Fantasy Football: Vacated Targets Per NFL Team

One of the best ways to calculate fantasy football value is through an offense’s vacated targets. Teams high in vacated targets present a greater opportunity for their players to see high-end fantasy production. In examining them for each NFL team prior to the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, one can project which players will have the chance to see a significant increase in fantasy production in 2021. Here are the vacated targets for each team, in ascending order from least to most…

Fantasy Football: Vacated Targets Per Team

32.  Cleveland Browns
Vacated Targets: WR Dante Hall (2), RB Dontrell Hilliard (1)
Free Agent Signings:  WR Rashard Higgins (Re-signed), WR Jojo Natson

The 26-year old Higgins returns on a one-year deal as one of quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s favorite weapons. He has topped 50 targets in three of the past four seasons and has four touchdowns in two of the past three. As for Natson, he is primarily a return specialist who offers little in the passing game. The biggest question mark for the Cleveland Browns’ target projections remains the health and status of star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. In terms of the draft, the Browns have six picks in the first round rounds, as they could certainly target a top wide receiver to support their bevy of tight ends and strong running game.

31.  Dallas Cowboys
Vacated Targets:  TE Blake Bell (15), QB Andy Dalton (1)
Free Agent Signings:  TE Jeremy Sprinkle

The Dallas Cowboys return one of the more stable passing games from last season, with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb all under contract. Blake Jarwin should recapture the starting tight end role from an admirable replacement in Dalton Schultz. Blake Bell is now in Kansas City and his limited receiving role is negligible. Above all, a healthy Dak Prescott makes this one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses… that is assuming he is back at full strength.

30.  Pittsburgh Steelers
Vacated Targets:  TE Vance McDonald (20)
Free Agent Signings:  WR Ray-Ray McCloud (Re-signed), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Re-signed), RB Kalen Ballage

Despite being a strong pass-catcher at Arizona State, Kalen Ballage’s impact in the passing game has been minimal over three NFL seasons. Unlike what many think, Juju Smith-Schuster finished with 97 receptions last season, good for seventh among all wide receivers, proving his strong fantasy value. His 8.6 yards per reception is concerning but it could be more reflective of Ben Roethlisberger‘s declining arm strength. For Ray-Ray McCloud, his value is on special teams, as he will have a limited impact in terms of targets.

29.  Miami Dolphins
Vacated Targets:  RB Matt Breida (10), RB DeAndre Washington (9), WR Antonio Callaway (4), FB Chandler Cox (2), RB Jordan Howard (1)
Free Agent Signings:  WR Mack Hollins (Re-signed), WR Will Fuller, RB Malcolm Brown

Mack Hollins and Malcolm Brown are not going to take many targets, but all eyes are on Will Fuller‘s fully guaranteed $10.6 million deal. Fuller must sit one more game from last season’s six-game PED suspension, but his upside is massive. The 27-year old receiver tallied a touchdown in six consecutive games, with three overall WR9 or better performances in just 11 games this past season. Just how much of that production is attributed to the PEDs remains to be seen. Then again, with only 26 vacated targets from last season, Fuller is definitely a threat to cut into target shares of WR DeVante Parker and TE Mike Gesicki.

28.  Chicago Bears
Vacated Targets:  WR Cordarrelle Patterson (25), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (6), RB Lamar Miller (2)
Free Agent Signings:  WR Allen Robinson (Re-signed)

Andy Dalton continues the litany of subpar quarterbacks paired with stud receiver Allen Robinson. The Chicago Bears only lost 33 targets from last season and has yet to add a receiving threat. There have been rumors of an impending trade of Anthony Miller, and the Bears could certainly add a passing game target with one of their ten draft picks. Look for Robinson and second-year speedster Darnell Mooney to take a step forward in the Dalton-led offense.

27.  Washington Football Team
Vacated Targets:  WR Dontrelle Inman (28), WR Robert Foster (6), TE Temarrick Hemingway (2), TE Jeremy Sprinkle (3)
Free Agent Signings:  WR Curtis Samuel, WR Adam Humphries, WR DeAndre Carter, RB Lamar Miller (Re-signed)

The signing of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick instantaneously increased the target projection for WR Terry McLaurin. Look for “Fitzmagic” to facilitate a third-year breakout from McLaurin, who already added 29 receptions and 199 more receiving yards from his 2019 rookie season totals. Curtis Samuel is reunited with former Carolina head coach Ron Rivera, and Adam Humphries gives a reliable target for those critical short-yardage routes. There are only 39 vacated targets in Washington, but the overall offensive efficiency should rise significantly.

26. Minnesota Vikings
Vacated Targets:  TE Kyle Rudolph (37), RB Mike Boone (2)
Free Agent Signings:  RB Ameer Abdullah (Re-signed), WR Chad Beebe (Re-signed)

The Minnesota Vikings have one of the most consolidated target shares with wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen receiving 233 of the team’s 516 targets. The majority of Kyle Rudolph’s vacated 37 targets should go to third-year breakout candidate Irv Smith Jr. This remains one of the most projectable passing attacks in the NFL, ranking fourth in yards per play last season.

25.  Denver Broncos
Vacated Targets:  TE Nick Vannett (21), RB Phillip Lindsay (14), TE Jake Butt (4)
Free Agent Signings:  RB Mike Boone

The Denver Broncos enter the 2021 season with a low number of vacated targets, minimal personnel turnover, but still have questionable quarterback play. This passing offense has weapons galore in wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and uber-athletic tight end Noah Fant. Not to mention Courtland Sutton returning from injury. With no significant departing targets, there are over 500 targets to be redistributed among a solid group of playmakers.

24.  Green Bay Packers
Vacated Targets:  RB Jamaal Williams (35), RB Tyler Ervin (15), WR Darrius Shepard (8), WR Tavon Austin (5)
Free Agent Signings:  RB Aaron Jones (Re-signed), TE Marcedes Lewis (Re-signed)

History teaches us we don’t need to worry about the Green Bay Packers adding a receiver for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. However, they do have seven picks in the first five rounds to possibly alter their path. The departure of Jamaal Williams should open up even more targets for Aaron Jones, who ranks inside the Top 10 in total running back targets the past two seasons. Expect another season of Davante Adams more than doubling the targets of the next closest Green Bay receiving option.

23.  Baltimore Ravens
Vacated Targets:  WR Willie Snead (48), RB Mark Ingram (8), WR Dez Bryant (11), TE Luke Willson (3)
Free Agent Signings:  WR Sammy Watkins

It appears the Baltimore Ravens have come to the realization that the diminutive 5-foot-9, 166 pound Marquise Brown is not going to be their wide receiver one. The Ravens signed veteran Sammy Watkins to a one-year, $6 million deal ($5 million guaranteed). Still only 27-years old, Watkins will at least soak up the 48 vacated targets by journeyman Willie Snead. Baltimore had the fewest pass attempts in the league (406), leaving Watkins’ fantasy relevance relaying on efficiency over volume.

22.  Atlanta Falcons
Vacated Targets:  RB Todd Gurley (34), WR Brandon Powell (18), TE Luke Stocker (11), WR Laquon Treadwell (7)
Free Agent Signings:  RB Mike Davis, TE Lee Smith

This past season the Atlanta Falcons had the fourth-most targets and fifth-most passing yards. It is difficult to project how the presence of new head coach Arthur Smith will affect these totals in 2021. Smith deployed a run-heavy attack in Tennessee with heavy play-action. Except, without a dominant running back such as Derrick Henry, look for Atlanta to use one of their seven picks in the first five rounds of the draft to provide competition for the 28-year-old Mike Davis. At the receiver position, it’s a three-headed monster of Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, and the serviceable Russell Gage that will get the majority of targets.

21.  Kansas City Chiefs
Vacated Targets: WR Sammy Watkins (55), RB Le’Veon Bell (17), FB Anthony Sherman (2)
Free Agent Signings: WR Demarcus Robinson (Re-signed), WR Tajae Sharpe, TE Blake Bell

Always a source of quality fantasy production, the Kansas City Chiefs offense ranked third in the league in passing attempts (630) last season. With 75 vacated targets, Watkins’ departure could signal a long-awaited increase in production for third-year speedster Mecole Hardman. At the same time, the combination of TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill should still dominate the passing game with 280 combined targets from last season.

20.  Indianapolis Colts
Vacated Targets:  TE Trey Burton (47), WR Marcus Johnson (28), WR Daurice Fountain (3)
Free Agent Signings: RB Marlon Mack (Re-signed), WR T.Y. Hilton (Re-signed)

The Indianapolis Colts have 78 vacated targets available with new quarterback Carson Wentz. It is an open competition for targets with T.Y. Hilton, Nyheim Hines, Zach Pascal, and Michael Pittman, all of who were within 20 targets of each other last year. The Colts passed on just 55.9% of their plays, the ninth-lowest in the league. Speedster Parris Campbell could further complicate things, but expect Pittman and Hines to lead the way with a possible late-career resurgence by the 31-year old Hilton.

19.  Philadelphia Eagles
Vacated Targets:  TE Richard Rodgers (31), WR DeSean Jackson (26), WR Alshon Jeffery (13), RB Corey Clement (6), WR Deontay Burnett (4),
Free Agent Signings: None

The Philadelphia Eagles have a solid 80 vacated targets available in 2021, and a completely different offense with Nick Sirianni at head coach. The former offensive coordinator for the Colts will be tasked with getting the most out of dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts. Expect a big step forward by second-year WR Jalen Reagor along with third-year wideout Travis Fulgham. The Eagles are clearly ready to move on from TE Zach Ertz, making fourth-year tight end Dallas Goedert a fantasy breakout candidate.

18.  Buffalo Bills
Vacated Targets: WR John Brown (52), TE Tyler Kroft (16), TE Lee Smith (6), WR Andre Roberts (5), RB T.J. Yeldon (4)
Free Agent Signings: RB Matt Breida, RB Taiwan Jones, WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Isaiah McKenzie (Re-signed), WR Brandon Powell, TE Jacob Hollister

Up in the north, the Buffalo Bills added several free agents at the offensive skill positions. While the biggest name is an aging 34-year old Emmanuel Sanders, the 52 targets vacated by John Brown provide significant opportunity. It’s possible Matt Breida could separate from an uninspiring timeshare backfield, and Jacob Hollister is a sneaky late-round tight end candidate for fantasy rosters.

17.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vacated Targets: WR Antonio Brown (61), RB LeSean McCoy (19), WR Jaydon Mickens (10)
Free Agent Signings: RB Leonard Fournette (Re-signed), RB Giovani Bernard, WR Chris Godwin (Re-signed), TE Rob Gronkowski (Re-signed)

Mike Evans and Chris Godwin dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers targets share with 193 of 626 total targets last season. At tight end, Rob Gronkowski’s 4.8 targets per game will be reduced by the return of O.J. Howard from a ruptured Achilles. Second-year wideout Tyler Johnson impressed in limited opportunities while head coach Bruce Ariansprediction of a Ke’Shawn Vaughn breakout now seems foolish with the addition of Giovani Bernard. A healthy Leonard Fournette one a one-year $3.25 million deal should provide great motivation. It all translates to a full cabinet of weapons for ageless quarterback Tom Brady.

16.  Las Vegas Raiders
Vacated Targets: WR Nelson Agholor (82), RB Devontae Booker (21), TE Jason Witten (17)
Free Agent Signings: RB Kenyan Drake, RB Theo Riddick, WR John Brown, WR Zay Jones (Re-signed), WR Willie Snead, TE Derek Carrier

Streaming Derek Carr in the second half of the 2020 fantasy season was a successful strategy. He tallied four overall QB9 or better performances from Weeks 11-16.  Las Vegas loses 120 targets from last season, led by Nelson Agholor (82). Las Vegas added a litany of receiving options through free agency, including deep threat John Brown,  reliable short route specialist Willie Snead, and talented receiving back Kenyan Drake. While tight Darren Waller (145 targets) is clearly the primary option, there is a lot of value up for grabs in Jon Gruden‘s offense.

15.  New York Jets
Vacated Targets: WR Breshad Perriman (60), WR Chris Hogan (26),  RB Frank Gore (19), RB Kalen Ballage (10), RB Le’Veon Bell (3), TE Daniel Brown (2)
Free Agent Signings: RB Josh Adams (Re-Signed), RB Tevin Coleman, WR Keelan Cole, WR Corey Davis, TE Tyler Kroft

The New York Jets made their intention with the second overall pick in the draft with their trade of quarterback Sam Darnold to Carolina. With only James Morgan and Mike White currently on the depth chart, New York appears all-in on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. There are 120 vacated targets with Breshad Perriman, Chris Hogan, and a litany of pass-catching backs now off the roster. After setting career-highs in receiving yards (984) and touchdowns (five), Corey Davis joins the Jets as the likely wide receiver one. Look for explosive second-year wideout Denzel Mims and volume-based Jamison Crowder to provide reliable weapons for Wilson.

14.  New York Giants
Vacated Targets: WR Golden Tate (52), RB Dion Lewis (30), RB Wayne Gallman (27), WR Damion Ratley (10), RB Devonta Freeman (10), RB Alfred Morris (4)
Free Agent Signings: RB Devontae Booker, WR Kenny Golladay, WR John Ross, TE Kyle Rudolph

In a make-or-break season for quarterback Daniel Jones, the New York Giants have built a talented and deep offensive roster. With a large amount of vacated targets (133), look for the explosive Kenny Golladay to take a large slice of the available opportunities. Running back Saquon Barkley returns from a torn ACL and should be an integral part of the passing game. After all, Barkley tallied 143 receptions in his first two NFL seasons. Now, thanks to the absurd amount of talent around him, it’s now or never for a Jones breakout.

13.  Los Angeles Chargers
Vacated Targets: TE Hunter Henry (93), RB Kalen Ballage (27), RB Troymaine Pope (10), TE Virgil Green (6)
Free Agent Signings: TE Jared Cook

Reigning NFL Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert will be asked to distribute 136 vacated targets to a receiving core minus starting tight end Hunter Henry. Running back Austin Ekeler tallied 6.5 targets per game in an abbreviated 10 game season and hopes to crest the 100 targets threshold as he did in 2019. Wide receiver Keenan Allen (147 targets) remains the clear-cut first option, with free agent signing Jared Cook battling fantasy-favorite Donald Parham for the tight end targets.

12.  Seattle Seahawks
Vacated Targets: WR David Moore (47), TE Jacob Hollister (40), TE Greg Olsen (37), RB Carlos Hyde (20)
Free Agent Signings: RB Chris Carson (Re-signed), TE Gerald Everett

There was finally some freedom given to quarterback Russell Wilson, who attempted the most passes of his nine-year NFL career. This is one of the NFL’s most consolidated target shares with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett combining for 46.4% (261 of 563) of the Seattle Seahawks targets. The signing of former divisional foe Gerald Everett gives Wilson the most athletic TE weapon of his career. Therefore, expect Everett to see plenty of chances with the departure of 77 targets from Hollister and Greg Olsen.

11. Arizona Cardinals
Vacated Targets: WR Larry Fitzgerald (72), TE Dan Arnold (45), RB Kenyan Drake (31), WR Trent Sherfield (7), TE Jordan Thomas (1)
Free Agent Signings: WR A.J. Green, TE Darrell Daniels

There is a growing expectation that Larry Fitzgerald will retire, but his return would greatly reduce the 156 vacated targets, as well as the upside of 32-year A.J. Green. DeAndre Hopkins ranked second at the position with 160 targets, trailing only Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs. Look for the potential career year for Christian Kirk, especially if Fitzgerald’s departure allows Kirk to return to his more natural slot receiver role.

10. New Orleans Saints
Vacated Targets: WR Emmanuel Sanders (82), TE Jared Cook (60), TE Josh Hill (10), FB Michael Burton (4), WR Austin Carr (4), WR Bennie Fowler (6), WR Tommylee Lewis (3)
Free Agent Signings: RB Ty Montgomery (Re-signed), FB Alex Armah, TE Nick Vannett

Quarterback play and vacated target allocation are currently unknowns for the New Orleans Saints. A Jameis Winston-led offense bolsters projections much more than versatile Taysom Hill. The Saints have a substantial number (169) of available targets, with a healthy Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith the likely beneficiaries. Alvin Kamara should also benefit, but it is worth noting his 3.9 targets per game with Hill were dramatically lower than without (8.3).

9.  New England Patriots
Vacated Targets: WR Damiere Byrd (77), Julian Edelman (39), TE Ryan Izzo (20), RB Rex Burkhead (33), WR Donte Moncrief (2)
Free Agent Signings: QB Cam Newton (Re-signed), RB James White (Re-signed), WR Nelson Agholor, WR Kendrick Bourne, TE Hunter Henry, TE Jonnu Smith

Cam Newton is back, fully recovered from a COVID battle that had lasting effects on the field. The New England Patriots have reloaded an offense that featured Jakobi Meyers as their best passing game weapon. The double tight end attack of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith draws memories of the uber-efficient Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez days. The 171 vacated targets provide serious fantasy upside for new receiver Nelson Agholor and the always reliable back James White.

8. Los Angeles Rams
Vacated Targets: WR Josh Reynolds (81), TE Gerald Everett (62), RB Malcolm Brown (33)
Free Agent Signings: QB Matthew Stafford (Trade), WR DeSean Jackson

Matthew Stafford should be a huge improvement over Jared Goff, which is great news for wideouts Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. The pair combined for 253 of the Rams’ 590 team targets this past season. The Los Angeles Rams’ 176 vacant targets are top 10 among all teams, pointing to big years from tight end Tyler Higbee and second-year Florida product Van Jefferson. As for DeSean Jackson, his ability to stretch the field is one that Stafford should be able to utilize with his 61 deep ball attempts from last season.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Vacated Targets: WR Keelan Cole (88), WR Chris Conley (63), RB Chris Thompson (23), TE Eric Saubert (4), WR Dede Westbrook (1), RB Craig Reynolds (1), FB Bruce Miller (2)
Free Agent Signings: RB Carlos Hyde, WR Marvin Jones, WR Phillip Dorsett, WR Jamal Agnew

New head coach Urban Meyer will likely select rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in next month’s NFL Draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars have provided an offense laden with veteran NFL playmakers who should provide a large margin of error for any rookie signal-caller. With the seventh-most vacated targets (182), Marvin Jones should quickly earn a sizable target volume alongside DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault. Expect a lot of passing volume as a result of a ton of negative game script for a Jacksonville team carrying just a 6.5 Vegas win total.

6. Houston Texans
Vacated Targets: WR Will Fuller (75), RB Duke Johnson (35), TE Darren Fells (28), WR Chad Hansen (24), WR Kenny Stills (19), RB C.J. Prosise (5), WR DeAndre Carter (2)
Free Agent Signings: QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Mark Ingram, RB Phillip Lindsay, WR Chris Conley, WR Andre Roberts, WR Alex Erickson, WR Donte Moncrief, TE Ryan Izzo

The Houston Texans had the most personnel overhaul of any NFL team from the front office to the player roster. But the status of quarterback Deshaun Watson looms large over the Texans fantasy outlook. Houston has 189 vacated targets available led by Will Fuller’s 75. The most likely result would be a sprinkling of those targets to the variety of new acquisitions.

5. Carolina Panthers
Vacated Targets: WR Curtis Samuel (97), RB Mike Davis (70)
Free Agent Signings: QB Sam Darnold (Trade), WR David Moore, TE Dan Arnold

For the Carolina Panthers, Sam Darnold may wind up being a solid upgrade from Teddy Bridgewater. The return of superstar running back Christian McCaffrey from an injury-filled 2020 should soak up the targets that went to Mike Davis. Additionally, with over 100 targets available, the biggest boost goes to D.J. Moore and a former Darnold teammate in New York, Robby Anderson.

4. San Francisco 49ers
Vacated Targets: WR Kendrick Bourne (74), RB Jerick McKinnon (46), TE Jordan Reed (46), WR Trent Taylor (21), RB Tevin Coleman (5)
Free Agent Signings: FB Kyle Juszczyk (Re-signed), WR Mohamed Sanu, WR Trent Sherfield

The San Francisco 49ers have the fourth-most vacated targets (192) available from last season. Kendrick Bourne, Jerick McKinnon, and Jordan Reed accounted for over 160 targets combined. Look for George Kittle and Deebo Samuel to earn a lion’s share of those opportunities, after only playing a combined 15 games in 2020. Also, Brandon Aiyuk‘s 96 targets could fluctuate with Kittle and Samuels’ healthy return. Nonetheless, the explosive second-year product still produces big chunk plays both on the ground and in the air.

3.  Cincinnati Bengals
Vacated Targets: WR A.J. Green (104), RB Giovani Bernard, WR Alex Erickson (17), TE Cethan Carter (7),
Free Agent Signings: RB Samaje Perine (Re-signed)

The Cincinnati Bengals offense is dependent on one thing – the health of quarterback Joe Burrow. Assuming the former first overall pick can return from a brutal knee injury, this Bengals offense should be tremendous. A majority of the Bengals third-most vacated targets (194) will likely be dispersed to wide receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Tight end C.J. Uzomah (torn Achilles) should return as the top tight end, and running back Joe Mixon could see a massive passing game increase with the release of Giovani Bernard.

2.  Tennessee Titans
Vacated Targets: WR Corey Davis (92), TE Jonnu Smith (65), WR Adam Humphries (35), WR Kalif Raymond (15), TE MyCole Pruitt (8)
Free Agent Signings: WR Josh Reynolds, TE Anthony Firkser (Re-signed), TE Geoff Swaim (Re-signed)

The Tennessee Titans have the second-most vacated targets, with the departure of four of their top five players in receiving yardage from 2020. Newly acquired Josh Reynolds should inherit much of the opportunity provided from the absence of Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. This season could be a big one for tight end Anthony Firsker. He caught 53 passes this past season and could see 65 vacated targets available from Jonnu Smith’s departure.

1.  Detroit Lions
Vacated Targets: WR Marvin Jones (115), WR Danny Amendola (69), WR Kenny Golladay (32), WR Marvin Hall (30), WR Mohamed Sanu (23), RB Adrian Peterson (18), WR Jamal Agnew (20), RB Jonathan Williams (4), TE Isaac Nauta (2)
Free Agent Signings: QB Jared Goff (Trade), RB Jamaal Williams, WR Breshad Perriman, WR Tyrell Williams, TE Josh Hill

The Detroit Lions 313 vacated targets are the most of any NFL team. With Jared Goff now under center, the Lions passing attack will look very different. The big play tandem of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones is now replaced by Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams. Look for returning players RB D’Andre Swift and TE T.J. Hockenson a large majority of those available targets.

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