far to say Henderson adds a "Kamara element" to the offense. The problem(s): Gurley isn't Mark Ingram, the Rams have more viable targets in the passing game than the Saints and HC Sean McVay's last change-of-pace back had a 17.9 percent carry share and 10.5 percent target share (68 carries and 62 targets, for those of you scoring at home). That back's name? Chris Thompson. (He played all 16 games that year.) The leading ball-carriers for Washington that same season? Rob Kelley and Matt Jones. Is Henderson that much better than Thompson? Now back to Gurley. Even if we trim 25 percent of his production (touches, yards, touchdowns, etc.) across the board in each of his two years under McVay, he still would have finished as the RB8 in 2018 and RB5 in 2017. Yes, Gurley's long-term prospects have dimmed considerably, but let's not be so hasty in saying a 25-year-old with just over 1,200 career touches is done. He may be a surprise inactive from time to time moving forward, but it would be stunning if he's not handling at least half of the carries and nearly 10 percent of the targets over the next year or two.

McVay's offenses have usually featured uncanny balance among the top three receivers. If Kupp wasn't coming back from an ACL tear, there's no question his targets and target share would be more in line with Woods and Cooks'. From a target perspective, Woods seemed to benefit the most from Kupp's absence, so it only makes sense that he will be affected the most if Kupp proves to be a quick healer and/or Henderson is as involved in the passing game as we are being led to believe. Either way, Woods and Kupp should still have a target share right around 20 percent after seeing 23.9 and 21.5 percent, respectively, of the looks in this offense in 2018. Henderson's arrival obviously takes targets away from all three receivers but may be yet another obstacle for Everett, who had a realistic path to more opportunity before the Rams drafted the rookie. While owners need to rein in expectations when it comes to Kupp early in the season, he still feels like a value pick if he's available as a WR3 late in the sixth round. Even if he starts slow (as should be the expectation), he's a good bet to beat my projection given how much Goff trusts him.


 Minnesota Vikings Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
565 455 555 44.6% 55.4%
QB Kirk Cousins 551 40 8.8% 0.0%
QB Sean Mannion 14 2 0.4% 0.0%
RB Dalvin Cook 216 71 47.5% 12.8%
RB Alexander Mattison 136 32 29.9% 5.8%
RB Mike Boone 33 5 7.3% 0.9%
RB Ameer Abdullah 8 2 1.8% 0.4%
RB C.J. Ham 5 10 1.1% 1.8%
WR Stefon Diggs 8 124 1.8% 22.3%
WR Adam Thielen 4 132 0.9% 23.8%
WR Chad Beebe 3 41 0.7% 7.4%
WR Laquon Treadwell 20 0.0% 3.6%
WR Jordan Taylor 8 0.0% 1.4%
TE Kyle Rudolph 67 0.0% 12.1%
TE Irv Smith 39 0.0% 7.0%
TE David Morgan 4 0.0% 0.7%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1020
2018 Total: 963

A perfect storm is brewing for Cook in Minnesota this season. He isn't rehabbing an injury, HC Mike Zimmer wants the offense built around a solid running game and the Vikings have the makings of a solid left side of the offensive line after sporting one of the worst front fives in the league in 2018. Perhaps the most important addition is the arrival of offensive advisor Gary Kubiak. While new OC Kevin Stefanski will run the show, it would be shocking if Minnesota doesn't rely heavily on Kubiak's baby (the outside zone) as a staple running play. Cook has already proven to be a big-play back behind a poor offensive line, so the sky really is the limit if the Vikings field an average unit upfront. With that said, Cook's track record suggests he's going to miss some time, making Mattison one of the more valuable handcuffs in fantasy. The third-round rookie isn't going to wow anyone with his measurables, but I imagine he was attractive to the Vikings because he is so fundamentally sound, patient and decisive - all qualities that make him a much better fit in this offense than Latavius Murray. Mattison runs with enough power that he could steal some goal-line responsibilities from Cook, especially if the coaching staff chooses to be cautious with how many hits Cook takes.

Zimmer probably wasn't too unhappy both Thielen and Diggs registered target shares of at least 24 percent last year; his biggest problem was with former OC John DeFilippo dialing up nearly 40 throws per game through 13 contests. Both receivers' targets figure to take a slight hit, but not so much they can't still both be fantasy WR1s. Like some other teams we have already discussed this week, the absence of a solid third receiver leaves the door wide open for both players to continue seeing well over 100 targets. If this were last year, Beebe might be a name to remember as a potential sleeper, but the Vikings figure to run more two-tight sets moving forward. It might be easy to fall into the trap of believing Rudolph is still a low-end TE1, but all owners need to do is remove his production from Week 16 to see how depressing his year-end totals actually were. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which the arrival of Smith - a player some in the organization compare favorably to Jordan Reed - will help Rudolph be more consistent.

New Orleans

 New Orleans Saints Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
548 475 541 46.4% 53.6%
QB Drew Brees 521 29 6.1% 0.0%
QB Teddy Bridgewater 21 2 0.4% 0.0%
QB Taysom Hill 6 40 8 8.4% 1.5%
RB Alvin Kamara 206 109 43.4% 20.1%
RB Latavius Murray 142 26 29.9% 4.8%
RB Devine Ozigbo 46 10 9.7% 1.8%
RB Javorius Allen 0.0% 0.0%
RB Zach Line 5 7 1.1% 1.3%
WR Michael Thomas 132 0.0% 24.4%
WR Ted Ginn Jr. 3 51 0.6% 9.4%
WR Tre'Quan Smith 2 47 0.4% 8.7%
WR Keith Kirkwood 20 0.0% 3.7%
WR Emmanuel Butler 31 0.0% 5.7%
TE Jared Cook 80 0.0% 14.8%
TE Josh Hill 12 0.0% 2.2%
TE Alize Mack 8 0.0% 1.5%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,023
2018 Total: 990

Kamara is tied for ninth all-time in terms of yards per carry through his first two seasons as a pro (5.13). During his four games as a bell-cow last year, he averaged 57.3 snaps, 14 carries, and 11 targets. In the other 11, he averaged 38.9 snaps, 12.5 carries, and 4.9 targets. How can Payton justify not increasing the workload of one of the most efficient backs in league history? Even a slight bump up to 14 attempts per game (224 per season over 16 contests) at his career average of 5.1 YPC puts him well over 1,000 yards rushing, even if he only plays 15 games. Murray is a very divisive player for me this season; on one hand, he's poised to blow up his ADP if Payton treats him like Ingram. On the other hand, I think Ozigbo could take his job by midseason. One strategy I would consider employing in PPR leagues: draft and start both Kamara and Murray - especially this year since Murray's current ADP is in the middle of the seventh round. Here is a truly stunning stat as to why you may want to double-dip with backs from "The Big Easy": the Saints haven't ended a season lower than second in team PPR points at running back since 2010 (seven first-place finishes, one second).

The first thing owners need to keep in mind with New Orleans nowadays is that it can and will run the ball; the days of Brees attempting well over 600 passes are probably over. Thomas and Kamara are going to get their 100-plus targets, so the key to solving the Saints is figuring how the looks are going to get distributed after those two get fed. Cook isn't going to be the second coming of Jimmy Graham that some owners might be envisioning just because he won't be playing in an offense with the same volume Graham did. However, he should push for roughly 15 percent of the targets. (The highest target share any New Orleans tight end has enjoyed over the last three years - since Thomas arrived - is 12.2.) The thing that will differentiate Cook from most other tight ends this year is that he does his best workload downfield and will have a supremely accurate quarterback throwing him the ball. Owners hoping for a breakout from Smith need to hope for an injury or a face-plant from Ginn. Should neither one happen, it could be a full season of two speedsters sharing the old Devery Henderson/Robert Meachem clear-out receiver/deep threat role. Butler is an interesting wild-card; the Saints released Cameron Meredith, perhaps in part because they might see the undrafted rookie free agent in the big slot role they hoped Meredith was going to fill.

New York Giants

 New York Giants Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
565 398 550 41.3% 58.7%
QB Eli Manning 381 13 3.3% 0.0%
QB Daniel Jones 184 18 4.5% 0.0%
RB Saquon Barkley 282 107 70.9% 19.5%
RB Paul Perkins 46 24 11.6% 4.4%
RB Wayne Gallman 28 11 7.0% 2.0%
RB Elijhaa Penny 4 5 1.0% 0.9%
WR Sterling Shepard 3 113 0.8% 20.5%
WR Golden Tate 3 89 0.8% 16.2%
WR Darius Slayton 35 0.0% 6.4%
WR Cody Latimer 23 0.0% 4.2%
WR Alonzo Russell 1 20 0.3% 3.6%
WR Reggie White Jr. 7 0.0% 1.3%
TE Evan Engram 95 0.0% 17.3%
TE Rhett Ellison 21 0.0% 3.8%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 963
2018 Total: 937

The beauty about cozying up to Barkley is that every situation is positive game script for him. He's going to get volume when the Giants are leading. He's going to see just about as many targets as any of his teammates when they're behind. He's the goal-line back and best big-play threat. Like every other player available in fantasy, he doesn't come without risk though. It is possible for Manning to get worse. New York traded away its best vertical threat (Odell Beckham Jr.), making it even more challenging for Barkley to beat eight men in the box (which he saw 23 percent of the time last year). Some would argue the insertion of Jones would be another negative, but mobile quarterbacks - Jones is an underrated athlete - tend to help backs statistically more than they hurt them and be more conservative with their throws, which again favors Barkley. Perhaps the best news for the second-year back: the addition of RG Kevin Zeitler should give the offensive line a fighting chance to be decent in 2019.

Training camp got off to a rough start when Shepard broke his thumb, making it a likely possibility the Giants' likely new No. 1 receiver gets off to a slow start. Tate was handed a four-game suspension days later. Engram already had a strong case of being considered the most dangerous threat on the team before Shepard's injury and Tate's expected absence. Considering Engram has a couple of seasons with Manning under his belt, he becomes an even more likely candidate to give the big three tight ends (Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and George Kittle) a run for their money and push for 100 targets. Outside of the obvious quarterback questions, his biggest hurdle is durability. If he plays every game for the first time in his pro career in 2019, he should easily beat my projection. Considering Shepard and Tate are really the only other proven pass-catching entities after Barkley and Engram, they will almost certainly see 100-plus targets as well (again, assuming good health and/or a reduced suspension). One of the better run-after-catch receivers in the game, Tate actually profiles quite well into what is expected to be a short passing attack in New York this year.


 Philadelphia Eagles Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
606 441 596 42.1% 57.9%
QB Carson Wentz 584 43 9.8% 0.0%
QB Nate Sudfeld 22 2 0.5% 0.0%
RB Jordan Howard 178 26 40.4% 4.4%
RB Miles Sanders 132 38 29.9% 6.4%
RB Corey Clement 51 18 11.6% 3.0%
RB Darren Sproles 28 29 6.3% 4.9%
WR Alshon Jeffery 106 0.0% 17.8%
WR DeSean Jackson 5 89 1.1% 14.9%
WR Nelson Agholor 2 51 0.5% 8.6%
WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside 42 0.0% 7.0%
WR Mack Hollins 7 0.0% 1.2%
TE Zach Ertz 129 0.0% 21.6%
TE Dallas Goedert 60 0.0% 10.1%
TE Richard Rodgers 1 0.0% 0.2%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,047
2018 Total: 997

The Eagles invested more in their running game this offseason than in any other year under HC Doug Pederson. That would seem to point toward a recommitment to pounding the rock after failing to reach 400 carries as a team for the first time in three seasons under Pederson, but it may have also been an acknowledgment help was needed after relying on Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood and Clement for most of 2018. Two of those three players may not make the team this year. Howard was acquired most likely to fill the early-down grinder role that Adams, Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Ryan Mathews have occupied under Peterson. Adams, Blount and Mathews all led the Eagles in carries with about a third of the backfield work, and Howard figures to be the fourth. Sanders may have missed too much time in the spring to be counted on early, but he figures to be a player who brings more sizzle to the role Clement has played recently. It's not unreasonable to believe he could log 20 percent of the carries and 6-8 percent of the targets.

The central figure in Philly's passing game figures to be Ertz once again, although he is going to be hard-pressed to come anywhere close to his 156 targets or 26.4 percent target share from last season. Believe it or not, Jackson may be the main reason why. Last year, the Eagles didn’t have a capable second wide receiver to complement Jeffrey. In 2019, they have one of the best deep threats in the game who just happens to specialize in the same routes Wentz tends to throw the best. Jeffrey has struggled to play all 16 games for the majority of his career, but he has consistently found a way to attract 100 or so targets. Despite the gloom and doom forecasted above, Ertz's status as Wentz's favorite option isn't about to change; we just can't project such heavy usage with all the playmakers Philadelphia has at its disposal. The player set to take the biggest is Agholor. The 26-year-old was hardly usable in fantasy last season despite 97 targets and a 16.4 percent target share. The major reason why he is set to take a hit is Goedert, who is a fantasy sleeper in this passing game. No, he's not going to take Ertz's job. However, the coaching staff loves the second-year tight end, who finished as the TE20 in PPR leagues in 2018 with 44 targets. The Eagles will make sure his target share grows this season.

San Francisco

 San Francisco 49ers Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
555 459 541 45.3% 54.7%
QB Jimmy Garoppolo 555 34 7.4% 0.0%
QB Nick Mullens 3 0.7% 0.0%
RB Tevin Coleman 148 28 32.2% 5.2%
RB Jerick McKinnon 80 54 17.4% 10.0%
RB Matt Breida 162 25 35.3% 4.6%
RB Raheem Mostert 9 6 2.0% 1.1%
RB Kyle Juszczyk 5 26 1.1% 4.8%
WR Dante Pettis 4 85 0.9% 15.7%
WR Marquise Goodwin 3 58 0.7% 10.7%
WR Deebo Samuel 1 52 0.2% 9.6%
WR Trent Taylor 48 0.0% 8.9%
WR Jordan Matthews 14 0.0% 2.6%
OW Jalen Hurd 10 19 2.2% 3.5%
TE George Kittle 122 0.0% 22.6%
TE Garrett Celek 4 0.0% 0.7%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,014
2018 Total: 955

One year after the 49ers were forced to end the season with a fifth-string running back (Jeffrey Wilson), they enter the following year with three that have proven to be at least good part-time backs. Coleman appears to be the leader of the group for now, but is that only because he was the only healthy one they saw during the spring? There's a strong argument to be made Breida did more in his first year under HC Kyle Shanahan than Coleman has done in any of his four seasons as a pro - including the first two under Shanahan. Considering how often and how well he played hurt in 2018, Breida deserves the chance to keep the job. Plus, it's not as if the 49ers sought Coleman in free agency … he basically fell in their lap. Throw in McKinnon as a mismatch weapon in the passing game and there's a distinct possibility every week will be one where the "hot-hand" gets fed. This is a situation in which it makes a ton of sense for owners to invest in the cheapest options - in this case McKinnon and Breida - and let the season play out a bit. If owners know anything about a Shanahan-led offense, the running game will be productive.

Injuries wreaked havoc at receiver as well last year in San Francisco, as only Kendrick Bourne played all 16 games. (Although he led the wideouts with 66 targets, he may not make the team this year.) The chaos led to Kittle being targeted 70 more times than any other Niner - something Shanahan probably doesn't want to see repeated. So the question becomes how many targets he will lose, and not whether it will happen. Pettis was a godsend for many fantasy owners down the stretch and should be a good bet to nearly double last year's 45 targets, but there's reason to be a bit nervous about him. For example, Goodwin was the clear No. 1 at this time last year. Samuel arrives in a similar spot as Pettis did last with a more distinguished college resume against better opponents. This has all the makings of a very balanced offense across the board - running and passing - with only Kittle being the closest thing the team has to a no-brainer fantasy option every week.


 Seattle Seahawks Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
456 520 440 53.3% 46.7%
QB Russell Wilson 456 74 14.2% 0.0%
RB Chris Carson 222 22 42.7% 5.0%
RB Rashaad Penny 198 28 38.1% 6.4%
RB C.J. Prosise 3 6 0.6% 1.4%
RB J.D. McKissic 5 8 1.0% 1.8%
RB Nick Bellore 2 2 0.4% 0.5%
WR Tyler Lockett 10 93 1.9% 21.1%
WR Jaron Brown 47 0.0% 10.7%
WR David Moore 65 0.0% 14.8%
WR D.K. Metcalf 6 54 1.2% 12.3%
WR John Ursua 30 0.0% 6.8%
TE Will Dissly 36 0.0% 8.2%
TE Jacob Hollister 34 0.0% 7.7%
TE Nick Vannett 15 0.0% 3.4%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 976
2018 Total: 961

Penny may be the surest sign the majority of owners - and some analysts - put far too much emphasis on last year's totals and not enough on a team's current personnel. Mike Davis' departure may not seem like that big of a deal to some (112 carries and 42 targets in 2018), but have the Seahawks given us any reason to believe they don't want to run 500-plus time again? Carson did yeoman's work to handle 46.3 percent of the carries in this run-heavy attack despite missing two games, but there may not be a workhorse back in the game today who takes more punishment more consistently than he does. Even if he somehow manages to last the season with his running style - he has given us little evidence he can do so, failing to play a full season at Oklahoma State or in Seattle - there are approximately 230 or so "empty" carries. Wilson's only going to take up about 70-80 of those. Let's also not forget HC Pete Carroll himself has made it clear he considers Carson and Penny "1A and 1B." Given Seattle's devotion to the running game, one could argue there may not be a handcuff with more upside in fantasy this year than Penny. What's more, his floor should be roughly 175 carries even if Carson plays all 16 games.

It's easy to assume Lockett will automatically move into Doug Baldwin's old role and attract 100-plus targets just because that's what Baldwin did. What's easy to forget is Seattle isn't attempting 550 passes anymore and actually a bit more run-heavy than it was during Marshawn Lynch's heyday. With that said, Lockett is almost certainly going to be featured like Baldwin was prior to 2018. It's entirely possible Moore, Brown or Metcalf steps up into Lockett's old role as the primary deep threat, but it may prove to be impossible to determine which one will pop in a given week. Moore flashed for a bit last year, the coaching staff seems to love Brown and Metcalf is about as obvious of a vertical threat as there is at the moment. All three should finish in the 10-14 percent target share range. Given the fact that Dissly is trying to come back from a torn patella tendon and OC Brian Schottenheimer raved about Hollister this offseason, the latter has some potential upside in fantasy. Ultimately, there's probably not enough volume after Lockett gets his looks to feel overly confident any of the others are going to be consistently productive enough to trust in fantasy.

Tampa Bay

 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
594 410 581 40.8% 59.2%
QB Jameis Winston 594 41 10.0% 0.0%
QB Blaine Gabbert 2 0.5% 0.0%
RB Ronald Jones 158 18 38.5% 3.1%
RB Peyton Barber 141 24 34.4% 4.1%
RB Bruce Anderson 38 19 9.3% 3.3%
RB Andre Ellington 21 14 5.1% 2.4%
WR Mike Evans 140 0.0% 24.1%
WR Chris Godwin 4 123 1.0% 21.2%
WR Breshad Perriman 3 52 0.7% 9.0%
WR Justin Watson 1 33 0.2% 5.7%
WR Scott Miller 25 0.0% 4.3%
TE O.J. Howard 1 90 0.2% 15.5%
TE Cameron Brate 38 0.0% 6.5%
TE Antony Auclair 5 0.0% 0.9%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 1,004
2018 Total: 1,014

No player in the league may have generated more hype this offseason than Jones. And yet, Bucs beat writers swear this is Barber's job to lose despite the fact he became the first NFL back since 2013 to amass 250-plus touches in a season and fail to record 1,000 total yards. The starting job is there for the taking, as it seems clear Jones may have not been ready to be a pro last year. But even if one of the two takes the job, it's hard to imagine either player will be featured - at least not right away - given how much the new coaching staff seems to like both backs. One thing does seem clear: given all the weapons in the passing game, no running back figures to see all that many targets.

Godwin has also been a popular man in fantasy circles this offseason, but Evans should remain the main show in town for the foreseeable future. Last year's 22.3 percent target share was a career low; it'd be mildly surprising if HC Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich allows that to happen again with one of the best mismatch players in the league. Godwin shouldn't fall too far behind Evans, however. Although the passing game volume is certain to lose some volume in 2019, Godwin is apparently Arians' choice to be his new Larry Fitzgerald. After shockingly posting 95 targets in a part-time role last season, it should be almost a given he sees at least 30 more without DeSean Jackson or Adam Humphries to steal targets. Perriman is probably being pegged to be the next John Brown, but the problem with that assumption is that Brown was usually the top vertical receiver for Arians in Arizona. Perriman may be the third- or fourth-best deep threat in Tampa Bay. The offseason started with panic that "Arians doesn't use tight ends" and seems to be ending with plenty of people hyping Howard as a breakout candidate. IF Howard can avoid the high-ankle sprains that have prematurely ended each of his first two seasons in the league, he'll find his way to at least 15 percent of the targets in a high-volume passing attack. With Evans and Godwin attracting attention downfield, a 100-target season is a realistic possibility.


 Washington Redskins Workload Projections
Pos Player Pass Att Carries Targets Carry Share Target Share
548 408 532 42.7% 57.3%
QB Dwayne Haskins 489 22 5.4% 0.0%
QB Case Keenum 59 11 2.7% 0.0%
RB Derrius Guice 142 24 34.8% 4.5%
RB Adrian Peterson 171 20 41.9% 3.8%
RB Chris Thompson 49 62 12.0% 11.7%
RB Bryce Love 8 10 2.0% 1.9%
WR Trey Quinn 3 88 0.7% 16.5%
WR Josh Doctson 80 0.0% 15.0%
WR Paul Richardson 2 68 0.5% 12.8%
WR Terry McLaurin 29 0.0% 5.5%
WR Kelvin Harmon 21 0.0% 3.9%
TE Jordan Reed 82 0.0% 15.4%
TE Vernon Davis 42 0.0% 7.9%
TE Jeremy Sprinkle 6 0.0% 1.1%

2019 Projected Total Offensive Plays: 956
2018 Total: 923

Washington likely found its long-term quarterback in the draft this year; how could the outlook be anything but rosy? Well, let's just say if the termites aren't already in the house, they are en route. The Redskins have one 34-year-old back (Peterson), two coming off ACL surgeries (Guice and Love), one who can't seem to play more than 10 games (Thompson) and an unhappy Pro Bowl-level left tackle (Trent Williams) who is mad at the team's medical staff. Those are just the problems the running game is facing. As it relates to workloads, Guice seems to be the favorite to lead the team in carries, but can HC Jay Gruden really bench Peterson? This definitely has the feel of an early-down timeshare. Thompson should be unchallenged in his passing-down role this season - Love was likely drafted to replace him at some point - but how long can he hold up? If he fails to play half of the season, does Love get rushed back or does Guice absorb that role in addition to sharing carries with Peterson? So many questions, so few answers.

The passing attack is in decent shape compared to the running game, although Washington doesn't exactly have a wideout who can claim he is the man. HC Jay Gruden's offenses have tended to be slot-friendly in D.C., meaning Quinn is by far the best choice for fantasy purposes. With Doctson and Richardson not exactly making a profound impact on the outside, Quinn has 100-target potential if he can stay healthy and live up to Gruden's billing. Few players have a worse track record for durability than Reed, who has missed 31 games in six NFL seasons - including at least three games five times. Thankfully, enough owners know about his penchant for spending extra time in the training room that his draft stock has made him a bit of a bargain as a TE2. He is one of the few tight ends in the league capable of leading his team in targets and receptions, much like he did in 2018 with 84 and 54, respectively. This is a low-volume offense, so it's going to be difficult for more than two pass-catchers to star in it. If I had to choose one over the other, I would go with Doctson over Richardson because he has managed to stay healthier and his high-point skills make him a better fit for Haskins.


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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