The NFL's offseason has been, well, interesting to say the least. It's seen a lot of free-agent movement, big trades and a draft that some would argue wasn’t all that fantasy-friendly (at least for 2021). Just ask anyone who was high on Rashod Bateman!
So, which offenses have seen the biggest transformations and figure to see new players in more prominent roles next season? Who figures to benefit or suffer in terms of offensive chances? Well, this is your one-stop shop for answers to those questions.
Below is a list of all 16 AFC teams, ranked in order of the squads with the most open targets (running backs, wide receiver, tight ends) compared to 2020 rosters down to the teams with the least. Keep in mind, rookies and players who opted out last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic don’t factor into the totals. The teams on the positive side have targets available in the offense, while those on the negative side will field crowded pass attacks that could cause headaches for fantasy managers. Keep these numbers in mind when you're drafting your 2021 fantasy football teams.
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1. Cincinnati Bengals (194)
Notable additions: WR Ja’Marr Chase (R)
Notable losses: WR A.J. Green, WR John Ross
Notes: The Bengals will have a new look at wideout with Green and his 104 targets no longer on the roster. That’s good news for Chase, who should absorb those chances. He could lead this team in targets considering his built-in rapport with Joe Burrow. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd will also be prominent in the pass attack for Burrow, who was on pace to throw the football almost 650 times before getting hurt as a rookie starter.
2. Denver Broncos (88)
Notable additions: None
Notable losses: WR DaeSean Hamilton
Notes: The Broncos lost 44 targets from the release of Hamilton, and another 21 out of the backfield with Phillip Lindsay. The passing attack will look similar to last season, but Courtland Sutton will be the likely targets leader coming back from a torn ACL. Jerry Jeudy should benefit from the addition of Teddy Bridgewater, who I like to start ahead of the less accurate Drew Lock. I’d expect a decline in targets for Tim Patrick (79).
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (76)
Notable additions: WR Marvin Jones Jr., WR Phillip Dorsett
Notable losses: WR Chris Conley, WR Keelan Cole, WR Dede Westbrook, TE Tyler Eifert
Notes: The Jaguars wide receiver group will have a new look in 2021, as Conley, Cole, Westbrook and Eifert are no longer on the roster. In the absence, DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Jones Jr. figure to be the target leaders for new quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The team could also use rookie running back Travis Etienne as a receiver often. Chark is the best fantasy bet in the group, but no Jaguars wideout will be more than a third option in most fantasy drafts. The Jags don't have a draftable tight end.
4. Los Angeles Chargers (75)
Notable additions: WR Josh Palmer (R), TE Jared Cook, TE Tre’ McKitty (R)
Notable losses: TE Hunter Henry
Notes: The majority of the lost targets from last season’s roster came from the loss of Henry, who signed with the Patriots. A portion of his 92 targets from a season ago will land in the lap of Cook, who will be a No. 2 fantasy tight end in drafts. McKitty isn’t likely to make an impact as a rookie, but he’s a dynasty stash. The same goes for Palmer, as Mike Williams, Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton are all free agents in 2022.
5. Indianapolis Colts (50)
Notable additions: None
Notable losses: TE Trey Burton
Notes: The Colts didn’t make any major moves in their passing game. The team kept T.Y. Hilton, so he’ll remain one of the top options for new quarterback Carson Wentz. Michael Pittman Jr. should see an uptick in the 61 targets he had as a rookie, making him worth a late-round look in redrafts. With Burton no longer on the roster, the Colts could look to deal for Zach Ertz or increase the volume of Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox.
6. Tennessee Titans (37)
Notable additions: WR Julio Jones, WR Josh Reynolds, WR Dez Fitzpatrick (R), WR Racey McMath (R)
Notable losses: WR Corey Davis, WR Adam Humphries, TE Jonnu Smith
Notes: The Titans lost Davis and Smith as free agents, which opened up 157 targets in the pass attack. Many of those targets will be absorbed by Jones, who was acquired in a trade. He'll be a surefire No. 2 fantasy wideout in drafts. His presence makes Reynolds and Fitzpatrick far less attractive in drafts. At tight end, Anthony Firkser has some sleeper appeal in the late rounds as the projected starter at the tight end position.
7. Houston Texans (27)
Notable additions: WR Chris Conley, WR Nico Collins (R), TE Brevin Jordan (R)
Notable losses: WR Will Fuller, TE Darren Fells
Notes: The loss of Fuller, who averaged nearly seven targets per game last season, opens up opportunities for veterans Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb as the top options in the passing attack. Collins and Conley are also in the mix, though only the former will be worth a late flier in 12-team redrafts. Jordan Akins could absorb some of the 29 targets Fells left behind, but dynasty leaguers should keep tabs on Jordan in the summer. Of course, the offense will be dependent on what happens with Deshaun Watson.
8. Kansas City Chiefs (17)
Notable additions: None
Notable losses: WR Sammy Watkins
Notes: The Chiefs decided to let Watkins (Ravens) walk as a free agent, which opens up 5.5 targets per game. The popular opinion will be that this benefits Mecole Hardman the most, but Patrick Mahomes likes to spread the ball around past his top two options, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. As a result, wideouts like Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle could be worthwhile fliers in DFS but not so much in traditional redrafts.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (16)
Notable additions: TE Pat Freiermuth (R)
Notable losses: None
Notes: The Steelers' pass attack lost 43 targets out of the backfield (James Conner), but the re-signing of JuJu Smith-Schuster means this offense remains mostly intact. As a result, look for Diontae Johnson, Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool to all see 100-plus targets once again. Freiermuth is unlikely to make much of an impact as a rookie.
10. Baltimore Ravens (12)
Notable additions: WR Sammy Watkins, WR Rashod Bateman (R), WR Tylan Wallace (R)
Notable losses: WR Willie Snead, WR Dez Bryant
Notes: The Ravens 42 open targets are deceiving, as the Ravens added Watkins (5.5 targets per game last season). He replaces Snead, who averaged around four targets a game. The team also added two rookie wideouts, however, in Bateman and Wallace. In an offense that runs the football a ton, none of Baltimore’s pass-catchers (aside from Mark Andrews) will be reliable or consistent for fantasy managers next season.
11. Cleveland Browns (2)
Notable additions: WR Anthony Schwartz
Notable losses: None
Notes: The Browns' passing game will look much like it did last season, as the team only added Schwartz in the NFL draft. Odell Beckham Jr. will be back from a torn ACL, so targets will be spread out a little more than last season. He averaged just more than six targets a game before being injured. Cleveland’s run-based offense won’t produce a real superstar wideout in fantasy land, however, so don’t draft OBJ as more than a No. 3 wideout. The same holds true of Jarvis Landry, who produced 101 targets in 2020.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (-28)
Notable additions: WR John Brown, WR Willie Snead
Notable losses: WR Nelson Agholor, WR Tyrell Williams
Notes: The biggest loss for the Raiders was Agholor, who led their wideouts with 82 targets last season. Those opportunities will be split up between Brown and Henry Ruggs III, but neither should be considered more than a late-round pick in redrafts. Most of the targets will continue to go to Darren Waller, who had a 28% share in 2020.
13. Buffalo Bills (-35)
Notable additions: WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Marquez Stevenson (R), TE Jacob Hollister
Notable losses: WR John Brown, TE Tyler Kroft
Notes: Buffalo’s biggest offseason loss in the passing attack was Brown, who averaged 5.8 targets per game. Ironically, the team added Sanders from the Saints to replace him. He averaged 5.9 targets per game last season. His presence doesn’t hurt the value of Stefon Diggs of Cole Beasley, but it does make Gabriel Davis less attractive as a sleeper. At tight end, Hollister will ultimately replace Kroft behind Dawson Knox.
14. Miami Dolphins (-41)
Notable additions: WR Will Fuller, WR Jaylen Waddle (R), TE Hunter Long (R)
Notable losses: None
Notes: The Dolphins made a lot of offseason moves to help Tua Tagovailoa, but that also means splitting up the target pie into more pieces. Adding Fuller, who averaged 6.8 targets per game last season, would have been enough to hurt incumbents DeVante Parker and Preston Williams. However, Miami also drafted Jaylen Waddle and Hunter Long to further split up opportunities. In fact, none of their pass catchers should be seen as more than a No. 3 fantasy wideout. At tight end, Mike Gesicki is a TE1/TE2.
15. New York Jets (-101)
Notable additions: WR Corey Davis, WR Keelan Cole, WR Elijah Moore (R), TE Tyler Kroft
Notable losses: WR Breshad Perriman
Notes: Perriman’s 59 targets are open for the 2021 roster, but Davis and Cole brought in a combined 179 of their own. Couple that with the addition of rookie Moore, and the Jets suddenly have a number of options in the passing game for Zach Wilson. There have been rumors the team could release Jamison Crowder (89 targets), but for now, I wouldn’t trust any Gang Green receivers as more than a No. 4 fantasy option in drafts.
16. New England Patriots (-174)
Notable additions: WR Nelson Agholor, WR Kendrick Bourne, TE Hunter Henry, TE Jonnu Smith
Notable losses: WR Julian Edelman, WR Phillip Dorsett
Notes: The Patriots' pass attack will have a much different look next season. Edelman retired, and the team added Agholor and Bourne at wide receiver and Henry and Smith at tight end. The latter moves mean a lot of 12 personnel in 2021, but it also hurts both of their fantasy values. New England also doesn’t have a true No. 1 wideout, so it’ll be hard to predict who’ll lead the position in targets on a week-to-week basis. With N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers still on the roster, this wideout group has a committee look.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!
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